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Feb-18-2011 15:40printcommentsVideo

Wisconsin Revolt Reflects 'Road to Cairo' In U.S.

Education, agency workers near strike-readiness prompted by unwarranted, unfair political attacks.
Wisconsin State Capitol/ Courtesy: Wisconsin Public TV

(SEASIDE, Ore.) - Fair questions, fairly asked as demanded by any rational approach to a controversial subject, must be applied to honestly evaluate any one person's "opinion" about the menacing manipulative Wisconsin attacks on state/agency workers.

The honest answers, from personal experience rather than manipulative political sources, is more-desperately demanded these days than since the pre-Civil War era.

Those same questions qualify or bar the proliferation of unwarranted destructive power when applied for (im)pure political process --as is surely the situation now-seen in Wisconsin.

Recognize, please, that Wisconsin is not all-that-different from the other states --and that what can happen there can be the worst "can of worms" that citizens will ever have to deal/with, if it is allowed to spread to other state.

That is why unions of every description --not only of government/agency workers but also of ordinary people, --in ordinary occupations, fed to the teeth with manipulation by unfair and untrue myths about both agency/workrs and unionism itself-- are responding so rapidly and so strongly there.

The long-simmering budget/manipulations evident for the past thirty years in nearly every state are now coming to the working surface of simple everyday life in nearly every community, nationwide, motivated by political potential multiplied and made highly visible by the continuing impacts of The Great Recession.

Massive myths about the educational system and its basic financing are especially valuable to those who attack for political purposes --despite the dangers to our upcoming generation of learners at all levels.

They have been the heavy relaince of manipulative politicians for far too many decades in this nation, and now MUST be challenged by the simple process of self-questioning in forming opinion.

That's the YOU-basis for ANY "Must-DO" action, for responsible-citizen full utilization of that major American principle of "informed" CHOICE.

The educational process itself demands professional competence and specialized training --as well as personal dedication to the most/complex of personal services. Would you allow it to be otherwise for those working with your own children at any level of learning?

From the earliest days of the American Revolution, the American teacher--and all others involved in what has always been a most precarious enterprise--won and deserved high regard and respect.

That undeniable fact lies at the heart of the myth-generation now being used to defy, deny, suppress, subvert and minimize the great, full, freedom-building impacts education can offer to every person, in a democracy dedicated to effective and efficient support for the complex process and the organized system so clearly demanded.

ONLY since it became politically profitable to deny, distort and defeat forward progress by myth and manipulation has this rightfully-honored profession been placed under such irrational attack.

CHOICE-as-process clearly demands personal answers to some penetrating questions prior to acceptance of such destructive myths, from any source.

Here are some "starter questions" to make sure you are approaching this whole issue in Enlightened fashion and by sensible, sensitive understandings surely demanded for that rational approach:

  1. When did YOU last spend a full hour in the classroom with any of your own children?
  2. How often have you visited with any teacher charged with educating any of your family?
  3. Have you ever attended a full session of any local school/board? (Especially, one struggling with the unavoidably-painful decisions aways demanded concerning operational costs AND the addition of inescapably-demanded new technologies, already familiar to every child outside of the classroom ?)
  4. Do YOU have any special insights on the learning process, provided by psychological, psychiatric, or other specialized and preferably professional-level experiences?
  5. Teacher competence demands particular care for any evaluation; Do you have any experience or special training to participate in that complex process?

Depending on YOUR answers, perhaps you should give full weight to the evaluations and decisions-resulting reached by those dedicating themselves to that task --as in local school-board work as well as the system itself.

Wisconsin's curriculum and the basic management of its educational system are not all that different from those found by national law and operating mandate in every other state.

We in Oregon today must answer some unavoidable questions concerning every aspect of our own continuing educational system.

What will YOU DO when the "Wisconsin syndrome" strikes YOUR OWN state and your own local school-board??

The proper position when YOU DO ask probing questions, first of yourself, is in front of any mirror;

THEN you are ready for that long-postponed visit to the local school-board, too, when YOU can DEMONSTRATE what your choices should really be.

Disclosure: I made it through a three-year Maine Normal School, taught for some years, reported for most of that time simultaneously in print, radio; went on to a full decade visiting schools and working with teachers and others including school boards, in Oregon; accumulating an Ed.M from Oregon State University and an Ed.D (abd) from Indiana University. It was the actual classroom and school contacts from which I learned to ask these questions for anyone professing an "opinion" on the educational system.

Recently-elected Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker has proposed a bill that would eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers and slash their pay and benefits, and has notified the National Guard to be on alert.
DEMOCRACY NOW interviewed John Nichols of The Nation magazine, and Brad Lutes, a Wisconsin public school teacher.



At 21, Henry Clay Ruark was Aroostook Editor for the Bangor, Maine DAILY NEWS, covering the upper 1/4 of the state. In the ‘40s, he was Staff Correspondent, then New England Wires Editor at United Press-Boston; later Editor for the Burlington, Vermont 3-daily group owned by Wm. Loeb, later notorious at Manchester, New Hampshire UNION LEADER for attacks on Democratic Presidential candidates.

Hank returned to Oregon to complete M. Ed. degree at OSU, went on to Indiana University for Ed.D. (abd) and special other course-work; was selected as first Information Director for NAVA in Washington, D.C.; helped write sections of NDEA, first Act to supply math, science, foreign language consultants to state depts. of education; joined Oregon Dept. of Education, where he served as NDEA administrator/Learning Media Consultant for ten years.

He joined Dr. Amo DeBernardis at PCC, helping establish, extend programs, facilities, Oregon/national public relations; moved to Chicago as Editor/Publisher of oldest educational-AV journal, reformed as AV GUIDE Magazine; then established and operated Learning Media Associates as general communications consultant group. Due to wife’s illness, he returned to Oregon in 1981, semi-retired, and has continued writing intermittently ever since, joining S-N in 2004. His Op Eds now total over 560 written since then.

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Hank Ruark March 1, 2011 4:13 pm (Pacific time)


Welcome fellow teacher ! I started in sawmill community in Maine where mill had burned down, poor enough we had to commute from nearby more decent tpwn...first year with 3-yr normal school degree.

Practice=taught in 8th gr, where my sister was teacher; went on to M.Ed Oregon State and Ed.D abd Indiana U. - thesis underway but was then seduced into D.C. for political effort to bring about National Defense Education Act with strong support for AV, my Indiana specialty --and have never been able to slow down and look back ever since... !

Keep right on top of us here, your insights sure to prove valuable and worthwhile to share, and if we disagree --hey, that's what dialog is all about !!

Agree wholeheartedly with much from you but HOW to get it done still open to question --

Charlene Young February 28, 2011 8:28 am (Pacific time)

Henry let me inform you I have read many of your references, and I also read sources that most often take a different analysis than the ones you provide. I recently turned 70, and have considerable experience in interpreting information. I find that for some, facts are played with very loosely if they conflict with the dogmatic agendas of the zealots. I was a teacher for many decades (private and public), and it was my students that made that experience so wonderful. I quickly found out one should not dare to try to misinform the caliber of students I had, same for me. Unfortunately many of those in the public system simply don't care about their responsibilities teaching children, and the results sure provide the evidence of that reality. No amount of money will change that: Garbage in, garbage out. So their students, who become adults, become easy prey to those who brainwash them with false and misleading info. Though it does appear that "truth" is getting some much needed traction, so the future looks good for America, real good.

Hank Ruark February 27, 2011 7:48 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Re my-last to LJ, I long ago learned what to expect when the first sentence starts with "...respectfully" ! Here we need no such pretense of ease-it-in before pain begins. We honor, respect, expect, and create open, honest, democratic dialog, meant to deal meaningfully and some-times critically with controversial issue,policy,event, happening and anything else. IF you disagree --and here dissent is the driving engine for the best of our dialogs-- just state why, with whatever authorities you can summon up on your side of the point. Have fun, Lennie....but skip the false "respectfully"-opener next time...

After 50 years reporting, editing, and writing on-demand re union matters and the distinctions at work among both the private sector and the public sector, I need not be reminded by an unknown critic re the differences and the trends now underway.

Have you followed up by reading the national mag refs. and others already supplied here ? Have you called up and read my previous 20-or so Op Eds, in my total here over 600, on the same topics ?

If you wish to pursue, come direct via emailer from Editor Tim; I have pile of ready refs. which might serve to enlighten you somewhat.
My own strangely-assorted life experiences which shape what I write here are laid out in detail elsewhere in S-N, for all readers to see, helping them to evaluate what I do write. We need the same credibility-test components from you, now that you have assumed such a professorial role...

Your strange admixture of refs. to academics, unions, Marzism, with that quote from George Will, becomes most revealing, sir, as does your attitude and misinformation found elsewhere on another thread here.

Why NOT identify yourself as whatever credible member of the middle class you may be, with some note as to any reasons you suspect you may be suffering from unbearable information you must impart due to specialization, as consultant, or student or corp. owner or smallbiz entrepreneur ? It might help to clarify your mish-mash somehow.

Lanny Jenkins February 27, 2011 9:54 am (Pacific time)

Mr. Ruark, respectfully, the privileged are revolting in Wisconsin. To talk of America in terms of "class" is to speak a foreign language. Outside of university faculties and Marxist fringe groups (but we repeat our self), Americans do not divide ourselves up by class; rather, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . ." When Americans describe themselves as "middle class," the term is a synonym for "ordinary" or "respectable," not part of a taxonomy of division. Actual middle-class Americans don't feel put upon by "corporate power" or "the business community," because by and large, they own the means of production: They run businesses; they hold shares in corporations through their investment and retirement accounts. Some belong to unions, but the vast majority do not: "In 2010, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union--was 11.9 percent, down from 12.3 percent a year earlier," according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. In any case, it seems to have escaped people like the Krugman's (NYT) and Kevin Drum's (Mother Jones) notice that the Wisconsin dispute has nothing to do with corporations. The unions' antagonist is the state government. "Industrial unions are organized against the might and greed of ownership," writes Time's Joe Klein, a liberal who understands the crucial distinction. "Public employees unions are organized against the might and greed . . . of the public?"The "labor movement" in America has increasingly come to consist of people who work for government, not private companies. As the BLS notes, the union-participation rate for public-sector workers in 2010 was 36.2%, vs. just 6.9% for private-sector workers. There is a fundamental difference between private- and public-sector workers. A private-sector labor dispute is a clear clash of competing interests, with management representing shareholders and unions representing workers. In the public sector, as George Will notes,"... taxpayers--whose position is analogous to that of shareholders--are usually denied a seat at the table: Such unions are government organized as an interest group to lobby itself ." Marxism and its variants cannot handle opposing ideas, let alone facts which compete, challenge or refute their beliefs, ideologies and constructs.

Hank Ruark February 25, 2011 11:17 am (Pacific time)

To all:
    Sooner or later, attention as in the issue at stake in Wisconsin spills over unto the real reason such attempts at political-force for private-gain is put to work.

   See this one with own eyes and make up own mind:
    "Koch Watch: Was Hidden Provision in Wisconsin Bill Designed to Sell Off State Facilities to Billionaire?
Hats off to the proprietor of the blog, Gin and Tacos, who combed through the bill currently stalled in the Wisconsin legislature that would all but strip Wisconsin state employees of their collective bargaining rights -- and found that's not all that's very, very wrong in the bill, wrong in a very Koch-friendly way.

You'll recall that David Koch of Koch Industries is the billionaire whose backing propelled Scott Walker to the Wisconsin governor's mansion, and that Koch Industries is a conglomerate rooted in the energy sector. In Wisconsin, Koch has significant energy-sector holdings, including a coal company, oil refineries and some 4,000 miles of pipeline.  So, who would stand to benefit from a no-bid sell-off of the state's power plants and other energy-producing assets? The anonymous Gin and Tacos author has her or his suspicions."

Hank Ruark February 25, 2011 3:28 pm (Pacific time)

To all:
    In 2008, David Sirota, noted for his national reputation for strong political insights, published UPRISING: An UNauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington. The ISBN is: 978-0-307-39563-4; Crown Div., Random.
    For those seeking full, sweeping and finely-detailed background on the basic situations creating the readiness NOW for our national resort to reasoned revolt, as is occurring in the Wisconsin situation, now spreading all across the nation, you can find what you need in this book. ("See with own eyes-use OWN MIND" is a working principle with us here at S-N !)

  SO happened I was in midst of a third reading when Wisconsin burst on the national consciousness...with absolute reflection of what Sirota penetratingly described three years ago.

  His subtitle "...Scaring Wall Street and Washington" is emphasized by the fact of President Obama's words broadcast nationwide today, which you will hear on national news tonight and for some time to come.

Anonymous February 26, 2011 1:49 pm (Pacific time)

C,E, et al: Just in case you feel only the Left see injustice, distortion and power-play in Wisconsin, here's Susan Estrich breaking with Newsmax; "...Everyone likes to talk about bad teachers. However many there are is too many, and they should be fired. But most teachers, the overwhelming majority of teachers, are dedicated men and women working against incredible odds to do right by their students. The teachers I know arrive early and leave late. They bring the school supplies that they buy out of their own pockets. They make themselves available to parents and students long after the school day ends. They are as frustrated by the bureaucracy in large school systems as anyone. Many of them, including many very good ones, give up within five years. How will taking away their collective bargaining rights change that? Did I miss the part in this debate where we thank teachers for taking on the social ills no one else wants to touch? The part where we express our gratitude to them for taking care of and trying to teach kids who come to school scared and hungry and unable to read or write? Was I not listening when someone made the point that teachers are the foundation of our nation's future? There's plenty of blame to go around for what's gone wrong with the economy. You can blame Bush or Obama, Wall Street or the regulators. You can blame Fannie and Freddie and Congress and the Fed. But how do we get off blaming public school teachers." ================== ONLY TWO of those 94-collected national-level statements in any way support Walker's attack in Wisconsin --and one of them has now retracted and reversed, seeing precisely the power-play so well depicted by Krugman and reflected in nearly every other statement collected. I value and honor reader participation, regardless of agreement with what is shown here, or with my own "informed opinion" --but fact is fact, trend is trend, professional analysis usually overcomes casual/conversation concepts... That's because it is the act and process of democratic dialog that we support here, and that requires dissent as driving force, with end-product of very much stronger understandings by all --and, sometimes, even democratic consensus for action. Here we have professional analysis heavily --overwhelmingly !-- supported by a large collection of national-level authoritative response. It's your subscription-dollar (!) --so buy what you wish...

HANK RUARK February 26, 2011 1:22 pm (Pacific time)

C.and E.: Wild statement distorting proven fact never succeeds in persuasive power.
Your points are YOURS, do not parse with overwhelming facts now shown in some 90 national-level authoritative-source reportage in S-N files.
Here's world-famed economist Krugman in NY Times 2/20:

"You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.

"And now Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to get rid of public-sector unions, too.

"There’s a bitter irony here. The fiscal crisis in Wisconsin, as in other states, was largely caused by the increasing power of America’s oligarchy. After all, it was superwealthy players, not the general public, who pushed for financial deregulation and thereby set the stage for the economic crisis of 2008-9, a crisis whose aftermath is the main reason for the current budget crunch. And now the political right is trying to exploit that very crisis, using it to remove one of the few remaining checks on oligarchic influence.

"So will the attack on unions succeed? I don’t know. But anyone who cares about retaining government of the people by the people should hope that it doesn’t."

Most of millions of Americans will agree with Krugman, methinks, rather than those of us not nearly so well-placed or backgrounded to form an informed opinion.

Charlene Young February 26, 2011 11:42 am (Pacific time)

Henry the same student who sent me the previous eagle-oyster reference also sent: "Always remember, when leftists start collectively moaning about the need to follow the rules, respect precedent, and remain civil and subdued, that they are trying to put constraints on YOU, not themselves. It’s Saul Alinksy 101. Now, you may believe in these things to varying degrees, but the trick is to counter and ask earnestly why the Left doesn’t follow their own supposed moral guidelines, not to let them keep you under the spotlight of malevolent scrutiny while they run wild. Smoke and mirrors, but people are learning that it is just a distraction. The left is fading, winking out." and she included this statement: “I hate the company, they will fire you... I fear the union they will kill you!” - W.V. coal miner. Insightful young lady, who now practices criminal law. I do stand by my earlier assessment of Mr. Alinsky, for he did make a bad situation worse. The evidence is overwhelming. You can find other similar communities outside of Chicago that did not have to deal with his adverse impact during similar time period and similar socio-economic conditions, and they turned out far better. Seeing is believing! Of course one must be able to have the capacity to recognize the truth. Appears the majority of Wisconsin voters sure did.

Erin Dawson February 26, 2011 9:33 am (Pacific time)

Mr. Ruark you wrote: "Koch gave Walker over $43,000 in direct donations and its allies aired millions of dollars worth of attack ads against his Democratic opponent." So how much money did the tax-supported public unions provide for Governor Walker's opponent? Other money from the rich on the left? The FEC has a breakdown and it's not info the left likes out there in the public domain. Regarding the difference of pay between union members in private and public employment: The private union membership has been declining because of the shrinking economy, while ironically public union membership has been increasing rapidly in the last two years. These private union members help pay the salaries/benefits for the public unions as well as the middleclass, often sacrificing considerably as their assets dwindle. The Stimulus bill of two years ago earmarked billions of taxpayer dollars to grow these management-heavy jobs, while revenue is shrinking! No more stimulus money available, it just made things worse by growing jobs that had no revenue tax base! Right to work states are fairing much better than high tax states like Wisconsin and California. Many governors, of both parties create sweetheart deals for corporations so they set up business in their states, or to induce them to stay. Well, it appears that regardless of what happens in Wisconsin, the money simply is not there, so the public union jobs will be shrinking, and the union dues will also. To allow union members to vote on a yearly level to see if they want union membership is "democracy." When the union political funds dry up, then we will have a more balanced system. Also the people who don't want their dues to go to candidates they dislike will help encourage this democracy. A beggining of a win-win situation is starting. The Founders would be pleased. Remember the majority of union members showed up for work, which demonstrates that they lean towards conservative values, which has been documented via professional studies. Have links.

Hank Ruark February 25, 2011 3:40 pm (Pacific time)

Charlene: Will share with you et al my two most treasured Alinsky-quotes, which David Sirota picks up in book UPRISING: 1. "Alinsky believed that, to be successful, political actors must 'start from where the world is, as it is, and not from where they would like to be.' " (Page 29). 2. "...Alinsky's most sacred principles of all: 'A belief that if people have the power to act in the long run, they will, most of the time. reach the right decision.' " (Page 330) You will recognize the heart-of-democracy situation in that second one, I am sure... Most persons who berate Alinsky and his work these days, I note, really have had no solid contact with either, and are entirely misled by his political preference, for which he made and needs absolutely no apology --as our current crisis surely doth indicate to those who know the truth.

Hank Ruark February 25, 2011 2:32 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Public-sector workers are NOT paid more than private-sector workers when fairly compared -- indeed, they come out about 8 percent "hurting". Here's the statement from national authority, cited on America's Future: "t keeps getting recited as if it is holy writ: Public sector employees have better pay and benefits than private sector employees. And with that belief firmly planted in the public mind, private sector workers who have seen their own wages and benefits eroded willingly join the right-wing anti-public-worker bandwagon, demanding that public workers suffer the same losses that they have. But public sector workers in fact are not paid as well as similarly skilled private sector workers—not in Wisconsin, not in Washington, not anywhere in the country, as Robert Pollin, a director at the Political Economy Research Institute, points out in this interview with The Real News Network. Pollin is scheduled to be one of the presenters at The Summit on Jobs and America's Future that the Campaign for America's Future is sponsoring March 10 in Washington. "When you measure the actual pay levels and you control for people's ages and educational levels, public sector workers make less on average than people in the private sector," Pollin says. "Indeed, in Wisconsin, public sector workers on average, after you control properly, make about 8 percent less than private sector workers." Having worked at some 20 situations over many years, including every level in private sector from sweeper to owner, and in public sector, including every level from intern to director of agency, I can confirm that never did public pay more than the private-comparison...and public had disadvantages imposed by unavoidable political tinge. Private offered somewhat less security since most work is on "by choice"basis ---which means boss can fire you any hour--- while public has some protection. For more on issues involved, see return to three-parter on CHOICE to which we will revert next week. For more on "Wisconsin 'flu" now contagious across nation --and rapidly growing GOPster realization of overplay dangers creating huge back-splash !-- see upcoming second OP Ed directly on Wisconsin failing attempt to snatch away worker right to collective bargaining, in this now the 21st Century, outmoding attitudes and appreciations, advantages, benefits and basic ideas of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Hank Ruark February 25, 2011 11:02 am (Pacific time)

To all: Any question about timing, costs and overall plan behind the Walker-fronted Wisconsin attack on worker right to collective bargaining is fully answered in this report excerpted from Truthout on Internet: "As ThinkProgress has reported, the global conglomerate Koch Industries not only helped elect Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), but is the leading force orchestrating his union-busting campaign. Koch gave Walker over $43,000 in direct donations and its allies aired millions of dollars worth of attack ads against his Democratic opponent. Then, Koch political operatives pressured Walker to crush labor unions as one of his first priorities. Tim Phillips, a former lobbying partner to Jack Abramoff and current president of Americans for Prosperity, a front financed by David Koch, told the New York Times that Koch operatives “had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown.” A Koch-financed front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has prepped Wisconsin GOP lawmakers with anti-labor legislative ideas."

Hank Ruark February 25, 2011 10:13 am (Pacific time)

To all: After more than 60 hours of debate time, the Wisconsin GOPSTER-controlled Legislature perpetrated a manipulated vote to achieve passage of Walker's controversial bill --still minus the Senate Democrats, driven from the state by necessity to properly protect the rights-of-all/involved. Look for AP and other reliable news coverage of how this for-appearance vote on the House-side/ONLY was done by political manipulation of the lowest order.

Hank Ruark February 25, 2011 9:57 am (Pacific time)

To all: Check out Alternet site on Internet for video of Walker conversation threatening any political opponent with baseball bat and making clear his attack on worker rights to collective bargaining is part of national plan by GOPster would-be tyrants. The deadly-serious nature of this chain of events is absolutely clear in this excerpt from another Alternet-site story: "There's a new militancy in the air. Inspired not only by the protesters standing tall in Wisconsin, Ohio and a half-dozen other states but also by the seismic upheaval taking place around the world, progressive America, long overshadowed by the media-friendly Tea Parties, will show up in force in all 50 states this Saturday to demand that budgets aren't balanced on the backs of working people and the most vulnerable among us. In Wisconsin, there has even been talk of organizing a general strike, an event not seen in this country since the 1930s, if right-wing Governor Scott Walker manages to push his union-busting bill through the legislature. Labor hasn't flexed its muscles like that for generations, but there is a growing sense that we, as working people, face a defining moment in our democracy. On Saturday, there will be two opportunities to make your voice heard above the astroturfed right-wing din. First, a coalition of grassroots progressive groups are staging a nationwide “Rally to Save the American Dream” in front of every state house in the country at noon local time to express support for the working people of Wisconsin."

Hank Ruark February 25, 2011 9:49 am (Pacific time)

Charlene: Yours re trends forcing issue in Wisconsin into full/strong-boil now erupting across nation is helpful since it points up the very strong economic, cultural and social issues driving this impasse. We, too, in America today have our own "road to Cairo", often overlooked by most modern media, especially the major dailies under corporate control, and even in Congress, openly subservient to the power-of-the-dollar politically applied. Unfortunately, unfair and dictatorial denial of worker rights for collective bargaining are NOT --and cannot successfully be made to seem !-- the single motivation and corrrection for what is a very complex consequence of the failure of millions to take positive strong stands and make their voices be heard, over the past thirty years since Reagan first short-cocked the airway service union seeking SAFETY provision-change...NOT primarily economic advantage. It is historic fact that Reagan did so under very detailed advice from several Far Right braintrusts, knowing full well what he was doing and what the major consequences might become --as they now have-- with great further dangers if that same situation is allowed to expedite and bring on final death to collective bargaining --proven to be the major weapon providing many key worker benefits enjoyed also by millions not now union members. AT S-N we realize the complexity of issues involved here, and will continue our new process of Breaking-News Op Eds, with the second in that series due for publication later this weekend. Thanks to all readers for their thoughtful participation in learning together by open, honest, continuing --and surely democratic !-- dialog.

Hank Ruark February 24, 2011 7:49 pm (Pacific time)

Charlene: Great to see yr appreciation of good words from student...I glory in a few such notes, too. Re Alinski, unfair in high degree to pile on him consequences of many other factors in society, economics, and government decision...very point of my three-parter: That cumulated neglect and deliberate dis- and mis- information has only one offset, that of eternal vigilance and continual strong effor by those who care and are capable of corrective action. By the way, those kids I mentioned from the area were among the best we ever had...

Charlene Young February 24, 2011 11:37 am (Pacific time)

A former student sent me this, those who appreciate the words understand how freedom is far superior to some huge government directing, aka dictating, your life, in my opinion: "When God made the oyster, he guaranteed his absolute economic and social security. He built the oyster a house, his shell, to shelter and protect him from his enemies. When hungry, the oyster simply opens his shell and food rushes in for him. He has freedom from want. When God made the eagle he declared: "The blue sky is the limit -- build your own house!" So the eagle built on the highest mountain. Storms threaten him every day. For food he flies through miles of rain and snow and wind. The eagle, not the oyster, is the emblem of America." Say Hank I haven't heard anyone mention Alinsky for a while, but one thing I do know about him is that he took a bad situation in Chicago and made it much worse. Just take some issues that are easy to measure: Poverty rate, high school drop out rate, out of wedlock birthrate, and violent crime rates, and see what they were prior to Alinsky "help", and after. Maybe some like what he writes, but in application, major failure, major.

Charlene Young February 24, 2011 11:25 am (Pacific time)

There are powerful incentives for both legislators and union leaders to want to ingratiate themselves with unions, whose members can be a huge help on Election Day. Union leaders want to keep their members happy and return their favored elected officials to office. The problem, of course, is that such generosity costs a lot of money, which taxpayers may resist paying (we are seeing this resistance developing, especially in states that have high tax rates). Throw in failing public schools (a chronic scenario where union leaders say more money will solve the problem), and other poor leadership from elected politicians, and bad things will blossom. Look at Greece, and other locations around the world when expenses outpace revenue. Promising government workers excellent retirement plans, off in the future, gratifies union members without outraging the taxpayers. The burden is postponed until some future date, which makes the process painless -- until the future arrives. The future is here!

Hank Ruark February 23, 2011 7:10 pm (Pacific time)

Erin et al: Your ref. to Alinsky is dead give-away to your intent, sir ! There is no reason whatsoever to bring up that very famed community worker, with much on his record supporting very real democracy in an extremely difficult city environment. Happens I employed at Time'Life Books sales office some of kids from that changed community, and visited with them and some of the parents as one result. Have you ever been in the areas he served or talked with those who live in what he accomplished ?

Hank Ruark February 23, 2011 7:04 pm (Pacific time)

Erin You wrote" that state's union policies are certainly going to spread nationally via the will of the majority of voters, who gave the "greenlight to the current powers last November." That is totally unsupported future view, not worth consideration as "opinion" . open only to evaluation as political prognosis... To which the only proper answer is that such as little if any place in work at hand via open, honest dialog, and can only be valued as that much more distraction, reducing any impact on the subject under examination.

Hank Ruark February 23, 2011 7:00 pm (Pacific time)

Erin: Just re-read, for third analysis, yr ref. to FDR --and stand absolutely via my last... It definitely reflects early-era attitude and understanding greatly changed as both unions and public learned realities of the historic changes through which both passed --same type of pressures we now feel but differing in detail. IF FDR had been posed same question after successful years of the New Deal, would he have had the same response ? I doubt it greatly...and so must you if you properlu equate what all concerned learned during the strong union-years. Democracy needs union-tool for many things...will detail in depth for anyone wishing direct contact, with some strong authoritative references.

Erin Dawson February 23, 2011 5:53 pm (Pacific time)

Mr. Ruark, for purposes of non-distraction, I was not reflecting on the divergent views of what is happening in Wisconsin, and how that state's union policies are certainly going to spread nationally via the will of the majority of voters, who gave the "greenlight to the current powers last November, but what the opinion FDR had on public unions...he was against them developing. No doubt Saul Alinsky would be upset about that opinion, but even his expertise in distraction would not change what it was, nor could anyone else change that historic reality, though many will attempt to do so.

Hank Ruark February 23, 2011 3:34 pm (Pacific time)

To all: National authoritative-opinion check re now-revealed GOPster "final attack to kill off unions" now numbers around 50 --with only one or two even partially defensive, and none supporting that evil political-dogma move. Full list brought up to last-ones available by request to, including the content of each of those listed, NOT simply the ID and source-data. My changed computer setup allows this action easily --just discovered easy steps--so I make that available at no charge as email but be prepared for very-lengthy content !! Where else but S-N would you ever find such an offer, covering most basic reliable sources ?? BUT "see with own eyes" and then "make up OWN MIND" is by far the best part of true American democratic dialog, under demonstration right here in this channel.

Hank Ruark February 23, 2011 10:50 am (Pacific time)

Erin et al: Per working system here, have now re-read and analyzed article reached by your link. It is notable for reflection of archaic attitude and lack of understandings for changes in life, system, governance and the demands of modern economics. Fortunately I also found the following which summarizes better than I can the major actualities now in full view, illuminated by this Wisconsin reflection of the GOPster national attack dedicated to union-movement death: "Why? Why are so many who are not part of a union so committed to protecting the role of organized workers in our government and our economy? 1. Weak Economies Need More Demand: Our economy is struggling and our state budgets are distressed because increased unemployment and falling home prices have reduced economic demand. Weakening the ability of any workers to negotiate fair pay and secure retirements will only weaken demand further, hurting the overall economy. 2. Strong Standards Strengthen The Middle Class. When public sector workers can negotiate for fair pay, healthy workplaces and secure retirements, that puts pressure on private sector CEOs to do the same, or else they risk losing talent to the public sector. Making public sector work less inviting does nothing to make private sector jobs pay better. We need to raise the bar, not lower it. 3. Decent Government Pay Means Decent Government: Most everyone wants our federal, state and local governments to function effectively. That means being able to attract skilled, productive workers with fair pay, healthy workplaces and secure retirements, all of which will be lost if public workers can no longer bargain for their compensation packages. 4. Public Employees Are Not The Problem: Study after study shows the public employees do not receive extravagant compensation, and that the problems with state public pension systems are largely overblown. State budgets are reeling from an economic recession caused by reckless Wall Street speculators, top end tax cuts and corporate tax avoidance. The projected shortfalls in public retirement benefits derive mostly from skyrocketing health care costs thanks to private insurers, and poorly performing pension investments thanks to deregulated Wall Street firms. Furthermore, civil servants in Wisconsin and elsewhere have repeatedly said they are willing to make concessions regarding pay and benefits. Unlike conservative corporate executives, they have proven their willingness to share the sacrifices. What we can't negotiate is their right to negotiate. 5. Scapegoating Lets The Culprits Get Away: Right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers are pumping millions into a nationwide effort to break the public employee unions. Why would they bother? Because if they can get most people to blame public employees for the nation's economic ills, they won't hold irresponsible corporations accountable and force the ultra-rich to make any sacrifices, such as higher taxes and tougher regulations.? Excerpt from "Top 5: Why Wisconsin Matters To You" By Bill Scher; see lis from HCR-direct.

Hank Ruark February 23, 2011 10:29 am (Pacific time)

Erin et al: For the record here, S-N has now found and reported on more than 30 national noted authoritative references offering assorted coverage on Wisconsin --obviously now the start of a GOPster national-attack dedicated to death for the union movement NOW !n America, under dire death-pressures ever since the New Deal success and its role in creating strong support for what became our "Middle Class". The entire list of these reference points for all citizens interested in the truth of this event is available on request direct to me at my email address: Purpose: To faciilitate and expedite "see with own eyes" examination for "make up OWN MIND" on what they report. That is the heart of democratic dialog. This historic attack/event has made even more pointed the first of three Op Eds re the consequences of CHOICE in a democracy --with Parts Two and Three upcoming soon. Due to the rapid spread of Wisconsin union-attack fever across the nation and the truly terrifying consequences to be expected from its denial of a recognized human right to free association, we will continue our kind of coverage for those truly concerned. That's one of the main purposes of S-N, as an open channel providing honest dialog supporting real democracy.

Erin Dawson February 23, 2011 7:51 am (Pacific time)

Mr. Ruark I sent you the actual written opinion by FDR on the danger of public employee (government ) unions. This is not my interpretation of what he wrote, but what he wrote. It is very clear, and a brief research will continue to show his aversion for public unions. Since he was known, by some, as a major proponent of unions (private business only!), it must be difficult for some to realize he would not be simpatico with what's going on in Wisconsin, and what is certain to spread to other state governments. If you have something that says he meant something else, could you please link for my assessment. Thank you. Otherwise, what I posted is prima facie.

Hank Ruark February 22, 2011 9:17 pm (Pacific time)

To all: In light of response from Erin citing article, suggest all interested now check out Common site on Internet for "very interesting" list of major articles there. Nothing like "see with own eyes" and then make up OWN MIND... !!

Hank Ruark February 22, 2011 9:11 pm (Pacific time)

Erin: I went to the site your link re FDR opened. You did not fully report what the article there stated, perhaps because you did not fully read it. I hesitate to feel you distorted it on purpose, but you left out all the rest of the good stuff, including fact of Wisconsin leadership re collective bargaining and the entire sweep of union history involved. SO i suggest any involved reader use that link for "see with own eyes" read pf that same article for the full, open, honest and in light of common history very pertinent further meaning than you allow for it in your summary. "See with own eyes" will obviate for them any possible distortion by either of us, and allow the best possible understanding of the truth, if they will but read the words there. If time allows, it will be my pleasure to analyze and report on this whole article in depth with quotes and comparison for what is truly said there and what you attributed to it.

Hank Ruark February 22, 2011 7:26 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Here's the philosophical root of "collective bargaining", supported as an individual right by the American Constitution supporting the right of free association: "If every person has the right to defend -- even by force -- his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right -- its reason for existing, its lawfulness -- is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force -- for the same reason -- cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups." - Frederic Bastiat - (1801-1850) French economist, statesman, and author. He did most of his writing during the years just before -- and immediately following -- the French Revolution of February 1848 ----------------- ANYone fail to see why this is so really pertinent to the Wisconsin Governor's attack on the right of association and the exercise of collective bargaining ? IF so, state your points direct and I will be happy to elucidate, amplfy, and explain still further with scads of even deeper, stronger authoritative statement.

Erin Dawson February 22, 2011 6:46 pm (Pacific time)

Mr. Ruark here is FDR's statement on public unions. Please note you can go to any search engine and request info on FDR and public unions. There are many sources, but below is his written opinion. By the way, he and the majority of Americans know he was 100% correct: "... Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the government. All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations ... The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for ... officials ... to bind the employer ... The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives ... "Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees. Upon employees in the federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people ... This obligation is paramount ... A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent ... to prevent or obstruct ... Government ... Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government ... is unthinkable and intolerable." So Reagan essentially acted as FDR would have re: the air traffic controllers and their ultimate sanction.

Hank Ruark February 22, 2011 2:27 pm (Pacific time)

Erin: You wrtoe..."as FDR warned, a unionization of government employees could one day interrupt the services these people were hired to perform. " Please cite your source so I can check for inclusion in Reagan study. In no way can this be taken as FDR showing anti-union attitude; it was full, strong, enthusiastic union support that allowed FDR to succeed in New Deal, which changed not only U.S. but world acceptance, and led on to our greatest-yet period of prosperity during which, history clearly shows, union leadership and activities generated the basic driving forces to create our great Middle Class -- only now stagnating in wages and every other advance since ;70s, when super-rich families and corporate power were organized to suppress further similar advances. That's suppurating cause of further attacks on unions, now, since the great middle class are clearly preparing to again break out and build for themselves....see ref. to MOTHER JONES article on economic debacle now.

Hank Ruark February 22, 2011 2:13 pm (Pacific time)

To all: MOTHER JONES won Best National Magazine award in2010. "See with own eyes" major review of union history, totally pertinent to this Wisconsin first-attack/of-many. in article explaining "The Vampire Economy" re superrich sucking America dry. "See also" OUTFRONT with Reagan tax/slash guru Stockman detailing why GOPster gang distorts "supply-side" economics and union-busting for mean, untrue political war.

Hank Ruark February 22, 2011 2:03 pm (Pacific time)

Erin: Re polls -Rasmussen or whomever- What can go wrong is so complex as to demand separate dialog --come/direct to for dialog from 50 years working with and through them. At best they reflect only sample,with all possib;e faults, and inescapably multiply distortion from dis-and mis-information even among the sample. Don't ever put YOUR money on any of the political ones; some few in market usage may be reliable at low levels.

Hank Ruark February 22, 2011 10:53 am (Pacific time)

To all, esp. Wisconsineers: Here's final pghs of special report from The Progress Reoort website, noted new authoritative ref. widely used in reliable press: ANTI-UNION TIDAL WAVE: The high-stakes battle against union rights is gaining momentum in other GOP-led states. While "Wisconsin is moving the fastest and most aggressively so far," Wisconsin Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe points out that "this is a national push, and it's being simultaneously pushed in a number of states." Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, who believes public employees should be fired if they strike, is backing a similar bill in Ohio to roll back collective-bargaining rights for about 400,000 public employees. Kasich will see at least 5,000 protesters today at the statehouse to protest his efforts. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is ahead of the curve as he has already "aggressively gone after the state's public-sector unions, taking away their collective-bargaining rights on his first day in office in 2005." He is also pushing the legislature to weaken tenure protection for teachers. "The new crop of governors is even more bold," said Walker ally and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Incredulous over state employee benefits, Branstad indicated "he was anxious to reassess Iowa's public employee benefits and had brought in an official from the private sector to examine the state's collective-bargaining law." Currently, 16 states are "now weighing, or expected to weigh, laws to trim unions powers or benefits" including New Jersey, Michigan, Tennessee, Idaho, Indiana, and Florida. This tidal wave of contempt that Republican controlled states hold against unions marks more than a blind power grab, and more than "a violent break with a bipartisan consensus about government workers that has operated unquestioned for four decades." Should it succeed, this Republican onslaught on unions will eradicate the existence of "the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans." As SEIU president Mary Kay Henry points out, "it's not just union members at risk; it's the services these members provide-whether that be as teachers, public safety personnel or home health care workers." Whether Walker and his cohort will succeed is unclear, but as Krugman notes, "anyone who cares about retaining government of the people by the people should hope that it doesn't." ------------------ Note that line from SEIU leader: ""it's not just union members at risk; it's the services these members provide-whether that be as teachers, public safety personnel or home health care workers." SO check for "see with own eyes" other factual coverage stating the truth --YOU owe it to YOURSELF and FAMILY to really understand this one, since it opens a decisive battle to kill off all unions, a threat to all Americans, as history truly shows.

Hank Ruark February 22, 2011 10:19 am (Pacific time)

To all: Paul Krugman often follows with a second or further examination on any issue, as do most exemplary writers. Here's that famous economist again on Wisconsin, in NYTimes excerpt; "see with own eyes" for whole piece on that readily-available Internet site. "For what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side." ------------------ By the way, that repetition points up the potent power of purely-honest open dialog, from those who really know, to those who need to learn. I place myself in that latter group. How about YOU ?

Hank Ruark February 22, 2011 10:11 am (Pacific time)

To all: Some seek to differentiate public worker unions from private-section ones. Here's Ezra Klein today in W.Post on that: "And let's let go of the idea that the public is on the hook for unions made up of government workers but not for unions made up of janitors in Las Vegas hotels. If private-sector unions negotiate higher wages that lead to higher corporate costs, those costs are passed on to the consumer. If public unions negotiate higher wages that lead to higher taxes, those taxes are paid for by the taxpayer. If public or private unions negotiate work rules that stifle innovation or impede good service, the public bears the brunt of that, too. But that goes in the other direction, too: Just as the public pays some of the costs of unions, they also reap many of the benefits. The weekend is one of those benefits, and so too are the pensions and health-care packages that many employers offer. A lot of the safety rules that many workers take for granted were the product of union agitation and pressure. Plenty of industries have had to increase their wages because unions took root in certain companies and the threat of their spread forced the non-unionized companies to give their employees gains similar to those made by the unionized workers. Unions are also the most powerful lobby fighting against things like tax cuts for the rich and for things like universal health care. And those benefits, just like those costs, have come from the labor power provided by the combined strength of public and private unions. Solidarity, and all that." -------------- The historic U.S. worker struggle for rights and benefits continues to provide large benefits for all, in work conditions, hours,pesnsions and much more. Does it make any sense to allow any arbitrary attack on that historic gain clearly for partisan political purposes ? Authoritative-source writers. both at national level and internationally, are nearly unanimous in characterizing Gov. Walker's open-attack and no-change attitudes as just that -political mayhem and manipulation.

Erin Dawson February 22, 2011 8:22 am (Pacific time)

There are two things worth illuminating about public unions: Elected leadership has the mission of providing responsible stewardship of taxpayer funds;and as FDR warned, a unionization of government employees could one day interrupt the services these people were hired to perform. Clearly the latter has irrefutable evidence to prove that scenario. So if we do not get a handle on this, what's next, collective bargaining and potential strikes by our military? Afterall they are government employees. It seems to me the evidence shows that the "likely voters" out across America are not being taken in by clearly biased opinions, but are evaluating the cause and effect variables, that is, the empirical. Mr. Ruark you would think with all these protests about the union conflicts and President Obama going on national television calling this "an assault on unions," that things would simmer down and Wisconsin political leaders would cave. Well it has clearly hurt President Obama and the democratic party as per the most accurate pollster out there. Do you have an opinion on this reality?:Tuesday, February 22, 2011-"The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 21% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-one percent (41%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -20. Overall, 44% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. Fifty-five percent (55%) disapprove." And " Republicans now hold a nine-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending February 20, 2011. Last week, Republicans posted a 45% to 39% lead." So the lead increased 3 points in one week.

In case no one has noticed, the problem is the U.S. is now governed by mob rule. (Not much different here in Canada) and the mobs are driven by big money who own and control the media. Democracy does tend to tyranny of the minority. DJ

Hank Ruark February 21, 2011 8:00 pm (Pacific time)

To all: We learned at United Press NOT just to cover a story but to surround it from every side and add layer-on-layer of solid authoritative coverage. SO here's world-famed economist Krugman in the TIMES: "[W]hat’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite [Wisconsin Governor Scott] Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side. Indeed. He goes on: [I]t’s not about the budget; it’s about the power. In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate. Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions. You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy." -------------------------------- We will continue coverage just so long as this crisis collapsing remaining confidence in the American political-party system continues to head the news.

Hank Ruark February 21, 2011 7:46 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Just in case anyone feels we are going overboard on this Wisconsin set of complex issues sharpened by the drastic action of the Governor in trying to destroy collective bargaining for SOME workers while preserving it for those who suppoted him, here's what NATION --a leading national political journal since the Civil War, is publishing: Dear Nation Reader, This terrific video illuminates the passions that have been provoked in Wisconsin, the broad-based opposition to Governor Scott Walker's efforts to destroy public sector unionism in his state, and, just possibly, the stirrings of a popular grassroots movement largely dormant since the week-long demonstrations in Seattle against the WTO more than a decade ago. The Nation's John Nichols, a seventh--generation Wisconsinite, has been spearheading the magazine's coverage of the massive protests that are rapidly causing ripples coast to coast. Read our latest coverage: Largest Crowd Ever Assembles in Wisconsin by John Nichols 'This is a Martin Luther King Moment' by John Nichols How Workers Grabbed the Constitution Back From Right-Wing Royalists by John Nichols Packers Captain Charles Woodson Stands With Wisconsin's Workers by Dave Zirin The Future of Public Education, as Much as Unions, is at Stake by Sara Jerving Nation Slide Show: Wisconsin's Protests in Pictures ------------ YOUR freedoms are at stake, too !! Which is the WHY of what we are doing...

Hank Ruark February 21, 2011 4:15 pm (Pacific time)

To all: The Wisconsin revolt and its complex implications so neatly, if not nicely --and surely deeply, too !-- reflect the main point of my three-parter Op Ed series just begun that we will stick with Wisconsin until resolution arrives. CHOICE by individuals as responsible citizens is heart-of-matter here, always followed by conscientious and fully honest dialog-leading-ti-action. Nearly every S-N story reflects this primary principle of all public opinion, which is itself drawn from the abstract theory of "wisdom of the crowd", which we will also examine in Op Ed series upcoming.

Hank Ruark February 21, 2011 4:04 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Further excerpt from "Betraying Public Workers" re myth they are overpaid and have too-lush pensions: "State and Local Government Workers Are Not Overpaid Even if state and local government employees are not responsible for the budgetary problems that emerged out of the recession, are they nevertheless receiving bloated wage and benefits packages that are holding back the recovery? Since the recession began, there has been a steady stream of media stories making such claims. One widely cited 2009 Forbes cover article reported, “State and local government workers get paid an average of $25.30 an hour, which is 33 percent higher than the private sector’s $19…. Throw in pensions and other benefits and the gap widens to 42 percent.” What figures such as these fail to reflect is that state and local government workers are older and substantially better educated than private-sector workers. Forbes is therefore comparing apples and oranges. As John Schmitt of the Center for Economic Policy Research recently showed, when state and local government employees are matched against private sector workers of the same age and educational levels, the public workers earn, on average, about 4 percent less than their private counterparts. Moreover, the results of Schmitt’s apples-to-apples comparison are fully consistent with numerous studies examining this same question over the past twenty years. One has to suspect that the pundits who have overlooked these basic findings have chosen not to look." "Fair is fair" and has long been known as one of the vaunted American exceptionalism factors. Are we now ready to abandon that solid principle for all interpersonal relationships ? "We don't have the money", some say but without clear reference to where we DO SPEND and WHY, bleeding the entire corps of public workers is surely one of the most damaging things we can do for the future of this nation.

Hank Ruark February 21, 2011 8:39 am (Pacific time)

 To all: From Truthout today, referring to strong article in current NATION: "The Betrayal of Public Workers Robert Pollin and Jeffrey Thompson, The Nation: "The Great Recession and its aftermath are entering a new phase in the United States, which could bring even more severe assaults on the living standards and basic rights of ordinary people than we have experienced thus far. This is because a wide swath of the country's policy- and opinion-making elite have singled out public sector workers - including schoolteachers, healthcare workers, police officers and firefighters - as well as their unions and even their pensions as deadweight burdens sapping the economy's vitality." Read the Article for "see with own eyes" check on coverage here...

 To all: Check out Common Dreams site on Internet for straight-fact article on fate of educational system if Wisconsin attack is allowed to continue. I can verify CD as reliable source; here's key excerpt: "What has become clear to the protestors over the last week is that beyond an assault on unions; Walker's bill is part of a wider attack on working families and public education. "The second reason that this fight matters is the future of public education,” The Nation’s Chris Hayes said. “What's driving it is the ultimate aim of permanently scrapping the model of public education that has sustained this country for years. Teachers unions are the stewards of preserving public education, which is the core element of our civil life.” Walker’s track record illustrates his lack of support for public education. Before he was governor, he was the executive of Milwaukee County where the nation’s first mass-scale private school voucher experiment was implemented. He then campaigned for governor on expanding these vouchers, Hayes said. Under the widely disputed bill, local police, fire and state patrol would retain their collective bargaining rights, unions that generally supported Walker during his campaign. Teachers unions, who sided with Democrats in last fall’s election, and other public workers would lose that process." Please note: Goverrnor charges unions as "wasteful" --with never a mention of the continued offers to negotiate differences on the bill EXCEPT FOR parts destroying worker-rights to collective bargaining.

 To all: Documentation is on hand for each and every factual statement made in my Op Eds and in my S-N responses. Most Op Eds require from six to eight hours of research plus two-three hours writing/time, based on from 20 to 50 references, some from extensive resources I hold and most from Internet-work. For any one Op Ed, a complete list, with links where needed, bibliographic information and sometimes notes, is available: Fee %25 to prepare for email transmission from somewhat scattered storage here. I welcome direct contact on any issue, point, problem, or question. For any serious-seeker, pro/writing time fee is $10. per email page. For those who write as required for work, my time-charge should be fully understandable; its purpose is to end continued casual/irresponsible demand while yet providing professional service for those in serious search for serious data. At 93, I still operate professionally and this note re fees for those services has become necessary.

Erin You wrote:: Just the same we are in a fiscal crisis and it was caused by the stimulus bill, not cutting taxes for business, which is still twice the level of Canada's corporate tax rate. We compete with them, and our tax rates put us at a major disadvantage. Also no unions in India and China, so we keep losing business all over the world."
1. Most qualified authorities now see the stimulus bill as partially successful, reflecting need for "more of the same", rather than the cause of what was already underway as crisis when the bill was first initiated, under Bush regime you will recall.

2. Cutting taxes for ALL businesses could only result in still further loss of revenue already clearly badly damaged, with consequences definitely offsetting any possible ameliorative impact.
Selective/cuts for some smaller corporations and for small-business generally might have had some impact, but top economists advised against that, too.

3. Canada's corporate tax rate is -as it MUST be !~ built for Canadian conditions, needs and interests.
Ours is definitely endangered by encrustation and extreme-growth of many complex kinds of real avoidance, ever since the Reagan era, and needs the drastic reforms now sure to come as probing studies are driven by the current events. Offshoring and simplfied manipulation of the whole corporate profit-picture are common and endanger the U.S.
The whole world system of economics is now undergoing drastic stress/strain and attack by the emerging roles of developing nations, with their many millions-more workers available at lower cost for predatory producers.

4. We are at a loss to control or even to influence strongly what India, China and others may do, except by our own comprehensive control of what we do and when we do it on not only trade policy, but also tax and other policies impacting our own economy.
We need first and foremost to act strongly to put our own house in order - a complex demand never to be done right when one of two political parties dedicates itself by proclamation to defy, delay, defeat and destroy any and all actions by the U.S. President elected --like it or not !-- in an historic vote now defied and denied by the losing side.

Every point above is pertinent to the Wisconsin situation since each resonates against the established fact that what is happening there is an extension of the Reagan-era initiative to destroy the union movement by first creating a further cash crisis in state government and manipulating that false-crisis for crass and common political purposes.

Erin Dawson February 20, 2011 6:35 pm (Pacific time)

To DJ? You are incorrect about what happened to our auto industry, and other manufacturing industries. Please consider the latter, for it happened at the same time as the auto decline, and we did not have Asian conglomerates (funded by their governments!) around selling us high mileage assmbly lines. Your simplification is what I often read during pop quizzes from my introductory Econ 101. By the end of the semester most of my students had gone towards the light and learned real world economics, not gibberish theories. May I suggest some similar education for you.

Erin: I remember the period well. Although I had driven a variety of Fords and Chevs until then, in August 1973 I bought my very first new car. It was a Mazda.

I would be interested in some objective documentation supporting your revisionist interpretation. One other factor, which has hurt your auto industry was that here in Canada we have universal health care for all the workers. The number that comes to mind is that as a result of this and similar shortcomings on the American side, it cost a couple thousand dollars more to build a car in the U.S., than in Canada.

Over to you. DJ 

Henry Clay Ruark February 20, 2011 1:01 pm (Pacific time)

Steve: You wrote: "The union-led school closures and demonstrations in Madison have left most ordinary Americans shaking their heads in disbelief. " From what sources did you extract the feeling you express here ? Did you make any notes, find any prrofessional quotes or facts-cited --and take them into account ? I've surveyed and read, re-read and analyzed perhaps 30-or-so national sources and detect, as you did, "surprise" and "'s about time !", but not in the negative/tone you then apply in your following context. I have had to develop --in simple self-protection !-- a solid-working professional system to guide my Op Ed analysis and shape my public statements, open to every-reader question. I illuminate the point here to make sure readers understand that comments to be most meaningful will demand more than simply reflection of personal feeling, perhaps unknowingly biased for the observer. It is that precise danger every professional writer must overcome to preserve and protect his credibilities. With Internet access, there's NOW no excuse from NOT checking out the truth and the facts that support it...

Steve: Per unvarying Op Ed procedure I use, I re-read yours re your encounter with "union bosses" and "thugs". Unforttunately, details supporting your actions-described are mssing so it may be unfair to assume the negative attitude toward ALL unions I somehow detect it what you wrote. Again, that's reasons for my offer to you and all others of direct email contact so we can assure honest, open, accurate evaluation of your well-stated "opinion" in this response. I think you must agree we need that action precisely...which is why dialog is so valuable when honestly pursued, as is occurring here for demonstration !!

To all: Truthout is reliable source widely now recognized worldwide; see for yourself at its homesite on Internet. Here's its take on corporate-owned media reporting in Wisconsin revolt: "Once again, mainstream media outlets have aimed their spotlight on the Tea Party. As soon as a few Tea Partiers emerged on the scene in Madison, Wisconsin to stage a - by all accounts - very meager counter-protest this weekend, the corporate media immediately put them front and center. Most of the major news channels portrayed the protest and opposition as an equal battle, even though the Tea Partiers made up only a tiny fraction of the crowd. But Truthout is still covering the real story in Madison: the flame of genuine progressive street action that burns brighter and brighter, as these protests build. We all knew that the corporate-sponsored Tea Party and the hate and deceit they spew would be no match for a real progressive movement for change. It’s on its way and, with your support, we’ll be here to bring you the information you need as it continues to rise. " You have mine own personal/professional endorsement of Truthout, after questions to some of my continuing professional contacts. But test the source by actual use-youself, againt others you know and trust --that' s one step every professional writer learns, if he wishes to continue to feed himself and family... !!

To all: In very direct connection with the revolt underway in Wisconsin --including the Governor's threat to employ the state Guard units-- see this one elsewhere in S-N: Hey, Wisconsin, Remember The Union Thugs in Action By Stephen Millies Special to Just less than a century ago, Colorado state troops committed the rampant murder of over 40 striking miners and their family members. ----------------- For the record, I am not now and have never been a member of any union --BUT I have long observed the ongoing struggle for workers rights at many levels, in and out of state and federal agencies and in the private sector. One of my most memorable first-assignments at United Press-Boston took me into the midst of a very similar situation then eventing in that state capital. I've attended, as reporter, a number of other pertinent situations, some reflecting precisely this union-killing drive given strong emphasis by Reagan early action. Does that inhibit or shape my analysis ? Probably, and most honestly, since in no way do I profit from the final opinion stated on the basis of complex and comprehensive examination of this issue NOW !

I value, respect and commend your willingness to share via pointed dialog your own life experience --on this or any other issue. That's your role as responsible, accountable, honorable American citizen.
My own role as Op Ed provider is to sample solid-source world,  explore points of view provided, then analyze and summarize to deliver mine own read on what the totality I find means.
   That may well differ from your own experience. It is the role of honorable, open, honest dialog here to compare,contrast, illuminate,  educate and support, by that whole process, precisely what provides the most significant and meaningful element of our  vaunted  American exceptionalisms...which most of us realize make us what we are as a nation.

   Given that unavoidable difference in roles, we are sure to be in comfortable, continual, and someimes "intense" confrontation as well as, just as often perhaps, in less-meaningful agreement.

   Thank you for your continuing honorable and thoughtful participation. We need more of the same, from a wider range of fully resppnsible participants, via this exceptional opporttunity provided by Salem-News.

   But for detailed digging dialog designed to get at the roots of our disagreements, we owe others here direct contact. To ease that situation even more, I am asking Tim now to add my email direct address in a functional spot for each of my Op Eds and hope to hear from you and others that way for open, honest further fact-seeking and agreement.

Erin Dawson February 20, 2011 12:13 pm (Pacific time)

To: Henry Clay Ruark/ Mr. Ruark, in December of last year, after Wisconsin Democrats had taken their shellacking in the polls, but before their replacements could be sworn in, they called a last-minute Special Session in the legislature to try to pass new bargains with a variety of unions. A lame-duck special session is a rarity in Wisconsin state politics, having been called only once before in the past 40 years. Those very same Democratic Senators who have fled Wisconsin so as to prevent a voting quorum were part of this scheme, and the idea was to take advantage of the absence of any Republican State Senators who had left on vacation to ram through the new deals with 17 different unions, including language that would effectively eliminate oversight of state regulatory agencies and give them full control of workplace policies without having to get government permission.
For outgoing lawmakers, including departing, scandal-ridden Governor Doyle, this would prove an effective way of feathering their nests via various kinds of quid pro quo paid for by compulsory union dues. But it was a bridge too far, even though they used their clout to spring an Independent Senator who caucused with the Dems from jail on a Huber sentence for his fourth DUI conviction. Dave Hansen, the outgoing Dem majority leader, made the principled decision that the voters of the state had elected a new slate of legislators to deal with budget matters, and all of the contracts but one (for childcare providers) went down by identical 16-16 votes. I agree with the other poster about the stimulus funds in that it is causing budget problems all over the country. Maybe if it created jobs with accompanying tax revenue things might not be so bleak. Just the same we are in a fiscal crisis and it was caused by the stimulus bill, not cutting taxes for business, which is still twice the level of Canada's corporate tax rate. We compete with them, and our tax rates put us at a major disadvantage. Also no unions in India and China, so we keep losing business all over the world. Need to revamp our tax system or we will continue to not meet the job growth numbers we need to match our growing population. We lost out number one spot in the auto industry because of two main things: Increasing union demands and increasing tax rates. Actually all of our jobs going overseas has been because of the two above reasons. You have another reason? Seems most say greed, but that's a hollow claim.

The reason the U.S. lost auto dominance is very simple: auto company mismanagement. The Big Three had been making billions on  gas guzzlers and didn't want to stop. They thought the gravy train would run forever. But the oil shocks of 1973-4 brought everyone down to earth. The Japanese were ready with their smaller cars that people lined up to buy (there were actual waiting lists for Japanese cars while the Big Three showrooms were virtually deserted). The Big Three on the other hand, because they had not thought ahead, took a few years to produce cars that Americans would actually buy. By that time they had lost their lead and not only never regained it, but continued to lose market share. If the unions had opted to stay with the status quo and corporate taxes had been reduced to zero, the outcome would have been the same. DJ 

Steve Jacobson February 19, 2011 6:45 pm (Pacific time)

Mr. Ruark: The union-led school closures and demonstrations in Madison have left most ordinary Americans shaking their heads in disbelief. Months ago, I penned a message to my fellow union brothers and sisters when I found myself on the receiving end of union boss's wrath. Yesterday’s demonstrations reminded me of the full-page ads taken out against my small little business when I refused union thugs entrance into my business property when I put my foot down in dealing with union demands. I won my case against them before we went to court as the judge threw out there absurd demands. My message then and now to good union brothers and sisters is that you have another option. You don’t have to kowtow to the union bosses who are not looking out for you, but instead are using you. You can join millions of other union members in a commonsense movement to help fight for the right causes in our great country – for budgets that share the burden in a truly fair way and for commonsense reforms that take power away from vested interests like union bosses and big business lobby groups, and put it back where it belongs – with “We the People.”. One final word Mr. Ruark: back in 2009, I warned about what would happen if states accepted short-term unsustainable debt-ridden “Stimulus Package” funds. Accepting those funds allowed states to grow government, increase already unsustainable levels of spending, kick the can down the road on reforming entitlements, and create public expectations that they would continue financing these new mandates once the federal funds ran out. States were not in a position to grow government and take on new financial commitments then, and now the chickens have come home to roost. As goes Wisconsin today, so goes the country tomorrow. The bubble has burst from that hot air from the Stimulus Bill, and now we are seeing what happens when the funds run dry. P.S.
Gallup: “Americans Say Reagan Is the Greatest U.S. President”

Hank Ruark February 19, 2011 3:30 pm (Pacific time)

Steve J:

To all: I invite you to seek Internet sources you trust to check what facts are now well-published on this issue of Gov. Walker's background and his known strong penchant for union-busting. This one comes from Truthout, which has won prestigious awards for the credibility and reliability of its content:: "Madison, Wisconsin - A new investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy documents the big money funneled by one of the richest men in America and one of the richest corporations in the world to put controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in office. Walker was elected just over three months ago on the heels of an exceptionally expensive gubernatorial race in the Badger State, fueled by groups funded by the Koch brothers, David and Charles. David Koch, the son of a radical founding member of the John Birch Society, which has long been obsessed with claims about socialism and advocated the repeal of civil rights laws, personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) in June of last year. This was the most he had ever personally given to that group. (Fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch matched Koch's donation to the RGA with a $1 million donation from his company News Corporation, parent company of FOX "News" Channel.)" By now, surely, there remains no question whatsoever that the Walker attack is the opening gun in a (so-called) "conservative" extension of union/busting which began with Reagan and has continued,under cover and openly, led by backwards/leaning GOP factions, ever since. 

Just read your earlier one re the Reagan record, which fits same pattern in depth, detail, and deep deception.
My bookshelf on RR seven ft. long, been doing study of him mess-up for two years. For direct email dialog re each of your statements ask Editor Tim for my emailer and "Let's Get It On !"
His deep damage to our republic goes far beyond what has been shown even yet --as further/history will show, reflecting events even prior to the Iran/Contra debacle, which he admits in radio-recorded dialog over national-level air.
I await your early, detailed response, sir !!
Continuance here worth time, space,effort, attention since this event is consequence of early ones from the Reagan era.

Just checked out Interrnet sources again and have six more leading daily newspaper sources for you all stating precisely what my Op Ed and clip does, and revealing longtime fullcareer union/attack actions by Wisconsin Governor... SO now await your emailer response after getting mine from Tim -- avoiding pile-on/here for minor response. Facts ARE FACTS -CHECKABLE AND UBIQUITOUS among major reliable sources; no matter amount, depth, pile or smell of flack-defiance, the fact remains inviolable and on the historic record. SO, what are you waiting for ? Response direct to me now owed to preserve your precarious position,sir !

Yours is unsupported repetitive flack denied by historical record, now further distorted by defiance of honest observation by Alternet, wellknown internationally, and by top NATION columnist with international credibility.
WHO are YOU ? Informed opinion depends on honest reporting by known trustworthy sources, surely now well on record internationally stating same basic points as does my Op Ed.
IF you wish to qualify yourself via any means, feel free to cite supporting data here; for mine, check S-N record.
IF you wish direct-dialog, seek my emailer from Editor Tim.
Otherwise yrs simply random words with no support, no truth nor proof, making you fit certain pattern wellknown from your gang, and starting with Reagan era destructive denial of proven necessity for governmental function with his own record now reflecting about as yours here.

Steve Jacobson February 19, 2011 1:12 pm (Pacific time)

Henry Ruark I am familiar with your source, but it has been proven to be invalid, it has no paper record, it's just unsupported rhetoric. The Democrats want to negate the last election and are employing mob rule to do so. This is the vicious way the left plays. They lose an election after spending a state into oblivion, then instead of submitting to the will of the people they collect their marbles, refuse to continue playing, and go home in a huff — or in this case go off to points unknown. What horrible sacrilege is it that Republican Gov. Scott Walker is committing? Closing a $3.6 billion budget shortfall with spending cuts, and insisting that long-pampered state government employees pay half their pension costs and 12% of their health care costs. Like the fearless Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey, Walker refuses to treat his state's big labor unions as sacred cows. Walker is cutting union pay and benefits, and even restricting collective bargaining privileges, to get state finances back on solid ground. The state employees still have comprehensive Civil Service protection laws in place that are the best in the nation.

j godon February 19, 2011 10:41 am (Pacific time)

States are broke there is no money , BECAUSE IT WAS GIVEN TO WALL STREET . Keep investing ha,ha,ha

Hank Ruark February 19, 2011 10:34 am (Pacific time)

Reliable-Source Alternet today states: "What's happening in Wisconsin is not complicated. At the beginning of this year, the state was on course to end 2011 with a budget surplus of $120 million. As Ezra Klein explained, newly elected GOP Governor Scott Walker then " signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues (among other things). The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit." Walker then used the deficit he'd created as the justification for assaulting his state's public employees. He used a law cooked up by a right-wing advocacy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC likes to fly beneath the radar, but I described the organization in a 2005 article as "the connective tissue that links state legislators with right-wing think tanks, leading anti-tax activists and corporate money." Similar laws are on the table in Ohio and Indiana," Check out full report "12 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin". Check here for Parts Two and Three Op Eds re CHOICE as demonstrated in this revealing historic event, as meaningful in the U.S. as the happenings continuing in Egypt and the MidEast.

Steve Jacobson February 19, 2011 9:12 am (Pacific time)

Hank Ruark it is clear to me that "Meyer's" below post was just a summary of the public record. I cannot find any statement that is not part of the record, or incorrect, can you? Of course, why should a citizen have to have some special qualification to state public record accounts? Now if you will indulge my comment sir, it is an opinion based on actual observational experience and projecting the past with what is happening, and what it may evolve into. I certainly hope I am incorrect. The protest crowds will get even larger when the money runs out. Then you have the developing permanent underclass(from school dropouts, illegals, etc.) that will make the riots of 1965 and 1967 look like a scout jamboree. Then you will have martial law, which is what I believe has been planned all along by the radicals. Except what they did not count on, is that the oath our military and most police personnel took will trump their illegal orders. The radicals are about to disappear, permanently. Better pick the right side... It's amazing that the very small minority who still hate Reagan, just have no idea how little impact their animus has. He won 49 states, and would win all 50 states if he ran today. We need leaders who understand that it's time to cut spending appreciably, and the House is currently generating some excellent legislation addressing that situation, as is the leadership in Wisconsin.

Hank Ruark February 18, 2011 8:46 pm (Pacific time)

Meyers et al: I make it a practice to read every comment, and then re-read each one later, prior to response; that way I learn, inevitably, and sometimes with satisfaction, sometimes with regret for mine own lack of vision --but I do learn, which is one reason I write here. Re yours, you write: "This is hardly a manipulation of a fiscal crisis, we are in one. " Your words reflect misunderstanding or deliberate distortion of mine, which referred to ongoing actions during that entire 30-year era rather than this Great Recession --based on the conclusions of most economists now as summarized in another study I am preparing, basically on longterm consequences of our CHOICE of Ronald Reagan as qualified leader. The rest of your statement stands as your own-only, with no source for points involved nor the conclusions so positively and surely stated. Did you survey the state and its voters somehow by magic ? On what basis, other than personal feeling, do you make these very bald remarks ? For what special training and experience of yours to prepare this comment can we count ? What's your working status ? Reporter, writer, businessman, economist, teacher ? For some baldbits here we sometimes seek such answers. When opinions are evaluated head-on, the question of qualification for each source is unavoidable; yours remain unstated; mine are on full, open, public printed record right here in S-N. If you prefer direct contact, Editor Tim will supply my email address; I welcome any opportunity to learn more about why people state what they do state, and how such distortions occur so often.

Hank Ruark February 18, 2011 7:53 pm (Pacific time)

To all:
Open question now must be 'When will Wisconsin's Tiananmen Square occur ?"
Re Meyers, he misreads my words to suit his purpose which is to shift focus to current-event of Recession, which is in and of itself an indication of precisely what I stated about those 30 years.
Watch for further detailed examination and analysis forthcoming in Parts Two and Three...this was simply rapid framing for the real issue, which is the consequences we must pay for abandoning our responsibilities for understanding issue and problem, and forcing actions to correct by our elected representatives, allowed to luxuriate in their own irresponsibilities.
Democracy has a price: Eternal vigilance and determined defense.

Meyers February 18, 2011 6:20 pm (Pacific time)

The vast majority of public service employees in Wisconsin are working there jobs, not calling in sick, taking minor school children to protests. The writer of this article claims "The long-simmering budget/manipulations evident for the past thirty years in nearly every state are now coming to the working surface of simple everyday life in nearly every community, nationwide, motivated by political potential multiplied and made highly visible by the continuing impacts of The Great Recession." The reality is that counting both unemployment (and those who quit looking) along with under-employment, the nation is approaching nearly a 20% unemployment rate. This has had a cascade effect on tax revenue going to both federal and state/munincipal governments. This is hardly a manipulation of a fiscal crisis, we are in one. Wisconsin political leadership was voted in to take care of the budget problems caused by the last administration. The public wanted a change, and they are going to have one, regardless of the delaying tactics of some irresponsible members of the legislature. Also this states "Civil Service" rules have been in place for over 100 years and they are designed to protect the employee. The Unions in this state simply have to start acting responsible and what they are worried about is that the union members do not need the union for protection, so save the dues money, and realize the unions are just not needed in this state.

Hank Ruark February 18, 2011 4:04 pm (Pacific time)

Friends-akkL This is NOT Part Two just priomised and barely begun of three on CHOICE. Think of this one as a "breaking-news Op Ed", perhaps more deeply-needed for education --a very complex subject since it deals with single individuals but must be managed as if for a multitude. Part Two will include evaluation of President Obama's remarks at Intel reflecting coming desperately-demanded developments in the system at every level.

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