America Held Hostage…Day 760

The Wildfire Spreads

Like Wisconsin, Indiana’s Democratic legislators have also left the state to thwart a similar Republican bill to bust the unions. Governor Mitch Daniels has decided not to pursue the same measures as Governor Scott Walker by threatening to call in the National Guard or sending troopers after the legislators. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is withholding the paychecks of their wayward Democratic legislators who are reportedly in Illinois. They must now pick up their paychecks in person. In Ohio, protesters have been locked out of the statehouse in anticipation of the scene going on in Wisconsin. It has been rumoured that New Jersey will follow suit with similar measures.

I don’t know what went down at the Republican Governors convention recently but the memo was definitely sent out. The results are going to be significant and not what the Republican Party expected nor wanted.

You Want Extra Cheese With That?

Gotta Love Solidarity...and Pepperoni

A Pizza Parlour in Wisconsin has been using social media to broadcast requests to feed protestors in Madison. So far they’ve received donations from Egypt, Korea, Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Germany, China, England, The Netherlands, Turkey, Switzerland, Italy, and all fifty states in the US. The Pizza chain was so overwhelmed with orders they had  stop their delivery operations in order to continue the ‘Pizza revolution’.

Dire Consequences

Governor Walker has said that there could be 1,500 to 6,000 public employee layoffs in the next two years if his budget bill is not passed.


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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320 Responses to America Held Hostage…Day 760

  1. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Leave it to the GOP to let it’s social conservative face show now. Out from behind the fiscal conservative one.

    The voters last fall heard all about the fiscal side from the GOP and little about the conservative side. They voted, as most voters usually do, with the pocketbook issue.

    So now the GOP claims a social mandate. Great spin!

  2. GROG says:

    This couldn’t be playing out any better for Republicans and any worse for Democrats. You have a bunch of pampered government workers complaining because they’ll have to start actually paying for their pensions and healthcare, which up until now have been subsidized by the struggling private sector working stiffs of Wisconsin who make less money and have to pay for their benefits.

    And who do the public worker unions collective bargain with? The taxpayers of Wisconsin. Not some fatcat corporate exec. The taxpayers have, up until now, been represented by some politician who have given them anything they want in exchange for votes.

    Obama and the Democrats are standing against the little guy, the taxpayer, and standing with their donors….Big Union. This is bad for the Dems.

  3. Mr. Universe says:

    @GROG

    Seriously?

    I’ll bet someone is drawing up the recall papers for Walker already. This is a huge black eye for Republicans. Look, I know it sucks to be on the losing side of an argument, but you’re on it. And having some serious denial.

    It’s 1948 for the Republicans all over again.

  4. GROG says:

    Mr. U,

    You’re the one in denial on this one my friend. It’s loser for the Dems anyway you look at it. (Look at Obama’s approval numbers over the past week. He’s back down to his mid December figures before he favored extending the Bush tax cuts.)

    “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

    Can you guess who said that?

  5. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    GROG,

    Sir, don’t you READ??? Don’t you know that the public workers in Wisconsin have ALREADY CONCEDED ALL THE Governors fiscal demands? Please cite the greed in that.

    Do you not understand that Mississippi has, within a fraction of a percentage point, the SAME DEBT ratio and NO PUBLIC UNION, that states with a public union has? Do you not wonder why? Do you not see the lack of correlation?

    Please!

  6. shortchain says:

    GROG lives in a reality in which everything that happens is good for Republicans.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, that may not be true.

  7. Mark says:

    GROG — the union workers ALREADY agreed to the financial demands.

    Grasp that yet? Walker is like a thug who robs a 7-11, demands the money, which the clerk (the union) provides. Then walker shoots them.

  8. It’s really too early for either party to declare victory. Once we see the ultimate result of this battle, we’ll have a much better picture.

    And even then, we won’t know how it will play in 2012 until we see how much staying power the story has on the state and national stages.

  9. Mr. Universe says:

    @GROG

    Dude, you cannot give $117 million in corporate tax breaks and then turn around and tell the working class that it’s their fault and they have to sacrifice to clean up the budget wreckage. That’s just robbery. You are on the wrong side of this argument.

  10. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    Yes, sir, there are plenty of polls. Some of them more reputable than others. And Rassmussen polls are not as reputable as Gallup.

    You’ll notice, if you read my comment above carefully, it says “may not be correct”. In other words, like MW says, there’s room for doubt. It’s not certain. The jury is still out. We’ll have to see how this unfolds.

  11. JC2 says:

    @Grog- “You have a bunch of pampered government workers complaining because they’ll have to start actually paying for their pensions and healthcare, which up until now have been subsidized by the struggling private sector working stiffs of Wisconsin who make less money and have to pay for their benefits.”

    I would like to make an attempt at setting the record straight with regard to the above assertion. I see/hear similar comments often and it matters not which state (or commonwealth) is the topic of the day.

    The reality is pension and health care subsidies are part of an agreed upon compensation package that is contractual in nature. Most, if not all state employees pay a certain out-of-pocket amount toward funding their pension plans. This amount is presented with the offer-of-employment and seldom changes dramatically over an individual’s career or public service. On the other hand, the state, by virtue of this offer-of-employment, has contractually agreed to contribute the remainder what ever that may be.

    The percentages paid by the worker and the respective state, or commonwealth, are not germane to the conversation because they are contractual. In return for “generous” pensions, skilled state employees often agree to accept a lower hourly wage and many states also benefit as they avoid paying FICA on their employee’s wages.

    When deciding whether to enter into a contract of employment every worker with two or more brain cells to rub together calculates the total offered compensation package (hourly wage + benefits, adjusted +/- by perceived working conditions). She then compares this result to the prevailing wage and perceived working conditions in the subject field of expertise. Now to be fair, the stability- or perception of stability, that comes with working for a large government entity can weigh large, but what you are advocating would disrupt that perception for a long time to come.

    The real problem and functional issue here is that states -for decades- have willfully and systematically underfunded the very pensions that they agreed upon and now they want to void the contract after the fact. They would do this arbitrarily by either enforcing higher contribution rates on workers, or reducing pensions in violation of contracts, or doing both. This was not done by actuary science, rather by politicians for political means.

    If states want to terminate pension agreements they should refund collected worker’s contributions, plus interest, plus pay FICA retroactively to move their workers into Social Security. Few, if any, could afford to do this.

    If states only want to change the ratios going forward, they will also need to adjust wages so the total package is in relative agreement with prevailing wages or they may find it difficult to hire and/or retain skilled workers going forward.

  12. Mainer says:

    Would some one please explain to me how, how, really how when as many as 2/3’s of the companys in your state are not paying state taxes (I’ll go with 2/3 because other figures I find say it is closer to 3/4) that a tax cut will help them hire more people? Does this mean that Wisconsin will now pay the company to do business there? What am I missing?

    As I now only talk to myself on here I will answer the question. Of course they will and that will happen right before they give away the state power plants to the fucking Koch brothers. It is already in the budget to allow the Walker to do just that.

  13. Mule Rider says:

    “Dude, you cannot give $117 million in corporate tax breaks and then turn around and tell the working class that it’s their fault and they have to sacrifice to clean up the budget wreckage. That’s just robbery. You are on the wrong side of this argument.”

    Dude, first of all, you need to get a clue.

    http://mmfafactcheck.blogspot.com/2011/02/mmfas-all-out-smear-campaign-of.html

    You are on the wrong side of this argument. Time will bear that out in spades.

    You and your disgusting ilk are about to be cast into the dustbin of history.

  14. rgbact says:

    If Benanke would ever let interest rates rise, you could probably solve the pension problem right there. Health care is the big issue.

    States had to start complying with GASB45 a few years ago, which is a budget buster. I’m an actuary and it seems states generously cover retiree health costs for most of their municipalities and schools.

  15. dcpetterson says:

    GROG, public employees are taxpayers too. It is not taxpayers vs. public employees. It is Republicans vs. the Middle Class.

    And since the Wisconsin public workers unions have already agreed to pay for pensions and health care, the issue is clearly about collective bargaining. So stop with the right-wing spin. No one buys it.

  16. jC2 says:

    Mainer,

    I’ll talk to you. My perception is that the Republicans won’t stop until every business pays zero taxes and receives subsidies similar to what to Oil, Corn and Dairy industries currently get, along with propped up prices for their products.

    Couple this with increased taxes on the middle class and it won’t be long before most of America looks like some depressed parts of Maine I have driven through:

    You know, where one-of-three houses is a business selling goods; from appliances to water filters. Another one-of-three houses advertises services, from advertising to well drilling.

    I am not sure what the remaining third do; They may be public servants or else they work for the former two thirds.

  17. Mule,

    You and your disgusting ilk…

    And who, exactly, are among the “disgusting ilk?”

  18. JC2 says:

    @rgBact “States had to start complying with GASB45 a few years ago, which is a budget buster. I’m an actuary and it seems states generously cover retiree health costs for most of their municipalities and schools.”

    From Wikipedia: “GASB 45 was instigated by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) in July 2004 because of the growing concern over the potential magnitude of government employer obligations for post-employment benefits.”

    As far as I am aware this is a reporting mechanism designed mostly to bring awareness to the problem and is not mandatory. I also believe some government entities have made attempts bring their accounts into better alignment but few have succeeded.

    I know that at least one commonwealth is proposing to delay compliance for many years beyond the GASB 45 recommendation.

    Do you have specific evidence to show that a significant number of states and municipalities are fully funded for pensions and health care expenses for a significant number of years ahead? If so, I would really like to see your sources.

  19. rgbact,

    If Benanke would ever let interest rates rise, you could probably solve the pension problem right there.

    How would an increase in interbank loan rates address pension liabilities?

    States had to start complying with GASB45 a few years ago, which is a budget buster.

    Insofar as it more accurately encompasses the states’ liabilities, this is true. But the budgets were busted either way. They were committing to expenditures that they weren’t funding, which is something several here have already pointed out.

  20. Mr. Universe says:

    Rahm has won the mayoral race for Chicago.

  21. And that required a majority, not just a plurality, of votes.

  22. JC2 says:

    @Mr Universe: “Rahm has won the mayoral race for Chicago.”

    I think this is good news generally for democrats and liberals. Now we must hope Chicago has fully funded its pension and health care obligations lest Rahm get sucked into a monster vortex even before taking the oath of office!

  23. Armchair Warlord says:

    Part of the reason people become public employees is the steady employment and the excellent benefits that come with it. I would not have a problem making more money than my military salary in the private sector, but the Army is basically recession-proof and the benefits are incredible – at least when you’re on active duty. If Congress would stop raiding the VA to cut 0.1% out of the deficit the benefits would be great on that side too.

    Gov. Walker’s painting of public employees as the “haves” in an economy of “have-nots” is thus essentially dishonest – that’s the point of being a public employee. The downside is that when the economy is booming you become a “have” in an economy of “have mores”. I’ve never heard of someone getting rich as a schoolteacher.

  24. dcpetterson says:

    If indeed public employees are doing better than private employees in a time of recession, the solution is not to punish the public employees by making their conditions worse. The solution is to improve the economy, so everyone else does better.

    Conservatives like to talk about “sharing the pain,” as if they were equal-opportunity sadists. How about sharing the wealth instead, as if we cared about fellow citizens?

  25. GROG says:

    DC said: And since the Wisconsin public workers unions have already agreed to pay for pensions and health care, the issue is clearly about collective bargaining. So stop with the right-wing spin. No one buys it.

    Ture, no one on the radical fringe left buys it.

    Do you know who said this DC?

    “… 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.”

    It was FDR.

    Here we are 70 years later and the majority of union workers don’t work in construction or manufacturing, they work for goverment, which is the only booming industry left in America. An industry in which they (government workers) earn double their private sector counterparts. And are being compensated twice as much as the private sector by federal, state, and local governments who are broke.

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/income/2010-08-10-1Afedpay10_ST_N.htm

    But I’m sure it’s all just right wing spin and no one is buying it. Even though FDR warned against it, it’s just right wing spin.

  26. parksie555 says:

    GROG – Forget it. The libs are in deep, deep denial on this one. The AFSCME/SEIU and Democratic party apparatchiks know it and they are scrambling to hold their fraying coalition together.

    State Democrats cringing in dingy motel rooms, running away from vote after vote. The campaign ads practically write themselves.

    George Will’s column today makes a nice factually based counterpoint to the garbage Lakoff column that was posted yesterday. I’ll let our liberal friends take a shot at Will’s impeccable logic and gentle refutation of most of the liberal bullshit that has been tossed about over the Wisconsin dispute.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/21/AR2011022103190.html

    And it’s spreading from state to state. I especially like Christie’s linkage of state property taxes to union benefits. A nice touch.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/22/AR2011022205139.html?sub=AR

  27. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    That study does not show that “they (government workers) earn double their private sector counterparts”

    What it purports to show is that, according to a USAToday “study” (which we are not allowed to see to examine its methodology) but which are based on statistics from the “Bureau of Economic Analysis”, average compensation for government workers is double that for private employees.

    If a person had even a modicum of interest in why this might be true, that person could go too the website for the Bureau (not linked by USAToday, of course — do a google search) and search their website (for “total compensation”) to find out. The results do not bear out what GROG says.

    A minimal understanding of history would inform GROG that, in FDR’s day, unions were in their infancy. Police in Minneapolis as recently as 1934 had attacked and fired on workers protesting the refusal of companies to recognize their collective bargaining rights. FDR was not an organized labor believer — his actions were aimed at preventing a communist uprising and overthrow of the USA.

    Frankly, if the GOP manages to do what it so clearly wants to do — turn the clock back to 1912 — we’ll probably all have the fun of repeating history and undergo the turbulence of the 1930’s. And Santayana will be laughing in his crypt.

    Parksie,

    “impeccable logic” and “George Will” are complete strangers to one another.

  28. GROG says:

    @Parksie,
    Forget it. The libs are in deep, deep denial on this one.

    I know, but it’s fun to watch them try to spin this into a positive.

    @shortchain,

    This is what the public union workers should say to the private sector workers then:

    “Sure we make a shitload more money than you do. That’s because we’re smarter and more skilled than you are. But keep working hard and try to put in some extra hours so you can keep paying my 6 figure salaries.”

  29. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    “6-figure salaries” — you do understand, don’t you, that the figures were for “total compensation”, not “salaries”?

    Of course you do! So why the lie? Could it be an attempt to falsely frame the debate? Perish the thought!

    Media Matters has noticed George Will’s latest assault on the intelligence of his readers for us. We don’t need to bother reading him.

  30. GROG says:

    Shortchain,

    Unless the poor victimized government workers are making significantly more than $23,000 per year in benefits, then yes, they have 6 figure salaries.

  31. dcpetterson says:

    GROG, even in the private sector, benefits typically cost on the order of 40% of the total compensation. This includes the employer portion of health care costs, FICA taxes, Medicare, unemployment insurance, etc. So yes, government workers get significantly more than $23,000 in benefits. You probably do, too. If you have employer-paid health insurance (many Americans who work for large companies do) then that alone is likely $6000 – $12,000 right there. The employer portion of FICA is 6% of your earnings, so for the breadwinner of a family of four making, say, $50,000, that’s another $3000. Paid vacations, sick leave, employer contributions to your 401k, any incentive bonuses — It adds up quick.

  32. Gator says:

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/income/2010-08-10-1Afedpay10_ST_N.htm

    Federal workers earning double their private counterparts

    At a time when workers’ pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees’ average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds.
    Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.

    Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

    The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.

    What the data show:

    •Benefits. Federal workers received average benefits worth $41,791 in 2009. Most of this was the government’s contribution to pensions. Employees contributed an additional $10,569.

    •Pay. The average federal salary has grown 33% faster than inflation since 2000. USA TODAY reported in March that the federal government pays an average of 20% more than private firms for comparable occupations. The analysis did not consider differences in experience and education.

    •Total compensation. Federal compensation has grown 36.9% since 2000 after adjusting for inflation, compared with 8.8% for private workers.

  33. rgbact says:

    JC/MW-

    Pension liabilities are very sensitive to an assumed discount rate, which is generally tied to yields on bonds. The lower the assumed rate, the higher the liability. Maybe blaming Bernanke is wrong, but low interest rates have a downside.

    As for retiree health care, obviously this is very unfunded. Compliance with GASB45 is basically mandatory and didn’t really kick in until 2007. Some states are attempting to start funding, which adds cost. Not sure if Wisconsin is one.

  34. dcpetterson says:

    @Gator
    At a time when workers’ pay and benefits have stagnated,

    Thank you for reminding us all how badly the Republicans screwed up the economy for the last decade.

    I don’t think it’s proper to punish our dedicated public workers for having made good decisions. I think it’s better to punish the people like the Koch brothers whose economic lobbying on behalf of the wealthiest of Americans is destroying the Middle Class. At a time when the richest 1% annually takes in as much as the bottom 50%, and owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%, we should not be punishing Middle Class taxpayers (like public workers) for the depredations of the obscenely rich.

    You want people to share the pain? How about the people who have been getting rich off your back? How about the people who whom all the wealth of America has been flowing, who continue to receive corporate welfare while the rights of Americans are being trampled.

    Governor Walker wants to renege on Wisconsin’s contractual obligations, in order to continue giving handouts to the rich, and in order to remove the ability of public workers to get a fair shake in the future. The Republicans are going to come out looking like spoiled feudal manor lords. It’s time for The People to say we’ve had enough.

  35. GROG says:

    @DC,

    Well hell, that changes everything. I’ll amend my above statement.

    “Sure we make a shitload more money than you do. That’s because we’re smarter and more skilled than you are. But keep working hard and try to put in some extra hours so you can keep paying my $82,000 salary and $41,000 benefit package.”

  36. Gator says:

    DC

    Average Federal non salary benefits 2009 – $41,791
    Average Private non salary benefits 2009 – $10,589

    Average Fed Salary- $81,258
    Average Priv Salary- $50,462

    So the average Fed employee receives a salary that is on average 60% higher than his/her private sector counterpart and benefits compensation that is roughly 400% of their private sector counterpart.

    4 times as much… 400% as much in non payroll comp. And you think that is justifiable? Really?

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/income/2010-08-10-1Afedpay10_ST_N.htm

  37. Jean says:

    GROG,

    Nate Silver discussed the Rasmussen poll you reference. As Nate writes: “We’ve noted before that the automated polling firm Rasmussen Reports has had problems with bias in a statistical sense: in the election last fall, its polls overestimated the standing of Republican candidates by roughly 4 percentage points on average.

    A somewhat different issue arises today in a poll the firm conducted on the dispute in Wisconsin between Gov. Scott Walker and some of the state’s public-employee unions.

    The poll, which included people that Rasmussen deemed to be “likely voters” from across the country, found that 48 percent of respondents agreed more with Mr. Walker in the dispute, while 38 percent agreed more with “the union for teachers and other state employees.”

    That question, though, was the fourth one Rasmussen asked in the survey — and the questions that came before it may have biased the responses.

    According to the firm’s statement of question wording, these were the first four questions Rasmussen asked in the poll:

    1: How closely have you followed news reports about the Wisconsin governor’s effort to limit collective bargaining rights for most state employees?

    2: Does the average public employee in your state earn more than the average private sector worker in your state, less than the average private sector worker in your state, or do they earn about the same amount?

    3: Should teachers, firemen and policemen be allowed to go on strike?

    4: In the dispute between the governor and the union workers, do you agree more with the governor or the union for teachers and other state employees?

    There is nothing wrong with the first question, which simply asks people whether they have been following events in Madison. But the second and third questions are arguably problematic.

    The issue is clearest with the third question, which asked respondents whether “teachers, firemen and policemen” should be allowed to go on strike. By invoking the prospect of such strikes, which are illegal in many places (especially for the uniformed services) and which many people quite naturally object to, the poll could potentially engender a less sympathetic reaction toward the protesters in Wisconsin. It is widely recognized in the scholarship on the subject, and I have noted before, that earlier questions in a survey can bias the response to later ones by framing an issue in a particular way and by casting one side of the argument in a less favorable light.

    The Rasmussen example is more blatant than most. While many teachers have been among the protesters at the State Capitol in Madison, obliging the city to close its schools for days, there have been no reports of reductions in police or fire services, and in fact, uniformed services are specifically exempted from the proposals that the teachers and other public-sector employees are protesting. So bringing in the uniformed services essentially makes No. 3 a talking point posed as a question.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/rasmussen-poll-on-wisconsin-dispute-may-be-biased/

  38. Justsayin' says:

    Mule Rider is right for once, this will bear out in spades, but not the way he thinks it will. The only people rootin’ for the wisconsin gov., are the same teaper folks who have gone down this path for a while. The Rasmussen pole was already looked at by Nate Silver and of course he didn’t think much of it. When my daughters were looking at majors, I discouraged them from going into teaching, why, because teachers don’t get any respect and they are the first ones that politicians like to scape goat. It’s always been that way. Since Walker has been disingenuious with his demands, and it really isn’t the budget, if I were the union bosses I would take my concessions off the table and start the negotioations from scratch. I’d go on strike. If they don’t stand up for themselves, no one will. All the muleys, and grogs and gators and such can keep their tea party utopia and the rest of us will continue to build and take care of this great nation.

  39. GROG says:

    Of course it’s justifiable, Gator. Because government workers are smarter and more skilled than non-government workers. And that’s a message that’s really going to resonate with the 95% of non-government workers in Wisoconsin.

  40. rgbact says:

    Can someone tell me a profession that is underpaid? People always think professions other than their own make too much money. But, I guess teachers decided to unionize, so thats what you get when you decide to air your salary negotiations out in public.

  41. Gator says:

    Grog

    It’s funny. Lots of opinion until the actual numbers are displayed. Lots of noise until asked to justify 400% more non-payroll comp than the private sector. Suddenly it’s very quiet.

    And notice this perfect example: DC said –

    @Gator
    “At a time when workers’ pay and benefits have stagnated,”

    Thank you for reminding us all how badly the Republicans screwed up the economy for the last decade.
    I don’t think it’s proper to punish our dedicated public workers for having made good decisions. I think it’s better to punish the people like the Koch brothers whose economic lobbying on behalf of the wealthiest of Americans is destroying the Middle Class.”

    Grab a single statement that has NOTHING to do with the point and create a lovely strawman. And notice the “I don’t think” – “I think” noise.

    DC what you think has absolutely no value. Your opinion is meaningless in this debate. Facts are what matter. But you cannot win on facts so you obfuscate and spout opinion. Address the ridiculous disparity in Fed v. Private sector income. Justify 400% higher non payroll compensation levels with reason and logic. Explain to me how those #s are acceptable. Try to address the issue and leave the big bad boogeymen (Koch bros) strawman arguments out of it.

  42. Bartbuster says:

    Gator, the 400% number is meaningless unless you can show that it is for jobs with similar qualifications. You also have to show that the non-payroll comp isn’t making up for lower salaries. Good luck with that.

  43. Gator says:

    JustSayin said: “I’d go on strike.”

    Just demonstrated that you do not know what you are talking about. Seems a common theme on this issue.

    It is illegal for public unions to strike in Wisconsin. Whatever you may feel regarding the Walker admin, they are acting within the framework of the law and the Wisconsin constitution.
    The Dems that left the state to prevent a quorum are not. The teachers who are staying away from class are not. Should the unions strike they also would be in violation of the law. So apparently what you and many on here are advocating is the commission of criminal acts for the purpose of political leverage. Is that correct?

  44. dcpetterson says:

    Gator, compare the educational levels and job titles of public sector workers with private sector workers.

    Most of the former low-level and entry-level government positions have now been contracted out to private firms. So the only jobs left in the public sector tend to be higher-paying jobs. If you compare public workers and private workers with similar education and job descriptions, you’ll find that public sector workers tend to earn less than their private-sector counterparts.

    But we’ve discussed this before. Have you forgotten those previous discussions? Or do you simply want to score political points by pretending the propaganda you’re repeating has not previously been shown to be nonsense?

  45. Mainer says:

    I would be curious to have some one comment on this? So with starting teacher pay in Wisconsin at 25,222 and average teacher pay at 46,390 the fact that teachers decided collectively to go for benefits over imediate pay (some thing that has been done nation wide) so now the answer is you get to work for the low pay (I’m sorry I can hear some of you now that think this pay is way too much as well but having been a teacher for 30 years ……… well I don’t) just another attack on any one that does not toe the conservative line.

    http://www.grist.org/article/2011-02-23-prank-call-provides-proves-billionaire-david-koch-owns

  46. dcpetterson says:

    Can someone tell me a profession that is underpaid?

    Definitely start with teachers. There is no way they make as much money as they should, for the amount and importance of the work they do.

    Then extend that to nearly everyone in the private sector. Republican economic policies have stagnated wages for a decade, while we continue transferring wealth to the upper-upper-upper class through a tax structure that immensely favors the wealthy. and a business climate that punishes people who work for a living.

    The conservative ideal is to take away any rights or protections workers have, and any power to to bargain for a better deal. Conservatives want to concentrate as much wealth and power as possible into the hands of their betters, the elite few who are Captains of Industry, or who make their incredible wealth by gambling with our retirement money through buying and selling pieces of paper.

    Welcome back to the Middle Ages.

  47. Gator says:

    DC

    I showed numbers supporting my position. I have no idea what discussion(s) you are referring to. Post something supporting the data you just quoted. I posted the numbers supporting mine with a link. I posted numbers. From you so far…

    nothing but opinion, talking points and rhetoric. 400% more in non-payroll comp Shrinks. Non-payroll compensation that is close to TOTAL private sector income. Justify that.

    Federal employee NON-PAYROLL comp – $41,791
    Private sector employee TOTAL COMP- $61,057

    Federal bennies (just the benefits) are equal to 70% of the TOTAL COMPENSATION for private sector.
    Federal total compensation is on average more than 200% of private total compensation. The average Fed government worker receives more than double the compensation of the average private worker.

    These are facts. Address them.

  48. Bartbuster says:

    These are facts. Address them.

    Gstor, do you think a Walmart greeter should get the same pay as a teacher?

  49. rgbact says:

    Gator-

    Do you have stats on what % of each workforce have a college/advanced degree? The federal worforce may be more highly skilled. Not sure.

    Also, bashing union employees for making more money could also imply that us non-union people need to be in unions. If I say baseball players get higher salaries when negotiating with agents than without…..that seems to imply more people should hire agents as they do a good job. Unless you’re a team owner.

  50. Number Seven says:

    Walker just got . punked by a journalist pretending to be one of the Koch brothers.

    Priceless and criminal. May this asshole get the Nixon treatment.

  51. Justsayin' says:

    Gator, you answered pretty quickly that walking would be illegal, if it is the case, then Walker could fire all the teachers. Wow, what perception would the public take from that. Because after all, it is all about perception.

  52. Number Seven says:

    •Total compensation. Federal compensation has grown 36.9% since 2000 after adjusting for inflation, compared with 8.8% for private workers.

    At least Federal compensation has kept up with inflation, unlike private compensation.

    All that has happened is just proof of how private wages have stagnated over the last 30 years. Thank you Reganomics /s

  53. GROG says:

    Number Seven,

    The Buffalo Beast? Really? I guess because their editor said it’s “absolutely legit”, it must be! LMAO!

  54. Number Seven says:

    Sorry Mainer, you beat me to it. What a call, omg, there are possible conspiracy charges here if this proves to really be Walker on the phone.

  55. Gator says:

    SC

    Forgive my ignorance. I thought we were a nation of laws.
    Apparently we are a nation of perceptions.
    Do you even think before you speak?

  56. Number Seven says:

    GROG, laugh all you want. If this proves to be true, this would be very very bad for Walker.

  57. rgbact says:

    Grog-

    Sounds like Huffington Post wants the audio to be true so bad….it can’t be troubled with source checking. Journalistisc integrity not so much. Like Maddow and her Wisc budget numbers and Daily Kos and their blaming Palin for Tuscon—just throw it out there is the motto. Do they have any of Walker’s ex-gilfriends talking about how he didn’t trim his pubes? High level journalism there.

    Yes, the evil Koch brothers and Sarah Palin are pulling all the strings in our wild right wing conspiracy. We have a conference call on Thursday nights where we get our marching orders.

  58. Number Seven says:

    Lets look at the numbers. Granted, this is a study from 2008 but…
    Please look at page 4. Wisconson has it’s pension fund funded almost fully. In other words, there is NO CRISIS. Walker is a liar and a possible criminal.

  59. parksie,

    The libs are in deep, deep denial on this one.

    I think you’re confusing the categories of “liberal” and “government employee.”

  60. Gator says:

    Training and Advancement
    About this section
    The educational and training requirements for jobs in the Federal Government mirror those in the private sector for most major occupational groups. Many jobs in managerial or professional and related occupations, for example, require a 4-year college degree. Some, such as engineers, physicians and surgeons, and biological and physical scientists, require a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specific field of study. In addition, many occupations, such as registered nurses or engineering technicians may require at least 2 years of training after high school. Many additional Federal jobs, such as those in office and administrative support, have more general requirements. Some have no formal educational requirement, while others require a high school diploma or some related experience.

    Table 5. Average annual salaries for full-time workers in the Federal Government in selected occupations, 2009 Occupation
    Salary

    General attorney
    128,422

    Financial management
    119,671

    General engineering
    114,839

    Air traffic control
    109,218

    Economist
    108,010

    Chemistry
    101,687

    Computer science
    100,657

    Microbiology
    97,264

    Architecture
    94,056

    Criminal investigating
    93,897

    Customs and border protection
    92,558

    Statistics
    92,322

    Accounting
    91,541

    Information technology management
    91,104

    Librarian
    84,796

    Ecology
    84,283

    Human resources management

    81,837

    Budget analysis
    80,456

    Nurse
    77,166

    Chaplain
    75,485

    Mine safety and health
    75,222

    Engineering technical
    69,092

    Medical technologist
    64,774

    Border patrol agent
    59,594

    Correctional officer
    53,459

    Police
    52,085

    Legal assistance
    48,668

    Fire protection and prevention
    48,166

    Secretary
    46,384

    Tax examining
    42,035

    Human resources assistance

    40,334

    Nursing assistant
    34,728

    SOURCE: U.S. Office of Personnel Management

    http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs041.htm

  61. GROG says:

    rgbact,

    They’ve reduced themselves to reporting gossip from a tabloid, verified by the editor of the tabloid saying it’s legit. Amazing.

  62. Gator says:

    My apologies ShortChain. This…
    “Forgive my ignorance. I thought we were a nation of laws.
    Apparently we are a nation of perceptions.
    Do you even think before you speak?”

    should have been aimed at Justsayin’.

    So again SC my abject apology. Even I am susceptible to committing a foolish faux pas. LOL!

  63. rgbact says:

    Grog-

    Sources on HuffPo are now saying that Walker is the real father of Trig. It seems Sarah had an affair with Walker when she found out Todd and David Koch were frequenting brothels in Anchorage. We’re now awaiting further details from some random liberal blogger living in an igloo in Alaska.

  64. dcpetterson says:

    Gator, thanks for posting those salary numbers. They seem reasonable to me. I work in the private sector, I have all my life. My salary is substantially higher than the listed average salary for public employees for my profession — but then, I’m substantially better than average 🙂

  65. rgbact,

    Pension liabilities are very sensitive to an assumed discount rate, which is generally tied to yields on bonds.

    Or to inflation rates, which open market bonds tend to track pretty closely.

    Maybe blaming Bernanke is wrong, but low interest rates have a downside.

    Blaming Bernanke is wrong. Open market interest rates (including those of government bonds) are almost entirely based on supply and demand. If you want to see bond rates rise, you should be encouraging more government borrowing or higher inflation rates.

    As for retiree health care, obviously this is very unfunded. Compliance with GASB45 is basically mandatory and didn’t really kick in until 2007. Some states are attempting to start funding, which adds cost.

    In other words, in the past, they were sticking their heads in the sand, and pretending the problem wasn’t there. Now that it’s public, they have to fix what they broke. The problem isn’t GASB45. You don’t blame law enforcement for exposing crime; you blame the criminal for committing it.

  66. Number Seven says:

    Yep, attack the source, attack the messenger. Damn, you guys are predictable.

    This could be Walker’s Blagojavich moment.

  67. Gator,

    Average Federal non salary benefits 2009 – $41,791
    Average Private non salary benefits 2009 – $10,589

    Average Fed Salary- $81,258
    Average Priv Salary- $50,462

    So the average Fed employee receives a salary that is on average 60% higher than his/her private sector counterpart and benefits compensation that is roughly 400% of their private sector counterpart.

    Except that the numbers don’t say what you claim they say. The average federal employee receives a salary that is on average 60% higher than the average private sector employee. There is nothing to suggest that the average private sector employee is the “counterpart.”

    I can assure you that the average employee at Google receives a much higher income than the average employee at McDonalds. Are those two average employees comparable? Is it not justifiable for the Google employee to make so much more?

  68. Justsayin' says:

    Gator, well yes I do. The republican party is all about perception. That’s it in a nutshell. It is not about safety nets for the poor or protecting the middle class, or protecting the evironment, or minority rights or womens rights or unborn children, or born children, you get the drift.

  69. Regarding average ‘public’ salaries… you do realize that most of the labor jobs such as janitorial work, maintenance, and most non-educated positions are outsourced to private firms, right? Therefore when doing a comparison you should really be comparing jobs that require a college degree in both sectors to really do a fair comparison. That’s if you actually want to do a fair comparison, which I’m betting you don’t.

  70. dcpetterson says:

    Michael Weiss said to Gator:

    Except that the numbers don’t say what you claim they say. The average federal employee receives a salary that is on average 60% higher than the average private sector employee. There is nothing to suggest that the average private sector employee is the “counterpart.”

    I suspect Gator (and others who make that argument) think of the average public worker as being comparable to the average Walmart or McDonald’s employee. You don’t see many $80,000 burger flippers. That, I think, is where the ire comes from. The public sector is sometimes considered, by people on the right, as being the place for workers who aren’t good enough or ambitious enough to find a “real job.”

    Public sector jobs are devalued. One example: though we trust our children and their education to our nation’s teachers, we don’t value the teachers themselves. For the amount of education they have, and the horrendous hours they put in, and the vital importance of their jobs for our nation (and even for the well-being of our children!), we pay them a pittance. If this were a just world, they’d all have six-figure incomes. I can think of few professions who are worth more (maybe First Responders — who are also paid far too little, and who are often, in fact, volunteers).

    So, in exchange for paying them a fraction of what they’re worth, I’m more than willing to give them good health care and a livable pension. Any less would be a gross injustice.

    To demonize public employees (who, by the way, are also taxpayers!) for having had the good sense and dedication to serve our nation — well, that’s simply criminal. To punish them by dragging them down to a level below where ten years of Republican economics has put the rest of us, just to vent our ire at someone else having the audacity to have made a deal they can live with — it’s the height of selfish vindictiveness.

    And this is what passes for conservative economic thought.

  71. shortchain says:

    Gator,

    You ask: “Forgive my ignorance. ”

    I forgive you for mistaking me for someone else — but really, you should ask that person’s forgiveness, not mine.

    As for ignorance — as long as it’s not willful, OK. I’m still undecided in your case.

    This whole discussion revolves around what “counterpart” means — but there is no private “counterpart” in any significant way to most federal employees. Almost all the scut work has been privatized, leaving only managerial employees in most places. So I have just a couple of questions:

    1. Does anyone here really believe that the government, GOP-dominated for most of the last 30+ years, really allowed the pay + benefits of federal workers to go far above what those people could get in private industry? Don’t forget that, when the DHS was created, one of the issues was that the administration didn’t want it subject to the usual rules — and they got their way. So, really, do you believe this pay inequality exists?

    2. Given that the answer to question number 1 above is obviously “no”, why is it all of a sudden such a huge issue? Is it the downturn in the economy? Because if that’s the case, we can just allow the federal pay to languish until it’s in line. Obviously, there must be some other reason for the current screaming. What is it, really?

    Could it be just the usual internalized hatred of all government always? And if it is, why should we care?

  72. dcpetterson says:

    GROG, rgbact, you did notice that Walker’s office confirmed the phone call, right?

  73. rgbact says:

    MW-

    I’m just pointing out the new realities for states. Yes, its good that these costs are now more tranparent. The question is why not have a simlar setup for Soc Sec and Medicare so those costs can be more transparent rather then constantly letting politicians ignore/underfund them?

    Yes, I’d like to see higher rates. The fact that we just had a period where a ton of loans to homeowners were made that could’t be paid back, yet borrowing rates are still low has alot of us puzzled. I’m just pointing out that it has a downside.

  74. Mule Rider says:

    “And this is what passes for conservative economic thought.”

    It’s no worse than pinning your hopes on a prank phone call to Gov. Walker from “David Koch” and pushing it as “legit” before it’s been verified as being true. That’s what seems to pass for intellectual liberal thought.

  75. Gator,

    Forgive my ignorance. I thought we were a nation of laws.
    Apparently we are a nation of perceptions.

    Are the two mutually exclusive?

  76. dcpetterson says:

    Gator, I wanted to add on that salary list — do you have he minimum requirements for each of those public positions? Because the average salaries themselves are meaningless without comparing things like prior training, years of experience, and so forth. Thanks, I’ll await your additional data.

  77. DC,

    My salary is substantially higher than the listed average salary for public employees for my profession…

    I came to much the same conclusion. For most of my professional career, my salary and benefits have been much better than those of my public employee counterparts. For whatever that’s worth.

  78. Justsayin’,

    The republican party is all about perception.

    Politics is all about perception. People vote based on their perceptions of the candidates and issues. The extent to which their perception aligns with reality is almost coincidental.

  79. dcpetterson says:

    rgbact
    The question is why not have a simlar setup for Soc Sec and Medicare so those costs can be more transparent rather then constantly letting politicians ignore/underfund them?

    I’ll give you that Medicare has issues, and needs to be fixed. The entire medical care delivery system needs to be overhauled, possibly by nationalizing it.

    Social Security is a different matter. Soc Sec currently has a $2.5 trillion surplus. It contributes nothing whatever to the annual deficit. If nothing is done, it will remain solvent until 2037. With a single simple tweak (eliminating the income cap on contributions), we can make it solvent forever, without raising the retirement age or cutting benefits. So we don’t have to talk about Social Security as being “underfunded”, though the simple necessary tweak is being rather “ignored.”

  80. rgbact,

    The question is why not have a simlar setup for Soc Sec and Medicare so those costs can be more transparent rather then constantly letting politicians ignore/underfund them?

    It seems that Social Security has been mighty transparent for a long time, but that’s probably because I pay more attention to it than does the average citizen. That said, I’m only opposed to transparency in government in the small number of cases where national security is at stake, so you won’t hear me oppose more transparency in Social Security, Medicare, or any other social service.

    Yes, I’d like to see higher [interest] rates.

    Why? What would higher rates accomplish? What goals are you looking to achieve?

    The fact that we just had a period where a ton of loans to homeowners were made that could’t be paid back, yet borrowing rates are still low has alot of us puzzled.

    It’s not really that puzzling. You have to keep in mind that not all borrowers are the same, and there is tremendous price discrimination in the financial lending industry. If you consider what sorts of loans are not being issued, coupled with factors related to the broader economy, it should become clear why lending interest rates are very low.

  81. shortchain says:

    MR,

    That “conversation with Koch” has been verified. It’s real. And the transcript is absolutely damning.

    Deal with it.

  82. GROG says:

    @DC,

    Yes I did just see that.

    Is this the kind of civil discourse we were being lectured about a few weeks ago from the left?

  83. DC (and rgbact),
    It’s important to remember that Social Security, despite perceptions, is not a pension. As such, the actuarial treatments commonly applied to pensions cannot be similarly applied to Social Security. Of course, that’s not to say that actuarial principles don’t apply to Social Security; it’s just that they’re much more complex, since you’re not taking money from Person A, putting it into a fund, and then using the proceeds from that fund to either pay Person A directly or buy a contract to pay Person A. Instead, money from Person B’s employment today is being used to pay for Person A’s benefits today. Many, many more variables enter into those calculations, and so the potential error is much greater.

  84. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    I’m not sure I understand your last comment. What is “uncivil” about fooling a fool into talking candidly about his underhanded and dishonest schemes? Walker was simply “hoist by his own petard”.

  85. GROG,

    Is this the kind of civil discourse we were being lectured about a few weeks ago from the left?

    I must be dense. What on earth are you talking about? Was there some sort of hyperbole in the text around the transcript?

  86. Bartbuster says:

    In Grogworld making wingnuts look foolish is “uncivil”.

  87. Brian says:

    At least it seems like Walker really believes he’s doing the right thing. This doesn’t appear to be purely a political maneuver. That should at least count for something, maybe not a lot, but still.

  88. Gator says:

    Piss and moan, piss and moan and keep looking for something in the numbers to justify the inconvenient fact that the average Federal employee makes MORE THAN DOUBLE the average private sector employee.

    As far as comparisons: the average Wal Mart greeter is, IMO, more professional and more customer friendly than the average Federal employee. Take a trip through TSA security at the airport and tell me I’m wrong. LMAO!

    And once again I will ask: Do you support the unions and their members breaking the laws of Wisconsin for the purposes of political gain? Do you support sedition as a method of negotiation? Why will none of you answer this?

    @DC

    Well good for you DC. So may we assume you will be tithing say 85% of your income to the government, that government being the object of your deification. Reach out to your fellow man and give ’til it hurts DC.

  89. Mule Rider says:

    “That “conversation with Koch” has been verified. It’s real. And the transcript is absolutely damning.”

    http://spectator.org/blog/2011/02/23/prank-call-reveals-that-scott

    Yeah, no kidding it’s real. And the transcript doesn’t even put the slightest dent in his honor/integrity and, as Brian says, shows he believes he’s doing the right thing and not just playing political games or doing anything underhanded/dishonest.

    Deal with it.

  90. shortchain says:

    Since Walker’s beliefs are based on nothing, they count for nothing. Like good intentions, they are nothing but paving on the road to perdition.

  91. Mule Rider says:

    “In Grogworld making wingnuts look foolish is “uncivil”.”

    No, I think 1) calling the governor of Wisconsin’s office posing as someone else, and 2) making a stream of unflattering or outright bizarre comments trying to goad the governor into agreeing is what borders on “uncivil.”

  92. Gator says:

    SC said: “As for ignorance — as long as it’s not willful, OK. I’m still undecided in your case.”

    And I will continue to try and be a riddle surrounded by a conundrum wrapped in an enigma. The only truth that you need to know about me is that I take almost nothing in this world seriously. And whatever I post on here is for your edification and my amusement.

  93. dcpetterson says:

    @Michael Weiss

    You make an important point, that Social Security is not, and should not be thought of as, a pension. The nice thing about that is that it can be tweaked and adjusted on the fly (though it seldom is, because doing so is politically explosive, for a host of reasons).

    OTOH, the “Social Security Trust Fund” (established during the Reagan era–correct my historical memory, if I’m in error–to deal with the coming retirement of the Baby Boomers) has an element of pension-ness to it, in that its purpose is to build up the necessary surplus to handle a reduction in the contributors-to-retirees ratio. Thus, it functions, to a limited extent, like a pension fund.

    Similarly, the payouts are calculated based on a formula that considers how much the retiree has contributed, and the retiree’s income over the most productive years of life. This is in contrast to, say, a flat payment of $X for each retiree, or some other such arrangement. This is similar to pensions, which also have payouts based on contributions and maximum earnings during productive years.

    But in general, you’re correct. The whole point of Social Security was to insure that even people whose life situations made them unable to build up a pension or substantial savings would still be able to live a dignified retirement. It has been an incredibly successful program. Before Soc Sec, something like 60% – 80% of American seniors lived below the poverty level, an appalling percentage of them dying penniless and often homeless as well. The percentage of American seniors in poverty has now fallen to something like 2% (someone can probably find more accurate numbers — mine are A) from memory and b) out of date). And this has been achieved by a program with almost incredibly little overhead, and one that has remained solvent for something like 70 years.

    It is an example of what a public program can and should be. Naturally, the right has been trying to kill it from Day One, because it puts to lie the meme that government cannot work. It shows, in fact, that government can work, and often can do so far better than anything the private sector has to offer. If the private sector had achieved the success of Social Security, then Social Security would never have been needed. And that’s the point of it.

  94. shortchain says:

    Gator,

    I’m glad you are obtaining amusement. On the edification front, though, I have to tell you that you are coming through a bit weak. Low signal-to-noise there.

  95. Gator,

    Piss and moan, piss and moan and keep looking for something in the numbers to justify the inconvenient fact that the average Federal employee makes MORE THAN DOUBLE the average private sector employee.

    So you think that the Google employees are overpaid? Or are the McDonalds employees underpaid?

  96. Yeah, no kidding it’s real. And the transcript doesn’t even put the slightest dent in his honor/integrity and, as Brian says, shows he believes he’s doing the right thing and not just playing political games or doing anything underhanded/dishonest.

    You don’t think it will do anything when this entire time he has been claiming that this is solely a deficit cutting issue and has nothing to do with unionized labor? Right….

  97. Mule Rider says:

    “Since Walker’s beliefs are based on nothing, they count for nothing. Like good intentions, they are nothing but paving on the road to perdition.”

    What a pathetic response.

    Just like most of the rest of the garbage/vitriol spewed here. Simply pathetic.

    If you guys had any shame…

  98. Mule Rider says:

    “You don’t think it will do anything when this entire time he has been claiming that this is solely a deficit cutting issue and has nothing to do with unionized labor?”

    This “call” won’t matter one iota.

    Watch and see.

  99. Brian says:

    @MR,

    No, I don’t agree with leaving the state to block a quorum. My liberal tendencies make it harder to say this than if it were Republicans leaving the state, which I would be bashing nonstop. However, even if I agree with their intentions, I can’t agree with the way they’re doing it. I genuinely do wish there was a way the minority could do more in this case, but it doesn’t appear there is.

  100. Mule,

    If you guys had any shame…

    Are you unable to distinguish between shortchain and anyone else here?

  101. Gator says:

    MW : Yes.

    ShortChain: Or mayhaps a comprehension issue… ” What we have heyah, is a failure to communicate.”

  102. dcpetterson says:

    @Mule Rider
    This “call” won’t matter one iota.

    You may be correct. Anyone who isn’t a right-winger already knew Walker was lying, and that this whole thing has nothing to do with the Wisconsin deficit. And the right-wingers don’t care, because they also want to kill unions, and also are concerned with deficits only in so far as they can be used as a political tool.

    Which means, I suppose, that everyone already recognized Walker’s dishonesty; those that disliked it before still will now, and those who approve of such tactics will continue to do so.

    There may be a small number of people who took Walker’s campaign rhetoric seriously, and they may vote Democratic in 2012, seeing as he’s shown he wasn’t serious. There also may be some previously-unexcited progressives, who have now found a vital cause to rally behind, and they, too, will likely turn out in ’12. The conservatives who have been excited by this debacle thing were already pumped up–Teapers voted in pretty respectable numbers in ’10. How much of a difference all that will make, I’m not sure. Far too early to tell.

  103. GROG says:

    Michael said: I must be dense. What on earth are you talking about?

    The spokesman for Walker said the website is attempting to “disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having”. You don’t agree with that? Or you think prank calling a governor, pretending to be someone else, is civil?

  104. Gator,

    MW : Yes.

    Got it. You’re not serious. OK, thanks for playing.

  105. rgbact says:

    DC-

    Sadly, I think nationilizing Medicare is better than current. I wouldn’t be torn up if all doctors became govt employees and put on salary. At least the one’s that serve Medicare patients.

    Soc Sec has no surplus. It has assets. Calling that a surplus is like Bernie Madoff saying he had enough money to pay older investors….cuz he collected alot of money from new ones. Its sort of like the CLASS act in PPACA…..its an underfunded program who’s annual “surpluses” make everything else look affordable.

    I want higher rates cuz I want people to stop borrowing money they can’t afford to pay back.

  106. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    How many public sector unions in Mississippi?

    How many public sector unions in Idaho?

    How many public sector unions in North Carolina?

    How many public sector unions in Texas?

    Only the right wing, social conservative, middle class destroying, elitist loving folks see a correlation between state budget deficits and public sector unions.

  107. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    For those who say Scott Walker is NOT a deceitful liar and had campaigned on ending public sector unions so he is just doing what he said he would do, here is his campaign site , “Issues” page.

    Please point out to this comprehension challenged progressive just where here it states that fact.

    Thanks.

  108. dcpetterson says:

    rgbact –

    Soc Sec has assets because it has run a surplus for thirty years. “Surplus” means it takes in more money then it pays out — which it currently does, and has done since the 1980’s. (This year may be an exception, because of the terrible recession — with so many people out of work, receipts have temporarily fallen off.) Soc Sec collected its “assets” through having had three decades of surpluses.

    I agree with you about the medical delivery system. I believe many Western nations have publicaly-funded salaried doctors, and it works rather well. In most of those countries, the education costs for doctors are also covered by public funds, which is probably a necessary prerequisite, so the doctors aren’t saddled with the horrendous college loans they have today. This may be a necessary apart of controlling medical costs.

    On higher interest rates — surprisingly, the highest rates currently being charged are on credit cards given to people with the lowest credit ratings. (Low federal rates have somehow not stopped banks from charging close to 40% on a lot of unsecured debt.) It also puzzles me that banks charge the most to the people who are least able to pay the exorbitant rates; and, thus, are more likely to get into financial straits because of the enormous interest payments. Oh well, the world is a perverse place 🙂

  109. Gator says:

    Max

    I think this was probably an RGA plan. Were I them, collectively or individually I wouldn’t have announced it on my campaign website(s), either.

    I think it was actually a pretty well thought out plan.

    Or maybe I just like Machiavellian intrique and I’m full of sh**.

  110. rgbact says:

    DC-

    I could’ve at least accepted PPACA if it contained those kind of fundamental changes. I woul’dnt have liked them but at least I could see its a new idea and might actually lower costs (my primary goal). Without that, PPACA seemed just like a cost shifter, not saver, and one more way for politicians to make promises they can’t afford to keep.

  111. Mule Rider says:

    “Are you unable to distinguish between shortchain and anyone else here?”

    The line that separates each of you is generally pretty blurry.

  112. Mule Rider says:

    “…social conservative, middle class destroying….”

    I guess you don’t realize how many social conservatives ARE middle class (or vice versa).

  113. Justsayin' says:

    Scott Walker’s plan all along was to destroy the unions, and he honestly didn’t think it would be that difficult. Those teachers would just do as thier told, like they always have. He felt public opinion would be on his side, he did win the govenorship didn’t he? Obama got a huge shellacking, didn’t he? Well it certainly didn’t turn out to be that easy, and Indiana’s gov. has already taken out his union destroying bill. We’ll all see how this turns out. Gator, Grog I’ll bring this back up at a later time.

  114. Mule Rider says:

    “Or you think prank calling a governor, pretending to be someone else, is civil?”

    Remember how up in arms these bastards were at how ACORN was brought down under the false pretenses of Hannah Giles/James O’Keefe?

    Never mind the crooked, underhanded, and deviant things that were being said/done by ACORN employees, it only mattered that they were set up by people pretending to be something they were not, and THAT’S JUST NOT FAIR…..WAAAAAH!!!

    Turnabout is fair play….and sometimes it’s a bitch.

  115. shortchain says:

    MR,

    Perhaps you need new glasses. Or a CT scan, if one of them mules kicked you in the head recently.

    For example, right now I’m going to have to correct something DC said. Social Security will take in less than it pays out this year because of the 2.5 percent cut in SS taxes agreed to as part of the execrable extension of the Bush tax cuts. So it will be in deficit this year and the next. And if, as expected, there’s another crap deal in two years, you can expect it to fall further into deficit. Of course, it still won’t burn through the 2.5 Trillion that was built up by overtaxing those of us in the 1945+ contingent for about 20 years, but naturally the “deficit hawks” want to renege on that debt and pretend we didn’t, as a matter of fact, pay all that extra in.

  116. mclever says:

    @dcpetterson

    Public sector jobs are devalued. One example: though we trust our children and their education to our nation’s teachers, we don’t value the teachers themselves. For the amount of education they have, and the horrendous hours they put in, and the vital importance of their jobs for our nation (and even for the well-being of our children!), we pay them a pittance. If this were a just world, they’d all have six-figure incomes. I can think of few professions who are worth more (maybe First Responders — who are also paid far too little, and who are often, in fact, volunteers).

    So, in exchange for paying them a fraction of what they’re worth, I’m more than willing to give them good health care and a livable pension. Any less would be a gross injustice.

    To demonize public employees (who, by the way, are also taxpayers!) for having had the good sense and dedication to serve our nation — well, that’s simply criminal. To punish them by dragging them down to a level below where ten years of Republican economics has put the rest of us, just to vent our ire at someone else having the audacity to have made a deal they can live with — it’s the height of selfish vindictiveness.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. 🙂

  117. dcpetterson says:

    shortchain
    Social Security will take in less than it pays out this year because of the 2.5 percent cut in SS taxes agreed to as part of the execrable extension of the Bush tax cuts. So it will be in deficit this year and the next.

    Actually, the shortage in Soc Sec revenues caused by the two-year reduction in payroll tax is being made up for by money from the general fund. This was part of the tax deal. So actually, the temporary reduction isn’t going to affect Soc Sec at all.

    However, come 2013, there will be opposition to allowing the FICA tax to return to its pre-reduction levels, and that’s not so good. We’ll have to see whether the stimulative effect of the temporary middle-class tax cut is worth the various downsides. At any rate, it’s not as damaging as the tax cut for the over-$250,000 crowd, and it may actually have some positive benefit.

  118. GROG says:

    MR,

    Apparently, the left feels that phoning politicians pretending to be someone they’re not, goading them into a soundbite and using it for political gain, is acceptable and civil behavior in American politics.

    It hasn’t been condemned by anyone here.

    I listened to the call. It’s a non issue. Walker sounded very professional, even complimenting a Democratic legislator repeatedly.

  119. dcpetterson says:

    @Mule Rider
    Remember how up in arms these bastards were at how ACORN was brought down under the false pretenses of Hannah Giles/James O’Keefe?

    One difference is that the anti-ACORN sting tapes were highly edited, so much so as to be intentionally misleading. The full tapes did not show what the dishonest edited versions did. In contrast, the Walker tape transcript is complete, and even Walker’s people are not disputing it.

    Yes, “those bastards” who dummied up lies about ACORN drew a lot of anger for the false testimony they put before the public. The call to Walker, on the other hand, appears to be exactly what it is — a legitimate sting, with Walker’s statements and attitudes being honestly presented.

    As usual, as long as the conservatives keep telling lies about the progressives, the progressives must keep telling the truth about the conservatives.

  120. rgbact says:

    Has HuffPo gotten any more goodies from its TMZ reject staffers? Any success in hacking into Walker’s email? Any results from combing thru his trash cans? Interviews with ex-lovers?

  121. dcpetterson says:

    GROG, of course we’re not condemning it. The problem with the ACORN tapes wasn’t the fact of a sting. It was the dishonest editing. That your side embraced the ACORN tapes even after they were shown to be false, and yet are now condemning the call to Walker, says a lot about conservative willingness to embrace dishonesty for political gain.

    You’re trying to draw a false equivalence between (on the one hand) an intentional fraud perpetrated on the public by O’Keefe, committed for the purpose of knowingly telling lies so as to present a false image; and, on the other hand, a legitimate sting operation, which is revealing a fraud that Walker is attempting to perpetrate on the public. You are claiming that a sting operation that convicts someone like Madoff (who committed fraud = Walker) is the same as a dishonest cop who plants evidence to convict an innocent bystander ( = O’Keefe).

    Have you no sense of ethics or decency?

  122. Mule Rider says:

    “Apparently, the left feels that phoning politicians pretending to be someone they’re not, goading them into a soundbite and using it for political gain, is acceptable and civil behavior in American politics.”

    Since we’re dealing with some pretty slimy individuals, this shouldn’t be shocking.

    “It hasn’t been condemned by anyone here.”

    Nor will any other disgusting tactic so long as it’s something to promote a progressive goal. I doubt they have any concern over the doctors writing fake “sick excuses” for some of these teachers to abandon their jobs and demonstrate either. Never mind the illegality of that.

    “I listened to the call. It’s a non issue. Walker sounded very professional, even complimenting a Democratic legislator repeatedly.”

    Agreed. It’s nothing more than grasping at straws by people who know they’re on the wrong side of history on this issue.

    Funny how this has ignited a spark across parts of the blogosphere but is yet to draw even a meh/yawn from the mainstream……what arrogance in thinking that something “damning” has been uncovered.

    Nobody gives a shit what you guys say/think or what you may have “uncovered” because it’s a non-issue , so crawl back under your respective little bridges, trolls.

  123. mclever says:

    @MR, GROG, rgbact, etc.

    I haven’t said anything one way or t’other about the “sting” phone call because I haven’t listened to it (or read the transcript), nor do I intend to. In general, I’m not a fan of these sorts of gotcha tactics.

    However, based on the content as described in this thread, I’m not surprised at Walker’s alleged admissions during the call. I didn’t need a prank call to know from his own actions that he doesn’t care about budget cutting and just wants to bust the public unions. Unless there was some other dramatic revelation that I’m missing, color me not-so-shocked by this.

  124. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    When somebody who is pretending to be a friend calls and talks to a person, it isn’t a case of “goading them into a soundbite”

    Walker openly and clearly indicated that he planned to trick the legislators back on false pretenses and had absolutely no intention of really negotiating. In other words, he’s a dishonest, lying hack.

  125. Mule Rider says:

    “As usual, as long as the conservatives keep telling lies about the progressives, the progressives must keep telling the truth about the conservatives.”

    dc,

    You do realize you look like one pathetic, sorry-ass piece of shit for repeating this brainless talking point, don’ tyou?

    Lemme guess….reality has a liberal bias….or something to that effect, right?

    Pathetic and sad. Grow the %$^% up!

  126. Mule Rider says:

    “Walker openly and clearly indicated that he planned to trick the legislators back on false pretenses and had absolutely no intention of really negotiating. In other words, he’s a dishonest, lying hack.”

    Never mind the criminality of the legislators fleeing town and going into hiding….

    Partisan blinders….check!

  127. Mule Rider says:

    Any of you lefties wanna defend the doctors writing fake sick notes so that teachers can get out of work and go protest?

    Anybody?

    Wanna talk about what kind of dishonest, lying (and illegal) scum those people are?

  128. dcpetterson says:

    Mule Rider, as you descent into incoherency, I’m going enjoy an expensive cigar and a snifter of single-malt. You’d be welcome to share.

  129. GROG says:

    As long as private sector workers (many conservative and Republcian) are paying taxes to subsidize government union workers, who use the tax money to pay union dues which immediately go into the coffers of the Democratic Party, the left will be remain on the side of the union bosses.

    To the left Big Union = Big Donor. That’s the crux of this whole issue.

  130. dcpetterson says:

    As long as private sector workers (many progressive and Democratic) are paying taxes to subsidize big business interests and other corporate fatcats, who use the tax money to pay beltway lobbyists which immediately go into the coffers of the Republican Party, the right will be remain on the side of the corporate bosses.

    To the right Big Business = Big Donor. That’s the crux of this whole issue.

  131. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule Rider, as you descent into incoherency, I’m going enjoy an expensive cigar and a snifter of single-malt. You’d be welcome to share.”

    I’d deflect by drinking and smoking too if I were called out with questions making me look like a complete partisan asshat that I knew I couldn’t answer without increasing my asshattedness.

  132. Mule Rider says:

    “descent into incoherency”

    And what qualifies as a “descent into incoherency” to the left?

    Pointing out the TRUTH that the ACORN tapes uncovered some very disturbing information about a primarily liberal-sympathizing organization.

    Pointing out the TRUTH that it’s actually the Democratic lawmakers who fled town that are pissing all over Wisconsinites, NOT Gov. Walker through anything he said to “David Koch.”

    Pointing out the TRUTH that it’s criminal for doctors in Wisconsin to write fake sick notes so that teachers can go protest.

    Go right ahead and drown your willful ignorance, shrinky. There’s plenty of it to hold under water (or scotch).

  133. Mule,
    If you are unable to distinguish among the participants on this site, you may wish to reconsider your own participation. You’ll only end up in a froth of anger. It’s not healthy.

  134. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    MR,

    A) ““…social conservative, middle class destroying….”

    I guess you don’t realize how many social conservatives ARE middle class (or vice versa).” For more on self destructive behavior: see “Lindsay Lohan”. It Happens.

    B) “Never mind the criminality of the legislators fleeing town and going into hiding….”. Please cite the Wisconsin Criminal Code proscribing failure of a legislator to meet a quorum call. Unless you can, YOU just created your own fantasy world. And you put your ignorance out for all to see.

    Partisan blinders….check!“. Yep, we noticed.

  135. rgbact says:

    What’s funny is people that cry that employers have the upper hand. Who does it appear has the advantage in this employment relationship? Employees openly carry signs calling Walker every name in the book and lie about missing work….but they won’t lose their jobs. But if he is caught in private disparaging employees its a fricking scandal. Unions that openly disparage their employer can’t be too surprised when their employer feels the same way about them.

    Mclever-
    Good for you. I’ve been trying to avoid gonzo journalism too. Admitedly it appeals to the voyeur in all of us.

  136. shortchain says:

    MR,

    “Never mind the criminality of the legislators fleeing town and going into hiding”

    It’s not criminal. If it were, the governor could have them extradited.

    rgbact,

    “Who does it appear has the advantage in this employment relationship?”

    You apparently haven’t heard Walker’s open threat to fire thousands of teachers.

    The right to fire gives the governor the upper hand, wouldn’t you say?

  137. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    To paraphrase GROG (changes in bold):

    As long as private sector workers (many progressive and Democrat and independent) are paying taxes to subsidize tax breaks for corporations, who use the tax money to pay for lobbyists and unlimited campaign commercials which immediately go to support the Republican Party, the right will be remain on the side of CEO’s and the Boardroom.

    To the right Big Business = Big Donor. That’s the crux of this whole issue.

    Again, those who support Citizens United under the guise that it supports free speech for corporations (“unions of like minded individuals”, I believe you called them) should not be against unions of like minded workers having the same right.

    Can you say “hypocrisy” boys and girls?

  138. Brian says:

    Just wondering, does anyone have data on what public school teachers receive in compensation vs. private school/charter school teachers receive? I feel like that information would be useful, but I haven’t seen anything.

    Thanks,

  139. Gator says:

    Excerpts from the Wisconsin Constitution below and it clearly says that legislative attendance can be compulsory and that the Governor may call the legislature into session. Refusing would, I believe, place a legislator in contempt of an executive order and in violation of the state Constitution.

    http://legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/wisconst.pdf

    ARTICLE IV.
    LEGISLATIVE.
    Section
    1. Legislative power.
    2. Legislature, how constituted.
    3. Apportionment.
    4. Representatives to the assembly, how chosen.
    5. Senators, how chosen.
    6. Qualifications of legislators.
    7. Organization of legislature; quorum; compulsory
    attendance.
    8. Rules; contempts; expulsion.
    9. Officers.
    10. Journals; open doors; adjournments.
    11. Meeting of legislature

    Organization of legislature; quorum; compulsory
    attendance. SECTION 7. Each house shall be the judge of the
    elections, returns and qualifications of its own members; and a
    majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a
    smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel
    the attendance of absent members in such manner and under
    such penalties as each house may provide.

    Rules; contempts; expulsion. SECTION 8. Each house
    may determine the rules of its own proceedings, punish for contempt
    and disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two−
    thirds of all the members elected, expel a member; but no member
    shall be expelled a second time for the same cause.
    “Courts have no jurisdiction to review legislative rules of proceeding, which are
    those rules having “to do with the process the legislature uses to propose or pass
    legislation or how it determines the qualifications of its members.” Milwaukee
    Journal Sentinel v. DOA, 2009 WI 79, 319 Wis. 2d 439, 768 N.W.2d 700, 07−1160.
    The legislature cannot sentence a person to confinement for contempt without
    notice and without giving an opportunity to respond to the charge. Groppi v. Leslie,
    404 U.S. 496.”

    Officers. SECTION 9. [As amended April 1979] Each house
    shall choose its presiding officers from its own members. [1977
    J.R. 32, 1979 J.R. 3, vote April 1979]

    Journals; open doors; adjournments. SECTION 10.
    Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings and publish
    the same, except such parts as require secrecy. The doors of each
    house shall be kept open except when the public welfare shall
    require secrecy. Neither house shall, without consent of the
    other, adjourn for more than three days.

    Meeting of legislature. SECTION 11. [As amended Nov.
    1881 and April 1968] The legislature shall meet at the seat of
    government at such time as shall be provided by law, unless convened
    by the governor in special session, and when so convened
    no business shall be transacted except as shall be necessary to
    accomplish the special purposes for which it was convened.
    [1880 J.R. 9S, 1881 J.R. 7A, 1881 c. 262, vote Nov. 1881; 1965
    J.R. 57, 1967 J.R. 48, vote April 1968]
    ************************************************************************************

    ARTICLE V.
    EXECUTIVE.
    Section
    1. Governor; lieutenant governor; term.
    1m. Repealed.
    1n. Repealed.
    2. Eligibility.
    3. Election.
    4. Powers and duties

    Powers and duties. SECTION 4. The governor shall be
    commander in chief of the military and naval forces of the state.
    He shall have power to convene the legislature on extraordinary
    occasions, and in case of invasion, or danger from the prevalence
    of contagious disease at the seat of government, he may
    convene them at any other suitable place within the state. He
    shall communicate to the legislature, at every session, the condition
    of the state, and recommend such matters to them for their
    consideration as he may deem expedient. He shall transact all
    necessary business with the officers of the government, civil and
    military. He shall expedite all such measures as may be resolved
    upon by the legislature, and shall take care that the laws be faithfully
    executed.
    The legislature cannot require the governor to make specific recommendations
    to a future legislature or to include future appropriations in the executive budget
    bill. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 Wis. 2d 391, 208 N.W.2d 780.

  140. Mule Rider says:

    “Just wondering, does anyone have data on what public school teachers receive in compensation vs. private school/charter school teachers receive?”

    http://712educators.about.com/od/jobopenings/a/private-public.htm

    While there are many pros and cons to teaching in a private school, probably the biggest negative is the pay. Private school teachers make in most cases much less than their public school counterparts. Teacher pay at these schools is based on the tuition brought in by students. Therefore, expect to earn at least $10 – 15,000 less at a minimum if you choose to teach at a private school.

  141. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gator, you are confusing criminal code and house rules. And, the Gov. can call special session, not applying here, but he has no power of enforcement of attendance.

    Eg. The US House could take action against Charles Rangel for violation of House rules, but such did not meet the criteria of criminal actions.

    So say the WI Senate calls for action against all the Dem members for violation of house rules, they still need a quorum and, I believe, a 2/3rds vote to do anything.

    Get out the WI Criminal Statutes! You’ve made no points so far.

  142. Brian says:

    Thank you MR.

    It looks like teachers as a whole, are getting screwed. I can understand arguing most government workers are receiving too much, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it, but the handful of teachers I know are all almost as poor as me. And I’m a grad student, we’re the epitome of poor. I had a $0.64 pot pie for dinner yesterday. Perhaps if Walker was going after cutting government benefits, there would be better places to do it.

  143. shortchain says:

    I would suggest that it is not worthwhile to compare teacher salaries at public schools with teacher salaries at private schools, any more than it would be worthwhile to compare the salaries of fighter pilots in public service with those in private service.

    Private schools are overwhelmingly religiously supported in our area, and this skews the average salaries rather severely. I also note that the local religious (Catholic) schools do not publish their salaries.

    What openings we have locally show the same for all schools: 35K or thereabouts. Some of those appear to be for “academies” (either charter or private schools).

    Not much pay for a person with a bachelor’s degree.

  144. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    I hear some GOP apologists whining about the DOJ announcement on not defending the DOMA. They are going on about the “equal powers”, etc. and crying about the President taking unilateral action.

    Funny, I didn’t hear any such noise from them when Bush was issuing “signing statements” that essentially gutted and reinterpreted Laws passed by Congress over eight years!

    “Partisan blinders….check!“. Yep, we noticed.

  145. Gator says:

    Max I’m not confusing anything. I said that they would be in contempt of an executive order and in violation of the Constitution. The legislative bodies can censure or expel them through due process.

    I said the teachers/unions are violating Wisconsin law. Impasse resolution and mediation have not taken place. They are required before Wisconsin statute allows for a strike.

    WISCONSIN: Statute permits collective bargaining by municipal employees. Impasse resolution procedures include mediation and arbitration. Strikes are permitted after impasse resolution procedures have been exhausted.
    http://www.enotes.com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/labor-unions-strikes

    Just to be clear here is what I asked/said :

    “And once again I will ask: Do you support the unions and their members breaking the laws of Wisconsin for the purposes of political gain? Do you support sedition as a method of negotiation? Why will none of you answer this?”

    and

    “Refusing would, I believe, place a legislator in contempt of an executive order and in violation of the state Constitution.”

    It’s not I that is seemingly confused, Max.

  146. shortchain says:

    Gator,

    I have no idea what kind of crime “contempt of an executive order” means — I’ve never heard of anyone being charged with such a thing. Is it something like mopery and dopery?

    Google says: No results found for “contempt of an executive order”.

    I think you’re making stuff up.

  147. mclever says:

    Brian,

    From someone with an education degree who actually shopped for jobs as a teacher in a variety of schools:

    Parochial schools typically pay significantly less for experienced teachers:
    – Unlike public schools, private school teachers do not necessarily have to meet the same certification requirements, so some of their teachers lack credentials.
    – Usually seen as a “holy calling” justifying the lower pay.
    – Usually start out paying about the same as public, but lower increases for seniority, and less bonus for getting advanced education degrees.

    Elite private schools often pay substantially more:
    – Higher competition to draw “elite” teachers to justify high tuition.
    – If boarding school teachers live on campus, then that skews the income numbers, because they have no housing costs. They can make 25% less and still come out ahead.
    – Usually better working conditions, because problem students are weeded out.

    So, it’s not just a straight “private to public” comparison.

    Furthermore, salaries vary greatly state-to-state and county-to-county and district-to-district. When a school like New Trier can pay its starting teachers $45K and Oswego barely scrapes up $18K for its starters, you can guess which is the better-rated school…

    For me, I found that salaries for teachers (regardless of public vs private) were roughly 1/3 to 1/2 what I could get in the private sector working as a corporate trainer, which has less training, less work, less requirements, and less stress than public school teaching.

  148. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gator,

    Pay attention to the thread comments: Mule Rider: “Never mind the criminality of the legislators fleeing town and going into hiding”

    The response I made, and requested citation for, was concerning criminality, as Mule stated.

    That said: By the WI Constitution, the house (WI Senate) may, through it’s own due process, attempt to censure or expel a member violating the house rules. Problem is, it can’t meet the Constitutional requirement for quorum or the 2/3rds necessary to pass censure or expulsion.

    Damn!

    Sounds like time to do what ALL GOOD deliberative bodies do: compromise!

    Meanwhile, I shall engage no more with you whilst you admit you are playing the charlatan. Let Mule defend himself, if he can.

  149. rgbact,

    What’s funny is people that cry that employers have the upper hand. Who does it appear has the advantage in this employment relationship?

    Good to see you noticed. This is the primary function of unions. What they do with that shift in the balance of power is a different question entirely.

    Absent a union, employers very much have the upper hand in most cases.

  150. shortchain,

    The right to fire gives the governor the upper hand, wouldn’t you say?

    Only if he plans to use it. The primary power of unions is that firing all of them at once will leave a gaping hole that is very time consuming and expensive to fill.

  151. Gator says:

    Well Max I would say again that you seem a bit confused as it was you that said:

    “Gator, you are confusing criminal code and house rules. And, the Gov. can call special session, not applying here, but he has no power of enforcement of attendance.

    Eg. The US House could take action against Charles Rangel for violation of House rules, but such did not meet the criteria of criminal actions.

    So say the WI Senate calls for action against all the Dem members for violation of house rules, they still need a quorum and, I believe, a 2/3rds vote to do anything.

    Get out the WI Criminal Statutes! You’ve made no points so far.”

    You misstated what I had said and then asked for statute. If you don’t want to engage then quit misquoting me and asking for clarification. A touch of dementia, perhaps Max?

    @SC

    Man you guys have serious reading comprehension issues. NOWHERE did I say that it was a crime, but in fact it may be. And if you couldn’t find executive order and determine what would constitute contempt, you aren’t very bright. So let me show you…

    *********************************************************************************
    Governors’ executive orders

    Executive orders as issued by the governors of the states are not laws, but do have the same binding nature. Executive orders are usually based on existing constitutional or statutory powers of the Governor and do not require any action by the state legislature to take effect.

    Executive orders may, for example, demand budget cuts from state government when the state legislature is not in session, and economic conditions take a downturn, thereby decreasing tax revenue below what was forecast when the budget was approved. Depending on the state constitution, a governor may specify by what percentage each government agency must reduce by, and may exempt those that are already particularly underfunded, or cannot put long-term expenses (such as capital expenditures) off until a later fiscal year. The governor may in many states also call the legislature into special session. There are also other uses for gubernatorial executive orders. In 2007 for example, the governor of Georgia made an executive order for all of its state agencies to reduce water use during a major drought. This was also demanded of its counties’ water systems, however it is unclear whether this would have the force of law.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_order_(United_States)#Governors_executive_orders

  152. Gator,

    Excerpts from the Wisconsin Constitution below and it clearly says that legislative attendance can be compulsory and that the Governor may call the legislature into session. Refusing would, I believe, place a legislator in contempt of an executive order and in violation of the state Constitution.

    No, not necessarily (absent case law, anyway):

    a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.

    So the penalties are determined by the rules of the house, which is not the same thing as a constitutional violation.

    The governor … shall have power to convene the legislature on extraordinary occasions

    Nothing here requires a quorum. The governor convenes the legislature, and (if they so choose) the legislature compels the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide. What are the penalties established by the legislature for absence under compelled attendance? Whatever they are, they are rule violations, not constitutional violations.

    But you’re not serious about this anyway.

  153. shortchain,

    I would suggest that it is not worthwhile to compare teacher salaries at public schools with teacher salaries at private schools, any more than it would be worthwhile to compare the salaries of fighter pilots in public service with those in private service.

    I would suggest that your comparison makes no sense. Private and public school educations should be roughly equal substitutes for each other. Commercial pilots and military pilots should not.

  154. dcpetterson says:

    I have a variety of reactions to the complex situation in Wisconsin.

    First, the fools who voted for the Republicans should get the destructive and vicious government they voted for.

    Second, it is, however, sad that the people who were smart enough to vote against the Republicans have to suffer as well.

    Third, peaceful protest and nonviolent civil disobedience have always been among the techniques of those seeking social justice. The parallels to 1960’s civil rights efforts are striking.

    Fourth, it’s fortunate the brave people of Wisconsin and their courageous Democratic state senators are underlining this issue for the whole nation — the Republican drive to destroy worker rights at any cost, and by any means. Already, they’ve forced at least one, and perhaps as many as three, Republican governors to back off of similar efforts.

    Fifth, this is a typical overreach on the part of Republicans, and bait-and-switch effort to get elected on one issue (deficits) and immediately ram through something completely different (destruction of worker’s rights). Wisconsin is the US. House in miniature; they got elected on the issue of jobs, and since have done nothing but push a far-right social agenda. The voters will definitely have buyers’ remorse, as we are seeing in spades in Wisconsin.

    And finally, the faux outrage from the right is amusing. After supporting the violent astroturfed town-hall disruptions of 2009, and the constant Republican obstructionism in the Senate for the last two years, they pretend to be shocked — shocked, I tell you! — at massive and peaceful grassroots protests, and some pretty brave parliamentary tactics, all for the purpose of defending the rights of American’s working people.

    This is what keeps American politics interesting.

  155. rgbact says:

    Max-

    Sounds like in leiu of showing leadership on financial issues, the administration would rather gin up the base with gay marriage–just like on DADT. Tackling the big issues indeed.

    Thats cool. We’ll just use the same methods to not enforce PPACA when the time comes. Provide waivers to everyone or not challenge any state that decides not to comply.

  156. shortchain says:

    MW,

    See mclever’s comment above.

  157. shortchain,
    I saw mclever’s comment. It made sense; yours did not.

  158. Gator says:

    Since I’m bored here is some more info on the executive orders and gubernatorial powers.
    After you read this Max and SC, maybe you can share your thoughts on the executive order and its weight of law.

    ********************************************************************
    What is an Executive Order?
    The Wisconsin Constitution vests the executive power of the state in the Governor, who exercises that power by executive order, which has the force of law. It may be used to reorganize agencies within the executive branch, reassign functions among agencies, establish an advisory body, commission, or task force, regulate conduct within the executive branch of state government, proclaim or end an emergency, or otherwise achieve objectives.

    This type of Governor’s declaration requires no action by the state legislature. Once signed by the Governor, an executive order takes effect and is filed with the Secretary of State. An executive order survives the administration of a given governor and remains in effect until it is repealed or superseded.

    http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/apprenticeship/executive_order108.htm

    **********************************************************************************
    “Executive Orders
    Executive orders are issued by the governor and may serve a variety of purposes. The authority for executive orders is found in both state constitutions and state statutes, or is implied by the powers assigned to the governor. An executive order may be used to trigger emergency powers during emergency situations, including natural disasters, energy emergencies and other emergencies. In many states, governors may use executive orders to create or reorganize executive branch agencies. They may also be used to create advisory, coordinating, study or investigative committees or commissions. In many states, the governor may use an executive order to respond to federal programs and requirements. Executive orders are also used to direct state officials and to address administrative issues such as personnel administration. Executive orders address issues such as hiring freezes, regulatory reform, discrimination and sexual harassment, environmental impact, and intergovernmental coordination.

    Executive orders in most states are required to be formally filed and/or published. In a number of states the issuance of an executive order is subject to the provisions of a state administrative procedures act. In about one-quarter of the states, some form of executive orders – most often those relating to reorganization – are subject to legislative review.” The link is below. The NGA is the National Governors Assoc.

    http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.9e1238065e726e63ee28aca9501010a0/?vgnextoid=71842bf8a1cb6010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD
    ************************************************************************************

    SUBJECT INDEX TO EXECUTIVE ORDERS OF GOVERNORS KNOWLES, LUCEY,
    DREYFUS, EARL, THOMPSON, MCCALLUM, DOYLE, ACTING GOVERNOR SCHREIBER,
    LIEUTENANT GOVERNORS OLSON AND FLYNN, AND SECRETARY OF STATE
    ZIMMERMAN
    JANUARY 1965 − DECEMBER 13, 2010

    http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lrb/pubs/special/SubjIndexExec.pdf

  159. dcpetterson says:

    Michael,

    One difference between public and private schools is that, by law, children have to go to school. Private schools are a choice. If we are going to require children to go to school (which i think is a good idea), we should provide them with the best we are able to. If a parent wants to pay for something else, then that is up to the parent to decide. The pay scales are not really meaningful and should not be compared; though the jobs are comparable, the situations are not.

    I don’t think that public school teachers should be limited by what parents are willing to pay for private education. The pay should, rather, be a function of what it costs to provide a quality education, irrespective of what a small (or even large) local church or other isolated interest group is willing or able to pay for its smaller constituency.

  160. rgbact,

    I want higher rates cuz I want people to stop borrowing money they can’t afford to pay back.

    I’m amazed to hear anyone say something like this. Raising interest rates doesn’t stop people from borrowing more than they can afford. What on earth gave you that idea?

    Sounds like in leiu of showing leadership on financial issues, the administration would rather gin up the base with gay marriage

    Which administration is doing this?

  161. GROG,

    The spokesman for Walker said the website is attempting to “disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having”. You don’t agree with that?

    No, I don’t agree with that. They’re providing additional information. Given that the governor hasn’t disputed the content of the call, and all but explicitly confirmed it, I’d say it’s good (read: accurate) information. The governor didn’t come across as a Blagojevich, to his credit. He did at least suggest that union busting was his goal, but that might have been an attempt to appease a Koch and get his support. Either way, it’s some additional useful insight.

    Or you think prank calling a governor, pretending to be someone else, is civil?

    Civil, yes. Not something I support as a rule, though.

  162. Gator says:

    SC you still think I’m ‘making stuff up’? Or are you man enough to acknowledge your own ignorance?

    Silly question. Of course you can’t/won’t admit your nescience.

  163. DC,

    It also puzzles me that banks charge the most to the people who are least able to pay the exorbitant rates; and, thus, are more likely to get into financial straits because of the enormous interest payments.

    It’s not puzzling when you look at the big picture. Interest rates rise in tandem with the risk of default. The less able you are to pay, the greater the likelihood that you’ll default. In essence, a portion of the interest rate is an insurance policy, where you’re pooled with others of similar risk profiles. Some of them will default, and the rest will pick up the slack with those insurance payments.

    This is also (partially) why unsecured debt has much higher interest rates. No collateral means the amount of loss in a default is much greater.

  164. Gator,
    Everything you supplied says that the governor has executive authority over the executive branch. In case you forgot, the legislature is in the legislative branch. They helpfully put the two branches in entirely different articles in the United States Constitution. I doubt that Wisconsin took it upon themselves to differ from that structure.

  165. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gator, as YOU have attempted to rephrase Mule Rider’s original position and my response, please reread my previous statement.

    You have a great evening, and I’ll STILL buy you that drink, my friend, in spite of the conflict.

  166. DC,

    I don’t think that public school teachers should be limited by what parents are willing to pay for private education.

    It’s a reasonable benchmark for comparison and discussion. Otherwise, you have no point of reference.

    The pay should, rather, be a function of what it costs to provide a quality education, irrespective of what a small (or even large) local church or other isolated interest group is willing or able to pay for its smaller constituency.

    Given that it’s a function of government, the pay should be a function of what the constituents, as a collective, want to pay. That’s the system of government that we have.

  167. Gator says:

    Michael

    You presented two interrogatives. The answer to both was affirmative. Is there a problem with that? And as far as ‘not being serious about this’… good thing or the whoopin’ ya’ll are taking from me could go from embarrassing to mortifying! LMAO!

  168. Gator,

    You presented two interrogatives. The answer to both was affirmative. Is there a problem with that?

    Nope. The problem is that I don’t believe you seriously think that Google employees should be paid less (or, for that matter, that McDonalds employees should be paid more).

  169. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Y’all know, if I have to be TOLD I’m getting a whuppin’ . . .

  170. dcpetterson says:

    Michael, you’re right about the effects of our system of government; if a majority wants (or doesn’t want) a thing, then that’s the way we move. Doesn’t mean I have to approve of all of those decisions, nor agree that the majority was correct. (I disapproved of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes, for example). Short-term mass stupidity too often trumps long-term vision.

    I think it was Churchill who said that democracy is the worst form of government — except for all the others.

  171. Gator says:

    MW you need to look at the list of executive orders from the Wisconsin governors mansion over the last 50 years and then tell me if you still erroneously believe that it pertains only to the executive branch. You are simply wrong about that.

    Max if you can’t tell when you are so unabashedly and completely wrong on a position, one would then have to assume that you need someone to explain everything in short concise sentences to avoid confusion. If you were aware of the whoopin’ then I stand corrected.

  172. Gator,

    MW you need to look at the list of executive orders from the Wisconsin governors mansion over the last 50 years and then tell me if you still erroneously believe that it pertains only to the executive branch.

    Hmmm…well, I looked over a list covering the past decade (granted, only 20% of what you suggested), and I couldn’t find anything that didn’t look like executive branch to me. But maybe I’m looking for some needles in that haystack. Since you clearly have something specific in mind, perhaps you could save me the time by pointing out specific examples that are not executive functions.

  173. dcpetterson says:

    Michael

    DC,

    I don’t think that public school teachers should be limited by what parents are willing to pay for private education.

    It’s a reasonable benchmark for comparison and discussion. Otherwise, you have no point of reference.

    I disagree. I don’t think the proper point of reference here should be competition with private teachers. I think it should be competition with other industry. Here’s my thinking:

    Public schools have to attract people who are willing and able to provide a quality education. This means we should define “quality education,” then set the pay scale high enough to attract the people who can provide that. Public schools are competing, not against private schools, but against other industries. We want mathematicians who can also teach to become mathematics teachers; we are competing against, corporations who hire actuaries or industrial statisticians. Except what we want are people who are even more skilled; in addition to the math skills, they need teacher skills. They should be paid more than the industries that education competes against, because we expect more from them.

    I understand the counter-argument, from a economics (rather than “intrinsic value”) point of view. But is the Google employee paid more than the McDonald’s employee because he or she is more highly skilled? or because the position is more valued to the employer (i.e., it allows the employer to make more money per employee)? or because the skills are more rare? All of the above?

    To me, the value to society of skilled teachers is great; and we can attract more highly skilled people into that role with appropriate compensation. It’s the same argument corporations use in paying extreme amounts to CEO’s. The best costs more.

    Again, I do see the “competition” argument. I’m more interested in getting the best outcome than I am in getting the cheapest price. I’d make a lousy corporate buyer. 🙂

  174. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gator,

    Should that ever occur, I WILL recognize it and admit such a hypothetical error. That has NOT occurred today on this thread.

  175. DC,

    But is the Google employee paid more than the McDonald’s employee because he or she is more highly skilled? or because the position is more valued to the employer (i.e., it allows the employer to make more money per employee)? or because the skills are more rare? All of the above?

    Yes, all of the above. It’s a complex calculus of scarcity and value-add. If the value-add doesn’t overcome the scarcity, then there is no market.

    Might we get better teachers if we paid more to attract them away from other places in private industry? Sure. Is the public willing to pay that much for them? Not today, but that may be in part because we have no effective means to measure the value-add that we get from our teaching faculty. And union rules that tend to prevent such measurements from occuring, or prevent acting upon them by keeping the best and firing the worst, give taxpayers disincentive to increase their pay.

    And so we come full circle, to the issue that started the whole conversation.

  176. Gator says:

    MW

    Do your own research. I have provided several sources that illustrated the executive order and the ability of Governors to use them for personnel issues amongst the many other areas in which they are applicable. You guys have, as usual, provided nothing but the buzzing drone from the babbling of your own opinions. No facts quoted. No laws quoted. No sources quoted. Just your own meaningless opinions.
    I don’t intend to be offensive when I say that. But what you guys think means nothing. The statutes and enumerated and implied powers are real and valid. Your opinions are nothing.

    BTW the education department in Wisconsin is under the purview of … wait for it… the EXECUTIVE BRANCH!
    ***********************************************************************************
    Structure of the Executive Branch
    The structure of Wisconsin state government is based on a separation of powers among the legislative,
    executive, and judicial branches. The legislative branch sets broad policy objectives and
    establishes the general structures and regulations for carrying them out. The executive branch
    supervises the day-to-day administration of the programs and policies, while the judicial branch
    is responsible for adjudicating any conflicts that may arise from the interpretation or application
    of the laws.
    Constitutional Officers. The executive branch includes the state’s six constitutional officers
    − the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, and state
    superintendent of public instruction.

    http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lrb/bb/07bb/pdf/325-334.pdf

  177. Gator says:

    You guys want to keep this up? I can keep slapping your silliness down all night long.
    Or you could admit that the Governor of Wis has the authority to give an executive order, which order carries the same weight as the law, and which order can be used to set regulations or employment requirements within the public instruction agency, which agency is under the management of the executive branch of Wisconsins’ government and consequently the Governor. All of which I have PROVEN.

    Sucks to be you guys, huh?

  178. Gator,
    I was under the impression that the governor’s executive order was for the legislature to convene. So were you, as evidenced by your text:

    Excerpts from the Wisconsin Constitution below and it clearly says that legislative attendance can be compulsory and that the Governor may call the legislature into session. Refusing would, I believe, place a legislator in contempt of an executive order and in violation of the state Constitution.

    Is the legislature part of the education department in Wisconsin?

  179. Mr. Universe says:

    I had a $0.64 pot pie for dinner yesterday

    $.64 pot pies?! Man, where do I score some of that action?

    Most teachers don’t get into the profession with an illusion of getting rich. We receive rewards far greater than anything monetary. Those of you attempting to justify the arguments that imply that we’re overpaid, greedy, suck-off-the-states-teat, losers…

    I hope you sleep well at night.

  180. Gator says:

    MW

    No again you are incorrect. The governor has not, as far as I know, issued an executive order. We are and have been discussing possible avenues that are open to him. As far as legislators being in violation of the constitution if they refused to attend, I do believe that to be the case but that may be open to interpretation. I’m not a constitutional attorney, but then neither are you or anyone else on here.

    What he could do is potentially make an executive order and possibly circumvent the legislature. Legally probably sound, but politically too far over the line.

  181. Well, then, Gator, I misunderstood your point. Yes, the governor could issue an executive order for the employees to return to work. Provided the order doesn’t contradict existing law as passed by the legislature and previously signed by a governor (or passed via an overruled veto), that would have the effect of law.

    I’m pretty sure that you’ve been the only one here trying to make that point. But maybe not.

  182. Mainer says:

    Yeah there may be a bunch of things Walker could do or maybe could have done. It is likely that some or even most of those ships have sailed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the govvenor still get his way on this but at what price to his party, and maybe more importantly for him, his future. No govenor no matter how good how fair or what ever can stand to be under the microscope 24/7. Every thing he does from this point on is going to be a lightening rod. Others in the party may get tired of the spill over to them.

    It appears the man is not bright enough to know when to take his winnings and walk. Even a victory for him now will end up costing them around him. It isn’t the Dems that are going to cool his jets, I suspect it will be Republicans. If not now then soon. Maybe not but lightening rods never seem to have many long term friends.

  183. Gator says:

    MW there has been no executive order issued. The Dem legislators walked out on regular legislative session and ran for the hills. They didn’t want to allow a vote on the bill because they knew they would lose. So they snuck out.

    I was pretty certain of this but I wanted to check and make sure I hadn’t missed something. I didn’t. As I said there was no order and we have been discussing hypotheticals. The original question was asking whether what they are doing is illegal. It is not. That is why I have said several times that it wasn’t criminal such as here:
    “Man you guys have serious reading comprehension issues. NOWHERE did I say that it was a crime,”

    You may very well be correct that it is a rule violation as opposed to a constitutional violation. Either way it’s inimical to the practice of democracy.
    Michael, whatever my actual or perceived interest or lack thereof in a subject, you are always reasonable and fun to debate. I’m tired and I’m done for the evening.

    Have a good night. BTW Michael, does Layer One have any significance to you?

  184. Gator says:

    MW

    I’m pretty sure I am, too. People have a tendency to equate moral outrage with criminality. They are certainly not the same.

  185. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gator: “You may very well be correct that it is a rule violation as opposed to a constitutional violation. Either way it’s inimical to the practice of democracy.

    Well, I’m sure Gandhi and King, among others, including the Egyptians in Tahrir Square within the past month, will find that civil disobedience is inimical to the practice of democracy.

    Perhaps the lesson of the minority protecting itself against the tyranny of the majority when they feel strongly enough in their cause was lost on you, sir.

    BTW, I only engage further debate as you have demonstrated that you are doing more than acting the charlatan.

    Not to mention that you are wrong on the point you just attempted to make!

  186. Gator says:

    Max

    Conflating duly elected representatives of the people, who walk out and refuse to perform the duties which they were elected to perform, with disenfranchised victims and the downtrodden under the control of despots and tyrants and subject to torture is moronic. Poor bastards are having to give up their morning lattes while they are in hiding.

    That is pathetic. You can do better than that can’t you?

  187. dcpetterson says:

    Actually, Gator, I think the Democratic state senators are doing exactly what their constituents elected them to do — that is, stand up for the rights of The People.

    This point has been made to you many times. You’re welcome to ridicule it again. That won’t change the moral conviction they feel, nor the immorality and dishonesty of the Wisconsin Republicans.

  188. Monotreme says:

    GROG,

    Sorry I was not here earlier to ask this. As a public employee, I was busy working a 12-hour day.

    I think a doctor writing a fake excuse is a fine act of civil disobedience, particularly when they are fully aware of the consequences of their actions.

    How do YOU feel about pharmacists refusing to supply women, who hold a valid prescription, with birth control?

  189. Gator says:

    Yeah I know Shrinks,

    Dem – good / Rep – bad… liberal – good / conservative – bad

    you guys are a bad parody. And nothing will ever be solved as long as both sides persist in this asinine finger-pointing, name-calling stupidity. I’ve got news for you- I know a bunch of Republicans and none of them want America to fail. None of them want the poor to suffer. And I know a lot of Democrats and none of them want America to fail. None of them are socialists. These tired bullshit partisan talking points are boring. And frankly DC, you’re becoming a bit of a boor for continuing to spout them. As are your counterparts on the right. Get a new meme for God’s sake. You’ve beaten this one to death.

  190. dcpetterson says:

    Damn, I was right about the ridicule thing!

    Gator, thanks for living down to my expectations! 🙂

  191. Gator,

    does Layer One have any significance to you?

    It’s an annual computer security conference in LA. You been?

  192. Mr. Universe says:

    Wow, I’m just catching up on this prank call thing. Bad day to be Republican.

  193. Gator says:

    DC

    I’m sorry if you thought I was ridiculing you. That wasn’t my intent. I want you to know that you come off churlish and narrowminded when you speak of fellow Americans in such ingracious ways. Your generalizations are unfair. When you make blanket statements, you are insulting people I know, friends of mine. You accuse them of bigotry and hatred and evil and yet you know nothing about them. It offends me.

  194. Gator says:

    Seen some videos of speakers there. ’07, ’08 had some good ones. My significant other is senior soft engineer for CDP. They have developed several backup/restore progs. She came out of Bell/ATT in Joisey then FL.

  195. dcpetterson says:

    Gator, the desire of the elected Wisconsin Governor and state senators to use dishonesty and underhanded tactics to strip Americans of their collective bargaining rights, while pretending they are concerned about the deficit, offends me.

    Nonviolent civil disobedience, in defense of the rights of others, has a long and respectable history. You are free to ridicule that once again.

    Please indicate where in this discussion I have used the words “bigotry,” “hatred,” or “evil.” Or rather, don’t. Your misrepresentations and condescending sneers are already sufficient — “Poor bastards are having to give up their morning lattes while they are in hiding” — Did you yourself not “speak of fellow Americans in such ingracious ways”? Pull the beam from thine own eye.

    I simply acknowledged the dishonesty that Walker himself admitted to. You did hear the tape of the phone call, didn’t you? Where he admitted the tricks he intended to perform? Where he discussed encouraging troublemakers to infiltrate the peaceful protesters, and dismissed it only because it might make him look bad? Where he admitted the ploy was all about destroying collective bargaining? In what way can you even begin to imply that the man is moral or honest?

    Well, your point is to play the troublemaker yourself. I apologize for engaging you. I’ll allow you the last word.

  196. DC,
    If I wanted to impress a Koch and get his support, I would have said the same things…even if they weren’t true. None of the most nefarious ideas was offered up by Walker first. I’m just pointing out that the words don’t necessarily reflect reality.

    The ideas of the paycheck thing, and the trick them into returning thing, were offered by Walker, though.

  197. dcpetterson says:

    Thank you, Michael. Good points.

  198. Mr. Universe says:

    Governor Walker is like one of those guys running from the police and the tires have fallen off the car and he’s riding on the rims. It’s only a matter of time before it’s over. The longer he resists, the more damage he does to himself and the Republican Party overall. I wouldn’t be surprised if national Republicans haven’t called him and said ‘let it go’.

  199. Mr. Universe says:

    200!

  200. GROG says:

    Mono,
    How do YOU feel about pharmacists refusing to supply women, who hold a valid prescription, with birth control?

    I think they should be fired for refusing to fill a valid prescription. If they have a religious or moral objection, they should find another job or should never have become a pharmiscist in the first place. That’s what’s so great about this country. You have many career choices. If you’re not happy in your current job, use your skills and eductation to find one you like.

    @Mr U,

    Time will tell if this was a bad day for Republicans. I think the opposite. The left has come across horribly with this prank calling business. It’s childish and not the kind of civil discourse the President spoke about several weeks ago. Let’s hope the liberal blogger hasn’t set some sort of precedence where prank calling politicians becomes acceptable.

    Walker comes across as the stand up guy in all of this. He never denied anything and even appreared on television last night to discuss it. Contrast that with the slimy, underhanded tactics of the liberal blog.

  201. parksie555 says:

    Prank call is a joke. Will not resonate at all with the public at large, only with hapless lefties with questionable life skills huddled around their computers. 2011 equivalent of the Plame case, only I doubt anyone makes a bad movie about this one.

    Meanwhile, with the Middle East aflame, unions under assault everywhere, and an unemployment rate still close to 10%, what is our fearless leader focused on?

    Why, gay marriage of course. Sighhhhhhhhhhhh.

    The only question now is who will play the Reagan to this version of Jimmy Carter.

  202. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Yep, Walker’s tactics and intransigence are sure enough is making great inroads with other GOP governors.

    Rick Scott – R-FL: check

    Tom Corbett – R-PA:check

    Mitch Daniels – R-IN: Says to drop the contentious “right-to-work bill so Dems will come back. He won’t “send out the troops”.

    Chris Christie – R-PA: “In New Jersey, I’m ready to embrace the collective-bargaining situation, but don’t tell me that I can’t go back to the legislature to undo some of the things that you got done through the legislature.”

    Yep, Walker looks like he got a real wall of support from his fellow GOP Govs.

  203. Monotreme says:

    GROG,

    Well done. I like a morally consistent position, even if I disagree.

  204. GROG says:

    @Parksie,

    What else does the President have to talk about? He certainly doesn’t want Obamacare, high spending, huge deficits, unemployment, cap and trade, card check and the like to be the items of discussion as we approach the 2012 election. That’s what led to the shellacking in 2010.

    You think he’s going to talk about Middle East unrest and skyrocketing gas and food prices? Don’t think so. He needs to keep pandering to Big Union to keep the coffers full as he prepares for re-election.

  205. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Thumbs up, GROG! Now THAT’S the kind of consistency I respect.

    We can disagree on many points, but inconsistency based on ideology demonstrates a failure in the ideological view. Your pharmacist statement is a triumph of reason over ideology.

  206. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Actually, the Prez HAS been talking about ALL those subject, y’all just choose to ignore the facts. Unlike you guys, the Prez juggles a myriad of issues, EVEN WHEN YOU DON”T visibly see it.

    Some seem to think that the president only has a few things on his agenda at a time. Truth is EVERYTHING is there ALL the time. It’s why those eight years in the job take such a toll on the person. Compare photos of inauguration day and the day they leave office. It’s always astounding the difference.

  207. Mule Rider says:

    “skyrocketing gas and food prices”

    Yeah, I’ve been very curious what the scapegoat will be when (not if) gas prices hit $4+/gallon this summer and the Left can no longer shout “Bush and his oil cronies!!!”

  208. Bartbuster says:

    the Left can no longer shout “Bush and his oil cronies!!!”

    Have his oil cronies handed control of the refineries to someone else?

  209. mclever says:

    GROG,

    I applaud your view on birth control prescriptions.

    It’s probably a free speech issue, but if the pharmacist must fill the prescription, can we also require that they cut the moralizing sermons, too? Imagine a young woman who needs birth control pills for a medically valid reason (perhaps to regulate excessive bleeding in order to help mitigate her anemia) having to drive 20 miles out of her way to finds the one pharmacy nearby that will actually fill her prescription. There, she suffers the indignity of a loud lecture from a condescending older man about what “a young girl like you” should or shouldn’t be doing with her body and the dangers of a sinful life, all the while she tells herself that next time she’s sending her husband to pick up the damn prescriptions… After enduring the public humiliation of the five-minute misguided lecture, she forks over the $50 that she shouldn’t have to pay because birth control is allegedly covered on her health plan, but this pharmacy (the only one that will actually fill her prescription) is “out of network” so she has no choice but to pay out of pocket.

    If you won’t just fill the valid prescription, then you shouldn’t be a pharmacist!

    /rant

    🙂

    Even if I often disagree, I appreciate finding reason and consistency in someone else’s views.

  210. mclever says:

    Some interesting graphs on the widening gap between wealthy and the rest in the USA:

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

    According to Mother Jones, “A huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.”

  211. GROG says:

    Mclever,

    Is that kind of thing commonplace?

  212. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Oil.

    Both sides here. You are wrong. Neither the oil companies OR supply and demand are in control of the upsurge in oil prices. Get real.

    Market speculation driven by the uncertainty of the political turmoil in the Middle East currently is the driving force!

    Oil companies that are vertically integrated may well benefit where they OWN the wells, otherwise they don’t.

    The US has one of the biggest oil stock inventories on record just now.

    This is NOT an ideological argument just now. Sorry, but these are the facts.

  213. Bartbuster says:

    Oh, and Max is 100% correct. Supply/demand has nothing to do with current price surge. It is all about fear.

  214. mclever says:

    GROG,

    Is that kind of thing commonplace?

    I can only speak anecdotally. It was common when we lived in Texas. Not so much in California. People in California usually didn’t feel quite so obligated to ram their personal morals down everyone else’s throats. Never had a problem in Illinois or Iowa, but I know girlfriends who have.

    The part about having to pay for a prescription out of pocket because the “in network” pharmacies wouldn’t fill it is absolutely true. It’s true of a lot of women’s medicine, where it either isn’t covered or required extra loops (and twice the premiums) to get coverage.

  215. mclever says:

    Gotta agree with Max and Bartbuster on Oil prices.

    Fear, fear, FEAR!

    Oil execs are by nature a fairly conservative lot, because they have to hedge their bets based on production projections 5-10 years ahead. When there’s uncertainty or unrest, they start locking in higher prices as fast as they can, which drives up the price in circular fashion.

  216. Brian says:

    Mr. U,

    Banquet chicken (sort of) pot pies at Publix. They’re awful, but just like cheap beer, they do the job.

  217. rgbact says:

    Grog-

    Be careful on agreeing on the pharmacist. Assuming the pharmacist isn’t fired, the left would then have the ACLU sue said pharmacy. The left believes anyone that feels uncomfortable is being denied their civil rights and its a court case. I asssume that’s different from you who believes that if you’re uncomfortable with your pharmacist, you complain to the manager and have said pharmacist fired else you take your business elsewhere.

  218. rgbact says:

    Ahh, Banquet pot pies. Loved them as a kid. Now, I recommend paying the extra few pennies for the pot pies with real meat in them though. Yikes!

  219. dcpetterson says:

    mclever, thank you for that link to Mother Jones. Incredible. And yet, there still are people saying the rich need more tax breaks. Unbelievable.

    And I’m agreeing with mclever, Max, and Bartbuster on oil prices.

  220. mclever says:

    rgbact,

    Unfortunately, I know from experience that it’s not as easy as complaining to the pharmacist’s boss and threatening to take your business elsewhere. A woman’s expectation that she be able to do business without discrimination is a matter of civil rights.

  221. dcpetterson says:

    rgbact
    The left believes anyone that …

    It’s cute when conservatives pretend to be able to do satire. Cuter still if they think they’re being serious.

  222. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    rgbact, Re: ACLU

    You are simply being obtuse with such inanity. What part of “Civil Liberty” do you hate as an American citizen?

    Since the ACLU has defended both the KKK and the American Nazi Party, your rants about “the left” being the master of the ACLU simply display ignorance.

    BTW, if it can be demonstrated that the pharmacy in question did, in fact, either encourage, support or purposely neglected to do anything about the pharmacist, it is CERTAINLY subject to legal actions for denial of civil liberty under the law.

    But I guess you dislike following the law as well.

    In that case, maybe you support civil disobedience? Kinda like the WI Dem senators.

  223. rgbact says:

    Last I checked–birth control isn’t a civil liberty. Whats next. if I get slow service at a resteraunt—my civil liberties are being denied? We know if my employer wants me to take a paycut—well thats a civil liberty issue.

    Liberals don’t trust ordinary people in free associaton to resolve issues. If you’re unhappy–call a lawyer or Obama and they will fix it. More laws and regulation of all aspects of life! I think we need a birth control czar.

  224. Mule Rider says:

    “Both sides here. You are wrong. Neither the oil companies OR supply and demand are in control of the upsurge in oil prices. Get real.

    Market speculation driven ….”

    And this site just reached a new low for stupidity. Why don’t you people stick to what you’re good at and/or understand and leave the world of commodities to those of us who do understand it, m’kay?

    So this goes out to Max, Bartbuster, mclever, and shrinkers…

    “Supply and demand” and “market speculation” aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, they’re joined at the hips. Of course, when your main area of knowledge is piloting aircraft, being a software technician, writing fantasy novels, or trolling the internet picking fights with your ideological opponents, you’re probably not going to understand that idea, and I probably don’t have enough time to explain it to you.

    Speculation is driven by supply and demand. Whether it be perceptions of an oversupply, a shortage, or if the market is in a relative equilibrium, in the latter case there is generally very little money flowing into or out of the market and prices are usually stable.

    Right now, speculators – which oftentimes includes folks just like you and me who invest in energy markets as a way of diversifying our portfolio – see that there has already been a disruption in the oil supply (1 mln bbl/day removed from Libya’s output and others minor cuts elsewhere, as well as the threat of impacts on shipping) and that the price needs to go up NOW to counteract a pending shortage. It’s to also attract oil from any unaffected sources. Meaning, while it’s not necessarily easy to do, the high price should encourage more output from nearby neighbors such as Canada and Mexico; however, the supply-price elasticity of oil in the short-run is almost perfectly inelastic, meaning the jacked up price won’t get much (if any) of a response because of limitations in extracting more oil from current sources, as well as limits on refining capacity. But make no mistake, this IS a supply/demand issue. Demand has been steadily improving as the US economy – but more notably, developing economies around the world – grows….and, of course, there are the supply threats coming from turmoil in the Middle East.

    This is the same thing we’re seeing with a commodity like corn. Production was below expectations last year because of a disappointing yield, and now projected grain stocks this fall are at only around 600-700 million bushels, well below average and the lowest since 1995. It will take a bumper crop both this year and next just to get stocks back to acceptable levels and any further disruptions (Midwest drought this year) would send prices through the roof to ration existing demand. So what we’ve seen in this potentially very tight supply situation is speculators have bid the price of corn on the futures market to roughly $7 per bushel….well above historical averages (but on par with 2008 when we last had a supply shock in this market).

    The bottom line is that speculation exists and has a function in the market; it’s not there to have some mythical influence on price that is divorced from the fundamentals. In the case of both oil and corn, the fundamentals (supply/demand) point to much higher prices. Speculators simply exist to see that it gets there.

    People who blame the “greedy speculators” seem to forget that for every contract bought in the futures market where the buyer believes the price is going higher (and he/she will therefore profit), there is a seller who believes the price will move lower and, thus, he/she will profit. (disclaimer: this ignores hedging where a commercial player is invested in the futures market and also has a stake in the cash market of that commodity).

  225. parksie555 says:

    Lever, DC, oil execs are not driving these price swings. It is the commodities traders that drive these changes. All things considered, the cost of finding, extracting, and refining crude oil has probably stayed pretty constant (allowing for inflation) for quite some time (more difficult discovery offset by more effficient production and extraction techniques).

    The traders live on the margins, collecting either way with commissions and elaborate hedge bets. Who pays their salaries? You and I and everybody else that uses commodities. What do they provide in value? Not much. Their brand of capitalism is one I can live without.

  226. Mule Rider says:

    All of you (except maybe Michael),

    Please spare me your ignorance of supply/demand and market speculation. There’s enough of it out there already that needs to be smacked down. Don’t add to that. You can lecture me all day long on your specialty area, but I can assure you this is one I know far more than each of you combined.

  227. Mule Rider says:

    “All things considered, the cost of finding, extracting,”

    Wrong. We have used up most of the easily recoverable oil and we are being forced to search for oil in hard-to-find places and it’s more expensive to pull it from the bottom half of existing deposits. In other words, the cost of finding/extracting has risen quite a bit over the past few decades. Most experts agree we have either crossed or are very close to crossing Peak Oil. Even if we haven’t, we’ve used up most of the “least cost” stuff and will need to rely on oil from more difficult-to-reach sources.

  228. Bartbuster says:

    Please spare me your ignorance of supply/demand and market speculation. There’s enough of it out there already that needs to be smacked down. Don’t add to that. You can lecture me all day long on your specialty area, but I can assure you this is one I know far more than each of you combined.

    Mule, calling people ignorant isn’t much of an argument, and your diatribe about what is causing the spike in prices can basically be summed up in one word: Fear.

  229. Mule Rider says:

    I don’t agree with him often, but this is one area he’s got it right. Maybe the rest of you should listen to your Patron Saint of Economics, Paul Krugman, and what he thinks about speculation.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/speculative-nonsense-once-again/

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/speculative-nonsense-once-again/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/opinion/27krugman.html

  230. mclever says:

    rgbact,

    A woman’s right to medical treatments as prescribed by her doctor, that are FDA-approved, and that she (or her insurance) is willing and able to pay for IS a civil liberty issue. Birth control very much IS a civil liberty issue, because lower birth rates and access to birth control are linked to longevity and economic stability for women. (http://www.religiousconsultation.org/News_Tracker/birth_control_pills_helped_empower_women_changed_world.htm)A woman should have the right to freely pursue the education and career opportunities that she wishes. Under a doctor’s guidance, she should have the right to regulate her body’s hormones to facilitate that pursuit, so that her biology doesn’t put her at an unnecessary disadvantage.

    The pill does more than just prevent unwanted pregnancy. It helps prevent ovarian, uterine and endometrial cancer, reduces cramps and heavy bleeding and even eases acne and arthritis. It can help mitigate anemia and migraines. The pill can be prescribed for a variety of womens’ health issues above and beyond mere pregnancy, including post-menopausal treatments when pregnancy is no longer a risk. To allow women who are seeking valid medical treatments their medications purely for “moral” reasons is, in my very religious Christian opinion, immoral.

    What’s next, a pharmacist who refuses to fill any prescriptions because his religion doesn’t believe in modern medicine?

  231. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mule Rider, you just made a fine display of your ignorance of economics with your last two posts.

    Supply and demand can easily be demonstrated graphically and mathematically on those P/Q charts. Market speculation cannot.

    The two are NOT “joined at the hip”. If you think that to be the case, we await your economic treatise demonstrating that to be a fact. Market speculation, as parksie pointed out just above, is driven by fear and uncertainty, NOT supply and demand. Please demonstrate to us either the increased demand for, or the decreased supply of, gasoline over the past 7 days that would be signified by the price movement on the P/Q chart. Should be a very simple thing any Econ 121 student could do.

    Show us.

    You know you cannot.

  232. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule, calling people ignorant isn’t much of an argument, and your diatribe about what is causing the spike in prices can basically be summed up in one word: Fear.”

    How IGNORANT can you be?! Of course it’s FEAR, dumbass. The FEAR of the OIL SUPPLY SHRINKING TO DIDDLY-SQUAT. And all signs point to it being a very well-founded fear. Economic growth in China giving them more leverage to bid oil away from us. Hell, growth here allowing us to bid it away from each other. Less output from the Middle East. All that together means that it can’t stay at the same price. This is ECON 101. Even if it’s a difference of only 2%-3%, the market will need to correct higher to adjust consumption so that we don’t “run out.” You can’t have less coming in (and the potential for there to be even less than that) and people wanting to use more and keep price the same. Again, ECON 101.

    The problem you have is with the word usage. What you define as “FEAR” is really just the market realizing that there is a finite supply of something and that we need to allocate its use properly (by pricing it such) so that it is used at an optimal rate without stockpiling beyond our storage capacity or shrinking completely.

    I don’t see why this is such a hard concept to understand.

  233. mclever says:

    parksie,

    All things considered, the cost of finding, extracting, and refining crude oil has probably stayed pretty constant (allowing for inflation) for quite some time (more difficult discovery offset by more effficient [sic] production and extraction techniques).

    Not by a long shot. Sorry, but the cost of finding, extracting, and refining has gone up significantly as all of the readily recoverable product has already been scooped up. Gone are the days when you could literally find oil on the surface of the prairie in Texas. Now, to get oil out of Amarillo, you’ve got four injection wells, placed at very precisely determined locations by advanced-educated engineers forcing a carefully concocted chemical slurry into the ground in order to drive oil towards the one extraction well that produces maybe a fourth of the usable product that it produced 30 years ago. And the composition of the product contains higher levels of impurities that dramatically alter the refinement calculations as well. Sorry, but it just ain’t Jed Clampett’s world anymore.

    Now, instead of easily accessible oil, we’re digging deeper in the ocean (which costs astronomically more than even shallow wells), we’re going deeper into the mountains, and the wells are more difficult to engineer and repair, and more dangerous to maintain. Plus the difficulty of distribution and moving the product from these remote, difficult locations back to the refinery network.

    Sorry, but the lie that extraction and refinement costs are steady is just that, a lie.

  234. Bartbuster says:

    How IGNORANT can you be?! Of course it’s FEAR, dumbass. The FEAR of the OIL SUPPLY SHRINKING TO DIDDLY-SQUAT. And all signs point to it being a very well-founded fear.

    So, if you agree that the cause is speculation, why are you calling people ignorant for saying that the cause is speculation? People are agreeing with you, and you’re calling them ignorant. That’s the part I don’t quite understand.

  235. mclever says:

    Mule,

    The point is that it’s FEAR in speculation driving the prices, which from what I can tell is pretty much what your long rant summarizes to say as well.

    How great that we agree!

    (Now, if you’d just stop calling me ignorant… I worked in the natural resources business for several years doing market allocations and producer nominations before moving into IT.)

  236. mclever says:

    Geez, by the time I type something, it looks like three other people have said the same thing. Sorry, I don’t want to be piling on.

  237. Bartbuster says:

    The FEAR of the OIL SUPPLY SHRINKING TO DIDDLY-SQUAT.

    Mule, I just want to make sure that you understand that the FEAR of the OIL SUPPLY SHRINKING TO DIDDLY-SQUAT (aka speculation) is not the same thing as the OIL SUPPLY SHRINKING TO DIDDLY-SQUAT (aka supply).

  238. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule Rider, you just made a fine display of your ignorance of economics with your last two posts.”

    I’ve got a master’s degree in economics that says otherwise. What’s your formal education/training in again?

    “Supply and demand can easily be demonstrated graphically and mathematically on those P/Q charts. Market speculation cannot.”

    Actually, this is an incorrect statement. Economists have a very difficult time modeling true supply and demand curves. Those textbook examples showing nice upward-sloping S curves and downward-sloping D curves are just that, examples. They are not easily demonstrated. Your ignorance is now on full display.

    “The two are NOT “joined at the hip”. If you think that to be the case, we await your economic treatise demonstrating that to be a fact. Market speculation, as parksie pointed out just above, is driven by fear and uncertainty, NOT supply and demand.”

    What do you think the “fear” and “uncerainty” is about, moron? It’s fear and uncertainty about supply and demand. In my example with corn, right now we’re looking at stocks of less than 700 million bushels this fall leading up to harvest. That’s not a lot (only about 5% of total usage) and is the lowest it’s been since 1995. So right now there’s a “fear” that if we have any surprises in production this year – unforeseen drought in the Midwest or something else to create a supply shock – then we literally won’t have enough to go around. You’re g-damn right that a situation like that creates “fear” and “uncertainty.” And it’s well-founded too. And that’s why speculators believe that corn is well-priced at around $7 per bushel. That’s the kind of price level it will take to keep the quantity demanded in check while (hopefully) attracting more acreage/supply for the future. It’s very similar to what’s going on with oil right now.

    “Please demonstrate to us either the increased demand for, or the decreased supply of, gasoline over the past 7 days that would be signified by the price movement on the P/Q chart. Should be a very simple thing any Econ 121 student could do. ”

    It’s already been reported that up to 1 mln bbl/day of Libyan production has been taken ofline, and I think I’ve seen something about similar cuts elsewhere. It may not be a lot compared to worldwide output, but you’ve got to remember that this is a highly inelastic commodity, meaning that changes of only a fraction of a percent in supply (or demand) can result in a wide swing in price levels. Speaking of demand, that too is a factor. I don’t have to graph it out to prove it empircally but we’re seeing that even as the price is rising, we’re still trying to consume just as much and, in a place like China, they’re trying to consume significantly more. This goes back to the finite supply of oil. They can’t produce much (if any) more in the short run, yet people are trying to consume more. Since they can’t, the price needs to rise to ration demand.

    “Show us.

    You know you cannot.”

    I just bitch-slapped you, old man. Now STFU and go back to your corner because you don’t know SHIT about what you’re talking about.

  239. Bartbuster says:

    What do you think the “fear” and “uncerainty” is about, moron? It’s fear and uncertainty about supply and demand.

    Which is speculation, you dimwit.

  240. Bartbuster says:

    I’ve got a master’s degree in economics that says otherwise

    From where? I’d like to add that school to my “do not hire” list.

  241. Mule Rider says:

    “So, if you agree that the cause is speculation, why are you calling people ignorant for saying that the cause is speculation? People are agreeing with you, and you’re calling them ignorant. That’s the part I don’t quite understand.”

    “The point is that it’s FEAR in speculation driving the prices, which from what I can tell is pretty much what your long rant summarizes to say as well.”

    No, we do NOT agree and that’s not what I’m saying.

    “Mule, I just want to make sure that you understand that the FEAR of the OIL SUPPLY SHRINKING TO DIDDLY-SQUAT (aka speculation) is not the same thing as the OIL SUPPLY SHRINKING TO DIDDLY-SQUAT (aka supply).”

    This isn’t an ALL or NONE issue. Like with the corn example, it’s not like we have either 2 billion bushels in storage or none at all. It’s by degrees. The larger the number (production and storage), the more the market is confident about supply meeting (and exceeding) demand, and thererfore the price will be weak and/or declining. The smaller it is, the opposite will happen: it will be prone to increases and will likely be very strong.

    We’re in a situation where stocks are much lower than they usually are but they’re a ways from “running out.” But because we’re looking at only around 600-700 million bushels of grain corn in storage as opposed to 1.6-1.7 billion bushels, there is a (very rational) FEAR that production might not be adequate to meet demand this year and stocks could fall even lower – this time to around 0 – especially if the weather turns out to be uncoooperative. That’s why corn is now $7 per bushel instead of only $3-$4 per bushel. The higher price is needed to attract more corn production and to ration demand on the buying side, to prevent us from going to 0.

    This is very similar to what’s going on with oil. If it was priced at $60-$70/bbl, then demand from the US, China, etc. would be strong enough to use up everything that’s produced and then some….meaning some people would be cut off from having access to oil/gas and stockpiles would be next to nothing. However, with oil north of $100/bbl, we don’t have that problem.

    The speculators role is to make sure these commodities are efficiently priced for supply to meet demand, and when the data points to some inadequacy on the supply side to meet demand from all end users (what you guys are loosely calling “fear”), the price needs to rise to prevent the supply of that commodity from “running out.”

    You guys are defining “fear” as some mythical force that gives speculators an excuse to bid up prices.

    I’m saying that the “fear” is a real and empircally proven state of the market where higher prices are needed to curtail a level of demand that would chew through all available supply at a lower price.

  242. Mule Rider says:

    “Which is speculation, you dimwit.”

    So you agree that speculation is a function of supply/demand then?

  243. parksie555 says:

    OK lever – instead of anecdotes, how about facts? Show me some data on extraction costs vs inflation over the last thirty years. I searched a bit for this data and could not find anything conclusive. Find the data and I will concede the point.

    Certainly it is getting more difficult to find oil – that is obvious.

    But there have also been pretty remarkable advances in the technologies used to find and extract oil.

    In 2007 the average price of a barrel of oil was about $64. In 2008, about $90. In 2009 about $53.

    So the price of extraction increased about 40%, then dropped about 40%, within a span of three years? Really? I find that implausible that a fairly mature and stable industry can have production costs fluctuate that wildly.

    Maybe it ‘s that damn global warming :).

    Again – show me some data. I admit my statement was primarily a hunch on my part, but I would like to see some numbers to back up your assertions.

  244. Bartbuster says:

    You guys are defining “fear” as some mythical force that gives speculators an excuse to bid up prices.

    No, we’re simply saying that fear is nothing but speculation. You’re trying to claim that because the fear is well-founded, that it isn’t speculation. Of course, that is a big steaming pile. It does not matter how well-founded you think the fear is, it’s still just speculation.

  245. Bartbuster says:

    So you agree that speculation is a function of supply/demand then?

    No, it’s just people guessing about supply/demand.

  246. Mule Rider says:

    “You’re trying to claim that because the fear is well-founded, that it isn’t speculation.”

    No, that’s not the case. I’m not trying to claim that because the fear is well-founded, it isn’t speculation. I’m saying that because the speculation is based on well-founded fears, the fundamental driver of price IS supply and demand, not the act/practice of speculation itself.

    When you’ve got less than 700 mln bushels of corn in storage and the most likely yield for this year’s crop won’t get it back above 1 billion and there’s about a 50% chance the yield is low enough for stocks to decline even further heading into next year and about a 10% chance it’s low enough to whittle stocks to virtually nothing heading into next year, there’s a very well-founded fear of running out…..and as such, such a tight supply/demand balance will increase speculation of higher prices as a necessary curb to that imbalance.

    Same thing with oil. When China’s consumption is forecast to increase from 8.15 bpd to 8.3 bpd and consumption in most other countries is expected to be flat or increase all the while world oil production is forecast to decline from roughly 85.0 bpd to 83.5 bpd, there’s a good supply/demand argument for higher prices. Speculation is just the mechanism to get it there, but it’s not the cause of shifts in the market. This bears repeating over and over again. The price moves because of SUPPLY and DEMAND.

  247. rgbact says:

    MR-

    You don’t think there are people that think supply/demand issues will settle themselves, but “speculate” that others think there is a crises, so place their bets that way? And then all this feeds on itself, driving the price up, when the actual impact to supply is small? Its like a leveling game….as we say in poker.

  248. Mule Rider says:

    “No, it’s just people guessing about supply/demand.”

    No, there’s no “guessing” when corn stocks are sitting below 700 mln bushels when they’re normally 1.7 bln bushels.

    There’s no “guessing” when world oil production is forecast to decline 1.0-1.5 bln bpd and further temporary cuts have been announced throughout the Middle East because of civil unrest and disruptions to shipping lanes.

    There’s no “guessing” when China’s economy is seeing GDP increase 5% or more which is fueling rapid income growth and demand for something as useful as petroleum.

    And there’s no “guessing” when the US, the world’s largest economy and consumer of fossil fuels, is also seeing recovery and is entering the earliest portion of spring/summer travel season.

    This isn’t a “guessing” game. This is built on empircal evidence. Facts. Proof. Etc. All things that illustrate very clearly tighter supplies and stronger demand.

  249. dcpetterson says:

    Seems we’ve said all there is to say about the actual topic of this thread, huh? Devolved to name-calling (well, on one side) and terminological arguments.

  250. Mule Rider says:

    “You don’t think there are people that think supply/demand issues will settle themselves, but “speculate” that others think there is a crises, so place their bets that way? And then all this feeds on itself, driving the price up, when the actual impact to supply is small? Its like a leveling game….as we say in poker.”

    This isn’t how it plays out in a commodity futures market. Not to say there aren’t short-term price moves where the wisdom behind it isn’t immediately apparent. But long-term bullishness or bearishness is pretty much 100% of the time driven by a fundamental issue with supply/demand.

  251. Bartbuster says:

    There’s no “guessing” when world oil production is forecast to decline 1.0-1.5 bln bpd

    Mule, a “forecast” is a guess.

  252. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Excellent rant, Mule Rider! Too bad you contradicted yourself within, and, though you started to try to show supply decreases in Libya as a contributor, I’m guessing you realized that down that path lay destruction, so you only told half the truth. Thus you STILL have not proven the supply/demand cause and effect.

    Bloomberg counters with the fact the Saudi Arabia will increase production to make up for any Libyan loss. No supply issue there.

    Same article speaks to winter/summer changeover as a partial contributor.

    At the same time Reuters provides proof of my contention that US gasoline inventories are the highest in decades. No supply issue there!

    Meanwhile, you produced nothing but churlishness and insult. Still waiting for definitive proofs, old son.

    I’ve got a master’s degree in economics that says otherwise. What’s your formal education/training in again?” Degrees in computer science and applied mathematics. With the second degree, having fulfilled general requirements, I was able to take a potfull of electives. So I spent a lot of those over in the B School. ACED every Econ course I took (most of the BA majors couldn’t hack the math to make straight A’s. Possibly you were one of those) and every other with the exception of one B in an accounting course. Prof was a TOUGH ASS, with a DBA and a JD. Seeing your attempts at economic proofs, you should call your alma mater and ask for a refund.

    Old Mule rearing it’s stubborn head again???

  253. dcpetterson says:

    I know that speculation is not the same as supply and demand, and that the current rise in prices is about fear-based speculation concerning possible future declines in supply.

  254. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule, a “forecast” is a guess.”

    If this is your only leg to stand on, I don’t think I’ll be able to convince your ignorant sorry ass.

    A forecast isn’t simply a “guess,” which implies a higher degree of error and uncertainty. No, a forecast (especially for something like this) is usually a very accurate statistical measure based on current trends, known changes in technology, access to oil deposits and known reserves, etc.

    Think of it this way: you have an 11-year old Caucasian boy who stands 5’2″ and you’re going to forecast his increase in height one year from now. So you look at similar trends in boys of the same race, gender, and age and the boy’s own rate of growth up until now and even some other genetic factors linked to his family. Based on that, there looks like a high probability he will grow between 3″ and 4″ by age 12. That’s not to say it couldn’t be 2″ or 5″ but you know with a high probability it will be between 3″-4″. You know for sure that he won’t shrink and there’s less than a 1% chance that he grows less than 1″. That said, you know that growth is expected and roughly how much.

    By you calling the drop a “guess,” you’re implying there’s much more uncertainty about the prediction than there really is. Is there likely to be an increase? No. Not based on what we know. Is demand likely to cool? Again, no. Not with what we know.

    It’s not like you can just dismiss the trend towards lower petroleum production and stronger demand as a “guess” and then blame speculators for the price increasing.

    I’m getting tired of bitch-slapping you on this.

    You’re so far beneath me that I shouldn’t be wasting my time explaining something that a neanderthal could understand but evidently you can’t.

    Here’s your chance to have the last word because it’s obvious I’m not going to say anything your dumb stupid ass will comprehend.

  255. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    bartbuster, Mule was incorrect on the “bln bpd” number as world production is less than 100 million bpd.

  256. Bartbuster says:

    A forecast isn’t simply a “guess,” which implies a higher degree of error and uncertainty. No, a forecast (especially for something like this) is usually a very accurate statistical measure based on current trends, known changes in technology, access to oil deposits and known reserves, etc.

    Mule, I have a degree in mathematical sciences. A guess with a high degree of certainty is still a guess. The fact that you are confident that your guess will be right does not change that it’s a guess.

    And I’m pretty sure that no one is claiming to know, with any degree of certainty, what is going to happen in Libya.

  257. Mule Rider says:

    “Old Mule rearing it’s stubborn head again???”

    Funny thing, though, is I don’t see anything close to proof that market speculation is causing a price increase. Oh, that’s right, there is no proof. Just baseless assertions, which you sumbitches are damn good at….and even better at lambasting conservatives for doing it. Hypocritical asswipes.

    You can’t escape the trend of improving worldwide demand for fossil fuels and slowly declining production. Even if the Saudis can make up for the minor shortfall in Libya’s (I admitted it was small) output, you can’t get around the FACT that total world production is falling.

  258. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mule: “No, a forecast (especially for something like this) is usually a very accurate statistical measure based on current trends,

    And another excellent definition of depending on forecasts is:

    Driving down the road at speed with your windshield taped over, looking in the rearview mirror.

  259. Mule Rider says:

    “I know that speculation is not the same as supply and demand,”

    Kudos….and no one said they are the same. I’m saying that speculation is driven by supply and demand. That is an inescapable FACT.

    “and that the current rise in prices is about fear-based speculation concerning possible future declines in supply.”

    This has nothing to do with “possible future declines” in supply. The declines are ALREADY HAPPENING….the only thing is that they are projected (based on very good evidence) to CONTINUE HAPPENING IN THE FUTURE.

    If you guys have a problem with this, don’t take it up with me. Take it up with Krugman. He’s your go-to economic god and he says you’re full of shit. Any answers to the op-eds of his I posted?

    Didn’t think so.

  260. Mule Rider says:

    “bartbuster, Mule was incorrect on the “bln bpd” number as world production is less than 100 million bpd.”

    Sorry, that was me just crossing up millions and billions. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s trending lower.

  261. Bartbuster says:

    I’m saying that speculation is driven by supply and demand. That is an inescapable FACT.

    Are you claiming that supply and demand are the only things that drive speculation? Because that is utter nonsense.

  262. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mule, you do understand we are talking about the April 2011 futures prices for oil and gas, NOT April 2021?

    You “long range” argument does not hold for such a short term.

    THAT cause would be “speculation”.

  263. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule, I have a degree in mathematical sciences. A guess with a high degree of certainty is still a guess. The fact that you are confident that your guess will be right does not change that it’s a guess.”

    Back to the 11-year old boy example, a guess of a 3″-4″ increase is far more defensible/reasonable than one of a 1″ decline. The trend towards declining world production and tightening supplies is nealry as ironclad as the trend towards growth in preteen boys. He may grow only 1″ or it may be 5″ but he’s going to grow. Same thing with oil. It may decline 0.5% or it may be 5% – most guesses are for a 1%-2% decline – but it’s almost assuredly going to decline. And the population ain’t getting any smaller. So as long as there are more people with less of a finite resource, the fundamentals of supply and demand say the price needs to go higher to allocate it properly.

    “And I’m pretty sure that no one is claiming to know, with any degree of certainty, what is going to happen in Libya.””

    I mentioned that as a temporary issue and totally agree that there’s a high degree of uncertainty. But that doesn’t affect broader, long-term world trends, and that trend is towards tighter supplies and stronger demand.

    “And another excellent definition of depending on forecasts is:

    Driving down the road at speed with your windshield taped over, looking in the rearview mirror.”

    Wrong. I do agree that some people rely on faulty models that ain’t worth shit and they might as well be throwing darts at a dartboard, but there are some things known with such certainty that you can have a reasonably good expectation of what’s going to happen. That’s the case with world oil supplies and demand. We know that supplies are steadily tightening and that demand is steadily improving (because there are increasing numbers of us) and will continue to do so unless and until non-petroleum fuels take hold.

  264. Bartbuster says:

    I mentioned that as a temporary issue and totally agree that there’s a high degree of uncertainty. But that doesn’t affect broader, long-term world trends, and that trend is towards tighter supplies and stronger demand.

    I’m pretty sure we’re talking about the current spike in prices, not the long term trends.

  265. Bartbuster says:

    Mule, you do understand we are talking about the April 2011 futures prices for oil and gas, NOT April 2021?

    Mule’s goalposts are trending into 2021…

  266. Mule Rider says:

    “Are you claiming that supply and demand are the only things that drive speculation? Because that is utter nonsense.”

    Perhaps you’d like to elucidate the factors that you believe drive speculation?

    I think I’ve explained thoroughly the connection between fundamentals and speculation. I don’t pretend to know the motivation of every single commodities trader – but I do know that the actions of just one trader have little-to-no impact on broader movements in the market.

    Wow us with your insights (paranoid delusions).

  267. Bartbuster says:

    Perhaps you’d like to elucidate the factors that you believe drive speculation?

    Right now it’s the fear that Libya’s oil is going stop flowing. So I’m going with “fear”. Of course, “optimism” can also drive speculation.

  268. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule, you do understand we are talking about the April 2011 futures prices for oil and gas, NOT April 2021?”

    I understand fully and know the difference between April 2011 and April 2021. And, I repeat, the trend towards tighter world oil supplies and stronger demand is already happening. We’re ALREADY seeing world output fall and we know that developing countries are anxious to ramp up consumption. That’s why the price is going up NOW. This trend is in motion…..it’s not some “possible future situation resulting in fear-based guesses.”

    “You “long range” argument does not hold for such a short term.”

    As I alluded to above, this is the result of trends that have already been in place for the long-term. And, as I said way upthread, you’re dealing with a very inelastic commodity. This isn’t something like avocados or grapefruit that we can do without. Our society is built squarely on petroleum. Very small percentage shifts in supply OR demand can cause major price fluctuations.

    “THAT cause would be “speculation”.””

    Again, speculation is just the mechanism by which the market reacts to actual changes in supply and demand. It isn’t the cause.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise is completely ignorant about how markets work.

  269. Bartbuster says:

    Mule, if you want to claim that estimated supply and demand drive speculation, that’s fine. But estimated supply and demand and not the same as actual supply and demand.

  270. Bartbuster says:

    That’s why the price is going up NOW.

    Mule, long term trends don’t cause massive spikes like the one we are seeing right now.

  271. Mule Rider says:

    “I’m pretty sure we’re talking about the current spike in prices, not the long term trends.”

    Guess you’re unfamiliar with the concept of own-price elasticity. The disruptions (or even the fear of one) we’re seeing, while they may appear to be miniscule compared to total world production, are still a very big deal. When your entire society is built around petroleum as ours is, even declines of less than 1% in supply (which it’s a pretty safe bet it is at least that much because of turmoil in the ME right now) or improving demand (also a safe bet now that we’ve had warmer weather in the States and the economy is gradually improving) can result in increases of several $$ per barrel.

    No need to discuss markets any more with Bartbuster and Max because they clearly don’t know shit from Shinola. But thanks for playing. It was enjoyable watching you spew ignorance over the entire thread.

  272. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule, long term trends don’t cause massive spikes like the one we are seeing right now.”

    Bullshit!!!! This shows you don’t even have a basic understanding of even THE MOST BASIC fundamentals of economics.

    The “long-term trend” (of tighter supplies and increasing global demand) are enough to at least support prices and push them higher during periods of seasonal strength. To ignore the impact of long-term trends on current prices is jaw-droppingly ignorant, at best, and possibly a sign of a developmental disorder.

    The turmoil in the Middle East simply exacerbates an existing problem. We’re already trending towards not having enough petroleum to go around. Looming disruptions from a key production region – keeping in mind that the relative inelasticity of this commodity makes it very prone to price spikes with the slightest hint of a supply disruption – only add to the bullishness.

    This isn’t up for debate. It’s a slam dunk.

  273. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule, I’m quite confident that anyone reading this thread will quickly realize that you’re an idiot.”

    Way to give yourself cover there with the “anyone reading this thread.” And that’s a nice, subtle argumentum ad populum as well, knowing that just because a majority of people reading this thread think I’m an idiot does not mean that I’m wrong and the opposite position is right.

    I’d actually agree with what you said, though, knowing that the readership of this blog is minimal and is primarily far left nuts like yourself.

    However, were people actually in the field of economics to read this thread, they’d clearly side with me and realize that you and your sympathizers are the idiots.

    I know my co-workers here universally agree with me, and we’re all master’s and phD level people in econ. Krugman agrees with me. And plenty more do. So I don’t need the approval of a sniveling little weasel like yourself.

    Go eat shit or something.

  274. Bartbuster says:

    The turmoil in the Middle East simply exacerbates an existing problem.

    Yes, if “exacerbating an existing problem” you mean “causing the massive spike on top of the existing trend”. Mule, long term trends in supply and demand cause long term trends in prices. The current spike is, by definition, not a long term trend. It has virtually nothing to do with the long term trend. Even if the long term trend was for lower prices the current unrest would cause an upward spike. To claim otherwise is just moronic.

  275. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mule: “The “long-term trend” (of tighter supplies and increasing global demand) are enough to at least support prices and push them higher during periods of seasonal strength. To ignore the impact of long-term trends on current prices is jaw-droppingly ignorant, at best, and possibly a sign of a developmental disorder.

    And THAT my friends, is why oil dropped to $30 bbl just two short years ago. Because, long term, we may have reached peak production in 2006. And long term is why we always see short term fluctuations.

    Or maybe not!

  276. Mule Rider says:

    “The current spike is, by definition, not a long term trend.”

    Didn’t say (or mean to imply) it was. But that doesn’t mean it’s unrelated to a looming supply crisis.

    “And THAT my friends, is why oil dropped to $30 bbl just two short years ago.”

    Of course there are always temporary shifts away from the longer-term trend. I think a near-global depresseion (which sent demand spiraling lower) was enough to count in this instance. Again, back to the fundamentals of supply and demand. Production may have been declining but demand was soft enough to warrant lower prices. Speculators were responsible for seeing that that weaker demand was factored in to the lower ($30/bbl) price.

  277. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule, I’m quite confident that if Saint Ronnie rose from the dead and read this thread, he’d realize quite quickly that you’re an idiot.”

    Ronald Reagan often missed the boat on economic matters. Don’t try and link me to him.

    HOWEVER, I have pointed out several times that Krugman is on my side on this but with no response.

    Is Krugman wrong on this issue too?

  278. Bartbuster says:

    HOWEVER, I have pointed out several times that Krugman is on my side on this but with no response.

    Linking to Krugman articles is not the same as showing the he is on your. You need to show a quote where Krugman says that fear isn’t driving the current price spike, but it’s really part of a long term trend. Good luck with that.

  279. Mule Rider says:

    “Linking to Krugman articles is not the same as showing the he is on your. You need to show a quote where Krugman says that fear isn’t driving the current price spike, but it’s really part of a long term trend. Good luck with that.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/opinion/27krugman.html

    “Is it speculation run amok? Is it the result of excessive money creation, a harbinger of runaway inflation just around the corner? No and no.”

    “What the commodity markets are telling us is that we’re living in a finite world, in which the rapid growth of emerging economies is placing pressure on limited supplies of raw materials, pushing up their prices. And America is, for the most part, just a bystander in this story.”

    “Some background: The last time the prices of oil and other commodities were this high, two and a half years ago, many commentators dismissed the price spike as an aberration driven by speculators. And they claimed vindication when commodity prices plunged in the second half of 2008.

    But that price collapse coincided with a severe global recession, which led to a sharp fall in demand for raw materials. The big test would come when the world economy recovered. Would raw materials once again become expensive?

    Well, it still feels like a recession in America. But thanks to growth in developing nations, world industrial production recently passed its previous peak — and, sure enough, commodity prices are surging again.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that speculation played no role in 2007-2008. Nor should we reject the notion that speculation is playing some role in current prices; for example, who is that mystery investor who has bought up much of the world’s copper supply? But the fact that world economic recovery has also brought a recovery in commodity prices strongly suggests that recent price fluctuations mainly reflect fundamental factors. ”

    I repeat, MAINLY FUNDAMENTAL FACTORS.

    He doesn’t completely dismiss speculation as playing some role. And I’d be foolish to dismiss it completely as well, but it’s a small and practically insignificant part of a bigger problem.

    He goes on to say,

    “In particular, today, as in 2007-2008, the primary driving force behind rising commodity prices isn’t demand from the United States. It’s demand from China and other emerging economies. As more and more people in formerly poor nations are entering the global middle class, they’re beginning to drive cars and eat meat, placing growing pressure on world oil and food supplies.

    And those supplies aren’t keeping pace. Conventional oil production has been flat for four years; in that sense, at least, peak oil has arrived. True, alternative sources, like oil from Canada’s tar sands, have continued to grow. But these alternative sources come at relatively high cost, both monetary and environmental.”

  280. Bartbuster says:

    Mule, not one of those quotes supports your view on the current price spike.

  281. dcpetterson says:

    I read the Krugman articles Mule linked. He gave three links ; two of them went to the same article. That article was from June 2008, and explained the difference between “futures speculation” and actual “current prices” of a commodity. “Futures speculation” deals with buying a contract for a commodity — it’s a bet about what the future price will be some months from now. “Futures speculation” does not directly affect current prices.

    In contrast, actual “current prices” are due mostly to classical supply and demand laws. If the current demand exceeds the current supply, the price goes up; if supply exceeds demand, the price goes down.

    The second article deals with the fact that the trend in oil prices is upward, over the very long term. We have probably passed Peal Oil, which means supply will eventually diminish; and yet demand continues to rise. This article was written last December.

    Neither article deals with the current situation, and specifically, neither deals with Libya. Further, neither deals with the causes of short-term spikes in “current prices,” except in passing. Prices tend to drop during a worldwide recession, and come up again after the recovery. He provides no explanation for short-term price spikes.

    Most likely, the “current prices” are today spiking because the sellers can get away with it; buyers are afraid that supplies are about to be inhibited, and so they want to build up a surplus (similar to “stocking up” before a storm). This is the same as a temporary spike in demand, which drives up the price. It is fear-driven. It fits the pedestrian (but not the technical) definition of “speculation.”

    In other words, the current spike in prices is being drive by a short-term rise in demand, which in turn is being caused by fear-driven guesses about what the near-term supply will be. Not being an economist, we tend to call this process “speculation.” To economists, however, the term “speculation” seems to have a specific technical meaning, having to do with futures contracts, which do not directly affect the current price of a commodity.

  282. Bartbuster says:

    In the past week oil prices went from around $85 to over $100. That isn’t a long term trend, that is a short term panic.

  283. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    dc,

    The futures markets work off marginal supplies. A large percentage of existing supplies are already locked into contracts. See: airlines hedging fuel.

    In relatively inelastic demand, as can be found in gas and oil, those marginal supplies take on an importance far greater than their actual contribution to the OVERALL market. The bidding for the futures CONTRACTS is the speculation, less so than the actual product. As more and more of the MARGINAL amounts of oil CONTRACTS are bid higher, fewer of those CONTRACTS are available, thus driving the price higher, in an upward spiral. Same thing happened in early 2009 in a DOWNWARD price spiral.

    Just look at the Hunt brothers attempt to corner the silver market in the 70’s. Nothing drove the actual demand for silver upward. Silver went from $10 to over $50 in a matter of months.

    Coincidently, it was the Hunt’s who developed Libya’s oil!

  284. GROG says:

    Max said: Mitch Daniels – R-IN: Says to drop the contentious “right-to-work bill so Dems will come back. He won’t “send out the troops”.

    Yep, Walker looks like he got a real wall of support from his fellow GOP Govs.

    Mitch Daniels ended collective bargaining for government workers his day on the job. He’s taken Indiana from insolvency to surplus. I’m pretty sure he supports Walker.

  285. Mule is right about the price of oil, as a rule. OPEC does have some pricing power, but not Exxon.

    His description of how the price rise occurred is spot on.

  286. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Discovery about to take off. Back later.

  287. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Five year old news, GROG.

    Talking about the current situation and Indiana’s right to work bill on the table and the Gov’s willingness to compromise!

    Get with it!

    BYE! for now.

  288. Mule Rider says:

    “In the past week oil prices went from around $85 to over $100. That isn’t a long term trend, that is a short term panic.”

    Just because you don’t understand what makes a market move a certain amount over a given time frame doesn’t mean you get to assign blame to the mythical force of “speculation” (ignoring any/all underlying fundamental reasons for the price change) and it be so. You’re entitled to your own opinion but NOT your own facts.

    There is ample discussion about the relationship of supply and demand demand and how that intersects to give us a market price (for oil or pretty much anything else) throughout academia and other areas of research with empircal evidence but there is little more than conjecture and a few opinion pieces that place the blame of not easily explained or understood price changes as the result of “speculation.” If you want anybody to buy what you’re selling, provide some evidence to back up your claim. And, no, saying (and repeating over and over) that because you don’t think Middle East turmoil or changing consumption/production patterns, seasonal influences, or rapid economic growth are enough to support a $15/bbl move in a week’s time doesn’t count as evidence.

    Prove where it’s almost completely speculation-driven and NOT a function of supply/demand.

  289. Bartbuster says:

    Just because you don’t understand what makes a market move a certain amount over a given time frame

    Except that I do understand. And your claim that the civil war in Libya is not a significant factor in the HUGE price spike that followed the start of the civil war is absurd. It’s not even a close call.

    provide some evidence to back up your claim.

    “I have an masters in econ!!” is not “evidence”.

  290. Bartbuster says:

    provide some evidence to back up your claim.

    I’m pretty sure Max posted the supply stats, and they don’t support a huge spike in prices. If you’ve got stats that show a huge spike in demand and huge drop in supply, you certainly haven’t posted them. All we’ve seen from you is a slight drop in supply and a big spike in BS.

  291. mclever says:

    @parksie

    In 2007 the average price of a barrel of oil was about $64. In 2008, about $90. In 2009 about $53. So the price of extraction increased about 40%, then dropped about 40%, within a span of three years? Really? I find that implausible that a fairly mature and stable industry can have production costs fluctuate that wildly.

    In the context of my point that production and refinement costs have not remained flat relative to inflation, I don’t recall ever implying that those costs were the sole driver of the price of oil. In fact, the argument I’ve made so far on this thread (and been ridiculed for by Mule) was that speculation and fear were driving the price more than fundamentals of cost. Last I knew, average lifting costs were at ~$12/boe, so if the price is at $30 or $60 or $90, then the costs of production are a relatively small component of that price. Bear in mind that lifting costs assume a stable, producing well that’s already been completed. You must still include the other upstream costs of exploration and development, and the downstream transportation and refinement costs, which may fluctuate even more.

    You said that costs were flat. I merely pointed out that wasn’t so and gave some reasons for why not. Keep in mind that there are finding costs (25% global increase between 2007 and 2008), development costs (increasing rapidly over the past several decades), production/lifting costs (were declining, but are now increasing again due to going after more difficult product that had previously been avoided), transportation costs (vary), refinement costs (increasing due to higher levels of impurities such as sulfur and nitrogen in the “heavy oil” retrieved by secondary and tertiary production methods).

    http://cisac.stanford.edu/publications/the_end_of_easy_oil_estimating_average_production_costs_for_oil_fields_around_the_world/

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/perfpro/production.pdf

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/perfpro/020607.pdf

    A few highlights:

    – Finding costs increased $4.86/boe of reserves added in the 2006-2008 period compared to the 2005-2007 period.
    – Finding costs ranged from about $5.26/boe in the Middle East to $63.71/boe for U.S. offshore in 2006.
    – Development expenditures increased 10 percent to $76 billion in 2007.
    – Development expenditures reached the highest level in the history of the FRS survey in 2006, 2007, and 2008.
    – Worldwide total lifting costs for the FRS companies increased $2.40 per boe of production (24 percent) in 2008.
    – In 2006, lifting costs in the USA were <$7/boe compared to $12-$15/boe today.

  292. Mule Rider says:

    “Neither article deals with the current situation, and specifically, neither deals with Libya.”

    The articles from 2008 are just as much or more applicable today. Back then (June/July 2008), oil rose to nealry $150/bbl WITHOUT a Mideast uprising to blame consider….you would think there would be an even better case for blaming “speculators” then, and many people tried, but most (sane) economists agreed it was simply an issue of supply/demand….a perfect storm of vibrant economic growth and declining production testing a finite resource. It took a massive price increase to finally curb demand enough to reduce consumption and prevent stocks from declining. I’m telling you guys, although you don’t seem to believe me, the most innocuous of changes in supply or demand with something as inelastic as petroleum can result in very large swings in price.

  293. mclever says:

    Perhaps I’m just finding the argument between Mule and the rest a little hard to follow, but I don’t disagree with anything he’s said about what drives the price of oil. Yet, I also agree with the others that “speculation” and “fear” are largely what are prompting the current spike in price. These seem compatible to me, because neither excludes the other from being a factor, so I don’t understand what the argument is about.

    Is it just that “speculation” and “fear” aren’t palatable economic terms? Or, is it just arguing over which factor is more prevalent?

  294. Mule Rider says:

    “Except that I do understand.”

    No, you don’t. You’re just airing out your preconceived notion of what’s happening because you are too ignorant to understand what’s really happening behind the scenes.

    “And your claim that the civil war in Libya is not a significant factor in the HUGE price spike that followed the start of the civil war is absurd. It’s not even a close call.”

    All I’m saying is that the entire market doesn’t revolve solely around developments in Libya. What’s going on there certainly has an impact but it’s not the only thing.

    ““I have an masters in econ!!” is not “evidence”.”

    First of all it’s true. And I’ll add that I work for a company that analyzes commodit markets for a living. Plus, it’s far more than you’ve offered.

    “I’m pretty sure Max posted the supply stats, and they don’t support a huge spike in prices.”

    He posted inventory data, if I’m not mistaken. That’s not the same as “supply.” It’s true that you usually think of reduced stocks as a symptom of tight supplies but that isn’t always true. The main thing you need to keep in mind is that world output is expected to decline 1%-2% this year. That’s the key figure. Besides, who are you to determine what does or does not support a “huge spike in prices.” Again, this is you not understanding what’s going on but trying to explain/rationalize it anyway based on your own preconceived notions. Even if you had a perfect grip on the supply side of the equation, how do you know that demand factors aren’t what’s driving the increase? Do you have some advanced statistical model on petroleum demand you’re not sharing that’s telling you something different? Didn’t think so. You don’t have a freakin’ clue but you want to dictate how the market SHOULD act based purely on ASSERTIONS.

    “If you’ve got stats that show a huge spike in demand and huge drop in supply, you certainly haven’t posted them. All we’ve seen from you is a slight drop in supply….”

    That’s it right there….a “slight drop in supply”….in the kind of environment we’re in, that can be all it takes for a huge price swing like we’re seeing. I’ve said it before and I guess you’re either ignoring it or don’t know what I’m talking about, but maybe you need to look up the concept of P-R-I-C-E E-L-A-S-T-I-C-I-T-Y.

    “and a big spike in BS.”

    I’m prone to that, I admit, but I’m right on this one….

  295. dcpetterson says:

    mclever, I’m inclined to agree with you. All of the factors everyone has listed are applicable. The only “wrong” part is anyone’s argument is if there is any implication that the other facts are not present.

  296. mclever says:

    After reading Mule’s mini-dissertation on oil commodity pricing on this thread, I’ll concede that my original “fear” statement was (rather obviously) an oversimplification of an admittedly complex pricing scenario.

    Fear (of scarcity) isn’t the only thing that drives prices up, but it can definitely play a factor. Economists (like my spouse) use their statistical models and crunch everything down to numbers, but sometimes raw numbers forget that there are humans making the decisions and not mathematical modeling software. To deny that psychology plays a role in perceptions of scarcity would be naive.

    As Mule said, a very tiny blip can cause a dramatic swing due to the inelasticity of demand relative to price. Concern about availability of oil from the relatively cheaper Middle East forcing even a minor shifting of supply to more expensive areas (such as the Gulf) can certainly create a significant price jump. (Getting a well up-n-running costs about 10X as much per boe produced in the Gulf as compared to the Middle East.)

  297. mclever says:

    Oh, and Mule, I don’t appreciate being called ignorant, especially when I’m not. I may oversimplify or overstate my views from time to time, but that doesn’t make me ignorant. As far as I know, I haven’t called you ignorant, so I’d appreciate it if you returned the favor. You may tell me that I’m “forgetting to consider” something, which may certainly be the case.

    😉

  298. I’ve been out for most of the day (I do have a life besides this blog), or I would have taken action sooner. I deleted a bunch of comments, because they’re devolving into people calling each other idiots (Mule and Bartbuster seem to be the worst offenders here, but Max is in there, too).

    The name calling must stop. Now. You can disagree on the topic without calling each other names. Or, if you find you cannot, you are free to leave. And if you find you cannot refrain from calling each other names and don’t leave of your own volition, I’m pretty sure Mr. U will help you.

  299. Mule Rider says:

    “Oh, and Mule, I don’t appreciate being called ignorant, especially when I’m not.”

    My apologies. You are always respectful, courteous, pleasant, etc. to me and I regret dragging you into the mud-slinging affair.

    I got caught up in a heated exchange with Max and BB, the latter of which always seems to have a chip on his shoulder and speaks in a bellicose tone, and I mistakenly lumped you in to the fray.

    Again, sorry.

  300. filistro says:

    Ahhh… now that’s my Muley!

    Note to mclever… when Muley gets cranky or bellicose, just scratch gently behind his ears for a couple of minutes. He loves that 😉

  301. mclever says:

    Apology accepted. 🙂

    Internet Debate 101 says that if you can keep your words calm and reasonable while the other person devolves into emotional ranting, then you win by default. Just a thought for all of us to remember, eh?

    Compared to other blog and chat sites, the folks on here in general are much more inclined towards civility, and I prefer to keep it that way.

  302. Mule Rider says:

    “filistro says:”

    OMG!

    Where have you been stranger???

    That must’ve been some vacation….welcome back!

  303. Mr. Universe says:

    Looks like Michael and I got here at the same time with the same idea. If your comments are missing, I don’t need to explain why.

  304. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Michael,

    With respect:

    You have my email. Please send me copies of any of my comments in support of your contention that I called anyone an “idiot” or similar such during this thread. The two instances that I believe I even came close was stating that I felt Mule showed his ignorance of economics with certain posts and to ask if anyone would take a bet on if he had his degree from BJU.

    Upon proof of such I will gladly apologize to the list. Without such, perhaps you may enlighten me on exactly what you consider to be my out of bounds behavior, as ex post facto I have no way to see for myself.

    Thanks

  305. Bartbuster says:

    The main thing you need to keep in mind is that world output is expected to decline 1%-2% this year

    Did everyone figure that out just before the price spike? No? Then it wasn’t a factor.

  306. Max,
    BJU was your offense.

  307. Mule Rider says:

    “Did everyone figure that out just before the price spike? No? Then it wasn’t a factor.”

    Yes, it is and has been a factor. The fact that supply projections/expectations are generally easier to predict and more transparent doesn’t negate them as a factor. However, it doesn’t mean that demand, which is much more esoteric in that it isn’t nearly as transparent or easy to quantify/predict, is the issue.

    I acknowledged above that the own-price supply elasticity of oil was almost perfectly inelastic….meaning a nearly straight up-and-down line on a supply/demand graph. It means there is little producers can do to respond to changes in price. If it’s high, while they may want to produce more, because of limitations on what is available (ready to extract from the ground) and refining capacity, they can’t ramp up production so easily. On the flip side, if the market is weak, they’re unlikely to cut production very much because they would be letting very expensive equipment sit idle (poor capacity utilization).

    Demand is also very inelastic, but it’s not as easy to quantify as supply. Namely because people can only “demand” what’s being produced. The world may want to consume 85 mpd at $75 but if world production is only 83-84 mpd, they’re going to have to pay something higher than $75 to get it. That’s where elasticity comes in. You might not think the difference between 1-2 mpd is much – and certainly not enough to justify oil prices increasing $30-$35/bbl – but plenty of research into price elasticities suggest that it doesn’t take much of a difference between Q1 and Q2 for there to be some wide swings in where the market finds an equilibrium.

  308. Mule Rider says:

    “However, it doesn’t mean that demand, which is much more esoteric in that it isn’t nearly as transparent or easy to quantify/predict, is the issue.”

    This sentence didn’t come out right….it should have read:

    However, it doesn’t mean that demand, which is much more esoteric in that it isn’t nearly as transparent or easy to quantify/predict, is the ONLY issue, although that’s where most of the unseen (and often misunderstood) influence on the market is coming from.

  309. Bartbuster says:

    NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) – U.S. crude oil futures dropped
    more than 2 percent in a late sell-off on Thursday on rumors
    that Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi had been shot, wiping out
    gains in a rally to near 2-1/2-year highs.

    Apparently Gaddafi was so full of oil that even rumors of his shooting has increased supply.

  310. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Michael,

    Please, in what way was positing such a question an offense? Do you find a Carolina fan deriding Duke alums offensive? Or an Aggie doing same to a Longhorn?

    Having grown up in Greenville and worked closely with BJU students, faculty and alums on numerous occasions, I have a great amount of respect for many aspects of the school. I know, in fact, that they do not have an MBA program and that their BA program does not offer a major in Econ. And of course, BJU is well known for it’s Christian background.

    In the context of Mule’s brag of having a Master’s in Econ and his statement of ” you just eat shit”, a quite unChristian quote, please tell me how asking if anyone would take bets that he had graduated from a Christian school that does not offer Econ degrees, a serious touch of irony, to be offensive. Particularly wherein I made no negative comment about the school!

    Hell, I’ve ragged Mr U on those Ducks of his. (Tigers feasting thereon!)

    Thanks

    Thanks

  311. parksie555 says:

    Lever – thanks for the links, good information there. Taking a closer look at some of the graphs in the DOE report I see the following:

    Fig 15 – “Direct Oil and Natural Gas Lifting Costs for FRS Companies 1981-2008”, I see the cost in 1981 for foreign producers at about 7 bucks a barrel. They fluctuate over the next ~29 years but by 2008 they are about… $ 7.50 a barrel. US costs increase significantly more ($6.50 to about $9.50), but I wonder what the US production total is vs the rest of the world? 25%? Less? Weighting by 25% the net gain in lift costs would seem to be on the order of a buck a barrel or so. So as far as lifting costs go I stand by my assertion.

    I see more of an increase in the next figure – finding costs – foreign costs from about 12-13 bucks a barrel to about 20 over the same period, US onshore going from about $20 to $25 a barrel, and a sharp rise in the offshore costs as you noted.

    So certainly not near constant when both lifting and discovery costs taken into account. However I don’t see the wild price fluctuation on a week to week, month to month basis that the barrel price seems to go through. Call it fear or speculation or whatever you want the costs of a barrel of oil do not bear a close relationship to the cost of producing that oil, as near as I can tell.

    Thanks again for the information, good stuff there.

  312. mclever says:

    Parksie,

    You’re welcome for the info. Prices for discovery, development, production, transportation, and refinement provide a baseline minimum price. The costs set the floor, but are not necessarily the primary driver of current and future prices. Mule’s mini-dissertation on supply-v-demand is quite informative of the forces that impact the total price.

    If you looked through all of those documents, somewhere in there was a chart of the “break even” price for the average producer in various parts of the world from 2006. That break even price ranged from a low of $17 in Kuwait, to an average $30 in most of the Mid-East, and $40 for Bahrain and Oman. Canada was ~$35, and the USA was in the low $50s. If we tack on the last four years of cost increases, that break-even price is probably ~$40-45 most places now. And there’s this article that puts the USA break-even at $87 in 2008.

    http://www.stockhouse.com/Community-News/2009/Jul/24/The-break-even-price-for-oil-and-gas

  313. parksie,
    The production costs and the world commodity price are much more closely tied in the case where demand is elastic, there are many suppliers, and the overall supply exceeds the demand. In the case of oil, the demand is highly inelastic, and the overall supply currently closely tracks that demand. When that happens, prices will fluctuate based on shifts of the demand curve (rather than movement along the curve; e.g. if the economy slows down, the curve shifts to reflect lower demand due to the slower economy) or changes in the expected supply.

    Libya represents 2% of the world’s oil supply, but with demand closely matching supply in an inelastic demand model, small changes in supply can have a large impact on price. Other situations that similarly have impacted the price are growing economies (the rapid growth in China’s and India’s consumption during the last decade put pressure on the suppliers), or unexpected news related to supply (Libya was one such example).

    One reason I am hugely in favor of substantial investments in renewable energy is that our nation’s economy is extremely sensitive to these sorts of price shocks in petroleum. We may be really efficient when the supply is steady and nobody else’s demand is growing, but those days are over. Since we can’t shift off of oil overnight, we have to sacrifice a (relatively) small amount today in order to insulate our future selves from the catastrophic impacts on the economy resulting from rapid and large price spikes in oil.

    That a shift to renewables should also mitigate the growing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a nice bonus.

  314. mclever says:

    Well said, Michael. 🙂

  315. Bartbuster,
    I apologize for your post getting stuck in the spam filter. If we pull a bunch of someone’s posts at a time, the algorithm flags that person as a troublemaker for a while, and we have to manually pull the posts out of purgatory.

  316. To add to mclever’s “break even” note…
    The break even on tar sands is much higher (and uses a huge amount of natural gas, which makes for a deplorable carbon footprint), and higher still for shale oil. This can make the discussion much more complex when looking at potential “reserves.”

    Oh…and thanks, mclever. 🙂

  317. dcpetterson says:

    To the subject of the thread… Governor Walker has definitely galvanized progressives. This weekend, there are protests and rallies planned in every major city and every state capital in the nation. Private unions are standing with the Wisconsin public unions — and so are the WI firefighters, who were exempted from the union-killing bill.

    Whether the bill is eventually enacted or not, the lines for 2012 have been drawn — Republicans vs. the Middle Class, conservatives against workers’ rights that have been won with blood, sweat, and tears over most of the last century. It’s no longer about the budget, or even about jobs. Wisconsin proved the “budget” meme is a smokescreen which elected Republicans really don’t care about, and the U.S. House proved national Republicans don’t care about jobs.

    The current conservative agenda is about killing workers’ rights — stuff like health care, 40-hour workweeks, paid holidays, safe work environment, pensions, child labor laws — and it’s about an ultraconservative social agenda — no more Sesame Street or basic health care for poor women, or Public Radio, or even Social Security. When the Republicans shut down the government over their fetish to kill Big Bird, we’ll learn they also don’t want national parks or border guards or safe food.

    Prove me wrong, conservatives. Join us in condemning the dishonest and destructive policies of Governor Walker. Join us in opposing the absurd House budget cuts. Join us in the streets on Saturday, protesting these obscenities.

  318. rgbact,

    Last I checked–birth control isn’t a civil liberty.

    Then you should probably read up on Griswold v. Connecticut.

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