Free Forum Friday April 1st Edition

It’s been an unusual week. Some of the highlights are as follows:

Dance Partners?

As far as we can tell, there is no truth to the notion that Mike Huckabee is going to partner with Rush Limbaugh on “Dancing with the Stars.”

We have found no evidence that Tim Pawlenty is getting funding from al Qaeda in Somalia. But then, we have found no evidence that he isn’t, either.

Haley Barbour has not, as far as we’ve been able to prove, completed a program for cocaine addiction at Betty Ford.

Emperor Murdoch

Some have said Rupert Murdoch will play Emperor ‘Papa’ Palpatine in a planned Star Wars remake. George Lucas is not responding to inquiries about possible casting.

We do know that Newt Gingrich still has not presented his actual birth certificate. The one he tried to fob off on the media isn’t an official document. Donald Trump provided his but nobody cares. They would like to see some documentation for that creature on his head, however.

Is she a compulsive masticator?

And, according to reliable reports, when Michele Bachmann was a child, her parents would encourage her to masticate excessively in their presence. At dinnertime. Can you believe that?

Finally, some have asked whether the entire Republican Caucus caught syphilis from an S&M themed orgy held on the night of January 4th in a private 747 owned by the Koch brothers. But FOX News has refused to look into the question.

It’s Free Forum Friday. If you’ve heard any other newsworthy items, better let the cat out of the bag.

Free Forum Fridays are an open discussion where commenters are invited to bring up topics that may not have been covered in the previous week. Got something on your mind? Throw your opinion out there.


About dcpetterson

D. C. Petterson is a novelist and a software consultant in Minnesota who has been writing science fiction since the age of six. He lives with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and two lizards, and insists that grandchildren are the reward for having survived teenagers. When not writing stories or software, he plays guitar, engages in political debate, and reads a lot of history and physics texts for fun.
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176 Responses to Free Forum Friday April 1st Edition

  1. Mainer says:

    Trump the hump is going no where. What self respecting winger would vote for some one with some French sounding thing perched on his head.

  2. Monotreme says:

    Gallup: More Americans side with Unions than with Koch-Walker Industries: http://bit.ly/gRX4UZ

  3. filistro says:

    Not an April Fools Joke… economy adds net 216,000 jobs in March (230,000 in private sector, -14,000 govt. jobs) and unemployment drops to 8.8%.

    Freepers deeply, deeply bummed that America might not fail after all.

  4. filistro says:

    Also more defections in the Libyan hierarchy, Daffy’s power structure coming unraveled.

    The world is unfolding as it should. GNAA abounds!

    At this rate, we may NEVER see any GOP candidates. Maybe they’ll just take a pass and cede the election 🙂

  5. Monotreme says:

    How to respond to Westboro Baptist protests: http://bit.ly/ffy3yn

  6. filistro says:

    Mainer… Donald Trump has said in the past (both in his book and on video) that:

    1.) he supports universal health care
    2.) he believes in a woman’s right to choose
    3.) he is strongly in favor of gay rights
    4.) he is “proud” of having had “three beautiful wives”
    5.) he likes younger women and wishes he could date his daughter, Ivanka, who has “a really nice figure”

    Still, perhaps a flirtation with birtherism and some ugly loose talk about “Obama going around the world kissing ass” will be enough to fire up the nasty Republican fringe on his behalf.

    I wish him well. If he actually gets in the race, it’s going to be even more richly entertaining than it already promises to be 😉

  7. filistro says:

    Mono… lol!!

    Ridicule is such a potent tool. It should be used more often.

  8. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    How to respond to Westboro Baptist protests: http://bit.ly/ffy3yn

    Just about says it all, including the irony!

  9. TakingAmes says:

    I refuse to believe the Donald will actually get in the race. Who’s gonna take him seriously with that orange possum on his head? Though he does fit in well with good ol’ “Three Wives” Gingrich. I think it’s all a promo for some new reality TV show he’s doing. I do agree with filistro, though, that if he does it will be even more entertaining than it’s already shaping up to be.

    It gives me some confidence that Americans do realize where those 5-day work weeks, minimum wage and child labor laws came from.

    And Mono and Max: Seriously, F*** that guy.

  10. filistro says:

    Breaking… Democrats in WI already have the signatures for the first of 19 recall efforts now actively underway.

    “The filing comes just before the halfway point in the 60-day window the recall committee had to gather signatures in the district.

    The state Democratic Party provided infrastructure support but “not a single paid canvasser was needed to trigger the recall versus Dan Kapanke,” said party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, who credited volunteers for collecting more than 20,000 signatures in less than 30 days.”

  11. Monotreme says:

    “Greatest Scam Ever”: Pres. Obama’s birthplace, or Trump’s hair? http://t.co/N4rAxhd @cnn

  12. Monotreme says:

    @Fili:

    And that’s not even Sen. Randy Hooper (R-Fond du Lac), who lives with his 26-year-old girlfriend in Madison, got her a job through connections with Gov. Koch-Walker, and only won his election by 163 votes.

    The buzz is, Republicans in Wisconsin are seriously worried about blowback here.

  13. Mainer says:

    Westboro Baptists………Can not the Baptist church recind their ability to use the term Baptist? I mean isn’t it like a trademark or some thing? Ok I admit I’m not big on religion…..what do you expect from a mediocre Methodist or possible Universalist (hey the Universalists have better music and their church suppers just plain rock.)

    I have a couple of gay friends that seriously believe they have the antidote to Westboroism. The next time the group makes noise about violating a funeral of a military person they and a number of their transgender friends would like to try a little experiment. They propose to send 40 or 50 or more of their group into the ranks of the Westboro ignorant and you know just mingle…….mingle very closely……touchy feely close……alll the while wearing shirts proclaiming such things as “I’m Gay”, “I used to be a girl”, “Don’t let the dress fool you…..I’m hung better than you are”.

    I edited out the more crude ones but you catch my drift. Picture it. Now I am seeing a bad case of the screaming meamees about the time a bus load of them decide to mingle.

  14. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mainer,

    Nope!

    There are at least 60 DIFFERENT Baptist groups in the US alone. Loose alliances. Baptists do NOT have a church hierarchy, as EACH church is completely independent and it’s pastor is top dog.

  15. TakingAmes says:

    It might be worth it to investigate which (if any) Baptist conference these folks belong to, like whether it is the SBC, ABC, etc. Though like Max said, it really doesn’t matter. They’re probably unaffiliated anyway.

    Can ya tell I grew up amongst these people?

  16. Brian says:

    Does anyone know if there is any similar blowback in other states where they are trying to get rid of government unions? Everyone seems focused on WI, but as I understand it, Ohio and Florida are trying the same thing.

  17. TakingAmes says:

    Brian, Indiana’s Democratic state assemblymen also fled the state in February in protest of anti-union bills, school voucher programs and a few other things. Unlike in Wisconsin, the state assembly couldn’t do anything with them gone, as they needed a two-thirds quorum. They just returned to work this past Monday after receiveing a few concessions. Mostly they just succeeded in getting Indiana voters to think about these things. I can’t speak to any blowback there.

  18. Mainer says:

    Brian, little different situation here in Maine even with our new Republican buffoon in chief. In Maine we have a state teacher union but there is no state contract. Each school district negotiates with their own entitity. But our retirement that is state controlled is under major attack. We have one of the or the worst teacher retirement programs in the country but to hear the righties talk you would think we were all living high on the hog. And to add insult to injury we are one of the 13 states that signed off on a Federal provision to prevent wind fall retirements so we lose half our Social Security off the top. Never mind that most of us had to work multiple side jobs just so we could afford to teach and feed out families. Interesting that I have 22 good years for SS but must have 30 to get our full amount. Odd but I still work and I notice I still have to pay the full amount.

    Our legislature just threw out an effort to put in a recall provision stating it was not a serious item…….if they only knew just how bloody serious it was.

  19. TakingAmes says:

    Anyone have any thoughts about the nationwide fast in response to HR1, the latest budget bill?
    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/why-were-fasting/

  20. parksie555 says:

    Maybe capitalism is dead… take a look at this depressing article…

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704050204576219073867182108.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

    From a nation of makers to a nation of takers…

    Sums it up pretty well.

  21. filistro says:

    parksie… it’s depressing, all right.

    But what’s the solution? How can America return to being a nation of “makers” when there are other countries who will make the same products for a quarter of the price? Apart from punitive tariffs and paleoconservative protectionism (which destroys capitalism and never works anyhow) it’s hard to see an alternative apart from letting developing countries make the stuff while western nations develop other skills necessary in a modern world.

    Of course, that would require investing heavily in education…

  22. filistro says:

    Ames.. re the “nationwide fast”… I’m all for it.

    I find it immensely cheering to see programs like this, also the WI recalls and the OH ballot initiative.

    So often Dems just sit around and TALK endlessly about everything that’s wrong in the world. It’s great to see them taking ACTION for a change. Really, really great.

  23. TMS says:

    Nobody disagreed when I said that these government unions are forcing taxpayers to get less value for their money. So why on earth should we support their continuation?

  24. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    parksie,

    Don’t be so depressed as there is actually some GOOD news there.

    8.7M gov’t workers for 180M Americans in 1960
    11.5M workers for 305M Americans in 2010

    305/180 = 1.7X increase in # of Americans,
    11.5.8.7 = 1.3 increase in # if gov’t workers.

    So those government workers are more efficient in “per American served” ration than they were in 1960.

    The decrease in manufacturing workers is a direct result OF BUSINESSES DECIDING THEY WOULD RATHER TAKE MANUFACTURING JOBS OFFSHORE! Note there were over 15 MILLION jobs in manufacturing in 1960 and only 11.5 million in 2010! That’s a DECREASE of 1.3X in those jobs while there was a 1.7X INCREASE in Americans. So comparing gov’t workers with manufacturing jobs is misleading at best, pure BS at worst. IOW, the correlation SUCKS!

    Run back and get us some stats on ALL non-public jobs versus gov’t jobs in 1960 versus 2010.

  25. filistro says:

    TMS… I’m trying not to disagree with you when we’ve barely met. Give me a little time.

    Of course, others here may not take as long as I do to become disagreeable… coffMaxcoffcoff… 😉

  26. filistro says:

    I do love that photo of Michelle Bachmann. She looks like she has just finished masticating… and found it really satisfying.

  27. parksie,
    The article is horribly misleading, though. Yes, the US has significantly reduced the number of manufacturing jobs, but that’s a separate issue from the growth of government. California’s biggest industries have nothing to do with manufacturing. Technology employment has grown in California even as technology manufacturing has dropped. And much of California’s agricultural employment (the second largest industry) is off the books.

    And, of course, the number of government employees includes those in the military. In 1960, the year chosen for comparison in the article, the US was far less involved in military exercises around the world than it is now.

    So, yes, the total number of government employees has risen. Do you know what percent of employed people in the US work for government?

  28. shortchain says:

    parksie,

    Any supposed “analysis” of why people aren’t going into careers associated with manufacturing which doesn’t even mention the effect of outsourcing is nothing but a pile of horse manure.

    I also observe that any author who says “study after study” shows something without giving a clue as to whether those “studies” are the usual tripe from AEI is just begging the question.

  29. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    MY momma told me if I was to masticate too much I’d go blind.

    Guess she was right, what with me having to wear glasses now!

    fili, I deeply hurt (and you KNOW how sensitive I am!) by such a statement from you! But,

    As long as you feel that way . . .

    TMS, take a look at my 10:01 comment. That demonstrates the lack of factual value YOUR statement contained. Sometimes, around here, when a statement has so little value we simply ignore it and hope the commenter get a clue to reality.

  30. Mainer says:

    TMS, maybe some of us miserable public sector works actually think we earned every damned dime we ever made serving worthless ingrates like yourself. Hey while your at it you want my military retirement back too.

  31. TMS says:

    OK, Max, let me restate it in a nice, logical progression for you:
    1) Unions artificially inflate total compensation.
    2) Artificially inflated compensation leads to getting less output per dollar.
    3) In government, less output per dollar means taxpayers are getting less value for their taxes.

    Do you disagree with any of those statements? If so, why?

  32. shortchain says:

    TMS,

    1) Unions artificially inflate total compensation.

    Translation: by engaging in effective bargaining, union workers, by getting more money and benefits, take money away from the people who ought to have all of it, namely those who hire people to work for them. The only non-artificially-inflated wages are those obtained by the potential employee, bargaining one-on-one with the potential employer, who can simply set a pay scale the hiree can either accept or not.

    2) Artificially inflated compensation leads to getting less output per dollar.

    This has been shown to be false. Study after study has shown that people who feel well-compensated do a better job than those who feel underpaid.

    3) In government, less output per dollar means taxpayers are getting less value for their taxes.

    Translation: by using whatever metrics we can pull out of our asses, we can make people who don’t actually produce widgets look as inefficient — or efficient — as we like.

  33. TMS says:

    Mainer, everyone thinks they earned everything they got. The rest of the country has seen eroding wages and benefits for the past decade, while government wages and benefits have risen. It hardly makes me a worthless ingrate to see injustice in this.

    In fact, it seems mighty ungrateful of you to take taxpayer dollars and consider those of us who pay your salaries to be “worthless.”

  34. filistro says:

    Well, this is interesting.

    Jan Brewer wants to impose a fee on Medicaid recipients who are obese or who smoke and refuse to enroll in programs aimed at achieving a healthier lifestyle.

    I think this is the first initiative she’s ever proposed that I could totally support.

  35. TMS says:

    shortchain,
    We can argue over private industry union wages another time. I don’t want to move this discussion off of government just yet. In the case of government, artificially inflated wages take more money from taxpayers, not some mythical big bad corporate executive.

    To your second point, yes, people who feel that they are well compensated perform better. But that’s not about how much they make, that’s about how much they make relative to how much they feel that they should make. And that will be different for each individual. Moreover, that hardly proves that, say, increasing their compensation by 10% will produce a 10% increase in productivity. If it creates a 20% increase in productivity, then I’m all for it. If it creates a 5% increase in productivity, then it’s not worth it.

    And that’s why I’m saying that it’s not helping taxpayers get value for their money.

  36. Mule Rider says:

    shortchain said:

    “I also observe that any author who says “study after study” shows something without giving a clue as to whether those “studies” are the usual tripe from AEI is just begging the question.”

    shortchain said exactly 30 minutes later:

    “Study after study has shown that people who feel well-compensated do a better job than those who feel underpaid.”

    Was this meant to by ironic? Please tell me it was or that was incredibly pathetic.

    As is this site without me and some of the other conservatives hanging around to engage in “reasonable political discourse.” I looked at the comment counts on the articles I’ve missed this past week. Absolutely pathetic. If you guys don’t have anyone to argue with, you don’t have much (valuable) to say. Nothing we didn’t already know, though. Again, pathetic.

  37. dcpetterson says:

    So, TMS, because some private sector workers have gotten screwed by Republican economic policies (and thus have had flat or declining wages for a decade), we must now also screw public employees (who are paid less than private sector employees already, given comparable levels of training and education).

    Sorry, I don’t agree. Rather than screw more people, and screw them harder, we should stop doing stuff that hurt the economy, and start actually making this a good country for the middle class.

  38. filistro says:

    @Muley… As is this site without me and some of the other conservatives hanging around to engage in “reasonable political discourse.”

    Which conservatives are we missing besides you, Muley? GROG’s still here, parksie’s still here, plus we’ve got a couple of new righty guys who seem (so far) to be both smart and surprisingly civil…. and also able to stand up to a vigorous debate without wilting or getting mad.

    I do miss you when you’re gone, though. Temper tantrums and all, you’ll always be our Muley 🙂

  39. dcpetterson says:

    Hi, Mule Rider, welcome back!

    Another way to state your point is, Without conservative voices, we have less nonsense to dispute, and, thus, fewer comments 🙂

    But I wouldn’t put it that way, because I value a lively conversation from a variety of viewpoints.

    I think a better way to put it — better than your spin, and better than the spin I gave above — is that the more different viewpoints we have, the comments we have. I know all of us who are engaged in running the site value the variety of viewpoints we’ve seen. We hope the variety continues, and provides a forum that is both entertaining, and thought-provoking.

  40. TMS says:

    dcpetterson, what evidence do you have that cutting the compensation of public employees would hurt the economy? You’ve got nothing.

  41. Jean says:

    Here’s something far better to look at than Michele Bachmann.

    One eagle is on the nest., the other flew off a little while ago. A dead rabbit in the nest.

    http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles

    The Raptor Resource Project brings you the Decorah Eagles from atop their tree at the fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa. First hatch is imminent. It could occur anytime today.

  42. dcpetterson says:

    @TMS
    In the case of government, artificially inflated wages take more money from taxpayers,

    Public sector employees ARE taxpayers. Their wages are therefore not being taken FROM taxpayers. They are being given TO taxpayers.

    Wages (whether as a result of collective bargaining or not) are NOT “artificially inflated.” They are simply wages.

    Public employees are paid less than private employees, when you account for the level of education and training. So public-sector wages are hardly “inflated,” artificially or otherwise.

    Show me a comparison of private-sector productivity vs. public-sector productivity for comparable jobs before you claim that anyone’s wages are “inflated.”

  43. dcpetterson says:

    @TMS
    dcpetterson, what evidence do you have that cutting the compensation of public employees would hurt the economy? You’ve got nothing.

    I made no such claim. It would, however, hurt the people whose compensation you’re cutting.

  44. TMS says:

    Mule Rider,
    I don’t think he was being ironic at all. More like being a hypocrite.

  45. shortchain says:

    MR,

    It was intended, deliberate, a blatant offense against logic — just as in the WSJ editorial. Good to see you here.

  46. Mr. Universe says:

    @Mule

    Comments do not equal hit count. March was our second highest month of hit counts in our brief history after January. We needed several consecutive months of hit counts at a minimum level to move to the next stage. We’ve managed to achieve that (thanks for your help, BTW ;-)) Expect some changes this month. Nobody’s folding up their tents and going home.

    But before you flatter yourself further (about as embarrassing being caught masticating), we actually do like having you around.

  47. Brian says:

    I might actually like Brewer’s idea, though I’d like to see more details before I make a decision either way. But it does show promise.

    And without liberals and conservatives arguing both sides, it just becomes an echo chamber. Seriously, look at Free Republic, I know that’s extreme example, but it still works. I feel like I learn more when Mule, parksie, (now TMS), are giving their points and opinions and the rest of us have to think and form a counter argument.

  48. TakingAmes says:

    Cutting government spending during an economic recession is counterproductive. Having the government spend less money while consumers also spend less money hurts the economy (what with the overall spending of less money). The time for the government to cut back is when the economy is flush and not the other way around.

    Discuss.

  49. TMS says:

    dcpetterson, you said
    “Public sector employees ARE taxpayers. Their wages are therefore not being taken FROM taxpayers. They are being given TO taxpayers.”

    What a crock. Yes, they’re taxpayers, but it’s not as if the only taxpayers are public sector employees (even if it seems like it sometimes). The rest of us pay taxes, too, and we’re not getting the benefits of increased government employee compensation.

    Our choice, then, is to have lower taxes, where we ALL benefit, or higher taxes, where those who work in government benefit at the expense of the rest of us. And I’m supposed to be happy about your higher compensation?

    “Wages (whether as a result of collective bargaining or not) are NOT “artificially inflated.” They are simply wages.”

    Collective bargaining in the absence of competition from others in the same market artificially inflates wages for the same reason that monopolies artificially inflate prices. There is absolutely zero difference between the two, in terms of how they work.

    “Public employees are paid less than private employees, when you account for the level of education and training.”

    But they get better benefits and more job security. The total package for public employees today is better than for private employees.

    “I made no such claim. It would, however, hurt the people whose compensation you’re cutting.”
    Sure. Cutting anyone’s compensation hurts the ones whose compensation is being cut. And increasing anyone’s compensation helps the ones whose compensation is being increased. So why shouldn’t all public employees be paid a billion dollars a year? Wouldn’t that help them immensely?

  50. filistro says:

    It’s a Muley love-fest!!

    How can anybody so annoying manage to have so many friends? Just one of life’s mysteries…. 🙂

  51. Hey, Mule, it’d be nice to hear your thoughts on “Fair Laissez-Faire

  52. TMS says:

    TakingAmes, at the state level it’s a moot issue. They cannot have deficits the way the federal gov’t can. Which is one reason why it’s particularly important for states to have the flexibility to cut employee compensation during times of forced austerity due to recession.

  53. TakingAmes says:

    TMS: Thanks, but I was actually thinking about the federal government, in reference to HR1. Should have been more specific.

  54. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    TMS,

    Sorry, buy YOU made the “inflated wages” assertion. I ask you to provide proof that demonstrates on a job-for-job basis, where prerequisites and seniority in position are equal, that there is a significant difference between public and private sector compensation. Until such time, your assertion is in question and lacks validity.

    Sorry to offend the ladies on the same subject, but I also would like to see the same for the oft-quoted “women make 78% of what men make”. When one takes the total compensation for all women/men and divide that number by the number of female/male workers you may well be correct in using that number. But the number is meaningless in the real world.

    With the real threat of discrimination in the workplace suits AND the laws on the books, I want to see first hand accounts of companies who currently fail to compensate female/male workers at the same level, ceteris parabus.

  55. Mule Rider says:

    “How can anybody so annoying manage to have so many friends?”

    My internet persona is able to vent and spew things that don’t get uttered in “real life.”

    I’m actually a pleasant fellow with a mirthful demeanor….dare I say, someone you’d like to have a beer with….so don’t be too surprised when my more magnetic qualities seep through and gloss over the rigid crassness that is ‘Mule Rider’ and warms a few people’s hearts.

  56. shortchain says:

    TMS,

    Sorry if my use of irony was over your head.

    In the case of government, artificially inflated wages take more money from taxpayers, not some mythical big bad corporate executive.

    Ah, but what is this “artificially inflated” wage? Who decides what is “artificially inflated?” What makes wages set by collective bargaining any more artificial than wages set by the state according to some legislator’s idea of how much people should be paid? I would point out, in fact, that the latter is more “artificial” than the former.

    Since government is paid for by taxpayers, and the majority of taxes are paid by the rich, you are incorrect in that they are not paid by “big bad corporate executives”. Or are you trying to somehow claim that taxes are not largely paid by the wealthy?

    people who feel that they are well compensated perform better. But that’s not about how much they make, that’s about how much they make relative to how much they feel that they should make. And that will be different for each individual. Moreover, that hardly proves that, say, increasing their compensation by 10% will produce a 10% increase in productivity. If it creates a 20% increase in productivity, then I’m all for it. If it creates a 5% increase in productivity, then it’s not worth it.

    That’s a cute song and dance, but you are just pulling numbers out of your ass to cover up the fact that, according to theories and studies of how people feel about their value to an organization, one of the major ways to convince people that they are of value to an organization is to pay them a competitive wage. (Look here for a start.)

    No, it’s not a direct relationship — but I guarantee you that, short of harassment, the fastest way to demotivate a promising employee and probably lose that employee is to underpay them.

    The best way to get the taxpayers value for their money is to pay equitably, let the employees have a say in pay and benefits, and, in short, don’t treat them like serfs on the demesne of a feudal lord.

  57. TMS says:

    Max, this one doesn’t need proof. Here’s why:

    If the compensation with collective bargaining were lower than without collective bargaining, public employees would drop it immediately. They keep it either because they benefit from it or because they’re idiots. I’ve been giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re not idiots, but you can certainly help to prove otherwise.

    By the way, the most left-leaning (and therefore generous toward unions) studies that have looked at the difference between union and non-union government employees shows that, adjusting for other factors like regional economic differences, unionized government employees have a compensation package worth ~10% more than their non-union counterparts.

  58. TakingAmes says:

    Max, it is my impression that the oft-quoted $0.78 on the $1.00 stat is based over a lifetime of employment. Because women must take time off to birth and/or care for children, and later many women also leave employment to take care of elderly parents, their total compensation over a lifetime is lower than men’s. Maternity leave and dependent care policy in this country is a joke. I can’t think of many instances in this day and age where a woman with the same qualifications doing the same job as a man actually receives a lower salary.

  59. shortchain says:

    TMS,

    Do, please, cite that “left-leaning” study.

  60. TMS says:

    shortchain, you said:
    “What makes wages set by collective bargaining any more artificial than wages set by the state according to some legislator’s idea of how much people should be paid?”
    Way to strawman. I never said the wages should be set by some legislator. How about doing it like normal business does it, and have a negotiation between the employer and the employee?

    “Since government is paid for by taxpayers, and the majority of taxes are paid by the rich, you are incorrect in that they are not paid by “big bad corporate executives”. Or are you trying to somehow claim that taxes are not largely paid by the wealthy?”
    No. I’m trying to somehow claim that government employees are getting paid double the national average (see the Bureau of Economic Analysis report), which means that these government employees are upper-middle class. And that means that these government employees ARE in the category of “the wealthy.”

    I’ll also point out that many states, such as Texas, Washington, and Nevada, have no income tax, and are paying government employees with sales taxes, which are disproportionately coming from the lower classes.

    “The best way to get the taxpayers value for their money is to pay equitably, let the employees have a say in pay and benefits”
    Fine. Let them negotiate individually. It’s the COLLECTIVE bargaining that’s the problem, not bargaining itself. Someone who is contributing in exceptional ways should be paid accordingly. Someone who’s a slacker should be paid less or fired altogether. Collective bargaining has gotten in the way of these remedies.

  61. shortchain says:

    TMS,

    So when you went to get your job at megacorp, and they offered you XXXX dollars, you said, “no, pay me XXXX+YYYY” dollars, and they said, “oh, what the heck, we’ll just split the difference”, right? Is that how you imagine a government job would be negotiated? This is so unrealistic it’s hard to believe that you’ve ever had a professional job.

    Apparently, you weren’t around the last time this came up. Government employees are not “average”. They are, increasingly, holding down management jobs. Thus, comparing their average pay with that of the average worker across the company is pointless.

    People who don’t understand this probably think also that teachers (all of whom have to have degrees) should be paid the same as the state-wide average, equated to ditch-diggers, Walmart greeters, and the like.

    This is simple idiocy. You pay teachers what you pay a Wal-mart greeter, and you’ll get somebody who says “Hello, class, welcome to Walmart” — and is done for the day, intellectually.

    I’m done here.

  62. Monotreme says:

    A new study by a long-time climate change denier actually confirms what some have been saying all along.

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/03/mild-mannered-climate-study-s-got-everyone-upset/36253/

    When it was trotted out in front of Congress, things got really interesting.

    http://www.grist.org/list/2011-04-01-science-bites-climate-skeptics-in-the-ass-on-the-house-floor

  63. Monotreme says:

    Speaking of mastication — or another word that sounds just like it — doctors in Brazil report on a patient who finds relief from his Restless Legs Syndrome when he masturbates. (No, this is not an April Fool’s joke.)

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20323-masturbation-calms-restless-leg-syndrome.html

    Restless Legs Syndrome sounds “funny”, but it’s actually quite debilitating and is fairly common, affecting 3% of the population. (I have no idea how many people masturbate, but I think the number is slightly higher than this.)

  64. TMS says:

    shortchain, you said:
    “So when you went to get your job at megacorp, and they offered you XXXX dollars, you said, “no, pay me XXXX+YYYY” dollars, and they said, “oh, what the heck, we’ll just split the difference”, right?”
    Depends on the job. For some I got exactly what I demanded, and for others I didn’t. That’s how it works in the real world.

    My point about government employees being paid more than average was not to suggest that they should be paid the same as the average non-government employee, but rather to point out that, from the point of view of paying taxes, they are above average and thus pay above average in taxes. That you willfully chose to deflect to another strawman illustrates the weakness of your argument.

    As for the comparison studies, maybe you should look at the analysis politifact did:
    http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/mar/15/crossroads-gps/crossroads-gps-says-unionized-government-workers-a/
    They found that conservatives were exaggerating the amount of difference between union and nonunion, but that there was real difference nonetheless. Which makes intuitive sense, because there’s no benefit to unionizing if you are going to be compensated better without the union. Unless you’re an idiot.

  65. Mule Rider says:

    “Government employees are not “average””

    You nailed that. I’d say most of the ones I worked with during my stint in gov’t were “below average.”

    You always trot out the teacher v. Wal-Mart greeter example, but I know for a FACT where the comparisons are almost exactly the same in terms of job being done (i.e. apples to apples) and the private sector worker is making a salary of 50/60/70k, works longer hours, gets less vacation, less in h.c. benefits, and has to contribute more towards retirement while the gov’t employee has somehow stumbled his way into a GS-12/13 position making 70/80/90k, gets cushy hours, tons of vacation, and fat benefits. Either the least efficient of those government workers need to be canned or there needs to be an across-the-board PAY CUT.

    You can’t tell me there aren’t any/many gov’t workers who are OVERPAID because I’ve been there and done that and seen it firsthand. I’d estimate 60%-80% of the people working for the agency I worked for are overpaid based on what similar pay would be in the private sector.

  66. Mr. Universe says:

    This caught my eye on one of the links Treme provided:

    Nate’s take on poll of Tea Party fav/unfav

    Poll Shows More Americans Have Unfavorable Views of Tea Party

    People Previously Apathetic About Tea Partiers Now Dislike Them

  67. dcpetterson says:

    So, I note that no one has offered any evidence that public sector workers are less efficient or less productive than private sector workers who are doing comparable jobs with comparable education and training. Unless someone can present the ratio of “unit of work” vs. “dollars of compensation,” accounting for training and education, there is no meaningful way that anyone can claim public sector workers are “overpaid” or have “inflated wages.”

    So let’s progress beyond that unsupported assertion, shall we? Let’s look instead at whether we want to disincentivise — or even fire — teachers and soldiers and Federal marshalls and FBI agents and food inspectors. Who’s up for making sure we get the worst possible workers in those positions?

  68. TMS says:

    dcpetterson,
    You should then be able to answer a very simple question:
    If collective bargaining doesn’t result in higher compensation for government employees, why do they join unions?

  69. GROG says:

    Mule said: If you guys don’t have anyone to argue with, you don’t have much (valuable) to say.

    I haven’t been around here much this week either as I’ve been at other sites lately. I’ve also noticed the threads comments are way down. I think most of the resident liberal/progressives here do want to engage in dialogue with the other side as it’s much more fun than “arguing” with people you agree with.

    But it’s some of the (minority) commenters here who have a hard time dealing with any opposing viewpoint without immediately resorting to nasty, snarky comments. It just gets old after a while. See the last few exchanges with TMS.

    The other thing I see is that it seems like this site has basically become an “anti-Republican” website rather than a “leftwing website”. Maybe that’s by design, I don’t know.

    Just some observations for whatever it’s worth. I’m not trying to be critical. This isn’t my site and I don’t have any interest in starting a blog, so who am I to criticize?

  70. Monotreme says:

    I don’t think there’s any way we’re going to resolve the “public sector employees are overpaid lazy bums” argument. As I’m fond of saying, we haven’t done that experiment yet. It’s akin to your love of laissez-faire economics, Muley. We can postulate a world where there is no envy or laziness or any of the other Seven Deadly Sins and Marxism would work in that world. That doesn’t mean Marxism would work in the real world.

    I do know that any argument that contains elements like

    I’d estimate 60%-80% of the people working for the agency I worked for are overpaid based on what similar pay would be in the private sector.

    are doomed to failure because they rely on demonizing anyone who takes up an opposing position. We’d be a lot better off as a society if we concentrated on removing incentives and creating disincentives for “sins” rather than hating sinners so damn much. It’s just name-calling, Muley.

    In the particular case of Wisconsin, I’ve said before (and will say again here) that I’m not necessarily opposed to removing collective bargaining rights for government workers.

    I’m a Process Hawk. Therefore, I am inalterably opposed to the high-handed and illegitimate tactics used by Walker and the Wisconsin Senate Republicans. I have an idea: let’s discuss public policy first, then implement it using our representatives. Is that such a strange notion? I could swear I saw something like that in the Constitution.

  71. dcpetterson says:

    TMS, people join unions because unions insure we have safe workplaces, weekends, paid vacations, child labor laws, paid holidays, 40-hour workweeks, and myriads of other worker protections and benefits. People join unions because they’ve read Dickens, and know what employers would do in the absence of collective bargaining.

    Now, show me the productivity-to-cost ratios. If you are so certain public employees are overpaid as compared to private employees, these ratios should be easy to come by.

  72. Mr. Universe says:

    why do they join unions?

    Oh, I don’t know, maybe to keep from being screwed like what is happening as we speak. To ensure a living wage, to keep their pensions from being looted, to keep their kids from being used as labour, to keep from having to work longer hours and weekends.

    Just off the top of my head.

  73. Brian says:

    When the Republicans are saying things like “If you don’t pass a budget, our budget automatically becomes law”, without any understanding of how the law works, it’s hard not to become anti-Republican. And you can’t even say that was a random crazy person, or a TV guy trying to get ratings, that was the House Majority Leader.

  74. shortchain says:

    TMS,

    So politifact is your “left-leaning” organization? Or is it Cato, or American Crossroads, as mentioned by the link? In any case, your credibility just took a hit. That politifact piece is as carefully-balanced a piece as I’ve ever read, trying to avoid calling the claims by the right outright lies, but it only manages to do that by a lot of pretty fancy footwork.

    Oh, and MR? There’s no doubt you are correct. I’ll agree, for the record, that half of all government employees are below average among government employees, and quite a few are significantly below average. I’ll also stipulate that there are pockets of incompetence in the collection.

    Same as any other large company.

  75. dcpetterson says:

    @GROG
    I think most of the resident liberal/progressives here do want to engage in dialogue with the other side as it’s much more fun than “arguing” with people you agree with.

    Absolutely right, my friend. An exchange of differing ideas is much more interesting, educational, stimulating, and just plain fun, than just agreeing with each other.

    Which is why I can’t understand the sites that shut off other voices. (Freeper anyone?) Just doesn’t seem much point to it.

    Long way around to saying, welcome back!

  76. TMS says:

    dcpetterson, “people join unions because unions insure we have safe workplaces, weekends, paid vacations, child labor laws, paid holidays, 40-hour workweeks, and myriads of other worker protections and benefits”
    This is a long-winded way of saying “higher compensation”…which is exactly what I said. Union membership results in higher compensation. It artificially inflates compensation by creating a labor monopoly. That’s what unions do, by design.

  77. filistro says:

    GROG… I think the problem is simply the nature of Web interaction. I think we’re probably all nice people, mostly housetrained and reasonably well-educated. Yet there are times (as you rightly say) when the discussion gets downright nasty, and people feel free to say things to each other in writing that they would never, ever say face-to-face.

    I feel a lot of sympathy for the conservatives in here because they are in the minority, and often arguing all alone. There have been times at right-wing sites when I had that same experience, and it’s no fun at all when half a dozen people are ganging up on you, joining together to mock you and calling you all kinds of names.

    If it gets bad in here again, I might have to lace on my school ma’rm shoes and start cracking some heads. And they won’t all be conservative heads, either.

  78. TMS says:

    shortchain,
    If politifact could find anything that suggested that non-union government employees were compensated equally to the union employees, they sure would have put it in their findings.

    Like I said, the claim of 40% was an exaggeration. But the claim of increased compensation is not only not an exaggeration, but it’s one that dcpetterson and Mr. Universe both claimed is the reason for being in the union. So we’re only left to discuss HOW MUCH difference it makes.

  79. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ TMS,

    “Max, this one doesn’t need proof. “ Sorry, very few things in the non-physical world are self-evident. You credibility just went from low to pure shit! Effective immediately, anything you say is subject to ridicule, unless it happens to actually be self-evident. Otherwise, your comments may well take the name of “barts”.

    You are substituting YOUR OPINION for fact because of either pure ideological mindset, or pure laziness.

    As evidence I WILL stoop to answer ONE of your silly questions:
    If collective bargaining doesn’t result in higher compensation for government employees, why do they join unions?

    So that there are ALWAYS a minimum of TWO ATC’s in a control tower at night, for one.

    Well, fili, guess you had this one pegged.

  80. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mono,

    What does this Brazilian chew on to help his RLS?

  81. TMS says:

    Really, Max? So why aren’t you telling dcpetterson and Mr. Universe that their credibility is “pure shit”? After all, they said exactly the same thing. Might it be because they’re liberal and I’m not? Because, frankly, that’s making YOUR credibility sound like “pure shit”.

  82. shortchain says:

    TMS,

    Actually, I’m totally uninterested in discussing the fact that collective bargaining improves the position of employees, whether by a few percent (which is what the experts appear to say) or by 5 percent (which is what some researchers in Wisconsin say).

    I don’t have a problem dealing with people, whether collectively or individually. If they want to negotiate, who are you to say that this is somehow wrong?

    I’m still waiting for an explanation of how collective bargaining is somehow “artificial”. People have been gathering into groups for various reasons for a few hundred thousand years. This would appear to be “natural” as opposed to “artificial”.

  83. Monotreme says:

    Max,

    It’s just a Letter to the Editor. Here it is, in its entirety:

    To the Editor:
    Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a distressing neurologic condition
    characterized by urgency to move the legs usually associated
    with unpleasant sensations in the lower limbs. The symptoms are
    worst at night and at rest, and patients must move their legs or
    walk to get relief from their symptoms [1]. Herein, we report a
    41-year-old man with a history of severe RLS for 10 years causing
    him difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. He fulfilled the four
    essential criteria established by the International RLS Study Group
    and he scored 32 in the International RLS Rating Scale [2]. The patient
    reported that he would get complete relief from RLS symptoms,
    granting him a normal sleep following sexual intercourse
    or masturbation. Pramipexole was introduced 2 h before bedtime
    with significant improvement of RLS symptoms, but whenever
    he was without medication, he returned to sexual behavior to
    get relief from RLS symptoms.
    There are anecdotal reports that sexual activity and orgasm
    may relieve RLS symptoms, although in some cases sexual activity
    may worsen RLS [3]. One may speculate that the release of orgasm-related
    dopamine and opioid may play a role in the relief of RLS
    symptoms [4]. Additionally, there is a previous report of a RLS patient
    showing repetitive, rhythmic pelvic body movements resembling
    coital behavior at the wake–sleep transition [5].

  84. filistro says:

    GROG… see this altercation going on between Max and TMS?

    It doesn’t bother me that much because TMS seems quite able to look after him/herself, and we know Max can… all too well….

    I think the problem arises when somebody else jumps in… don’t you? It’s the ganging up, when it’s two or three against one, that it gets ugly. Maybe we should have a “third man in a fight” rule, like they do in hockey. If two guys are going head-to-head, let them fight it out… but nobody else can jump in on one side or the other.

    Let them go and start their own fight with somebody else 😉

  85. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ Mono,

    Ohhhh. I SEE the difference, now! I had the wrong word in mind!

    🙂

  86. TMS says:

    shortchain, you said:
    “I’m still waiting for an explanation of how collective bargaining is somehow “artificial”.”

    Collective bargaining is artificial in the same way monopolies are artificial. If the employer doesn’t like what the union is offering, the employer doesn’t have an alternate supplier of labor to go to. I presume you are opposed to monopolies (but tell me if I’m wrong), so why would you support a labor monopoly?

  87. TMS says:

    filistro,
    I’m having to argue against not just Max, but also shortchain and dcpetterson and Mr. Universe. And two of them are moderators on the site, which makes it that much worse.

    If you can’t see that’s what’s happening, I can see why you’re having trouble getting conservatives to contribute here.

  88. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    TMS,

    That’s three or four comments you’ve made since my question to you that you have had the opportunity to offer reasonable proof of your assertion and you’ve failed to do so.

    A pattern is developing. 1) assert 2) get challenged 3) deflect 4) rechallenged 5) insult, then disappear. Lets see if you follow it through.

    Please keep focused. My question was directed to you, so trying to deflect over to dc or shortchain is only avoidance , the tu quoque fallacy oft seen here. Just for your edification since you are fairly new here: dc and schortchain and most others here (except fili, she’s ALWAYS right) do get their fair share of me challenging their assertions should they be so bold as to fail to support them. I don’t play ideological favorites. And I don’t object to having to do some research when MY assertions are challenged. Turnabout, you know.

    Currently, sir, YOU are in the sights and are getting regularly plinked as you don’t show an ability to avoid the ideological trap.

    So, do you have any proof or do you want to continue to play patty-cake?

  89. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    dc and shortchain,

    Would y’all please honor a request to let me have this student for myself?

    fili, and TMS, are correct. First out, or first to request dibs, should have the honors, so there is less piling on.

    See, T (if you don’t mind me calling you by your first name. Or “Mr S” if you’d rather), I DO admit to correct comments!

  90. TMS says:

    Max, I provided both qualitative and quantitative evidence that unionized government employees get better compensation. The qualitative evidence was backed up by two liberal regulars here.

    In response, you’ve provided…scatalogical claims regarding my credibility.

    And if you’re asking for “proof” of anything, then you’re wasting everyone’s time here. There’s no “proof” of any of this. There’s evidence which I’ve provided. How about you rise to the occasion and provide some of your own? Or can’t you find some?

  91. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    TakingAmes,

    I agree with your analysis. It’s why I say that the “unfair” compensation for women meme is not only inaccurate in its usual context, but downright dishonest.

    It diminishes the credibility of those who use it.

  92. filistro says:

    TMS… I’m sorry. I was out getting a haircut this afternoon and tuned in late to the discussion.

    (On the bright side, it’s a really cute haircut… 😉

    Seriously, I don’t believe moderators at the site should ever join a gang-up on an individual poster. EVER.

    I used to post at Ed Morrisey’s “Captain’s Quarters” and often was the only liberal in the room. I got into some lively arguments, but Ed strictly enforced a “no gang-banging” rule. And he never joined an attack. If he ever had, I would have been gone right away. It’s one thing to fight with fellow commenters… quite another to defend yourself against a concerted attack that includes site hosts.

    Do you want me to take DC and Mr U out behind the woodshed and smack their heads together?

  93. shortchain says:

    TMS,

    Monopolies are anything but artificial. In fact, in the absence of regulation to prevent them, monopolies naturally tend to form. We allow monopolies in many cases, such as utilities, where it is more efficient to have a single entity to deal with rather than having to deal with many different organizations.

    After all, that’s one of the reasons why the old industrialists, like Henry Ford, that noted liberal, allowed unions to form.

    So: not artificial.

    By the way, if unions are “artificial” in public employees, why do you not disallow them in private enterprise? That seems like an artificial distinction. Unless, of course, you are just not coming clean with us, and that you are actually opposed to all unions, but you want to focus on public employee unions first.

  94. Mainer says:

    Grogster yes good to see you on especially as I am most likely one of the snarky ones of whom you mention. But keep in mind Mule dude hasn’t even come close to a gut you like a fish moment and I have not recently threatened to build fine Maine crafted hard wood modular gallows for political purposes. So we are making progress if even by a little mite.

    TMS, I guess you confuse me. So not having “safe workplaces, weekends, paid vacations, child labor laws, paid holidays, 40-hour workweeks, and myriads of other worker protections and benefits” would be ok as long as it dropped your taxes or the out lay that industry faced as a normal course of doing business. Wouldn’t that make us just another third world country that exploits its poor and workers so that a few at the top collect all the benefits?

    Last I looked even though I am one of those gawd awful union loving, retired public sector worker leeches…….I pay taxes too. I don’t think I get now or ever got any rate reduction for working for the government.

    Some where along the way I must have missed something. You know like when I had to leave teaching for a number of years to work in industry so I could afford to have a home and family. Silly me I didn’t know I had it so damned good. When the family had grown I was able to go back and do what I loved which was working with young people and teaching. Year after year I watched the teachers defer pay raises for benefits and the shot at a decent retirement. In retrospect we should have gone for the pay. I guess I should appologize to the people of Maine for getting 1400 dollars a month gross retirement bennies after 30 years. Sure glad I busted my hump taking all those classes to get my Masters to fatten that right up. Really loved the 100 mile round trip work nights over our roads.

    No the WallMart anology isn’t the best. But I have been told to my face that I shouldn’t be making much more than the local mill worker. Now just out of curiosity should your side get its way and there is no financial benefit either in the present or in the future to going into teaching just where do you propose to find the next crop of teachers? My generation of same is leaving at an accelerating rate. All things considered I would disuade most young people from entering the profession any more. Would you spend 4 to 5 years in college to get a job that starts at 26 to 28 K, have to constantly keep training, deal with all of the issues that creep into classrooms today, and be considered as substandard and suspect by many of you just because you are a public sector professional? AND not have any thing to off set it?

  95. Mainer says:

    Should I take a number too Fili? Dang it could get crowded out there.

  96. shortchain says:

    Max,

    Hey, he’s all yours. Keep it clean, do us proud, son. TMS, address yourself to Max, don’t worry about my last comment. (If I could, I’d delete it. I made it before I saw Max’s request.)

    filistro, actually, you weren’t the only person who used to comment at Captain’s Quarters. I used to as well, specifically when Morrisey used to blog about some scientific issue (typically global warming) and he’d invariably get it hopelessly wrong. Of course, he’d never even acknowledge that he had made an error, even when it was pointed out to him gently.

    I didn’t follow him to his new home. Sampled the comment threads over there a few times, and there’s no point.

  97. filistro says:

    @Mainer… Should I take a number too Fili?

    Oh, c’mon. I could never, never get mad at you. You’re my Maine man 🙂

  98. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    I’m voting “FOR” fili bashing some heads together!

    A bit out of character for a Canadian, eh?

    And, even though I can’t think of anything just now, I KNOW they’ve pissed me off at some time or another!

    Grandma’s philosophy on spanking: Get ’em ALL, even if I don’t know what it’s for THEY do. Even if they don’t deserve this one, they’ve done SOMETHING bad I don’t know about.

    Karma!

  99. dcpetterson says:

    I will gladly bow out of the discussion about public employees. Though the prospect of getting slapped around by filistro is attractive … But I’ll let it go this time. Enjoy yourselves!

    TMS, you’ve held up well. Kudos to you, and welcome to the site!

  100. Mainer says:

    Max you have obviously never worked in a French Canadian lumber camp, or visited some of the bars in Quebec, or hung out with rowdy Canadian Coast Guard types or…….they are quiet adept at head bashing, butt kicking and general mayhem all around when in the mood or in the spirit or would that be spirits?

    Actually Max your Grams philosophy kind of seems an echo to mine or my mothers. With gram the great leveling agent was spring tonic…….to this day thinking of it sends cold shivers up my spine……or maybe down my spine or gastrointestinal tract. Ever wonder why the old farms would often boast three hole privies? I’m voting for spring tonic applications. Families were very close back then……..some times out of necessity over decorum.

    Shortchain were I ever to be a climate change skeptic it would be this day. While I know it is weather and not climate the 11+ inches of snow that has fallen since 7:30 this AM has put a serious dent in the annual April First fishing outing. I figure about 14 or so inches by the time it wraps up later tonight……or lord don’t let it stall in the Gulf of Maine.

  101. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    TMS,

    I have reviewed your comments from 12:22 when I posed the question ” I ask you to provide proof that demonstrates on a job-for-job basis, where prerequisites and seniority in position are equal, that there is a significant difference between public and private sector compensation. “. Since then you commented at:

    12:33 where you infamously stated “no proof needed”
    12:43 Where you referenced (see the BEA report) without specifying which report or where in the report you found supporting fact.
    13:19 where you cited the Politifact column that demonstrated that, in fact, public workers made about 5% more in compensation than public. That BEA report you depended on also demonstrated that public workers left their jobs less frequently than private. As such, it is possible that even that 5% could be accounted for by higher seniority in position. A point inherent in my question to you.
    13:36 where you posed the question of why join unions, I answered THAT silliness @ 14:16
    14:01 nada
    14:15 you walked back on the AMOUNT and asked the WHY
    14:18 nada
    14:42 nada
    14:54 nada where you emptily spoke of “producing” evidence.

    Go back, reread my question, try to cite the proof requested. You note that I questioned the similar claims made about women’s compensation vs men. So I DO question what I see a spurious claims.

    Wanna try again?

  102. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mainer.

    94 and bright blue sky in South Texas!

  103. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Oh, BTW Mr S,

    I referenced you back to my 10:01 comment that showed that while the US population had increased 1.7X in the past 50 years, the number of government workers had only increased 1.3X

    I stated @ 10:26 that that answered your charge concerning “productivity”.

    You seem to agree as you have not countered that point.

  104. shortchain says:

    Mainer,

    Up here the ground has thawed down to about 6 inches. Since it thaws from the bottom as well as the top, that means we’re probably down to only about a foot of rock-hard soil. I’m thinking I’ll put in my radishes, peas, and first lettuce in about a week…

    Which isn’t early. (Although, back in the early eighties I recall 10 inches of snow on May 10, and one year when I was a kid out in South Dakota it snowed on the fourth of July.)

    Next week you are going to get up into the 60s. And all the streams will run.

  105. Mainer says:

    Max you do have a mean side you know. FILI……Max is being bad again.

  106. Todd Dugdale says:

    Mainer wrote:
    Now just out of curiosity should your side get its way and there is no financial benefit either in the present or in the future to going into teaching just where do you propose to find the next crop of teachers?

    Yes, this is what I wonder, too.
    I wanted to go into education when I was 18. I looked at the benefits, job security, pay, stress, hours, and the extra education that I would have to acquire – not to mention certification. I concluded it was a lousy deal. It was not even competitive with a trade school’s Associate degree programme. I tried to talk my younger brother out of going into the field, but he got his degree and certification. In less than a year, he left the field and makes much more money as a contractor (painting, remodeling, etc.). If anything, the education field has become much worse since he abandoned it.

    I’ve talked with several teachers about the idea that unions protect the “bad” teachers, and the response that I get is that these so-called “bad” teachers are just realists who have given up. One kid can disrupt the entire class and keep everyone else from learning – and the teacher gets the blame, though they have no power to do anything about it. Kids can simply refuse to learn anything – and the teacher gets the blame. The students can refuse to do their assignments – and the teacher gets the blame. So the teachers just give up, too. You can’t “fire” the students if they refuse to “work”, but you can blame the teacher. That’s why “merit pay” is a joke. The teachers who get the good students get the merit pay, and the teachers who get the bozos who sleep in class and act out get the shaft.

  107. GROG says:

    @Mainer: Grogster yes good to see you on especially as I am most likely one of the snarky ones of whom you mention.

    No way Mainer. Not at all. I wish everyone on here were as classy as you.

  108. GROG says:

    people join unions because unions insure we have safe workplaces, weekends, paid vacations, child labor laws, paid holidays, 40-hour workweeks, and myriads of other worker protections and benefits.

    My company is non-union and we have a safe workplace, weekends, paid vacation, child labor laws, and paid holidays. I must admit, I haven’t worked a 40 hour week since I was 16 years old. That one rarely happens in the private sector when we have do things like turn a profit and such, to insure our company stays solvent.

  109. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    Your experience is a perfect example of why even those who do not belong to unions benefit from union efforts. Your company only offers those benefits because, if you did not, you would not have been able to get anybody to work for you over the last fifty years. But if the unions go down, it will be only a matter of time before the owners claw back all the benefits you think you have by right.

    In my case, I also do not belong to a union — but when the union negotiates a pay increase, I get one too. When they negotiate something like more sick leave, I get it as well (not that I can ever take sick leave).

  110. Mainer says:

    Todd, yup a good question. Up until recently we have produced enough teachers but almost inevitably we would end up with a surplus in some areas and a severe shortage in others, or we would have a surplus of say history teachers and a shortage of math and science teachers. Spec Ed teachers or reading specialists or really competent tech teachers just are not there for many districts already. The real problem isn’t even the retirement rates (but wait for that to sky rocket in the next year) the real problem is we can’t hold onto the new teachers.

    The turnover rate for new teachers is staggering and costing the US education system so much money and productivity that it is mind boggling. What is worse is that the turn over rate in the first five years is getting worse rather than getting better. Teachers leaving are also less likely to come back than ever before. In my own small population state the Gov and the legislature seem hell bent to drive out every veteran teacher while at the same time they are pushing for teachers to have to teach into their mid 60’s in order to retire. Now that should enhance performance and encourage the young to get into the profession. Couple that with flat or lower pay, fewer benefits and even less retirement if they ever make it that far and you have a text book for how to empty classrooms of teachers. Oh and I have not even touched being demonized and degraded as all that is wrong with society and education and budget short falls and the sinking of the Titanic and……….

    Teachers are quite likely the most over administered and least lead of any profession in this country. Every one thinks they know how it should be done but try and get them into a classroom to demonstrate that expertise. Horace Mann must be turning over in his grave at what some have done and would do to the American education system.

  111. Mainer says:

    Grog you want a medal or a chest to pin it on for your hours worked? You seem to leave out the millions of workers out there that are never allowed to get more than 39 hours a week. Now why would that be Grog? Oh I know all of those benevolent employers just don’t want to over work the poor dears or pay ANY benefits or treat people like any thing other than another piece of factory floor machinery.

  112. TMS says:

    Max,
    I said “no proof needed” because even union members themselves (including more than one at this very site) acknowledge that the primary point of them is to get the employees more compensation than they otherwise would have gotten. But, since that apparently wasn’t enough, I cited the Politifact article, which gave a best-case of 5%. I missed the 5% number on my first read, but even so, that’s still more for union than non-union.

    Your counterargument is that because they stay in their jobs for a longer time, they are paid more for the same job because of greater seniority? Really? That argument suggests that you haven’t worked outside of the union sector.

    I’ve worked for union shops before. And I’ve worked for non-union shops. In the non-union world, I’m compensated for my seniority by virtue of having a resume that reflects my greater experience. And I’m paid well for that experience, when it lines up with the needs of my employer. In other words, seniority translates to greater compensation, union or not. So you need to find some other reason to account for the difference.

    By the way, I never “walked back on the AMOUNT”. The 40% number wasn’t mine. It came from the claim that Politifact was checking, and I certainly never claimed it as my own. If you were paying attention waaaaaay back at the 12:33 post (remember that one? the one where I said “no proof needed”?), you would have noticed that I said “~10%”. So you’re either deliberately misrepresenting me or you aren’t paying attention. Which one is it?

  113. allornothing says:

    I want to add $0.02.

    I think the emphasis is wrong. The point isn’t so much that government unions cost money. Gov. Walker proved that’s not so. Wisconsin only has deficit because of the tax breaks he gave to businesses. So the point isn’t the cost of government unions. The point is that we need to weaken unions in general. Follow me here.

    We need to shrink government. It’s too big and costs too much. But Democrats oppose shrinking government. So we need to elect fewer Democrats.

    Unions contribute to Democrat political candidates. If unions are weaker, they can’t buy so much advertising. This was clearly Gov. Walker’s concern when he added the provision that Wisconsin workers won’t have union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks any more. When Wisconsin government workers have the choice of whether to pay union dues, I bet they’ll decide not to. So the unions will have less money to spend on ads. And fewer Democrat candidates will be elected. And then we can shrink government the way we need to.

    It seems the only way to shrink government is to demonize government workers and government unions. So be it. If that’s what it takes, then that’s what we have to do.

    And if government unions are weakened, it’ll be easier to weaken non-government unions, too. Again, that means less money for Democrat candidates. But as many people have pointed out, it also means businesses will at last be able to get rid of many of the extraneous labor costs that unions today force businesses to bear. With lower labor costs, American businesses can again become competitive in the world market. We’re being underbid and undercut by foreign companies that don’t have all these extraneous labor costs. It’s time for America to once again become a world leader economically.

    That’s my thoughts. I don’t know why so many people find it necessary to argue about “taxpayer money going to government workers.” It’s not about that so much as it’s about taxpayer money going to government in general. The only way we’ll balance the Federal budget is to elect less Democrats. It’s really that simple.

  114. TMS says:

    Max, you said:
    “I referenced you back to my 10:01 comment that showed that while the US population had increased 1.7X in the past 50 years, the number of government workers had only increased 1.3X

    I stated @ 10:26 that that answered your charge concerning “productivity”.

    You seem to agree as you have not countered that point.”

    The increase in productivity occurring at the same time as an increase in pay does not make one the cause of the other. Correlation does not equate to causation. To show a greater likelihood of causation, you should be comparing the productivity of unionized government employees to non-union. Or you can compare government employees performing the same function in different states to each other, and see if the better-paid ones have greater productivity.

    It may interest you to learn that productivity increased in the private sector as well, by the way.

  115. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    When BMW opened the assembly plant in Greer SC, they paid their workers essentially UAW wages and benefits.

    In a right to work state.

    To avoid potential organizing efforts.

    Several of my friends who owned businesses at the time, complained about the amount of tax breaks BMW got from state and local government. They even considered threatening to MOVE their business to another state if they did not recieve similar breaks.

    Another friend, plant manager for a local operation of a major national company, and several other commissioned a study that demonstrated for them that they were going to have to increase compensation, primarily wages, by almost $2 per hour just to compete for workers against BMW.

    No opinion given here, just relating actual situations in Upstate South Carolina in the early 1990’s.

    GROG, a LOT goes on in the background, in HR departments and in the boardroom and executive offices, that effects decision-making on the wages, benefits and other forms of compensation other that worker loyalty. Worker loyalty is low on the totem pole. If that were NOT the case, so much manufacturing would never have left the US.

  116. allornothing says:

    Max, you just made my point for me. Thank you! Even in a Right to Work state, even without unions in the shop, BMW was forced to provide union-like compensation packages. And to remain competitive, they had to get tax breaks. And other companies were able to extort those same tax breaks. The only way we can get government out of this trap of wasting our money on tax breaks is to break the unions. Then we can shrink government.

  117. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @TMS

    You are welcome at any time to produce evidence supporting your latest assertion as it pertains to police, firefighters, teachers and corrections officers who make up the largest majority of public sector workers, with corresponding workers in the private sector.

    And I also welcome you. You are a good opponent in this thread> I just hope you will answer the challenges directly. I am sure there will be threads where you and I will be on the same team.

    Don’t despair. But as you have seen, I enjoy a street fight when the opponent refuses to fight fair.

    fili, I NEVER touched Mainer. HE touched me first. Make him stay on his side of the cold front.

  118. TMS says:

    Max, I don’t know what “assertion” you’re talking about. Be specific, please.

  119. Chris Rich says:

    While I’ll allow that the public sector has its share of deadbeats, one can always find a decent share of overpaid malingerers at any cubicle or other kind of job in the Private sector.

    The Russian coders I work with kick American IT coders butts for productivity and their rates are better with higher quality work.

    But the ultimate overpaid dead beats are at the bottom of everyone’s agony over pay equality and they would be the ones this entire neo feudal system has been crafted to benefit.

    They are variously called rentiers, ‘investors’ or plutocrats depending on your preference, oligarchs works for me. They do no productive work whatsoever and mainly rig skimming games while allies convince the dumb right wing that their sucky underpaid lives are some straw critters fault.

    Oh no, we can’t keep wage growth apace with profit growth because that would make us unappealing to speculators.. you know, the share holders, investors… get it?

    So get back to your neo dickensian, misery and wallow in it. Take some comfort in knowing that your sub par lives ensure stupendous prosperity for that tiny 1 percent that simply must take it all.

    It will surely be a wonderful booby prize and I assure you Jamie Dimon thanks you from the bottom of his flinty heart.

    And fear not, ere long we shall incite you to hound every last teacher and fire fighter to subsist on the thinnest gruel, even worse than yours so your misery will have ever more company to love.

  120. TMS says:

    Chris Rich,
    Equating today’s working conditions to that of a Dickens tale is hyperbole of the worst sort. It’s like those who equate the latest whatever to Hitler. It belittles the real atrocities that go on and do nothing to address the issues.

  121. Mainer says:

    Grog you are actually one of many that are being used and abused by the very people that you would have gain even greater control over our lives. I didn’t always work public sector and don’t now (one of them awful 1099 types) and I too have done the salary boogie for various bosses. They can suck the life out of you and your family, been there and done that. What is unique of late are businesses that are doing a variation of it with hourly employees. 60 and 70+ hour weeks rather than hire additional workers. Doing that in an office setting is bad and cheeky comments just a little bit ago were not meant to denigrate it in your case or any one elses but doing it on the factory or mill floor is not just cruel but dangerous. It is eventually of harm to the actual companies using their employees in such a manner. We have some of the highest production values per worker in the world and then you look at where TMS and AON want to go and it boggles the mind. Which part of when there is no more middle class there is no more America as we know it don’t you get? We can’t be Bangaladesh. You would be destroying more than the American norm you would destroy the economic engine that much of the rest of the world feeds on. Every one wants the average worker to take the hit. Screw that and any one that pushes it. When I see the big dogs the CEO’s and the CFO’s and interlocking boards of directors dial it back and dial it back big time I will say ok to this whole shared scarifice bullshit until then that is all it is and those pushing it are the device that produces its cousin.

  122. filistro says:

    Max and Mainer… I’m watching BOTH of you.

    Don’t make me come down there…

    *g*

  123. Chris Rich says:

    Never let failed proficiency at reading comprehension get in the way of a good round of meme pounding.

    A more alert eye would spot the ‘neo’ qualifier in ‘neo dickensian’. Dickens version 2.0 is more alluring than the old fashioned pauperization from the fabled days of yore.

    Instead of not having many basic things, in this brave new world we have all manner of cheap shiny things that break straight out of the shipping box brought to you by the best slave labor the mercantile Han can dragoon into their more robust and older form of Dickens… What? ..the Dickens?

    The Han rank and file is getting restive too. They want a raise. Shall we complain to China that cheap walmart crap will sit on shelves should they evince such cheek?

    Our current arrangement with them is interesting. Their slaves furnish us with cheap sub par junk and we compensate them on the macro side with fraudulent securities deftly crafted by the best minds Dimon and Blankfein can buy.

    It is so gloriously coy. We pretend or assume that their cheap crap is the best we can settle for and they pretend or assume that out toilet paper securities won’t blow up in their faces like a cheap gag cigar.

    The latter day offspring of Ebenezer Scrooge make him look like a two bit card shark and are to be particularly commended for their stunning capacity to manipulate vast hoards of dupes they secretly despise into internalizing their frauds and chasing their tales in hope of dragging anyone who still stays afloat down into the quicksand with them.

  124. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ TMS

    Sorry I did not make it clear.

    Correlation does not equate to causation. To show a greater likelihood of causation, you should be comparing the productivity of unionized government employees to non-union.

    I would like to see you demonstrate that same theory between government and private sector workers.

    I have not held the “causation” to which you address. I simply pointed out that in 50 years, 11.5 million public workers, only 1.3X the number in 1960, are providing at least the service (one could argue MUCH more with the “growth in government” the right goes on about) to 310 million Americans, 1.7X the population. That has to represent a significant increase in productivity. Wages never entered my point.

    I apologize again for not being clear.

  125. filistro says:

    @Chris Rich… It is so gloriously coy. We pretend or assume that their cheap crap is the best we can settle for and they pretend or assume that out toilet paper securities won’t blow up in their faces like a cheap gag cigar.

    Sorry, I just need to repeat those two sentences and then gaze at them in awe for a minute or two… marvellous writing, that is… and with a solid ring of truth as well…

    Wow.

  126. Mule Rider says:

    It is ridiculous in the extreme for those who suggest/assert that the only reason we (even those of us who are non-union) have a “normal” work week (I second GROG’s comment that it ain’t always 40 hours because some of us have actual work to do to make the company money), sick leave, paid vacation, etc. is because unions have negotiated all of those things.

    People (namely liberals) have this mythical notion that nearly all labor, regardless of field/sector, in the United States up until or around the early 1900s was people earning a slave’s wage while working in sweatshop conditions 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and that simply isn’t true. There have always been an abundance of jobs with decent working conditions. For decently to highly skilled people, it’s always been in the best interest of the employer to make that compensate that person as much as possible for what they do and make their work experience as pleasant as possible or they’d go to work for themselves or for someone else where they were treated right. And that’s the case no matter if you’re talking about 2011 or 1875.

    Now, were some people in some low-paying, low-skilled jobs (and even some moderately-skilled ones) treated pretty crummy? You bet. And the natural course of events in our society has gradually evolved to frown on exploitive types of behavior from employers, thus minimizing it or eliminating it completely in some instances. Did unions help in that regard, especially in low-skilled fields where workers were/are more likely to be exploited? Certainly, but they’re not the sole reason – or even a main one – that all of us enjoy the “perks” of decent pay and working conditions. That’s pure fantasy and hyperbole.

  127. TMS says:

    Max,
    So the public sector productivity went up by 31%, then. I get that from taking the 1.7x growth in population, subtracting the 1.3x growth in government employment (leaving 0.4), and dividing that by the 1.3.

    To compare to the private sector, look at the growth in private sector, inflation adjusted per-capita GDP between 1960 and 2008 (the most recent year I was able to find by doing a quick search online). In 2005 dollars, private sector per-capita GDP in 1960 was $12.869 million. In 2008, the 2005 dollar, private sector per-capita GDP was $34.703 million.

    The growth was $21.835 million, or a whopping 170%.

    Whose productivity grew more? Public or private sector. (Hint, 170 is a little bit larger than 31.)

  128. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    aon,

    Incorrect, sir. No proof is made towards your point.

    BMW PLAYED (just like major league owners do with stadiums) the state and local governments. Mercedes did the same in Alabama. All this happened YEARS before the doors were opened and the first worker hired.

    BMW was preemptive in their economic decisions. They did it with absolutely no altruistic intent, but a sound (for them) business decision. If fear of unions was the ONLY reason, the other business people I spoke of would have done the same thing earlier. You ignore the right to work ATTITUDE of South Carolinians at your peril in this argument.

    For the record, with the exception of three years with USAirways, I have never been a union member. I have owned three different businesses. I have been in management positions the majority of my working career. For almost ten years, I was in a government position of which I cannot discuss in a management position.

    Nor have I ever express outright support for public sector unions. A reading of all my comments will demonstrate that I have ONLY spoke against those who rail AGAINST public sector workers, NOT to their unions.

    Funny, those who argue IN FAVOR of unions of people in a corporation having the right of a person to free speech as a citizen are AGAINST unions of people in labor having the same right.

    Hypocrisy!

  129. TMS says:

    By the way, Max, I don’t really care how much more productive government employees are. When I’ve been more productive, I’ve been able to translate that into increased compensation. So should they. Individually.

  130. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ TMS

    Now do the same analysis on public/private comparisons for teachers, policemen, firemen and correction officers that make up the vast bulk of government workers.

    Thank you.

    fili, Mainer looked at me funny. Make him stop.
    (If I keep misbehaving, will you give me a GOOD spanking?)

  131. TMS says:

    Max, you said:
    “Funny, those who argue IN FAVOR of unions of people in a corporation having the right of a person to free speech as a citizen are AGAINST unions of people in labor having the same right.”
    Maybe that’s true of some people. It’s not true of me.

  132. filistro says:

    Max, if you keep misbehaving I will lock you in the basement and make you watch four non-stop hours of Sarah Palin speeches.

  133. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Just in on the WSJ. No joke. Even the Journal datelined it tomorrow to avoid the April’s Fool connotation!

    TransOcean did SEC filings to pay “safety bonuses” to executives for 2010.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703806304576236661289767034.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

  134. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    “Maybe that’s true of some people. It’s not true of me.

    Hey, I KNEW you weren’t ALL bad!

    No, fili, NOOO. Anything but THAT! When I laugh too much, it makes my sides hurt!

  135. WA7th says:

    Sorry to dredge this up, but I’m surprised no one said anything yesterday, so I guess I’ll have to.

    Yesterday filistro said “I am not a witch,” but it seemed to me that she was needlessly taking quite a defensive tone by saying that in the very first sentence, when no one had accused her of being one. Why deny what no one is questioning? The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    I know it’s impolite to ask, her being a lady and all, at least up until yesterday as far as we know, but does she weigh the same as a duck? Assuming she doesn’t, it’s less impolite to ask than it would be to light a test burn just to find out she’s not made of wood after all.

  136. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Wa7

    No issue if she is!!

    I was married to one. (Seriously, see the “Hex” thread) And I can state unequivocally that her breasts were NOT cold as a Maine spring! Quite warm, in fact.

  137. Monotreme says:

    Mule Rider says:

    People (namely liberals) have this mythical notion that nearly all labor, regardless of field/sector, in the United States up until or around the early 1900s was people earning a slave’s wage while working in sweatshop conditions 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and that simply isn’t true.

    Data (such as that shown in this chapter from a book that accompanied a PBS series) does not support your assertion, Muley.

    First off, most people (including my ancestors, who I’ve tracked quite carefully over the last 300 years) were engaged as workers on farmland.

    As the linked article says, it wasn’t as simple as all that. Let’s take deaths on the job.

    Other factors that influenced the decline of industrial accidents were the expansion of tort liability, which exposed the makers and owners of industrial equipment involved in accidents to expensive litigation; the inclusion of workplace safety as a bargaining issue with unions; and government-imposed safety regulations. (p. 28)

    Now, turning to work week:

    In 1890, the typical factory work schedule was ten hours a day, six days a week, for a total of sixty hours. Thereafter, it fell steadily, reaching thirty-five hours per week in 1934. (p. 34)

    If you don’t believe that unions were a major force in that decline (I’m not saying the only force, but a major force), then it’s incumbent on you to provide an alternative hypothesis for what happened between 1890 and 1934 to make it so.

  138. filistro says:

    WA7th… I’d like to address your question, but I’m really busy at the moment.

    I’ve carved this teeny tiny doll out of a candle, and now I’m dressing it in cargo pants and a T-shirt…. and some itty-bitty deck shoes… and a minuscule cell phone… and now, just for no reason at all, just a totally casual question…what color did you say your hair is?

  139. allornothing says:

    Max, I’m not opposed to liberals assembling together, and buying ads. I just understand the political strategy behind neutering their message. Government needs to be smaller. I supports efforts to to advance that goal. I don’t think it’s “hypocrisy,” just “strategy.” YMMV.

    I suspect Democrats would want to limit the number of ads opposing them, if they could think of a way to do it. And that would be entirely fair, because politics can be dirty. I can respect a clever strategy, even if I disagree with the message. Again, YMMV.

    So I understand the opposition to the Citizens’ ruling, on political grounds. It’s good politics to oppose it. That’s why they don’t like it. But I think the opposition to Citizens is unconsitutional. Once more, it’s okay if you disagree 🙂

    I’m not saying unions don’t have the RIGHT to support Democrat candidates. I’m just saying that the policies of Democrats and of unions are not ones I support. And I can appreciate the tactics both sides are using. I just prefer an honest presentation of the issues. And of the methods each side uses.

  140. Monotreme says:

    Yeah, fili turned me into a toad. I’ve gotten better, so I can type again, but still.

  141. Chris Rich says:

    The Neo Dickensian model has velvet edges to the hand cuffs so they won’t chafe so much.

    A dear friend of mine was a highly paid cyber janitor, They called it a “Systems Integration Engineer” at Cisco where he worked until a need for major surgery indicated his early retirement. Through it all 16 hour days were the norm as it was imperative to be competitive to fatten those share holders and analysts might bitch about the numbers so beloved by that 1 percent of speculators who must have all the money.

    Forgive me as I struggle to find 16 hours per day in a grey cubicle hive to be a glorious improvement over a 16 hour daily shift in a dusty textile mill. True the paycheck numbers have more zeros but their buying capacity is lower. We need a lot of zeros to live the received myth of endless status stuff to flaunt before bored and resentful neighbors.

    In the old system, the more brutish regimen led to shorter lives and high incidence of workplace injury. But carpal tunnel and rotator cup repair is no picnic either.

    By the way no less than the US Army did efficiency studies in the 40s and found that an 8 hour task day was the best for continuous quality productivity and there is a marked decline beyond that so those extra hours end up being low grade output from half groggy wrecks.

    Yes, you can be the alpha male on the cubicle block and outperform your less motivated fellows but you are not going to see that much difference in compensation unless it entails a change of title and job description in the peculiar Dilbert Hierarchies that have replaced retinues of courtiers for the new grandees.

    That is the point where your skill at gaming office politics trumps any practical thing you do.

    CEOs tend to be the least productive in large enterprises and can be devastatingly counter productive when they go off in the moose rut of hare brained merger schemes that then blow up because the target company was over valued… they bought a pig in a poke.

    See “Chainsaw Al”.

  142. WA7th says:

    Fili, brown, baldspot combover, why do you aOWWW!! WTF?!?!

    Mono, Reaganomics was still working in 1890.

  143. Mr. Universe says:

    Yeah, she turned me into a newt once. And I inexplicably tried to oust President Clinton. It was awful. But I got better.

  144. filistro says:

    @WA7th… Fili, brown, baldspot combover, why do you aOWWW!! WTF?!?!

    LOLOLOL!!!!!

  145. WA7th says:

    Earlier in this thread, TalkingAmes dragged out this old dead horse commie pinko liberal argument from the stone age, and I’ve been gnawing on it all day:

    “Cutting government spending during an economic recession is counterproductive. Having the government spend less money while consumers also spend less money hurts the economy (what with the overall spending of less money). The time for the government to cut back is when the economy is flush and not the other way around.”

    I studied business for five years at a southern university well-known for churning out conservatives. Now that I think about it, that theory of stimulating the economy during a recession and saving while the economy is growing has only recently been commified. All my profs were conservative, nearly all the students were conservative, yet I never heard a professor argue against that idea. This was from ’84-’89, the economy was not doing so well in those years (my in-state tuition tripled from $4 per credit hour to $12), and every professor I had was preaching “trim the fat, but don’t cut irresponsibly when we should be stimulating the economy.”

    So, maybe Ames isn’t a commie dead-horse beater after all. Well, now he is, of course, but 25 years ago he wouldn’t have been.

  146. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    aon,

    Thanks for the admission, “Max, I’m not opposed to liberals assembling together, and buying ads. I just understand the political strategy behind neutering their message. Government needs to be smaller. I supports efforts to to advance that goal. I don’t think it’s “hypocrisy,” just “strategy.””, but we knew that it was never REALLY about the budget already. We knew that the truth of the matter was NOT the fact that public sector unions didn’t really have that much to do with the sorry state of state finances, since non-union states, like Texas and South Carolina were in deep shit as much as Wisconsin and Michigan.

    We knew it is truly about the politics. Nothing more.

    But again, thanks for the admission. I know you feel better for being honest.

  147. allornothing says:

    Max, I didn’t claim it was about the budget 🙂 But then, I’m only one person. And this is just my own opinion. You’d have to ask others what they think it’s about.

  148. Mule Rider says:

    “If you don’t believe that unions were a major force in that decline (I’m not saying the only force, but a major force), then it’s incumbent on you to provide an alternative hypothesis for what happened between 1890 and 1934 to make it so.”

    I don’t discount that they “helped” but I see union influence on pay and working conditions as more of a byproduct of a broader in agriculture and industry in this country. Advances in technology, awareness, and medical care allowed us to implement guidelines, procedures, and equipment for workers that was safer and allowed for a more efficient workday (arguably, the automation required fewer human hours), and even when there were accidents, improved medical care is able to prevent lives and nurture some people back to health that may have wound up permanently disabled. Again, this is advancement in technology and the pure evolution of workplace conditions, NOT something unions bargained for that employers were reluctantly trying to provide. Employers had a vested interest in becoming more efficient and having their employees safe and happy. And once this trend of advancement was in place, it’s hard to go back….plus, it’s very inefficient.

    Also, along with the increasing technology and innovation came more high-skilled, “white collar” jobs in engineering, medicine, computers/electronics, which by their very nature command more pay and offer better “working conditions” than an agrarian setting or a factory.

    I don’t see why my “alternative hypothesis” is so far fetched. It’s a direct and thorough accounting of what happened and how the workplace has evolved in the US economy. To suggest unions had a big role in bringing all those perks would be like suggesting that all those thousands and millions of employers in various industries in the 19th and 20th centuries would have kept sitting on their hands and paying dirt wages and working people 100 hours a week with no benefits and sit idly by and refuse to adopt innovative technological advances that would help them run their business more smoothly and efficiently and keep their employees safe and happy; things that would make them more productive – and ultimately wealthier – in the long run. And we know that would be a ludicrous suggestion.

  149. TMS says:

    Max, you said:
    “Now do the same analysis on public/private comparisons for teachers, policemen, firemen and correction officers that make up the vast bulk of government workers.”

    No. I’ve done enough. I showed that private workers have increased more in productivity, even though it’s irrelevant to the question of unionization. I’ve shown that union government workers are compensated more than non-union, which was the point I started out making.

    In return, I’ve gotten belittling from you, and claims about me having no credibility. Not a single shred of evidence that union government workers are compensated the same as non-union.

    And then you demand that I do your rebuttal research for you? Screw that. Do it yourself and report back. Or don’t, and I’ll happily remind you later about YOUR credibility.

  150. To Mule’s point, I would posit that one of the contributors to unions’ ability to negotiate higher wages in the early post-WWII era was lack of competing labor outside the US. Transportation was still slow and expensive, and the rest of the industrialized world was destroyed by the war. So in order to control the cost of labor, unions needed only to get American workers signed up. Europe followed suit with unions.

    By the late 70s, as Asian industry ramped up, that power over blue-collar labor began to fall. Asian blue-collar was able to significantly undercut their European and American counterparts. And blue-collar unions weakened as their employers were forced to choose among layoffs, forced concessions, offshoring, or bankruptcy.

  151. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    TMS,

    That’s certainly fine. These were your assertions, I have no need to prove or disprove. It’s your responsibility to do so.

    The reason that I keep asking for more from you is to demonstrate for you that raw numbers are worthless without context. There are several people here with a fair amount of statistical ability that can tell you the same.

    Since the four groups I drilled down on finally make up the vast bulk of public sector employees, they will make up a substantial portion of the wage and non-wage compensation that seems to be the burr under the right-wing saddle.

    Truth is: you CAN”T really do a “productivity” analysis on those four groups. You really should have called that out sooner.

    An increase in teacher productivity? What, MORE kids in the classroom? MORE “A’s”?
    An increase in police productivity? What, FEWER officers on the street?
    Same with firemen.

    You are trying to compare oranges and pineapples when you restrict your argument to one of “wages and productivity”. You create a strawman, and then take great pride in knocking the stuffing out of him.

    Your sense of frustration at my prodding (I warned of my use of Socratic argument) parallels others’ sense of frustration because well-intentioned folks like you create an issue where none really exists (or make a mountain of of what is truly a molehill), when the truth is, as allornothing succinctly points out: It’s really about the politics!

    The bigger point is paying a fair price for what we get.

    Hate those long lines down at DMV? OK, cut back on staff and cut the compensation for those that are left. THAT’LL fix those long waits, yea buddy!

    Thinks the schools are turning out a poor “product”? OK, cut funding MORE, lay off teachers, make them buy MORE classroom supplies out of their own pockets, drive the BEST ones out of the profession. THAT’LL do WONDERS for your children and grandchildren, yessir!

    But be SURE to give those tax breaks, that haven’t worked in the 30 years since that spiel started, to industry and the captains thereof.

    Oh, we have seen the great increase in the middle class standard of living that has trickled down the past thirty years. We see how the debt has accrued 1400 percent as the folks who brought us that fairytale drove this country and the states into the current situation.

    We’ll just blame it on the government workers! Fuck them over and it’ll fix EVERYTHING.

    Yep, you HAVE done enough.

  152. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Michael,

    Good points. But how does that correlate with the fact that many European, especially German, companies are doing so well?

    Take an additional look at how MANY American companies are either owned outright or controlled by European companies.

    Wherein lies the difference?

  153. TMS says:

    Max,
    While we’re on the subject of assertions, you just made several about me:
    – Cut government staff
    – Cut funding for schools beyond whatever might happen to teacher compensation in the absence of unions
    – Cut taxes on the wealthy
    – Blaming all of society’s problems on government employees

    Now that you made those four assertions, here’s your task: find where I said those things, and post them in a response in this thread. Otherwise, you’re building an army of strawmen, knowing absolutely zero about me. How much more ammunition do you want to give me regarding YOUR credibility?

  154. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    I don’t believe that I ever said that you personally stated precisely those four items. (I believe my exact quote was: “well-intentioned folks like you”, and “the folks who brought us that fairytale”) If you inferred such from my last comment, perhaps thou doth protest too much.

    As we have reached the point where you feel no need to provide proof of YOUR original assertions, nor, it seems, to take responsibility for the logical extension for the policy you, at least, appear to be advocating. Now we are just in the ad hominem phase due to that lack, I see no need to continue.

    You have represented your beliefs, maybe not as well as I would prefer. We shall agree to disagree and see what happens as the story continues to unfold.

    Time to move on. Best.

  155. TMS says:

    I see. So “well-intentioned folks like me” aren’t like me at all? What a crock of shit. You paint me with a brush of whatever projection you have of the bucked you put all conservatives in, and then when I call you on it, you pretend you weren’t doing that.

    “I’m not saying he was born in Kenya, I’m just saying it’s interesting he won’t produce his long-form birth certificate.”

    It’s a crock of shit whether it’s done by a conservative or a liberal. You need to own up to that.

  156. TMS says:

    For the record, I made ONE, and ONLY ONE assertion:

    All else equal, unionized government employees are paid more than their nonunion counterparts. By “counterparts,” I am specifically referring to NONUNION GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES PERFORMING THE SAME FUNCTION.

    I provided evidence to back that up. Nobody, NOT ONE PERSON HERE, has provided A SINGLE SHRED OF EVIDENCE that my assertion was false.

    Instead, all I’ve gotten are:
    – Changes of subject (“don’t government employees provide valuable services?” “compare government workers to the private sector”)
    – Demands for more and irrelevant data
    – Attacks on my supposed credibility

    Am I the only person here who sees this?

  157. shortchain says:

    TMS,

    What you have not answered, in any way whatsoever, is why it matters that unionized workers are more highly paid.

    You have, in fact, been challenged on whether unionized workers provide more of a benefit to those who hire them — and you have been totally unable to produce any convincing evidence that they do not.

    Therefore, the argument that unionized workers have higher wages is an argument in a vacuum.

  158. TMS says:

    shortchain,
    So let me see if I get this straight. You agree that the union employees are compensated more? And you claim that they are contributing more at a rate that corresponds to the increase in compensation? Do I understand you correctly?

  159. shortchain says:

    TMS,

    I am claiming that you get what you pay for. If you pay people like sh*t, you get the equivalent quality in what is produced. It’s you who are claiming that the amount of money that people are paid is the only thing we should be looking at.

    I’ll leave you with a quote by John Ruskin: “There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man’s lawful prey.”

  160. GROG says:

    TMS said:

    Instead, all I’ve gotten are:
    – Changes of subject (“don’t government employees provide valuable services?” “compare government workers to the private sector”)
    – Demands for more and irrelevant data
    – Attacks on my supposed credibility

    Am I the only person here who sees this?

    No you are not. Welcome to 538refugees.

  161. Monotreme says:

    Mule Rider,

    Once again, we come out fairly close to one another about the influence of unions.

    I guess I would include a little bit more of a causal link between the development of labor unions and successful negotiations for better pay, shorter hours, and better working conditions. Still, it’s just a correlation (as you correctly point out) so it suggests, but doesn’t prove, a causal relationship.

    Where I would personally enter the discussion is that unions served a necessary purpose when the life of a worker was nasty, brutish and short, but in today’s world, the usefulness of unions may be on the wane — or they might even be completely irrelevant as a force for worker rights and now exist only as political action committees. I believe that’s the argument being made by Republicans in the midwestern states now.

    I still think it’s worthy of discussion, and I’m willing to admit I might be wrong, but I am very angry that Governor Koch-Walker and others have short-circuited the discussion and gone straight to outlawing something that may or may not be useful. It’s putting the cart before the horse and presumptuous in the extreme.

  162. shortchain says:

    I wonder why anybody imagines that working conditions can only go one way. I wonder why anyone imagines, if jobs stay hard to find and difficult to keep, employers won’t up the ante and require longer hours for the same pay — just as they are currently doing with public employees.

    Will it be because of the innate goodness of the executives, who will be willing to forego a few million of their bonuses in order to make their workers happier? Will it be because the stockholders will forgive the CEO’s for reducing their ROI in order to make the workers happier?

    Because the workers won’t stand for it, and they’ll quit and go on welfare (oops, can’t do that anymore), or quit to find one of the other jobs that don’t exist?

  163. Todd Dugdale says:

    shortchain wrote:
    I wonder why anyone imagines, if jobs stay hard to find and difficult to keep, employers won’t up the ante and require longer hours for the same pay — just as they are currently doing with public employees.

    Spot on, of course.
    Right now it’s government employees that are the evil ones keeping your taxes high.
    But anyone can get in on this game.
    Are gas prices high? Hey, let’s beat up on the refinery employees, the shipping crews, and the truck drivers! They make too much, and they’re costing me money when I fill up my tank.

    You can apply this “logic” to most things, and a union doesn’t even need to be involved. The real fun starts when you begin removing “barriers to entry” to make the market more “competitive”. Those fatcats who drive the fuel tankers have special licenses, and that’s a “barrier to entry” for those who can’t be bothered to get a license. So we eliminate the requirement for these special licenses, and we can hire any bozo with a G.E.D. to drive a highly-explosive vehicle anywhere. He’ll work for less money, so we can lower those gas prices (wink, wink).

  164. TMS says:

    shortchain, you said:
    “It’s you who are claiming that the amount of money that people are paid is the only thing we should be looking at.”

    But I only make that claim so that we can have a single point of agreement from which to discuss. Because if we don’t agree on how much people are making, it’s impossible to agree on any sort of relationship between what they are making and what they are contributing.

    If you claim, as it seems, that paying people more will result in a corresponding increase in productivity, then why don’t we just have a dozen government employees, and pay them each a couple billion dollars a year? It would be a paragon of efficiency, after all.

  165. shortchain,
    Given that labor is a resource like any other, one would expect a supply/demand relationship to exist there. When unemployment is low, wages would be expected to rise. When unemployment is high, wages would be expected to fall. Clearly, if an employer wishes to treat the employees poorly, then when the next economic recovery hits, that employer will have a hard time retaining anyone.

    Of course, not all labor is created equal. Unskilled labor is fully fungible, so retention is of low value. Skilled labor is harder to replace, and the more specialized the skill, the harder it is to replace. Employers would do well to take great care not to anger highly skilled laborers.

  166. Incidentally, shortchain, if happier employees are more productive, then making them happier shouldn’t be reducing the ROI, unless the cost of that happiness exceeds the marginal productivity improvements. In other words, it’s either worth it to the company (and thus the shareholders) to make the employees happier, or it’s not. And if it is, then the company should be doing all it can to make the employees happier.

  167. shortchain says:

    Michael,

    You make it sound complicated. Which is at the heart of my problem with TMS, who wants to reduce everything to a single number, the compensation of the worker.

    Frankly, I’ve seen a lot of attempts by a lot of people to come up with metrics for measuring the “productivity” of people — and I’m not even convinced that it can be done for the people who haul away the garbage in our little city. The ones who just race down the alley, slam-banging the garbage containers into the back of their trucks (and spilling it fairly often) may not be generating the maximum future revenue for their company, is all I’m saying.

    For teachers, and people who deal with the public — who are the overwhelming majority of government workers — I have the gravest doubts that productivity can be measured accurately enough to be worthwhile. I have seen no evidence to date that a successful measurement of “productivity” has been accomplished thus far, certainly.

    I suggest, therefore, that the best methodology for trying to produce the most productivity is what the Japanese do: let the employees have a say in the operation of the organization; let them get together and decide, together with management and with feedback from their customers, a fair compromise on the measurement of productivity and compensation for same.

  168. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ sc and Michael,

    Which is why companies as SAS and Google, provide substantial extra benefits such as on site medical, pick-up for dry cleaning, on-site childcare, etc., for their employees, and fast food restaurants, say, provide only part-time, minimum wage.

    The former has highly skilled labor with extremely high replacement costs, so retention is paramount. The latter, eh, not so much, so retention is of little or no consequence.

  169. shortchain says:

    Max,

    So where do teachers, firemen, police, and all the various clerical and managerial workers in the employ of the public fit on the fungibility scale? Are they the equivalent of a server at a fast-food restaurant, or are they closer to an employee of Google or SAS?

    I would say that they are quite far from being fungible.

  170. shortchain,
    I make it sound complicated because it is complicated. And I recognize that measuring productivity in areas involving skilled labor is done more at a chainsaw level of precision than a razor level. But in the end, an employer must make that determination, because it drives the biggest cash flow elements of the business.

    Once an employer determines roughly how much the additional job will produce for the business, that drives the maximum amount the employer is willing to pay for everything necessary to hire. The employer, if smart, will push to have the compensation be as low as possible. After all, if you’re buying a house and you’d have been willing to pay $500k for it, but it’s being offered at $400k, you don’t pay $500k for it…you take the deal and feel ecstatic.

    So employers try to find the best value, just like anyone else who is buying something. And when times are tough, the employer has to choose to pay less, or fire people, if there isn’t enough demand for the products or services to maintain the current level of employment. And, if times are tough, smart employees recognize that they may have to accept less compensation. It doesn’t mean they have to like it.

    I wish I was still able to command the kind of premium for my labor that I could in 2000, but I can’t. The labor market is very different today than it was back then. But I also recognize that changing market conditions is in no way equivalent to greed. They may work in concert, but they’re independent forces.

  171. shortchain,
    I know you asked Max, but I’ll try to answer anyway. He will probably differ in his opinion.

    Firefighters and police are an interesting group, because the supply of labor tends to be higher than the demand most of the time. I don’t know how much of that is caused by the adrenaline junkie types being drawn to it, or by the outstanding benefits packages that they generally get.

    Teachers in the US are often seen as glorified babysitters, and thus are less valued for their teaching skills than their keep-the-kids-off-the-streets-while-I-work skills. This depresses compensation in that field. Changing that requires more than anything that a union is likely to provide. Society needs to value the education more than the babysitting. As long as the focus is on babysitting, the employees are highly fungible.

    Clerical workers, while more skilled than some, don’t tend to have a high degree of specialization. As such, the barrier to entry is basically “college degree of some sort.” That’s a low enough bar that there’s a pretty large pool for an employer to draw from. Pretty fungible for most. Granted, “clerical” encompasses a lot, so some will be more specialized and valuable than others.

    Managers? Good ones are worth a ton, and bad ones are worth getting rid of even if they worked for nothing. But it’s really hard to find the good ones, and it’s really hard to measure their effectiveness. Good managers require a particular mix of skills, none of which are obtained through academia. So they’re not so fungible, but finding them is like panning for gold.

  172. shortchain says:

    Michael,

    I tend to agree with you on your assessments. I’ll note that, while there tends to be more applicants than jobs in the areas of firemen and police, there also tends to be a lot more turnover than, say, in the teaching profession.

    The choice to go into teaching as a profession is often driven by other things, such as when a spouse gets a job somewhere, the only job available for the other person is as a teacher. This tends to reduce the compensation, as Hobson’s choice seldom comes with a great benefit package, and a union does little to change that.

    We’re all in for some hard times, and cutting the pay and benefits of the public employees (and taking away their right to bargain collectively) isn’t going to do doodly-squat to prevent or lessen that.

  173. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Michael,

    I don’t differ except perhaps in a matter of degree with your statement. The sole exception, playing devil’s advocate, would be that a union, in the case of teachers, would tend to keep wages a bit higher so that there was a somewhat higher degree of retention that otherwise.

    “Good managers require a particular mix of skills, none of which are obtained through academia. “

    It’s called “leadership”. It can be explained easily, it is almost impossible to teach. The last several years of my gainful employment period was attempting to do just that. I even took a downgrade in position to relocate and that became my principle effort. Of the 8 or so people I mentored to the point of their promotions, and for a period afterwards, ONE person met the test after 6 months in the supervisory position.

    For those who possess leadership skills, it’s almost as easy a breathing. At the same time, it is extremely frustrating to explain those skills, to demonstrate and then mentor AND STILL see people MANAGE instead of lead.

  174. Monotreme says:

    Forget collective bargaining. Let’s go back to slavery.

  175. TMS says:

    Monotreme, do you mean to imply that a lack of collective bargaining is tantamount to slavery? Seriously?

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