Wisconsin - Civil War vs Class War
Let's get out of Milwaukee and we'll talk about it.
Premiums for Supplemental Medicare and Part D (prescription drugs) increase every year with or without a COLA.
The average monthly Social Security benefit is just $1,076. 25 percent of elders rely on Social Security for 90 percent of their income.
For 55 percent, it provides more than half their income.
The real issue which does not get articulated is that this protest is a class war but not the kind you think. It is only a civil war between the public govt worker's unions and the WI state government. It is similar to a stock broker's strike at Goldman Sachs. But the class war is between the old, unemployed and disabled who own their own home and the govt. worker's unions, especially the teacher's union.
The schools are on the property tax which is a regressive tax, unfair to the poor.
Right now, to sustain the public workers demands, people on fixed income must set aside three to four hundred dollars a month or more for property taxes or lose their homes. It is us against them. WHY? Because the property tax is not a progressive tax based on income but an oppressive tax which disproportionally affects the poor and fixed income individuals. For years the old and disabled have complained that the school costs at least should not be on the property tax and their taxes should be reduced by 1/3 or more. Or people on a fixed income should have the schools removed from their property taxes. The old do not have children in school-their property taxes already paid for their children.
The unions and legislators say publicly: Yes, we know the schools should not be on the residential property tax------ but nothing is EVER done. So now, why should the elderly and poor support those who have ignored their real needs for decades?
Some fixed income home owners have a rental unit in their homes which they count on to supplement their income. But their rent income does not cover the mortgage and property taxes (outside the affluent capital, Madison, where most of the workers are in the public sector).
Property taxes are three to four thousand dollars annually even on a modest one hundred thousand dollar home. Every month, in addition to mortgage payments, another three to four hundred dollars must be paid for tax and insurance. It is a myth that property tax costs can be passed on to renters. Renters with children pay nothing in property taxes because rent income in this market is depressed. The market sets the rent and with thousands of homes in foreclosure there is a lot of competition for renters who are employed.
The schools bulge with non property tax paying families of four to six children. The teachers demand more every bargaining session in benefits if not wages and in resources. In Milwaukee, the teacher's union by collective bargaining has limited the number of voucher schools which can exist in a district. This has really angered mothers forced to live in the core by poverty and endure schools where violence is common. These women do not support the public sector unions. Notice those protesters are all white. Old people are losing their homes to support the demands of the schools; their football teams, coaches, swimming pools and low reading scores. This is the class war.
Most people support unions in the private sector because there are checks and balances. The union does well if the company does well or it fights the good fight for the workers.
But public sector unions have no checks or balances. The property owners and working class are their deep pockets.
Corporations have tax loop holes and hardly pay any taxes. In fact, they are subsidized by the taxpayers in TIF districts. So the tax payers are the source of public sector income.
Public sector unions have demanded Cadillac health and pension plans - their significant others are covered. This divides them from people demanding universal health care and equal rights. The comparable health insurance plans are cheaper for the taxpayer but the unions are opposed to them and do not say why
Public sector workers often run for public office or their family members are legislators. Politicians are dependant upon the political endorsement of the public sector unions. Thus in both direct and indirect ways public sector union members become their own employers and have an unfair advantage in collective bargain sessions. Politicians who need their vote approve contracts which cruelly burden taxpayers.
There are many more class war issues that should be discussed to unite the people.
There are solutions to these divisions in the working class through institutional and systemic change. But just as with the real war in the middle east, reactions to the government's civil war are knee jerk --people are just taking left/right PC positions without reflection on the root inequities. But real change will meet the needs of the taxpayers for economic relief as well as the needs of the public sector employees, a category which includes politicians.
It is an unsustainable public sector system and needs institutional financial reform. Users, not residential property owners, need to be responsible for the education system. Government workers must mirror the benefits in the private sector. Then all workers will have common interests in labor law. But with all the focus on the civil war, the root problem of the class war is ignored
The class war could be settled if public sector unions would join with people on fixed income in coalition to restructure the economic system to benefit the ENTIRE working, disabled and retired community.
The public sector unions are on TV asking for WI support. But they do not offer to use their collective bargaining power to make the structural changes that will bring majority support. They need to stop talking to their own interested parties and reach out to the community organizers familiar with the needs of property tax payers, the working poor, the elderly and disabled.
Public sector unions(PSU) need to make agreements in writing with those other sectors of the community that they will use their collective bargaining power to make structural changes and equalize their status with non government workers (in pensions and tenure vs. 401Ks and merit pay).
PSU must pledge to take the schools off the backs of those elderly and disabled on a fixed income and make the schools dependent on their users. This does not mean a sales tax which once again burdens the poor and elderly. The schools should be funded by those who use them. Children should be paid for by those who breed them or their production will be unsustainable.
Reorganizing the economic system to be fair to the funders of the public sector means organizing the unorganized and/or working in coalitions. The PSU talk endlessly about doing this but it is just rhetoric and puffery.
Think what could be achieved if the elite public sector unions gave up some privilege to meet the needs of the entire community -- used their power for the common good. Then all segments of the working class will unite and there will be real revolution.
When the unions bring their benefits in line with the private sector and remove the schools from the property tax demanding concurrent property tax reductions, they will have the support of the majority. The school user tax should be pro-rated by income, collected from parents and evenly distributed among all schools.
Special education and English as a second language classes should be managed and financed separately from the regular school system. Mainstreaming is too expensive. Tax money given to UMOS and used to import farm labor from Mexico can be used instead to fund the teaching of English as a language to non English speakers. The churches should be taxed to help support special ed. The revenues the churches make from their adoption businesses and no abortion hospitals can also be accessed. Their buildings can house the special classes. This is consistent with their pro life agenda.CLASS WAR_____________________________
Included in the same bill that takes away the right to collective bargaining are measures that would both weaken the state’s “Badgercare” health care program for hundreds of thousands of residents who cannot get regular insurance; and allows the unregulated sell-off of state-owned power plants to the Governor’s corporate allies.
Walker is proposing a $1 billion cut to health care programs that serve the disabled, elderly, and low-income residents currently served through BadgerCare, the state’s Medicaid program.
He plans to weaken the BadgerCare program by reducing legislative oversight. The Governor wants to allow the Secretary of Health, who came from a recent job at the Heritage Foundation, to be able to change the requirements for enrollment, premium charges, and other basic parameters -- resulting in potential losses of coverage due to lack of affordability, loss of coverage altogether, or losing the federal matching funds that currently account for about 60% of the total funding for the program. These changes will affect approximately 700,000 Wisconsin residents.
Provision 16.896, allows the sale of the state’s heating, cooling, and power plants to private corporations without the solicitation of bids. Adding insult to injury, Walker also aims to strip away the ability of the Public Service Commission to approve or certify this buy-out (not that the PSU actually represents the public's interests but they do protect the utility companies). In other words, if this bill were to pass, state-owned utilities could easily be bought by corporations as the latter wishes and rate increases are guaranteed.
The new governor recently proposed a wind turbine siting law that would effectively shut down most wind power production. The new law, if put into effect, would require wind turbines to be set back at least 1,800 feet from any nearby property unless all affected property owners agree to the turbine in writing.
Only one-fourth of Wisconsin’s current wind turbines would ever have been built if this rule had been in place in the past. In other words, 2,250 fewer people would have green construction or maintenance jobs, over a million fewer dollars would be flowing to rural communities in the form of land leases, and the 21 manufacturing plants in the state that supply the wind industry would have far fewer orders and would likely be closing their doors.
Other policies that Gov. Walker advanced since coming to power include corporate tax giveaways.
If only the public unions could make concessions to their less privilege brothers and sisters to use collective bargaining and organizing staff to save our homes and environment, and to reduce our energy costs, we could all have enough and fight these policies together.