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Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Teacher" as Epithet - A Continuation of Yesterday's Blog

So how DID we come to make teachers the scapegoats for everything that is wrong in our world? How did it come to happen that on a very hot, muggy day, a man hurled the worst epithet he could think of toward a few peaceful warriors, and that epithet was, "TEACHER"?

Two questions I'm going to (in my typical rambling way) focus on:

1. Why would it be advantageous for any person or group to create an atmosphere where teacher-bashing was not only acceptable, but encouraged?

2. If there really could be an advantage in doing so, how would that person/group go about it?

When I was a child, in the 1960's and 70's, I went to a lot of different schools due to my dad's occupation as a musician (not the only reason, but the main one). By the time I was in 8th grade, I'd gone to 13 different schools.

I was taught to respect my teachers - just as my parents were - and I did. If there WAS a problem with a particular teacher, my mom stepped in and had a talk with the teacher. If that failed, she could have taken the issue to the principal, the PTA, the school board. Thankfully, the only "problems" that my mom felt she had to intervene in were pretty minor - whether or not I had to eat the cafeteria's turnip greens, for example. (Thanks, Mom, for that one! I still don't eat 'em!)

The community esteemed and respected its teachers.

Were things perfect, 40+ years ago? No. Teachers are human, subject to all of our human vagaries. We all are.

Initially, I think, the intent behind correcting issues in our educational system was honorable and good. There were a lot of Johnnies and Janies out there who were functionally illiterate. Whether or not the teachers could be blamed for this, I'm not so sure. I've been reading since I was four years old - I learned by being read to.

Having met, in my adult life, many brilliant, accomplished, successful folks who were never too much for book learnin' - well, I've come to the conclusion that our brains are just wired differently. I can never take apart and put together ANYTHING without having parts left over; fortunately, it was not a prerequisite for graduation!

I've spoken just recently with a special ed teacher in rural Wisconsin who pointed out that some kids are just never going to be great readers, spelling bee champs, able to do more than the simplest math.

We want our little Johnnies and Janies to be able to function in today's world, so we tried to figure out why they couldn't read, and fix it. It was somewhat successful, with some kids, in some areas.

Not enough. Some children were still being "left behind", we were told.

So we decided that we'd hold the teachers accountable for any child who, for whatever reason, could not read at an acceptable level. The measure would be a test.

I've always done well on tests. Again, I think that's just the way my brain is wired. That doesn't make me any better than them or make them any less capable of leading a successful, productive, tax-payin' life.

Suddenly, though, we as a society deemed that the measure of the teacher was a number over which s/he ultimately had little control. No matter how hard Teacher tries, there are some kids who are simply not going to test well. Ever.

This was the new standard - a test score. School districts lived and died by these scores.

So here we are. The teacher is responsible for the test score. If the kid doesn't test well, the teacher has failed to do his/her job.

Along comes somebody with an idea. It'll be a hard sell in a world that has loved and esteemed its teachers for generations. The fire was already there - admittedly, there were some problems in some public schools. They need only add fuel and wait.

Their fuel is money.

So... the agenda is to set up a system in which the public schools will find it very difficult to live up to a standard. Get the masses behind you - repeatedly point out the failures. It should be easy - most people care deeply about their children. Fortunately for the profiteers, most people are easily led. They're angry. As their incomes decline, as life gets harder, as the future appears increasingly bleak, they search restlessly for someone to blame - and someone to step in with a solution. Never mind that it is a complex problem - most of us are too busy trying to get by nowadays to do any real analysis of a problem, and they've already seen to it that our "free time" is filled with the ongoing drama of reality TV.

Teachers are the problem. They're overpaid for a job they're not doing. They can do their job much better. It's so obvious - the rich have been sending their kids to private schools for years, and look where they are now, in comparison to where you and your children are! Why shouldn't your kids have the same privileges?

It's a psychological trick, really. Take a problem, real or imagined, publicize it, then prettily package up a solution. Don't mention that it is a very lucrative solution, or the driving force behind it. Same thing happens all the time - watch a few commercials.

We believe that we are getting more freedom from government interference in our children's education. We like that word, "Freedom". We hate "big government" - but we're not told that the alternative seems to be "big business" and an almost total lack of accountability!

So they get some big money behind "raising public awareness". They use front groups like the Heritage Foundation, McIver Institute, Macinaw, ALEC, the Tea Party to promote their agenda. Most people "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" - in this case, the privatized schools eager to swoop in and set up shop, at taxpayer expense (remember those school vouchers?).

(Yes, those "Think Tanks" are basically advertising agencies, folks, and the Tea Party is in many respects a front group!)

It's a win-lose all around. Public teachers lose jobs; if they want to keep teaching, they can always take lower-paying jobs at the privatized schools. Kind of ironic that many of the same teachers we've been programmed to hate are now, or will be, working at the privatized schools... and your tax dollars will be paying them, plus paying the CEO's of these companies, the investors, the "safety nets" like Medicaid and even food stamps that workers at these schools with inadequate incomes will need in order to provide for their families' needs, the marketing efforts that are crucial to selling this whole mess to the masses, the government workers who oversee the schools and send out all of those voucher checks... the list goes on, and on, and on.

Don't forget, either, that our legislators are also involved in this scheme. The ideas must be marketed to them, as well - and ALEC is actively doing that, as well as teaching them how to market the ideas to their constituents.

What really set me off on this blog was actually another blog.

http://billtotten.blogspot.com/2007/08/big-enchilada.html

In it, Bill Totten talks about a stock market prospectus he received, which touts privatized education as a lucrative investment opportunity. The wave of legislation enacting school vouchers in ALEC-controlled states ensures that. I encourage you to read his blog entry.

I don't think that you will particularly enjoy the part where your childrens' education is described as "The Big Enchilada" of investment opportunities. I sure don't.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Blog, Therefore I Ramble (How We Came to Hate Teachers - Part 1)

Last week I had the privilege of joining with some other Wisconsin citizens to remind our governor that yes, we are still here, and yes, we still care passionately about the agenda he is foisting upon the people of our state.

The sign I carried basically said - we're onto you, Governor. You can try to hide the fact that much of the legislation you and your cronies are pushing through has nothing to do with the good of the people, and everything to do with profit. You can try, but we will expose your deception.

A gentleman pulled up in a very nice car. I have no idea who he was, but as he exited his vehicle, he shouted something incomprehensible, though obviously unflattering, toward us.

In fine Wisconsin fashion, the protesters responded with, "Shame! Shame! Shame!". I rather like that. We in the Midwest are a pretty upstanding group, morally speaking. We still believe that when people hurt other people, they should feel some shame. We were raised that way, and I heartily approve. Our consciences are still alive and well.

The gentleman then shouted toward us: "You're all a bunch of TEACHERS!"
=====
Fast forward to Sunday morning. I was channel surfing through the news channels, and there was Fox News. Normally I don't linger there much, but the woman being interviewed was relating her story regarding a teacher who had given her child the "correct" test answers. The mom was quite upset about that, and I agree, she should be. I certainly would be.

The teachers who did these things are wrong. The system that has made them feel so desperate that they would even consider doing such a thing to keep their jobs is even more wrong. Fox did not address that - and I wasn't too surprised. I suspect that most Fox News viewers, accustomed as they are to having their ignorance and anger fueled by a daily dose of "Fair and Balanced", would quickly change the channel should they suddenly be tasked with having to utilize critical thinking skills.

Okay, that's biased, and I admit it, but it's my blog ;-). Try to see beyond it. Better yet, Google "Fox News Bias" and do your own research.

Now, what really got my attention this Sunday morning?

The host(ess) of the show said something absolutely outrageous.

She said, upon concluding the interview, something very close to this:
"Whenever I see a TEACHER nowadays, I give 'em a LOOK".

For two days, I tried to get a response from Fox News and its fans via e-mail, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter, etc. regarding what program this was, and what the host's name was, and whether I could find an online video clip of this statement. I've gotten no responses other than from one man who said he'd blogged about the Atlanta teacher cheating scandal. I wish I could let you hear that statement for yourselves, but I can't.

I heard it. I saw it.
=====
When did "Teacher" become a four-letter word? How did we get from the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder, when Teacher was one of the most respected positions one could aspire to, to THIS - teacher as villain, teacher as scapegoat?
=====
A few months ago, I would never have believed that I could join the ranks of those I saw as "Conspiracy Theorists". What happened in politics just didn't, I thought, really impact my day-to-day life all that much. Whomever got elected, it would be "Meet the New Boss - Same as the Old Boss" - and I'd still have groceries to buy, appointments to keep, friends and family to love, a life to live.

I'm still a skeptic. I check and double-check, and when corrected, I strive to immediately let folks know I've erred. I want nothing but the truth.

I was wrong in my thinking that our day-to-day lives, our system of beliefs, our collective futures, our very truth is not being constantly impacted and formed by the decisions of those whom we elect to represent our interests. That's what we hope, anyway!

I've learned too much to believe that we can just sit back and let things happen.

I was wrong to think that in our nation, it would simply not be possible for any person or group of people to systematically enact any agenda and carry it out under our very noses. It goes against everything that we have stood for, as a nation, as a people. We have too many checks and balances, too many protections in place to keep such a thing from happening.

Right? Wrong.

Life was easier, a few months back, in many ways. It's harder now, because of what I've learned. I feel responsible in a way I never could have imagined. Part of that is just me - I have always believed that whatever I experience in life has a purpose - to teach me something that I am then responsible for using to help others in any way that I can.

What I am given is not mine to keep... it is to be shared. Whether it is something material - I have a sandwich, you are hungry, so of course we'll split it - or something I know how to do that you'd like to learn - or a heartbreak that has taught me something that I think may be of use to you - it's not mine to keep.
=====

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Once it's Too Late: A Right-Wing Future

The extremist right wing is perpetrating an agenda that will, if allowed to continue, destroy the rights of all but an elite few who will rule over the rest of us. It will destroy everything that our United States stands for.

Much of the legislation that is required to fulfill the ultimate agenda is already written. Some is speculation based on what is coming out of the right-wing think tanks.

If some of what I have written seems contradictory, it is - just as some of the pieces of ALEC legislation runs contrary to other pieces.

All of these think tanks can be linked to ALEC, and paid for by corporate sponsors that are ALEC members. Any of the supposed "grass roots" extremist right-wing organizations that I am aware of are in actuality funded by ALEC member organizations. Astroturf. Front groups.

The Tea Party movement was started by the tobacco companies.

Much of the legislation that will fuel such a future is already written, though the majority of it has not (yet) been enacted.

I invite respectful commentary and additions to what I've written.

MARK MY WORDS - an underground will develop to fight the ruling regime, if even a portion of this comes to pass. Components of this movement are already in place - indeed, already actively at work.  

I hope that none of this happens, but I fear, based on what's already happening, tha is a distrinct possibility.



Education
There are no longer any public schools. Government subsidies (vouchers) have been eliminated, so most parents are unable to afford the for-profit private schools.
Critical thinking skills are neither encouraged nor taught. History has been rewritten; all references to views other than those of the right wing have been either eliminated or cast in an extremely negative light; the vast majority of people are no longer aware of dissent.

Teachers and professors who remain are imprisoned for expressing any views that have been disallowed.

The ruling class is still able to obtain education for their children. It is free to any who toe the line of the political agenda.

What education is available to the lower class is confined to that necessary to provide skilled labor.

Media
All owned by mega-corporations. Constant barrage of propaganda on news channels.Other channels consist of "entertainment" shows, sporting events. NPR was elimated long ago. The internet is heavily censored and online behavior is monitored. There is no regulation of advertising - misleading and outright deceptive ads are the norm, as is

Health care
Only for-profit hospitals and clinics available. Hundreds of thousand die. No regulation. Insurance companies accept only the lowest-risk customers. Only the ruling class can afford insurance premiums and health care.

The elderly, disabled, and ill are, if not able to work and not part of the ruling class able to afford their care, euthanized.

Use of "recreational" drugs is encouraged. Corporations provide drugs to workers - amphetamines and painkillers to ensure productivity on the job . Compliance-inducing drugs are cheap and plentiful, including addictive drugs.

Abortion is thriving, and in many cases, forced.

Politics
Elections been eliminated. There is no need for them, as there are no longer political parties. Politicians are appointed, as are all remaining government officials. The functions of the federal government have been reduced to the military, running prisons, and to ensuring that no states or local communities go renegade. All local government has been eliminated.

Each state, each community, has a powerful military presence to prevent any citizen dissent.

Immigration
There is no longer a need for immigrant workers. Minimum wage has been abolished, and prison labor is readily available without cost. Borders have been easily closed, as they could have been all along.

Finance and taxation
Citizens are heavily taxed in order to run the remaining government.

Interest rates are unregulated and personal debt is encouraged. If unable to pay their debts, people are imprisoned.

There are basically only two remaining classes - the ruling class and laborers.

Small businesses no longer exist.

Employment
Corporations house employees and their families as cheaply as possible. All human needs are provided by corporations - food, clothing and shelter. Workers are not allowed to change occupations.

Social servicesThere is no longer a need for "safety nets"; any citizens who would them in order to survive are simply eliminated.

Gun control
It's baaaack! There is no longer a need to placate the Tea Party - in fact, it's been eliminated, and any possiblity of citizen militias or uprisings must be controlled.

What Happened to the Tea Party? Once they figured out that they'd been duped - used as pawns - misled and outright lied to, many rose up in rage. Their weapons were confiscated; any threatening to use them were killed or imprisoned. They were simply tossed aside, no longer useful, when the agenda was brought to fruition.

It was too late.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wrapped in the Flag and Carrying the Cross: The Evil of ALEC

http://www.thenation.com/article/161978/alec-exposed

The link above will take you to an article that may be the most important article you will ever read.

Something evil is afoot. It has been insidiously infiltrating our culture, our nation, our religions, our media - nearly every facet of our lives - since 1973, though its roots go back even further than that.

It is without conscience or morality, though it has cloaked itself in false righteousness, false patriotism. It deceives so many into believing that they are participating in a "grass roots" movement to "take back our country".

It has stolen our jobs, the ability to even find a job with a living wage, and the benefits that formerly came with jobs.

It has stolen our savings and imperiled our futures. It has brought many of us to the brink of financial ruin - some have fallen right off the cliff. It's destroyed our national economy.

It has eliminated small businesses.

It has damaged our environment.

If not stopped, it will murder more people than the holocaust - it may have already. It is doing all that it can to prevent the education of our children, to make it extremely difficult to obtain higher education. Educated peoples are much harder to control - critical thinking skills are to be avoided. It fights against democracy by making it more difficult to vote and fighting any attempt to eliminate the electoral college system that negates thousands of votes.

It claims to support our Constitution, but is actively trying to change those parts that are inconvenient to its agenda.

It will tell you that only the media outlets that it completely controls are telling you the truth - and that you need look no further than, for the most blatant example, Fox News. It will do all it can to prevent you from asking questions, from investigating and researching the subjects for yourselves.

It tells you that it is fighting against "illegal" immigration - and that is a lie; it seeks only these people's cheap labor and to imprison them in privatized, for-profit prisons. Once imprisoned, they can doubly profit from their incarceration and by putting them to work at jobs that yes, would actually pay a decent wage on the outside today. This drives all of our wages down.

It will stop at nothing: lies, cheating, psychological manipulation, even blasphemy. It will use the uneducated as pawns - while vilifying those who ARE educated and calling them "elitist". It lies about the origins of the Tea Party and the funding behind it and other groups. Once it is done with them, once it has finished exploiting their prejudices, misdirecting their anger, perpetuating their fears... it will toss them aside like so much trash.

For those who choose not to join this group, those Republicans who refuse to compromise their morality and consciences, the path is difficult - major sources of contributions to their campaigns are no longer available. Most have chosen to go along with the crowd.

ALEC - the American Legislative Exchange Council - is the group behind this agenda. There are others, but most of them have financial ties to ALEC.

Many, if not most, of your state legislators will not admit that they are ALEC members. They will not answer questions, they'll blatantly lie, they'll maintain the dark secrets of ALEC. They will not reveal the corporate names involved in it - the corporations who are writing the legislation for them.

What will it take to rid the world of what has been described - accurately, in my opinion - as "Public Enemy Number One?" We have to refuse to support politicians who are or have been ALEC members, as a beginning. It may be difficult to get your legislators to admit their membership - it may take more than merely asking them. In some cases open records requests have been used to expose ties to ALEC.

Why, if ALEC is such a good organization, are our elected legislators reluctant to admit the origins of the legislation they are backing and introducing? Ask yourself that question. Then ask them.

What else will it take? I do not know what it will take in our country, but it frightens me.

Yet the knowledge of what this agenda will do, if allowed to continue, frightens me much more. We are seeing more and more of the iceberg under the tip, but the agenda is being carried out more rapidly and systematically now than at any point in its history. It will only accelerate from here, if we allow it to.

Shine the light of day on this. It's beginning already - as citizens become aware, many of us are doing our utmost to expose ALEC and its evil agenda, expose the members. I hope that this knowledge spreads across our nation and those other nations that are now being influenced by ALEC. I hope that people are courageous enough to stand against this, to face the truth, to become informed, to do whatever it takes to stop it.

It must be stopped. I think that we still have the power, will, and basic goodness to put a stop to it.

Do you? Or will you continue to be deceived by this agenda that truly comes "Wrapped in a flag and carrying the cross" - only to be destroyed by it?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Rural Teacher Speaks Out

First, apologies for not blogging much in the past couple of weeks. My time has been limited due to some life events.

Recently I had an opportunity to have a rather casual conversation with a teacher from a mostly rural school district. I am going to avoid using her name here, or specifying what district she's from. As I said, it was a casual conversation, and the venue made it inappropriate to do a proper interview.

I'd also like to point out that, being a casual conversation, I did not have much of an opportunity to clarify some of the issues she discussed. I'd like to know more - and invite any of you who CAN clarify any of the points to contact me at icefishinglady@aol.com.

She teaches in Special Ed. She was one of many who went to Madison in the early days of our common struggle.

"Teacher" was there the day our 14 senators left. She spoke of a human chain that the protesters formed in an attempt to prevent the vote on the Budget Repair Bill. I'd definitely like to know more about this, so if anyone has insight, please share.

In her district, there was a rush to get contracts in place prior to the feared changes. Interestingly, the teachers were given a very minimal "raise" (1%?), while administrators were given MUCH larger ones (9%). Additionally, the administrators were given a substantial monthly amount over and above their salaries to offset the anticipated increases in costs of benefits.

Wow. I cannot understand the reasoning behind that, at all.

Teacher said that other budgetary changes not directly associated with the education system were also going to have a great impact on her students. Many come from poverty-stricken homes, and rely on Badger Care for health care. Again, these are students with challenges - physical, emotional, intellectual, and combinations of the above. Their need for health care services - both basic and more advanced - is greater than average... and she fears that they will not be getting essential care. "They did not choose to be born into these homes", she said. "They did not choose these challenges".

How very true this is. Our Republican legislative members - those ostensibly responsible for representing their constituents - DID have a choice. They CHOSE to neglect the most vulnerable among us in order to continue to sustain/create more tax breaks for those who in large part certainly do not need them.

It was not necessary - it was a CHOICE.

How any of them sleep at night is beyond me.

Teacher is facing a situation wherein, of necessity, she will have to take a second job - waitressing at night, during the summer, on weekends is likely.

How will this impact her family life? How will this impact her students?

How will this impact the job situation? If the Republicans are so concerned about creating jobs, why not pay our teachers adequately and allow others currently NOT working to take these jobs and have income to spend in their communities... thus sustaining more jobs, keeping businesses in business, preventing further loss of jobs and cost to taxpayers in the form of unemployment and what safety nets will be left, tax base when (I do not say IF) homes are lost and families are forced to move... the list goes on, and on, and on.

Perhaps some of our legislators are simply ignorant and not considering the ramifications of what they have done. I would prefer to think that rather than the alternative - that they are fully aware and simply do not care - at least on a human level, I would prefer that.

Yet ignorance, when there is so much at stake, is unconscionable for those responsible for representing these very real human beings. There are certainly educational resources widely available to anyone who cares to avail themselves of them and become truly informed.

If our legislators choose to slavishly follow their chosen ideology (ALEC) rather than do actual research, they are NOT DOING THEIR JOBS.

It is that simple - and that heinous.

I want to thank Teacher, as she took the time to talk to me and share some of the story of her district and the impact these changes have had and will have.

To all of you who teach, and to all who serve every citizen of our state as government workers - thank you for speaking out. Thank you for telling us the truth. Thank you for sharing your stories and those of the people you have dedicated your lives to serve. Thank you for your sacrifices - time, money, physical and emotional energy - to get the word out.

To those of you who are not government workers, who are just in this fight because it is morally inconceivable to remain silent - thank YOU.

In the unlikely event that any of our Republican lawmakers are reading this, I assure you that even many of your supporters WILL turn against you. Once they realize that they are mere pawns of an evil and corrupt system, once they realize the impact that this system has on their lives - they will. The system will chew them up and spit them out. There will be an uprising the likes of which has never been seen in our nation. I believe that.

I will do my utmost to expose you and the system you are supporting. Not a threat - a promise. I will stand up for Teacher and all citizens, all human beings. I will tell their stories.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Hypocrisy of Scott Walker

In 2009, Scott Walker began laying the groundwork for his run for governor.

At the time, the Doyle budget was being developed.

Here is what Walker's web site had to say about it. Contrast this with HIS budget. He has done, in some cases, EXACTLY what he used against Doyle... and now has lauded - indeed, attempted to claim as his own! - some of the provisions of that budget which, at the time, he apparently denigrated.

This information comes from www.scottwalker.org.

Here's the URL, for the skeptics among us:

http://www.scottwalker.org/headlines/2009/06/how-state-budget-plan-would-affect-you


Note that my original posting included, "In His Own Words". I blame it on lack of sleep coupled with age-induced cognitive deficiencies ;-). I removed that when a kind reader pointed out my error. It was NOT written by Walker himself - but its presence on his web site, to me, indicates de facto approval and espousement of the article.


=============================

Date: Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wisconsin State Journal

By Jason Stein and Mark Pitsch

If you smoke, if you send your children to public school or if you and your spouse together earn more than $300,000 a year, the $62.2 billion state budget to be taken up today by the Democratic-led Assembly will affect you.

To close a $6.6 billion budget shortfall, legislators propose to use billions in federal stimulus money, cut spending by $905 million and raise $2.11 billion in taxes over the next two years.

That could mean an additional 75 cents more per pack of cigarettes, layoffs at your local school, higher income taxes for the wealthy and possibly higher prices at the pump.

Democrats say they’re just trying to spread the pain around amid a terrible economic climate — but they’re mindful that Republicans will use whatever they do as ammunition in next year’s elections.

All that is making it hard to find the 50 votes Democrats need to pass the budget in the 99-member body. They spent much of this week behind closed doors hashing out controversial proposals affecting businesses and taxpayers.

Here are highlights. My comments are in boldface.






YOUR POCKETBOOK

There are no general sales or income tax increases in the proposed budget. But rich people and many small-business owners would face higher income taxes while smokers and phone users will get tapped again. Cuts to schools and local government aid payments could also lead to higher local taxes, while a new Regional Transit Authority could levy an additional 0.5 percent sales tax in Dane County.

The vast majority of citizens favor increasing the income tax on "rich people". Even some of the "rich people".

A nationwide poll shows that 67% of people overall support an increase in taxes on tobacco products. Even smokers. Yes, really.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-report-1-cigarette-tax-increase-would-raise-844-million-for-wisconsin-and-cut-youth-smoking-84014907.html

Walker, in fact, vetoed a proposal to DECREASE the tax on smokeless tobacco.

http://www.weau.com/home/headlines/Walker_to_veto_tax_change_on_tobacco_124502469.html

Oil companies and multi-state corporations are in line for tax increases, which could get passed along to consumers or affect jobs. New auto insurance requirements could lead to rate increases.

Oil companies were called to task in a recent hearing before Congress. They admitted that oil prices are high in large part due to speculation in the market.

http://priuschat.com/forums/environmental-discussion/93929-oil-execs-testify-congress-they-reveal-some-interesting-facts.html

As for insurance companies - well, I haven't noticed that rates are goin' down, have you? Though yes, there are some inexpensive options out there now - but I guarantee you that the limitations on liability will be of small comfort if you or your family are involved in an accident - on either side (as the injured or the injurer).






EDUCATION
School districts will be so pinched by cuts that experts say some smaller, rural districts may dissolve. Regardless, expect layoffs and program cuts in some schools. Next year, however, teachers will be in a stronger position to argue for higher pay and better benefits. And bright spots for UW-Madison include approval of several construction projects and a pot of money to keep top faculty.

Hmmm. 519 education system workers were laid off this past week in Milwaukee alone. The number for the state will be in the thousands. The effects of this on families (people first, in my world view) and on the economy is going to be devastating.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/30/lawsuit-layoffs-follow-wisconsin-budget-signing_n_888038.html

Walker is now falling all over himself to approve building and rebuilding projects at various universities and take credit for jobs thus created.

http://m.host.madison.com/mobile/article_85feab96-4e9a-11e0-9e37-001cc4c03286.html






STATE WORKERS
Layoffs and furloughs are in store for state workers, while pay raises will evaporate. But UW-Madison workers can unionize, and the domestic partners of state workers could get health insurance.

See above. Also note that in Milwaukee, Walker forced employees to take four MORE furlough days - bringing the total of unpaid days for some workers to 26. Twenty-six days, no pay.

http://m.host.madison.com/mobile/article_85feab96-4e9a-11e0-9e37-001cc4c03286.html






OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Taxes and fees

• Raises the cigarette tax by 75 cents per pack to $2.52, raising $310 million from smokers over two years.

See above.

• Raises the income tax by an additional percentage point to 7.75 percent on single taxpayers making $225,000 or more per year and married couples making $300,000 or more. That would cost those taxpayers $287 million more.

Well, 72% of people FAVOR raising taxes on folks making $250k or more per year - those who would presumably be hurt least by tax increases.

http://capitalgainsandgames.com/blog/bruce-bartlett/2292/americans-support-higher-taxes-really

• Effectively raises the capital gains tax by increasing the share the state can tax, raising $170 million a year.

Next time you're out there, ask a low-income person (Tea Partiers might be a good bet!) if s/he understands what capital gains means. I don't have a link, just a suspicion.

• Places a 75 cent per month fee on telephones, which costs users $103 million.

I'm thinking most people would barely notice this. Additionally, there is a pretty much across-the-board increase in costs for landlines. Additionally still - this is related - due to proposed changes to WiscNet we will ALL be paying MUCH more in taxes for internet services now provided by WiscNet to libraries and other public facilities. I must add another "additionally": phone companies WILL pass along cost increases if, as my own representative, Kathy Bernier, stated in a letter to me - they "upgrade" their old equipment/lines.

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r25112627-Landline-price-increases-are-coming.

http://wire.wiscnet.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Community-Comes-Together-to-Support-WiscNet.pdf



Good idea, but it is common knowledge (common enough that I won't even provide a link here) that public AND private-sector employees are now going to be paying much more for their health insurance... and it has and will impact the economy for ALL of us. I don't believe that Walker included this deduction in the budget, even as a proposal (I could be wrong; feel very free to correct me, if need be).

• Levies a tax on oil companies of $260 million.

Well, well. They are making record profits. They are paying executives obscene bonuses. They have admitted, as shown above, that speculation is the chief cause of currently high oil prices.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/04/dems-plan-oil-subsidy-vote_n_857685.html

http://online.wsj.com/public/page/executive-pay.html (this includes more than oil companies, BTW, but I will leave it to you to sort it out and in the meanwhile, imagine what would happen to prices of consumer goods if these salaries and bonuses were reduced!)

• Increases or creates several complex taxes on corporations for a total of more than $180 million.

Goodness forbid that corporations should have to tighten their belts along with the rest of us. See the link above to an article about executive pay. Remember that ALL of us are paying more because some corporations do NOT pay taxes - who do you think has to make up the difference? They use and rely on public services, too... they take jobs out of the country... they hide money in offshore accounts... hmmm... no problems there, right?

Trickle. Down. Does. Not. Work. 'nuf said. If you think it does, you, in my opinion, are COMPLETELY out of touch with reality.

• Increases a tax on hospitals and adds a tax on outpatient surgery centers to raise $187.6 million in state taxes and draws down even more federal dollars to return to the health centers and help balance the budget.

This may seem odd, but I'm going to direct you to a site that has a lot of articles that I don't seem to be able to access. It seems, though, that www.outpatientsurgery.net is quite a fan of increasing profits for outpatient surgery centers. We're ALREADY paying for these, as many of them are getting a large proportion of their income from Medicare/Medicaid dollars... that they can be profitable - well, you have your opinion on that, and I have mine, and personally, I find it despicable.

http://www.outpatientsurgery.net/issues/2004/04/can-surgery-centers-profit-anesthesia






Schools and local governments

• Cuts state payments to schools by nearly $300 million over two years.

Remember this? Walker cut $900 million.

http://www.theroot.com/buzz/wisconsin-gov-scott-walkers-budget-cut-900-million-education

• Tightens limits on how much more money schools can raise in property taxes and state aid, but state aid cuts could mean bigger property tax increases overall.

Wannabe Governor Walker seems to be complaining about tightening limits on increases in property taxes - but remember, he just signed a budget prohibiting increases in same.

http://www.postcrescent.com/article/20110628/APC0101/306290012/Property-tax-increase-freeze-remains-bill?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Cimg%7CFRONTPAGE

• Ends in July 2010 an effective cap of 3.8 percent on increases in teachers’ pay and benefits.

I'm going to focus on the big picture here: public workers sacrifice just like everyone else.

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/feb/18/club-growth/group-says-wisconsin-state-workers-havent-had-sacr/

Most have had absolutely no pay increases for years. They've had to take furlough days - no pay. Their cost of living has gone up just like everyone else's.

If you are a private-sector employee, I sincerely doubt that you'd have a problem with taking a job where you could have a decent pension/benefit package. I sincerely doubt that most of you would turn down a public-sector job with a living salary, benefits, cost-of-living adjustments at the very least. I would bet that you desire these for your children. While you had those, if you did, all of us were paying for them in some form or another.

I'm sorry that most of you (us!) in the United States have had to give up so much... but I am sad that it has led to such envy of/attitude toward, folks who really are not much better off than you: "I don't have (whatever), so why should YOU?"

• Cuts state payments to local governments by $30 million.

Well, Governor, you managed to more than triple that, to $96 million. Most counties and municipalities agree that the only "tools" they got were not "tools" at all - but merely hardware (screws). You've pushed the responsibility for layoffs and cutbacks to the local level - politically perhaps a good move for you, but anyone with half a brain will figure it out.

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_5abf01a0-444b-11e0-9c33-001cc4c03286.html

University of Wisconsin System and UW-Madison

• Allows faculty and staff to unionize.

They did - or at least they attempted to - but not 'til Governor Walker took office. Need I also remind you that Governor Walker still supports unions for public safety workers -many, many of whom are out there with the protesters - and I applaud that.
• Provides health insurance benefits to domestic partners of university and other state employees at a projected cost of up to $6.7 million annually.

Should I even "go there" on this subject? Heck, let them go on Medicaid/Badger care. Oh, wait, that's not going to work for 'em; the cuts to those programs won't allow it. Okay, let 'em show up in the ER when they're so sick they can't function. Oh, wait, we ALL end up paying for THAT. Okay, let them get their own insurance through their employers. Well, WHO DO YOU THINK PAYS FOR THAT? YOU DO! I DO! Companies can and do raise prices to cover health insurance for their employees.

A big of an aside? Don't forget, either, that some Walmart stores give some workers instructions for applying for Medicaid along with their new-employee handouts... (I can't find a link to support this, but I assure you I've seen it). Are we going to do the same for domestic partners of state employees? Yeah, I'm off on a tangent; that's why I didn't even want to get started...

• Provides $113 million for tuition grants for System students, reducing grants by about $300 per student this fall from Gov. Doyle’s proposal.

Somebody 'splain this to me. I think what he was saying was that reducing student aid was a bad thing. Well, then, he did a bad thing.

http://chippewavalleypost.com/?p=3719

• Borrows $978 million for construction projects, including a new nursing school building at UW-Madison.

Check that off your list, Governor Walker.

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/on_campus/article_37d7b658-4e89-11e0-b0a1-001cc4c03286.html

(Amusing note: when I Googled this, one of the results included "Wisconsin Manure Management". Rather fitting.)


• Provides $15 million to retain talented faculty.

So let's destroy our world-class public university - why not? Despite the fact that it brings enormous revenue to our state, on many levels. It's part of our heritage - something all Wisconsinites can be proud of. The exodus has begun...

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/05/31/public_universities_hit_with_economic
_and_political_uncertainty_face_loss_of_top_faculty






Health care and welfare

• Expands BadgerCare Plus eligibility to childless adults.

I'm not going to even get started on health care.

• Slows the rate at which Family Care is expanded

The Walker budget freezes enrollment in Family Care. While he complained about slowing the rate of expansion, it seems that it is perfectly okay to stop it altogether.

http://stopwalkersbudget.org/

• Cuts $11.8 million in tobacco control grants.

Walker cut it by an additional 10%.

http://www.waatpn.org/march11_budget.html

• Eliminates two-year time limits on welfare job categories.

This did go through, so welfare recipients can work at a nonprofit for more than two years. Politically expedient - since there are so few private-sector jobs available. Saves face.






Domestic partner registry

• Confers some rights and responsibilities upon registered gay couples in a program to be administered by counties.

http://familyscholars.org/2011/05/24/wisconsin-governor-scott-walker-refuses-to-defend-lgbt-rights-law/

 

Regional Transit Authority

• Allows Dane County to create an RTA that would operate a local transportation system and impose 0.5 percent sales tax.

Walker's budget not only cuts local transit, but ELIMINATES RTA's. This falls solidly in line with ALEC's fight against ANYTHING that decreases our reliance on oil.

http://www.wigderson.com/index.php/2011/06/26/governor-scott-walkers-veto-message/



State workers

• Requires 16 furlough days, at a savings of $192.2 million.

Walker eliminated the furlough days. Remember, though, that he imposed even more furlough days for Milwaukee workers. In some cases, up to 26 unpaid days off.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/101995348.html

• Rescinds 2 percent pay raises scheduled for non-union employees in June, saving $144.8 million.

But state workers didn't have to tighten their belts like the rest of us, right? Yeah, right.


• Calls for up to 1,000 layoffs.

THOUSANDS more are resulting from this budget - at a time when the economy is actually on the upswing. See link above for Milwaukee's 500+ layoffs already. To my knowledge, there is no final tally as yet.

• Calls for up to 400 additional layoffs if union employees reject a proposal to give up a 2 percent pay raise.

Remember February? Remember when Walker threatened not 1000, not 1400, but 12,000 layoffs if his Budget Repair Bill did not pass, saying it was going to be necessary? Remember that the bill did NOT pass at that time, tied up in the courts? Apparently these layoff threats were just a bluff - because they did not happen.

Let me refresh your memory...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/25/AR2011022507046.html






Auto insurance

• Increases over three years the minimum coverage for injuries to one person in an accident to $100,000, and mandates coverage of $300,000 overall for all injured parties in a crash. It also requires $25,000 in property damage protection.

Yes, this did get rescinded... I'll largely reserve judgement, but see my comments above.






OTHER CONTROVERSIAL ITEMS
Debt payments

• Authorizes $3.3 billion in new borrowing for building projects, roads and other uses.

Walker is proposing "only" $1.8 billion to fund "pet projects"

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/asm95/news/Budget2pagerLAXspecific61311.pdf

• Borrowing includes $138 million for certain projects, including:

• $47.3 million for a UW-Madison nursing building.

• $44.5 million for a UW-Eau Claire education building.

Done, and Governor Walker has, as noted above, expressed great pride in "his" "accomplishment".

• $500,000 for the Aldo Leopold Nature Center climate change project.

This was done. It also created jobs - just as Walker is promoting as a benefit of some of HIS pet projects.

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2009/related/acts/28

• $500,000 for the Oskhosh Opera House.

Done. And hmmm... created jobs, again - see previous comment.

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2009/related/acts/28






Prisoners and sex offenders

• Gives Department of Corrections authority to release prisoners early.

• Gives DOC authority to lift real-time electronic monitoring tracking of some sex offenders.

• Eliminates probation for some misdemeanor offenders.

Make no mistake about it: ALL of the pending truth-in-sentencing laws are part of a much larger agenda to privatize prisons, courtesy of ALEC, courtesy of its for-profit corporate prison members who write this legislation. The legislation is then marketed - there is no other word to describe it - to our Republican state legislators by ALEC, and they bring it home to introduce it and try to sell it to US. This document shows that Walker has been trying to privatize our prisons since at least 1999:

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/crime_and_courts/blog/article_44c6e570-1903-11e0-af8e-001cc4c03286.html






Immigrants

• Allows illegal immigrants to apply for state cards that would let them drive legally but which cannot serve as identification.

• Allows some illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition at UW-System schools.

I think that I shall save this section for another day. I've been working on this for seven hours straight on no sleep (just cannot sleep when it's hot!) and I want to get it out there for all to see, as soon as possible.

Recall Walker.

View the original story
here.