Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I know that I wrote about this in March but once again we are having this discussion. It began when the Wisconsin State Journal about the CEO salaries of the health insurers in Madison. Then there were the overpaid teachers in New Berlin. Finally in today's Capitol Times Paul Fanlund was writing about the high cost of UW Football games without mentioning that the coach makes somewhere around $1 million and his assistants are in the 6 figure range. This may not seem related but they are. Teachers making around $50-60,000, CEO's of companies with revenues in the $100+ million, public employees making about what the teachers make, the chancellor of UW Madison making $400,000 all are overpaid. But, CEO's of other companies the same size as the health insurers earning 10 times more and football coaches making more than twice the chancellor and far more than a full professor are not overpaid. Some argue that it is related to how people are paid. This does not appear to be the case, coaches are paid with public money just like other public employees. It would appear that we don't like people that we have to deal with frequently earning more money than they do. But even that isn't the case because there currently is no outrage over doctor's salaries and lawyer's salaries. In fact being a lawyer is now considered more honorable than being a teacher or public employee (except a big time sports coach) and lawyers used to be the most hated profession. It would appear that the problem is just with those who are considered the stereotypical public employees and they are just not making that much money.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wausau Labor Day

It seems that labor in Wausau is trying to get back to the roots of labor day by not allowing Republicans to march. As the labor representative said, why should we have people who talk about supporting labor one day a year but try to undermine labor the other 364 days?. Now the Mayor has said that labor needs to pay for the parade. And why not, labor is going to make a statement here and I think that it is great.

Teachers Handbooks

Now that the unions have been limited the WI school boards have revised the teacher handbooks which function as work rules. This is all fine and makes sense. Also, as part of the budget repair bill there must be a public hearing on these runs. So in New Berlin they had their public hearing where the anti-education crowd shouted down (remember when they were saying it was the union thugs that shouted down the opposition, hmmm looks like it goes both ways) anyone who questioned these rules. The point of the hearing was to question the rules which like the State budget was going to pass anyway. In this case the hearing was a formality. In other districts the staff and administration came up with the rules in New Berlin the administration came up them and imposed them on the staff. Again this is fine, that is how the private sector works, but the hearing was allowed for and the teachers and parents should have been allowed to express their opposition to a document that the board had no intention of changing. Instead this opposition group had to make a scene which has now draw national attention to their city. I think that it is not very smart to go to war with your employees and youreally don't want to do it publicly. All you have to do is look at the Governor. Everything was going to pass but he had to get national attention which led to protests at the capitol, a demoralized workforce, and massive numbers of retirements.

Disaster Aid

Now you have all of the anti government types out there with their hands out for Federal Disaster Aid. Some of them have said that we should cut spending to balance the aid. Really, does anyone think that Eric Cantor can convince me that that projects and or aid to Wisconsin should be cut and that money should go to Virginia? I don't think so. Here's the way disasters should be covered. The states should be budgeting for disasters. The Federal Government should provide money for Federal roads that are destroyed, money for destroyed Federal facilities, logistical support (even Gov. Christie had to concede that this was beneficial), law enforcement support, and medical aid. The states should be budgeting for the number of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and forest fires like how we budget for snowstorms except that if the money isn't spent it carries to the next year so that the fund builds up. Unfortunately this will never happen because you have low tax states like Florida that would have to raise taxes because the chances of them getting a hurricane is close to 100% and they cost a lot of money. Yes they do, so does snow plowing, which might explain why taxes in this state are higher than Florida. Not only that Florida expects us to bail them out when they have a national disaster that no one in Florida it seems could see coming but the rest of the country knew was going to happen. The states in the hurricane zones expect the rest of the country to pay for every hurricane, I say enough.

What the Federal Government should not do is allow anyone to rebuild on the outer banks. President Clinton refused to authorize Federal money be spent rebuilding and caught a lot of heat for it. Now many of those homes that were rebuilt have been destroyed again and again the owners are lining up to get Federal money. I hope that President Obama says no and then goes a step further and says that you can't rebuild. How many times should the rest of the country rebuild a house that is worth more than what the average taxpayer lives in?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

City of Madison Budget

I think that with the budget plan that Mayor Soglin released was the sharp stick in the eye for Republicans. He said that he would save money by cutting snow plowing and salting. The Republicans who cut aid to the cities complained about the state of Madison roads a couple of winters ago. They felt that the State should take over plowing for the city of Madison. The Mayor may have just figured out how to cut the budget significantly by having the State take over plowing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gotcha Media

Ever since Sarah Palin coined the phase "gotcha media" when referring to the mainstream media Republicans have been using the phrase as a way to avoid answering certain questions yet they all actively seek opportunities to be on. The latest examples are Newt Gingrich and Christine O'Donnell. Newt bristled at being asked about Libya in such a way that his contradictory statements on the topic were apparent. I think that the fact that he had a definitive opinion before he didn't is significant for someone who wants to be President. Under President Gingrich we would have been bombing, had special forces engaged, and been supplying the rebels only to leave 2 days later (or was the change only because Obama is President). The Christine O'Donnell was asked about statements that she made in the main stream media and now won't comment on. If you want to seek a high office your views are important to the voters. It isn't so much that they are trying to put Republicans on the spot it is that Republicans keep making outlandish statements and holding ridiculous positions. At least Michele Bachmann is willing to answer questions about her statements, granted she does not give the same answer as when she originally made the statements in the first place.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I've been suffering from my second cold of the Summer and nothing seems to be helping so off I went to Walgreen's. I decided to try some sudafed based cold medicine. Not only is it now kept behind the counter but you must present a photo id (preferably a drivers license) so that it can be scanned, and then you must sign. All of this for 20 pills. You would need hundreds to make meth. There is more scrutiny in buying sudafed then there is in getting on a plane. This is crazy. Has this policy worked in reducing meth? A drug that many are now saying is imported from Mexico.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Court Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional

That's right the individual mandate is unconstitutional! Great! now can we get the courts to allow hospitals and clinics to turn away patients who don't have insurance or money to cover the cost of their care. If people really want a repeal of Obamacare they need to also get a clause to deny care because these services are driving up costs for the rest of us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Recall Day Has Arrived

I don't live in a district with a recall and for the most part do not agree with them as a political tactic because I think that you have do something more serious than following the caucus on votes. That being said I am surprised by the voter turn out, it's high. Maybe if we had this kind of concern in 2008, 2009, and 2010 people wouldn't have felt the need to have recalls because those elections would have had different outcomes. We got here because people didn't pay attention or didn't care. You try to tell some one what is going on or what somebody is planning to do they either don't believe you or they state that they don't care. Apparently now they do care and it probably will be a good night for the Democrats. High turnout is always good for the Democrats. Lets just hope that the reconstituted Senate will work a little better but I have serious doubts considering who will be left from the old Senate, especially Sen. Fitzgerald who should be impeached for how he ran the Senate. The best that we can hope for is a slowing of the ALEC agenda. And just where are all of those jobs?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tomorrow the ads End

After tomorrow we will finally be rid of the Luther Olson and Fred Clark recall ads. Maybe they are so irritating because I don't live in the district. What I see as an outsider is that both candidates are flawed. After listening and watching these ads for a couple of months it boils down to "vote for me I'm not as bad as the other guy". That is a terrible way to decide an election and an even worse way to spend 7.2 million dollars.

The Next Recession

It is sure starting to look like we are on the way to the next great recession. Similar to the 1937 Roosevelt recession the Republicans are forcing the President to pull back government spending in the economy which will cause unemployment. They also made an issue out of the debt ceiling and then got the US bond rating downgraded which is leading to a roiling of the stock market. This has to be by design there is no way that by just dumb luck all of these things could have intersected at this point in time to bring down the economy. The question should be what is the end game. Unlike FDR, Obama is not likely to see the writing on the wall and recommit to helping the people are going to be getting hammered by the downward trend in the economy. I understand that the Conservatives want to undo the New Deal, but then what? Lots of jobs for $2 an hour and no one to buy products? Or more likely, no jobs, no government support, and ultimately no product sales. Welcome to the decline of the US and it wasn't the liberals fault.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Sign Said Stop Obama (?)

I was riding my bike today and as I was coming to the crest of a hill in the yard I saw a sign that said stop Obama. Now this was some pretty expensive property not as much as the deposit $20 in my mailbox person but nice. Clearly a rural Republican. My question is stop him from what? There is so little difference between Obama and Bush that it is almost like Bush never left office. We are still in 2 wars and pursuing 3 and 4 much to the dismay of the President's supporters. The President agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts which has helped fuel the current debt and deficit crisis. They both spend like crazy. Bush probably would not have bailed out GM but he would have given more money to the banks. Bush may not have extended unemployment but he would have business a break from taxation. Yes he needs to be stopped from turning to the right, unfortunately I don't think that is what was meant by the sign.

Why Don't conservatives Understand Insurance?

Once again conservatives are proving that they don't understand insurance or taxation for that matter. The latest issue is the "mandate" that health insurers must cover birth control. Their objection is either equating birth control to abortion and hence they don't want to pay for on moral grounds. The other objection is that people are being forced to pay for something that they are not going to use. But, yet in both cases they have no trouble paying for births. Insurance works on the concept of shared risk. They get a lot of people to pay in and then they use that money to cover losses. When the cost of losses goes up so does the premium. The cost of a birth far exceeds the cost of birth control. So, in theory the cost of insurance could go down with this mandate, it probably won't but it could. Interestingly enough sterilization is a covered cost as is viagra so why not birth control?

Taxes work the same way. There are a lot of people who object to paying for war for example. Generally conservatives say that paying for war is the cost of living in America but funny how that same argument doesn't apply for liberal expenditures. Like insurance, taxes are about sharing the risk (cost). If want to be the rugged individuals that Conservatives talk about we should move to eliminate the government and other cooperative arrangements (insurance, farm coops, unions,...) and see how that works for people.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Goverment Can Stimulate the Economy

I heard once again that government doesn't create any jobs. This is absolutely false. When the government has a road built the company that they contract with creates jobs. People who work directly for the government spend their money in stores and restaurants. Those businesses then hire people to meet demand. If the roads were private there is a good chance that those jobs will still be there. If we get rid of public employees there is a good chance that the ancillary jobs would go away. So, government spending does create both direct and indirect jobs.

Wall Street Gotta Have a Deal

Wall Street was active in the debt deal discussions saying that we had to have a deal. The problem was they never said what that deal should look like. The Republicans assumed that they wanted less taxes, less regulation, and less spending and they delivered. The problem is that the market continued its decline and Wall Street's economists have finally started to say what the problem is and how they recommend solving it. They are saying the problem is that consumers are not spending, companies with cash are not spending, and companies are not hiring. They are now recommending spending on stimulus. This is the position that Robert Reich had stated as long as a year ago. The problem that we have now is that this is the exact opposite of the deal just passed. To quote an old saying they are "a day late and a dollar short".