13 Mar 2011

The post I quote and link to below is one of the better outlines of why we need a third, centrist, option to the two party duopolistic system we have now that I've come across recently. Here's a taste, from Chris Rickert at the Wisconsin State Journal: "...state house and senate and Congressional district races — our two major parties long ago agreed that carving up the electorate by party affiliation was preferable to democracy. Yes, the party in power seeks to give itself an advantage every 10 years when Census results are released and districts are re-drawn. But by and large, there is a bipartisan understanding that some areas lean Democrat, some Republican — and it's better to pack like-minded voters into noncompetitive districts and save one's considerable resources for battles in a dwindling number of competitive ones. More than collective bargaining rights, human rights, corporate rights or any other right, two-party hegemony and a bro...

02 Mar 2011

With all of the ongoing drama in Wisconsin, it is no surprise to me that Governor Walker is looking at his state's own version of the "nuclear option." His lack of willingness to compromise, and being unable to get anything done with spending bills since so many democrats have abandoned their posts, have led to an impasse. It appears he will be pulling a little used rule out of the bag that would allow him to pass the part of the bill that puts limits on what public sector unions can negotiate, if he takes out any spending in the bill. From John Avlon at The Daily Beast: "If he [Governor Walker] separated the collective bargaining issues into a stand-alone bill a simple majority would be sufficient for a quorum, which he would have with the Republicans," added Terry C. Anderson, director of the non-partisan Wisconsin Legislative Council. Anderson cautioned that if any fees or appropriations were included in the collective bargaining provision...

01 Mar 2011

I'm quite the fan of Michael Bloomberg, and this is an excellent example of why. For all intents and purposes, his op-ed in the New York Times are my thoughts exactly... although perhaps written a bit better, ha. Here's a taste: Organizing around a common interest is a fundamental part of democracy. We should no more try to take away the right of individuals to collectively bargain than we should try to take away the right to a secret ballot. Instead, we should work to modernize government’s relationship with unions — and union leaders should be farsighted enough to cooperate, because the only way to protect the long-term integrity of employee benefits is to ensure the public’s long-term ability to fund them. In Wisconsin, efforts to rein in spending on labor contracts have included proposals to strip unions of their right to collectively bargain for pensions and health care benefits. Yet the problem is not unions expressing those rights; it ...

01 Mar 2011

Disagreement and vociferous opposition are OK; demonization is not. That's the message this week as No Labels, in its self-appointed role as political referee, threw another yellow flag, this time on pro-union forces in Wisconsin. Democratic Wisconsin legislators temporarily fled the state in order to block a bill from passing that would end collective bargaining for unions representing teachers and other public employees. As part of the protests that continue in that state, Gov. Scott Walker was demonized by protesters who marched chanting, “Heil Walker! Stop the Maniac” and carrying signs comparing him to Adolf Hitler. Said No Labels in issuing its statement that a yellow flag had been thrown, "This demonization has only contributed to the disorder that the state faces in the wake of its fiscal shortfall.  It’s understandable that passions are running high with so much at stake, but that’s no justification for the name-calling and denigra...

22 Feb 2011

This quote, from my latest post at WNYC's It's a Free Country, pretty much sums up where I'm at with the Wisconsin mess: That Democrats have been giving unions compensation they can't afford, and that Republicans cut taxes they can't afford, is not reason to bar unions from their right to form an association and negotiate for what they believe to be fair compensation, or for business groups to try and lobby government to give them breaks. In our country, we have a right to free association. No matter who we are, or what issue we're fighting for, we have the inalienable right to gather and fight for what we believe as a group. That people clearly abuse this right in no way makes it acceptable to take it away, or limit it. Democracy is messy. The real solution is we need to take a look in the mirror and realize that we're enabling these jackals every time we vote for them. We need to have higher standards. We need to stop supporting lesser e...