Friday, February 18, 2011

Bolster or Bust? Should the Taxpaying Public Support Unions?

A week-long union member protest is still raging in Madison, WI


Posted by: Noël Jones


As you have probably heard by now, there is a huge protest happening in Madison, Wisconsin, where thousands of union members have gathered--some say tens of thousands--to protest Republican Governor Scott Walker's move to end collective bargaining for government employees there. Why should we care here in Pennsylvania? Because this is a bellwether of protests likely to happen in several states where governors are taking similar action, and with our state and local budgets in the mess they are currently in, there is no reason to think that our newly-elected Republican Governor Tom Corbett might not take similar action.


This story, like most stories, has two sides to it. On one hand, unions
are what gave Americans the 40-hour work week, the weekend, a minimum wage, lunch breaks, sick days and vacation time. On the other hand most unions have become corrupt and bloated--especially at the top--and wield so much political power that they are able to strong-arm the government into ever more lucrative contracts each year at taxpayer expense.


But there is a third angle to this story that is worth examining as well--the fact that this move by the Wisconsin governor is not about busting ALL unions--just unions whose employees work for the government (including teachers). And one very important thing to keep in mind, is that the government has no money of its own--it only has the money it collects from us each year in taxes. So when these contracts are being negotiated, along with pensions and annual raises, these promises are being made with our money. As an example, under Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge in 2001, our legislature voted to increase pensions for state and school district employees by 25%--and 50% for judges and state legislators.  Another example would be how our local teachers' union's 5-year contract, negotiated in 2007-2008, promised annual raises that started at a minimum of 5% in a stepped fashion according to seniority, resulting in average raises of 10% per teacher, regardless how the economy is doing. We in the Easton Area School District are bearing up under crushing financial burdens now as a result, and the answer, each year, is too bad--this is the contract that was negotiated, the perks that were promised, with our money, whether we have it or not.



[It is worth noting here, that neither Virginia, nor North Carolina have collective bargaining for government employees.]


I thought this was interesting--here are two articles, both from the Christian Science Monitor, one in favor of Governor Walker's union-busting tactics, and one against.


So I would like to hear from readers on both sides of this issue--are you a) in support of unions as they are, b) in favor of busting ALL unions, or c) in favor of busting only unions that are paid by our tax dollars? 

72 comments:

David Caines said...

I'll be the first to agree it is a conundrum, but it's not hard to see that while this is at present only state unions, it will in time move to federal and private unions. This sort of precedent once set will sweep the nation. After all, no employer likes dealing with unions as they give workers the ability to deal with the employer from positions of power.
As noted elsewhere, I agree that unions have come to have too much power in some cases, but many across the nation have already made sacrifices such as the federal employee wage freezes.
To the surprise of many, I don't think this sort of legislation is the answer.
The answer if there is one, lies in making the truly tough choices , harsher negotiations, and a willingness to suffer through strikes and finding ways to re-empower employers (In this case the state)to set minimum standards for continued employment.
Still, and perhaps particularly as it regards state, city and county employees, collective bargaining is all they have and we the people have proven pretty unwilling to keep our word. When the purse string get tight, we decide we didn't mean that contract in the first place, and the first sacrifices we look to make are those who do the job of keeping America running. What we need are stronger leaders, and to be stronger and more involved ourselves. Many of these unions have the power that they do, because we the citizen don't want to be bothered with the many responsibilities that come with living in a free country.
Anyhow, this has gone long,
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

I'd also like to take a moment to point out a bit of a flaw in most of our mindsets as it regards this issue and that flaw revolves around the words "Public Servant". A pair of words, but unflattering and untrue yet a pretty commonly held view. The view that these people are our butlers or slaves, or somehow our property. I know a lot of people in public service, sadly mostly in Jersey, but I can say that this chaps the hide of even the most decent of people. And at the end of the day it is untrue, these are just people with a job like some of the rest of us, people who go home at the end of the having made our nation work.
An aside here, is that clearly this governor is doing anything but making the "Tough Choices", instead of going through the negotiations and fighting it out like a man who has a set (or even knows what one is), he is doing the least work possible by legislating away the rights of tens of thousands. And at least to my way of thinking, he is showing his state and the nation that he is not much of a man but a lazy bully, gods help us if this becomes precedent.
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

Here's another element that I forgot to include in the main post--apparently 14 Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate have run away and gone into hiding to avoid voting so that the bill will not have enough votes to pass. There has been a lot of talk about Republicans in Congress being obstructionists and jamming up the process so that nothing gets done, but what do readers think of state Democrats who refuse to vote at all? Isn't that refusing to do the job they were elected to do?

noel jones said...

Also one thing to keep in mind with collective bargaining for unions negotiating with private corporations is that those corporations are bargaining with THEIR money, and the benefits are much lower. For some reason, when it comes to bargaining with OUR money, all kinds of promises are made, whether or not we can afford them.

David, you said "When the purse string get tight, we decide we didn't mean that contract in the first place, and the first sacrifices we look to make are those who do the job of keeping America running."

The question is, who is 'we'? As far as I can tell, 'we' is our elected officials, as that is the only control that we the taxpayers seem to have as Americans over how our tax money is taken and spent. And if now 'we' get fed up and elect new politicians across the country who are not going to keep making promises we can't keep with our money in a recession, then isn't that also 'we the people' speaking out?

noel jones said...

As for the term "public servant" I have always had a big problem with anyone who simultaneously lays claim to martyrdom and a lucrative salary & benefits package at the same time. I believe that policemen and firemen should be compensated well, as they risk their lives daily for complete strangers who may or may not deserve it. But even their unions are getting out of hand with overtime abuse and such.

But when it comes to government jobs where one is not risking one's life on a daily basis, I have a big problem with people earning far above the mean income with a lucrative benefits package, not in service to the public, but in seemingly in service to keeping the current system going, and being paid with my tax money.

When private companies bargain with unions the raise structure and benefits packages are less lucrative. I can't help but think that that is because they are negotiating with their own money, not someone else's--OURS.

With the mess our state and local budgets are in, we can't be a bit surprised if this kind of legislation comes to PA soon...

noel jones said...

I would also like to say that I am aware that there are some unions out there that are suffering by association--not all unions are the same and some unions have made meaningful concessions on raises and such, but unfortunately, the stubborn self-interested behavior of most unions has caused the public to sour on unions in general, and the mid-term elections, and the resulting legislation being put forth are evidence of that.

This is what happens, when unions say in a recession to taxpayers, "tough luck--a deal is a deal--we don't care that you're unemployed, or have taken pay cuts, or that your seniors are living on fixed incomes and deciding between food and medication daily--suck it up and pay us our raises--we work hard--we deserve it, no matter how much you're struggling--whether you have the money or not, you're going to give it to US."

Unions can take that attitude if they want to, but if they don't respect the struggle of the taxpayers, they can't be surprised at the backlash.

David Caines said...

We agree a great deal, but the we is the American citizen who at the end of the day is the government.
This is one of the least talked about responsibility of citizenship and perhaps the least understood, but our "Government" only has power because we give it to them through the vote. Our Governor is empowered for a time to speak and act on our behalf, Sal for that matter and that remains true whether a citizen votes or does not, is active within the nation or is not. At the end of the day, each and every last one of us is ultimately responsible for every act of our elected officials taken in our name. If our elected officials don't have what it takes to fight for fair deals with our unions then we need better elected officials, and we as citizens need to be prepared for strikes and minor and major upsets to our daily living , and mostly we aren't. We don't want to be bothered with the details of running the country, but are willing to lynch just about everyone but ourselves when things don't go our way. We've become somewhat apathetic and basically pathetic and we are reaping what we've sown.
When I say that "We" are willingly to change the rules at a seconds notice, I mean the big we...You and I and Charlie down the street, We are the government, regardless of how much we may try to BS ourselves that this isn't true.
The biggest blessing or curse of a democracy is that it is either as good or bad as it's people. not surprisingly I think things like this are a test of national character, Am I as pissed at the abuses as everyone else? absolutely.
Am I going to cut off my nose to spite my face, rob Peter to pay Paul?
No.
I want to know that the police officer or firefighter responding to my emergency isn't going to hesitate because he has to worry about whether he'll have benefits if he / she gets hurt.
Well, this has gone long and I need to have breakfast.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

A quick aside while I have breakfast, the Wisconsin Unions have publicly agreed to all concessions but to give up their collective bargaining powers, the Governor isn't having it. He simply does not want to have to be bothered with doing the work of actively negotiating. Must be sweet to have that job ;)
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

To answer another question asked, the Democrats and their reaction?
Inspired.
Faced with what they seem to consider illegal legislation which they could in no way defeat, they got out of dodge and brought the matter to national attention.
Beautiful.
This is a nation breaker folks. If it goes through and becomes standard practice, I could not blame union members for taking up arms. And try to remember we're not talking about a group of six pack a day fat guys cussing about the niggers, we're talking about police officers, Swat team members, firefighters, teachers.
An aside, and a bit of a joke...just how hard do we think that the Wisconsin state police might be looking for our wayward dems knowing that when they are found , they (the state pd) lose pretty much everything?
This guy makes Forrest Gump look like a PHD.

David Caines said...

From today's New York Times-
In Tennessee, a law that would abolish collective bargaining rights for teachers passed a State Senate committee this week despite teachers’ objections. Indiana is weighing proposals to weaken unions.------ Union members in -------------Pennsylvania, who are not necessarily facing an attack on their bargaining rights, said Friday that they planned to wear red next week to show solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin.

I'll have to buy a red shirt and suggest that others do the same to support Unions on the whole, if not our specific teachers union.
Peace,
David

Anonymous said...

Lot's of rhetoric hear and much of it is good. Panto took on the unions here in the city to force them to pay a shar eof their lucrative health benefits. The firefighters fought to the bitter end and cost us taxpayers a lot of money in arbitration. Fortuantly the city won and they are now paying like the rest so the city should have a return in a year or two. But this is rediculous. Now let's talk about public pensions. I read the city of Easton is more than $20 million in the red and us taxpayers are pating more than a million dollars a year to make up that deficit. Imagine what an additional million dollars would mean. lower taxes by 4 mils or more public improvements, more police, better parks and recreation.

This whole public employee union thing has me furious. Let's make sure we support the candidates willing to make the cuts.

I said it before and I'll say it again, I didn't vote for panto but I like what he has done all around, especially ion this area. I am sure the public unions are begging people to run against him

David Caines said...

Well, maybe the guy isn't that dumb- he has exempted Police and Fire Unions from the new bill.
Wow, this is just crazy, Somalia, Tunisia shit. Personally I'm having a hard time believing that it's happening here at all.
Maybe it's just me, but the incredulous seems to be becoming more common place and everyday.
Nuts, but there you have it.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

I'll be voting for Sal as well. But this is what we're talking about, grow a set. Don't legislate away the rights of the gods alone know how many people at this point, but grow a pair. Any union can be taken down in negotiation if we're willing to do so.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

You know there is a real third world undercurrent in the republican response to all of this...the they should just be happy that they have jobs... attitude.
Have we really come to the point economically and morally that those with jobs are somehow now the enemy and the privileged ?
Is it just jealousy ?
IS this where we've come to be morally ?
I really am curious, do you feel blessed at the end of the week ? At the check out line?
Are you the American worker, Union or not, being heavily over payed ?
Do you somehow not deserve what ever it is you may make at the end of the week ?
I get that it sucks right now for a lot of people but is this disdain for those with jobs justified ?
Have we really come to a place as a nation where we feel justified taking from others what we may not have ourselves, through our own choices ?
Anyhow,
Peace,
David

david said...

To give some idea of what I see happening here, it is pretty simple. Barring some change on this governors part, we are about to watch 20,000+ union protesters turn into 20,000 + union rioters. It is unlikely that this law will be passed without the blood of US citizens being spilled by US Police officers and probably national Guard , for greater reason than that these people don't want to lose their rights simply because it's economically convenient at the moment.
It is extremely unlikely that these large groups of educated and organized people are going to stand by and let themselves be robbed out of the goodness of their hearts.
Where things go from there is anyone's guess. I hope that I'm wrong, but I honestly think we're looking at bloodshed here, and that will send a signal to the other states where this issue is being hammered out. How that message will be received is also anyone's guess. These are not people without means, I don't see this going away quietly.
Peace, David
An aside, while I think we all agree on issues like our school system it's union and what not. I wouldn't mind paying raised taxes to support a union that gets the job done.

brenda said...

I support getting rid of public unions. Private unions are complicated. They drive up labor costs and now everything is made in China. Complex problem here because the China issue is not only because of cheap labor, and no one in the USA can live off of $2 per hour.

Public unions should go, or in the very least, bargain with the public who funds the paycheck

david said...

All public unions bargain to one degree or another, it is the question of the degree. And we as a people can always choose not to accept the bargain, It's been done here. It's been done all over the nation and continues to be.
But I think we're going a bit far in denying Americans rights because they work for us.
Why should the state or city employee not have the same rights as a private worker. Didn't we already try this with the blacks, the gays, well just about everyone really ?
Peace,
David

Clem said...

David -

With all due respect, unions cannot be taken down with negotiation. They may be slowed, but "taken down" requires the extraordinary resolve and sacrifice that has not been the norm in our society since WWII.

You cannot negotiate with terrorists and for example, the teachers' unions commit a type of terrorism, threatening to disrupt the lives of your children if you don't give them everything they want. Even in districts like SV, those teachers ended up with a decent final package when the nation was bleeding jobs and people were losing their homes and life savings.

You can't whittle away at the problem. We no longer have the collective resolve to see the solution through. Now the window is opportunity is open, Corbett could simply say "The RINO Ridge can raise it by 25-50% in one shot, I can roll it back just the same."

Somehow, I don't think that's gonna happen...

david said...

Clem , we agree. All of this non sense boils down to the character of the American people and that has changed a great deal in my life time and not for the good. The question is one of how far we're willing to go to avoid having to man up to the task.
At some point, we're going to have to begin to realize again that there is a price to be paid by all of us if we are going to continue to have the sort of society that we do. If we are unwilling to pay that price, "make the hard choices", then we will lose it.
This is an easy choice, a choice to take from some to meet what can best be called an arranged crisis.
This crisis will pass, but our memories of what we do to our fellow Americans on the thinnest of justifications will haunt us and help to define us for many generations to come.
That's on us, if we can't measure up we don;t deserve these freedoms and will lose them.
Peace,
David
sadly after decades of enforced diversity, I wonder if there is enough common ground left to even link us as Americans by anything but a word few of us give value to.

Anonymous said...

The governments in the United States, Federal, State and Local can not continue to pay everyone what they have promised them, whether it be Social Security, Medicare, pension, health care, etc.. It simply is not sustainable, there is not enough money coming in to pay for all these promises. At some point, EVERYONE is going to have to get a financial haircut. What they are proposing in Wisconsin is not unreasonable and should be repeated throughout the country.
Unions talk about brotherhood and solidarity but why is it that newer teachers do not get the same benefits that older teachers are entitled? Tough choices have to be made and what is happening in Wisconsin is a good start.

Bob said...

Part of the problem with public sector unions is that the politicians who negotiate contracts do not have the expertise the union negotiators have. Look at the school district in Bethlehem, the school board recently gave the union a 4% yearly increase for the next couple of years. What were they thinking?? This is nowhere near the rate of inflation. Then, a couple of weeks later the administration announces that they will need a 16% increase in taxes next year (recently decreased to 12% to make everyone feel good). Can anyone explain the reasoning of opening the contract a year early and giving these increases, given the current state of the economy and unemployment.

David Caines said...

My computer just ate my last response, it's going to be a moments. ;)
peace,
David

David Caines said...

morning all,
You both make good points, but there is a fly in the ointment, a five hundred pound gorilla in the room that no one wants to discuss, several of them really.
The first of course is the truly wealthy , their continued tax cuts into the billions, a thing which happened in Wisconsin. After giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy, this governor then decides that he's in fiscal crisis and goes after the unions. It's a manufactured crisis. Without those tax cuts, his budget would have enough money to support itself, or near enough any way.
I think it really comes down to some basic facts, we can't or won't hold the truly wealthy to the same tax standard of the working man, the poor give nothing and take everything, so at the end of the day we have to cannibalize the middle class.
They are at the end of the day the only ones who have something to take and we believe are safe to take from.
We still subsidize oil companies, one of the top profit spinners in the nation, we're to reverse racist and emotionally compromised to clear out that ten percent of Americans who are working in this nation illegally and bleeding tens of billions from this nation (I can't in some ways blame us here as truth be told, we might not be able to get rid of them if we wanted to. we're talking 30+ million people-so if they choose to resist, we're sort of screwed). We're chicken shits when it comes to all of this, so we're looking to the most easily hated people to blame and to rob. And more likely than not we're going to do it. With this governors absolute refusal to budge, the only option left to Wisconsin's union people is violence or capitulation...
Either choice speeds our race to the bottom.
I agree, we have hard choices to make, I disagree that this is one of them. This is an easy choice, the price at the end of the day is the question.

David Caines said...

Bob, you gave a specific reference, so I'm just going to touch on it.
The reason new teachers don't get the same packages as older ones is because the union has made concessions. They've seen what the future holds and have given something up , in this case the future benefits and wages of newer teachers. I don't think it's crippling to the union, but I do think it shows that they are not being completely unreasonable.
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

David, that was Anon 9:13, not Bob. Anon, thanks for your comments--if you could take a moniker when you post that would be great--you would still be anonymous, but it would be easier to follow your comments in a long thread like this.

noel jones said...

Here is a link to Bernie O'Hare's blog, Lehigh Valley Ramblings (which is also linked on the right side of the home page on this blog) on union workers who wanted to give concessions at Gracedale (a nursing home owned by Northampton County) but allegedly were thwarted by their own negotiators:

http://lehighvalleyramblings.blogspot.com/2011/02/gracedale-union-rank-file-supported.html

David Caines said...

Morning noel, yeah, names help.
Just for the record, a few facts about this governor-
From the NY times-
He rejected $810 million in federal money that the state was getting to build a train line between Madison and Milwaukee, saying the project would ultimately cost the state too much to operate. He decided to turn the state’s Department of Commerce into a “public-private hybrid,” in which hundreds of workers would need to reapply for their jobs.

He and state lawmakers passed $117 million in tax breaks for businesses and others, a move that many of his critics point to now as a sign that Mr. Walker made the state’s budget gap worse, then claimed an emergency that requires sacrifices from unions. --
At this point the unions in question are again seeking to concede to Mr. Walkers demands, barring only the stripping of their collective bargaining rights.
Anyhow, morning all,
Sorry anon- ;)
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

Turning away the opportunity to develop passenger rail is short-sighted and lacks vision even for a Republican. The nation desperately needs to develop extensive passenger rail to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil with an impending gas crisis looming on the horizon--we are far behind other developed nations in Europe and Asia on this and it's more than embarrassing--it's dangerous. $5/gal gas is on the horizon.

If this governor is operating from the belief that private industry should be driving development, not taxpayers' money, than he should be out there drumming up private investors to build passenger rail service. The fact that so many Republican governors are rejecting federal funding for passenger rail tells me that they have no faith that they can find private money to fund it (or lack the desire to), because they are automatically assuming that the rest of the money would be coming from taxpayer money in their state budgets. Where are their corporate citizens now? Oh yeah, pushing oil and gas and cars, cars, cars, and suburban lifestyles that require long commutes for everything from work to services to shopping to entertainment. Ka-ching to the oil men. Ka-ching to the car manufacturers. Ka-ching to the unions who constantly repair our crumbling roads and bridges...what I don't understand is why these industries and the unions can't see the potential profit in shifting their investments into passenger rail? With millions of people paying to ride each day, can no one see an upside that might inspire that greed to work in a positive direction? Why can't the car companies make train cars? Why can't the oil men invest in developing the fuel that is going to propel the trains? Why can't the unions make their money constructing and repairing track instead of our deteriorating road system?

Robin said...

The following link to research on income inequality from the Economic Policy Institute shows why blaming workers is a misinterpretation of reality. The reality is that sucking sound is coming from the top 10% who have managed to convince the shrinking middle class to squabble amongst themselves over an ever smaller portion of the economic pie. http://www.epi.org/economic_snapshots/entry/income_inequality_it_wasnt_always_this_way/

David Caines said...

Beautiful Robin...
Oddly, and I'm not sure of the reason why except that somehow these people have become convinced that they aren't worth it, or they've become so alienated from their fellow Americans...but I'm a bit surprised that they have yet to truly go all union on us.
These are the people that do the work of everyday life. If they chose to work together and support each other, we'd have half the country shut down. Schools closed, lights off, you get the idea. Well, maybe it'll come to that.
Peace,
David
Bought my red shirt btw...
What also shocks me is the deep assumption that at the end of the day these people will take the high road and be better than the rest of us when it is so clearly against their own interest and that of their families to do so?
Mind boggling.

David Caines said...

Ohh, and Noel...we agree of course about the train ;)
But now, I have to make lunch.
Peace,
David

Clem said...

David Caines said...


"These are the people that do the work of everyday life. If they chose to work together and support each other, we'd have half the country shut down. Schools closed, lights off, you get the idea. Well, maybe it'll come to that."

I don't believe that would happen. They still need to eat, and we'd still need to educate our children, protect ourselves, etc. What would happen is that reality and free market principles of supply and demand would replace personal gain and economic terrorism in the negotiation process. No one believes a cop or a teacher should not be compensated equitably. We had outstanding police, fire, and educational systems long before the heyday of their unions. Now, the performance of those sectors has inarguably suffered relative to prior generations, yet our spending on them is at an all time high.

We are not saying throw the baby out with the bathwater. We are asking for sanity. We here about scarcity of math and science teachers, but we are forced to pay them the same starting salary as a gym teacher (of which there is a dramatic oversupply). 100K gym teacher/football coaches when we could get that position happily filled for less and use the balance to attract those that are in short supply. In service days which require our children to be away from the classroom, so they can have their full summer break. Nonsense.

If there is an overcorrection, they have brought it upon themselves. It needn't have come to this.

Clem said...

we "hear"...

Typing fast and didn't preview.

David Caines said...

Clem, the problem with that rhetoric is that you're not talking about people pumping gas that we can replace with illegals.
We're talking by and large about people with a minimum education level of a bachelors of arts, hells in most jurisdictions even police officers need the equivalent of an associates degree. You're talking about people with deeply specialized knowledge that are going to be hard if not impossible to replace quickly or cheaply.
I'll take our oft abused Cindy from codes as an example. From just what's publicly available, the woman holds eight certifications , possibly more. In this vaunted free market economy that doesn't exist and never has, she'd be charging us three times what she does and we'd be happy to pay it. Assuming we replace her (just one person) with someone of equal caliber, we're going to pay for it, and we should have to.
Yes, shocker most of these folks are fairly irreplaceable, if you have a stash of cops, and teachers in the back pocket that we're all unaware of...so be it, but truth be told qualified people are starting to avoid the public sector as we the people show our deep willingness to throw away our promises without much thought.
I'm army certified, all weapons pretty much, I'm a 37 year martial artist, I've been a bouncer and I'm pretty up to speed with self defense and the law, and I can honestly say I doubt I'd last a week as a police officer. Way different skill set. I'd do a lot better as a pysh ed teacher, but again while I'm a lot closer to that, at the end of the day it would take me quite a while to come upto speed.
A certain honesty is needed I think before we throw too many stones.
We can't truly stand the loss of these people and it says a great deal about them that they don't just hang us out to dry as we are clearly so willing to do to them.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

Clem said,
They still need to eat, and we'd still need to educate our children, protect ourselves, etc.-
An aside here, would be that well as the intended robbery victim of these laws, why should I (as the union worker about to have my rights stripped from me)) care a jot more about you and you kids than you do about me and mine?
Because you need me to?
Best of luck with that one.
Clearly we have come to a very mistaken understanding that some how "These" people are responsible for every want and need that we may have, when in truth they are employees and fellow humnan's like any other.
Sorry for the sarcasm BTW, you're alright really.
Blessings,
David
BTW you couldn't pay me enough to be animal control in this city.

noel jones said...

We're missing one key element to this conversation here, which is that the workers you're talking about are being paid with the money of other workers who are not protected by unions--they work in the private sector. So in this case, we're not talking about police or firemen, were talking largely about office workers for the government, and somehow arguing that they are more vital to our society then those who work in the private sector? On what basis? Is a software engineer for MicroSoft or Apple not contributing something of worth that affects our society as much as a code officer, or an aide in a legislator's office, or a small business owner? Is there something intrinsic that is more valuable about a janitor at the capitol than a janitor at a private office? Something so much more valuable, that it warrants taking money from the private janitor and giving it to the public janitor? From a private mailroom worker to a public mailroom worker? From a secretary at a doctor's office to give to a secretary in a senator's office? From a struggling small business owner to give to a solicitor?

And what about the fact that the money is simply NOT THERE to be promised? It would be one thing if the income of private sector workers were going up, but they are not, in fact many have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts. How is it logical that even in a recession, public workers are so much more valuable than those of us who work in the private sector that we have to pay higher and higher taxes to pay higher and higher raises and pension to government workers? The government does not have money--it's OUR money that they are promising, and yes, our only recourse is to elect representatives and senators who understand that, but that is exactly what just happened in the mid-terms, and these actions are the results of that election, right?

David, you said that the governor is doing his job by eliminating collective bargaining, but why are you giving a pass to the 14 Democrats who have literally gone into hiding so as not to do the job that they were elected to do?

I think this is an extremely complicated and nuanced issue and deserves thoughtful examination from all sides.

noel jones said...

David--sorry--meant to say "not doing his job"--typing too fast...

David Caines said...

Mariah Clark, an emergency medical technician at University of Wisconsin hospital and a volunteer firefighter, said she stands to lose $250 per month from her income with the benefits concessions. Standing on a bench holding a sign reading "EMT. Firefighter. Not the public enemy," she said the pay cut would hurt but that's not why she was protesting.

"I really believe this is about workers everywhere, not just public employees," said Clark, 29. "It's pathetic that in Wisconsin, one of the places where the labor movement started, that this would happen."

Jacob Cedillo Tootalian, a 27-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student and teaching assistant, slept overnight in the Capitol for a third time this week as part of a union representing teaching assistants. He said he was worried about paying more for his health insurance and tuition, but what kept him protesting was the possibility of losing the union.


sorry, If I burn dinner...well...
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

An aside BTW- if you want a union at your job, start one. Your employer can't legally stop you. They will try like hell, but if you want to be a part of a union in the private sector, all you need to do is some research and recruiting. The option is availible to all.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

The union movement brought to all Americans the right to collectively bargain in the private sector, this is what those rivers of blood paid for. If you are in the private sector the right is universal. Though to this day bitterly fought against. What we are denying these people is a right possessed by every person in the private sector, man or woman, gay or straight, black or white. And unions are all over the private sector, I'd be a bit shocked if the local Giant isn't union. I was in one as a stock boy at a supermarket. Left to join the army, kind of regret that actually. But if you want a union make one, it's your right. Probably not going to be theirs much longer, but well that's them right?
Seriously I know that this information is somewhat suppressed, but this is what we're fighting over.
Taking rights from these people that every other American has as a right of birth, for no greater reason than that they choose to be in public service.
Peace,
David

Dennis R. Lieb said...

I've only read about two thirds of the comments made so far due to my own time constraints so I apologize if I've generalized, but what I've perceived from the opinions so far - and having read about this issue extensively on the Alternet news website - leads me to make a few quick comments without a protracted exchange.

1) Representing the Chinese import factor as being a direct result of past union demands on business is really oversimplifying the situation to a ridiculous degree. Many complicated and interactive elements have driven business overseas - some sinister and some legitimate, but that discussion is outside the realm of this post.

2) Negotiating a deal requires both parties to be serious about the commitment. Who they represent in negotiations - whether private or public entities - is irrelevant and cannot later be used as an arbitrary device to place blame (as in scapegoating public employee unions) for a deficit problem. Whomever was trusted to make the contractual commitment (locally EASD?) should have been thinking about the possible consequences at the time. All workers deserve the right to organize regardless of there choice of professions.

3) When correcting for levels of education, the average public union worker does not make more than the average private union worker for similar educational achievement so calling them overpaid is factually incorrect. Public retirement pensions are in the range of $19-22k per year nationally. We must stop using unsubstantiated rhetoric to make arguments. It just makes us look like reactionaries.

4) The anti-union stand in Wisconsin and elsewhere is a red herring. The issue isn't about the pros and cons of the union's affect on government finance. It is the current, widespread right-wing ideology (with passive obeisance of democrats) to wipe out whatever is left of organized labor in this country because it is part of what their corporate masters expect: elimination of regulatory law, destruction of collective bargaining and providing as many tax breaks as can be shoveled into their gaping maws.

Strategy for this is to pit union against non-union, public against non-public, older SS & Medicaid beneficiaries against the young and poor against the working middle class - basically to misdirect opinion. If 90% of all wealth concentrated in the top 1% of the population is healthy for democracy then we have achieved nirvana...but apparently this still isn't enough for them. There are now more unionized workers in the public realm than the private. After destroying the private unions over the previous decades it is now the remaining public unions that are attracting their belligerence.

5) The bottom line: What is causing our wealth to drain away and present all these deficits?

One US soldier deployed in Afghanistan for one year costs this country $1 million. If we removed 151 of them from that country we could balance Wisconsin's budget tomorrow. Why isn't Wisconsin's Governor demanding this? We spend $2 billion a week on this war. That is enough money to fully fund every proposed rail project in the country right now. Why isn't New Jersey's Christie and his newly elected buddies in Indiana, Ohio and Florida talking about this? The top 13 hedge fund managers in America averaged $1 billion in annual compensation last year. Due to lobbied-for loopholes they were taxed at a capital gains rate of 15% instead of the actual income tax rate for high earners. If they had paid what they owed, the revenue would have covered the salaries and benefits of 300,000 teachers and other public employees.

Why are we even talking about unions when the really big money is being spent elsewhere?

DRL

noel jones said...

David and Dennis--thanks for the comments--the one question that hasn't been answered though is with what money are these ever higher promises being made? How is acknowledging that the money isn't there--that the government has no money and that it's our taxes they have to raise each year to fulfill these promises--an attack on union workers? What is wrong with a wage-freeze in these times?

Dennis, on military spending, we are in 100% agreement.

noel jones said...

One thing is for sure--this is a hot topic around here--I just checked Google Analytics and this topic has shot to the top of the content list for this month already and still climbing...there are a lot of people reading out there--lets hear some comments from new people!

David Caines said...

I don't disagree with a wage freeze, federal union employees are already living under one. As are the members of most public unions-
To answer the question posed.
How do we commit funds that we don;t have?
That really is just the way business is done. Every business does this, even if they are non union and simply planning the next work year against projections of future income.
It is essentially the same for states and all other govt agencies. If we wish to see the government continue to work, then we hire and make promises against assumed future income. We couldn't function as a nation otherwise.
How exactly it is that we manage to screw the numbers so badly every year is a question for the politicians and what ever form of economic model happens to be in vogue.
Agree about the war entirely Dennis, and pretty much all of the rest.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

As it regards this particular governor I think it's pretty clear that he had an idea of what his budget was, what his costs would be and what tax cuts he would approve. He chose to extend the tax cuts and create a budget imbalance that allowed him to blame the unions and attack them for the short fall that would not have existed had he not extended the cuts. This was his economic model or if you will his plan of attack.
There is great debate at present over the new republican "theoretical" economic model around which they are debating the national budget, only time will truly tell if the theory holds any value. Odd that such devotees of Ayn Rand can so easily make 2+2 = what ever they like, but its a crazy world ;)
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

David, you said:

"To answer the question posed.
How do we commit funds that we don;t have?
That really is just the way business is done. Every business does this, even if they are non union and simply planning the next work year against projections of future income.
It is essentially the same for states and all other govt agencies. If we wish to see the government continue to work, then we hire and make promises against assumed future income. We couldn't function as a nation otherwise. "

Just because everybody does it, doesn't make it make sense. And private companies are much more cautious in their projections, because if they get them wrong, they are screwed, and it's THEIR money that they lose making up the difference. The government is not a business--the government has no money of its own, it only has OUR money. How anyone in 2008, 2009 and 2010 could project that taxpayers would be earning more in subsequent years, when every report and study out there suggested from the beginning that this was going to be a years-long recession is beyond me. But the point is that people are not as careful when they play with other people's money as they are when they play with their own. I don't think the government is projecting that taxpayers will be earning more money at all--rather they are just announcing in advance that they intend to keep raising taxes on us to pay for their bad promises.

To say that "this is the way it's always done" is to echo the same tired excuse that I keep hearing from all the old guard politicians in this town when they make excuses for doing stupid things--they just shrug and say, "that's the way we've always done it!" as if that makes it right. We have got to bust out of this mentality before it's too late. We are on a crash course with fiscal disaster if we insist on maintaining unsustainable practices. These unions have got to make concessions or they will lose the support of the public all together--it's already starting to happen. I understand that some of these contracts were negotiated before the crash, but if the unions, like the teachers' union last year, insist that a deal is a deal while they watch the taxpayers suffer through one of the greatest depressions of our history, and insist on their big raises each year with no sympathy for the public (or the younger teachers that get fired to preserve the raises of those more senior), they cannot be surprised when their candidates start losing elections, and when people start protesting against unions as many are doing right now at the capitol in Madison.

I feel really bad for the unions that HAVE made concessions. The ones that don't in times like these make them look bad.

David Caines said...

Damned blogger ate my last post...save often, save early.

This is about the third time you've put words in my mouth, I've ignored it to this point. I could pause here to describe the pyshical act of love, but I might be blamed for any offspring, so I'll pass.
The mechanics of projection spending are sound, the people who figure out that projection? A) really creative, and b) not me.
They are our elected officials, well and the un-elected party people behind the scenes.
Still, we're back to smoke and mirrors.
We have a budget fight looming, so you may get your wish. The republicans are looking to shut our government down for a few days to get further tax Breaks, cuts, reductions for big businesses,(marceluss shale comes to mind) at the cost of well, pretty much everyone else.
While we're arguing about whether or not thousands of state employees should have the right to bargain for health care, the GOP is fighting for the right of a few thousand truly wealthy people to not have to pay their taxes at the same level that you and I do.
One such hall pass lets say Bill Gates, could amount to about a billion a year in legally unpaid taxes, that's equivalent to the taxes of pretty much every union teacher in PA. SO to let him "Cheat" and not pay the same level of taxes as say the guy at the WAWA working minimum wage, a few million of us have to pick up the slack. Or, we could just pay those greedy ($30,000 / yr or less) union people less....yeah hang the unions, I'll get the torches.
Man, we are stupid.
We are BTW, not even asking the rich to pay more, just to pay the same thing expected of everyone else...and shockingly, they don't want to ?
We're asking the unions to give up a birth right of the American people, tax pay cuts and freezes, and all sorts of madness so that a handful of others, can keep being that one percent of America that holds most of our wealth. I we are truly that stupid, we deserve what we get.
David

David Caines said...

A quick aside here, BTW...I like Obama , but he and the democratic national party really need to grow a set. Nationally the GOP has nothing, he needs to grow a pair, say yeah...you're damned right we're involved in Wisconsin, just like you are and give that bully that the GOP has become on the national a solid punch in the throat.
If there is one thing I hate about democrats it's that they're so much nicer than the bullies that they really have no idea of how to deal with one. The GOP's got nothing, go for the damned kill already.
Peace,
David
Sorry, need more coffee

Ken Sturzenacker said...

It's easy to get caught up in the thinking that the Wisconsin gov't situation is differernt from the one in Easton, or Harrisburg, or NYC, or ...
The situation is the same on both sides of the negotiations: on one side, a few people, elected officials, are making promises to pay with money they do not have and that is not their own that obligate other people, including many not yet born, to pay debts they would not choose to incur on their own. The union officials who negotiate these contracts are happy to do accept these terms because they understand it makes them look good and that the people who are burdened by these obligations will not fully realize their costs for several to many years. On both sides, elected public officials, and elected union officials, the single largest motivating force is to avoid full accountability *now* to help assure their reelections in the future. In short, neither side is honest about its motives. One obvious impact is that in many communities - Easton, Allentown, Philadelphia, to name just three - seniors on fixed incomes are more and more squeezed financially each year as the full range of property taxes erodes the net value of their homes, impoverishing entire communities. The long-term implications are not sustainable.

Clem said...

David -

That's how business is done?

Noel's points are well made. Will the government apply that standard on all fronts? Businesses do project and make promises to shareholders, who sell off when those promises are not fulfilled.

Businesses also lay off, implement pay CUTS, eliminate pensions, and go out of business in the event they don't produce. The public sector must do the same, if they can't convince the public to pay a higher price. The best and brightest argument, simply a hypothesis at this point, is not winning that argument.

Time to test that hypothesis. I have enough faith in the people that if we are wrong, we will pony up. Business will be the first to do so, as commerce cannot be conducted in a chaotic, uneducated society.

Anonymous said...

We all elect politicians who tell us that we can expect "public servants" to provide us with any and every service we desire but that they will also cut our taxes. We believe this lie and vote for them because they tell us what you want to hear.

Then these same pols negotiate contracts with public employee unions and, because a settlement is agreed to by BOTH sides not just forced on the employer by the union, we get contracts that pay decent wages and provide benefits for our "public servants"

When other pols take office and don't want to live up to the terms of legally binding contracts because they have to tell voters that outside circumstances like a tanking economy make it more difficult to live up to their obligations then we blame the unions.

Endorsing a race to the bottom for "public servants" who are doing what they agreed to do and getting paid for what our elected representatives agreed to pay them is shooting at the wrong target.

The real question, if you are facing tough economic times, is to ask yourself not "why are they getting so much of my tax dollars?" but "Why can't I get my employer to raise me up to where they are?"

Maybe that is too difficult for some folks because it would require hard work and collective action and it is easier to blame the guy or girl just a little behind you in line to the poor house.

David Caines said...

I think Dennis hit one nail on the head and I've hit the other, of our most major problems, we need to end the war, and make the wealthy pay no more than the rest of us are being forced to pay. If we can do these two things, we can support everything else.
Clem- you are a good egg, but if the nation fails, and it's happened to others, the wealthy and the businesses can leave, people like you and I get to live in the aftermath. It's happened, Russia, Germany, Pretty much all of Africa and central America. I also agree that we have the means to stop this.
We need to be very clear about what the fight is. And it is two thing above all others, stop the war, and equal taxation. I'd personally love to see something done about the illegal alien invasion, but it pales by way of comparison. Solve those two issues and we meet our debts. Then maybe we can work on the rest. But crippling critical services while allowing a handful to continue to rob us blind ...
I have no words.
Peace,
David

david said...

While this thread has probably died, I thought I'd take a moment to voice a thought. We are not asking these teachers and others in Wisconsin for anything, we are telling them this it what you're going to get and suck it or be arrested. We're making this a law, we are quite literally putting a gun to their heads.
Equally we are not asking the supper wealthy to meet the same tax standards as the common man, not because we can't , not because we shouldn't, but because both parties refuse to.
While we are demanding sacrifices of the middle class, we should consider why is it that the rich refuse to even consider paying a fair share, not even a sacrifice.
We have very good reason to be pissed, I just think that we're pissed at the wrong people.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

If the stats are correct there are a total of 403 billionaires living in America, information on them is a bit hard to find, but where is even one of the people saying "Yeah, I'll file a 1040 EZ this year and take one for the team...." and the answer is no where.
Not even our millionaires who by comparison are wealthy or well off but not rich, are saying they'll dig deep and pay their taxes. Where is George Bush and the companies he controls, that sort of thing ?
A) Laughing all the way to the bank while we peons tear each other limb from limb over scraps.
Just sayin'
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

Since I have a moment, I would like to firm up my position or at least make sure I've made it clear.
I am not saying "Eat the rich" or "Hate the rich".
But I believe in a single form of equality and that is equality under law. That particular personal belief is under a great assault with these laws looming and I take issue with that.
Class equality and all of that is probably outside of the realm of mortal man, and possibly not even for the best. But equality under law can and should be achieved for all persons in a free-ish society. But that equality means both equal rights and equal responsibilities, such as taxes.
I am by no means saying that any man or woman should be held account for having done more or earned more than his fellow but that at the end of the day we all carry that part of the burden laid upon us by life. I don't as a matter of fact believe in even the basic concept of tax breaks the idea is unfair and revolting on its face.
Well,
Back to coffee and dishes.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

A lot has been said here, but no one, myself included has given much in the way of options to make a true difference, so I have created the following online petition.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/supporttheunions/

Which at the end of the week I will forward to all elected officials for whom I have emails.
Noel, if you could turn that into a live link I'd be grateful.
Thanks,
David

david said...

sorry, but I'm going to try this on here as I just sent it off to the DNC

Hi,

I wanted to draw your attention to this important petition that I recently signed:

"support the unions"
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/supporttheunions/

I really think this is an important cause, and I'd like to encourage you to add your signature, too. It's free and takes just a few seconds of your time.

Thanks!
Let's see if that makes it an active link.
BTW, you may contact the DNC at
timkaine@dnc.org

if those who oppose the unions wish to do something similar, that's on them.
Peace,
David

David Caines said...

A few words from anyone else...would make me feel a bit less like I'm peeing in the wind here. I feel a bit like a hijacker...and that is not my intention. Such issues do not get dealt with without man y voices, a bit of heated public argument and such.
A quick BTW, the Ohio unions have chosen solidarity with the Wisconsin, perhaps seeing their own necks to be next in the noose. What happens here may save or break a nation and it's people. Pick a side, ask for info, present an argument, preferably a reasoned one...and lets take the next few steps in peace as a nation, a people, which whether or not we like it we are...at least for now.
Peace,
David
I've taken this national BTW such as I may...we'll see.

David Caines said...

After a week of upheaval in Madison, Wis., where the thumping din of protesters has turned almost celebratory, the battle moved to Ohio, where the Legislature held hearings on a bill that would effectively end collective bargaining for state workers and drastically reduce it for local government employees like police officers and firefighters.

Several thousand pro-union protesters filled a main hall of the state courthouse in Columbus and gathered in a large crowd outside, chanting “Kill the bill,” waving signs and playing drums and bagpipes. There were no official estimates, but the numbers appeared to be smaller than those in Madison last week. One Democratic state legislator put the figure at 15,000.

In Indiana, nearly all of the Democratic members of the state’s House of Representatives stayed away from a legislative session on Tuesday in an effort to stymie a bill that they say would weaken collective bargaining. By late Tuesday, they seemed to have succeeded in running down a clock on the bill, which was to expire at midnight. Representative Brian Bosma, the speaker of the Indiana House, said the bill would die when the deadline passed. --

So, for the moment, that fight is over.
But it still rages on in at least two other states, and as many as 7 in total may enter the fray. well, they've won one, let's see what happens elsewhere.
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

David--39 of 59 comments on this post are yours. You mentioned that you were going to start your own blog--that is probably for the best, since you are so prolific.

maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Caines said...

Sorry, commented under a dnd- my bad---
Sorry, but I am passionate about the subject...I will do my best to refrain in the future.one question that no one seems wiling to answer is why our wealthy get increased tax breaks while we lesser beings get our wages frozen or cut....perhaps you'd care to answer?
I have given a chance for conversation...anyone who can answer that question is welcome to spar with me verbally.
Well, that or why we're still in a war we know we can not win?
A war that economically destroyed the USSR.
I remember sitting around in fatigues as friends went off to teach the mujaheddin. All of us saying, "Well they're done...no one leaves Afghanistan in one piece".
It was a happy time, so other than bush why are we there?
Peace,
David
A quick btw, I haven't bothered to seo, or such, I'm running a bit dark but have my followers. As well, I put this subject up a day before you and have tried to goad you into hosting it. I did not create a blog to compete but to complement, as we have similar but very different sources.
If at the end of the day it is not a complement, just say so.
Peace,
David
BTW- this is your blog, fight....if you have an argume
By all means do so, you among all, can present it.
We should coddle the rich and hobble the middle class, lower middle btw...because....?
It is you house, tell me the rules and I will abide by them.

David Caines said...

for that matter, you have my phone number, email, and know where i live, call, email or stop by. In these questionable times...I don't feel right doing the same. nor should any man. tell me to go to hell...it is your option, and i will respect it.
Blessings,
david

David Caines said...

Since I haven't said it before, I'm disabled and have a lot more time for research than I used to, outside of work anyway. I like you noel, you are alright really. I'm a bit shocked by this stance as I've come to consider you a liberal pain in the butt.
Still, you're fun to argue with, you are intelligent, urbane,and moreso than myself possibly just what this city needs.
You give us all a voice, and I will not mess with that. my own blog is for a smaller set, home owners. Home defense, self defense, women s self defense... a much smaller target area. I'm happy to be a regular voice here, if i get out of hand, correct me. It is your house, I will abide by the house rules.
I for one am thrilled to have this outlet.
Blessings,
David

David Caines said...

A quick go to hell, or it's alright would be just the thing here BTW..this is your blog, some input would be helpful.
Blessings,
David
i talked to a sanitation guy yest. he was pissed, and union. I like it when my toilet flushes... I'm prepared to pay to keep that happening.

noel jones said...

David, I appreciate having your voice as part of the conversation, you clearly have a lot more time to comment than I do at present though, and are dominating the conversation a bit. I enjoying hosting discussions but even as the host of the blog I try not to dominate the conversation as the purpose of the forum is to get neighbors and readers to engage with one another, more than engaging with me per se. I already get to say my piece as I post the topics in the first place, and I jump in here and there if I have a fresh point to make--and that's the key--making fresh points, rather than making the same points over and over.

I like a good debate, but I'm realizing lately that what our country needs more than anything is the ability to have a CONVERSATION and DISCUSS issues, rather than DEBATING (sorry, don't mean to eShout, I'm only using all-caps because I don't have access to italics in these comment boxes). DEBATES, by definition are exchanges where participants come already defending a predetermined position, therefore, participants of a DEBATE are closed, and simply trying to WIN their points, rather than being open to CONSIDERING the ideas of others--in other words, really LISTENING to each other's point of view.

When we are willing to release ourselves from our points of view as something intertwined with our sense of identity, and genuinely consider all sides to an issue, we have much more capacity to learn from each other. It becomes the voluntary self-education of a community.

For whatever reason, I have never been attached to my own perspectives, and feel no need to win a debate, so my sense of identity does not feel threatened by openly considering the viewpoints of others. I am much more interested in what I learn from discussions with and between readers, and anyone that can make more sense to me more than I already make to myself can win me over whether they are conservative or liberal, Socialist, Republican, Democratic, libertarian, or whatever. I am interested in ideas, philosophies, solutions, and above all, exercising REASON-- I don't care who gets to be "right." I am happy to be "wrong" if I'm learning something new and valuable from the exchange.

You've clearly got a ton of free time to write and your faculties seem to be working just fine so I think your disabled days will soon be over and that starting your own blog is a great idea. But it takes work to build up a following, and this blog has been going for 2 1/2 years. When I had you on as an administrator on this blog it was hard to get you to post as often as once a week, and now as a reader you are posting over 40 long comments in one post. I don't get it, but then maybe it is the result of progress on your part and shows that you are ready to host your own blog. I wish you luck with it--it's a lot of hard work to do it well, but your are very prolific, so you just have to take the leap and trust that readers will come. My only advice is to not dominate conversations too much on your blog if you're trying to encourage discussion, as it often causes readers to clam up rather than engage. But then some blogs do not even have comments, and writers post simply for people to read and not comment. That is not what this blog is for--it is a forum for the readers--the "Neighbors" of Easton are every reader that posts comments, in addition to myself and whatever I post, and each post is meant to be a springboard for engagement among the people, whether I am on line a lot that day or not. I am not a liberal or conservative, simply an independent thinker, who likes engaging with other independent thinkers who are not married to their perspectives. But I also learn a lot from those who ARE married to their perspectives too--it's all good.

David Caines said...

You know it's funny, but I hadn't even given this topic much thought, before it came up. Jeanette brought it to my attention and I've just kind of gotten behind it. Talking to union friends and looking at what we are saying as a nation. And what we seem to be saying is that somehow it has become bad to expect reasonable pay, health benefits and such. It offends me, that we are it seems looking to a future where we a re leaving a nation that is in almost every way worse than how we found it.
I feel that perhaps we have the cart before the horse, that the union standard of employment benefits and rights should be what we are judging other jobs against, not something we punish people for achieving. Still, I have without a doubt dominated this discussion, and that's not really what I was trying to do.
Clearly the issue really burns me up. It's a lowering of standards issue for me and that just hits a nerve as that is without a doubt our largest national issue at the moment.
Still, I will try to keep myself a bit more reserved in the future.
Peace,
David
and yes, I am working like hell to get off of disability. So, hopefully you're right about that.

david said...

I know I'm digging a bit of a whole here, but on a personal note, this issue has woken me up a bit.
There are side effects that come with getting too comfortable with the sound of screaming and the smell of urine, feces and blood.
They call it hyper vigilance, and few know how to deal with it. It's an offshoot of PTSd, before the fire I used to meditate an hour a day, and that made a filter for it, but I haven't been able to since.
Knowing that this can lead to over reaction in the civilian world I've taken myself off of the playing field and have become somewhat housebound.
The physical stuff is simply over toxification and is sorting itself out ( not pleasant), but I felt sort of called to this issue, and speaking here is a sort of therapy. A lot of folks like myself suffer from a sort of severe isolation syndrome, as I have come to. Being here is a fight on my part to get back into the real world, to be back among my fellow citizens and peers.
So we'll see.
Sorry I couldn't be of more help early on, but I've had sometime to work on things and we'll see.
Peace,
David

david said...

Since hopefully no one is really still watching this, I can say that a lot of people like myself end in prison if we cannot find a way to self regulate. Perhaps we feel a bit more of an association with public servants than is true, but we've taken steps to alter ourselves to serve the will of the people.
Those steps can be overwhelming and seem even evil to those in whose name we have acted.
You folks taught me and thousands of others to kill, to torture, to become in a way monsters. And yet the day comes that if we live, we come home. Many enter public service knowing little else, I did in my way.
And there is almost no support. We come under laws that make no sense, we come into conflict with the police who should be our kin as we have a shared responsibility., or we are simply abandoned and die on the streets. roughly four thousand US veterans die homeless per year.
Thankfully my training and personality have led me to seek peace, but that is by no means the norm.
Prior service folks out there know to some degree what I'm talking about.
I in many ways don't have much left but a voice, not if I want to avoid problems. I'm working on that, but most of the rest of us don't seem to be. At what point does public service become stupidity?
And that point seems to me just about now. If every public servant quit their job, there'd be hell to pay, and 18 months unemployment.
Many vets, myself among them have to sue for their benefits. I stand in line at the social security office behind illegals , and multi-generationals who know the system far better than I.
What we pee away to ease our troubled souls over once having been at the top of the ladder has come to cripple us.
It seems thankfully that this threat to the heart of America is dwindling as we get the chance to think about the torches in our hands, this is an age old battle, rich vs poor. Fracking vs life, if you don't mind me saying so, it is all of a thread,, and we need to decide what we want for our future.
We need to take responsibility , to see that nationhood trumps race, culture and all of that.
If not, we get what we've chosen.
Sorry neol, just waxing poetic tonight.
Peace,
David

noel jones said...

You could probably run an interesting blog focusing on the military, veterans, police, public safety, re-entry, etc. You have a lot to say about it. And it would be interesting to link to, especially when issues involving the military and/or public safety are being hashed out in the news...it would be good to have a local veteran blogging on the regular.

And thanks for your contributions here--I meant what I said when I said you're prolific enough to have your own blog. And it's not like there's some magic number of comments that is or isn't appropriate, more that to have a balanced conversation it's good to make one's points and jump out until one has new points to make--especially when those new points have been inspired by comments and interaction with other readers. I like to hear from as many different readers as possible, and have noticed that they tend to clam up if someone is dominating the forum. Sort of like sitting back and eating popcorn while watching the fur fly, instead of jumping in themselves...

david said...

To be honest, I'm not sure how to approach all of this. Nor if I am sane enough to do so, by common standard at least. I'll even admit that I'm ghosting a bit here. I need the input of others to help me define our shared reality. I love jeanette dearly, but at times it is almost as though we are different species.
still, for those of us who struggle, an anchor is the thing. Some tie to reality, to the real world. I would love to hear outside voices, and thank you for your response. There is no such thing as a bad response, but their are stupid ones. Perhaps ignorant ones. I think it worth noting that vets are of all colors and creeds , even if we have our own private wars.
There is a need to get the pulse of the normal person. We are in our way the most minority of minorities, less than one percent of the population. 3 percent for all wars, but many have died off.
We actually don't look for much, but normalcy....but we don't really know what it is.
Any help would be a plus.
Thanks,
David

david said...

just an aside here for those who may think us a bunch of nut jobs, it's a standards issue. our standards just differ. as do our standards of response, for me it wasn't a problem before the fire. It has become one....I'm working on it.
I wonder if our standards as a people have fallen, or if I'm just off personally. Then I look at this union mess. There is something about watching a nation lose its standards that just doesn't work for me. A not so subtle road sign that says "End of the road" this way.... or "Here lies Somalia".
It's a tendency to blame others of only slightly better circumstances for our pain.
Not the warlords or in our case billionaires . But to scrap with the dogs in our own pack and rip ourselves apart because we cannot face the fear of talking about the rich.
Sorry, I have good days and bad. But at least I'm hiding this a bit.
Humans are odd animals, we follow the base standard unless taught otherwise. We used to try to do that here, ....
When standards fail, so do humans. just my experience.
anyhow,
Peace,
David