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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/10/11

I Am Coming Out of the Closet

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As a human being, as an American, not as a conservative or a liberal, do I want any part of this? The answer is quite clear, hell no.

It would appear that our corporate-owned news media has not been exactly forthcoming on the Wisconsin, Walker-generated, "crisis."

The media coverage concerning the crisis involving Wisconsin state employee's fight over collective bargaining is deeply flawed, according to David Cay Johnston, a former journalist for the L.A. Times and the N.Y. Times. He writes, "Economic nonsense is being reported as fact in most of the news reports on the Wisconsin dispute, the product of a breakdown of skepticism among journalists multiplied by their lack of understanding of basic economic principles."

Johnston continues, "Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to "contribute more' to their pension and health insurance plans. Accepting Gov. Walker' s assertions as fact, and failing to check, created the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not." He adds rather significantly, out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

Johnston goes on to explain, "How can that be? Because the "contributions' consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages -- as pensions when they retire -- rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan." He also points out a key phrase in these agreements, "The Employer shall contribute on behalf of the employee," showing that that this is just a divvying up the total compensation package, so much for cash wages, so much for paid vacations, so much for retirement, etc.

Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers, states, "From state legislatures to Congress to tea party rallies, a vocal backlash is rising against what are perceived as too-generous retirement benefits for state and local government workers. However, that widespread perception doesn't match reality. A close look at state and local pension plans across the nation, and a comparison of them to those in the private sector, reveals a more complicated story. However, the short answer is that there's simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim." Hall concludes, "Pension contributions from state and local employers aren't blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College puts the figure a bit higher at 3.8 percent."

State employees are people, too. Some of them are entrusted with teaching America's kids. When, exactly, did teachers become the enemy? The vast majority are strongly dedicated to their profession, passionately so, and all they want to do is teach children. Is that so wrong?

Having had my fill with Walker, let us move almost directly south to Missouri to another example of the emerging GOP leadership. Jane Cunningham is a Missouri state senator who represents the 7th District, and she is in a position of leadership within that state. Cunningham is the author of SB222.

The reader is about to learn of the most incredulous bill I have ever heard of in my lifetime, so brace yourself and take a deep breath. SB222 "modifies" the child labor laws. The summary of this bill has to be read to be believed. Even then it is beyond credulity. The summary states, " This act modifies the child labor laws. It eliminates the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen. Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed. It also repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed. Children under sixteen will also be allowed to work in any capacity in a motel, resort or hotel where sleeping accommodations are furnished. It also removes the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ. It also repeals the presumption that the presence of a child in a workplace is evidence of employment . " Please reference:

I have no idea of the status of this bill in Missouri, but that is not the point. The point is that a supposedly responsible GOP state senator would even contemplate such a bill.

I get the distinct impression that the new GOP leadership, burdened by its affiliation with the nonplus tea party, wishes to drag us back to the 19th Century.

If the GOP has its way gone will be the era of prosperity that began shortly after WWII and lasted for 60 years. Corporations, after years of dominance and cheap labor, finally figured out that the market for goods was highly limited. They finally figured out that prosperity for their employees meant prosperity for all. The middle class expanded exponentially along with suburbia. Hourly and salaried workers began buying homes, furniture, appliances, cars, and so on. There was even some left over for vacations and tourism literally took off. America rapidly became the largest economy on the planet, and American corporations became gargantuan in terms of size and wealth. Now it appears the GOP wants to turn back the clock to the forlorn era of the late 19th Century.

I can only add this to my departing GOP friends. Be careful what you wish for.        





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Sandy Shanks Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am the author of two novels, "The Bode Testament" and "Impeachment." I am also a columnist who keeps a wary eye on other columnists and the failures of the MSM (mainstream media). I was born in Minnesota, and, to this day, I love the Vikings (more...)
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