Sunday, February 20, 2011

Opinion: What is your view of the protests, counter-protests, and non-traditional political participation going on in Wisconsin?

It's been said that state Democrats and labor unions are trying to reverse the results of the November 2010 elections.

Actually, it's the outcome of a handful of 2008 races that political liberals and conservatives are now working to undo.

Several sources confirmed that Wisconsin Democrats and labor leaders are plotting recall elections for several Republican senators as soon as lawmakers push through Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan to curb collective bargaining rights and require public employees to chip in part of their salary toward their health care and pension costs.

"Those are options people are looking at," said Marty Beil, director of the largest state employees union.

Even more emphatic was Rich Abelson, executive director of AFSCME Council 48, which represents county and city employees in the Milwaukee area.

"This is not a Plan B," Abelson said Friday night. "This is going forward irrespective of how the vote turns out. Oh, yeah, we are going to make a full-court press."

On the other hand, the Citizens for Responsible Government Network has announced that it is advising groups interested in ousting two Senate Democrats who joined their colleagues in fleeing Wisconsin to prevent a vote on Walker's proposed budget repair plan.

"There's a good deal of will to replace these guys," said Chris Kliesmet, head of the conservative political group. "These guys are on the lam."

The wheels already appear to be set in motion for a recall vote in one Milwaukee-area district.
Last week, Sen. Alberta Darling, a River Hills Republican, helped shepherd Walker's budget repair bill through the Joint Finance Committee, of which she is a co-chairman. The vote stalled in the state Senate when the 14 Democrats fled the state, preventing the upper house from being able to get a quorum to meet and vote on the bill that set off massive protests at the Capitol.

Darling defeated then-Rep. Sheldon Wasserman, a Milwaukee Democrat, by a narrow margin in 2008.

Wasserman said Friday that he has been contacted by a handful of Democrats and union officials asking if he would run against Darling if she faces a recall election.

Wasserman, an OB/GYN, made it clear that he is itching to take on the veteran lawmaker. He said Darling, who has run as a moderate Republican, is already toeing Walker's "hard-core conservative" party line.

"I am interested," said Wasserman, who seriously considered running for Milwaukee County executive after Walker was elected governor in November. "She'll have a fight on her hands."
Darling said last week in an interview that she is well aware of the recall talk.

But given the state's looming $3.6 billion budget deficit, she said she is committed to supporting the first-term Republican governor's austerity measures. One of the wealthier members of the Legislature, she said she has no plans to step up her fundraising activity.

Still, Darling did acknowledge that everyone has been caught by surprise by the protests.
"This has much more intensity" than previous ones, said Darling, who has served as a lawmaker for more than 20 years. "Clearly, in terms of numbers, this is the biggest demonstration against a piece of legislation in the Capitol that I have ever seen."

In all, Democratic insiders and labor leaders have identified six Senate Republicans who may be the subject of recall elections. But the focus, so far, seems to be on Darling and Sens. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse and Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac, both of whom are from districts that are fairly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

Kapanke and Hopper left the Capitol early Friday afternoon and could not be reached for comment

Kliesmet, the CRG leader, said his group would be willing to help any lawmakers targeted for recalls because they support Walker's proposal. But the group has not yet been asked.
His group is focusing its efforts on recalling two Democrats - Sen. Jim Holperin of Eagle River and Bob Wirch of Kenosha. Holperin survived a recall effort in 1990.

For Democrats and labor officials, the clock is ticking.

Insiders say they want to make sure the recall elections are held before Republicans, who control the Assembly and Senate, redraw the boundaries for legislative districts in light of the 2010 census numbers, which are being released this month. In addition, Democrats are desperate to stop Walker from pushing through his agenda, something they could do only if they flip three Senate districts currently held by Republicans.

Walker told the Journal Sentinel he is not concerned about his proposals possibly leading to the ouster of some Republicans.

"In the end, doing the right thing is not only the right thing to do," the governor said in a Friday interview. "I think people respect doing the right thing."

State law prohibits anyone from recalling elected officials until they have held office for at least a year. That means, despite all the talk among Madison protesters, Walker cannot be the subject of a recall election for nearly another year. The same holds true for all the members of the state Assembly and half of the state senators.

One prominent Democrat told No Quarter that national labor leaders are deeply involved in planning the recall elections against Senate Republicans - even though national and local labor officials disputed this.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the presidents of dozens of national unions had pledged more than $25 million to counter efforts to scale back bargaining rights in Wisconsin and other states. In addition, Politicosaid last week that the Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America arm - the part of President Barack Obama's presidential campaign - is helping out with the Wisconsin protests.

That has Walker supporters suggesting that the rallies and recall efforts are actually intended to serve as early organizational efforts for Obama's re-election bid next year in a crucial swing state.

"I wish I was that smart," said state AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt.

Recall elections are never gimmes, despite how upset voters may be about an issue.
The last Wisconsin lawmaker to be recalled from office was then-Sen. Gary George, who was ousted in 2003 just days before he was hit with federal corruption charges. He eventually served time behind bars after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy for accepting about $270,000 in kickbacks of legal fees paid by an inner-city social service agency. Before that, then-Sen. George Petak, a Racine Republican, was bumped from office after switching his vote and supporting a regional tax to pay for the construction of Miller Park.

In a recall election, organizers have 60 days to collect signatures from enough voters to equal at least 25% of the vote cast in the 2010 governor's race in that district. If more than two candidates compete in the recall, a primary election is held about six weeks after the recall petition is certified. The top two contenders face off in a general election a month later if no one gets more than half of the vote.

"The whole process takes about 4½ months from beginning to end," said Kliesmet, whose group has assisted several communities in recall votes since 2002. "Getting signatures is easy. Winning elections is difficult."

Not surprisingly, leaders on both sides of the recall talk have begun disparaging each other's efforts.

Abelson, the Milwaukee labor leader, said CRG is made up of little more than Kliesmet and two of his friends. The group assisted voters who tried unsuccessfully to recall former Gov.Jim Doyle and ex-Sen. Jim Sullivan of Wauwatosa.

"I know they've got stationery, and they like to send things out," Abelson said. "But that rings ridiculous in the most absurd way."

But the leaders of the citizens group said voters assisted by CRG successfully recalled eight local officials last year, while Dems failed to take down Walker when he was still leading county government.

"I'll put my track record up against his any day," Kliesmet said.

Better still, the two sides will get to go head to head in the coming months if they get what they wish.

Daniel Bice can be contacted by phone at (414) 224-2135 or by e-mail at


Mr. Bretzmann said...

BTW: Any name-calling, references to Hitler or other Nazis, or anything else I determine to be abusive or libelous will be eliminated. Reasonable, rational conversations only, please.

LWundrock said...

~Before stating my opinions, I think it would be best to start by stating facts-- one of the most important of those facts to recognize being that of freedom of expression. Whether we agree with it or not, every protester, counter-protestor, and non-traditional political participant has a right to express his or her views solely by virtue of being a citizen of the United States. It isn't fair to assume an ad hominem logical fallacy against either side and attack character, but instead we should try to understand both perspectives, because regardless of the outcome, we as students will somehow be affected.~

Wisconsin looks a lot like Egypt this week! But while Arabs are fighting to end extraordinary overreach by government, Wisconsin union protesters are fighting to preserve it. At the heart of the dispute is a bold plan by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to curtail collective bargaining by most but not all of his state’s public-sector workers, including teachers. That is a long overdue reform – but the governor’s plan doesn’t go far enough! A dozen or so states do not allow collective bargaining in the public sector at all, and these states are doing just fine without it. I believe that unions are not a necessary part of the educations system, and their elimination could be beneficial.
Defined benefit pension plans are available to about four-fifths of state and local workers but just one-fifth of private workers. And public sector plans are typically about twice as generous as remaining private plans. That generosity has led to a $3 trillion funding gap in public sector pensions. That gap will create a huge burden on future taxpayers unless benefits are cut, and unions often stand in the way of such reforms.

Unions increase government costs in other ways. They often protect poorly performing workers, and they usually push for larger staffing levels than required. Unions typically discourage the use of inexpensive volunteers in government activities, and they create a more bureaucratic and inefficient workplace. Unionism seems to coincide with poor state government management. States with higher public sector union shares tend to have higher levels of government debt. And the states with higher union shares do more poorly on grading by the Pew Center regarding the quality of public sector management.

Unions certainly have free speech rights to voice their opinions about public policy. But collective bargaining gives unions the exclusive right to speak for covered workers, many of whom may disagree with the views of the monopoly union. Thus, collective bargaining is inconsistent with the right to freedom of association. In states such as Virginia, teachers and other government workers may form voluntary associations and lobby the government, which is fine. But collective bargaining, or monopoly unionism, gives a privileged position in our democracy to government insiders who focus on expanding the public sector to own their personal benefit.

Wisconsin’s proposed union reforms are on the right track. But state governments should repeal collective bargaining in the public sector altogether, following the successful policies of Virginia, North Carolina, and other states. That would give policymakers the flexibility they need to make tough budget decisions on pensions and other fiscal challenges facing their states.

RPawlow said...

After driving down to Madison just yesterday, my opinion on the matter has remained surprisingly indifferent. It was a treat to witness firsthand the protests, counter-protests, and non-traditional political participation. I marched -- or more accurately, acted as a mobile spectator -- with the liberals, ardent protesters impassioned by the unforgiving "Imperial Walker." I stood only feet from the Tea Party soapbox. Standing amongst the sinewy conservatives, I learned in all its brevity and ardor, the only option available was to "pass that bill!" So, what are my views? I still don't care.

KMatusinec said...

I think it’s interesting how much this issue affects us as students, even those who can’t yet vote. I read a column in Saturday’s paper by Mike Nichols that I think everyone in high school should read: His point to think about: If changes aren’t made now to make our debt go away, who’s going to pay for it? We are. We, who will be paying taxes and sending our own children to school in a not-so-far-away future are going to be slammed with a debt given to us by our dear previous generations. What a great inheritance that will be! I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’m definitely not looking forward to inheriting a debt I had nothing to do with creating.

Sure, one can argue the opposition; that if this bill passes college tuition will increase, UW-Madison will supposedly be removed from the UW system and we will be hit with high payments either way. (I cite this because many of us are considering attending Madison next year) But what college you attend is a choice, what taxes you pay in the future is not. (Unless you enjoy prison.)

Basically, if every group refuses to make sacrifices now, WE are going to be making them in the future. It’s just something to consider while you’re choosing sides on this issue, and other issues in the future. I, personally, can’t wait until I have to pay obscenely high taxes!

jwaltz said...

My family went to Madison yesterday to watch history in the making and my dad took videos of all the protesting and what both sides of the issue thought about what is happening in Wisconsin. The political participation is outstanding. It's amazing to see so many people voice their opinion and stand for what they see is right. I found this article and I think that it is spot on.

I applaude the protesting. Governor Walker mustn't be so hasty in his decisions. An effort of negotiating and discussion would have been more ideal and I believe that is what protestors are asking for.

GLeGros said...

This is definitely an interesting topic, one of which I believe is a touchy issue. I, personally, am split. I truthfully take no side and thus, have an impartial view on the matter. As I am planning to attend UW Madison next year. It is interesting, and upsetting to hear that tuition prices may be increasing and that "UW" Madison, may not even be in the UW school system anymore. That is one way that this is affected students in the sort run. As far as the protests are concerned, it will definitely be interesting to observe as these events in Madison progress.

EOetting hr.2 said...

I’m pretty indifferent to the whole situation, quite honestly. The magnitude of the political participation is immense and kind of inspiring. It shows American freedom at its finest: the ability to peacefully protest. But as I have watched the news these past days I can’t help but notice the two different sides and what they are there protesting. They aren’t even protesting the same things! The educators, and others against Walker, are there in protest of collective rights being taken away. The Tea Party is there saying Walker is right to pass this bill and all the teachers care about are money. I think if they are spending their time protesting they should at least be arguing over the same issue. How can you yell at someone for only wanting money when they’re there to keep their collective bargaining right? Just seems a little ridiculous to me.

I do, however, agree that spending needs to be cut, and it seems many teachers would agree, so why can’t they keep their collective bargaining? It seems like a fair compromise. I also find Walker’s unwillingness to budge on the issue is childish. Spending could be cut on things like national defense. Or even taxes could be raised a little higher. I am aware that it will take states efforts as well, but if the federal government can’t do it, how can they expect the states to do so? And like Kate said, we all are thrilled to pay high taxes when we grow up, it has always been a dream of mine.

CAbbey said...

Christian thinks that all the demonstrations are immature and narrow minded. Public workers have considerably better pay and benefits than the private sector equivalent. Christian thinks it's selfish for the people to be making such a big deal ove something that will be helping out state and country. Christian hopes it passes for the sake of everyone, and Christian thinks every teacher that called in sick that has no proof of being sick, and went to Madison and abandoned their jobs that they "care so much about" should lose their jobs.

CAbbey said...

Christian thinks that all the demonstrations are immature and narrow minded. Public workers have considerably better pay and benefits than the private sector equivalent. Christian thinks it's selfish for the people to be making such a big deal ove something that will be helping out state and country. Christian hopes it passes for the sake of everyone, and Christian thinks every teacher that called in sick that has no proof of being sick, and went to Madison and abandoned their jobs that they "care so much about" should lose their jobs.

nklinka said...

Alright, my theory is as follows:
I have decided that the protesting by both sides is very logical given the situation they are in. The Republican level of protest is less than the Democratic level simply because the bill is going to pass and thus there is little need for conservative support to be vocal. The behavior by the liberals is necessary to give even a chance of this bill being reconsidered. A large following in a public setting, along with the Democratic senators leaving the state, give the opportunity for conversations to occur between both sides. This is all the Democrats can do in order to give themselves an opportunity to compromise.
As for my opinion, I feel the conservative viewpoint makes more sense. The public sector is too protected by unions. Plus, the union does not have the individual worker in mind, instead it fights for the workers as a whole. Many individual workers could negotiate better contracts on their own, and additionally the workers would not have the job security that is uncanny and unwarranted. With this protection eliminated, the state will be able to improve its educational system, as well as other public areas, ensuring the best quality workers are in place to get the job done correctly. Unions have been a necessary evil in the past, but now their need has run out.

nklinka said...
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JVarsos said...

I believe that the protests presented by both sides are equally logical and necessary. Because of the large Republican representation in legislature, Democrats have to utilize some sort of protest in order to get their voice heard and impede the bill from passing through without negotiation. I believe that as far as the bill is concerned, there should be some further negotiation. I am currently in the opinion that unions do provide some positive aspects to the work place, such as negotiating conditions and wages, but have gone too far in ensuring the longevity of the workers regardless of the level of quality. If this were to be negotiated, I believe the bill would have a much more positive effect in Wisconsin.

AHanna said...
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AHanna said...

The political participation in Madison is truly astounding. When viewing the news in the past, I have often seen fiery protests in larger states such as California, so it is interesting to watch it engage here in our own state of Wisconsin. Now here's what I think of each side in this argument..

The Protesters:
It makes sense that the protestors are protesting. Legislation against unions like this has never really been passed before. You cannot blame public workers for being upset. HOWEVER, I see the protests reaching the point where some people are there to protest for the sake of protesting. The logic only goes so far. When the protestors speak of their rights being taken away, it sort of perplexes me. As we have stated in our AP Government class, rights are something that the government must provide to the people (liberties must not be taken away or violated). Nowhere in the United States Constitution and its 27 Amendments is there an enumerated or implied right to collective bargaining. Therefore, I see no "rights" being taken away from the public workers. It is simply Governor Walker and the state Republicans taking the initiative to effectively balance our state budget.

The Counter-Protesters:
This conservative side certainly has my support as does Governor Walker and the state legislators supporting this bill. And it is not because of my conservative tendencies, but rather a sense of logic. I like the point that Kate brings up about this being our future. If we don't focus on the budget and the economy now, when will we? We can't keep spending money we don't have for years to come. Now is the time to fix this. Because of the Budget Repair Bill here in Wisconsin, many other states are following the trend by proposing such legislation. The 2010 elections signified something special: a call to our representatives to bring our nation and state to financial stability. The elections were not about a culture war or anything else; they were about money. Now is the time for this to happen. We all must take cuts if we are ever to move forward.

And look at that.. "forward." That is our state motto after all...

Zyork said...

Well this has probably been the most exciting thing politically that I have ever witnessed. The political consequences from whatever ends up happening to this bill will affect us for a very long time. I personally believe that there is merit with both sides. This is not a clear cut issue. On one hand, we could work towards cutting the deficit and on the other, we are hurting many people who depend on the benefits for their livelihood. I can see the logic of both sides; however, I would side with the Democrats on this issue. This whole thing seems to go against the key message from President Obama's State of the Union address which called for better educators. By cutting benefits and collective bargaining powers, Walker has made it less desirable to be a teacher. I agree with President Obama that having better teachers is probably the most important thing our country needs. Although cutting the collective bargaining powers can, in a way, get rid of poor teachers, it does not help with getting better ones. What is going to make the intelligent students want to be a teacher now?

sscheidt said...

Like many of the other students who have posted before me, I respect the arguments of both sides on this issue. However, I find it difficult to fully understand the future repercussions of this budget bill. Will the effects be as dramatic as people believe they will? And will the removal of collective bargaining rights create a stronger education system by eliminating unproductive teachers, or will it dissuade brilliant minds from becoming educators? Eduacation is one of the things that we as a society value most highly, so I think it will be interesting to see both the long- and short-term effects of this bill if it is to be passed. As to whether or not it SHOULD be, it is hard to say at this point. One thing that people should keep in mind (when discussing the bill's effect on education) is that university tuition, at UW-Madison for example, is bound to rise annually regardless of the implementation of this budget bill. Perhaps the hike will be a bit greater than usual, but the prices will keep rising either way.
When it comes to the protesting, I am extremely impressed with the residents of Wisconsin. The heated debate over this bill was exacerbated by the compacted timeline that Walker proposed for it, and it amazes me to see the crowds of PEACEFUL protesters gathered at the Capitol. Although many people are extremely passionate about this issue, no major violence has broken out in Madison. Whether or not each person supports the bill, they are all exercising one of the most basic means to effect a change in the government, and they are doing it without violence. In the wake of the tragic shooting of Gabby Giffords, I think peaceful and legal protest of government is something we can all applaud, regardless of our stance on the issue.

M. Francis said...

We need to be able to enhance our education system.

This bill would help to eliminate bad teachers. The bad teachers (and we as students know who they are) are holding us back. As in any good business, the company would fire any unproductive and ineffective workers and hire ones that enhance the quality of the business. I hear of many teachers who are affraid of their job security after this bill is passed, for the bad ones I would agree, but any good business would not eliminate good employees! I believe that our education system should be run more like a business, with capable and effective employees.

I understand why the protests continue, but I strongly disagree with the teachers who have chosen to lie and leave during school hours.

I am dissapointed in the teachers who have lied, and called in "sick" for the past couple of days. It is unprofessional, ineffective, and unproductive. WE, the students, suffer for these actions. I am curious to see what the consequences will be and I hope that they are severe for those who have lied and recieved fake medical notes. This act of selfishness is not a positve message for your students and I have personally thanked my teachers for placing their job as an educator above protesting during school hours.

I do not like the process of how this bill was brought up to be passed. It was too sudden. There was little to no debate and that is not how democracy works. But then again, Obama did the same thing when he passed the health care bill a short while ago. The democrats won their elections 2 years ago and hastily pushed past their agenda. There was little to no complaint about that by the media. This year, the GOP won the elections so they hope to do the exact same thing: push their agenda.

One final point about the protestors themselves. During the Obamacare protests, the Tea Party were labeled as "racists." They chanted "kill the bill" and were labeled as "dangerous" by the media. The media clearly a double standard because the protestors in Madison held similar signs (those relating to an imperialistic government and obscene name calling) and chanted "kill the bill." Yet, the media has labeled them as "peaceful" and "patriotic." I am not against the protests, but the media has clearly taken a side and supported the protests. I believe that we, as students, should support this bill because WE are the ones that will be paying for it in the future.

dboyce said...

People have the right to protest. It is just another one of those things that makes America exceptional. However, the protests should relate to the issue at hand and not get out of hand. (name-calling, Hitler references, abuses, and other things mentioned by Mr. Bretzmann). Protestors and counter protestors have a right to go out and voice their opinions regarding the budget bill.

Casey said...

Well, I was there on saturday. I am against the bill. Being part of the protest was amazing. No matter what the woman who yelled at me says, this is what democracy looks like. This is our constitutional right to protest in this way. People who believe it is immature should also believe that it is immature for Walker to say no to any type of compromise. I believe this is a great way for people to express their beliefs in a matter to show the world. Wisconsin is setting a magnificent precedent.

moconnor said...

A lot of the protest that is going on seems to be good old American protesting with Wisconsinites flowing into Madison to voice their opinion. A good portion of these people also seem to be protesting in a logical way with good evidence to support their opinion. However, the protesters and the counter-protesters that are using Hitler references and other extreme ways of protesting to voice their opinion are a disgrace to the state. History is being made right now and I am pleased to see the large amount of political participation that has been occurring recently. However, irrational comments that lack any political common sense are humiliating to the state of Wisconsin no matter what side of the debate they come from.

cziolkowski said...

This is one issue that actully payed a fair amount of attention to. I really like to hear peoples opinion because it is happening so close to us and it has a direct connection to all students. I think protesting is okay for people to do, but I really do not think it really makes much of a difference. It is extremely hard to change a persons mind on an issue when they have already made a decision on it. In my opinion I really do feel that puplic workers should pay more of their health care because the percentage the puplic worker pay is lower than the national average. Overal this is a very interesting topic and I think the state is doing this to save money and not because they hate teachers.

twerner said...

I believe that everyone has the right to protest, so I support the rallies and protests taking place in Madison. I am against Walker's bill because of the effects it will have on many people and institutions. For example,the tuition prices at UW-Madison will increase if it pulls away from the UW school system. My sister currently goes to this university and I would like to go there next year, which will be hard on my family. If I wasn't so busy I would've gone to the capitol like my sister did and joined in the protests (and probably would've held a pretty awesome sign).

Hillary said...

In the prior week it has been truly eye opening to see all the people who have become politically active. While I do agree with the right to protest and the right of free speech stated in the first Amendment, I also believe that Governor Walkers bill will help move Wisconsin forward. I do not believe that anyone is criticizing the hard work that the public employees, such as teachers do. However, the state has been spending more money than it has, so it is necessary to control health care and retirement costs. Whether or not we all agree on this issue it is great to see society standing up for what they believe in.

ckruesel said...

I believe people have the right to protest whether they are for or against the proposed budget bill. However, teachers should not be “skipping” school because it’s unprofessional and also very hypocritical. If teachers want to protest, fine, but they should do so on their weekends, especially if they are UW Madison professors. The UW Madison students pay extremely high tuition and they are being cheated out of their education at the moment. As for the Democratic Senators, they should return to the capitol. Scott Walker was voted into office because he promised to change Wisconsin’s economy. Now he is doing so and there’s a huge uproar. If we’re going to fix the economy, we have to be prepared make sacrifices. The Democrats need to return because even if there are 70,000 protesters in Madison, 1,128,159 people voted Scott Walker into office and these people want to see economic change.

nspoerk said...

First of all, I would like to refute a couple of the points made in previous posts, just to get the facts straight.

1. "Wisconsin union protesters are fighting to preserve [overreach by government]" (LWundrock). Actually, this bill allows the Governor to appoint an official that can, in essence, arbitrarily terminate the employment of public employees. Among the potential justifications for firing the employee is “concerted activities to interrupt the operations or services of state government." (Exact wording from the bill.) Essientally, protesters of governmental actions can be fired on the sole premise that they are exercising their right to protest against Walker's bill. Sounds like an "overreach of government" to me.

2. "A dozen or so states do not allow collective bargaining in the public sector at all, and these states are doing just fine without it" (LWundrock). First of all, the number is not a dozen, but five. And as for doing fine, let's consider the "successful policies of Virginia, North Carolina, and other states" (LWundrock). They rank 50th, 49th, 48th, 47th, and 44th in the country in terms of average ACT scores. I wouldn’t call that successful policy by any interpretation of the phrase. Currently, Wisconsin is 2nd. The likely reasoning for this is that "[a]lthough cutting the collective bargaining powers can, in a way, get rid of poor teachers, it does not help with getting better ones. What is going to make the intelligent students want to be a teacher now?" (Zyork).

Sure, there are other measures of academic competence other than ACT scores, but comparison of comprehensive standardized tests is one of the most accurate measures. This is too strong of a correlation to ignore, regardless of whether or not it invalidates your view of the issue.

3. "Nowhere in the United States Constitution and its 27 Amendments is there an enumerated or implied right to collective bargaining. Therefore, I see no "rights" being taken away from the public workers" (AHanna). True. However, the right to collectively bargain was given to public sector workers (specifically teachers) in an agreement that exchanged the right to collectively bargain for the right to collectively strike. You can be against the teachers for striking and concede their right to bargain, or you can be against the teachers' right to bargain band concede their right to strike. You can't, however, have your cake and eat it too. They get one or the other.

4. "I’m definitely not looking forward to inheriting a debt I had nothing to do with creating" (KMatusinec). Yeah, neither are teachers. It's not their fault the Democrats of the last eleven years have had the fiscal irresponsibility to goof up a balanced budget. I mean really, how hard is it to stay out of debt when you're required by law to adhere to a balanced budget?

(See next post)

nspoerk said...


5. "Christian thinks it's selfish for the people to be making such a big deal ove[r] something that will be helping out state and country" (CAbbey). (This comment is reagrding the pay cuts and loss of some benefits.) I agree that it's selfish, even if all of us humans have that same selfishness of wanting more money. However, that is not the issue. Teachers' groups have agreed to concede their monetary losses. The main issue they cite is the loss of the right to collectively bargain.

6. "puplic workers should pay more of their health care because the percentage the puplic worker pay is lower than the national average" (cziolkowski). Definitely true. However, through their bargaining, teachers often elect to take a significantly lower salary in return for these health benefits. It's a trade off. Instead of earning more money that they can then use to buy their own insurance like is done in many private-sector cases, teachers' organizations have, for the most part, negotiated to substitute benefits for salary. It's not that they're getting more benefits and coming out ahead of private-sector employees, they're just getting their benefits in a different way.

However, I don't want to leave the impression I am blindly advocating unions, teachers' benefits, and all the other things on that side of the issue. Here are some points I agree with:

1. "I am currently in the opinion that unions do provide some positive aspects to the work place, such as negotiating conditions and wages, but have gone too far in ensuring the longevity of the workers regardless of the level of quality" (JVarsos). Entirely true in my opinion. There are bad teachers and teacher unions shouldn't stick up for them on the sole basis that they are a member of a union, just as I would expect a malpracticing lawyer to face punishment regardless of whether or not he/she is protected by a union

2. "We can't keep spending money we don't have for years to come" (AHanna). I am also completely with this point. However, I believe that education is too valuable to account for so much of the budget cuts. I would like to see some restrictions on extraneous projects that at least match the cuts on our schools.

For those of you whose posts I have argued, sorry if I've offended you. My point is just that, as Mr. Bretzmann says, "You're welcome to your own opinions, but not your own facts." In this debate, it seems like there is a lot of misinformation going around about the situation and not many people (on either side) are bothering to question the rumors. Before you throw a fact around, check to see if it's actually fact.

KSASS said...

When I first went to Madison to witness both sides of the debate rallying and marching, I was stunned by the high level of civility and peace. Even though some might feel like they are headed towards tough times, I did not see anyone breakdown or fight. There will always be a supporting side to match a group who disapproves of a bill. I'm sympathetic to both sides of the issue, as many of my relatives and family friends work in the public sector. Though this is an extremely controversial move by Governor Walker, it will have negative effects, but it also will have positive ones, and so I do support his effort to reduce spending. The future looks bleak in a state of debt and confusion if we do not do something now. I look at debt like a cancer--if you stop it early, it's easy to continue on. However, if you let cancer metastasize or debt grow, it's hard to survive.

Blake Kraussel hr. 2 said...

I think that it is great to see our state so involved in politics. It will be interesting to see what comes of it. I am pro-walker. I believe he is doing the right thing. No one will be 100 percent happy with what a governor does. The democrat's will have to deal with the consequences of a Republican Office. Go Walker!!!

DWayer said...

Like others have posted before me, I too am not really taking a side to this issue as I am split on whether the positives outweigh the negatives in passing the bill (which will get passed anyway). At a time when I have really taken interest in politics, it is very enlightening to be able to witness such strong support for a political cause. After two weeks of protesting numbers peaked yesterday to higher than the previous week. People from New York and Los Angeles have been coming in for the past week. It is very inspiring to see that this many people are fighting for what they believe in for so long. The only thing I wish to see in the upcoming week is for one Democratic Senator to return. At this point, Governor Walker has made it clear that he is unwilling to budge and the absent Senators are only delaying the inevitable.

nwalters said...

I think that what the teacher protestors are doing is wrong. I am all for the right to express ones views but to call in sick when you are not sick is wrong. Well that is just my opinion. I am happy to see that there are some counter-protestors but not a crazy amount. When I was in Madison I saw maybe 2,500 to 5,000 counter-protestors in a group. I am glad that the counter-protestors aren't leaving their jobs to express their views. I respect both sides and am glad that we live in a country that would allow this type of political participation.

rrantala said...

I am glad that we live in a country where people are able to protest and speak their mind, but in this case I don't think it was right when teachers were calling in sick and missing work to voice there opinion. I'm also glad to see that there were supporters from both sides at the capital. I don't agree with what the teachers did, but I respect the views and opinions of both sides.

J.Sardina said...

I am very excited to say that this Saturday I found the opportunity to visit Madison and experience the protests first-hand. While the protests were not at their height, there were still hundreds of people demonstrating their opinions in opposition to the bill. The experience was not only educational, but incredibly powerful. As I slithered my way through the people and entered the center of the rotunda, I was overwhelmed with the sight of young people, covered in tie-dye and banging on drums. While I walked the building and observed the walls plastered with home-made posters (some rather outrageous), I was overwhelmed with a scene that I only pictured in text books. It was truly a surreal experience.
However, while I found the protests to be incredibly compelling, I couldn't help but question the serious dedication of some of the protesters. Many of the most spirited protesters seemed to be more concerned with the experience of protesting, rather than the reason for the protest. While this may be merely a judgement, I believe that many were liberal college kids who found excitement in chanting, banging on drums, and singing "We Shall Overcome". I understand that I may be wrong, but I think that the extent of the protest has been heightened by kids who want to be "hippies" like they've seen from movies. While there were many people who had legitimate political opinion and concern, I doubt the credibility of the tie-dyed, sarong wearing hipsters who continually Walker-bashed and spoke nothing about the actual content of the bill.

bradysims said...

This is a very exciting interesting thing thats going on in our state right now, and the whole country is hearing about it! I do appreciate the fact that the people are actually using their freedom to the right to protest, but i feel that they just need to stop being babies now. its getting kind of ridiculous. This is the whole reason we voted Walker into office to begin with! i respect counter-protests and the non-traditional political participation going on in the state no doubt about it though. I am excited to see what comes of everything.
P.S. I cant believe the commercials on the radio for the side thats against Walker, they sound like political campaign commercials all over again!!

bradysims said...

This is a very exciting interesting thing thats going on in our state right now, and the whole country is hearing about it! I do appreciate the fact that the people are actually using their freedom to the right to protest, but i feel that they just need to stop being babies now. its getting kind of ridiculous. This is the whole reason we voted Walker into office to begin with! i respect counter-protests and the non-traditional political participation going on in the state no doubt about it though. I am excited to see what comes of everything.
P.S. I cant believe the commercials on the radio for the side thats against Walker, they sound like political campaign commercials all over again!!

JBerlyn said...

I believe that the protests and counter-protests are necessary in maintaining a peaceful democracy in Wisconsin. It demonstrates the influence that citizens can have on government actions. The protesters are hopefully inspiring others to join them rather than being complacent members of society, which would simply allow the government to manipulate everyone. As long as the protesters remain peaceful and logical in their efforts, they can be just as influential as the lawmakers.

I believe many people are only focusing on a few aspects of the budget repair bill and choosing a side based on party affiliation. I highly encourage people to look at the bill as a whole and attempt to understand the situation. After reading through all the previous posts and spending a lot of time researching the bill and possible outcomes, I feel much more confident in my own beliefs, and have a better understanding of the protests.

Lastly, I am impressed with Spoerk's post. His ability to help others understand their facts and his own analysis of the budget repair bill shows that he has spent time learning about the situation. I truly hope others read through all the posts, especially his post, because understanding everything about this bill is the only way to wholeheartedly choose a side, whatever side that may be.

nspoerk said...
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nspoerk said...
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Rjohnson-evers said...

I think that all of the participation is great for our state. It is a crucial part of democracy for the people's voice to be heard and their opinions know. And even though both sides are passionately stating their case, it is impressive that the protests in Madison were completely peaceful. Some aspects, however, are not so civil. I wish that when politicians, activists, and people with strong opinions would make claims, refute the other side respectfully, and respect everyone. Too often people resort to attacking others, and make points that they themselves would not adhere to. For example, Democrats attack Republicans for trying to push legislature through, even though they would do the same if the positions were reversed. All in all, despite occasional attacks and general lack of civility, the protests and participation is good.

Blake Kraussel hr. 2 said...

Wow! what an ending to all this! Well, actually not an ending. The Wisconisn supreme court will ahve to rule on weather the meeting the Republicans called was constitutional. I have a feeling that the court will rule in constitutional. I also have a feeling that protesting will not die down for a few months, the issue is to hot.

Kurt said...
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GLeGros said...

The fact that the judge in Madison is delaying the proposed collective bargaining bill is incredibly interesting. This time delay gives many districts an opportunity to renegotiate contracts before the ban on collective bargaining takes place. This is an interesting and also ill advised course of action taken by these districts in my opinion because whether or not collective bargaining is currently in effect, budgets for the communities/districts will still be cut. This is just harming the districts further by allowing public workers to gouge even more funds out of the budget.

Chris DeWinter said...

I feel that the people of Wisconsin have a right to protest and counter-protest under the first amendment to the Constitution. But I believe it is wrong for protesters to become violent or destroy the capital building. I also feel it is wrong to protest the homes of representatives and government officials. People need to show respect while protesting because destroying things or becoming violent is counter productive.

Natalie Sobierajski said...

I think the participation of the citizens was a bit inspiring. Many citizens felt that they had the power to make a difference. Some protesters may have taken the idea too far; however, as a whole the group should not be looked down upon with scorn. Protesting is one of our rights, and I like seeing people exercise their rights.

Peyton Tebon said...

After the tensions have calmed and the act has been passed, the protests that took place in Madison were a perfect example of the civil rights U.S citizens have. Regardless of the debate, protests like those truly show the great power of the people in the government and shows that the freedom of peaceful protest is more than just an empty statement on a 200 year old piece of paper. Even though this issue has been put behind us, the idea that citizens of America can fight for what they believe through voting or camping outside of the capital with thousands of other protesters shows the true strength of the US Constitution.