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Anthology of Interest 2011, Part III

Friday, 25. February 2011 13:57

Lot’s of interesting things going on in the world. The Chinese have a saying, “may you live in interesting times.” It’s not something you say to people you wish well of. ;)

Labor Rally in the Rotunda

In Wisconsin labor battle news, the Wisconsin state assembly voted to pass Walker’s budget, which includes the elimination of some collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions. It passed 51-17. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin state senate Democratic delegation is still AWOL somewhere in Illinois and defiant.

The labor battle that started in Wisconsin has spread to a number of other Western and Midwestern states. Indiana, Iowa and Ohio are now in the mix, both Indiana and Ohio with newly elected Republican Governors and recently formed Republican majorities in the state legislatures. While the protests have been fairly large and raucous, and sometimes nasty and violent, including a mass rally in Wisconsin’s state house rotunda, public opinion polling indicates the public is fairly divided on labor unions.

On the current labor unrest, there is a mixed bag in the polling world. A majority of the American public, 67%, are opposed to the “fleebagging” of the Wisconsin and Indiana Democrat state legislative delegations, and supportive of Governor Walker in Wisconsin, there is majority opposition to the elimination of collective bargaining rights for public unions, though I wonder how many Americans understand the distinction between public and private unions and how that impacts the budget. Still, numbers like that should give the GOP pause. However, there’s no question that support for labor unions has been in a free fall over the past twenty years, and that certainly has implications for the current battle.

Clearly both sides see a political opportunity here, as both Obama and Speaker Boehner have spoken out on the issue. The stakes are high, as Democrats depend on unions for their GOTV (get-out-the-vote) operations.

As far as the ideological debate goes, some have gone so far as to call for a banning of public unions, reversing JFK’s executive order from 50 years prior. Krauthhammer, concuring with Goldberg, sees this as a moment of blinding clarity. Krugman thinks its a crass partisan power grab. Others suggest it is hypocritical to focus on union influence in politics when wealthy entreprenuers such as David Koch can get a 20 minute conversation with Governor Walker…well, at least that’s who the caller claimed to be. Still, is the fact that a rich GOP doner can get Walker on the phone actual influence? We’ll talk about the difference between access and influence when we get to interest groups in section 3.

In a bit of older news, did Thucydides, the reputed Father of Realism, hate Realists?

Wither Libya? And is Saudia Arabia next?

$5.00 a gallon gasoline by 2012? Ho boy. Oil is approaching $120 a barrel. There’s no question the Mideast unrest is having a substantial effect on oil prices, but don’t underestimate the effect of Obama’s moratorium on Gulf oil drilling. Remember, candidate Obama was perfectly OK with increased eneregy prices if that’s what it took to reduce cabron emissions, and his Cap & Trade policy undoubtedly would have sent gas prices up had it been enacted.

Are we headed towards a government shut down? If so, who will be to blame? Republicans have urged Democrats to accept a $4 billion cut, but if they don’t the government may shut down. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all. York believes the GOP shouldn’t fear a government shutdown. There are some indications Democrats are moving in the GOP direction, as reports indicate they are drafting their own proposal for cuts. I think alot of the “well, the GOP got blamed in the wake of the Gingrich / Clinton shutdown, so they’d be blamed this time” meme is fairly unconvincing. Not only is this a different electorate, 15 years later, but it is also a very different setting. The Gingrich / Clinton shutdown happened when 1) the GOP controlled both Houses in Congress, 2) the economy was booming and 3) Clinton had failed to pass health-care. None of that is true today. I don’t know who the public would blame for a government shutdown, and I’m not even sure they would be that upset about it. Certainly there is some polling that suggests that the public wants to see significant cuts in the budget.

Is Obama’s decision to not have the Justice Department defend DOMA in court a violation of his oath?

Five personality flaws that science will cure in our lifetime.

87% of movies would be better with Micahel Keaton in them? I certainly liked Batman. Multiplicity…eh, not so much.

What political and social lessons are there in The Forbidden Planet?

Shew! That’s a lot going on! Tune in next time for the ANTHOLOGY of INTEREST!!!!!

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