Time and time again, the collectivist left in America chooses hyperbole when championing their economy-killing objectives. Most recently, as in the case of the socialist union (yes, they were created by socialists and Marxists) protests in Wisconsin, you see many signs being wielded by the neo-Marxist rubes stating, “Hitler banned unions”. The purpose of this urban legend-styled disinformation, of course, is a weak attempt to paint Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a Nazi, even though the Nazi’s were national socialists who subscribed to most of the tenets of modern American leftists.
What are the roots of this “Hitler banned unions” urban legend? We have to understand what was going on in Germany at the time. Any economist will tell you, prior to Hitler’s rise to power, that the Weimar Republic struggled under severe hyperinflation. The Weimar’s hyperinflation is required study for every college student wishing to become an economist. What is hyperinflation? Webster’s defines inflation as, “a continuing rise in the general price level usually attributed to an increase in the volume of money and credit relative to available goods and services”, and defines hyperinflation as, “inflation growing at a very high rate in a very short time”.
When Hitler came to power, he moved to correct this hyperinflation while keeping his national socialist views front and center. In 1933, the Nazis disbanded the Weimar unions and replaced them with the new and improved union, the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF), which was comprised of 2 primary entities, the National Socialist Factory Organization and the National Socialist Trade and Industry Organization. The labor contracts that were Weimar contracts were now DAF-honored contracts. The Nazi’s funded the DAF’s coffers with the Weimar unions’ stockpile of wealth (the existing unions were part of that inflation problem). One of the new unions’ most popular programs was the Strength through Joy (Kraft durch Freude, KdF)) program, which developed the KdF-wagen, that later became the Volkswagen, or People’s Car.
The primary goal of Germany’s national socialists was to “create a classless” society. Hitler’s unions were central in this cause. In fact, Hitler gave the unions their long-awaited demand, one that the Weimar unions were never able to pull off, a National Labor Day, May 1, 1933.
“Bless now our fight for our freedom; the fight we wage for our German people and Fatherland.” – Adolf Hitler’s speech, May Day 1933
The Nazi unions even had this nifty little logo.
And here’s Hitler’s own words from his book, Mein Kampf:
I think that I have already answered the first question adequately. In the present state of affairs I am convinced that we cannot possibly dispense with the trades unions. On the contrary, they are among the most important institutions in the economic life of the nation. Not only are they important in the sphere of social policy but also, and even more so, in the national political sphere. For when the great masses of a nation see their vital needs satisfied through a just trade unionist movement the stamina of the whole nation in its struggle for existence will be enormously reinforced thereby.
Before everything else, the trades unions are necessary as building stones for the future economic parliament, which will be made up of chambers representing the various professions and occupations.
Yet another leftist urban myth busted!
While Wisconsin teachers throwing their own Greek styled socialist hissy fit is both telling and troubling, it also serves as a microcosm of various economic challenges, political battles and societal shifts all taking place simultaneously.
What to say about those lovable teachers and union drones protesting in Wisconsin? I must admit, I consider it bizarre that people believe they have a right to a pension and benefits to begin with, or even a job for that matter. Stranger still, the striking teachers in Wisconsin seem to believe that they have the right to extract it from tax-payers, regardless of whether or not the state has enough money to go around.
But the teachers’ egregious behavior went beyond refusing to show-up for work. Some took it upon themselves to infect young impressionable minds with their destructive (progressive) attitudes, dragging students along to their protests.
About now, I’m trying to imagine the position of the average hard working middle-class family in Wisconsin who just voted some grown-ups into office to instill some necessary fiscal discipline into state matters. Working in the private-sector, they probably pay twice as much as state workers do for benefits and receive less.
With teachers and school officials shutting-down the schools in protest, these tax-paying parents now find themselves having to take-off work to be home with a child who should be at school.
In sum, these teachers have provided a perfect example of why public employees should not be unionized. At the end of the day, tax-payers are effectively being held hostage by those intended to serve them.
It requires no more than basic math skills to understand the economic equations here. One only need take a cursory glance at American History to see that it was an independent spirit, not a dependent one, that built this greatest of nations. From Wisconsin, a look across the lake to neighboring Michigan clearly illustrates where union dominance inevitably leads.
Yet, these simple lessons are beyond the people hired to teach the young throughout an entire state, saying a great deal about the misguided priorities of today’s public education system. It also raises larger questions. Such as – Just when did we as Americans come to believe that others owe us that which we are not willing to provide for ourselves?
As we look across our nation, the fiscal state of government at all levels tells us that we have more government than we can afford. What’s going on in Wisconsin is just one indication of very real economic challenges confronting America. Taxpayers are increasingly realizing that government must spend responsibly and they’re putting people in office who will effectively deal with these issues. To delay is to only magnify the scope of sacrifice that ultimately must be made.
For teachers or any other public-sector employees who genuinely deserve what they believe they have a right to, they would do well to go and seek it out. No one else chose their profession or made career choices for them. There is a free-market out there. If you can find a better deal for what you have to offer, more power to you. You do have the right to pursue it.
With utter disregard, the reactionary liberal retort to dealing with fiscal reality continues to decry “tax cuts” for the “ultra wealthy”. Look around the blogosphere and news comment sections; they are infested with angry protestations that are long on emotion and short on validity.
For those who are determined to punish whoever they imagine is “wealthy”, they should examine the harsh realities taking place in like states like Michigan, California and New York where productive citizens and business owners are escaping in droves.
In short, the party is over and it’s time to tighten the belt.
Tea Party Reinforcements
As is typical, unions working in conjunction with leftist activist groups such as Organizing for America, (formerly Organizing for Obama…ahem!) directed the anti-Walker protest efforts in Wisconsin, complete with comrades bused in from out-of state.
Interestingly, the crowds were reported from 40,000 – 60,000. Surprise, surprise – Big Media is into projecting crowd sizes again, as opposed to the generic “thousands gathered” phraseology reserved for Tea Party events.
What has changed is mobilization on the Right. Conservatives intend to stay engaged, a recent shift that is not going away. Finally, by Saturday a smaller counter-effort was mounted by “Tea Party” groups, intruding upon the sacred protest ground that the Left formerly solely maintained. Though the Right also bused people into the state, it is worthy to note that conservatives muster volunteer troops, unlike their counterparts on the Left.
Teachers and Doctors – Honorable Professions?
We would like to believe that teachers and doctors are honorable individuals who have responded to a higher calling, guided by a desire to help others and care for their fellow man. While chances are likely that this holds true in most instances, let us not assume that it does for every professional.
In Wisconsin, a place known for its progressive activism, throw in a politically charged issue in and voila, suddenly hundreds of teachers and no less than five doctors were openly practicing deception that is shocking.
From an AP story Sunday morning that was quickly scrubbed as the scenario in Madison continued to unfold, we find this gem:
Doctors from numerous hospitals set up a station near the Capitol to provide notes covering public employees’ absences. Family physician Lou Sanner, 59, of Madison, said he had given out hundreds of notes. Many of the people he spoke with seemed to be suffering from stress, he said.
“What employers have a right to know is if the patient was assessed by a duly licensed physician about time off of work,” Sanner said. “Employers don’t have a right to know the nature of that conversation or the nature of that illness. So it’s as valid as every other work note that I’ve written for the last 30 years.”
Sanner and a handful of other doctors were found on the street corner soliciting free-passes like they were Halloween candy. In this instance the noble physician’s “assessment” of their “patients” amounts to assisting them with filling out a form on the sidewalk. The scene is played out over and over in various videos circulating the web.
This too represents change. Increasingly, the left has become ever more brazen with their tactics, seemingly unhinged as they are challenged from the right. With modern technology, it no longer matters whether or not Big Media cares to share what actually takes place. Conservatives now have the means to routinely expose the cheap stunts of their political adversaries.
Part of the problem of rising health insurance premiums is society’s insistence of including elective services in their health plans, made all the easier when someone else pays the bills. For anyone who believes that the demands of public employee unions are limited to tax-payers providing them basic services, think again.
From last August comes a tasty tidbit from Wisconsin, when the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association filed a lawsuit to reinstate benefits for erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra and Cialis. The school district previously cut the benefit from their insurance plan hoping to save nearly $800,000 a year.
According to ABC News, “Officials said too many teachers were using the expensive drugs for recreation, swelling their insurance rates. An estimated 1,000 of the 10,000 school’s staff, which includes employees, dependents and retirees, were using the drugs.”
Wanna bet that some of the Viagra poppers in Milwaukee were among the throng intent on raiding empty public coffers in Madison last week?
We pointed out previously that Wisconsin’s incoming Governor Scott Walker was facing a daunting task in fixing the state’s out of control spending. In addition to lowering taxes and courting new businesses, Walker introduced a budget adjustment bill targeting public union benefits. Highlights include asking union members to contribute 5.8% towards their pension, 12.6% towards their healthcare, and restricts collective bargaining to salary only. This approach helps shore up the budget shortfall while retaining all state workers and avoiding layoffs. The contributions also amount to roughly half of what the average private sector worker contributes.
This didn’t sit well with the public unions, particularly WEAC, the very powerful Wisconsin Education Association Council. Their Madison-area teachers orchestrated a “sick-out” on Wednesday with nearly 40% of them absent, forcing the closing of schools. Amazingly many of these same teachers showed up at the capitol to protest while they were “sick.” (Can you imagine calling in to work sick and then showing up in front of your place of business to protest your employer?) The “sick-outs” have now extended to Milwaukee and other areas for Thursday and are expected to continue through Friday. This isn’t sitting well with parents, even those who support the teachers’ cause.
Governor Walker had anticipated that the unions’ response would be, let’s say, “vociferous.” He alerted the Wisconsin National Guard to be ready in case things got out of hand. Of course the unions seized on this as an opportunity to demonize both Walker and the National Guard as a dictator with jack-booted storm troopers.
As if blowing off work and abandoning kids wasn’t bad enough, some of the teachers who did show up forced their classes to attend the protests in support. Many of the students had no idea why they were even there.
Unsurprisingly, an angry group of unions and clueless students has also attracted Madison’s local chapter of socialists who are always looking for useful idiots to nudge in the “right” direction. They’re holding an event next Wednesday titled “From Cairo to Madison” aimed at teaching people to organize against the Republic.
While union members may have congregated in the state capital of Madison to protest, many apparently neglected to vote in Tuesday’s primary election. In the race to replace the conservative Walker as county executive in very liberal Milwaukee County, it was another conservative, State Representative Jeff Stone, who garnered 44 percent of the votes in a 5-way race. He now faces liberal millionaire philanthropist Chris Abele who took in 25 percent of the vote in the general election. In the statewide primary for supreme court, sitting Justice David Prosser, another conservative, also coasted to a win and will square off against Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg.
In a showing of their true colors, the minority senate democrats fled the capital today in an effort to prevent senate quorum. That is, 20 members of the senate must be present to proceed with the proposal and the republicans number 19. The capital police and state troopers were sent to retrieve the AWOL senators but they had fled out of state to Rockford Illinois. It is ironic that a party that sprung a member from jail in an attempt to push through union legislation just last December would find themselves skirting the law to prevent passage of the same. Even more amusing was the fact that this cadre of fiduciary fugitives fled a bastion of liberalism only to be sent packing by Rockford’s Tea Party.
As I write this, I am receiving text messages from a state representative that read: “All hell is breaking loose down here! Someone tried to storm the assembly chamber” followed by ” We have huge numbers of officers here helping. We have to be escorted everywhere.” And finally “In this room I am watching history being made. Not just Wisconsin history, this will ripple nationwide and could just change the course of our country.”
He has good reason to be cautious. Unlike the Tea Party movement that has been a model of civil discourse, there have been at least 9 arrests at Wisconsin’s capital. Signs clearly equate Walker to Hitler, Mussolini, and Mubarak and some read “Death to Tyrants.” (with the word ‘political’ scribbled above as an afterthought.) Imagine how the media would react if a Tea Party rally looked like this:
Not everyone came to support the unions though. This young man is dynamite!!!
Governor Walker held a press conference at the end of Thursday to chastise the absent senators and ask them to return to the work the citizens of Wisconsin pay them to perform. He also reemphasized that he was holding firm to his original proposal and would not compromise. If Walker succeeds, he just may spark a grassfire that sweeps across other states strangled by public sector unions. Furthermore, with the unions spending copious amounts of resources defending themselves at the state capital, will they have anything left in the tank for 2012? Buckle up and stay tuned.
Last September the CATO Institute released its Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2010. According to CATO “It uses statistical data to grade the governors on their taxing and spending records – governors who have cut taxes and spending the most receive the highest grades, while those who have increased taxes and spending the most receive the lowest grades.” Seven governors were given an “F” for completely mishandling their state’s finances including Illinois’ Pat Quinn (D) and Wisconsin’s Jim Doyle (D).
In Wisconsin, Governor Jim Doyle had raised taxes and fees wherever he could including a massive increase on nursing home beds. When the state assembly attempted to pass a freeze on property taxes, Doyle promptly vetoed it. The Wisconsin-based MacIver Institute reports “In the last state budget, Doyle raised taxes $2 billion and allowed local property taxes to go up an additional $1.5 billion. The previous state budget raised taxes and fees $763 million, and the “fix” to that budget raised taxes again $1.2 billion.” Doyle initially took over the governorship with a $3.2 billion structural deficit. Despite all the tax increases and $2 billion in “stimulus money,” Wisconsin now faces a $3.3 billion structural deficit.
In Illinois, where Pat Quinn had replaced the impeached Rod Blagojevich, the story is similar. Quinn increased taxes in 2009 by $1.1 billion. He spoke of “shared sacrifice” and the need to cut spending but managed to give out 11.4% raises to much of his staff. Again, even though taxes were increased, the state has approximately $6 billion in unpaid bills and a $15 billion deficit.
So what do you do when your state is spiraling out of fiscal control, raising taxes, raising spending, and losing jobs?
Voters in Wisconsin responded to their crisis by electing Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker (R) as Governor. He brings with him a record of 8 consecutive budget proposals without a property tax increase, a 10% reduction in Milwaukee County’s debt, and a history of shrinking the size of government. Walker ran on simple principles that he referred to as his “brown bag principles,” so-named because he takes his lunch to work every day to save money.
1. Don’t spend more than you have.
2. Smaller government is better government.
3. People create jobs, not government.
Voters in Illinois on the other hand responded by…. reelecting Pat Quinn. Quinn had lobbied unsuccessfully for more tax increases before the November 2010 election but finally got his way at 1:30AM on the last day of the lame duck session with the aid of politicians who would not be returning. (Sound familiar?) On Wednesday he signed the largest income tax increase in Illinois history, raising the personal rates by 66% and raising corporate income taxes by 46%.
Walker wasted no time with a press release courting Illinois businesses to move to Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin is open for business. In these challenging economic times while Illinois is raising taxes, we are lowering them. On my first day in office I called a special session of the legislature, not in order to raise taxes, but to open Wisconsin for business. Already the legislature is taking up bills to provide tax relief to small businesses, to create a job-friendly legal environment, to lessen the regulations that stifle growth and to expand tax credits for companies that relocate here and grow here. Years ago Wisconsin had a tourism advertising campaign targeted to Illinois with the motto, ‘Escape to Wisconsin.’ Today we renew that call to Illinois businesses, ‘Escape to Wisconsin.’ You are welcome here. Our talented workforce stands ready to help you grow and prosper.”
We now have a unique opportunity to observe two distinctly different methods for taming a state’s deficit and debt. Both Walker and Quinn have majorities in their state legislatures so they should have no problem implementing their respective visions. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that businesses (and people for that matter) like to keep more of their own money and that they will gravitate towards a state that allows them to do just that.
The additional problem for Illinois however is stability and predictability. A business isn’t going to pick up and move its operations to a state that has a chance of becoming hostile again next election. Walker’s track record in Milwaukee County was very good despite having a very liberal county board, and he won election repeatedly in a heavy democrat county. This bodes well for businesses entering Wisconsin as he will likely be reelected if he walks the walk and the climate will remain business-friendly.
Quinn’s dilemma is that businesses know that a positive change in Illinois policy would likely be temporary. (Not that a positive change is even on the table) The only stability that Illinois can offer a business is a guarantee of perpetual crony capitalism, corruption, confiscation, and collectivism.
Keep an eye on these two neighboring states and witness for yourself which approach bears fruit.
I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible. – Milton Friedman