We Are Living in Andy Stern's "Ugly" Democracy

Former Services Employee International Union chief Andy Stern–who, you should never forget, is on President Barack Obama's Fiscal Commission to reduce the deficit one of these decades here–has a five-things-you-need-to-know-about-Wisconsin piece up for The Daily Beast. It's a valuable glimpse into the mindset of a labor movement that has re-focused over the past couple of decades on the once-guaranteed revenue streams of the public sector. I swear to God these are the first two items on Stern's list:

1. Wisconsin's Budget Deficit Is Far from the Nation's Largest

2. Wall Street Created the Fiscal Crisis, Not Unions

Re: the second point, the fiscal crisis could have been caused by a meteor, and it still wouldn't make a damn bit of difference to the problem at hand. Recessions are like margin calls: Forced with making a snap decision about what your insufficient funds really need to cover, you start to notice all kind of expenditures that escaped your atttention before. Such as the 81 percent increase in aggregate state spending in the comparative good times between 2002 and 2007, a 40 percent increase in tax revenue over that same period, and routine 500 percent increases in public sector pension costs over the past decade or so

Speaking of which,

3. Public-Sector Pension Plans Are Not the Problem

ORLY? Coulda fooled Jerry Brown (and Willie Brown, and an increasing number of blue-state Democrats in good standing with Big Labor).

And speaking of California, which was really the canary of this particular coal mine, let us never forget what Andy Stern himself said in 2009, when confronted with the accusation that public sector unionism is sinking the Golden State:

Democracy is an ugly picture sometimes, people do have rights, the business community does similar things from the outside. We used to always complain about how many of our members can give a $5,000, $25,000, $30,000 check to a candidate. How many people have the same ability to get their contract, subcontract? I think government has always been a place where a variety of interests -- if you go to Washington there's a whole K Street group of people that spend their life trying to shape policy. The fact that we're organized from inside as opposed to organized from outside you may think has more advantages, but any organized voting bloc of any kind, or any organized financial bloc, honestly impacts democracy. That's just the system we've set up, and no one seems to mind that the Chamber of Commerce can fly 100 people in and threaten to not elect people if they don't do things because they either don't have a union contract or they're not government employees. I don't know how you stop people from participating. ...

So you really have to get to the question, are we going to ban public employees from participating in the political process, because it's not the fact they have a contract, it's the fact they have an organized amount of power to impact things. I don't think we're ready to ban that in this country. [...]

I would say in a time of crisis people will focus on why did the unions do certain things. ... I think there's another question of how did the government get bought and paid for by George Bush so that our regulatory apparatus didn't function and we ended up sort of crashing the entire American economy. ...

I think democracy is an ugly thing at times; it just happens to be the best thing we've found, and I think there will always be a debate about what's the right financial support involvement that people are allowed to have.

Read Tim Cavanaugh's Reason cover story from March: "Farewell, My Lovely: How public pensions killed progressive California."

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  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    3. Public-Sector Pension Plans Are Not the Problem

    When did The Daily Beast become a website featuring articles of fantasy fiction? Right after they bought Newsweek?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Andy Stern... Andy Dick... what's the difference?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    One is an overbearing, delusional, obnoxious twerp, and the other is Andy Dick.

  • ||

    foam-up then fund-raise the wingnuts. same old emotive tatic.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Wow, Orrin... for once, you're right - the subject here IS Andy Stern.

  • ||

    Complete this sentence:

    That picture makes me wish...

  • The Gobbler||

    that I had a 31-round clip.

  • Spiny Norman||

    Eliminationist rhetoric!

  • Warty||

    Magazine. Magazine. FUCKING MAGAZINE.

  • Gregory Smith||

    If you watch Glenn Beck you know America's #1 Freedom Fighter has been warning us about the evils of unions for years.

    It was Glenn Beck that kept playing that quote from Andy Stern, the one about workers of the world unite not being a slogan anymore.

    Of course, MARXIST Obama looooves union just like his FAT ASS First Lady loooooves fried ribs while waging a war against childhood obesity.

    Latest outrage from the anti-tobacco Nazis: Honduras bans smoking in public places.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....nazis.html

  • ||

    looks like beck's been tagging the mens room wall in the islamic caliphate cafe again.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Right, because you watch MSNBC. Seriously, why bother being a libertarian? You should become a Democrat and then you have go have sex with Andy Stern and his union-loving friends.

  • ||

    that'd be more fun than beck's uber-mormon nationalism paranoia

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Harry Reid is also a Mormon.

    Just sayin'.

  • waffles||

    OhioOrrin identifies as a libertarian? Must be a big tent, yep, a big tent.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    If Gregory Smith can claim to be a libertarian, OhioOrrin can too.

    Hell, in fact, if Gregory Smith is a libertarian, so is Moammar Kadaffi.

    Don't click the asshole blogwhore's links. He doesn't deserve the traffic and you don't deserve the bullshit.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Well, if anti-sex same-marriage Bob Barr was allowed to be the Libertarian Candidate...

    Whatever, call me what you want, I know what I am.

  • ||

    nope progressive militarist

  • cynical||

    How is that distinguished from fascism, on a policy basis?

  • ||

    Just so you know, I'm not clicking any of your links.

  • Joe R.||

    Me neither.

  • ||

    Me threether.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Well, plenty of people are. Specially new libertarians who haven't been brainwashed into opposing me.

  • Zeb||

    Damn. He caught on to the "Oppose Gregory Smith" plan.

  • MWG||

    *Note to self: Change name of plan to confuse GS.

  • DNS||

    Well, plenty of people are. Specially new libertarians who haven't been brainwashed into opposing me.

    Brainwashed you say? This hysterical rhetoric sounds familiar. Did you join the Blogwhore Union™?

  • waffles||

    I oppose this comment!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Specially new libertarians who haven't been brainwashed into opposing me.

    Paranoid Schizophrenia is treatable, dude.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Yes, we all disdain Andy Stern's ugly demagoguery...

  • KingTaco||

    One of the things that strikes me in this brouhaha(and in places like the DailyBeasts comment section)is there's no push back on the pro-union talking point of 'Attack on the middle class!!!!!'

    Really? How much of the middle class is made up of government employees? Most government employees may be middle class in terms of economic ranking, but they are a minority of the middle class as a whole.

    It's a mistake to let public unions define/brand themselves as torch-bearers of 'the middle class'. They are 'Government class', a minority of the overall workforce that sees large advantages in pay, benefits, and political power over their private sector comparable (in terms of the middle class). You ever see teachers and firemen show up to protest a sales or IT department taking a pay cut at a local business? The Government class fights for the Government class, not the middle class.

  • ||

    unions post ww2 elevated more american families into the middle class than any other financial opportunity.

  • ||

    Thanks for pointing out how they've outlived their usefulness.

  • ||

    correct since the gobp attack on the middle class continues.

  • ||

    You're like the worst troll ever.

  • ||

    Ohiooral vs Truthman: Cage Match.

    I'd pay to see it.

    Who wins? Idiocy or Lunacy?

  • SFC B||

    No one wins in a fight like that.

    OhioOrrin vs. Truthman vs. a tiger. THAT I would pay to see.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    correct since the gobp attack on the middle class continues.


    I agree - the Fed is still operating. That' the biggest middle-class buster there is.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    unions post ww2 elevated more american families into the middle class than any other financial opportunity.


    That's false. What elevated families after WW2 was higher productivity and investment, after many of the New Deal programs had been repealed.

    Union membership was at an all time high during 1933-1940, yet somehow people were NOT elevated to middle class THEN. Either a theory holds for all conditions or it doesn't.

  • ||

    after union men & union equipment defeated hitler, the children of WW2 union families, esp women, went to college at unprecendented rates.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    after union men & union equipment defeated hitler,


    Ha ha ha ha!

    Oh, my God, you're being serious.......

    HA HA HA HA HA!!!!

    Actually, it was the Russians that defeated Hitler. Without Stalingrad and Kursk, the Allies would have had to settle or drop atom bombs on white people. And the Russians were definitively NOT unionized at all, just highly motivated by their Tokarev-wielding political officers.

    the children of WW2 union families, esp women, went to college at unprecendented rates.


    What the FUCK does that have to do with unions or anything else?

  • Juice||

    Um, the USSR wasn't unionized? I'd go look at a few Wikipedia articles if I were you.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Juice,

    Um, the USSR wasn't unionized?


    Juice, please, use your head - honest to God unions, in Stalinist Russia? And also, I wouldn't rely too much in the word of Wikipedia when it comes to communist countries or people - just take a look at Che Guevara's posting and see how the guy has been elevated to sainthood.

  • Chupacabra||

    I forget. Did Stalin oppose public union pensions as well?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    after union men & union equipment defeated hitler, the children of WW2 union families, esp women, went to college at unprecendented rates.

    Can you teach me how to beg the question?

  • ||

    It actually believes the shit it spews. Union equipment went to college? Oh, fuck me.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    the children of WW2 union families, esp women, went to college at unprecendented rates.

    I guess that explains why our education system now sucks and the dollar is worth about 5% of what it was in 1920.

  • Ray||

    Correction, the WW2 GI bill is what created the large middle class.

  • The Gobbler||

    "They are 'Government class'"

    I prefer the "Collective Class".

  • ||

    Parasite class.

  • Sudden||

    The middle class is defined as having a household income between $50,000-$150,000. If you have two married public school teachers in California with around 10 years of work in the schools and each holding a master's degree (even if entirely unrelated to their teaching), they will actually be making enough to be considered above the middle class (upper class). So fuck these liars.

  • MNG||

    "Wall Street Created the Fiscal Crisis, Not Unions

    Re: the second point, the fiscal crisis could have been caused by a meteor, and it still wouldn't make a damn bit of difference to the problem at hand"

    The second point conceded, I think the meme is that corporate america's sloppiness caused the recession which put a hole in the budget and people like Walker responded by cutting corporate taxes and then asking public employees to make up the (now bigger) hole in the budget

  • DNS||

    I think the meme is that corporate america's sloppiness caused the recession which put a hole in the budget and people like Walker responded by cutting corporate taxes and then asking public employees to make up the (now bigger) hole in the budget

    This is a half-truth. A great number of those businesses (read: banks and insurance companies) were compelled by legislation to offer services and financial products to clients that would have little chance of paying them back. Or, such as the case of Government Motors and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, were de facto nationalized.

    The truth lies in subsidies, particularly farm subsidies and other green projects for eco-theological interests and concerns. Wall Street was, for the most part, playing with the cards regulatory agencies and the government dealt.

  • cynical||

    Actually, it was Wall Street's sloppiness, not Corporate America. It's just as unfair to blame people that run the companies that make stuff as it is to blame unions.

    And I'm not sure what midwestern state governors can do about Wall Street corruption anyway. Send the Wisconsin National Guard to plunder New York City? As awesome as it would be, not going to happen. As far as Walker is concerned, it basically is a meteor strike, in terms of being out of his control.

    Look, it's a bullshit non-argument -- it's an attempt to distract people by dredging up anger and bitterness. If Wall Street fuckups sink my employer and I'm scrabbling to cut my budget down as much as possible until I find a new job, I'm not going to be swayed when Netflix calls me up and says "Hey, why'd you drop your subscription? It's Goldman Sach's fault you have to tighten your belt. Don't take it out on us." That argument doesn't put fucking money in my pocket, does it Netflix?

    If Wall Street fuckups start looking like it might kill the pubsec unions, maybe Stern will fucking use his position near the president's ear to demand some heads roll. Because right now, I'm not seeing any interest in punishment or payback from the administration.

  • MNG||

    In the end I support unions in general because I've worked union jobs and non-union jobs and in the former the workers seemed to have more say, dignity, autonomy and protection from the at times arbitrary whims of their employers, and the form of authority most people face most of the day comes in the form of their boss. I realize the libertarian response is that the person's autonomy and dignitiy is protected by their right to up and quit, but in a world where people have to work to eat and live that's a strained remedy at best imo. But I realize we disagree on this and won't repeat myself.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    The problem w/ appealing to 'dignity' is that it begs the question. Like unions? Then being in one is 'dignified' or gives you 'dignity'. Dislike them or the views they use your dues to support? Then, not so much.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    In the end I support unions


    I also support unions, people have a right to collectivize if they so wish it. And I also support employers' rights to tell unions to go fuck themselves.

    But I don't think you're talking about freedom for all parties, but special plead for union rights through government fiat. Correct me if I am wrong...

  • Old Mexican||

    Sorry: Special plea

  • ||

    no ques MNG. but these cublcle drones cant relate.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    no ques MNG. but these cublcle drones cant relate.


    dis keyborad ting is too dificult...

  • ||

    Oh, yeah? I've got an office with walls and a door! With wood furniture! Do you know what kind of wood this is? No, it's oak.

  • ||

    How much of the rain forest was cut down for the panelling in your office, you heartless plutocrat?

  • ||

    I use wood that has been compressed to such a density that (1) my floors are reinforced like a bank vault and (2) the desks and bookshelves cannot be moved.

  • ||

    Meaning, of course, that an entire rain forest died to make my office.

  • Sudden||

    And how many innocent little forest creatures were murdered to make the interior lining of your top hat? How many coastlines decimated to make the glass in your monocle? OLIGARCH!

  • ||

    The key is density. I have shelves in my bookcase that took ten trees to make.

  • Upgrayyed||

    I have a lamp made out of his brother, Ten Bears.

  • hmm||

    Weren't you railing against anecdotal irrational decision making not too long ago? Something about individuals not seeing the greater good down the road for all and therefore themselves?

    Wow...

    My experience with unions is vastly different after they tried to and to some degree did strong arm my wife into trying to get into AB's production house. To date the two gentlemen that called my wife at dinner and threatened her to the point of tears tend to disappear when I appear and won't even approach my wife. Fuck unions and the assholes running them. They have devolved into self serving entities not interested in serving their constituents and only interested in retaining what little power they have.

    I'll support the right of people to group to bargain, I won't support unions as they stand or the legal framework of collective bargaining.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    In the end I support unions in general because I've worked union jobs and non-union jobs and in the former the workers seemed to have more say, dignity, autonomy and protection from the at times arbitrary whims of their employers, and the form of authority most people face most of the day comes in the form of their boss.


    Do you support employers who would refuse to deal with unions?

  • The Gobbler||

    What an ugly, ugly man.

  • Zeb||

    He's like a combination of Joe Lieberman and Bill Maher.

  • That Guy on SNL||

    the fiscal crisis could have been caused by a meteor

    Yeah .... A meteor .... That's the ticket!

  • DNS||

    Bill Maher certainly gets around, but his crown is getting a bit snowy.

  • ||

    Is it just me, or is that Stern quote almost completely incoherent?

    There is a nice red herring, though-

    So you really have to get to the question, are we going to ban public employees from participating in the political process

    I have no problem with public employees voting in elections. It's the capture of budgetary processes I don't like.

  • Spartacus||

    It's not just you. It might be just you and me, but it's not just you.

  • DanD||

    With apologies to Xeones:

    Yo, fuck Andy Stern.

  • ||

    the workers seemed to have more say, dignity, autonomy and protection

    Now, *that's* funny.

  • Old Mexican||

    1. Wisconsin's Budget Deficit Is Far from the Nation's Largest


    "Evil of many, comfort of fools"

    2. Wall Street Created the Fiscal Crisis, Not Unions


    Another subnormal that argues exactly like OhioOrrin... Hmm, could OO really be Andy Stern posting here???? I wonder...

    3. Public-Sector Pension Plans Are Not the Problem


    No, the problem is the amount of public servants that receive them.

    It's not the rain itself the problem, it's the quantity of it.

  • cynical||

    "2. Wall Street Created the Fiscal Crisis, Not Unions

    Another subnormal that argues exactly like OhioOrrin... Hmm, could OO really be Andy Stern posting here???? I wonder..."

    Since my first thought after reading number 2 was "so, what if the crisis was caused by a meteor hit?", I guess I can't really criticize anyone for being part of a hive mind.

    The problem I have with that is there is never any followup, it just hangs there like a sticky turd from a hairy asshole -- I mean, and then what, exactly?

    Your guys are the ones who could be doing something about it. You could have started by not letting Wall Street players continue to run the oversight of Wall Street. Until you take care of that, you don't get to invoke the spectre of Wall Street corruption to distract from your own misdeeds.

  • DNS||

    No, the problem is the amount of public servants that receive them.

    It's not the rain itself the problem, it's the quantity of it.

    Very elegantly put OM. This is why when government maintains rainy day funds, it should actually be raining.

  • Steven Smith||

    Kinda disingenuous to address the bullet points (and only three of them; it must be assumed that you agree Stern was spot on with the last two), and ignore the supporting arguments made for each by Stern. But that would probably require you to say why corporations should have greater First Amendment rights than individual school teachers.

    And when Gov. Brown comes out in favor of abolishing labor unions (via stripping them of collective bargaining), let me know.

  • ||

    But that would probably require you to say why corporations should have greater First Amendment rights than individual school teachers.

    Those individual teachers pool their resources and are they largest political force in the state of California. You are taking a dishonest arguemnt and raping it.

  • ||

    Yes. And it was rape rape, not the other kind.

  • Warty||

    I can't believe we wasted such a good meme on you.

  • ||

    UNION RULES REQUIRE SIEVE SMITH TO TAKE 15 MINUTE BREAK BETWEEN RAPES. SHOP STEWARD GET ANGRY WHEN I NOT TAKE BREAK. I STILL LAUGH ABOUT IT WHEN I WEAR HIS SKIN.

  • ||

    But that would probably require you to say why corporations should have greater First Amendment rights than individual school teachers.

    You lost me there. As far as I'm concerned, they all have equal 1A rights, and I don't see how anyone is arguing for restricting the 1A rights of teachers. What did you have in mind?

  • STEVE SMITH||

    STEVE SMITH RAPE GOVERNOR BROWN AT BULLET POINTS! COOLECTIVE BARGAIN FOR RIGHT TO RAPE ENTIRE COLLECTIVE!!

  • cynical||

    "But that would probably require you to say why corporations should have greater First Amendment rights than individual school teachers."

    What the fuck are you talking about? Who is proposing restricting the speech or freedom of assembly of teachers?

    1) Government workers are not like ordinary citizens: they have a relationship with the state that goes beyond the ordinary citizen-government relationship, and carries additional benefits (ie, a government paycheck), and is contingent upon additional restrictions (ie, must perform labor under government specifications). When a teacher blows off their job to go and protest, they shouldn't be punished within their citizen-government relationship, but they've violated the terms of their privileged employee-government relationship, and can punished through professional sanction or termination without any first amendment concerns.

    2. Corporations, unlike teachers, are not government officials -- teachers are bound by the First Amendment as much as they benefit from it. As a private citizen, I can preach at people as much as I want. Once I walk into a school and act as an agent of the state, I represent the state, not myself. For the freedom from religion to work, freedom of religion of state agents has to be restricted. All this proves is that state agents have limited first amendment rights, but that's a critical fact.

    Now, the same arguments that apply to teachers should apply to corporations that are acting as state agents (a private prison, for example). However, if the government lacks extensive control over their actions, it isn't really appropriate to classify them as an agent (for example, while the government might explicitly write freedom of religion requirements into its vouchers, I don't think receipt of a voucher makes a school a state agent for constitutional purposes).

    3. Collective bargaining is a privilege of unions, not teachers. Unions are private organizations, even if they represent public officials. Like corporations, they're somewhat privileged over law versus any random assembly of citizens, but that's not terribly relevant for this discussion. If the government decided to revoke limited-liability status for corporations, that would be a Huge Deal (TM), but it wouldn't be a violation of natural rights, it would be a rescission of privilege. Same goes for collective bargaining, to the extent it is favored in law.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Steven Smith,

    Kinda disingenuous to address the bullet points [...], and ignore the supporting arguments made for each by Stern.


    Maybe because H&R wanted to avoid further embarrassment for Mr. Stern there...

    But that would probably require you to say why corporations should have greater First Amendment rights than individual school teachers.


    I don't understand your conclusion, as nobody here has even argued such a thing. The problem is that employers have their 1st Amendment-protected right of free association ABRIDGED by the Wagner Act (and while we're at it, the CRA 1964)

  • ||

    "But that would probably require you to say why corporations should have greater First Amendment rights than individual school teachers."

    Before you go to that, could somebody explain to me first why stock holders and corporate employees aren't people?

  • ||

    They are people, but only in the sense that Soylent Green is.

  • STEVE SMITH||

    STOCK HOLDERS AND CORPORATE EMPLOYEES NOT PEOPLE BECAUSE STEVE SMITH RAPE UNTIL CORPSE, THEN HAVE FRENZIED CORPSE-RAPE!

  • puma pas cher||

    i see

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