Pensions

Is Scott Walker a Pro-Union Mole?

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Forget the pitiful polling performance, the shucking of friendly legislators, the phone punk that will live in infamy. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's greatest gift to the left is hidden in plain sight: He managed to turn a consensus position based on straightforward math into what looks like a partisan issue.

Just two weeks ago, the crisis of government employee pensions was an issue for Democrats. If you look closely at states around the country, it still is. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, California Gov. Jerry Brown, even Rahmbo himself, all are engaged to varying degrees in open campaigns to roll back compensation packages for government employees. In the Nutmeg State, Gov. Dan Malloy is seeking billion-dollar cuts in public sector compensation spending in his next budget. These Democratic executives and candidates are not alienating their union donors out of limited government principle; they're doing it because they see the logarithmic cascade of pension liability as a threat to public parks, environmental programs, rail transit, and other budget items Democrats like.

Glass Joe!

All that has now been lost in a fog of Republocrat positioning. You'd think everything was going swimmingly until the meddlesome voters gave Republicans the upper hand in so many states.

It was probably inevitable that the government employee unions would find some Republican villain to be the foil for a George Lakoff-style reframing of the state fiscal crisis—and what do you know, here's great Lakoff himself to suggest a new conceptual framework in which public employees' unions, by seeking the maximum payout from taxpayers, are "raising deeper issues in which wealthy corporations and individuals play a huge role."

But Walker's angle of approach has allowed this national issue to bog down in sniping between people who think there's a difference between the two parties. I can't blame Walker for trying to use this moment to weaken the political power of government employee unions. (Though it's not totally clear that collective bargaining is the decisive factor in fat government worker contracts or government employee political clout; some of the most crushing burdens—including California's SB 400—were accomplished legislatively rather than at the bargaining table.) But as Arnold Schwarzenegger found out with his failed ballot initiatives of 2005, directly targeting union political power is a great way to get your ass kicked. And Walker seems to have even less finesse than Arnold.

The problem is that once you've moved this national issue into the realm of left-right politics, you open the floodgates of horse pucky. Sure enough, The New York Times now would have us believe most Americans want to increase their own taxes and save less for their own retirements so that so that higher-paid cops, firefighters, and teachers can retire earlier with better pensions and benefits. Public Policy Polling claims Republicans in the Badger State are turning against Walker.

And for a true escape from reality, try this post by Forbes' Rick Ungar, bearing the breathless headline "Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions." In the New Normal of public union politics, "nothing" apparently means "100 percent." Ungar has updated his original post with a retraction (er, clarification) that's almost as long as the original article.

Ungar ran off half-cocked in this manner after half-reading a David Cay Johnston piece that boldly (i.e., wrongly) claims, "Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers." The Johnston piece has been getting a lot of attention on the left, so here are some things to bear in mind:

1. Deferred compensation isn't being paid for by state workers because it isn't being paid for at all. Wisconsin has a $77 $63 billion unfunded pension liability.*

2. Unless Wisconsin has some black budget of funds it gets by selling arms to Minnesota, all compensation of public employees—present and deferred—is funded by taxpayers. 

3. To go from the true statement that the employer pays 100 percent of the benefits package—part of which is takehome pay and part of which is deferred—to saying that the employee pays 100 percent is a lie. If you were to count the full 100 percent—regular pay and all fringe—as one compensation package, the total size of a public sector worker's compensation would go up substantially, and the $64k/$42k ratio of average annual public-to-private employee compensation would be much wider than it already is.

4. These are not 401(k) or other defined contribution plans, where your payout is based on the performance of the fund. These are defined benefit plans, which means your payout is guaranteed whether the pension plan is funded or not. The taxpayers (who, again, are actually paying that 100 percent of this money—see point 2) have to kick in to cover the shortfall (see point 1).

5. The total amount it costs your employer to employ you is your total compensation package, and public workers cost a lot more than private sector workers. It is pettifogging to pretend the form of the compensation changes this math.

Body blow!

But this is the kind of nonsense that has been unleashed by the Wisconsin political firestorm. Maybe Walker will become the game changer he clearly hopes to be. (In a real investigative coup, U.S. Snooze's Jamie Elizabeth Stiehm speculates that the governor "must have read Niccolo Machiavelli's classic Renaissance power tract, The Prince.") But right now it looks like the game has changed in favor of political speech and away from a bipartisan consensus about pension costs and discretionary spending that was a generally recognized problem long before we had Scott Walker to kick around. For a return to reality, dig the Sacramento Bee's ed board – hardly a band of Republican zealots – describing a new report from California's Little Hoover Commission:

Many local government workers earn more the day they retire than when they worked. And given earlier retirement ages – 55 for most public employees and 50 for firefighters, police and prison guards – and longer life spans, many retired state workers will actually pick up more retirement checks in their lifetimes than paychecks. Such high costs are unsustainable, economically and politically.

The report predicts that in coming years, cities like San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose and Los Angeles will spend one-third of their operating budgets to finance their pension systems. It's not just citizens who risk loss of vital government services as retirement obligations overwhelm state and local budgets. Public employees, the report says, "will pay a price for inaction – salary freezes, layoffs increased payroll deductions and the threat of a city or county bankruptcy. A pension not tied to a job is worthless."

That's the reality in states around the country. The numbers don't add up, and they will keep on not adding up until somebody – Republican, Democrat or other – succeeds in changing the formula. Math is no respecter of politics.

* Corrected. Thanks to David Cay Johnston, who takes on all comers in the comments. As is the case with such popular phrases as "California's $500 billion pension time bomb" and "America's $3 trillion unfunded pension liability," all pension liability numbers deal with future shortfalls estimated through projections about actuarial tables, market performance, changes in tax policy, future demographics, and related mumbo jumbo. As such they should be viewed only as best guesses or rhetorical gongs and should not be considered numbers that are quantifiable today. Except in a few states (such as California) where pension liabilities have actually begun to eat into discretionary spending, the pension crisis exists mainly in the future.

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NEXT: Why Private-Sector Union Membership Declined. And Why Public-Sector Unions Might Follow.

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  1. If the Democrats didn’t have Scott Walker, they just would have made someone else Scott Walker.

    1. John Kasich is fortunate that Walker beat him to the punch.

  2. Do you seriously believe there was a bipartisan consensus about pension costs and discretionary spending? One that was going to be turned into Dems voting to support budget cuts and pension restructuring?

    I don’t. Exhibit A is the Dems in Washington exhibiting extreme difficulty voting for the very cuts that Obama said he wanted to make.

    That consensus was pure posturing. The Dems were always going to fight against cuts and restructuring like cornered rats.

    And any restructuring of pubsec compensation that they were forced to give this year would only last until the next time a Dem administration “negotiated” with pubsec unions.

    No, until this fight was fought, no lasting restructuring was possible. Walker looked at his legislature and decided he was never going to have a better one to do what he needed to do, so he decided to have it now. I think that was the right decision, and was in no way a strategic mistake.

    1. You have to understand that Cavanaugh is the poster child for cosmotarian douchebags. For Cavanaugh, no fight that involves making liberals think less of you is ever worth fighting.

      1. Spare us the cosmo/paleo shit, John. Really. For just one day, shut the fuck up about your KULTUR WAR crap.

        1. that is not a culture was that is true. And you are the one who is always screaming culture war not me. Stop projecting.

          1. shut the fuck up about your KULTUR WAR crap.

            That’s right. It isn’t a “kultur” war. It’s all about TEAM RED/TEAM BLUE!

          2. You really not to stop feeding Epi attention.

            1. Pulling “Episiarch’s” strings is fun. He gets so mean and edgy!

              1. He he it’s my weakness too.

      2. As a cosmotarian douchenozzle I don’t think your crticism is warranted. For the life of me I cannot see where Cavanaugh is appeasing the left. He’s pointing out the horseshit, not throwing it around or playing in it.

        1. How does Tim C. propose Scott Walker could have done better in this situation, PR wise? I don’t think he does.

          I’m not going to say this is a ‘cosmotarian’ issue, but I think it’s a good example of a politician doing something along the lines of what libertarian pundits want, and said libertarian pundits walking away as soon as the going gets hot.

          Before all the ‘Liberaltarian’ jackalope non-sense, this was the original libertarian BS. Wonk on about some theoretical economic/social position, and then get the hell out of dodge if some politician actually tries to emulate it.

          I think Walker could have been/could be much smoother in terms of certain points, but he deserves libertarian support, not snippy little rants. The public isn’t going to just read some Reason/Cato article on their iphones and go ‘Yeah, public unions are a problem!’. It’s going to be a messy, down-and-dirty fight. The Democrats and their allies in the MSM are of course going to go all in (and have) to defend unions. They are going to paint any opposition as public bad guys. All the ‘cool kids’ out in the entertainment will bag on union-detractors. This is the heat opposing politicians have to deal with. It’s also when libertarians quietly traditionally head out the back of the saloon before the fight heats up on main-street.

          I’ve long dug a lot of libertarian positions, but they often show a glass jaw (at least in terms of big political fights).

          1. Exactly. And I think it is because they seem to be paranoid of not being liked. You are not going to win this fight without making a lot of enemies. When the other side is fighting for what it feels is its political life, bipartisan compromise isn’t an option.

          2. KingTaco|3.1.11 @ 12:13PM|# Excellent post. Tim C is completely out to lunch here. Even if Walker loses this fight, what is the worst that could happen in terms of the politics? The underlying problem still remains, and can only be kicked a few years down the road. Then, the bill for it will be clearly in the Democratic corner given the issue and the position of the players was so solidly defined by these events. Jeezus, what a simp you gotta be to only give a shit in the terms of a narrow MSM vision concerned only about how it plays within the frame of a 48 hour news cycle?

          3. So damn true. Reason needs more fire and less snipy shit.

    2. Agreed.

  3. “”””away from a bipartisan consensus about pension costs and discretionary spending that was a generally recognized problem long before we had Scott Walker to kick around.”””

    So we have balanced budgets? Oh wait, you don’t actually mean that the problem is solved, only that a few politicians have mentioned the problem and done some tiny adjustments that have done nothing substantial to fix the problem.

  4. About those polls… turns out they were biased against Walker by boosting the pro-union respondants and bringing down the GOP voter count.

    1. Orly? PPP conducted another misweighted poll to reach their predetermined conclusion? I, for one, am shocked, shocked that this is happening.

    2. “You’d think everything was going swimmingly until the meddlesome voters gave Republicans the upper hand in so many states.”

      Some of those voters are Christians too! And they listen to country music.

      No, really, I’ve seen ’em do it!

  5. If it wasn’t for public employee unions, we’d all be working in coal mines for $1 a day, living in shantys, eating dirt, dying of COPD, and not getting overtime!

    1. You ate dirt? That was a luxury in my home. And it wasn’t a home or even a proper shanty. We lived in a hole in the ground.

      You spoiled bastard.

      1. My entire family worked as a human roof on the shanty of a evil clan warlord. We survived off whatever bird feces would drop into our mouths.

        1. Bird feces…bird feces!!! We could only hope for bird feces. And we had to live on molten lava, until even our electrons were stripped away from our atoms and we were nuthin but plasma…and had to make a living as spurt in cheap porno movies.

      2. Your family had a hole? In my family, we protected ourselves from the elements by taking turns lying on top of one another.

        1. We just put up with the weather like men.

          1. Lucky bastard. We couldn’t afford weather. We took turns spitting on each other while making our own thunder sounds.

            1. this made me lol

            2. You had water? We had take grab our own oxygen and hydrogen atoms and smash them together.

    2. No way! If it weren’t for labor unions we’d be putting 5 thousand pound blocks on a pyramid, getting one day off for 30 worked and boiling crocodile toenails for dinner.

  6. The Republicans can afford to lose the fight in Wisconsin — or a substantial part of it. They’ve won a strategic victory whether or not they win that particular battle. So have we fans of small government.

    People like Huckabee and Romney and the old guard “compassionate conservatives” have had the oxygen sucked out of the room. US Senate Dems have lost the battle to make any shutdown over budget cuts look like the Republicans’ fault — so some cuts will happen. And FL, OH, and a couple other states have introduced similar measures to limit public employee collective bargaining.

  7. logarithmic cascade of pension liability

    You mean exponential.

    1. Math is hard.

    2. …or else the liability is really, really bad.

  8. First they came for the teachers and I did not speak out because I was not a teacher.

    Then they came for the civil service employees and I did not speak out because I was not a civil service employee.

    Then they came for the public sector union employee and I did not speak out because I was not a pubic sector union employee.

    Then they came for the private sector union employee and I did not speak out because I was not a private sector union employee.

    Then they came for the religious leaders and I did not speak out because I was not a religious leader.

    Then they came for the immigrants and I did not speak out because I was not an immigrant.

    Then they came for the community activists and I did not speak out because I was not a community activists.

    Then they came for the parent activists and I did not speak out because I was not a parent activist.

    Then they came for the LGBT’s and I did not speak out because I was not an LGBT.

    Then they came for the non-whites and I did not speak out because I was not a non-white.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    Wake up people! You’re next!

    By Mona Davids, adapted from “First they came for the Jews” By Pastor Niemoller

    1. Then they came for me. Made me do community service, too!

      1. National service.

        1. Voluntary mandatory national service

    2. When they come for the teachers, I will speak up. I will say “Take them away!”

    3. Galt, you’d think that asking someone to contribute to their own retirement is a precursor to the Rise of Norsefire.

    4. So … when will they come for the Teachers?
      Please post pics of boxcars filled with public school teachers.

      1. not boxcars — high speed rail.

      2. No reason to live in the past, my friend. Penal colonies on Mars for all public employees.

      3. Ironically, there is no porn on Google of boxcars filled with teachers — yet.

    5. First they came for the teachers, but it was an in-service day, so the teachers weren’t there.

    6. “First they came for the teachers and I did not speak out because I was not a teacher.

      Then they came for the civil service employees and I did not speak out because I was not a civil service employee.

      Then they came for the public sector union employee…”

      Wow! That’s a shit load of cum. And isn’t jacking off in public a crime?

      1. @pic, I’m clutching my pearls at such language, I hope your guardian will put a bar of soap in that filthy mouth of yours. By the way, JO in public is a crime only if the cops catch you doing it. I know a few good spots, lemme know.

    7. Mona, you are an enthusiastic “adaptor” but a terrible editor. You should chop this down to 3 “Then they,” as people have a shorter attention span today than in Pastor Niemoller’s time. BTW, who are “the LGBT’s”, is that a punk rock band?

    8. First they came for the taxpayers, and everyone ignored me because I was a taxpayer.

      Then they came for the people who don’t have insurance, and everyone ignored me because I didn’t have any insurance.

      1. First they came for the taxpayers, and everyone ignored me because I was a taxpayer.

        That was exactly my first response. Stupid libertarian groupthink.

    9. “Then they came for me …”

      … and I realized that they weren’t coming for me because all the bad actors had been eliminated. Then I drank a martini and smoked a cigar.

      1. And it was awesome!

    10. And then NOBODY was left on the public payroll. Tyranny!

    11. First they came for the murderers, and I did not speak out, for I was not a murderer.

      Then they came for the kiddie diddlers, and I did not speak out, for I was not a pedo.

      Then they came for the armed robbers, and I did not speak out, for I was not an armed robber.

      Then they came for the big time scammers who didn’t have friends in Congress and the White House, and I did not speak out, because that asshole Madoff wrecked my pension, so fuck him.

      Then they came for the shoplifters, and I did not speak out, for I was not a shoplifter.

      Then they came for the public sector unions, and I said, shit, it’s about fucking time.

      1. cynical|3.1.11 @ 1:05PM|#

        This is excellent – I am so stealing this.

    12. The first line should be “First they came for the taxpayers and I did not speak out because I am not a taxpayer.”

    13. I’m going to be charitable and say that reasonable people may disagree on the appropriateness of public sector unions. But you shed all credibility when you compare Gov. Walker to Hitler or Mubarrak or treat the protestors like some sort of downtrodden freedom fighters.

      Do people really fail to see the absurdity of claiming that an attempt to have government do less is actually comparable to the acts of a dictator? The protesters are not fighting for rights or freedom, they are fighting for more stuff for themselves and future leverage to get still more stuff for themselves. At the expense of taxpayers.

      1. It’s a failure of education throughout the nation.

    14. And who the fuck are “they”? And what does “came for” mean exactly? If “they” are elected governors and legislators and “come for” means giving someone less taxpayer money in the form of handouts and cushy pensions, then I fail to see a problem. Come for me all you want. I know how to make an honest living.

      1. I always understood they to be middle class white men. That’s definitely what Davids made it sound like. If that is the case, then I’m all set to start taking people away since I am a middle class white man.

    15. Then they came for the village idiots, but by that time there was no one left to speak up.

      http://gothamschools.org/2009/…..pposition/

    16. First they came for the teachers and I did not speak out because I was not a teacher.

      Then they came for the civil service employees and I did not speak out because I was not a civil service employee.

      Then they came for the public sector union employee and I did not speak out because I was not a pubic sector union employee.

      Then the budget was balanced and I was happy, because I wasn’t too keen on having my property taxes hiked for the second year in a row.

  9. If the issue needs some “reframing”, it should be reframed to this:

    What the Democratic party is REALLY fighting for is continued funding of their own political party via government deduction of union dues from state workers paychecks.

    THAT’s the real reason the Dem politicans ran out of state to prevent a vote.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/…..rich-lowry

    Here’s an exerpt:

    “No, the most important measure at stake in Wisconsin is the governor’s proposal for the state to stop deducting union dues from the paychecks of state workers. This practice essentially wields the taxing power of the government on behalf of the institutional interests of the unions. It makes the government an arm of the public-sector unions. It is a priceless favor.”

    And another:

    “When Indiana governor Mitch Daniels ended collective bargaining and the automatic collection of dues in 2005, the number of members paying dues plummeted by roughly 90 percent. In 2007, New York City’s Transit Authority briefly stopped automatically collecting dues for the Transport Workers Union, and dues fell off by more than a third. Without these dues, the ability of public-sector unions to influence elections ? what they care about most ? drastically diminishes. “

    1. Yup. It’s about whether the unions can continue the Tammany Hall in a can cookie cutter. Honest to God, I phrased it thus to a California public school teacher, and her reaction to this was, literally, “I don’t know that name.” Ironies abound!

      1. ” phrased it thus to a California public school teacher, and her reaction to this was, literally, “I don’t know that name.” Ironies abound!”

        LOL

        She was probably a history teacher too!

        1. I thought chicks made it a point to see every Dicaprio movie that gets released.

          1. Next you’ll be telling us that the Titanic was a real ship.

          2. But they don’t listen to them.

  10. If by some sort of magic all the public schools became private schools, and the unionized teachers went on strike for more pay/benefits, the general public STILL wouldn’t support the teachers and would instead be adamant that the teachers are benefiting from the law compelling minors to go to school.

    1. If the schools were private it wouldn’t matter what the general public thought; it would only matter what the people paying their salaries thought, i.e. the parents of the kids attending the school. It matters what the general public thinks now because we all pay the teachers salaries but we don’t have a seat at the bargaining table.

    2. If all the public schools became private schools, there wouldn’t be very many unionized teachers left. You do know that the union portion of the private sector is, like, 7% and dropping?

  11. Just because the media has conspired to turn the whole thing into a red/blue issue doesn’t mean that Reason has to play along. What has Walker done to make it partisan? And who cares anyway? this time the unions lose.

  12. In the 1950s and 1960s median family income grew almost as quickly as per capita GDP. In 1950, the average American family had an income of $29,858. By 1965 that figure had grown to $47,764. Over the course of those two decades, every dollar of GDP growth produced an 81-cent increase in median family income. In that essentially socialistic sense, the baby boom era really was an economic golden age.

    Now consider what has happened since: Real per capita GDP grew by 101.2% between 1970 and 2009, yet median family income in 2010 is estimated to have been a little over $50,000 ? around 6% higher than it was four decades earlier. While the nation as a whole is trillions of real, inflation-adjusted dollars wealthier than it was 40 years ago, median family income has remained close to $50,000 for this entire time. (Here are the figures for median family income in five year increments, in 2010 dollars. 1965: $47,764, 1970: $48,332, 1975: $48,667, 1980: $46,839, 1985: $46,813, 1990: $50,050, 1995: $49,363, 2000: $53,817, 2005: $53,034, 2010: $50,500). If the relationship between the growth of real per capita GDP and median family income in the 1950s and 1960s had continued during the subsequent four decades, the average American household would be bringing in $85,000 in annual income ? and very few families would have to get by on less than $40,000 per year.

    Where then has all this almost unimaginable increase in national wealth gone? Consider that while in 1965 the 95th percentile of family income was approximately $105,000 ? i.e., a little more than double the median ? by 2010 it was $180,000. But the relative good fortune of the upper middle (or perhaps more realistically lower upper) class pales to nothing in comparison to what has happened in the economic stratosphere. Between 1979 and 2007, average after-tax incomes for the top 1 percent of households rose by 281 percent after adjusting for inflation ? an increase of nearly one million dollars per household. Yet even this increase is trivial when placed against the bounty that has rained down on the true Lords of Capital. In 1980, the richest 0.01% of American households ? roughly the 10,000 richest families ? had an average annual income of $5.4 million (in 2006 dollars). A quarter century later, that figure had grown, in real, inflation-adjusted terms, by a factor of nearly six: to $29.6 million per year.

    Emphasis is mine.

    This is the result of deliberate policy–of trade policy, of union policy, of tax policy, that has shifted our national wealth and growth into the hands of those at the top and away from those in the middle.

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblo…..-nostalgia

    1. Now consider what has happened since: Real per capita GDP grew by 101.2% between 1970 and 2009, yet median family income in 2010 is estimated to have been a little over $50,000 ? around 6% higher than it was four decades earlier. . . . .

      Where then has all this almost unimaginable increase in national wealth gone?

      Population growth? The pie has gotten larger while the number of people at the table has as well.

      Do I win a prize?

      1. Except that those in the top 2%–and especially your Lords and Masters in the top 0.001%–have made out like bandits despite “population growth” (which really isn’t growing all that faster than in the mid-20th Century).

        Face it, your Galtian Overlords have made deliberate policies to increase their wealth at the expense of you. It’s Class Warfare, and they’re winning.

        1. Please don’t feed the troll.

          1. Please don’t feed the troll.

            How’s that working out for you?

            1. All I can do is ask.

        2. Except, of course, that that’s not what your numbers show. Your numbers don’t demonstrate that even the top 5% had their real incomes more than double.

          You also need to age adjust your populations and do life-cycle tracking to say anything about changes in real income and decile tracking over time.

          Sorry NutraSweet. I so rarely come in to the comments here anymore that I can’t tell my trolls from my idiots.

          1. I’ll repeat it again:

            Consider that while in 1965 the 95th percentile of family income was approximately $105,000 ? i.e., a little more than double the median ? by 2010 it was $180,000. But the relative good fortune of the upper middle (or perhaps more realistically lower upper) class pales to nothing in comparison to what has happened in the economic stratosphere. Between 1979 and 2007, average after-tax incomes for the top 1 percent of households rose by 281 percent after adjusting for inflation ? an increase of nearly one million dollars per household. Yet even this increase is trivial when placed against the bounty that has rained down on the true Lords of Capital. In 1980, the richest 0.01% of American households ? roughly the 10,000 richest families ? had an average annual income of $5.4 million (in 2006 dollars). A quarter century later, that figure had grown, in real, inflation-adjusted terms, by a factor of nearly six: to $29.6 million per year.

            This is in a time, remember, when the median household income barely budged and those at the bottom got POORER. This doesn’t bother you?

            1. WHO GIVE AS FUCK???

              1. I think you’re missing an “S”, there, Pip.

            2. This is in a time, remember, when the median household income barely budged and those at the bottom got POORER.

              You said family income. Family and household are not the same thing according to US data. Household includes childless singles, family does not– but includes single mothers and single fathers.

              If you used the median household income
              instead of median family income, you’d show a greater increase, but a lower number in both cases because it includes singles, who are on average poorer because they’re younger and students, and so forth.

              You’re still comparing per capita to other numbers. Median household income drops dramatically when people get divorced, and, despite headlines, the poor are much more likely to get divorced, which exacerbates the problem.

              I’m not sure if you have a really great plan to get the poor, especially those with kids, married so that the median household and family figures look better, though.

            3. “This is in a time, remember, when the median household income barely budged and those at the bottom got POORER. This doesn’t bother you?”

              Not in the least, as I am very, very far from the bottom.

              Speaking of bottoms, you dad called again.

            4. US household and family size decreased massively in that time, by over a full person. And it wasn’t all number of children, a lot of it was divorce. By 1979, a lot of the changes in women’s labor force participation rate had already occurred, and the change was largely complete by the end of the 1980s.

              You’re comparing apples and oranges.

              The US Census does gather data on median personal income, but people don’t seem to like to produce articles and charts about it.

              1. Median PERSONAL income has also stagnated, after exploding in the 50 and 60s:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P…..ted_States

                This is despite the fact our country has much more wealth than in 1970–its all gone to the top.

            5. Since then, women entered the workforce, global trade has exploded.

              A Maytag washing machine in 1975 cost $300, or about $1500 in today’s dollars. Today, a Maytag costs you $399 or $80 in 1970 dollars.

          2. And all in a time when our per capita GDP boomed. Yet nobody saw any gains except those at the top.

            Contrast that to the period in 1950 to 1980.

            1. No mention of China? Who are you and what have you done with The Truth?

              1. Good point, Truth, allowing people in the public sector to retire at 50 with full pay for life will help to make society more equitable.

                1. “Now consider what has happened since: Real per capita GDP grew by 101.2% between 1970 and 2009, yet median family income in 2010 is estimated to have been a little over $50,000 ? around 6% higher than it was four decades earlier.”

                  Doesn’t this analysis assume zero population growth?

                  Doesn’t it assume zero people moving up into the middle class?

                  Isn’t it quite possible that the middle class grew enormously–and so that’s why your 101.2% in growth was spread over many, many more families?

                  This is an easy error to spot, buddy roe!

                  In 1970, the population in the U.S. was 203,211,926. In 2010, our population was at 308,745,538.

                  That’s over 50% more people!

                  …even assuming the middle class hasn’t grown as a proportion of the population by an inch!

                  1. Seriously, if I’m wrong about this, somebody tell me why.

                    Otherwise, that information is purposely deceptive–and you shouldn’t trust anything you get from wherever you got it from.

                    1. He’s saying it’s per capita (per head), so the math does work out.

                      I don’t understand why he’s so upset that the median income “only” went up 6% in 40 years. Add in the fact of smaller family size & he’s truly got me baffled.

                      Where does increased national income come from? Innovation. OF COURSE the innovators are going to take the lion’s share of increased income.

                    2. “He’s saying it’s per capita (per head), so the math does work out.”

                      That still doesn’t account for what I’m talking about.

                      If the economy of 1970 was generating enough for 125 million people to make $50,000 a year in 2010 dollars…

                      …and the economy of 2010 is generating enough for 250 million people to make $50,000 a year in 2010 dollars…

                      Then the middle class economy has doubled in size!

                      You can’t ignore the absolute number of people. If our middle class had doubled in absolute size and wages had remained stagnant, our per capita incomes would have dropped like a rock!

                      Our per capita income didn’t drop. By his analysis, it grew by 6%! And he’s not accounting for the growth in population–much of that coming from immigration too!

                      He’s completely ignoring population growth. We were able to add hundreds of millions of high paying, middle class jobs between 1970 and 2010–and anybody who’s so focused on per capita wages that they’re completely ignoring the fact that we’ve created hundreds of millions of middle class jobs?

                      Is somebody whose ability to decipher basic statistics shouldn’t be trusted!

                      Does he want more opportunities for poor people to join the middle class or not?!

                    3. If the economy of 1970 was generating enough for 125 million people to make $50,000 a year in 2010 dollars…

                      …and the economy of 2010 is generating enough for 250 million people to make $50,000 a year in 2010 dollars…

                      Then the middle class economy has doubled in size!

                      You mean The Truth is another progressive that can’t do basic math? The deuce you say!!

                  2. This is an easy error to spot, buddy roe!

                    +1 for buddy roe. That probably also means we have the same dad. So that is what he was doing on the West Coast back then.

    2. Where then has all this almost unimaginable increase in national wealth gone?

      Divorce and single motherhood, especially among the lower class. You’re comparing GDP per capita to “family” incomes. The census doesn’t consider a single childless person a family, but does consider a single mother or father a family.

      Use consistent data please.

      1. A lot of those households in the 50s, the vast majority in fact, were single income and people could get middle class incomes in them.

        What happened?

        1. Are you pretending that homemakers add no value? That’s ridiculous. Of course if someone is staying at home taking care of the house and home, the family can live on less cash income. People with two jobs are more likely to pay for childcare (and even if the state pays for it, people pay for it through taxes), eat out at restaurants, buy new clothes instead of sewing to repair them, and in general pay cash for things instead of doing them themselves.

          Surely you’re not pretending that being a housewife was all fun and games and lounging around for those in the middle class?

          A huge amount of the GDP increase was in women going to work. But that’s an accounting trick– it didn’t actually make us richer by the amount of their salaries, it was just monetizing value that they were always providing. It didn’t make those families richer by the full amount of the salary either, it made them have to spend more money (taken out of that second income) in order to keep up.

        2. Women went to work, virtually doubling the available labor pool. In other news, we have space-aged shit like Iphones while people in the 50s were still ejaculating over plastic jewelery and paying $15-20,000 in today’s dollars for black and white television sets.

          1. Who needs affordable healthcare, affordable college, or being able to have a middle class lifestyle free of debt when you can buy cheap plastic crap?

            WE HAVE MORE CHEAP PLASTIC CRAP NOW! USA! USA! USA!

            1. It’s a shame no new medical treatments were invented in the past 50 years.

            2. So beginning in the 1970s, middle class wages stagnated. Was any landmark immigration legislation put in place in 1965 that may have some bearing on this?

            3. A plethora of cheap plastic crap is not entirely independent of those less tangible concepts you mentioned. Bonus: everything our government has done to achieve your highest aspirations(affordable shit at the expense of everyone) has only made them more expensive and less achievable. Double Bonus: I live a middle class lifestyle free of debt simply because I paid off my government-inflated student loans by living a “lower” class lifestyle for several years and I decided not to buy an overpriced bullshit house like the government told me to. Triple Bonus: Shitcunt.

    3. Hey asscunt, you gonna post this bullsit on every thread?

    4. Re: The Truth,

      Now consider what has happened since: Real per capita GDP grew by 101.2% between 1970 and 2009, yet median family income in 2010 is estimated to have been a little over $50,000 ? around 6% higher than it was four decades earlier.

      GDP includes government expenditures, which are not correlated with personal income, only with population growth (i.e. as there are more people to plunder) and with borrowing. Government expenditures have ballooned at that rate you indicate, which skewes your metric. If you take out government expenditures out of GDP numbers and adjust real GDP to gold prices, you will notice that real output has actually being shrinking since the 90s.

      http://fskrealityguide.blogspo…..gible.html

      That explains why the median family income has not grown in the past 20 years. You can thank the government and the Fed’s inflationary policy for that.

      Also, it is a big mistake to look at income as a metric for per capita economic growth and not at purchasing power. The purchasing power of that $50,000.00 median family income in today’s economy is not the same as in the 50s and 60s, as appliances, furniture, electronics and food are much more affordable today than in the 50s or 60s.

      Oh, by the way, your median numbers are REALLY suspect. The median household income from 1950 to 1970 grew from $23,000.00 to $38,000 and not the ballooned numbers you show. Income has stagnated from 1980 to 2000 as indicated in the above link.

      http://www.stanford.edu/class/…..ion/Median Household Income.pdf

    5. I don’t recall there being any article in the Constitution that makes it any business of the federal government what the distribution of wealth in the country is or to be deliberately trying to re-arrange it.

      Oh there’s no such thing as the “nation’s wealth”.

      Wealth doesn’t belong to “the nation”. It belongs to the specific individuals who have legal title to it.

      1. Anytime someone starts talking to me about how “we” need to do this or that, or “we” have some problem that needs to be solved, I try to point out that there is no “we” beyond myself and those I am talking to and that the whole idea of collective decision making is a big lie.
        I have actually been surprised at how many people get it and agree. But sadly they go on with their collectivist ideas anyway. The capacity for cognitive dissonance is amazing.

    6. This analysis fails to take into account all the ways that the middle class’s lifestyles have dramatically improved, largely thanks to “the top 1%”.

      What does “inflation-adjusted” mean when the average person now regularly enjoys: microwave ovens, computers, cell phones, internet, medical advances, much safer cars that get ~30 mpg and have 200-300 HP, affordable air travel, etc.?

      One could just as easily make the argument that the middle class now live better than royalty did in the 50s/60s.

      This post displays pure one-sided class envy, when maybe, just maybe it should be expressing class gratitude. Of course, that’s not as much fun as complaining.

    7. yet median family income in 2010 is estimated to have been a little over $50,000 ? around 6% higher than it was four decades earlier.

      Sigh. OK, time to explain statistics to you:

      You do know that median FAMILY income is highly dependent on how many people are in a family on average?

      Two singles making $50K each = median family income of $50K.

      A married couple, both making $50K = median family income of $100K.

      Total income per worker in both instances = $50K.

      Now, are there MORE or FEWER single people as a percentage of the populace compared to four decades ago? If more, what will that do to the average family income levels?

  13. Tim’s a big guy, but this post makes me wonder if he’s ever won a fight in his life.

  14. There are two major differences between Scott Walker’s approach and Jerry Brown’s approach (for an example) that make Walker a better target. (Beyond the pure partisanship issue.) Gov. Moonbeam wants the state workers to come to the table to help make a dent the state budget crisis, but by leaving the existing union bargaining rules in place, he’s allowing the public employee unions to keep screwing the California county and local budgets. Walker comes from a county executive position, and realizes how much less bargaining position the taxpayers have there, and wants to untilt the balance of power away from the unions somewhat. Brown also is willing to fire state workers to reduce the amount of cuts to benefits. Walker has said that he wants to balance the budget with no one getting fired. Neither approach is right or wrong, but unions almost always choose firings over cuts, even while they give lip service to shared sacrifice.

  15. “Just two weeks ago, the crisis of government employee pensions was an issue for Democrats. If you look closely at states around the country, it still is. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, California Gov. Jerry Brown, even Rahmbo himself, all are engaged to varying degrees in open campaigns to roll back compensation packages for government employees.”

    The government pension crisis was an issue for almost every governor in the nation. A particular GOP governor decides to do something proactive about the issue and now you are blaming him for the media and the left framing it (with much dishonesty) as a partisan issue? Apparently, Cavanuagh would prefer it if Democrat politicans got in smoke filled rooms with their union supporters and got some concessions while pretending they were meaningless nothings in public. At the same time GOP pols should do nothing about the issue because that would only raise the specter of partisanship.

    Reason writers complain a lot about how the two major parties acting the same, but they tend to support the conventional wisdom that punishes the GOP for getting out of step with the Democrat party.

    1. Agreed. Tim Cavanaugh is being a dumbshit.

  16. David Cay Johnson is a guy who’s writings I wouldn’t trust beyond two feet. I remember reading a blog site that was tracking his bias and lack of credentials to even write about economics. The site hasn’t been updated for some time, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless:

    http://davidcayjohnstonwatch.blogspot.com/

  17. Re the Cay/Ungar argument that “Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.”

    You make good points. Another is that Ungar keeps claiming that the “pension and benefit money is money that already belongs to state workers.” But this is wrong. The money is not theirs until it is actually paid over to them. Instead, the state workers are parties to contracts for future payments in return for services rendered now. And, like in any contract for future payment, the payee bears a risk that when it comes time to pay up, the payor won’t have the cash. If I sell my legal services to someone in return for their promise to pay me in one year, I bear the risk they won’t have the money in one year. It’s incumbent on me to check out whether the guy is likely to have the money before making that agreement. If I find out that he’s a coke addict with a gambling habit, then I don’t have the right to be too upset when I don’t get paid.

    1. “I don’t have the right to be too upset when I don’t get paid.”

      Well, you have the right. Still doesn’t help you get paid, though.

  18. (Though it’s not totally clear that collective bargaining is the decisive factor in fat government worker contracts or government employee political clout; some of the most crushing burdens — including California’s SB 400 — were accomplished legislatively rather than at the bargaining table.)

    Hey Tim, that IS the bargaining table!

  19. “Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.”

    What a blatant lie. When my employer pays 80% of my health insurance premium, that 80% doesn’t come from me, even though it is carried as an expense of my employment on the employer’s books. Only the 20% that is deducted from my check comes from me.

  20. What an odd argument. Maybe the Egyptions should have put off their revolution because progress in Saudi Arabia and Iran was kinda sorta just maybe possible too?

    Walker is the governor of Wisconsin, not President of the United States, or even a leader of the Republican party. What might or might not be happing in blue states (or Tim’s fevered imagination) is of no concern to Walker, nor should it be.

  21. I can’t tell my trolls from my idiots

    Trolls trolling trolls you idiot!

  22. There is a serious factual error in this column:
    “Wisconsin has a $77 billion unfunded pension liability.”
    Simply not true.

    No source is given, but it likely comes from National Review Online, which cites a source that when checked shows quite the opposite.

    The underlying source for the NRO column rates the Wisconsin pension “solid performer.”

    The state has $74.5 billion in funding for retirees its latest financial report shows. Another state report says that is virtually 100% funding. (I have doubts on that, as I wrote in my tax.com column, but the $77 billion unfunded liability is utterly false.)

    Second, I am amazed that readers of Reason would argue, as RCDean does, that only the portion of his health care benefit deducted from his paycheck comes from him. Really? Your employer makes a gift to you then?

    When you perform services you get compensated. Wages, taxes paid on your behalf, paid vacation, health insurance and retirement benefits are all part of that compensation You earned it, it is your money.

    Now of course if you believe in communism (not Communism) then this sort of thinking makes perfect sense.

    How your compensation is divvied up is internal accounting. How much you are compensated is the price your employer paid for your services regardless of whether it is paid as cash, health insurance, paid vacation or a seemingly Free Lunch in the cafeteria.

    The state hires people to do work, from teaching students to detectives hunting down killers, and once they have done that work the money paid for those services is 100% their money.

    As a number of economists of different viewpoints have posted at other websites and emailed me personally, my economics on this are unassailable.

    @ Joe Attaboy, if you read carefully the blog you cite you will see that every accusation is disproved by my own words. For example, I have never held myself out as a PhD economist as my own quoted words show.
    Interesting that the anonymous blogger does not mention all the universities that have paid me to lecture or that I teach very challenging, and oversubscribed, courses to 3rd year law and graduate accounting students at Syracuse University. Get in touch and I’d be delighted to have you sit in one day.

    @ John Thacker, I have done per capita income analysis and its shows the same trends, so while it is true that household size is smaller, the underlying point on incomes remains accurate.

    Median and average wages, in 2009 (latest data), for example, were smaller than in 2000.

    From 1950 to 1980 the bottom 90% saw their incomes grow at twice the rate of the top income groups (except for the top hundredth of one percent). Since then incomes of the bottom 90% have barely budged (up $303 from 1980 to 2008 or less than 1% after 28 years) while they have soared for the top 1% and fractiles of that group. The top hundredth of one percent are up $21 million or 408% and their share of all income has grown from 1.28 cents of all dollars earned to more than a nickel.

    1. “When you perform services you get compensated. Wages, taxes paid on your behalf, paid vacation, health insurance and retirement benefits are all part of that compensation You earned it, it is your money.”

      Well no, that’s not actually true. It’s not your money until it’s actually paid to you. If you agree to a deferred compensation scheme, then you bear the risk that the other side won’t have the money when it comes time to pay up. All you have before you actually get the money is a promise. Promises can be broken (And don’t give me a line about contracts- contracts are broken and renegotiated all the time). This happens in employment situations where a company fails (see Bethlehem Steel and a host of other companies). It also happens between businesses- e.g. a supplier provides goods and then the receiving company can’t pay (see Delphi and its suppliers). That’s why smart people on the receiving end of such promises take actions to secure the promise- like requiring the employer to put away sufficient money in a pension fund that is legally separate from funds for general operations. If you see that your employer is making lots of promises to you and others that go far beyond its ability to pay, then it’s unreasonable to think you’re going to get paid.

    2. The state has $74.5 billion in funding

      Funding? Is that a typo or does the State have that much in funds or in a fund? Saying that the State has funding which amounts to future tax payments or municipal bond sales is NOT the same as actual assets in an account.

      Is a law mandating X$ in future taxes considered “funding”?

      1. It likely means that the state has a certain amount in a fund, which it projects to grow at y%, and it is scheduled to add z amount each year, and that is sufficient (or close to sufficient) to cover the project benefits based on assumptions about inflation and lifespan.

        Of course, the validity of that all depends on whether the growth assumption is correct (states frequently claim 7-8% rates, which is unrealistic), whether the state actually makes scheduled future payments into the funds (their track record isn’t too good), and the projections of inflation and lifespan are accurate (in fact, they are frequently understated).

        1. PEW center states total liability is $77B; UNFUNDED liability 252M

          1. oops, meant to link:
            http://downloads.pewcenteronth….._final.pdf

            1. That chart appears to be based on 2008 data (and it appears to be at the opening of 2008), i.e. before the biggest losses in the stock market in the second half of 2008 and beginning of 2009. Second, I don’t see anything showing the assumptions Pew used for growth rate. Is that in there? I see them criticizing states for using 8% rates, but I’m not sure what they’re using.

              1. Tim has updated his post to downgrade the unfunded liability to $64B and link to the American Enterprise Institute.

                I’m not sure if I buy into the AEI methodology, but it’s an interesting theory.
                http://www.aei.org/docLib/Biggs-WP-164.pdf

    3. Then when you are discussing how much pubsec employees are getting paid, you better make sure to include all of the compensation, not just what’s in their paycheck.

      What’s that, if you tell people how much they are getting compensated instead of just what they’re paid they all look like assholes? Imagine that.

  23. The NRO author, a respected economist, just emailed me acknowledging the error on the $77 billion “unfunded” liability and said he will make a correction.

    Good for him. We all mistakes, the test of integrity and character is whether we forthrightly acknowledge and correct.

    1. “Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.”

      Are you willing to admit that this is not a correct statement? That, in fact, while state workers may earn their pensions by providing services, every one of the dollars and cents that fund their pensions (and their salaries and other benefits) come from taxpayers?

  24. CHOO CHOO TRAINS!!

    YELLOW PERIL!!

    1. You forgot The Jooos!!!

  25. The bizarre thing about the Ungar piece is that it proves too much. If Ungar is right, then not only do taxpayers not pay for government employee pensions, they also do not pay government employee salaries. Government employees pay their own salaries, according to Ungar, by negotiating for them.

    It’s reasonable to say that government employees earn their pensions and salaries, but it’s goofy to say that they pay them.

    (It’s the same if you say that they “contribute 100% to them.” Government employees “contribute” deferred compensation to their pensions, but taxpayers pay the deferred compensation to government employees, so taxpayers ultimately are paying.)

    1. Also, defense contractors and soldiers pay for the whole Department of Defense budget. Who knew? If my tax money isn’t going to pay for that stuff, where the heck is it going?

    2. Plus if you’re going to say they “contribute” the deferred compensation, then you have to count the deferred compensation as part of their salary. You can’t claim their salary is lower AND say they are paying for their own pensions by forgoing the money.

    3. At the same time, you don’t want to get into a situation where you’re saying that it doesn’t matter what amount the workers contribute to their pension, the taxpayers are paying it, since it confuses the issue and sounds like a technicality and at any rate you want to justify them contributing more.

    4. It’s reasonable to say that government employees earn their pensions and salaries, but it’s goofy to say that they pay them.

      No, no, no. See, since government employees pay taxes, and their salaries and benefits are paid with taxes, they pay themselves. If we would have the government employ everyone, everyone would pay themselves and we would all be rich!

  26. Second, I am amazed that readers of Reason would argue, as RCDean does, that only the portion of his health care benefit deducted from his paycheck comes from him. Really?

    Yes, really. The part that is paid on my behalf was never my money. That is what “paid on my behalf” means. If I decide not to have health insurance, I don’t get the premium that my employer would have paid. In no sense was the employer share of the premium ever mine, or potentially mine, so there is no way that it could ever come from me.

    When you perform services you get compensated. Wages, taxes paid on your behalf, paid vacation, health insurance and retirement benefits are all part of that compensation You earned it, it is your money.

    No, I did not earn the money. I earned the benefit. There is a difference, at least when you are talking about (as you are) who paid for the benefit.

  27. “2. Unless Wisconsin has some black budget of funds it gets by selling arms to Minnesota, all compensation of public employees — present and deferred — is funded by taxpayers.”

    This is not accurate. At many state universities, state funding is a very small portion of the revenue for the university. Tuition, endowments and donations comprise the majority of the operating revenue. Also, many employees are funded by grants. Some of the grants are from federal agencies, so there is some contribution from the particular state’s taxpayers, but not 100%. Also, there are grants that come from public and private corporations and from non-profits. Regardless, when it comes to universities, taxpayers are not footing 100% of the bill. For other state government agencies, there certainly is revenue that is not provided by taxes. One example is hunting licenses purchased by out of state hunters.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am no defender of public employees or public employee unions. Making blatantly false statements does not help the cause of reining in public employee compensation, though.

    1. Frequently the pension obligations of university workers are held by the state, not the university system.

      1. That is true. The original statement said all compensation “present and deferred” is funded by taxpayers. Certainly all present compensation is not funded by taxpayers. I don’t know Wisconsin’s situation, but at many state universities, they do not have a defined benefit system. They have a defined contribution system.

        1. Agreed. One of many reasons that blanket assertions in this area are bound to be wrong.

        2. Wisconsin has a defined contribution system. Benefits depend on the performance of the fund, smoothed over a 5-year span.

  28. So are any of you willing to defend your principles even if it calls out the wealthy? I’m told over and over you care just as much about rich parasites as poor ones, yet here you are, falling over yourself to dismiss everything The Truth is saying. Almost as if you don’t really have principles, you just think wealth=virtue, end of story.

    1. The Lie is making statements that aren’t true, or misleading. I pointed out one of those untruths. Others pointed out other untruths. Are you saying that our principles should include “being even-handed in criticizing two groups, even if one group deserves criticism based on objective analysis, and the other doesn’t?”

    2. “Everything The Truth is saying” boils down to a tendentious economic analysis purporting to show that a small number of people have managed to capture the lion’s share of GDP growth since about 1980.

      To the extent that’s true, and to the extent that the capture is the result of rent-seeking, the responsible individuals ought to be stuffed into a rocket and shot into the sun.

      Beyond that, I really don’t give a fuck.

    3. Yes. Government over-regulation and favors to particular industries have contributed to the growth of enormous corporations which control more of the market and more capital than they should.

      The reason I (and I assume a lot of other libertarians) react so quickly to stuff like what Truth is saying is twofold. There are often factual inaccuracies or misleading statistics backing it up, and it is almost always followed by calls for some attempt to fix what is not clearly a major problem through more of the government interference that got us in this situation in the first place.

      Please correct me if there is some reason to keep harping on income inequality besides calling for more government involvement in determining how wealth is to be distributed.

      1. Because the inequality illustrates why libertarians are wrong about everything. It is not possibly true that the people at the top have been working that much harder. It’s not supply and demand that has distributed wealth that way. There are a lot of factors involved, not least relentless “free market” propaganda supported by the likes of movement libertarians, who seem to think that EVIL THEFT is happening only among the poor and working classes, even though they’ve seen absolutely no gain from all their years of supposedly rigging the system in their favor.

        1. What does “working harder” have to do with anything?

          I’m a lawyer. By no stretch of the imagination do I “work harder” than a guy who picks lettuce in a field for a living. Yet I’m compensated much more lavishly because I create more value for my employers, than he does for his, per unit of time worked.

          Does this explain income inequality in its totality? Of course not. Some wealthy people get wealthy gaming the legal or political environment. Those people suck, and we should radically reduce the size and scope of government to prevent rent-seeking from being accomplished profitably. But this idea that wealth is largely unearned, or that the wealthy have stolen GDP growth that rightfully belongs to other people, is just so much bullshit.

    4. Re: Tony,

      […]falling over yourself to dismiss everything The Truth is saying.

      But that’s only because what he says is bullshit, Tony. Please, be patient with us…

    5. You talk about parasites and reference TT’s posts, yet TT’s posts only refer to income disparity. He has yet to show that that disparity has anything to do with parisitism.

      1. Re: Joshua,
        For our resident marxist here, Joshua, a person that does not obtain his income by toil is a parasite, never mind that people receive income (money) after exchanging something that someone else values more, be it services, be it goods.

        Tony here espouses the tired, old, debunked, beaten and left for dead Labor Theory of Value. Bohm-Bawerk gives a beautiful and elegant explanation of where wages come from, and Menger gives the most cogent and potent theory of value ever.

      2. He did say the distribution was the result of the rich asking for and getting policy that enriches them further. I don’t see how that’s different from the conservative/libertarian bugaboo about liberals and their parasitic underclass clawing for more handouts. The villains in the libertarian narrative have, by all evidence, been wildly unsuccessful in their neverending quest to steal from the rich. You guys never entertain the notion that the rich can steal from the poor, because you think merely having a lot of money means you obviously worked for it legitimately, not seeing the circularity in this reasoning.

        1. “He did say the distribution was the result of the rich asking for and getting policy that enriches them further. ”

          He can say it.

          What he can’t do is prove it.

    6. Probably becuase his blather proves nothing.

      Wealth belongs to whoever has legal title to it – period.

      There was never any static pile of wealth that was somehow handed out by the government.

      Bill Gates got rich by creating Microsoft. He created a big pile of new wealth and he (and a bunch of other people who worked for and with him) got to keep it.

      Just as they should. They created it – ti belongs to them.

  29. Except in a few states (such as California) where pension liabilities have actually begun to eat into discretionary spending, the pension crisis exists mainly in the future.

    So what? They’ve been used as bludgeons for RAISING taxes more often than they are being used to CUT jobs.

  30. The 26% figure comes from 2010? Of course it’d be higher now, since union members have been stirred to action. It’d probably even be higher than in 2008 if an election were held now. If unions and the Democratic Party in the state can keep those workers angry and organized, that anger could probably cause an even bluer election in 2012 than 2008. If it subsides, you’re still looking at an election closer in turnout to 2008 than 2010. Do Republicans think 2010 was the norm and that voters shifted to the right?

  31. I have no problem with you attacking my piece- despite your own explanations being, for the most part, incomplete and largely incorrect. I do, however, wonder where you came up with the notion that I posted a retraction or some vast re-explanation as I have no recollection of doing so – nor do I see such a thing on the post.

  32. Oh- and as far as ‘breathless’ headlines, mine certainly cannot hold a candle to your own suggesting that Scott Walker is a pro-union mole. If you are so disturbed by my own title, would your own not constitute the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black?

  33. US Senate Dems have lost the battle to make any shutdown over budget cuts look like the Republicans’ fault — so some cuts will happen. And FL, OH, and a couple other states have introduced similar measures to limit public employee collective bargaining.

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