Weekend Reading: We’re All Badgers Edition

Madison protest signAs everyone knows by now, last night the Wisconsin Assembly pulled a fast one, passing Governor Walker‘s so-called budget repair bill without the usual legislative procedures. This a day after everyone heard the tape of the governor discussing possible dirty tricks with a prank caller. While this might seem farcical, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

The amount of misinformation and misundertanding about public employees, unions, and public employee unions is truly depressing. As a union president, it is news to me that we are impossible to fire. It’s news to me that we are, without exception, in favor of constantly higher taxes and expanding state government. It’s news to that I’m both overpaid and less productive than my colleagues at private universities. A long educational campaign is ahead, it seems. As a way to get started *now*, why not learn about the Month of Action to Defend Public Education in March?

Here are this week’s links, which all have a certain theme:

  • Many public employee pensions–such as the one in Wisconsin–are set up as deferred employee compensation: The fact is that all of the money going into these plans belongs to the workers because it is part of the compensation of the state workers. The fact is that the state workers negotiate their total compensation, which they then divvy up between cash wages, paid vacations, health insurance and, yes, pensions. Since the Wisconsin government workers collectively bargained for their compensation, all of the compensation they have bargained for is part of their pay and thus only the workers contribute to the pension plan. This is an indisputable fact. (via Forbes)
  • Speaking of pensions: What happened to all that deferred compensation? Ask WI pension administrators & Wall Street: Numerous state pension funds aren’t depleted because employees are contributing too little, as Walker contends . . . It’s because the financial crisis — caused in part by Wall Street pushing risky products and worsened by banks betting against their own clients — crushed the stock market, which lowered the value of pension fund assets.
  • At the New Faculty Majority’s blog, a report from Nancy McMahon, an adjunct at Madison: For those who want to portray Madison as a bunch of left-over hippies, wrong. Those occupying the Capitol weren’t born and most have little knowledge of the Vietnam War riots. (Also see this report from a visiting Californian, who notes more older folks.)
  • It’s always good to have “Some Basic Facts on State and Local Government Workers”. (Via the indispensable Christohper Newfield.)
  • Kris Olds has a great write-up from Madison, as well: n the end, however it turns out, and regardless of political standpoint, it is important for all people to realize the important role, and strongly felt views, and breathtaking energy, of Madison’s university students, and their organizations (e.g., the ASM, Badger Herald, Daily Cardinal, TAA) in engendering critically important discussion and debate here.

This week’s Wisconsin-themed video:

We Are Wisconsin from Finn Ryan on Vimeo.

Via BoingBoing, where they’ve gathered a bunch of great pics, too.

Remember: it’s not just WI: “Ballad of Shannon Jones” and “The ABCs of SB-5.” And apparently the new Ohio governor wants to create “charter universities”!

(Bonus management/employee-related video: “Disconfirmation.” Also, for Badger-related bonus video, see The Honey-Badger (NSFW, for sufficiently cursing-averse values of W.)

Have a great weekend! There are rallies in every state on Saturday to defend public services . . . why not go to one?

Photo by Flickr user awienick / Creative Commons licensed

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