Tag Archives: Scott Walker

Bad Day

Sorry for the late post. I’ve had a rough day.

First off, I just barely started writing my new story today. I got 61 words in before work. I planned on writing more during lunch, but I checked my Facebook page while I was eating and the stories I saw there got me so angry that I couldn’t bring myself to write anything.

What pissed me off is that my Tea Party poster boy governor is “considering” getting rid of the Wisconsin income tax and replacing it by raising the state sales tax from 5% to 13%. There isn’t a single state in America with sales tax that high. Not even the ones that already don’t have income tax. And while his corporate masters love this idea, it is a really bad idea for 80% of Wisconsin residents. It puts all the burden of the state’s civil programs on the lower and middle class, while the top 5% will end up with more money that they can stash in the off-shore bank accounts.

Another problem with this plan is that it will actually discourage people from spending money in Wisconsin. Anyone who wants to buy something of any value will either order it online or leave the state to buy it. We already have people who do this, so Walker is insane to think that by more than doubling the sales tax it will help the economy. Yet another moronic idea brought to you by the people who still haven’t figured out that “trickle-down economics” doesn’t work, despite thirty years of proof.

So anyway, I’ve had a bad day. I’m going to bed now, and I am hoping that I will be able to get some writing done tomorrow. With luck I’ll still be able to finish a story by Saturday. I’ll be back on Sunday to let you know how it went. See you then!

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What Happened?

Today I thought I would share some of the political thoughts and feelings that I have been having lately.

Here we are, a month after the election. Barack Obama was re-elected and I was hoping that we would be able to get past all the bullshit that has been at the forefront of the news and media for the last year. Instead, it seems to just be getting worse.

Michigan just rammed through a “Right to Work” law that is anything but. The lame duck Republicans pushed it through in a single day, with no open discussion and after literally locking out their constituents. That is NOT democracy. That is NOT why these people were elected to office. That is why they weren’t re-elected in November.

So why did they do it? It can’t be because they think it is for the good of the people. The only people it serves are the corporations that will now be able to get rid of the unions and hire people at lower pay with no benefits. And that just makes things worse.

I read recently that the state of Wisconsin is one of the top states in corporate giveaways. Michigan is even worse. Every taxpayer in Wisconsin is forced to pay $268 of tax money every year to big business, and there is little or no benefit from doing so. There are no jobs created, and the companies that take the money have no requirements to even stay in the state. And meanwhile, despite having record profits, the corporations continue to demand more.

So even with the billions of dollars of corporate welfare, why is Wisconsin at the bottom when it comes to unemployment? And why, when the “governor” has promised a “laser focus on jobs”, has he done absolutely nothing about the problem?

Instead, the news from Scott Walker’s office is that he is spending half a million dollars on a new kitchen. He has stated that he is touring the state so he can talk to the people, but the stops on his tour are invitation only and not open to the general public. More and more of his associates are being arrested, tried, and convicted, with their fingers pointing directly at him, and yet he laughingly dismisses a serious call for his arrest as a case of sour grapes.

I got the idea for my NaNoWriMo project from my frustrations about the current political situation in Wisconsin and the country. And despite the Democratic wins in November, the Republicans are still pushing the same old crap that lost them their seat at the table.

It’s depressing.

It makes me think that there will be nothing left for our children. It makes me think that the country I grew up in is dead and gone, and I wonder why I am still here. There is no end to the insanity in sight.

It almost makes me hope that the people who say the world is going to end this month are right, because I’m not sure that we as a people still deserve to live.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, think about who is currently in power. The ones that are in charge of the country now are people who grew up in the eighties and nineties. The Yuppies of the “Me” generation. They grew up rich and privileged, thinking of nothing but themselves, so it is no wonder that now that they are in charge they are pushing for laws that benefit nobody but themselves.

And the whole thing is self-destructive. If they would just stop to think about it, they might realize that if they continue to take money away from the people who are supposed to be buying their goods, soon enough there won’t be anybody left that will be able to buy anything. They will end up closing their doors because their only customers will be people as rich as they are, and we all know that they aren’t spending their money. Instead, they stash it in offshore bank accounts, or give it to crooked politicians like Scott Walker and his gang of thieves, so they can continue to feed off the public teat.

So that’s my soap box speech for the day. Maybe someone can be nice and leave a comment to let me know that all isn’t lost. Or at least tell me that I am not alone in these thoughts.

And when you’re shopping this holiday season (if you can still afford it, I know I can’t), try going to a small, independent store where the owner greets you with a smile from behind the counter. Or better yet, buy direct from a local craftsman. Stay away from the big box stores. You know, the ones that pay their workers minimum wage with no benefits. They already have enough of your money, and odds are that it is going to a bank outside of the country.

See you Wednesday! Hopefully I’ll have something less depressing to write about. Does anybody have any suggestions?

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Good New and Bad News

The first thing that I did this morning was check the election results. I felt that this election was one of the most important decisions of my life, and I was anxious to find out what happened. Not enough that I had to stay awake last night for it, but enough that it was the first thing on my mind when I got up.

The good news is that the Tea Party Jihad has failed. The arrogant, lying waffler, Mitt Romney, will NOT be our next President. Thank God! Also, Wisconsin finally managed to realize the Tommy Thompson was only interested in himself and how he can profit from betraying us to his corporate friends in Washington, and he also lost his election to the Senate.

The bad news is that the waffler’s head weasel, Paul Ryan, won his bid for re-election to Congress, despite the fact that at the same time that he told voters a Congressman should be limited to six terms, this will be his seventh. So I guess the people of Janesville and the surrounding areas still have their heads up their asses, and failed to see how Ryan is simply another lying corporate stooge.

And it also appears that the Democrats have lost control of the state legislature as well, which means that Walker, Inc., will be sticking it to the Wisconsin people once again. We can probably expect more protests. We can definitely expect more lies. Personally, I’m still wondering why the John Doe investigation still hasn’t dragged him away in chains. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is an even bigger crook than Tommy Thompson. And the worst part about it is that he’s also too stupid to bother covering his tracks.

Whew. That feels better. Politics is a nasty business, isn’t it. I feel like I should go get the mouthwash to clean the filth out of my mouth for having to say those names.

In other news, my NaNoWriMo story is progressing well. I have over 12,000 words, so I’m ahead of schedule. If there’s one thing that this election season has done for me, it has been to provide a huge amount of inspiration for a dystopian novel. And despite the fact that I now have hope for the future, I also know that those Republican idiots are still out there, and will probably be back. It’s up to us to protect our democracy, and guard our right to vote, or it will be taken away from us. It doesn’t look good to the rest of the world when we send our troops out “to fight for democracy,” when we don’t have it at home.

That’s the end of my rant for the day. Time to get back to writing, so I can stay ahead of the game. I’ll check in again on Sunday. See you then.

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Stealing from the Best

I’m still plugging away at my plan for NaNoWriMo in November. I was playing around with some ideas for the plot this morning and had a bit of an epiphany.

My idea has some small parallels with the original Star Wars trilogy. Maybe I should pattern it after the movies. Then I would have not just one, but three books that I could write.

Now before you get all hot and bothered about stealing ideas from other creators, let me remind you of one thing: THAT’S WHAT WRITERS DO!

Seriously, there are only so many plots available to write. Every author takes one (or more) of them and creates his own story from that basic idea. I’m certainly not going to plagiarise George Lucas. There is no way that I can write about my Valkyries fighting a demon incursion and have to worry about George setting his lawyers after me.

What I mean, is that I can write my story in such a way that my characters will be hooking up with a rebel force and at the end they will take down a major demon stronghold. It won’t be the Death Star, but it will be big, nasty, and destroying it will be a huge setback for the demons. After that I can write a second book in which the demons “strike back”, and lastly one in which the rebels, led by my main characters, take down the evil empire.

Although I won’t be copying the movies, I do want to watch them again before I start writing. I’ve got a whole stack of other dystopian films to go through as well, so I will certainly be busy for the next month.

I may end up changing my mind about this idea, but for now that is what I am going with. Let me know what you think. I could use a second (or third, fourth, ninety-eighth) opinion before I make a big mistake. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out who will be the evil emperor behind all the chaos.

Speaking of evil empires, I learned today that the governor of my state (but definitely not MY governor), the weasel Scott Walker, is going to start a national narc campaign. “If you see something, tell somebody.” This whole idea gets under my skin in so many ways.

First off, remember that this is from a man who has to have a legal defense fund, has had several of his political “achievements” turned over because they are illegal and/or unconstitutional, and who has spent most of his term touring the country because he is afraid to show his face in Wisconsin. If this goes into effect, you would think he would realize how many calls they are going to get about him and his cronies. Not a good idea.

Secondly, if I remember my history correctly, the Nazis had a similar program to flush out Jews. I know Joseph McCarthy did at the height of the Red Scare. This is how it started. A seemingly innocent program that sounds like it is only intended to flush out the criminal element, but it quickly turns neighbors and co-workers against each other.

For the last ten years we have been trying to regain our privacy and freedom from the “Homeland Security Agency”. The paranoid extremists took the opportunity given them by the tragedy of 9/11 to get a toe hold into our democracy, and that crack has only widened over the last decade. I really don’t think this country needs another witch hunt. It will bring nothing but pain and injustice to a country that needs, more than ever, to come together.

Whatever happens in the next couple months, I hope and pray that we as a nation will be able to come to our senses and go back to the good and decent country that I grew up in. Please remember to VOTE in November. Do your part to make my dream come true.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with another update. Don’t forget to leave a comment for me!

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Why the Republican Agenda is Self-Destructive

Excuse me for a minute. After the disappointing results of the Wisconsin recall election last night, I felt that I had to vent about some things. I’m not normally a political person, but the events of the last 18 months have made the sidelines smaller and smaller, until there is no room for anyone to stand there. So here are some of my thoughts on the results of the new laws and changes that the Republican party has been pushing through recently.

Let me first start out with the thought that I don’t think that “Conservative” means what you think it means. The definition of conservative is “disposed to preserve existing conditions or limit change; cautiously moderate or purposefully low; traditional in style or manner, avoiding novelty or showiness.” In my opinion, nothing that has been rammed through the legislature recently has been conservative. It is all about shaking things up, reversing decades of progress, and in the case of Governor Scott Walker (yuck!), showing off on a national level. Walker has been called a “right-wing rock star”, which is a fairly good assessment. He has been touring the country instead of focusing on Wisconsin, showing off for all of the right-wing Republican business leaders and gathering most of his campaign contributions from outside the state. If he had been out there bringing in jobs instead of donations he may not have had to worry about the recall in the first place.

Speaking of jobs, let’s talk about the unions. I work for the State of Wisconsin Department of Revenue. I admit it, I am a tax collector. My job is to ensure that people comply with the tax laws of the state of Wisconsin, which means that I also have to sometimes forcibly collect money from people who can’t afford to pay it. It’s NOT a nice job. The only way I can rationalize it to myself is by saying I am helping people pay their taxes, whether they want to or not.

My position at DOR is covered by a union, and I support everything they do for me. That being said, I am also not a member of the union, and never have been. I have never paid dues to the union because my position was grandfathered in and I wasn’t required to join. So for the last seven years I have been enjoying the benefits of the union without paying the price. And I have felt guilty about it for the last seven years, but at the time my budget was so slim I couldn’t afford the extra expense. And then, last year, Scott Walker came in and stripped my rights away, completely castrating the Wisconsin unions and making it so they would be completely irrelevant.

Union detractors go on and on about how corrupt they are, and how union members are being forced to pay dues to out-of-state thugs that don’t do anything for them. They talk about how much better things would be if unions were banned. Either these people have no clue about how unions really work, or they are just plain lying on the behalf of corporate interests.

Unions were created by working people, in an effort to rein in the criminal activities of businesses that paid terrible wages for unsafe jobs. The employees would gather together as a group and elect a spokesperson to represent them at a bargaining table with their employer. Organized workers are the reason why people can now get a 40 hour work week, paid vacation time, sick leave, and job security. Even national unions still have local officers, elected by the people they represent. Union dues go mostly toward legal fees for people who have been wronged by their employers, as well as lobbying for things like increasing the minimum wage and instituting programs like OSHA, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation. The union promise has always been to protect the working class from corporate greed and carelessness.

So, back to the people who roll out the rhetoric about corrupt unions and laud the politicians like Scott Walker that attack them. These people rant about how the unions have given state workers “gold-plated pension plans” and health insurance at little or no cost, and how the benefits packages of state workers for things like vacation time and sick leave are so much better than what is available in the private sector. The truth about these things is that the reason the benefits are so much better is because we have given up pay increases in exchange for these things. The take-home pay of most state workers is well below the pay of people that do similar work in the private sector. Even when you add in the value of the benefits received, state workers average a lower annual compensation package than those in the private sector.

I guess the point I am trying to make about this is that, instead of working to take away the benefits that my union has fought hard to get for me, why aren’t these people trying to get the same benefits for themselves? Instead of complaining so much about the unions, why don’t they simply admit that they think the work that I do is not worth anything close to the amount I would get if I worked in the private sector? This type of attitude makes it that much harder for me to put up with the nut jobs that try to sue me for rejecting the payment that they sent drawn on a closed checking account.

I agree that the state and federal governments have become bloated, and their budgets are a recurring issue in all political campaigns. However, even if we have become a “bread and circuses” society, the fact of the matter is that every job cut is work that isn’t being done. If you want a highway to drive your car on, you need to pay for someone to manage it. If you want your car to be safe, you have to pay for safety inspections. If you want your governor to be held liable for his crimes (I wish!) you have to pay for the detectives and attorneys that will prosecute him. Reducing a budget often means cutting programs. The question is always, “which ones?”

When I started with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, my job was only part-time, working six hours a day to key in tax returns that were mailed in. It was a boring, repetitive job, and it was difficult to stay awake even for the six hours I was there. About a year later, my job was made full-time, but then just a few months after that they reorganized my section and my job was at risk. Thanks to the union contract, I was able to find another position at DOR, this time working as a typist for our attorneys. A much more interesting job, which also allowed me to develop some new computer skills. Those skills helped me out when after another year passed they eliminated that position as well. This time I was off to our new Workstation Support Unit, which was responsible for  keeping the limited number (at that time) desktop computers working. I showed promise in the position, and was soon tapped to replace a woman on maternity leave as the main network cabling manager. I flourished in that job for about ten years, until 2005 when once again budget cuts put my position at risk. At that time I had been working for DOR for 12 years, and yet I was in the position of putting my resume out there and praying that I would be able to support my family. That’s when I took my current position as a tax collector. And the only reason I am still in this job is because I am afraid of what might happen if I transferred to something less stressful. With the recent economy and Wisconsin being dead last in the country for jobs, I would be a fool to risk losing a secure position. And despite the stress, I am fairly positive that they won’t get rid of the people bringing in the money.

So where was I? Oh yeah, this post is supposed to be about how destructive the Republican agenda is. So how does that fit in with destroying the unions?

Well, for one thing, putting the power into the hands of the corporations is just one more way of inciting rebellion. Take a look at the Occupy movement that has been sweeping the country, and even other parts of the world. All of these demonstrations have been in protest of companies doing terrible things without being held accountable by our government. And most of the people demonstrating feel that the reason for the lack of criminal charges being brought is because these business have bought immunity along with the politicians.

If we look back in history to the founding of this country, there is one event that is widely recognized as the start of the American Revolution: the Boston Tea Party. It is ironic that the new Tea Party has taken this event for their own, since it was the idea of “taxation without representation” that caused the Colonials to rebel against their English rulers. And now the modern-day Tea Party is pushing forward an agenda granting more and more power to the businesses that already have too much control over the country, leaving the common people feeling powerless and pissed off. I believe that very soon there will be a tipping point, a time when one more law will be passed taking away the rights of the common man and giving them to the corporations he is forced to work for at a wage that barely keeps body and soul together. When that point is reached, the demonstrations will no longer be peaceful. The brutalities of the police forces involved in the Occupy movement will be replaced by death and destruction by both the new Rebel Alliance and the troops of the National Guard. There will be a second American Revolution, and as the old saying goes, “they will start by killing all the lawyers.”

Wow. This post is getting long. And there is so much more to cover.

My next talking point about the Republican agenda is about the attacks on education. Most of the Republicans will argue that they aren’t destroying education. Instead they claim they are just trimming the fat by getting rid of the teacher’s unions. I’m sorry, but when the school janitor makes more than the teachers, there is already something wrong. And when a professional athlete makes 100 times the amount a teacher does, the world has turned upside down. And I fail to understand how eliminating the bargaining power the teachers have to get better salaries helps fix this issue.

Another attack on education is the school voucher system. What this program does is to allow for any student to have a certain amount of money provided by the government to attend the school of their choice. It sounds good, doesn’t it? It seems like it would allow poor students to attend better schools, which would be a good thing. While it does do that, unfortunately the voucher amount doesn’t cover the cost of any of the private schools, which means that any poor student would have to come up with the rest of the funds on their own. And the vouchers are also given to rich students already attending those private schools, meaning the government is subsidizing the education of people who can afford to pay for it already. Meanwhile the money used for the vouchers are funds taken directly away from the public schools that need it the most, leaving them even less able to educate all of the lower and middle class students that can’t afford the private school tuition even with the vouchers.

The end result? The private schools remain available only to the upper class, and the public schools fall apart and fail to educate anyone. It will be interesting to see what the world is like in ten years or so, when the only people graduating high school or college are the 1%. How do they expect to keep all of their big businesses staffed with professional, white-collar workers, when nobody will be able to afford the education required to do the work? We will either end up with companies being run by people brought in from other countries, or the businesses will simply be bought out or replaced by foreign corporations. In either case, the middle class of America will vanish. There will only be two classes: the Haves and the Have Nots. And 99% of us will fall into the latter category.

I don’t think I can continue with this much longer. This post is way too long as it is. But there is one more quick point I have to make.

The Republican War on Women is insane. There is absolutely no reason for all of these new laws against birth control. And it is simply stupid to pass a law requiring doctors to lie to their patients. The entire country is looking for our duly elected political leaders to do something about the national jobs crisis, and instead they waste countless dollars and hours passing these stupid laws that don’t create a single job. And the dumbest part is that none of these people realize a simple, basic fact: If you start a war against women, you will lose. I would like to close by quoting from the pilot episode of the Wonder Woman television show, way back when in 1975:

“The Nazis don’t care about their women. They let you fend for yourself. And any civilization that does not recognize the female is doomed to destruction. Women are the wave of the future, and sisterhood is stronger than anything.”

I hope you at least think about the ideas in this post. I may be wrong about some of my predictions, and I hope I am, but I am very, very afraid that I am not.

See you on the other side!

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Politics and Policies

This last week has been stressful. I work for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, and the recent political crisis in Wisconsin is affecting me directly. This has made it very hard for me to work on my writing, but at the same time it has given me a very good reason to keep trying. After all, if things keep going they way they’re headed I may need the additional income that publishing might provide.

In case you have been living under a rock, here is my take on the situation. Last fall, Scott Walker was elected Governor of Wisconsin with 52% of the vote. Not exactly a landslide election, right? And yet, immediately after the results were announced he has acted as if he is God’s gift to the Dairy State. Before he even took office he started setting policy by sending a letter to the current Governor Jim Doyle demanding that he cease any efforts to finish off any policies that were currently pending. That included a union contract for state employees that had been in negotiations for the last two years and was close to being finished.

Once Walker took office in January he took official actions that resulted in the loss of millions of federal stimulus dollars and more millions in tax cuts for the wealthy, all while whining about the budget shortfall that he was trying to correct. Then in February he dropped the bomb of how he planned to fix the deficit that he had just made even bigger: by making state employees pay for it. He wanted us to pay a larger amount to our pensions and a greater percentage of health care costs, with no increase in pay.

Now, the main reason why the state employees have those benefits is because their pay is so low to begin with. Even with the benefits package that we have, our overall compensation for the work that we do is roughly 8% less than in the private sector. So with the changes he is proposing it will be like taking an additional 10% pay cut.

But that’s not enough for Walker. He has also proposed legislation that will prohibit state employees from forming a union to represent them in anything but wages, which would also be restricted to the Consumer’s Price Index and linked to inflation. The only unions exempt from this would be for police and fire fighters.

Is it any surprise that one of the first public comments that Walker made after announcing this bill was that he had informed the National Guard to be on standby? The protests of the last week have been peaceful so far, but it should tell you something about Walker. He knew that this was the wrong thing to do, and it was not going to be done without a fight, yet he attempted to ram this through as quickly as possible anyway, without giving the public the chance to speak. His initial plans were to have the bill out of the Finance Committee and through the legislature by Wednesday. The only reason why it wasn’t was because the Democratic Senators left the state to prevent a quorum and give people more time.

Now the unions have said that they are willing to accept the financial changes to the contracts in the interests of the state, but there is no compromise by the Republican Party. The sole intent of this bill is to kill the unions. Other states, and even the President, are watching the situation in Wisconsin very closely. If this passes in Wisconsin you can bet that it will be repeated soon somewhere else.

I don’t really care what your personal political stance is. Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t really matter. I have read blog posts that cover both sides of the issue, and both sides make some good points. The important thing about this mess for me is that Governor Walker is attempting to strip me of my civil liberties. Just because I work for the state doesn’t mean that I should be treated like a slave. In my experience most state employees are very dedicated to serving the public, and they don’t deserve to be treated in this manner.

More about me: As I said, I work for the Department of Revenue. I am a tax collector. My job is to get people to pay their taxes. This can mean taking some rather harsh actions, like garnishing wages or seizing bank accounts. My viewpoint was that I was helping people pay their fair share of taxes, whether they wanted help or not. That meant that I was also willing to help them when the collection actions that were taken were too harsh, like reducing the amount of their wages being garnished, or by returning some of the funds seized by a bank levy. If Walker’s proposal goes through, what reason will I have to make those efforts? Why should I care if someone loses their home, as long as their taxes get paid? Isn’t that what the Republicans want? They’re the ones in office, so why not act like them and concentrate solely on getting more money from the middle and lower class?

Thanks for letting me rant. It’s interesting being in the middle of history in the making. Keep watching the news. I’m sure this is just the start.

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