Friday, March 11, 2011


Well, I'm not the Wisconsin girl, so I will leave any lengthy commentary on that to her. But suffice it to say that this was a sad week in cheesehead land. "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." -Ronald Reagan

This is what class war looks like. It's all about priorities, but I especially don't see why children/education/the future should suffer to provide tax breaks to billionaires. Eat the Future, in the words of Paul Krugman. Helping children, even poor children (maybe even especially poor children), improves our country in the long run.

You all know by now that I love nifty county-by-county maps. Today Becky found a new one for me. I don't love this one as much as some of the others and I'm honestly not entirely clear on what message the creators of it were trying to send, but it does show some interesting national trends. I grew up in what The Atlantic defines as Industrial Metropolises; Becky grew up in an Emptying Nest. I can't see the map well enough to figure out if our current county is an Industrial Metropolis or a Monied Burb, though I'm quite certain that our town would be defined as a Monied Burb. We have strong interest in moving to a Campus and Careers (or y'know, more Monied Burbs) county. I'm particularly intrigued by their definition of large areas of the upper Midwest as Emptying Nests. We've always heard about the Midwestern brain drain, although Brookings tells me that according to 2000 census data, in fact the Midwest has large numbers of young educated workers while the Northeast has large numbers of aging educated workers in addition to young educated workers.

And that's probably enough demographic nerdiness for you for one Friday evening. Happy Weekend!


  1. You make a number of assumptions here that are really at the heart of the issue.

    First, you are equating requiring union members to contribute more towards their benefits to be "hurting children", when to many it is simply a necessary adjustment to modern reality. This is going on everywhere in the private sector without crippling either companies or workers - why should teachers be immune?

    Second, when you say "It's all about priorities", you make the assumption that the only way society can advance and "help" is through the action of government. In doing so, you are having government forcibly take money by threat of incarceration or death from individuals to support your moral imperatives. You believe that helping poor children improves our country - what about those who think the traditional {Muslim/Christian/etc} values are the way to help the country in the long term? How would you feel if they were taking your tax dollars to persecute you because of your "non-traditional" relationship?

    The culture war is not about tax breaks for billionaires - that's just a red herring. It's about the role of government - a difference between those who want government to "set priorities" and "invest in the future", and those who want government to leave us the hell alone to make our own choices as adult Citizens.

  2. First of all, what happened in Wisconsin in the past few weeks was not about convincing union members to contribute more. They agreed to the salary cuts, increased contributions to pensions, and increased contributions to health care. And that's fine, I don't disagree with that in the slightest. What they did not agree to was being forbidden to ever negotiate about their benefits or working conditions ever again. And the fact that the unions who supported Walker politically escaped his wrath does nothing to convince me it was anything other than a blatant political move.

    The government is by no means the only way to help, but the government has an interest in promoting and investing in long term benefits to the country. If we do not invest in education we are going to have economic problems for decades to come. And unless we completely dismantle SNAP/TANF/Medicaid/Prison/etc. (which I find highly unlikely, regardless of either of our personal feelings about whether this should be done) failing to invest in helping poor children is only going to lead to exponentially larger bills down the road.

    And, by the way, Congress is actually taking my tax dollars to pay a legal team to defend DOMA in court, which does hurt my family.

  3. Sure, they agreed to the cuts as long as the process that allowed their pensions and benefits to get out of control was left intact so they could reverse the cuts the first time a sympathetic executive was in power. The problem with public sector unions is that there is often nobody representing the taxpayers. When a private executive sells out his company for personal gain, it's fiduciary misconduct and he/she ends up in jail. When a politician does the same, it's election season. When people see over and over that the response to proposed budget cuts is "we'll have to fire all of the firemen and policemen" and not "we'll have to look at renegotiating contracts and benefits that we'd no longer be able to afford", it's entirely reasonable for the people to say "stop entering into contracts on our behalf that we have no say in".

    Government has many interests. It is also supposed to have limitations to prevent these interests from infringing on the rights of the citizens. If you believe government should be running these programs, your argument is perfectly reasonable. If, however, you believe that government should not be taking on these responsibilities and indeed is prohibited them by the Constitution, your argument boils down to "we have to steal your money now so we can maybe steal less later". One may pay off a mugger to avoid injury and greater loss, but that doesn't turn the thief into a legitimate businessman (unless, of course, we're talking about tax collectors).

    It is not a matter of being against poor children, but a matter of the role of the government. If there's such great consensus that these government programs are needed, why are they funded with taxes? Why not let all those supporters donate their own money to the programs they value? Or is it that they only value them when someone else is forced to pay for it? Why is someone forced by government fiat to provide financial backing for a program when they might do more good by expanding their business and creating more jobs? Many believe we will enable a much brighter future if we get these programs out of the hands of government and back in the hands of the people where they rightfully belong.

  4. Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya, oh lord kumbaya...

  5. On to the real meat of the post, I don't get the demographics map at all. What is it based on (data??)? What is the purpose? They seem to have defined the regions by a series of arbitrary cultural datapoints. Is it a conglomerate measure? That would be interesting... wonder if there's a formula somewhere. I love these maps almost, but not quite, as much as you and I just don't get this one.

  6. Oh, and I think they should add the security word you're required to type to post a comment to the end of the post, just for the entertainment value.

  7. Ha, I agree on the security word thing. Once I was commenting on a friend's blog, and I'd just eaten a ridiculous dinner and a pint of ice cream or something, and the word I got was "chubby". I was not amused. Or very amused, one of the two. :P