NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Wisconsin's Billionaires Make a Sacrifice?


    Paul Jay: Here's an alternative "something has to give" plan for Wisconsin -   February 24, 2011
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter




    I appreciate immensely The Real News reports. You report news that is covered nowhere else. - Elizabeth Sheppard
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Paul Jay, is CEO and Senior Editor of The Real News Network. Prior to TRNN, Jay was for ten seasons the creator and Executive Producer of CBC Newsworld's flagship debate programs, counterSpin and FaceOff.

    Jay has produced and directed more than 20 major documentary films including "Return to Kandahar", "Lost in Las Vegas" and "Hitman Hart: wrestling with shadows", a feature length documentary, that was screened in 25 major festivals and won more than a dozen awards. It's been called "one of the most acclaimed Canadian films in years"(eye magazine), "A tale as bizarre as Kafka and as tragic as Shakespeare" (Ottawa Citizen) and "one of the best films of 1998"(Peter Plagens, art critic for Newsweek).

    A past chair of the Documentary Organization of Canada, Jay is the founding chair of Hot Docs!, the Canadian international documentary film festival.

    Transcript

    Wisconsin's Billionaires Make a Sacrifice?PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. Something has to give, say people backing Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker. And that something just has to be the wages and collective bargaining rights of public sector workers.

    Early in this epic battle, Wisconsin's Journal Sentinel's editorial board wrote, on February 12, "Walker is right to do this. He must insist that state workers pay a bigger share of their benefits. And he's right to take steps to compel them to do so. . . . Walker must fill a gaping budget hole of $137 million for the fiscal year that ends June 30 and a much larger imbalance in the next two-year budget. Something has to give."

    The hole by 2013 is expected to be around $3.6 billion, so a few more things are going to have to give if Governor Walker's going to crack that nut. But, hey, everyone's going to make a sacrifice, right? So says the Wisconsin Club for Growth. They're the outfit that says, "our leaders must stand up to the tax and spend mentality in Madison and work tirelessly to cut taxes and unleash the power of the free-market." The Club for Growth should be called the "Club for Greed"--that's what Mike Huckabee told The New Yorker magazine in 2007.

    Here's a television ad they ran to support Governor Walker.

    "All across Wisconsin, people are making sacrifices to keep their jobs: frozen wages, pay cuts, and paying more for health care. But state workers haven't had to sacrifice. They pay next to nothing for their pensions and a fraction of their health care. It's not fair! Call your state legislator and tell them to vote for Governor Walker's Budget Repair Bill. It's time state employees paid their fair share, just like the rest of us".

    While public sector workers failed to heed the call of the Club for Growth, some people who benefited most from the "unleashed power of the free-market" are making their sacrifice.

    Wisconsin retail magnate John Menard, from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, dropped to number 51 from number 44 last year on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans. Now, his net worth did climb from $5 billion in 2009 to $5.2 billion in 2010, but imagine how he felt the day he opened Forbes and found his rating had gone down.

    Herbert V. Kohler Jr., the plumbing giant from Kohler, Wisconsin, made an even bigger sacrifice. His net worth went from $3 billion in '09 to only $2 billion in 2010. His Forbes ranking fell from 97th to 182nd.

    This should make Mr. Kohler's workers feel better about accepting their latest contract that includes a two-tier pay structure. Current workers, who make an average of $22.50 an hour at Kohler plumbing will have their wages frozen for five years. New workers will make $14.50 an hour. Wisconsin's Harley-Davidson and Mercury Marine won similar contracts. In all three cases, workers were made to understand their choice was to accept the concessions, or the companies would move out of Wisconsin.

    No wonder, according to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, these workers should demand that public sector workers share their fate. It's clear the government can't threaten to leave the state to win similar concessions, so this legislation must be needed to make it all fair.

    Unlike greedy public sector workers, joining their fellow Wisconsinites in taking the fair share of the pain were:

    - Donald Schneider of Schneider National Inc., a Green Bay trucking company. He held his wealth at $2.5 billion, but dropped from number 123 on Forbes' list to number 144.

    - Afton Wisconsin's Diane Hendricks, of ABC Supply Co. Inc., saw her ranking fall from 158th to 170th. Yet she found some solace in the fact her net worth grew by $100 million to $2.1 billion.

    - Members of the Johnson family of Racine, Wisconsin, bucked the trend, apparently, and refused to share the burden. They were four family members at 182nd on the list and $2 billion each. That was $50 million more and one ranking better than they did in '09.

    - Same goes for James Cargill of Birchwood, Wisconsin. His net worth grew from $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion and a ranking that went from 220 last year to 205 in 2010.

    So, we're told there's a dire emergency to find $137 million by June and $3.6 billion by 2013. Something has to give. But why is it the public sector workers? I have a couple of alternative suggestions.

    Thirty million's all the governor's apparently going get out of the concessions he's demanded from public sector workers on their pension and health care payments, and for some reason that's beyond me, the unions have agreed to it.

    But here's a much easier way to raise the dough. Just go back to 2008 levels of state-legislated estate taxes. According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, "no state estate tax has been collected for deaths occurring on or after January 1, 2008."

    Wisconsin picked up $158.8 million in 2008, so if that tax were collected for 2009 and 2010, there'd be enough to fill the short-term hole and perhaps give those workers at Kohler, Mercury Marine, and Harley Davidson a bit of a tax break.

    Now let's get out the heavy equipment and fill that $3.6 billion hole.

    In 2001, estates paid 55 percent federal tax after the first $675,000, which was exempt. It had been that way for around 85 years. After the Bush presidency, in 2009 the rate was down to 45 percent after $3.5 million was exempt. For the next two years, in a deal negotiated by President Obama and the Republicans, the rate will be 35 percent after an exempt $5 million.

    So, here's my "something has to give" plan. How about Wisconsin passes a law that takes the estate tax level back to 2001? In other words, the state adds 20 percent to the current 35 percent federal tax. And let's say the first million's tax free. The state would have to establish its own rules on what was taxable; the federal guidelines just create too many ways to avoid the tax.

    By my math, the collective net worth of the esteemed group on the Forbes 400 from Wisconsin mentioned above comes to around $21.7 billion. That would make Wisconsin's share of their estates at the time of passing around $4 billion if you follow my plan. We just paid down the debt.

    Now, while the Wisconsin Group for Growth calls for sacrifice, I'm sure even they wouldn't expect these billionaires to voluntarily die by 2013. But if the state knows the money's coming in, it shouldn't be too hard to work out the finances.

    For the libertarians in the audience, consider this. If you believe that capitalism works when it's truly the survival of the fittest, doesn't such concentrated wealth handed down from generation to generation defeat that objective?

    The obvious other objection to my plan is that these billionaires will take flight to parts unknown to avoid the tax, somewhat the way they threatened to pull their companies out of Wisconsin if workers didn't agree to the two-tier pay structure.

    But there's ways of dealing with all of this. As far as the estate tax goes, a real federal estate tax with a proper share going to the states would solve part of the problem. Failing that, the state could go after fixed assets like houses and office buildings. I'm sure if the legal brains working in the public service set their minds to it, they can come up with all kinds of effective measures. While they're at it, how about a law that says if you move your company out of the state during a labor dispute, the state will no longer buy any of your products?

    State governments, if they were really interested in the debt and not breaking unions, could use public pressure. Maybe even the Wisconsin Club for Growth will take out some more ads calling on billionaires to pay their fair share.

    Okay, I guess not. But why is it that the free market demands that the rights of private wealth and corporations must be protected, but it's okay for the government to dictate to workers, telling them they're not free to refuse to sell their labor, even if they don't agree with the price or the conditions of their employment?

    The point is, when something has to give, whether it's the public debt or problems at Kohler, Mercury Marine, and Harley Davidson, why is it acceptable that workers sacrifice, and sacrilegious to suggest it should be the billionaires?

    End of Transcript


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting