Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Man from ALEC: Or, The Stupidian Candidate

I think I've made clear that I don't believe that Donald Trump is a real candidate, so much as a reality tv candidate (although if he decides to launch a third party candidacy, I can't be sure that I am not, on some very schadenfreude level, rooting for him--against the GOP).I also don't think brother of W., Jeb Bush, wants the job very much, or he would have spent the last umpteen years thinking more about how to craft and convey a compelling message about why he's supposed to be of any use to us, instead of making gaffes and coming off as a weenie.

Among people I consider valid GOP candidates: Scott Walker. I'm a die-hard lefty and I hate his guts, so I think that probably means he has a great shot at winning the nomination for the 2016 Best of the Worst Contest, especially now that WI court cronies have struck down the John Doe proceedings in or around his various runs for the office he holds. Maybe he uses his office and the taxpayer funds therefrom to run for things. Feh.

Of course, he's bad for climate issues. He might be one of the candidates least prepared to deal with foreign policy.  And I've pointed out myself, he simply refrains from answering questions he doesn't consider profitable to himself. But the thing that fascinates me is why--

Because I kind of have come to the opinion that unless some agency is feeding him the answers he doesn't have any. He gets a lot of his thought processes from the thinking of other folks. I mean really, how does someone actually say out loud where the people can hear that the "minimum wage is lame" unless you never thought for yourself what it might be like to live on it? How do you suppose that calling mandatory ultrasounds just a "cool thing" makes sense, unless you disregard the part about their being mandatory, and unnecessary to women who know full well what a pregnancy is and means to them? How do you come to the idea that piss-testing food stamp recipients for drugs and restricting their purchases is a great thing, when drug testing is useless and costly to taxpayers.

He doesn't have any thoughts in his pointy little head that ALEC or maybe the Koch brothers haven't put there.  If he ever seems dubious about an issue, it just means the correct answers have not been downloaded to his firmware, yet. His slightly skewed eyes are like the windshield of a driverless car. His lackluster stump speech that nonetheless brings all the stans to the yard? Is time-tested and ALEC-approved. He channels RW talking points--he is a political medium (because his type in politics is neither rare nor well-done.)

He would bomb Iran on his inauguration day. That is a thing he seriously said. And yet he is a serious candidate. I would say, a serious sociopath. But don't try him on that--he isn't for turning. He isn't for learning.  He's for ALEC and cronyism--it has worked so far. And I would call that lack of ability to be more than a talking-points-turner a real problem.


Anonymous said...

I can't dispute any of your points. Walker is the latest GOP Howdy Doody, only more of a block head.

Formerly Amhert said...

Hi Vixen, please, please, please, don't let the conflicts of our world motivate you to hate people. This life is a very brief interval with good and bad consequences that await. Naturally, you may hate someone who personally attacks you or family or friend, but political discourse is a vice that encourages one to be trapped into motives for which there are painful consequences in the future. Obviously, you can disregard what I am saying, but believe it or not, I am suggesting this as a friend. Disagree, disapprove til the cows come home. But try to avoid hatred. Believe me, a lot of things that happen in life are actually setups to encourage one to take wrong steps.

As you might expect, I feel differently about Walker. I approve of unions. You may find this difficult to believe, but I almost was a member of the Teamsters (which is quite a story in itself). I think it is legitimate for a company making good profits for union members to say they helped produce those profits, so therefore there's a legitimate right to share in the profits. In Wisconsin the issue was public sector unions. And here we are not talking about profits, but rather taxes.

People are compelled to pay taxes by the state whether they can afford it or not. It has nothing to do with a share of profits. You had school administrators in Wisconsin making $90,000 a year plus benefits, and some gal making $35,000 a year working in a laundry had to pony up with her tax dollars to make sure that administrator kept floating in high style.

My point of view is that it is fair for private sector unions to share in the profits, but it is not fair for public sector unions to make demands on the taxpayer's purse.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Walker is a tabula rasa on which the plutocrats can scribe whatever they wish. He'd be even more of a puppet than Dubya, which is terrifying.

Vixen Strangely said...

I had second-guessed myself on using "hate his guts" as too much, but it's intended in the figurative sense--probably another signpost in the coarsening of culture vis a vis language. The internet is swollen with comments like "die in a fire" which are generally more metaphorically meant, but in a gentler day would have been "go fly a kite".

I think one of the missing points in the argument about public service unions is that public service union members are also taxpayers. Their own tax money pays for government services. While an administrator might have a handsome salary, in general, state salaries aren't on a par with private sector wages, with benefits being the actually key part of the compensation package--which people hired under a contract base their own personal budgets on. Public employees aren't picking up their coat and running for the door for more money because these are stable jobs that enable them to make plans that help them from getting them homes established to getting their retirement worked out--

Until someone decides to massively futz with their contract because they 1) do not respect a contract because they 2) do not understand that labor should have a fair price point, and that 3)people will naturally end up having to accept a work-around they can live with and on. State employment is a complex and bureaucratic system. Usually, employees work, for example, with sometimes 20-30 year old technology and have to familiarize themselves with little "tricks" to make things work properly--i.e., folks getting proper pension, unemployment, tax refund checks, and billing billed appropriately, and getting contracted-out work done on time. It takes management skills learned on the job over decades to make things run smoothly, and a solid mentorship scheme within agencies and good intra-agency contacts, which is easy going when people stick within their employment trajectory and move on up like civil service intends--

Vixen Strangely said...

When someone disrupts this system, younger folks bail and don't move up but move on, and there's a depressing cycle of low-level "musical chairs" that keeps some lower level management roles from getting filled--preventing the smooth upward curve of competency need to get shit done. And upper management accepts early retirement so they can go ahead and supplement their retirement with second employment because 1) their pensions ain't what they used to be when they originally were looking forward to them and 2) they end up taking a whole lot of institutional memory with them with the result that 3) services are not good. You can't get good government services without an investment in good government workers.

In budget planning for a large scale operation like state government, once the parameters of manpower and pay scales are taken into account, you have a pretty well-fixed overhead--that isn't your tax money-eating monster. Usually, there's inefficiencies in real estate management, contract services, and failure to capitalize on federal grants and "free money". Also, there's balloon debt service from an over-reliance on bond issues and borrowing that can affect governors who make the mistake of cutting taxes to the bone before they've figured out where to trim the bureaucratic fat.

Those tax dollars should, in a reasonable scheme, be the result of progressive taxation that comps low-wage or low-profit entrepreneurs via a version of the EITC program--so that they are not taxed on the little they have but are subsidized for their productivity, but also taxes income on a variable scale commensurate with: ability to pay. From time to time, early-retirement plans can be used to shake out the higher-salaried public workers if there ever is a pinch on the public purse--but governments aren't businesses, and are not run for profit. They should hew as near to money in/money out as a thing can be--

Also--a lot of people don't recognize that government workers actually provide real services. They take whole-heartedly the line from Reagan that the most baleful words you'll ever hear are: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." But some public service workers who do work directly with the public in navigating the ins and outs of the system and do their damndest to make things easy for people receive wonderful feedback. And it is rewarding even if not always monetarily so, when you make the interface between people and their government work like it really should.

~A public service union member specializing in taxation.

Formerly Amhert said...

Greetings, Vixen, I appreciate your spirited defense of public unions. I confess that some of your points are arguable.

However, in Wisconsin all of these points and others were made abundantly clear to the electorate, and they continued to re-elect Mr. Walker. Wisconsin being a highly Democratic, union state, all conceivable arguments and devices were presented to defeat the governor. The people knew better, and they were the ones on the ground being affected.

This is vox populi. The people evaluated the situation and came to a conclusion that was in the best interests of the people. It is no good to simply assume everyone is stupid, or manipulated. The unions made an all-out attempt pressing their case.

Anecdotally, as it happens the gracious and lovely Alicia and I are retired (which is one of the reasons I have time to act as a lodge principle). As a consequence we meet a lot of retirees. The g & l Alicia retired from a Fortune 500 company, and we have had opportunities to measure her modest pension with government workers at the same level. In our experience, there is no comparison. Civil servants make out like bandits in comparison with retirees from private corporations. This includes personal friends of ours who make from single pensions what we do with pension, social security, and a portfolio in the financial markets.

Here's what I have learned over a lifetime of being at all sides of this dilemma. Government and big business are both hungry acquirers of power. Both will abuse whomever they can abuse. And both work together in their own interests at the expense of American citizens.

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