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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quote of the Day: Finding root causes for the anger

by folkbum

There's a reason why people like Ellen Bravo do this sort of thing professionally, and I just have a blog:
Mercury Marine of Fond du Lac had profits of $1.1 billion from 2000-'07. During that time, it paid nothing in corporate income taxes to our state. The New York Times highlighted Harley last summer as one of the companies finding "surging profits in deeper cuts." As the article pointed out, the benefits of those profits "are mostly going to shareholders instead of the broader economy." [. . .]

For illusionists like [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker, here's the trick: State politicians give tax incentives and other breaks to large corporations that gouge their workers. The politicians then use the sacrifice of those workers as a sledgehammer to blame budget shortfalls on public employees who are in unions. Workers and the unions take the fall, making big corporations and their politicians even more powerful.
We have been in an economic downturn, this "Great Recession" of ours. Mercury, Harley, and to a lesser extent Kohler--which has also settled with its unions offering workers a much crappier (no pun intended) deal--all make luxury products, and when the economy recesses, fewer people buy luxury products. You'd expect to see some strife at those companies.

But the full brunt of these companies' strife is being borne not by the CEOs calling the (sometimes wrong) shots, or the shareholders who opted for the risk of investing in companies that produce luxury goods. Rather, the brunt is being borne by workers who, especially in corporate towns like Kohler and Fond du Lac, are just trying to feed their families.

In the last election, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac Counties, home to Kohler and Mercury, voted overwhelmingly for Walker, whose solution to their woes is apparently to finally stop those bloodsucking UW teaching assistants from having a union.

This bears repeating: While it is true that the broader economy has an unemployment rate of 10%, the wealthy are doing fine: Bankster pay is up, stocks are about as high as they've been in the last decade, corporate profits are at all-time highs, companies are sitting on billions in cash reserves (while not paying their small-business supply chains), and corporate and top-tier tax rates are at generational lows.

Scott Walker wants to reward--indeed, has already started rewarding--all those doing so well with additional tax breaks. He wants to take everyone else and extract sacrifice.

The resentment formerly middle-class folks feel is real and palpable and fully justified. But directing it at the people who collect garbage, teach children, and care for our grandparents is ridiculous.

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