Off the Editor’s Desk – 3-11-2015

Protesters are again gathering at the state capitol in Madison over the “Right to Work Bill”. I was reminded of that the other day at coffee. If a union works hard and makes an agreement with an employer, then should not all employees support the union, because it was the union that got the wage and benefit package for all workers?

I was quick to agree with that assessment, however after watching the weekend national newscasts, a different opinion appeared to me.

If any of the information that I heard over the weekend is true, then I have a new feeling. Apparently states that have passed the “Right to Work” law are doing better financially, have higher wages, more jobs and are better off because of the law.

Then I heard that less than six percent of the work force are union members. Most of the union workers work in manufacturing facilities and those jobs have left the state and the nation.

Back in November of 2011, Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. a Libertarian writer and speaker wrote a piece called “Downward Wisconsin”. He said: “We made machine tools in Milwaukee, cars in Kenosha, and ships in Sheboygan. We mined iron in the north and lead in the south. We made cheese, we made brats, we made beer, and we even made napkins to clean up what we spilled. And we made money.”

Now most of those firms are no longer in Wisconsin, in fact over the past decade alone we have lost 150,000 manufacturing jobs in this state. “And it’s not just the jobs that have been lost; the companies that provided them are gone,” Nerenz claims.

He continued with: “Wisconsin is the birth place of the progressive movement, the home of the Socialist Party, the first state to allow public sector unions, the cradle of environmental activism, a liberal fortress walled off against common sense for decades.”

And, what has that brought to the state? Lost jobs, empty factories.

None of the state’s top ten employers are in the manufacturing business. Six of them are tax supported institutions: University of Wisconsin-Madison; Milwaukee Public Schools, U.S. Postal Service, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, City of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walmart, Menards, Marshfield Clinic and Aurora Health Care are the private employers in the state that make up the top ten employers. We now look down our nose at the men and women who lead in industry and create jobs that pay taxes and fight poverty.

Nerenz concluded that in 2011 that, “the 450,000 people who still work in manufacturing in Wisconsin are damm good at it, but we are now outnumbered by people who work for government. A significant number of the latter are tasked with taxing, regulating, and generally harassing the former. While it is true many manufacturers chase low-range opportunities on their own. Many more were driven out of this state by the increasing cost of doing business here.”

On another note, Forbes last week released its list of the world’s richest people. Bill Gates tops the list with a net worth of $79.2 billion. Forbes states that there are 1,826 billionaires in the world. The net worth of those 1,829 people is estimated at $7,050,000,000,000, which is $7.05 trillion.

I would like to compare that to the debt the United States has. If the federal government could get all the money from those 1,829 billionaires, and pay down that debt, the government would still be in debt some $11 trillion dollars.

We have allowed that debt to burden our children, grandchildren and beyond.

Thanks for reading! — Carlton