Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Protests of Budget Repair Bill

Coming so close on the heels of Egypt's heartening protests, Wisconsin union and school workers are out protesting Governor Walkers (R) bill to freeze their wages, increase their contributions to retirement (from 0.2% to 5.8%) and health insurance (from 6% to 12.6%), and to allow unions collective bargaining only when it comes to wages. Democratic state senators did not show up for the vote today so there was no quorum, Walker threatened to send the police to find them, etc etc. It's all a big hubbub. Many states are experiencing substantial budget deficits this year due to high unemployment rates. Fewer people work and pay taxes, there is less revenue for the state, yet the social programs remain in place and so you get deficit. My first thought is that it is rather obvious that programs must be cut for the moment being to balance the budgets. Sure that means laying off fire fighters, policemen, teachers, but ultimately the math has to add up.

There are other considerations though that are for some reason overlooked. In this situation I think it is equally reasonable to have let the Bush tax cuts expire, at least on those making over $250,000 a year. The increase of just 3% would hardly make or break these families, but would add substantially to the revenues, both federal and state. Additionally, 2/3 of corporations in Wisconsin do not pay any corporate income tax. I suppose one can argue that corporations provide much needed employment, but why are small business taxed? Do they not provide employment? Additionally, many such corporations, like SC Johnson, Harley Davidson and a bunch of cheese corporations are getting subsidies, money that's taken from the tax payers and given to the corporations, which aren't even taxed. I have no love for subsidies anyway, especially in agriculture. It is not what a real corporate marketplace should look like. In my little hippy town a Walmart has gone up, paid for by us and our tax dollars, and forcing a bunch of local stores out of business. I'm sorry, but that is just not right.

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