Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The ‘Brook Hill Dog’ Lithograph–With Update (albeit not on the subject of the original post)

Some of AB’s regular readers might have picked up on the fact that I’m obsessed with animal rescue.  (Dan Crawford sure has!)  And since AB is mostly an economics/fiscal-policy blog, it probably has readers who buy art and antiques.

Soooo …. I thought I’d pass this along.  The key sentence is near the end of the article: “The ‘Brook Hill Dog’ print will be auctioned on eBay from April 3rd to April 10th by Braden River Antiques.”

And let’s hear it for Maureen Flaherty of Summerfield, Florida!

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UPDATE: Well, what I thought would be a sweet little post about a generous woman and animal rescue took a decidedly political turn in the Comments thread to the post, in the following comments:

Little John

March 31, 2015 5:33 pm

Would it be a cheap shot to ask you if this is an example of Southern-Brutality Culture?

Bruce Webb

April 1, 2015 2:35 am

Little John it is a picture of a dog looking through a hole in a fence. Or maybe half poking through that fence. I don’t think the implication is that somebody JAMMED the dog THROUGH that fence.

Then again people who know tell me I have little sense of humor.

Little John

April 1, 2015 10:21 am

Bruce you didn’t get the joke. Recently Ms. Mann had a post about an episode of animal abuse in Florida that she believed was emblematic of “Southern Brutality Culture”. But this post contradicts her stereotype of “Southern Brutality Culture”.

Bruce Webb

April 1, 2015 11:30 am

Well in all seriousness it doesn’t do that at all.

There would be nothing odd in knowing that some afficianado of dog fighting or cock fighting or bull baiting or fox hunting also loved their own horses and dogs. In fact that is more typical than not, I would suspect that most participants in ‘field sports’ are at least dog lovers.

This picture even in that context is about as ironic as one of Hitler giving candy to and accepting a flower from a little girl. In fact the very ability to separate pets from blood sport dogs in ones own mind is what is disturbing. No wonder I didn’t get the joke.

Beverly Mann

April 1, 2015 12:09 pm

Little John, my post about Southern Brutality Culture referred to a particular strain of Southern culture, not to all Southerners. People in other parts of the country don’t go around hanging black men, and never did, but it was commonplace in the Deep South for many decades and still occurs albeit rarely.

The woman who bought the lithograph lives in the Tampa Bay area and well may not be originally from the South. But obviously many, many people who are from the South are not part of the Brutality Culture. I know of a wonderful animal rescue organization based in a small, rural, very Republican north Florida county. I also know a woman in her late 40s who has lived her entire life in north central Florida and who until about a week ago, when one of her dogs died, had two rescue dogs and a rescue cat. The dog who died was elderly and had had a hugely enlarged mammary gland that this woman, who is decidedly non-upscale, could not pay to have surgically removed. The doggie always wore a coat in chilly weather and was carried from place to place when she couldn’t walk from, say, the curb back to her house, and was regularly petted and kissed. This woman’s other rescues are treated lovingly as well. Nor would this woman be caught dead harming animals, at all.

But there’s no question at all that a particular strain of Southern culture is in-your-face brutal, and that strain has gained control of the Republican Party, whose primary purpose is to destroy the social safety net. As Scott Walker demonstrates, it’s not limited to the South, but it does spring from a John Birch, KKK culture imported from the Deep South. Killing the social safety net is not an obsession that a majority of Americans, or, as the 47% thing showed, a majority of American voters in presidential elections, harbor, so I doubt that a Republican will be elected president any time soon. But most of the electoral votes that the Republican nominee will garner will be from the South.

Little John

April 1, 2015 3:55 pm

Yes it does Bruce. Go read her post. In that post she paints the South as a racist, violent, abusive place. There aren’t any qualifications regarding particular “strains” as she tries to explain in her recent comment. And there is no qualification that Southerners could actually love their pets but still love to hunt for example. The post is very black and white. Maybe I am being too literal but I thought words mattered.

As to Ms. Mann’s assertion that other parts of the country didn’t hang black people, well that’s patently false. And to say that the John Birch Society was imported from the South is also completely inaccurate. As for saying that Republicans primary purpose is “destroying the social safety net”, well that’s as ignorant as blanket statements about the South. I actually know some Republicans. They don’t want to destroy the social safety net. Of course they aren’t the entire GOP so maybe they are outliers.

Beverly Mann

April 1, 2015 4:44 pm

The John Birch Society was not founded in the South, and I did not mean to suggest that it was. It was, at least in the Midwest, where I grew up, well known to be virulently racist in the manner of the KKK (but without the physical assaults), and just as virulently anti-Semitic (as in, No dogs or Jews allowed). Its culture, again at least in the Midwest, was in essence a Southern transplant. It was very big in rural Indiana, for example, which has a large population of people whose family roots were in Kentucky and Tennessee.

And while I’m sure lynchings of black men weren’t unheard of in rural areas outside the South, it wasn’t anything remotely like accepted practice anywhere outside the states that comprised the Confederacy.

You do make an interesting point, though, when you say that Republicans you know don’t want to destroy the social safety net. That doesn’t surprise me; that seems to be an obsession of a small percentage of very active Republicans who, clearly, have gained a stranglehold on their party.

I read a day or two ago that Walker’s plan is to appeal to white men, some of them in key non-Southern states—Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania—where many, many white men have deep ties to labor.  Since Walker’s cri de coeurs are destroy labor and kill the social safety net, he apparently plans to gain the delegates he needs to win almost entirely in the South.  I don’t think Iowa has a lot of delegates, and most whites who are supportive of labor unions aren’t all that cray about the kill-the-social-safety-net thing, or at least don’t place a priority on it.  This positively awesome issues combo didn’t work all that well for Mitt Romney in the general election in those states, or even for him in the primaries in those states, if I recall correctly.  And four years later, more millennials and substantially fewer Reagan worshippers will be voting.  It isn’t the ‘80s any ore, although huge swaths of the Republican Party haven’t noticed.

Meanwhile, about two weeks ago Jeb Bush suggested to an interviewer that he does not support the federal minimum wage.  When this piqued the interest among political journalists (barely, but enough for him to realize that he needed to clarify, i.e., backtrack on this), Bush issued a statement explaining that he’s okay with the federal minimum wage as long as it’s never raised.  Seriously; that’s what he said.  I checked Wikipedia to see what the original Fair Labor Standards Act, enacted in 1938, had set as the minimum wage.  It was $.25.  I planned to post a post here at AB titled “Jeb Bush Says the Minimum Wage Should be $.25.  Seriously.”  Which I had done that, but I didn’t get around to it. Good thing its walker and not Bush who plans to appeal to white men.  Not all white men are the Koch brothers or Art Pope.

I don’t see how these people expect to actually win the general election. Sure, as Paul Krugman noted in his column yesterday, most of the public has no actual idea of critical facts about critical policy, because no one (e.g., our president) deigns to disabuse the public of the incessant false claims of fact about … well … not just the cost of Obamacare but about, like, most economic and fiscal policy.  And, yes, prominent and highly respected political journalists from major news outlets publish puff-piece articles about interviews they just had with, say, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, in which the interview subject generically—but only generically—trashes Democratic fiscal and regulatory policy as, um, causing the spiraling inequality, but doesn’t pause during the interview to, y’know, ask the subject, say, what specific regulations and fiscal policies he has in mind how exactly this causes increased inequality.

But we are heading into a presidential campaign in which progressive groups will be presenting television and web ads that will educate the public about what these Republican candidates have said and done. The candidates’ goal of destruction of collective bargaining, and their thoughts about the concept of a federal minimum wage might even be subjects of a few of the ads.  I mean, like, y’never know.  And some of this information might even make it to the television and computer screens of white men.  In Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. And, who knows, maybe elsewhere as well.

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Wisconsin Senate Passes Bill Ending Public Bargaining Rights

Wisconsin Senate Passes Bill Ending Public Bargaining Rights by Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism writes on this evening’s news on Wisconsin political conflicts. Reposted.

After claiming repeatedly in the media that the fight to end public worker bargaining rights was all about the budget, Governor Walker stripped the collective bargaining provisions out of the budget (which required the participation of at least one Democrat to have a big enough quorum to satisfy Constitutional requirements for fiscal votes) and the Wisconsin legislature passed it separately.

Details from David Dayen:

If you’ve been following along in my last post, you know the news: the Wisconsin State Senate rushed through and passed a bill that strips collective bargaining rights from most public employees. The vote in the State Senate, entirely composed of Republicans, was 18-1; only moderate Dale Schultz voted no. The budget repair bill was split at the last minute, cleaving the “non-fiscal” anti-union piece from the fiscal components of the bill. The non-fiscal piece did not require a quorum, so the Senate was able to pass it.

This may not pass muster constitutionally in Wisconsin. Here is the germane language:

Vote on fiscal bills; quorum. SECTION 8. On the passage in either house of the legislature of any law which imposes, continues or renews a tax, or creates a debt or charge, or makes, continues or renews an appropriation of public or trust money, or releases, discharges or commutes a claim or demand of the state, the question shall be taken by yeas and nays, which shall be duly entered on the journal; and three−fifths of all the members elected to such house shall in all such cases be required to constitute a quorum therein

The language may seem ambiguous (claim of rather than claim on?). But there is likely to be precedent, and if not, the Court would look to the debates at the time the constitution was passed, to resolve the question of intent. It is very likely that the concerns expressed then would extend to both sides of the fiscal equation, that is, tax collection and disbursements, which would thus include obligations like employee contracts.

And Walker said repeatedly that the collective bargaining matter was fiscal. In modern contracts, you often have language in the agreement to exclude the headings from any interpretation. The Constitution would not have such language. So the “fiscal” in the heading would be included in any effort to parse the meaning.

But since the Supreme Court has a Republican majority, that would seem to cast a pall over challenges. But Supreme Court elections are on April 5, and the unions have a lot of support in the state. This bill passage (getting it through the Assembly is guaranteed) is subject to legal challenges not only on Constitutional but also on the basis of violating legislative procedures. And there is talk of a general strike, something which if you had asked me two months ago, I would have deemed to be pretty much impossible in America. They may be permissible if spontaneous, as in bottom up rather than called by union leadership.

Some details of the official version from the Washington Post:

Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers after discovering a way to bypass the chamber’s missing Democrats….

The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money. But Republicans on Wednesday split from the legislation the proposal to curtail union rights, which spends no money, and a special conference committee of state lawmakers approved the bill a short time later.

The lone Democrat present on the conference committee, Rep. Tony Barca, shouted that the surprise meeting was a violation of the state’s open meetings law but Republicans voted over his objections. The Senate then convened within minutes and passed it without discussion or debate.

Spectators in the gallery screamed “You are cowards.”

Before the sudden votes, Democratic Sens. Bob Jauch said if Republicans “chose to ram this bill through in this fashion, it will be to their political peril. They’re changing the rules. They will inflame a very frustrated public.”

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"Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost"

Barry Ritholz shines a light on an alternative to the current meme on public sector unions:

In a Labor Day address in 1980, Ronald Reagan said:

“These are the values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”

Reagan as above, in video.

(Hat tip Goldilocksisableachblonde at Economistsview)

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