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Sunday Funday: “And The Oscar Goes To” Edition

The Oscars Are Tonight

As awards shows go, the Academy Awards are usually one of the more entertaining shows. We don’t go to shows as much as we used to, but we will most likely watch the Awards. In this world of everything being politicized, the Academy Awards also seem to be somewhat of a time to cheer for our side. Since we only saw one movie last year I think that is the one we will be cheering for  – “Hidden Figures.”

And now for the non-award winning Sunday Funday quiz: Were you paying attention?

1) What sign was placed at the base of the Statue of Liberty Tuesday night?

2) The prime minister of Iceland said that if he could he would ban what topping on pizza?

3) The Kansas legislature gave Governor Brownback what way to get the state out of debt, but Brownback vetoed it?

4) FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub repeated her demand Tuesday that the Trump administration produce evidence of what?

5) The loser in the popular vote for president issued a statement on anti-Semitism after what incidents?

6) What controversial right wing extremist resigned as editor of Breitbart after video surfaced of him condoning pedophila?

7) The UN ambassador from what country died suddenly Monday which caused many suspicious eyebrows to be raised?

8) Who was the first African-American to win an Oscar?

9) Arizona Rep. Trent Franks claimed a border wall is needed because nukes could be smuggled in to the US in what?

10) Jackie Robinson was the first black major league baseball player. Who was the second? (hint: first in the American League)

11) Big news in science this week included the discovery of seven earth size planets around a dim star about how far from us?

12) After signing the bill to bust public unions in Iowa Terry Branstad posed for a photo shaking the hand of who?

13) In the 1860 census was the slave population of the US closer to 500,000 or 5,000,000?

14) Happy Birthday, Buffalo Bill Cody! What Iowa town was he born in 171 years ago?

15) In his first month as president, the popular vote loser spent over 2X more time doing what versus time in intelligence briefing?

16) New political term introduced at the CPAC conference! What is a “watermelon”?

17) Norma McCorvey died last week in Katy, Texas. She made a major mark in history under what name?

18) Playboy magazine announced it would bring back a feature that less than a year ago it dropped as being dated?

19) What largest Christian focused retailer announced Thursday it would be closing all of its stores?

20) In another old-line retailing cutback, what once giant retailer announced it would be closing 140 stores?

From the “black is white and night is day and up is down” CPAC conference comes this little gem. CPAC organizer Dan Schneider called the alt-right philosophically left wing. Must be really hard to live in a world that is so twisted that everyone in it has a clear view of their rear end from the inside.



2) pineapple

3) the overwhelmingly Republican legislature voted to raise income taxes.

4) voter fraud

5) a spate of bomb threats to Jewish organizations and vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis

6) Milo Yiannopolous

7) Russia. Seems to be something going around in that country

8) Hattie McDaniel for supporting actress in “Gone With the Wind”

9) bales of marijuana (he really said that)

10) Larry Doby for the Cleveland Indians

11) 40 light years or ~ 240,000,000,000,000 miles

12) Drew Klein of the Koch Brothers front group Americans For Prosperity

13) closer to 5 million. Actual figure about 4 million

14) Le Claire near Davenport in Scott County

15) tweeting – got to set your priorities

16) Someone who is Green – environmentalist – on the outside and Red – Marxist communist – on the inside

17) Jane Roe as in Roe v. Wade

18) photos of nude women

19) Family Christian Books

20) JC Penney

And this one goes out to Joni Ernst. Joni, can you do your job and investigate the link between the administration and our enemies. please. Our country truly depends on it.

Another Oscar

IPP Sponsors Two Events Exposing ALEC

A Legislator for Every Corp.

With all the damage ALEC is wreaking in Iowa these days it may be a very good time to make sure that everybody understands just what ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).

As so often happens in Iowa during a time of great stress and change our friends at the Iowa Policy Project (IPP) are ahead of the curve. On March 6th and 7th IPP will be sponsoring an event discussing ALEC and their brother organizations on the evening of March 6th and March 7th.

The March 6th event is in Des Moines:
Time:      6:30 to 8PM
Place:     Public Library 1000 Grand Ave., Des Moines.

The March 7th event is in Iowa City:
Time:      7 to 8:30PM
Place:     Shambaugh Auditorium on the Pentacrest at the U of Iowa

Find out what is behind the union busting, the cutting of education, the “shoot your neighbor” laws and the voter suppression laws.

It will be well worth your time.

The Money, The Money, The Money


Last week brought the not too stunning revelation that the Iowa legislature seems to be under the direction of Americans For Prosperity, a Koch brothers front group.

Following the money, one of the most valuable lessons ever to learn in following politics, leads us to the Koch brothers and from them to a couple of their many, many front groups in this case Americans for Prosperity and ALEC.

ALEC provides the legislation – recently the union busting bill – and Americans For Prosperity provides the grease.

Bet you didn’t know when you cast a vote for a Republican for the state house or state senate you were in effect voting for Charles and David Koch.

Joe Bolkcom probably said it best:
“I think what it says is that the Koch brothers have taken over this state with the millions of dollars that they have poured into this state,” said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City. “Obviously, this bill was a big priority of theirs, and it shows that big money has taken over state government. Iowans should be very concerned about this.”

Does anyone remember your Republican legislator campaigning on taking away the collective bargaining for public employees? How about taking our tax money to pay for privatized education? Did they stand up and say “I will vote for a bill that may take away your ability to vote!”

Of course they didn’t. Who would vote for them if they did? So they spent last year’s campaign speaking in platitudes about freedoms and liberties and low taxes to us while speaking entirely differently behind closed doors to the folks with the money.

The money, the money, the money. Politics has always been tied to the corruption that money brings. Those with money are always around with baskets of money ready to put into the outstretched hands of politicians on the take.

When we see the gross miscarriage of power that we witnessed last week where Republicans acted as if they were one and refused to engage in serious debate, it almost looked as if the Republican party was acting as if they were employed to do a specific job by someone. I don’t think that impression is too far off.

Expect to see a very similar scene as the Republicans go after Iowa’s once world-class public school system in order to privatize it and make some more donors even wealthier. Drew Klein of Americans For Prosperity has announced this as his next objective. Wouldn’t be very surprised if it suddenly became the Republicans next objective. As if by luck you can bet that ALEC already has a bill already written and ready to go. What luck!

While the national administration is not the well oiled machine Mr. Popular Vote Loser claims, it sure seems like our state government surely is. From Charles and David to the front groups through a very friendly {wink, wink} legislature then landing softly on the governor’s desk who then signs it as a representative from the Koch brothers makes sure the deed is done.

Right now our legislature is doing something that would have seem unconscionable in Iowa just a few years back. The legislature is about to pass a “Stand Your Ground” law which has been shown to give those with guns a reason to shoot those they don’t like for whatever reason. Treyvon Martin’s death in Florida after being stalked and beaten by an unknown (to Martin) assailant stands as a very cautionary tale on this law. Let’s be honest, certain groups will become targets if this law passes. I am old enough to remember when lawmakers didn’t want citizens shooting each other. However, the object here is to increase gun sales.

Many years ago I stated the any and every action between a legislator and any lobbyist or outside interest group should be recorded and reviewed. That still seems reasonable to me.

You have to wonder which will happen first – the end of the democracy that was once the hope of the world under the weight of corruption or getting money out of politics. Right now – especially after the Citizen’s United ruling – it looks like the end of our democracy is leading the race by a large margin.

A Quick Note On Regulations

consumer financial protections 7 minutes

Semantics is the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. Republicans have spent decades redefining words or phrases to give them a meaning that often bring negative connotations or scenarios to certain words. In short they poison these words or phrases so that they can’t even be used in discussions because they have been made so toxic.

Ronald Reagan’s invention of the phrase “welfare queen” usually comes first to mind when considering this issue. That phrase conjures up some minority woman driving a new Cadillac with a multitude of kids which the poor taxpayer supports while the welfare queen lives high on the hog by gaming the system. Of course it is crap, but it got traction through repetition and being used as a shortcut by the media.

Just a few more to make sure we spell out the gist of what we mean. “Liberal” was once a proud political position. JFK was proudly a liberal. Republicans have made the term liberal so toxic that most who were once liberals now call themselves progressives.

Another example is to make anything the “government” does seem to be extremely bureaucratic, expensive, slow and inefficient. Thus negative comments on anything program that a government enacts is derided as “government” with all the connotations mentioned above. Another word that is often used in the same way is “public.”

Evidence shows that for the most part this is not true. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are three extremely efficient, well thought of and cheap to administer. Our public school systems were the envy of the world until we started privatizing them. Other countries upgraded their systems to emulate ours.

This discussion is to lead into a comment I heard Thom Hartmann mention during his show Monday. Regulations have been one of the words that Republicans have tried to make toxic. They have made great inroads into making it poison, but they haven’t fully succeeded. Perhaps that is because every now and then stories pop up of people dying because some company refused to follow regulations.

Recalls seem to be at least a weekly event in this country. From cars to medications to foods it seems that at least weekly some company is tasked with getting products off customers shelves or out of their houses. Often companies do voluntary recalls when they find records that indicate that some product had defects. Often the records they are keeping are records that are mandated through regulations.

The claim that the marketplace would force companies to keep such records was proven false long ago. That is the reason our government went into the business of mandating records be kept and that good manufacturing practices must be followed.

My paraphrase of what Hartmann said in a simple little statement: “every regulation is ultimately a consumer protection.” This is a much detoxified look at regulations. Thinking on this at a deeper level you can see it is true. Most regulations come in response to some business practices that led to consumer harm either directly or indirectly. Toys were late to being regulated. Looking back at some older toys in the US we found chemistry sets with uranium in them.

Does it cost company money to follow regulations? Sure it does. But in the long run it is much cheaper than fighting lawsuits over deaths and injuries or eventually going out of business. Plus all the businesses in an industry should be following the same regulations, so the costs should be very similar for competitors.

So when the guy who lost the popular vote for president signed an executive order stating that for every new regulation created two must be rescinded, he didn’t have your best interest in mind. Nor did those standing around and applauding. In fact at some point in your life this idiotic executive order may come back and haunt you as a consumer. Perhaps the regulation that is repealed to make way for a new one may be the regulation that checks ingredients in a can of dog food.

Just last week many dogs died when a company accidentally got some euthanasia drugs mixed in its food that got onto store shelves and into consumer homes. Thanks to regulations we can follow the chain of manufacturing back to the supply chain and find out what happened. That is partly to assign blame, but also to stop whatever happened from happening again.

Regulations are protections for consumers, not a penalty on manufacturers. If you want huge cuts in regulations, be careful what you ask for, you may get it and it may cost you more than you could ever expect.

Sunday Funday: Thank Goodness For Comedians Edition

Right now if I couldn’t laugh about so much of the strange, bizarre and scary stuff going on down the block, in Des Moines and of course in Washington right now I think the pressure would build up to the point of blowing. So Thank You so much to the nation’s comedians who help keep the rage down so we can rationally plan the resistance.

9 minutes

Once again, we will mix in some Black History Month questions.

Were you paying attention?

1) Who was Iowa’s governor when the now replaced Chapter 20 (labor relations laws) were originally passed in Iowa?

2) What entertainer dubbed “the Queen of Soul” announced she will retire this year?

3) Many businesses closed around the country Thursday when they couldn’t get enough workers because what was being observed by some?

4) The half brother of what world leader was killed after being sprayed with poison in Indonesia?

5) After being denied a concert venue at Constitutional Hall in Washington because of her race, what contralto instead had an open air concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939?

6) What nominee for Secretary of Labor pulled his name from consideration after several republican senators said they could not support him?

7) At a bizarre press conference Thursday, the current president seemed to accuse a reporter from jewish newspaper of accusing him (Trump) of what?

8) NSA Chief Michael Flynn either quit or was fired over calls he made to the government of what country while still a civilian?

9) Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in what state several months after the Civil War ended?

10) Iowa republicans held a closed door Skype meeting with what republican governor as the debate over the union busting bill was going on?

11) Which country test fired a medium range ballistic missile last Sunday prompting a strange response from the president at Mar-a-lago?

12) Yale University announced that it would change the name of a residential hall that currently honors what long ago racist politician?

13) Watch those immigrants! Connecticut women’s basketball won its 100th consecutive victory Monday. Where was Connecticut’s coach Geno Auriemma born?

14) The first African slaves were brought to America in what year?

15) What acting Attorney General had informed the current president of Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia nearly 3 weeks ago?

16) Emoluments coincidence? Trump gets his trademark in China just after he backs what policy toward China?

17) Nominee for top science advisor to the president, William Happer, said he believes climate scientists are a what?

18) In South Korea the head of what major conglomerate has been arrested in connection with the corruption and influence peddling scandal the threatens to take down the government?

19) Who was offered the job of NSA chief and turned it down Thursday?

20) The wife of what Supreme Court judge is once again involved in a situation concerning a case that may well end up being argued before the Court?

21) I hear protestors are getting paid. How much? I think I am getting screwed.

The high holy days of basketball will be upon us soon.


1) Republican Robert Ray

2) Aretha Franklin

3) “A day without immigrants” day

4) Kim Jong Un

5) Marian Anderson

6) Andrew Puzder (btw – I no longer will eat at Hardee’s)

7) anti-semitism

8) Russia

9) Texas

10) Scott Walker of Wisconsin

11) North Korea

12) John C. Calhoun

13) Montella, Italy

14) 1619 – brought to Virginia

15) Sally Q. Yates

16) one China – see here and here
17) cult. or actually a glassy eyed cult

18) Samsung

19) Vice-Admiral Robert Harward

20) Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginny is deep in the fight to ban Muslims from entering the country.

21) I ain’t gettin’ nothin’ I tell ya, nothin’!

Will Mexico Stop Buying US Corn?

A quiet shot across the unbuilt wall was fired Monday from Mexico City when Senator Armando Rios Piter said he would introduce a bill that would end the purchase of corn from the US. This is in response to some of the suggestions from the current administration to stop the trade imbalance between the two countries.

NAFTA is a dirty word among many folks, especially labor. However, Iowa’s corn farmers saw a huge boon when NAFTA went into effect. NAFTA opened up a huge market for their corn in Mexico. What most people forget or maybe never knew was that when NAFTA ended the barriers to exporting corn to Mexico, Mexican farmers were greatly affected. Few farmers could compete with the cheap and hybridized corn from the US. Having lost their means of income in their home country, for many of them the only answer was to go to the US to look for work.

So while NAFTA was a boon for Iowa farmers, opening markets that were hard to get into before, it was a disaster for Mexican farmers. Here is a snippet of a story from a couple of years ago that illustrates the plight of the Mexican farm community:

When the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994, it removed nearly all corporate trade barriers between the United States and Mexico. Among the industries affected was agriculture, forcing small Mexican farmers into direct competition with big American agribusiness. Cheap American corn — heavily subsidized, mechanized, and oh, yes, genetically modified — soon flooded the Mexican market, undercutting local farmers’ prices.

In the last eighteen years, the share of American corn in Mexico has jumped at least 500 percent. And just as millions of industrial workers in the United States lost their jobs in the free-trade outsourcing bonanza, rural Mexicans suffered a parallel fate. Even by cautious estimates, NAFTA is directly responsible for the loss of two million farm jobs in Mexico.

One of those farmers was Luis Moreno, Carla’s brother.

“How could he compete with something like Cargill?” Carla asked, speaking the name of the U.S. agricultural giant like it was a mythical dragon.

“He couldn’t, but he still had a wife and three kids,” Carla continued. “So Luis left to find work. First to Mexico City. Then to Kansas City. He’s been there for nine years now, cleaning office buildings. His kids only know him on the phone.”

It is also easy to see that the displaced Mexican farmer was integral to the wave of persons immigrating to the US illegally. When farmers could no longer make a living in their own country they had to do something. That something was to go to where to where the money was.

Immigration was an unplanned for side effect of NAFTA. Iowa farmers had a major new market for their corn. sums up the effects of the potential boycott of American corn by Mexico:

To date, Mexico is the No. 1 buyer of U.S. corn. For the marketing year September 1 through February 13, 2017, Mexico has bought 25% of the total U.S. corn sales. The next biggest buyer is Japan at 16% of the total.

Jason Ward, director of grains and energy for Northstar Commodity Investment Co., says the trade spat could impact both future and past sales.

“If all future sales get shut off to Mexico, it would be a significant negative to the marketplace for corn, and would easily overflow into other commodities, including pork and dairy,” Ward says.

To this point, in bushels, Mexico has bought 411.4 million bushels of corn from the U.S. this marketing year. Of that total, 197.6 million bushels have been shipped, “so we are talking about future sales and potentially unshipped sales that we have on the books, but haven’t arrived in Mexico yet,” Ward says.

However they do note that since commodities like corn are traded world wide, if Mexico shifts to new suppliers, then other current customers of the suppliers that would now service Mexico suppliers may need to find other suppliers. That is the US may pick some business from those customers.

What the current administration has done with its fist shaking and tough talk with our neighbor to the south is to start some cracks in a wall of trade that may well be the start of the destruction. So far all that has happened is to have an initial shot fired by the US and a return of fire from Mexico. That may be the end of it. Or these may be the first shots in what will become an all out trade war.

With an administration that has little experience in international relations and little skill in negations outside of making demands I fear Iowa farmers may see this little skirmish blow up with those farmers as one of the major victims.


Republicans That Voted Against Iowa Workers

I write this just after learning that the Iowa legislature has set the state back about a century as they strip public unions of almost all rights they have in the workplace.

Republicans have their usual BS reasons why it was such a great bill – efficiency, blah, blah, saves money, blah, blah. All of these reasons have been refuted by economists. Iowans called en masse to oppose this bill. But all that means little to nothing to Republicans. They don’t have the 2 million or so Iowa voters to answer to. Nope, they answer to Charles and David Koch and the other members of ALEC.

In what had to be one of the oddest scenes in a whole strange week. Republican legislators went behind closed doors to get a pep talk from Wisconsin’s big union buster and puppet of the Koch Brothers, Scott Walker. This is time that could have been used listening to constituents. I jest of course. They don’t care about constituents. They care about Koch Brother’s money.

Rick Smith at the Iowa Daily Democrat has a great story that lists some of the major donors to Iowa Republicans through a Koch operation. For Republicans these are the people they work for.

Nor do they worry about being re-elected. The next order of business will be to restrict voting. I suspect they will really clamp down on student voting and make it much harder to vote absentee.

Busting the unions will most likely have a very deleterious effect on Iowa’s economy as pointed out in this study by Peter Fisher of the Iowa Policy Project.

Will businesses worry about the loss of business due to the cuts Iowa’s public sector workers will suffer? Well, then it is time for more tax cuts! Sadly these tax cuts may not do a lot of good for small businesses in small town Iowa but then someone has to take one for the team and I guess you were chosen.

And for an extra kick in the teeth, expect congressional Republicans to repeal and not replace the ACA. They have a promise of huge tax cuts for the wealthy and that is one promise they will most likely keep. Without the ACA the cost of health insurance will go up across the board to cover the cost of care for those who are no longer able to get insurance after the ACA is repealed.

So the state workers will get increasingly lousier insurance to “save money.” (remember those tax cuts? That was money.) Therefore the burden of higher copays and deductibles will fall back on union workers who will have no power to bargain.

Since this affects about 15% of Iowa workers, expect it to make a noticeable dent in our economy., especially in the small towns Iowa Republicans claim to love so much.

I frequently heard this fall how union members in Iowa were turning out for Republicans because they were going to shake things up. Well they did, didn’t they? Republicans never really told you what they were going to do.

However, if you are a working person and a union member you should have learned by now to always ask yourself when a Republican says he or she is going to help you out – Just exactly when has a Republican ever helped a working person out? I can’t remember a time, but then I have only been around about seven decades.

Iowa Republicans will probably get a special mention at the summer ALEC meeting in Denver next July 19th – 21st.

Perhaps the worst part of all this is that reversing insanity like this is not as simple as just voting for Democrats. Besides a massive turn in the legislature we also need a new progressive governor. Those have been a rarity in Iowa. Remember, voting will soon be different also. In power grabs like this, one of the most important things to do is to stack the deck in favor of your side.

So sad to see this happen to what was once a wonderful state full of wonderful and thoughtful people.

Grassley And Ernst Schedule Town Halls Next Week

Got something to say? here’s some opportunity

Certainly You have some questions for them

Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have town halls scheduled in Iowa next week. This may be one of the best ways to get questions directly to one of 100 people that run our country.

Ernst: (1)
Tuesday, Feb. 21 1:30 PM
Maquoketa City Hall
201 east Pleasant Street
Maquoketa, Iowa

Grassley: (4)

Tuesday Feb. 21 7:45 – 8:45 AM

Iowa Falls Fire Dep’t
218 South River St.
Iowa Fall

Tuesday Feb. 21 2:15 – 3:15 PM

Hancock County Courthouse
855 State Street

Thursday Feb. 24 10 – 11 AM

Floyd County Courthouse
101 South Main
Charles City

Friday Feb. 24 8 – 9 AM
Parkersburg Civic Center
502 3rd Street

This Week’s Legislative Forums

The vote by the Iowa House and Senate has been taken, and the Governor has signed it. We can’t let up on these elected representative. They need to hear from you how you feel about their vote on this issue, and the many other attacks they are planning on Iowa working families.

Please attend as many of these forums as you can. Bring friends!

We are also asking every one to call the Governors office and let them know how your feel about this blatant attack on Iowa Working Familes. 515-281-5211

ALTOONA (Priority)
Saturday February 18 – 10 AM.
ALtoona HyVee Club Room. 108 8th st SW, Altoona

Saturday February 18: 9 AM
Legislative Forum McOtto’s, 100 Chamber Dr, Anamosa

February 18, 9:00 AM
Arlington Community Center 853 Main St, Arlington

BOONE (Priority)
February 18, 8:00 Am
Ericson Public Library, 2nd Floor702 Greene St, Boone

State Representative Gary Mohr Constituent Meetings:
Every Friday 9AM at the Hyvee, 2900 Devils Glen Road, Bettendorf, IA

Saturday, February 18: 9:30 AM
Legislative Forum at Burlington Library: 210 Court Street

Saturday, February 18: 10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m.
Legislative Forum with Linn County Area Legislators at Mercy Medical Center in the Hallagan Ed Center, 701 10th Street SE.

Saturday, February 18: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
United Labor Alliance Legislative Luncheons at Carpenters Local 308, 305 Waconia Court, SW, Cedar Rapids, IA

February 23: 10:00 AM
Floyd County Courthouse 101 S Main St, Charles City

Saturday, February 18: 8 a.m.-9 a.m.
Legislative Coffee at The Depot

DECORAH (Priority)
February 18: 11:15 AM
Decorah City Hall, 400 Clairborne Dr. Decorah

DES MOINES (Priority)
February 19: 2PM
Des Moines Public Library, 1000 Grand Ave, Des Moines

February 20: 8 AM
Grounds for Celebration 2645 Beaver Ave, Des Moines

Saturday February 18 – 7:30 AM
Fairfield Public Library, 104 W Adams Ave, Fairfield

February 18, 10am – 12pm
Where Elderbridge Agency On Aging, 308 Central Ave, Fort Dodge

February 21: 2:15 PM
Hancock County Courthouse, 855 State St, Garner

February 18, 9:00 AM
Glenwood City Hall, 5 North Vine st. Glenwood

February 18: 10:00 AM
Nishnabotna Valley REC 1317 Chatburn, Harlan

February 21: 7:45
Iowa Falls Fire Department, 218 South River St. Iowa Falls

February 18, 9:00 AM
City Hall 227 Main st, Janesville

Saturday March 18: 9 AM
Legislative Forum. Newton HyVee Club Room, 1501 First Ave E, Newton

February 18: 8 AM
Northwood City Hall, 627 Central Ave. Northwood

February 18: 11:30 AM
Pearson Lakes Art Center

February 18, 7:00 AM
Red Oak YMCA, 101 Cherry St, Red Oak

February 18: 1 PM
Keokuk County Courthouse, 101 S Main St. Sigourney

Saturday, February 18: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Eggs & Issues at Spencer City Hall in the Council Chamber, 418 2nd Ave W.

Saturday February 18 : 9AM
King’s Pointe Banquet Room 1520 E Lakeshore Dr. Storm Lake

TRIPOLI (Priority)
February 18: 11:00 AM
Tripoli Library, 101 4th Ave SW, Tripoli

Saturday February 18: 10 AM
Legislative Forum- Washington City Hall 215 E Washington St, Washington IA

February 18, 9:15
West Burlington City Hall, 122 Broadway St, West Burlington

Busting Iowa’s Public Unions

(2 minutes)

Looks like Republicans will finally achieve one of Terry Branstad’s dreams: public unions are on the verge of being effectively destroyed in Iowa.

The Iowa Policy Project did an analysis of the effects of the republican attacks on collective bargaining. While some legislators no doubt deeply believe that they are serving a major smack-down to unions that are out of control and way overpaid, they seldom think of the ripple effects.

As IPP notes the ripple effects will be especially felt in rural areas where state and local governments are some of the best employment opportunities in this areas.

Public employees are a significant share of the Iowa workforce and live and work in every Iowa county, from the most urban to the most rural. Of the nearly 1.6 million nonfarm payroll jobs in Iowa, about 1 in 7 jobs — 238,500 — are in state and local government. These workers are important to the state’s economy, as taxpayers supporting local schools and state and local services, and as consumers supporting local businesses and other private sector jobs.

Potential impact of changes in a law directly affecting the working conditions of such a large number of Iowans, who are engaged in every aspect of essential public service from the local to the state level, will be significant and widespread. From snowplow drivers to nurses, teachers to custodians, police, dispatchers, fire fighters, county clerks, librarians, social workers, corrections officers, paraeducators, and many other public employees in communities across Iowa could see changes in their pay, benefits and working conditions. Such changes would, in turn, have consequences for local economies, public services, and Iowa’s labor market as a whole.

New limitations on collective bargaining predictably opens the door to erosion of wages, benefits, and working conditions in public employment, and corresponding spillover effects of downward pressure on wages and working conditions in the private sector. Such labor market effects have become evident in Wisconsin five years after dramatic collective bargaining changes were enacted, and lawmakers in Iowa should be wary of the statewide economic impact likely to accompany any such changes here. Since 2011, Wisconsin has fallen to 40th of 50 states in job growth, and 42nd in wage growth.[3]

Any decline in the number or quality of public sector jobs will have a disproportionate effect on Iowa’s rural communities because, as the USDA notes, the public sector is a “major source of earned income in rural areas” that tend to attract far fewer of the financial, professional, or information service activities concentrated in urban areas.[10] Eroding the quality of public sector jobs in Iowa will further exacerbate recent effects of unprecedented declining public-sector employment levels following the last recession, which USDA data suggests are already causing negative effects in rural counties, along with negative multiplier effects on private-sector employment.[11]

The article goes into much greater detail documenting the potential effects. The point is simply this: Unions have not caused any problems in the Iowa economy. They do not exist in a vacuum and the huge changes to the current system that will result in negative impact on the workers will have a great effect on the Iowa economy as a whole.

Drastic changes like this dovetail nicely with Republican long term goals of destroying unions. The major reason behind the destruction of the unions is the unions role as the main base for the Democratic Party and their legally recognized role as bargaining units. As bargaining units unions were once able to help the common worker achieve middle class and dignity.

Since unions were given legal backing during the New Deal, Republicans have had unions in their legislative sights.

Republicans have used a vast amount of lies to push for the end of unions. Now they are within grasp of that goal. This has been one of the main reasons that businesses and corporations have backed Republicans. Without legal recognition of unions, corporations believe that their profits will soar as they can get labor on the cheap. This is of course the logic behind moving their manufacturing offshore – cheap labor.

What they forget is that in order to sell their widgets and other crap, they must have customers. As wages stagnate and even depress, as other fixed costs such as health insurance and housing squeeze the family budget even more, the customer base is drying up. As with many things the small business person is hit first.

Nothing happens in a vacuum.