Having gotten curious about the situation in Wisconsin, I decided to see what data I could pull to get a feel for the size and scope of the problem.  First up, a look at union membership in the state, via BLS.gov:

Source:  Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state, BLS.gov

The trend is clear:  “Members of Unions” has declined from 456,000 to 355,000 from 2000 to 2010, as the percentage of employed who are members of unions has declined from 17.8% to 14.2%.  Note that the table does not represent solely public employees — it represents the entire work force of the state, both public and private, which is to say the problem Governor Walker is targeting is some fraction of the “Members Of” or “Represented By” Unions.

Via another BLS database (a bit dated, but it’s the most recent available and likely close enough to current numbers for discussion purposes), I thought it would be interesting to see who’s actually breaking the bank in Wisconsin.  So I pulled a group of occupations that I’d consider “the usual suspects” — teachers, fire fighters, police, librarians — and compared mean and median annual wages for those jobs in Wisconsin versus the United States as a whole.  Lo and behold, it appears we might lay blame for the crisis at the feet of Wisconsin’s  Teacher Assistants, who are pulling down, on average (not median), $240 more than the $24,280 being paid to their counterparts in other states.  I’ve highlighted in green the wages in Wisconsin that are higher than those with the same occupation in other states;  it occurs in 3 of 16 potential possibilities.

(Click through for larger image.)

Source:  BLS.gov

(Note:  It should go without saying that this raw data does nothing to account for cost of living differences in various parts of the country.)

I could add to the list — drop other potential culprits in comments — but figured I’d start with the most egregiously greedy bastards who came immediately to mind.

For the record, here’s a complete list of what we pay our police and fire fighters nationwide.  If we are to have an honest debate about what folks are paid and what benefits they should (or should not) receive, we owe it to ourselves to at least start with some facts, and I’d suggest what appears below is the bare-bones minimum.  Wisconsin is 21st in Patrol Officer pay and 43rd in Fire Fighter pay nationwide.

Finally, I’d dare say that this budgetary problem seems to have crept up and taken most governors by surprise, as evidenced by the fact that references to it (in State of the State speeches) skyrocketed over the course of one short year, going from only 20 mentions (of 44 speeches) to 33 (of 42 speeches) from 2009 to 2010.  Even fewer — far fewer – have been mentioning “Pensions/OPEBs” (Other Post-Employment Benefits).  Have they just not been paying attention?  If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it smells a bit political.

Source:  The Council of State Governments

For an interesting look at state government compensation by state and branch, see here (pdf).

And for an outstanding look at state-by-state budgets, see here (pdf) — this is an excellent piece that I only found this morning and am still exploring.  It is a veritable treasure trove of budget data by state nationwide.

More on this file as time allows.

Adding: I appreciate the thoughtful commentary on both sides.  I intend to further explore many of the comments that have been made.

Category: Current Affairs, Economy, Employment, Politics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

146 Responses to “Who’s Breaking the Bank in Wisconsin?”

  1. Irwin Fletcher says:


    Call me Fletch.

    With regards to “free association”, are they proposing banning unions?
    Why is union membership currently mandatory? Is mandatory the same thing as free association?

    What’s wrong with making union membership optional and allowing the worker to write a check for their dues rather than forcing payment and forcing automatic enrollment and deductions?

    At least we agree that public sector unions are a problem.

  2. Arequipa01 says:

    Gov. Walker got punked cuz he’s a punk:


    Warning- don’t listen to it. It will make you sick in your soul.

    This crisis is a result of the looting that happened between 2002 and 2008. The pension funds were looted. The template for the future of these funds has already been established in Puerto Rico- they handed 12 Billion dollars to UBS to do whatever the eff they want to do.

    Slavoj Zizek has traced the future-rent at the expense of profit will be defended BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. To wit, Attorney General in Indiana calls for the use of Live Ammunition. What were the Marines doing in Indiana two years ago? Anybody remember? The goal is Internal Conquest and re-enslavement. But I’m probably wrong. All those sociopaths we have allowed to accede leadership roles in this society will see the light and change their ways.

  3. DeDude says:

    All the minions worry about is that some of their tax dollars may be used in a less than perfect way. In the mean time those Koch brothers can ram their kochs right up your dumb asses because your eyes are not on the ball. It is pathetically easy for the stinking rich to control and exploit the minions and make sure that ALL that increased GDP wealth (and then some) ends up in a few pockets.

  4. jack says:

    if you want to make comments about politicians and their pensions on a state and/or federal level, you would need to know how long the specific politician worked in the public sector, whether that was federal or state, and how long they worked in the private sector. for instance, here in Ohio, nearly all elected officials are under the OPERS program, the same formulas that are used for the dogcatcher. if we look at John Kasich, the new governor, he has racked up mileage under social security (wall street), FERS (US congressman), and now OPERS as governor. even if he has 2 terms, he may not actually rack up enough years to be eligible for an OPERS pension – there is a minimum, and it could potentially offset what he would get thru social security (see the windfall provision offset on the ss website).

    i think i can safely say that he is not in it for the pension(s).

  5. cornbin says:

    99% of public sector employees, union or not union DO NOT make too much money in terms of wages. (I’d also like to point out that Teachers in particular are not UNDERpaid either. My daughter just had her 100th school day of the year this week – I’ve worked at least 50 more days than that since her first day of school, AND her teachers will work a hand full of days this summer, whereas I’ll work 5 days a week with a day off here and there…) Therefore, at least with teachers, I say we declare their wages dead on fair.

    The issue is benefits and pensions. Invictus does a great job as always focusing on facts. I’d like to see the same factual process in comparing pensions and benefits of public employees with private employees. Start with Mish’s website. If someone can prove to me that the pensions/benefits are in line, I’ll go to Madison and carry a picket sign. Otherwise, we need to reign things in a bit here.

  6. DeDude says:


    I agree you cannot talk about “public” pension or health care benefits without specifics.

    Many of the systems now tie the size of the pension to the contributions accumulated. So yes you may retire at age 40 after 20 years of work but it will be with a lifetime pension of $75/month. A lot of systems now have minimum ages of 55 years before you can collect pension and retiree health benefits. Although the retiree health benefits are expensive they are often connected with substantial cost share that depends on years served, and they convert to much less expensive Medigap insurance as soon as you qualify for Medicare. In most of the traditional systems the pension is instead of social security so the (public) employer does not pay social security taxes.

  7. Sarge says:


    DeDude Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 3:24 pm
    In the mean time those Koch brothers can ram their kochs right up your dumb asses because your eyes are not on the ball.

    What exactly are you talking about? What have the Koch brothers to do with this? They contributed $43K to Walker’s campaign which raised a total of $11 million out of a total spent for the entire race of $37.4 million. 1/10th of 1 percent. I guess Soros backed campaigns for Dems are ok? Some of you people live in a fever swamp.

  8. jack says:


    you are correct that the public employers do not pay into ss on behalf of the employer. however, as i am sure you know, the amount they have to pay into the pension plan can usually be substantially more. most of the plans here have 10% taken out of the employees’ paychecks pre tax. the employers usually contribute 12-15%.

    part of the issue in ohio is the way that the system can be gamed. as an example, the base number that the pension is based on is a factor determined by years of service (66% at thirty years) times their final average salary – their three highest years. the current rules allow for someone to jack up their last three years by doing a bunch of overtime, locking in that high pension, retiring for 2 months, and then going back to the same job, collecting the income and the pension at the same time, and having the 10%/14% instead diverted to a personal annuity they can roll to an ira when finally done. i see it happen all the time, even in my client base. the awarding of overtime to people close to retirement is common practice, if your supervisor likes you. most of the proposed changes are to make this ‘double dipping’ less lucrative. the unions don’t like those changes.

  9. jlj says:

    Two facts it would be interesting to ferret out:

    1) What are the retirement benfits/projected costs of the unions not affected vs unions affected?
    2) What were the tax losses for the state over the last 10+ years and the next 10+ years that the state/cities/etc. have given various businesses to locate or stay in the state?

  10. DeDude says:

    Sarge; they directly and in their own name contributed just 43K but how much did they contribute through their shell organizations? you minions are so gullible.

    jack; I agree that a lot of pension rules including those that allow gaming via overtime in the last 3 years need to be revised. But the unions were more than willing to negotiate, and even had given in to all demands before negotiation. The total cost of salaries + bonuses + benefits for your average private sector MBA would be a reasonable target goal for total salary + benefits for the average teacher, since they have the same level of education. If you have some numbers for that, then maybe we can talk about whether the total compensation package for teachers is indeed above that for the private workforce (with comparable education level). Personally I think the public sector should move toward defined contribution rather than defined benefits, for many different reasons – but that has nothing to do with busting unions.

  11. Mutant_Dog says:

    Thanks for the dataset. Impelled by curiosity, I skimmed the NJ numbers – 30K more, per cop and firefighter, than NY, Conn.. or the average. I can see why Gov. Christie became the leading light of the downsize-the-state movement – perforce.

  12. cfischer says:


    You actually really think someone that teaches elementry education 9 months out of the year should earn the same as someone with a business/engineering undergrad + an MBA, working in the private sector 12 months a year? Hell, let’s even ignore the months per year part – even if they worked the same amount per year, you really think they should earn the same?

  13. jcmcn5 says:

    This data is meaningless. First, it’s dated. Average patrolman pay in Middletown NJ is $90-100K. Second it’s not about their base salaries. It’s about their pensions, and the practice of massive overtime in their last year on the job to max out their annual payout.

    And spare me the union busting refrain. The very concept of public sector unions is an obscene bastardization of what unions were created for (disclosure – my in-laws are iron workers). Public sector unions can use their influence to sway elections, and thereby put into office the very people with whom they are “collectively bargaining.” If you can’t see the conflict of interest there you are willfully blind.

    Fire them all. Replace them with random names from the unemployment rolls and odds are the kids will get as good an education as their getting from these parasites.

  14. cfischer says:

    Amen jcmcn5! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    This is America right, home of free markets? Fire all these teachers, and let’s see what the real market clearing salary for their work really is.

  15. cfischer says:

    jcmcn5, I own a house in Sea Isle, there are patrolmen that make over 100k a year – this is in a town that is practically deserted 9 months out of the year.

  16. miamiocean says:

    I have always wondered what it was exactly that unions brought to the table over the last 30 years that forced any business to agree to future employee benefits which the business couldn’t afford. Uzi’s perhaps ? The negotiations were two-sided despite what some would have you believe. If the previously projected market conditions which the business rested its negotiations upon – or ignored for short-term expediency – did not bear fruit, then is the union to blame ?

    A business that loses money on a negotiated contract with a subcontractor or supplier is apparently saddled with bad business practices or incompetent management, but money-losing negotiations with unions are a result of the business being constrained by some magical ooobie woobie spell which unions are able to evoke ?

    Businesses and governments negotiated themselves into corners based on future market conditions that have since collapsed and they realistically need to make adjustments which most unions are apparently somewhat willing to consider.

    The problem, as I see it, in the butting of heads between employer and employee unions (public or private) is the inherently different viewpoint of what each party considers long-range planning. In the case of governments, that would be the next major Presidential election cycle, for business, perhaps as long-range as a 5 year business plan, but for unions their view toward planning would range into decades. I would have thought that the regular renewal of contracts on a 3-5 year schedule would have helped to imbue some present-day fiscal realities into the talks, and it did somewhat, until the economy blew up.

    Instead of getting rid of unions, which I contend provide a needed and powerful counterweight to market forces which are frankly not all that “free”, I would suggest reviewing the present regulations governing union negotiations and reviewing any “tweaking” of those regulations on a 5 year basis.

  17. DeDude says:

    efischer; why should two people who spend the same amount of time getting educated and both work full time jobs NOT be payed the same? I guess if one of them did something that was of particular great use for society and the other mostly worked to destroy society with “innovation” of destructive financial instruments then one could argue for a differential compensation.

  18. BDW says:

    I’m a teacher at a public school in MN. I make $28.50 an hour (plus benefits) with a Master’s Degree (an MBA actually). Am I overpaid based on that fact, or is it the ignorant “you get summers off” bullshit that some can’t get beyond?? I honestly want to know if this a reasonable pay rate for a teacher or not.

  19. DeDude says:

    If you really wanted to pay those Wall Street banksters and financial terrorists compensation commensurate with their value for society, it would come to 3 bullets from an Uzi (head, heart and groin) – but I could live with paying them a tad less than a teacher.

  20. Charles says:


    “Actually those are benefits worse than the average benefits before Reagan. Yes they are better than current wage-slave benefits in the private sector, but they are worse than public sector benefits used to be. Sort of strange that with a GDP, that in 1980’ies dollars, is more than twice as big as back then, we cannot afford benefits that are not nearly as good as back then.”

    Have you looked at a population chart recently? It’s pretty straightforward: we don’t have enough people working to pay for all the people retiring. As others have said, why do public sector employees need collective bargaining rights? Seriously. No one has answered this question.

    Yes Walker is being an intellectually dishonest jerk about the whole thing, and I think his motives are impure at best, but the status quo is unsustainable and I do not believe unions have any place in government.

  21. cfischer says:


    Not all education is the same, and perhaps things like intelligence level or marketability of skills matters? The person that busts their ass getting through a very difficult Engineering/Science/Business curriculum earn a premium.

    Things like risk matter. Private sector people are fired all the time. We don’t have tenure.

    And perhaps not all jobs are the same either. The 40 hour workweek is a thing of the past to most of us – probably not for most teachers. Teachers never have to travel for work, work on the weekends, etc. The biggest stress the deal with most of the time a misbehaved kid.

    The only people I know that actually believe all people with the same level of degree should earn the same are people that have easy degrees with easy jobs. Sorry, it’s the sad truth.

    BDW: I’d like to know your “true” pay rate, factoring in your pension, health benefits, then normalizing that by multiplying 1.33 to get a 12 month equivilent. Yes, you’re likely overpaid.

    And us bemoaning your summers off? Ask anyone that has been working for 10 years straight like I have without a break how much we’d pay for a Summer off.

  22. cfischer says:


    Final response, since I’m beating a dead horse here a bit. Since I’m only in my early 30′s. I remember how much studying and working vs. drinking and partying my fellow Engineers did, versus all the people in the Education school – many of my friends and most of my college girlfriends were Elementry Education majors. We were studying differential equations, while they were making posters.

    Today, I see how hard my friends that work in business work, versus my friends that teach and have their “number of days until Summer” countdown on their facebooks that start in early April.

    DeDude, you sound like someone who either doesn’t earn an income because he’s still in school or something, or has immediate family that teaches (feel free to tell me I’m wrong if I am.) Everyone else who works 50+ hours a week, 12 months out of the year, and pays any significant amount of taxes, knows what a sweetheart most teachers have.

  23. royrun99 says:

    great article…. could you do one on New Jersey? I think the bombast from that governor is hiding many of
    the same facts you find in Wisc. Additionally, New Jersey was impacted by Wall street sales of crap MBS’s just as Taibi points out Ohio was screwed by Kasinich (formerly of Fox news and Wall street)

  24. jcmcn5 says:

    No need to do an article on NJ roy. There’s already a book on it. It’s called, appropriately, The Soprano State. It’s all about how the politicians and PUBLIC SECTOR are so corrupt that is simply boggles the imagination. All job growth in NJ in the past ten years has been public sector jobs. ZERO private sector jobs. Who do you imagine these public sector employees are electing to sit across the table from them when it comes time to “bargain” for a new contract.

    We are being looted by these public sector unions, and I have yet to hear one single argument that can’t be shot down in one sentence for why the public sector needs to be represented by a union? Unions were created to protect workers from private employers. Who are the public sector unions protecting their member from? Taxpayers for Christ’s sake.

    Break these public sector unions. Break ‘em all.

  25. larsonian says:

    In addition to being the largest individual donor to Walker, Koch gave $1 mil. To Walker via the RGA and opened a lobbying office across the street from the Capitol in Nov. Seven lobbyists were registered in the state the week Walker took office.

    On Tues. Next week he is scheduled to release his new budget which is expected to include $1 bil. + in local cuts. I think he will get real unpopular real fast!

  26. Sarge says:


    Seriously, if you have a college education and can’t figure out whether you’re making a wage commenserate with your education then you have bigger problems and I don’t want you teaching my kids.

    Frankly if you don’t think that you do then don’t do it. And don’t give me any of that “passion” bullshit. We all have passions. We don’t all have the luxury of indulging them and getting paid for it.

  27. BDW says:

    $28.50 is based on my contract and an 8 hr work day; if I include the Sundays I work, I could get that down to minimum wage. If you want me to work 3 months longer, you can pay me an addition $20,000 a year….didn’t think so. I don’t get paid during the summer because I’m not employed during the summer, due to the fact that I am contracted and paid for a specific period of time. My benefits are matching funds for a TRA, which means I pay in an equal percentage, just like most 401k programs, in deferred payment (I’d much rather have it on the check). And my health benefits are a fixed amount which doesn’t cover single coverage…..to put my family on our plan, I’d have an outlay of $12,000+ a year, or about half my take home.

    My other question is why are you too stupid to demand vacation time (paid or non-paid) or too stupid to take a vacation? And why aren’t you willing to negotiate fair compensation for yourself, or are you just glad some guy gave you a job, and would be willing to work for food, but you tricked him into paying you too?

  28. BDW says:

    no jackass, I mean sarge, I was wondering how very little people of your mindset actually value those who educated you and your children. From your response, I’d say you think we shouldn’t make more than the guy who checks you out at the movie rental store.

    Of course, if you paid me babysitter money, I’d be in 6 figures.

  29. DeDude says:


    Have you looked at a GDP/person chart recently? GDP/person is actually the determinant of what society can “afford” and it has kept going up for a long time. If we double productivity we can afford to let half the working population stop working and still retain the same standard of living. The public sector employees need collective bargaining rights for the same reason any other employees need it: to prevent being exploited and mistreated by the employer.

  30. DeDude says:


    You clearly have a tremendous respect for the kind of job you are doing and none for the kind of job, like teaching, that you are not doing. No I am not a teacher nor is any of my close family teachers, but I have enough ability to observe and collect information about them to see that you clearly have no clue of what a teachers job is like. Maybe when you get a decade or two more under your belt you can look at what your wrote and understand what a bunch of self-absorbed, spoiled brad, arrogant crap you just let out. I know all about long hours with challenging work, however, I got my nose out of my navel even before I got my Ph.D. in immunology so I would not rant about how overpaid and underworked others are unless their salary is substantially above my own.

  31. cfischer says:


    My father is a teacher from North Jersey, he retired from a public school district (Livingston) 10 years ago and went to work for a private school so he could start collecting his pension early. You know what’s funny, is that all the teachers from Northern NJ move to PA when they retire, because they can’t afford staying in Northern NJ – ah, the irony.


    Actually, see above, since my father is a teacher, I know exactly how rigorous it isn’t. He himself admits he’s overpaid. Admittedly, the situation is probably more egregious in NJ than most other places.

    But at the end of the day, guess what? I pull my own weight to earn my pay. If I stop, or slack off, or my employer could replace me with someone better/cheaper, I’d get fired. I don’t have a tenure system to protect me from getting lazy, I’m accountable for the work I do, and my salary was determined by the free market, not by extorting a CBA by threatening politicans not to reelect them.

  32. cfischer says:


    You’re right. I still remember the collection of medicore, unimpressive, unethusiastic teachers I had for most of middle and high school career. Looking back, I’m not very appreciative.

    If you got paid babysitter money you’d be at 6 figures? Are you actually quoting that crap chain letter that’s been going around that uses some ass backwards logic that if you got paid $8/hr PER STUDENT, you’d make $150k a year. I wouldn’t even get into how many logical flaws there are with that, but I think that says all there is that needs to be said about what you think your economic worth is vs. what your actual economic worth is.

    Those who can do, those who can’t, teach. That phrase is around for a reason.

  33. Irwin Fletcher says:

    This is directed to Barry (The Host of TBP Blog).

    After the Tucson incident, this blog came down pretty hard on a drawing of crosshairs shown over certain congressional districts. The central argument made was that “elected officials” should be held to a higher standard when it comes to civil discourse. A big deal was made by President Obama and others to “tone down the rhetoric” and have less vitriol.

    In this new “civility” what would you say now about the comparisons of Gov. Walker to Hitler and especially the statements made just today by Congressman Michael Capuano urging government employees to take violent action?
    Here is a link:

  34. DL says:

    jcmcn5 @ 6:19 P.M.

    “Fire them all. Replace them with random names from the unemployment rolls and odds are the kids will get as good an education as their getting from these parasites”.

    Funny. But a grain of truth there also.

  35. Bill Wilson says:

    In a perfect world, everyone would be able to bargain at arms length. Of course, that includes the taxpayer. When politicians bargain with unions, is the taxpayer really represented?

    I live in Massachusetts, and I don’t see the point in eliminating unions. They would still exist as special interest groups, exerting their political influence.

    I’d like to see more constraints on our elected officials when they decide on compensation for government employees. Along with a balanced budget amendment, we should have an amendment that bans unfunded liabilities. Tomorrows pension promises need to be funded from today’s budget. If we can’t afford save for it today, we won’t be able to afford it tomorrow. Also, elected officials should not be in the pension system, period. They make enough money to save for their own retirements.

  36. Andy T says:


    “The relevant comparison to teachers is other professionals with a Masters degree…..”

    About every 4-6 weeks I see you write something astoundingly inane. And then, somehow, you manage to top yourself again and again.

    Well done.

  37. David Merkel says:

    Barry, most commentators are missing the real problem, partly because even the GOP in Wisconsin is not highlighting it — you got close to it near the end of your piece. The accrual (GAAP) deficit is a lot higher (by $3.6B) than the cash (statutory) deficit that everyone is screaming about, and those numbers look optimistic to me. There is a lot of accounting chicanery going on here.

    I fault Walker for the doo-dads that he put into the bill. But I also fault him for not going far enough in fighting the true deficit. His cuts a trifling compared with what needs to be done.

    And this will come to almost every state in the union eventually. The states didn’t have printing presses, but they used every trick to make cash accounting look good to the detriment of accrual accounting.

  38. Sarge says:


    $28.50 translates to nearly $60K a year, easily exceeding the average annual pay for Minnesota So even discounting for summers off you’re in the ball park of average annual salary. If you can’t afford it why do it? You have an MBA, why not work at something that pays more?

    I can’t imagine why someone would go to the trouble and expense of earning an MBA and then become a public school teacher. What are you teaching? How does that translate to skill useful in teaching public school?

  39. DeDude says:

    Andy T;

    About every 4-6 weeks I write something that challenge your primitive dogmatic world view sufficiently that you feel the need to respond. But since you cannot challenge it with arguments or facts you instead fire of some pathetic little personal attack. Good to see you are still alive – why don’t you stick to the fibi head and shoulders.

  40. somewhat related..

    “If a thousand [citizens] were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.”
    – Henry David Thoreau

    “Another major reason why crime is increasing is that crime pays, and in our tax-ridden, regulation crushed economy, many people cannot economically survive through low-end jobs. … ‘The income that offenders can earn in the world of crime, as compared with the world of work, all too often makes crime appear to be the better choice.’ In Washington, D.C., it costs $7,000 in city fees to open a pushcart. In California, up to eighty federal and state licenses are required to open a small business. In New York, a medallion to operate a taxicab costs $150,000. More than 700 occupations in the United States require a government license. Throughout the country, church soup kitchens are being closed by departments of health. No wonder so many people turn to crime and violence to survive.”
    – Jacob G. Hornberger
    American author, journalist, politician, founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation
    Source: Will You be Safer if Guns are Banned?, The Tyranny of Gun Control, 9-10 (1997).

    “It ain’t over on April 15! If you stop, for example, for a $10 pizza on
    Thursday night to celebrate being done with the IRS for another year, the
    taxman will be right there to grab a slice or two. On top of paying the sales
    tax, you’ll also be picking up a major chunk of what the government charges the
    pizza shop owner for local property taxes, unemployment insurance taxes,
    federal payroll taxes, federal and state and local income taxes, and worker’s
    compensation taxes. Altogether, according to a study by the Americans for Tax
    Reform, that comes to $3.80 on a $10 pizza for the omnipresent taxman. If you
    pick up a Bud six-pack to go with the pizza, there’s another 43 cents of each
    beer dollar that goes straight to the taxman for excise taxes, income taxes,
    property taxes, etc. For something stronger, say Jack Daniels, the taxman’s
    share is $7.20, on average, out of every $10. Go lighter and just drink Pepsi
    and it’s 35 percent of what you pay that goes for taxes at all levels. Add some
    Marlboros and its 75 percent of the retail price that’s funneled directly into
    the state’s coffers. Get home and hit the light switch and another $26 out of
    every $100 on the electric bill goes for government rather than electricity. If
    you’re flying the next day, the taxman is up early and waiting at the aiport,
    pocketing $40 on every $100 airline ticket. And he’s there in the hotel lobby
    when you land, snatching $43 on every $100 of the hotel bill. Go out to dinner
    and it’s another $28 of every $100 of the tab that ends up with the government
    rather than with the restaurant, the farmers, truckers and everyone else who
    worked together to produce the meal.”
    – Ralph Reiland
    Prof of Economics Robert Morris College
    Source: Taxed to Death

  41. cfischer says:


    Your view that everyone with an Master’s degree should be paid the same is one of the sheer dumbest things I’ve heard in a while. Don’t you think that would lead to a some economic inbalances? Or do you really think it takes the same level of natural ability, preparation, and skill to earn a MS in Chemistry or Engineering from MIT, versus a MS in English from the local county school?

    I would love to hear on what basis you think that all MS’s should be paid the same is? (Try not to use the word “deserve” in your response)

  42. DeDude says:

    cfisher; aha so it was a daddy problem. Well now you can go back to the therapist and tell her how you punched your daddy in the internet. Some other day you may come with a rationale explanation as to why BDW would deserve more than twice the compensation if he had decided to use his MBA to swindle money out of hard-working people, rather than to prepare future generations for surviving in a competitive world.

    Sarge; the Major and I are tired of your hypocritical complaints about people getting a sweet deal with from the taxpayers with the ability to retire with health benefits for life after just 20 years of yelling at younger people. So get off your fat lazy ass and report to the base on Monday – you are re-enlisted

    Andy T; since you don’t have the same talent for writing that Julie has or the talent for bringing in relevant facts that Peter has; just go fib – you’re one of the best at that.

    DeDude has left the DeBate.

  43. jdjed says:

    Petey Wheatstraw is clueless. Please explain Bell city manager’s $787,637 salary plus lucrative benefits package ….


  44. BillG says:

    David Merkel,

    Supposedly the big budget savings is going to come when Walker cuts state aid to cities. In Wisconsin, cities can only levy a property tax so they have this complex state aid formula that distributes part of the state taxation (income and sales taxes mainly) to the cities. The cities are the ones that have to pay the teachers and the provisions to make them pay more for their pensions and healthcare as well as block any raises higher than inflation for the forseeable future will help the cities deal with those state aid cuts. That’s the logic anyway. I haven’t actually looked at any of the numbers myself so maybe additional cuts are needed.

  45. Sarge says:

    @Dedude – Unlike the posts from Petey, who apparently stays in his underwear (in his mom’s basement?) all day posting left wing bullshit he channeled from the DailyKOS, I actually found your last post amusing.

    Unfortunately, like Petey you’re wrong. No one except New York/Long Island firefighters/police officers get a full pension and health care after 20 years – and that after jacking up their last year with massive overtime.

    Military retirement pay is merely 40 or 50%, depending on what plan you choose, after 20 years. Maxes out at 40 years with 100% of your base pay. Not bad but not that many last that long. I certainly didn’t. My public pension comes as VA disability pay. You know, that thing you get for service connected disability. When I combine it with Social Security and what’s left after the market gets done with my 401k I’ll probably do ok in my paid off house in South Florida. The dogs might have to eat Kirkland brand instead of EVO but they don’t care.

    And if they’d take me I’d re-up in a New York minute. I did my time, probably before you were born.