Friday, March 11, 2011








Why employee pensions aren't bankrupting states

Kevin G. Hall
McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: March 07, 2011 07:54:39 PM

WASHINGTON — From state legislatures to Congress to tea party rallies, a vocal backlash is rising against what are perceived as too-generous retirement benefits for state and local government workers. However, that widespread perception doesn't match reality.

A close look at state and local pension plans across the nation, and a comparison of them to those in the private sector, reveals a more complicated story. However, the short answer is that there's simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim.

Pension contributions from state and local employers aren't blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College puts the figure a bit higher at 3.8 percent.

Though there's no direct comparison, state and local pension contributions approximate the burden shouldered by private companies. The nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that retirement funding for private employers amounts to about 3.5 percent of employee compensation.

Nor are state and local government pension funds broke. They're underfunded, in large measure because — like the investments held in 401(k) plans by American private-sector employees — they sunk along with the entire stock market during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. And like 401(k) plans, the investments made by public-sector pension plans are increasingly on firmer footing as the rising tide on Wall Street lifts all boats.

Boston College researchers project that if the assets in state and local pension plans were frozen tomorrow and there was no more growth in investment returns, there'd still be enough money in most state plans to pay benefits for years to come.

"On average, with the assets on hand today, plans are able to pay annual benefits at their current level for another 13 years. This assumes, pessimistically, that plans make no future pension contributions and there is no growth in assets," said Jean-Pierre Aubry, a researcher specializing in state and local pensions for the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

In 2006, when the economy was humming before the financial crisis began, the value of assets in state and local pension funds covered promised benefits for a period of just over 19 years.

At the bottom of Aubry's list is Kentucky, which would have enough assets to cover 4.7 years. Other states do much better: North Carolina local government pensions are funded to cover 19 years of promised benefits; Florida's state plan could cover 17 years; and California's plans about 15 years.

"On the whole, the pension system isn't bankrupting every state in the country," Aubry said.

States having the biggest problems with pension obligations tend to be struggling with overall fiscal woes — New Jersey and Illinois in particular. Many states are now wrestling with underfunding because they didn't contribute enough during boom years.

Most state and local employees government across the nation have defined-benefit plans that promise employees either a percentage of their final salary during retirement or some fixed amount. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 91 percent of full-time state and local government workers have access to defined-benefit plans.

Several states_ including Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado and Washington_ have adopted competing defined-contribution plans, or a hybrid plan that provides government employees both a partial defined benefit in retirement and a supplementary defined-contribution plan.

Defined-contribution 401(k) plans divert on a tax-deferred basis a portion of pay, generally partially matched by the employer, into an account that invests in stocks and bonds. In 1980, 84 percent of workers at medium and large companies in the U.S. had a defined-benefit plan like those still predominate in the public sector. By last year, just 30 percent of workers in these larger companies were covered under such plans.

Defenders of the public pension system say anti-government, anti-union elected officials and interest groups have exaggerated the problem to score political points, and that as the economy heals, public pension plans will gain value and prove critics wrong.

"There's a window that's closing as market conditions improve and interest rates rise, the funding of these plans is going to look better than depicted by some," insisted Keith Brainard, the director of research for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators in Georgetown, Texas.

Critics of public sector pensions paint the problem with a broad brush.

"Unionized government workers have tremendous leverage to negotiate their own wages and benefits. They funnel tens of millions of dollars to elect candidates who will sit across from them at the negotiating table," said Thomas Donohue, the chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a Feb. 24 blog post. "This self-dealing has resulted in ever-increasing wage and benefit packages for unionized government workers that often far outstrip those for comparable private-sector workers."

In a Feb. 23 radio interview, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., called federal stimulus efforts to rescue the economy "essentially a federal bailout of public employee unions." Nunes described money owed to state pensioners as a crisis "about ready to happen."

Except that two out of every three public-sector workers aren't union members.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January that 31.1 percent of state public-sector workers were unionized in 2010, compared with 26.8 percent of federal government employees. The highest percentage of unionization, 43.3 percent, was found in local government, where police officers and firefighters work. Teachers can fall into either state systems or local government.

Ironically, in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker is trying to weaken public-sector unions and reduce pension benefits, he's exempted police and firefighters, who are among the most unionized public employees. And Wisconsin's public-sector pension plan still has enough assets today to cover more than 18 years of benefits.

The most recent Public Fund Survey by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators showed that, on average, state and local pensions were 78.9 percent funded, with about $688 billion in unfunded promises to pensioners. Critics suggest that the real number is at least $1 trillion or higher, using less-optimistic market assumptions.

The unfunded liabilities would be a problem if all state and local retirees went into retirement at once, but they won't. Nor will state governments go out of business and hand underfunded pension plans over to a federal regulator, as happens in the private sector. State and local governments are ongoing enterprises.

The flow of employees into retirement matches up with population trends in states, with Northeastern states with declining populations, particularly Rhode Island, seeing more stress on their pension systems than Southern and Western states, where there's been vibrant population growth.

Another misperception tied to the pension debate is that while the private sector has shed jobs during the economic crisis, state and local government employment has grown — and pensions along with it.

Since September 2008_ when state and local government employees numbered 19,385,000 and the economic crisis turned severe — the governments' payrolls shrunk by 407,000, to 18,978,000 this January, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

When calculating from December 2007 _ the month that the National Bureau of Economic Research determined was the start of the Great Recession _ state and local government employment has fallen by 703,000 jobs amid a downturn that cost the nation more than 8 million jobs overall.

"The down economy has had an effect, and the loss of employment outside the public sector has created a contrast" said Brainard, of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.

Also fueling backlash is the perception that state and local workers don't contribute to their own retirement funds the way private sector workers do.

Three states have non-contribution public pension plans _ Florida, Utah and Oregon. About a third of Connecticut state workers don't contribute to their pensions, while most new employees do. Missouri until recently had a non-contribution policy for state workers, as did Michigan until 1997. Michigan workers hired before 1997 still don't pay toward their pensions, and some teachers in Arkansas don't have to contribute toward theirs. Tennessee doesn't require contributions from most workers and employees in the state higher education system.

Those notable exceptions aside, most states require employee contributions. The midpoint for these contributions for all states and the District of Columbia is 5 percent of pay, according to academic and state-level research. That contribution rate climbs to 8 percent for the handful of states whose workers or teachers are prohibited from paying into the federal Social Security program.

By comparison, private-sector workers shoulder a bit more of the burden.

In its data for 2010, Fidelity Investments, the largest administrator of private-sector 401(k) retirement plans, showed employee contribution rates in its plans averaged 8.2 percent of pre-tax pay.

Separately, the Employee Benefits Research Institution estimates that most private-sector employers match up to 50 percent of employee contributions up to the first 6 percent of salary.

The utility or burden of either type of retirement plan depends on whether the plan is measured by what it delivers to an individual, or by how much it delivers to all workers receiving retirement benefits from their employer.

"It really comes down to what you are attempting to do," said Dallas Salisbury, the president of the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Viewed through the lens of an employee, defined-benefit plans are more cost-effective at providing a pre-determined level of benefits to an employee. But the shortcoming of these plans is that they reward seniority. For workers with a shorter tenure, they're far less generous in retirement.

This fairness issue is one reason why 401(k) plans have grown steadily in prominence since the mid-1980s. From the payroll perspective of an employer, these defined-contribution plans produce at least some retirement income for the greatest number of employees, and the plans can move with employees who change jobs.



Go to and read articles and comments from other Americans on what they’ve witnessed in their communities around the country. While most of the population of California is now ILLEGAL, the problems, costs, assault to our culture by Mexico is EVERYWHERE. copy and pass it to your friends.





63% Say Border Control Is Top Immigration Priority





Most conservatives (79%) and moderates (59%) think border control should come first; most liberals (52%) say the priority should be legalizing the illegal immigrants who are already in the United States.


63% Say Border Control Is Top Immigration Priority

Friday, March 11, 2011

Little is being said on Capitol Hill about immigration reform these days, but voters remain strongly convinced that border control should come first.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 63% of Likely U.S. Voters think gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living here when it comes to immigration reform. Only 27% put legalizing the status of these illegal immigrants first. Ten percent (10%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)


Most conservatives (79%) and moderates (59%) think border control should come first; most liberals (52%) say the priority should be legalizing the illegal immigrants who are already in the United States.


Support for border control as a legislative priority has been at this level for years.

But, while Americans want the border secure and a reduction in illegal immigration, most continue to support a welcoming policy of legal immigration.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters now agree with an immigration policy that keeps out only national security threats, criminals and those who would come here to live off America’s welfare system. This is down slightly from 58% last April but is generally consistent with findings for several years. Twenty-seven percent (27%) disagree with a policy like that, while another 19% are not sure about it.

It is interesting to note that Democrats are less supportive of a welcoming immigration policy than Republicans and unaffiliated voters. Republicans support such a policy by a 3-to-1 margin and unaffiliated voters by a 2-to-1 margin. Among Democrats, 47% favor a welcoming immigration policy and 36% are opposed.

Also, 61% of Political Class voters oppose such a policy, while 56% of Mainstream voters favor it. But then 71% of those in the Mainstream think the priority for immigration reform should be gaining control of the border, while 52% of Political Class voters believe legalizing the status of illegal immigrants already in the country is more important.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 8-9, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Most voters continue to favor strong sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants and landlords who rent to them. Voters also feel strongly that police should check the immigration status of drivers during routine traffic stops.

Male voters put more emphasis on border control than female voters do.

Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans and 69% of voters not affiliated with either major party think gaining control of the border is more important when it comes to immigration reform. Democrats are almost evenly divided on the question.

GOP voters and unaffiliateds are also more enthusiastic than Democrats for an immigration policy whose goal is to keep out national security threats, criminals and those who come here to live off the welfare system.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of all voters think the current policies and practices of the federal government encourage illegal immigration.

But just 17% of voters are optimistic about what Congress will accomplish in the next couple years when it comes to immigration.




Welfare and food stamp benefits soar $3 million higher than September payout. New statistics from the Department of Public Social Services reveal that illegal aliens and their families in Los Angeles County collected over $37 million in welfare and food stamp allocations in November 2007 – up $3 million dollars from September, announced Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Twenty five percent of the all welfare and food stamps benefits is going directly to the children of illegal aliens. Illegals collected over $20 million in welfare assistance for November 2007 and over $16 million in monthly food stamp allocations for a projected annual cost of $444 million. “This new information shows an alarming increase in the devastating impact Illegal immigration continues to have on Los Angeles County taxpayers,” said Antonovich. “With $220 million for public safety, $400 million for healthcare, and $444 million in welfare allocations, the total cost for illegal immigrants to County taxpayers far exceeds $1 billion a year – not including the millions of dollars for education.”


“Walsh stated. Walsh said his analysis indicating there are 38 million illegal aliens in the U.S. was calculated using the conservative estimate of three illegal immigrants entering the U.S. for each one apprehended.”

Illegal alien population may be as high as 38 million

Study: Illegal alien population may be as high as 38 million A new report finds the Homeland Security Department "grossly underestimates" the number of illegal aliens living in the U.S. Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Studies released a report August 31 that estimates the number of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. is between 8 and 12 million. But the group Californians for Population Stabilization, or CAPS, has unveiled a report estimating the illegal population is actually between 20 and 38 million. Four experts, all of whom contributed to the study prepared by CAPS, discussed their findings at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington Wednesday. James Walsh, a former associate general counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said he is "appalled" that the Bush administration, lawyers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and every Democratic presidential candidate, with the exception of Joe Biden, have no problem with sanctuary cities for illegal aliens. "Ladies and gentlemen, the sanctuary cities and the people that support them are violating the laws of the United States of America. They're violating 8 USC section 1324 and 1325, which is a felony -- [it's] a felony to aid, support, transport, shield, harbor illegal aliens," Walsh stated. Walsh said his analysis indicating there are 38 million illegal aliens in the U.S. was calculated using the conservative estimate of three illegal immigrants entering the U.S. for each one apprehended. According to Walsh, "In the United States, immigration is in a state of anarchy -- not chaos, but anarchy."



Thoughts on the LA RAZA Invasion

We know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of America's finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor by the name of Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, "Mexifornia," explaining how immigration - both legal and illegal was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, "If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let's destroy! America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that 'An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'"

"Here is how they do it," Lamm said: "First, to destroy America, turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country." History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar, Seymour Lipset, put it this way: "The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy." Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, and Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans."

Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, "Invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and

discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

Third, "We could make the United States an 'Hispanic Quebec' without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: "The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentricity and what it meant to be an American, we! are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together." Lamm said, "I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have

various cultural subgroups living in America enforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities."

"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school."

"My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology.' I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all

minority failure on the majority population."

"My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship, and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games. A common enemy, Persia, threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to overcome two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell. "E. Pluribus Unum" -- From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the 'pluribus' instead of the 'Unum,' we will balkanize America as surely as Kosovo."

"Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits; make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist' or 'xenophobe' halt discussion and debate. Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the! doctrine of 'Victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them."

In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said,. "Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis's book "Mexifornia." His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America. deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."

There was no applause. A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today.

Discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Even barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate 'diversity.' American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America - take note of California and other states - to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell's book "1984." In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," and "Ignorance is strength."

Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy is deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don't get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.




Lou Dobbs Tonight

And there are some 800,000 gang members in this country: That’s more than the combined number of troops in our Army and Marine Corps. These gangs have become one of the principle ways to import and distribute drugs in the United States. Congressman David Reichert joins Lou to tell us why those gangs are growing larger and stronger, and why he’s introduced legislation to eliminate the top three international drug gangs.



400,000 and they’re just waiting for OBAMA’S LA RAZA AMNESTY!

There are currently over 400,000 unaccounted for illegal alien criminals with outstanding deportation orders. Those are just the ones apprehended. At least one fourth of these are hard core criminals. Nobody knows how many more there are, but they are numerous and roaming your neighborhoods, preying on you and your family. Read more about it here.

Many of these heinous crimes are against children. How many children are being molested, raped, and murdered by illegal aliens? Nobody knows for sure but the numbers are staggering. To give you some idea of the prevalence of the crime, peruse the ICE Public Information News Releases.

While there are numerous reports of individual sexual predators such as Mexican Sex Offender and Six-Time Deportee in ICE Custody or Man Deported Following Conviction For Molesting 6-year-old, you will see many reports of multiple child predators being caught and deported. Some of them over the last two years are as follows:

• 45 child predators arrested in New York City,,

• 36 convicted Orange County child sex offenders face deportation

• ICE arrests 52 child predators in NYC operation

• Four Child Predators Arrested In Rhode Island

• ICE Arrests 16 predators in Westchester County Operation

• ICE Agents Arrest 8 Child Sex Predators In Washington, DC And Virginia

• 18 Predators Nabbed By ICE In Nassau County

• ICE Arrests 25 Child Sex Offenders in Chicago Area

• ICE Arrests 7 in Rockland County, NY

• 12 Child Sex Predators Arrested in Santa Clara County

• ICE Arrests 27 Sexual Predators in Suffolk County

In case you are interested, that is 250 illegal alien child molesters. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

When we talk about the costs to secure our borders, we need to ask "How many crimes against children is acceptable collateral damage?" Isn't that what it is all about? Cheap lettuce versus molested, raped and murdered children - a cost/benefit tradeoff.

Occasionally, the Federal Government decides to actually do something about some of the more violent illegal alien criminals - after they are already here and have committed mayhem! Operation Predator evolved out of ICE's mission to find and deport illegal aliens with the more heinous criminal records. The majority of the arrests under Operation Predator - roughly 85% - involved foreign nationals in this country whose child sex crimes made them removable from the United States. By matching immigration databases with state Megan's law directories, ICE agents have arrested more than 1,800 registered sex offenders.

Digressing for a moment, what the hell was a convicted, illegal alien sex offender even doing out of jail or not immediately deported – even if 63% do come right back - let alone roaming around the neighborhoods while on a registry! Has the judicial system in this country gone insane?

In any case, Operation Predator began on July 9, 2003, and resulted in 6,085 child predator arrests throughout the country - an average of roughly 250 arrests per month and eight arrests per day. While arrests have been made in every state, the most have occurred in these states: Arizona (207), California (1,578), Florida (255), Illinois (282), Michigan (153), Minnesota (190), New Jersey (423), New York (367), Oregon (148) and Texas (545).

While Operation Predator was a noble effort and ICE is to be commended, it only made a small dent in the criminal activity and number of horrific crimes being committed by illegal alien child sexual predators.

It is worth noting that some pedophile statistics report that each pedophile molests average of 148 children. If so, that could be as many as 900,580 victims from just the 6,085 illegal alien predators that were caught. Regardless, how many children being molested is acceptable collateral damage?

In fact, the criminal activity in the illegal alien community is now so bad that illegal aliens are being held for ransom and as slaves by other illegal aliens and smugglers are kidnapping illegal aliens from other smugglers! Then there is the fast growing "sex slave" problem as reported in The Girls Next Door, SEX TRAFFICKING - San Francisco Is A Major Center For International Crime Networks That Smuggle And Enslave, Raid in Tennessee ends girl's captivity as a sex slave Profiling Sex Trafficking: Illegal Immigrants At Risk, Latina Sex Slavery, and Police sting in Colorado shuts down Pacifica brothel

For more crimes committed by illegal aliens and the personal impact it has had on individual citizens see Immigrations Human Cost, Victims of Illegal Aliens, Crime Victims of Illegal Aliens, Escaping Justice, Predatory Aliens, Crimes involving immigrants from around the world, both legal and otherwise, and Victims of Illegal Aliens Memorial. Go to Fallen Heroes for information on a few more cops killed by illegal aliens.

When visiting any of the links and sites, keep in mind that nobody is tracking and reporting the crimes on a national basis and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

While it is a fact that most illegal aliens are law abiding, except for breaking immigration laws, it is also a fact that a significant percentage of illegal aliens have no respect for the rule of law and our legal customs. Many come with anti-American attitudes and philosophies that are totally alien to our culture, a subject addressed later in this paper. The end result is an ever-growing lawlessness among large portions of the illegal alien communities. It only makes sense that illegal alien criminals come to the United States - this is where the money is and our jails are a whole lot nicer than what they have in their home countries.

As previously noted, this report does not go into the property crimes being committed by illegal aliens. However, like the activities of other equal opportunity criminals, many property crimes are drug related, an activity that many illegal aliens, especially illegal alien gangs, are involved in. While violent crimes against one's person are the most serious, if your identity or car is stolen by an illegal alien you won't be too happy about it.

As a small example of property crimes, in 2003, according to the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles, 57,600 cars were stolen in Phoenix alone. The owner losses are estimated to exceed $864 million. Most of the stolen cars ended up in Mexico and were never recovered. How many of those cars were stolen by illegal alien criminals versus resident criminals is unknown but you can rest assured that illegal aliens had a large part of it..

Next Section: Impacts of Illegal Immigration: Gangs

Previous Section: Impacts of Illegal Immigration: Sex Crimes


Government Data Imply High Immigrant Crime Rates; Findings Contradict Older Research Showing Low Rates

PRNewswire November 19, 2009

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Center for Immigration Studies has published a detailed report on immigration and crime based on a variety of recently released data, including some obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. The newer government data implies that immigrants have relatively high rates of crime. This contradicts older academic research that generally found low rates of crime. The overall picture of immigrants and crime remains confused due to conflicting information and a lack of good data.

The report, "Immigration and Crime: Assessing a Conflicted Issue," by Steven Camarota and Jessica Vaughan, is online at http://

Among the findings:

-- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates that immigrants

(legal and illegal) comprise 20 percent of inmates in prisons and jails.

The foreign-born are 15.4 percent of the nation's adult population.

However, DHS has not provided a detailed explanation of how the

estimates were generated.

-- Under contract to DHS in 2004, Fentress, Inc. reviewed 8.1 million

inmate records from state prison systems and 45 large county jails. They

found that 22 percent of inmates were foreign-born. But the report did

not cover all of the nation's jails.

-- The 287(g) program and related efforts have found high rates of

illegal-alien incarceration in some communities. But it is unclear if

the communities are representative of the country:

-- Maricopa County, Ariz.: 22 percent of felons are illegal aliens;

-- Lake County, Ill.: 19 percent of jail inmates are illegal aliens;

-- Collier County, Fla.: 20 to 22 percent of jail inmates and arrestees

are illegal aliens;

-- Weld County, Colo.: 12.8 to 15.2 percent of those jailed are illegal


-- DHS states that it has identified 221,000 non-citizens in the nation's

jails. This equals 11 to 15 percent of the jail population. Non- citizens

are 8.6 percent of the nation's total adult population.

-- The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that 26.4 percent of inmates in

federal prisons are non-citizens. However, federal prisons are not

representative of prisons generally or local jails.

-- Recent reports by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and

Immigration Policy Center (IPC) showing low rates of immigrant

incarceration highlight the data problems in many studies. The 2000

Census data they used are not reliable.

-- An analysis of the data used in the PPIC and IPC studies by the National

Research Council found that 53 percent of the time the Census Bureau had

to make an educated guess whether a prisoner was an immigrant. The

studies are essentially measuring these guesses, not actual immigrant


-- The poor quality of data used in the PPIC and IPC studies is illustrated

by wild and implausible swings. It shows a 28 percent decline in

incarcerated immigrants 1990 to 2000 -- yet the overall immigrant

population grew 59 percent. Newer Census data from 2007 show a 146

percent increase in immigrant incarceration 2000 to 2007 -- yet, the

overall immigrant population grew only 22 percent.

-- The "Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities"

shows that 8.1 percent of prisoners in state prisons are immigrants

(legal and illegal). However, the survey excludes jails and relies on

inmate self-identification, which is likely to understate the number of


-- In 2009, 57 percent of the 76 fugitive murderers most wanted by the

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were foreign-born. It is likely

however that because immigrants can more readily flee to other

countries, they comprise a disproportionate share of fugitives.

-- Most studies comparing crime rates and immigration levels across cities

show no clear correlation between the immigrant share of a city's

population and its level of crime. This is one of the strongest

arguments that immigrants do not have high crime rates. However, such

studies generally measure only overall crime, not crimes specifically

committed by immigrants. Also, a 2009 analysis by DHS' Office of

Immigration Statistics found that crime rates were higher in

metropolitan areas that received large numbers of legal immigrants.

-- From 1998 to 2007, 816,000 criminal aliens were removed from the United

States because of a criminal charge or conviction. This is equal to

about one-fifth of the nation's total jail and prison population. These

figures do not include those removed for the lesser offense of living or

working in the country illegally. The removal and deportation of large

numbers of criminal aliens may reduce immigrant incarceration rates

because many will not return and re-offend, as is the case with many

native-born criminals.

-- Some have argued that the fall in overall national crime rates since the

early 1990s is evidence that immigration actually reduces crime.

However, overall crime rates are affected by many factors. Moreover, the

1970s and 1980s saw crime rates rise along with immigration levels.

-- Overall incarceration rates are also a poor means of examining the link

between immigration and crime. Since the 1970s, the share of the U.S.

population that is incarcerated has grown almost exactly in proportion

to the share of the population that is immigrant. But unless inmates can

be identified as immigrant or native-born this information sheds little

light on the issue of immigrant criminality.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.

SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies

Originally published by Center for Immigration Studies.



Mexican Army corrupted and now largest Drug Cartel in Mexico






“Mexico, a country where roughly 40% of the population lives in poverty, has 10 people on FORBES Magazine's 2008 list of the world's billionaires. While these individuals have made important contributions to society via the expansion of services to marginalized areas, job creation, and charitable donations, this concentration of wealth and economic power hinders Mexico's ability to realize more and deeper levels of competition in key industries.”

Mexico's rich get richer yet

Posted: 09 Mar 2011 07:25 PM PST

The latest Forbes rich list has come out and it’s little surprise that the wealthy got even more money. But before we consider the details, let me bring up an interesting Wikileaks diplomatic cable on Mexico’s rich.

Analysts talk a lot about how Wikileaks cables have harmed U.S. diplomacy. But I find myself turning to them for renderings of inequalities in other countries, and tips on corruption.

In any case, this July 2007 cable is titled “Who are Mexico’s Wealthiest Business Leaders,” and it starts out thus:

“Mexico, a country where roughly 40% of the population lives in poverty, has 10 people on FORBES Magazine's 2008 list of the world's billionaires. While these individuals have made important contributions to society via the expansion of services to marginalized areas, job creation, and charitable donations, this concentration of wealth and economic power hinders Mexico's ability to realize more and deeper levels of competition in key industries.”

The wealth of the richest Mexicans represented 10 percent of the value of the nation’s gross domestic product, the cable says.

It goes on to say that some of the richest Mexicans took advantage of shortcomings in its political system to expand their wealth and create private sector monopolies while “leaving the average Mexican out in the cold.”

“The negative aspects of this concentration of wealth and economic power cannot be overlooked because many of these individuals control the monopolies and oligopolies that hold back economic growth. SLIM, Salinas, and others have used their influence to sway economic policy and work the system to further their business interests and hinder their competitors. A World Bank report found that billionaire-controlled companies in Mexico are more likely to be involved in monopolistic practices and win amparos, or judicial stays, which allow them to delay regulatory rulings against them while they mire the process in appeals. The result is that SLIM still dominates the telecom market; GE, NBC and others are unable to break into the broadcasting market; and the Federal Competition Commission (Cofeco) remains unable to impose significant penalties on anti-competitive conduct.”

If Forbes is accurate, the concentration of wealth is increasing. While more than 40 million Mexicans live in poverty, the world's richest man, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, saw his wealth expand ever more, growing to $74 billion. That’s a rise of $20.5 billion in a year. Slim is in the photo above, to the right of President Felipe Calderon. Slim’s businesses include telecommunications, an airline, a bank, a construction company, department stores (including Sanborns), restaurants, music outlets, insurance, auto parts, and ceramic tiles.

Coming in at No. 39 on the rich list is another Mexican, German Larrea Mota Velasco and family, with a fortune estimated at $16 billion. The chairman of copper and silver miner Grupo Mexico saw his fortune climb $6.3 billion in the past year, Forbes says.

At No. 66 on the list is Alberto Bailleres Gonzalez, of the mining concern Industrias Penoles, with $11.9 billion. At No. 112 is Ricardo Salinas Pliego, the tycoon owner of TV Azteca, with $8.2 billion. At No. 268 is Jeronimo Arango with $4 billion, largely accumulated from the sale of Cifra, their self-made retail chain, to Wal-Mart. New to the list at No. 310 is Daniel Servitje Montull and family, with $3.5 billion made from Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest breadmaker. At No. 512 is Emilio Azcarraga Jean, heir to the Televisa fortune with a net worth of $2.3 billion. Then comes Roberto Gonzalez Barrera and family with a $2 billion fortune from tortillas. At No. 993 is Roberto Hernandez Ramirez with a $1.2 billion fortune from sale of Banamex, the bank. With a slim $1 billion fortune (chump change!) is Alfredo Harp Helu at No. 1140, who also made a fortune from the sale of Banamex. Tied in last place at No. 1140 is Joaquin Guzman Loera, the head of the Sinaloa narcotics cartel.

So which one is the most admirable and which is the biggest rogue?


“Among the commodities that Mexico exports is labor power. US corporations depend on a supply of labor power from Mexican workers for their plants in Mexico and the United States. The remittances of the latter, a major source of income for millions of Mexican families, are crucial for Mexico’s GDP. Those US and foreign plants that operate on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border, across from US cities such as Laredo, McClaren and El Paso, Texas, and San Diego, California, depend on a constant migration of low-wage workers from southern to northern Mexico. Despite the draconian controls on immigration, the integration of the labor markets is such that, according to one estimate, a 10 percent increase in wages for unskilled workers in the US over time results in a 1.8 percent rise in Mexican wages.”


Mexican economy in free-fall

By Rafael Azul

26 August 2009

The Mexican economy shrank at an annual rate of 10.3 percent in the second quarter of 2009. This is the worst economic performance since the National Statistics Institute (INEGI) began issuing quarterly numbers in 1981. This statistic signals a continuing deceleration for the economy, an increase over the six-month average decline of 9.2 percent for the first half of 2009.

Were one to predict a 7 percent decline for the entire year—a wildly optimistic estimate, given the above figures—Mexico would have faced its worst year since the Great Depression. Among the worlds’ major economies, only that of Russia has contracted more than Mexico’s, about 10.9 percent.

The third second quarter contraction follows a drop of 8 percent in the first quarter and 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. So-called secondary activities—construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities—fell by 11.5 percent. Tertiary activities, such as transportation and storage, fell by 10.4 percent. A somewhat positive result was generated in the primary sector—agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, and fishing—which rose by 1.1 percent of GDP.

By far the largest drop was in services associated with tourism, 17.1 percent, followed by manufacturing, 16.4 percent. This grim statistic is a direct result of a slowdown affecting the most industrialized parts of the country.

The drop in GDP has been accompanied by a crisis in the peso/dollar exchange rate. The rate changed from approximately 11 pesos to the dollar at the beginning of 2008 to 15.50 at the beginning of 2009. Only massive intervention by the Mexican Central Bank and the fall of the dollar itself restored some value to the peso, back to about 13 per dollar.

The social consequences of this dramatic decline are being felt. Mexico City residents report increases in nearly every measure of social unrest. Youth crime, drug use and corruption—all driven by increases in youth unemployment—have escalated.

Since the imposition of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1992, the economies of the United States and Mexico have become much more closely integrated. Mexico transformed itself from an economy that relied mostly on domestic demand—less than 10 percent of GDP was involved in foreign trade—to an export platform, with over 30 percent of its GDP involved in foreign trade. This is particularly true for northern Mexico. Sixty percent of Mexico’s imports—mostly of manufactured goods—and two thirds of capital investments come from the United States. Over 90 percent of Mexico’s exports go to the US. In 2008 the total value of exports fell by 34 percent, while imports fell by 33 percent. This includes a 54 percent drop in the dollar value of oil exports.

Among the commodities that Mexico exports is labor power. US corporations depend on a supply of labor power from Mexican workers for their plants in Mexico and the United States. The remittances of the latter, a major source of income for millions of Mexican families, are crucial for Mexico’s GDP. Those US and foreign plants that operate on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border, across from US cities such as Laredo, McClaren and El Paso, Texas, and San Diego, California, depend on a constant migration of low-wage workers from southern to northern Mexico. Despite the draconian controls on immigration, the integration of the labor markets is such that, according to one estimate, a 10 percent increase in wages for unskilled workers in the US over time results in a 1.8 percent rise in Mexican wages.

The impact on the border economy has been devastating. The loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in industrial centers such as Ciudad Juarez, Laredo and Tijuana has affected the economies of the industrial corridor that stretches on both sides of the border from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas.

Consequently, the current US recession had an immediate impact on the Mexican economy. Exports, investment and remittances fell. Commodity prices, including the price of oil, also fell in response to the global drop in demand.

The collapse of exports, investments and remittances, however, are only part of the story. Food prices were on the rise throughout 2007, affecting living standards.

The official rate of unemployment, 5.2 percent of the labor force, up from 3.5 percent last year, obscures the actual state of affairs. Even before the crash, the economy was unable to create enough jobs to occupy new entrants into the labor force, a chronic problem for the Mexican economy.

Those that did not emigrate found employment in the so-called informal sector, which consists of what are euphemistically called “micro-enterprises.” This underground economy employs some 20 million people, 45 percent of the entire labor force of 45 million people. (Mexico has a population of 107 million; the labor force is officially defined as those over the age of 14.)

Since June 2008, the Mexican economy has lost 232,000 jobs, while the informal sector gained 99,000. If one adds this last group to the unemployed, the actual rate of unemployment would exceed 20 percent of the labor force. Such rates approach those of the 1930s and far exceed the jobless rates generated by the economic crisis of 1994.

The reaction of President Felipe Calderón’s National Autonomous Party (PAN) government to the new economic news resembles that of a US state governor, rather than the leader of a sovereign state. After dismissing warnings that the Mexican economy would be hard hit by the recession as “catastrophe mongering,” the Calderón administration proceeded to impose contractionary policies that reduced internal consumption and added to the unemployment rolls. The federal government will reduce spending by 85,000 million pesos, roughly US$6.5 billion, in the 2010 budget to be presented September 8.

At the same time, the Central Bank, with its policy of selling dollars to prevent the collapse of the peso, in effect has drastically reduced the money supply, increasing interest rates and further restricting economic activity. Central Bank officials have made it clear that the recovery of the Mexican economy depends on the recovery of the world economy.

The contractionary measures have been dictated by Wall Street. Last November, Fitch Ratings, a Wall Street Bond rating agency, gave a “negative” assessment of Mexican government debt. In May of this year, Standard and Poor’s also gave a Mexico a negative rating. Both agencies had threatened to reduce the government’s bond rating, presently at BBB+, three steps above junk bond status. In effect, the banks and the Obama administration are denying Mexico, a semi-colony of the US, the kind of bailout they have granted themselves. That the measures being imposed will result in increasing hunger and unemployment is of no consequence to the US ruling elite.


“Wherever there’s a Mexican, there is Mexico!” Calderon

However, the union bureaucracy stopped short of calling on Calderón to rescind the budget cuts and to use the resources of the state to create jobs. Instead it demanded that whatever budget cuts take place be shared equally among all the government agencies. On Friday, Calderón placed a wage ceiling on government officials; from now on no government official will be allowed to earn a higher salary than the president himself. “Before we ask for further sacrifices from Mexican families, it is necessary that government officials show transparency in the efficient use of government resources,” declared Calderón, signaling further cuts in living standards.


EXPORTING POVERTY... we take MEXICO'S 38 million poor, illiterate, criminal and frequently pregnant

........ where can we send AMERICA'S poor?

The Mexican Invasion................................................

Mexico prefers to export its poor, not uplift them

March 30, 2006 edition

Mexico prefers to export its poor, not uplift them

At this week's summit, failed reforms under Fox should be the issue, not US actions.

By George W. Grayson WILLIAMSBURG, VA.

At the parleys this week with his US and Canadian counterparts in Cancún, Mexican President Vicente Fox will press for more opportunities for his countrymen north of the Rio Grande. Specifically, he will argue for additional visas for Mexicans to enter the United States and Canada, the expansion of guest-worker schemes, and the "regularization" of illegal immigrants who reside throughout the continent. In a recent interview with CNN, the Mexican chief executive excoriated as "undemocratic" the extension of a wall on the US-Mexico border and called for the "orderly, safe, and legal" northbound flow of Mexicans, many of whom come from his home state of Guanajuato. Mexican legislators share Mr. Fox's goals. Silvia Hernández Enriquez, head of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for North America, recently emphasized that the solution to the "structural phenomenon" of unlawful migration lies not with "walls or militarization" but with "understanding, cooperation, and joint responsibility." Such rhetoric would be more convincing if Mexican officials were making a good faith effort to uplift the 50 percent of their 106 million people who live in poverty. To his credit, Fox's "Opportunities" initiative has improved slightly the plight of the poorest of the poor. Still, neither he nor Mexico's lawmakers have advanced measures that would spur sustained growth, improve the quality of the workforce, curb unemployment, and obviate the flight of Mexicans abroad. Indeed, Mexico's leaders have turned hypocrisy from an art form into an exact science as they shirk their obligations to fellow citizens, while decrying efforts by the US senators and representatives to crack down on illegal immigration at the border and the workplace. What are some examples of this failure of responsibility? • When oil revenues are excluded, Mexico raises the equivalent of only 9 percent of its gross domestic product in taxes - a figure roughly equivalent to that of Haiti and far below the level of major Latin American nations. Not only is Mexico's collection rate ridiculously low, its fiscal regime is riddled with loopholes and exemptions, giving rise to widespread evasion. Congress has rebuffed efforts to reform the system. Insufficient revenues mean that Mexico spends relatively little on two key elements of social mobility: Education commands just 5.3 percent of its GDP and healthcare only 6.10 percent, according to the World Bank's last comparative study. • A venal, "come-back-tomorrow" bureaucracy explains the 58 days it takes to open a business in Mexico compared with three days in Canada, five days in the US, nine days in Jamaica, and 27 days in Chile. Mexico's private sector estimates that 34 percent of the firms in the country made "extra official" payments to functionaries and legislators in 2004. These bribes totaled $11.2 billion and equaled 12 percent of GDP. • Transparency International, a nongovernmental organization, placed Mexico in a tie with Ghana, Panama, Peru, and Turkey for 65th among 158 countries surveyed for corruption. • Economic competition is constrained by the presence of inefficient, overstaffed state oil and electricity monopolies, as well as a small number of private corporations - closely linked to government big shots - that control telecommunications, television, food processing, transportation, construction, and cement. Politicians who talk about, much less propose, trust-busting measures are as rare as a snowfall in the Sonoran Desert. Geography, self-interests, and humanitarian concerns require North America's neighbors to cooperate on myriad issues, not the least of which is immigration. However, Mexico's power brokers have failed to make the difficult decisions necessary to use their nation's bountiful wealth to benefit the masses. Washington and Ottawa have every right to insist that Mexico's pampered elite act responsibly, rather than expecting US and Canadian taxpayers to shoulder burdens Mexico should assume.




“The Obama Administration seems to be heeding to Mexico’s request by openly halting the deportation of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants. Additionally, the administration has a “backdoor amnesty” plan to legalize millions of undocumented aliens in case Congress doesn’t pass legislation to do it.”




Mexico Asks U.S. To Stop Deporting Serious Criminals

Last Updated: Mon, 09/27/2010 - 11:14am

In a flabbergasting request, a coalition of Mexican lawmakers has asked the United States to stop deporting illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes in American courts.

The preposterous demand was made at a recent southern California conference in which the mayors of four Mexican cities that border the U.S. gathered to discuss cross-border issues. The only American mayor who attended the biannual event was San Diego’s Jerry Sanders, evidently because his city hosted it this year at a fancy downtown hotel.

Among the cross-border topics that were addressed at the conference was the deportation of Mexican citizens who have committed violent crimes in the U.S. The felons are persona non grata in their communities, say the mayors of Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nogales and Nuevo Laredo. They want U.S. officials to stem the deportation of such convicts to their cities, according to a local newspaper report that covered the conference.

To support the request, the mayor (Jose Reyes Ferriz) of Mexico’s most violent city, Ciudad Juarez, pointed out that of 80,000 people deported to his community in the past three years nearly 30,000 had committed serious crimes in the U.S. Around 7,000 had served sentences for rape and 2,000 for murder. The criminal deportees have contributed to the escalating drug-cartel violence in his city, Mayor Ferriz said, so he wants the U.S. to make other arrangements when prison sentences are completed.

If this seems unbelievable, consider that a few years ago Mexico’s government formally complained that too many Mexicans had been repatriated from the U.S. and that the entire country was overwhelmed with demands for housing, jobs and schools. Various Mexican legislators publicly chastised the U.S. for sending illegal immigrants back, explaining that the country could not accommodate the “repatriated.”

The Obama Administration seems to be heeding to Mexico’s request by openly halting the deportation of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants. Additionally, the administration has a “backdoor amnesty” plan to legalize millions of undocumented aliens in case Congress doesn’t pass legislation to do it.




Union officials, state Democrats in Wisconsin try to smother opposition to anti-worker bill

Union officials, state Democrats in Wisconsin try to smother opposition to anti-worker bill

Union officials, state Democrats in Wisconsin try to smother opposition to anti-worker bill

By Jerry White

11 March 2011

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The day after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rammed through a bill to strip public workers of the right to collectively bargain, union officials and state Democrats sought to contain the eruption of social anger and block any decisive response by the working class.

Top union officials worked deliberately Wednesday evening and all day Thursday to try to quash growing support for a general strike and divert opposition into a toothless campaign for the recall of Republican politicians and the filing of lawsuits.

Crowd at Thursday night's rally

Spontaneous demonstrations erupted Wednesday night after Republicans in the Senate used a procedural maneuver to cut benefits and end collective bargaining rights for the vast majority of the state’s 175,000 teachers, nurses and other state and local public employees. Thousands surrounded the state capitol in Madison and occupied the rotunda, with many chanting support for a general strike.

Addressing thousands of protesters at the capitol, supporters of the Socialist Equality Party called for a general strike and explained Walker’s attack on the working class could only be overturned by a unified struggle to force the resignation of his entire administration. (See, "Socialist Equality Party members call for general strike at Wisconsin demonstration".)

While the bill undermines the institutional interests of the labor bureaucracy, it is not primarily aimed at the official unions, which, in any case, have pledged to work with Walker to slash public employees’ pay and gut social spending. With its ban on “strikes, work stoppages, sit-downs, stay-ins, slowdowns, or other concerted activities”―among other things, the bill is aimed at criminalizing any form of organized working class resistance.

As workers expressed their determination to fight this provocation, union officials immediately urged calm and sought to block any action to stop the vote on the bill by the Republican-controlled state Assembly on Thursday. In a press conference Wednesday night, Mary Bell, the president of the 98,000-member Wisconsin Education Association Council, implored teachers “to be at work tomorrow as we determine the next step to have the voices of Wisconsin’s workers to be heard.”

This “next step” was outlined by Marty Beil, the president of the Wisconsin Public Employees Union, who called for “peaceful demonstrations” and said the only recourse workers had was to “change the face of the government” by campaigning to recall eight Republican state senators and elect Democrats.

More than 1,000 Madison middle and high school students walked out of class Thursday―effectively shutting down the schools in support of their teachers―to join protests at the capitol against the Assembly vote. The walkout, which included about 600 students from East High School and another 800 West High School students, erupted outside of the control of the unions and was reportedly organized through posters at the school and on Facebook. Students pledged to walk out again Friday.

“People are really upset that the Republican senators passed this bill illegally...We feel like it's a slap in the face,” one student, interviewed by the Wisconsin State Journal, said. Hamilton eighth-grader Jack Becker spoke to a crowd of hundreds of protesters outside the capitol. “I want to be part of stopping this," he said, adding that the students at the rally were excused from class by their parents.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO leader Peter Neuenfeldt

Hours after the Assembly voted for the bill, the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and the Democrats organized a rally outside the capitol involving around 2,000 people. While condemning the “trampling on democratic rights,” union officials complained that Walker was never interested in working with them to reduce the budget deficit―given the fact they had already agreed to impose $330 million in wage and benefit concessions on their members―but only in “grabbing power.”

“None of these provisions had anything to do with the budget,” said Peter Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. He lamented that the governor’s action had “shed 50 years of labor peace, bipartisanship and the democratic process.”

Neuenfeldt's remarks about “labor peace” refers to the unions’ role in suppressing the class struggle. By dispensing with the unions, Neuenfeldt implied, the governor and the corporate interests behind him were unleashing a movement of working class opposition that the unions could not contain.

State Democrats with representative Peter Barca speaking

Also speaking was Peter Barca, a Democratic state representative, who was hailed by union officials along with other state Democrats for supposedly standing up to Walker. In fact, the Democrats were frantically seeking a “compromise” with Walker that would allow the passage of all of the key elements of the bill. Moreover, the state Democrats repeatedly boasted they made the deepest cuts in Wisconsin’s history―with the support of the unions―during the eight-year term of Walker’s Democratic predecessor, Governor Jim Doyle.

In an effort to dissuade workers from taking any serious action against Walker, Barca urged them to take the “moral high ground” and “channel it into the ballot boxes.” The “fire in the eyes” of the workers, he said, should be used to get out the vote on April 5 for the Democrats.

Next was professional charlatan Jesse Jackson, who has made a career of propping up the labor bureaucracy and diverting social anger into the dead-end of the Democratic Party. Jackson invoked the memory of the civil rights movement, noting that next month was the anniversary of the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. who was murdered while defending the right of Memphis sanitation workers to organize. He suggested that workers―in order to “honor the legacy” of King―should go out on April 5 to vote for the Democrats.

In a march around the capitol after the speeches, workers enthusiastically took leaflets from supporters of the Socialist Equality Party advocating a general strike to force Walker’s resignation. Several asked how a general strike could be organized, and SEP supporters explained that rank-and-file committees should be elected in every workplace to make preparations for such an action, which would have to take the form of a rebellion against the official unions.

One public worker, a member of the Teamsters union, said, “I agree with a general strike. I don’t think a recall, which could take months, if not years, is going to do anything. We have to stop this.”


Wisconsin’s anti-worker law: An historic attack on the working class

Wisconsin’s anti-worker law: An historic attack on the working class

Wisconsin’s anti-worker law: An historic attack on the working class

11 March 2011

The Wisconsin Assembly’s passage of a bill that will strip collective bargaining rights and cut wages and benefits for nearly 200,000 public sector workers marks a giant step toward the open dictatorship of the banks and corporations.

The approval of the anti-worker bill came the day after Republicans pushed it through the State Senate in a secretive, and likely illegal, legislative maneuver. In order to avoid a two-thirds quorum requirement to hold any vote related to state spending, senate Republicans stripped the legislation of its fiscal measures. The bill will likely be signed into law by Governor Scott Walker on Friday.

Among its many reactionary provisions, the law will force workers to double contributions to their health care and retirement funds, resulting in drastic pay cuts of 8 percent, and in some cases 20 percent. This is just the beginning of what promises to be a relentless assault on workers’ wages and benefits.

The law includes a number of features designed to criminalize any attempt by workers to resist future wage-cutting. In addition to its proscription of collective bargaining for almost all public sector workers, including those at the municipal and county level, a provision in the bill grants the governor the ability to unilaterally fire striking workers by declaring “a state of emergency.”

Under the title “Discharge of State Employees,” the law states, “The Governor may issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency for the state or any portion of the state if he or she determines that an emergency resulting from a disaster or imminent threat of a disaster exists.” Acting through an appointed body, the governor could then fire any employee who does not “(a) report to work for any three days during the state of emergency, (b) participates in a strike, work stoppage, sit-down, stay-in, slowdown, or other concerted activities to interrupt the operations or services of state government.”

This language is yet another signal that the epoch of class compromise in the US has come to a definitive end. Ruling layers are attempting to turn back the clock to the nineteenth century and the most savage exploitation of the working class.

The struggle to establish legal industrial unions, representing entire occupations and industries rather than particular crafts, and to secure the right to negotiate with employers collectively rather than as isolated individuals, spanned 60 years and encompassed the most bitter and bloody strikes.

From the eruption of the Great Railway Strike of 1877 to the Flint sit-down strikes of 1937, workers’ struggles often assumed an insurrectionary character owing to the intransigence of some of the world’s most powerful corporations. These included monumental strikes such as Pullman, Homestead, Lawrence, and the Great Steel Strike of 1919, and the bloody conflicts at Haymarket, Ludlow, Calumet, and Republic Steel, to name a few.

Government ruled by injunction, declaring unions and strikes to be illegal “combinations” of workers. When this failed, savage violence was the preferred method. Working-class leaders were regularly imprisoned, executed, or beaten and lynched. Thousands died at the hands of the Pinkertons, scabs, thugs, police, and state militias. Nowhere else in the world was the struggle for unionization so raw and brutal as in the US.

Finally in the 1930s, with eruption of the great general strikes in 1934 in San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Toledo, and especially with the sit-down strike in Flint in 1936 and 1937, the principle of union legality and collective bargaining was established, and the ferocious violence of the great corporations restrained.

The long post-World War II expansion of American capitalism laid the basis for several decades of class compromise, to be overseen by the AFL and CIO bureaucracies and their modern theory of collective bargaining. In return for the acceptance of the unions by the corporations and the state, workers were to give up any ideas of fundamental social change. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and the anti-communist purges of the unions ensured a docile labor bureaucracy that would take as its guiding principle the defense of the profitability of American capitalism.

The viability of this perspective was short-lived. By the 1970s and 1980s, with the rapid decline of American capitalism relative to its rivals, the ruling class began a ruthless offensive against workers. The pact that the AFL-CIO had made with capitalism translated into its active participation in this attack. Beginning with Reagan’s smashing of the air traffic controllers in the PATCO strike of 1981, the union bureaucracy consciously acted to isolate and smother strikes, including at Phelps Dodge, Greyhound, Hormel, AT Massey, among many others.

The betrayals of the unions resulted in an historically unprecedented situation: from the 1990s until today, strikes virtually disappeared from the American industrial landscape. The decline of open class struggle, artificially repressed, coincided with a surge of inequality, as the American financial aristocracy accumulated enormous wealth through the decimation of industry and the conditions of the working class.

The attack in Wisconsin on government workers, and their bitter resistance, shows that this process has reached a new stage.

The turn toward dictatorial methods arises not primarily from the personal characteristics of Walker, or even from the Republican Party for that matter, but from the advanced crisis of American capitalism, which has eviscerated any basis for compromise between the classes. The crisis that erupted in 2008 has provided the occasion to merge the destruction of democratic rights—intensified in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks—with the attack on working-class living standards. This is clear in both the form and the content of the Wisconsin bill: a law stripping workers of basic rights could only have been passed in a flagrantly anti-democratic way.

In the face of this attack, the unions are only an impediment to workers. From the time Walker proposed his bill almost one month ago, their entire strategy was to avoid the passage of its attack on union dues requirements by agreeing to all of its demands for financial concessions from workers. In other words, the unions sought to keep the legal fiction of collective bargaining—and thus their financial sustenance—by abandoning it in practice.

The impotent and cowardly strategy of the unions is closely tied to their support for the Democratic Party, which is carrying out attacks no less severe than those contained in Walker's budget in California, New York, and other states. As for the Obama administration and the Democrats in the US Congress, they are working with Republicans to cut billions in social services.

The attack on all public sector workers’ rights and wages requires a response-in-kind—a general strike, a demand that is already winning broad support. The determined resistance to Walker will win broad support from the entire working class, which is being subjected to vicious wage and benefit cutting in the private sector, and which will be ravaged by Walker’s proposed two-year budget and its cuts to education and health care.

The union bureaucracy opposes such a course of action far more than it opposes Walker’s bill. In the immediate aftermath of its passage in the senate on Wednesday night, the leaders of Wisconsin’s two largest public sector unions, Mary Bell of the Wisconsin Education Associate Council, and Marty Beil of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, indicated their acceptance of the bill and told workers not to strike. “I ask Wisconsin's educators to be at work tomorrow,” Bell said, the only demand she made during her brief remarks. The no-strike order was repeated by teachers’ unions in the state’s two largest school districts, Milwaukee and Madison. Unions of teaching assistants at the University of Wisconsin campuses in the two cities also said they had no plans to schedule a strike vote.

Now the unions declare that the only means of defending workers is through supporting “recall efforts,” as Beil put it, to replace eight Republican senators with Democrats. This gambit, even should it work to remove a handful of Republican legislators, would in no way reverse the wage cuts or the draconian state budget, which the Democrats support. The real aim of this maneuver, as was the case with the Democratic senators’ flight from the state, is to defuse the growing militancy of the workers and youth.

It is urgently necessary that leadership of the struggle in Wisconsin be taken out of the hands of the unions, the Democratic Party, and their allies. Independent rank-and-file committees must be formed in workplaces to popularize the call for the general strike and make preparations. The aim of such a strike must be the removal of Walker and the rejection of every one of his proposals.

The events in Wisconsin pose the basic question of the organization of society. Will the economy be organized to meet needs of the population? Or will it continue to be subject to the financial aristocracy’s relentless drive for personal enrichment, and the dictatorship that must inevitably follow?

For the working class to defend its social rights—for good jobs, quality education, health care, pensions and housing—a new political perspective is required that rejects the “right” to massive personal fortunes of the rich.

The World Socialist Web Site, Socialist Equality Party and the International Students for Social Equality are hosting a conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 9-10, The Fight for Socialism Today, as part of a series of conferences throughout the US. This conference will be devoted to organizing a fight back and building a new political leadership to carry the emerging struggle of the working class to victory. We call on workers and youth in Madison and throughout the US to make plans to attend today.

Tom Eley