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The Real Meaning of Shared Sacrifice in Shorewood

Keith R. Schmitz of Grassroots North Shore gives his views on the state budget.

Editor's Note: Keith R. Schmitz is chairman of Grassroots Northshore, a progressive political group, and a Shorewood resident. The views in this letter are his own and not in anyway representative of the views of Patch or its staff.

The issue is hot in the North Shore. On the blogs, on Facebook and no doubt in our many coffee shops the talk has spin around the urge to boycott or not to boycott those local businesses owned by supporters of Governor Scott Walker.

It’s not just happening here. People in other parts of the state are talking boycott.

This one has me a little torn. Boycotts have been a tool for political change as long as there have been politics and businesses owners that have been politically active.

Some would say that boycotts have dubious effects and can harm the wrong people. But history shows that though many poor South Africans suffered through the boycott of their country, Nelson Mandela thanked the United States for doing it and for the boycott’s role in throwing off apartheid.

On the other hand, Scott Walker has done what I was afraid he was going to do. In exchange for running Milwaukee into the ground, Walker stirred a lot of rancor within the county. Now that he has taken his act statewide, his right-wing talk show-driven agenda is causing people in this normally cordial state to go at each other’s throats. What a legacy.

That is why when it comes to the notion of boycotting people who I normally get along with, I hesitate. Guess I’ve seen way too many Twilight Zone episodes where an alien force descends on a quiet small town and sets neighbors against neighbors. It can’t happen here.

We are going to need each other. Scott Walker has set off an economic tsunami as we learned Monday night at the . Not only are we going to see the poor, the sick, the elderly and children denied needed government service that the private sector cannot or will not provide, but our public employees will take massive hits, all on the altar of business growth, with out the messiness of shared sacrifice.

It is not that we haven’t seen private business employees take massive hits before. But the reduction in disposable income of between 6 to 8% that will go to paying for benefits will affect hundreds of thousands of employees across the state, an unprecedented loss all in one fell swoop.

Sure we all hate taxes, but that percentage in disposable income loss will equal or exceed what people in this income bracket pay for state income taxes. But will you see your income taxes reduced by that amount?

Now look at Shorewood. Thanks to our proximity to UWM, Shorewood has enjoyed the economic benefits of having a number of decently paid residents who work there, either as faculty or on administrative staff.  Add in the many others who work for the government. There are hundreds of families here in the Village who will see their income shrink over night.

That means we will be seeing fewer of our friends and neighbors in the grocery stores as often as usual and probably more rarely in the number of new restaurants that have just opened and in the Village’s other fine establishments. Less money will be tossed in church collection plates.

There will be fewer people frequenting the many coffee shops and styling salons, some owned by Walker supporters and some that are not. You won’t have to be in a public employee union to feel the effects of Walker’s plan to punish those “lazy” and “overpaid” workers in the evil government.

I don’t have to participate in a boycott here in Shorewood to make an economic impact. Scott Walker has done it for me.

Keith Schmitz March 18, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Dave -- which period would you consider to be the good old days in this country
Michael Schwister March 18, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Dave, I agree with you.I don't like the IDEA of targeting any group. But we do need to identify waste. Corporate welfare makes #1 on my list for waste.This is polar to free market principles. My point is that if we had equity in our tax system, civil and corporate, we may find the money for all the good and humane things needing attention and have some money left in our pockets to boot. Your reference from Calgary ,was that for a US study or Canadian? And another peave of mine is the cash economy. Drugs, prostitution, working for cash and the list goes on. Sucking 25% of the GDP tax free. but its OK to strip children poor and elderly of support? I am taking a deep breath. I guess this is not my vision of fair representative governance .
Bewildered March 18, 2011 at 10:04 PM
Keith, I am sure Abele is a good guy with good intentions, but what bothers me more than the DUI (many of us have driven at some time after having a few drinks), the Fireworks discharge (kinda silly in my book), or parking fines, its the refusal to go to court until arrest warrants were issued. I'm afraid he is going to be labled a "rich kid who feels he is above the law" . Perception is everything. And yea, paying parking meters can be a pain, but 100 times? Come on. Problem with unknown canidates is they often aren't vested till after they get the nomination. I'd bet if the DUI and arrest warrants after 7 years refusal to appear in court had come out earlier, there is no way he would have come in second in the primary. I do give him props for his charity work, mannaging his father's trust. He does great vthings!
Michael Schwister March 18, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Hi Dave, For starters, by rich I mean the top 400 richest Americans that have accumulated more wealth than the bottom half of the Americans. Many of whom are charitable. But many also enjoy the benefits of subsidies. Makes me boil
Keith Schmitz March 18, 2011 at 11:20 PM
Dave, we fought to overthrow an aristocracy 230 years ago. Why do we have to do it all over again?
Dave S March 18, 2011 at 11:25 PM
Then close the loopholes they take advantage of. Don't just take more tax money becuase you can.
Dave S March 18, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Kevin, first off, I don't think I'm old enough to have "good old days". If you're trying to guess my age, feel free to ask. Second, we fought the revolution becuase we were being unfairly taxed, not to overthrow an aristocracy. Are you confusing us with France?
Dave S March 18, 2011 at 11:31 PM
It was a Canadian study comparing corporate taxes across the globe. Second, I'd be agreeable to taxing drug lords and prostitutes at a higher rate.
Keith Schmitz March 18, 2011 at 11:34 PM
It's Keith. And regards to France. The reason for that revolution was that this aristocracy was not paying their taxes, and expected the lower class to support the government. As for the golden days, in the US which for many people were the 50s, the top 2% were paying a tax rate of 90%. Our economy was booming, plus we helped Europe and Japan rebuild after WWII.
Keith Schmitz March 18, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Bewildered, you have to overlook the sideshows with Abele's past. What counts is now, and what he is doing is getting diverse segments of our community to work together. This is what counts for the future of our metro area. If you groove on the private sector having a major role, this is what Chris is able (pardon the pun) is able to do.
Lyle Ruble March 19, 2011 at 12:11 AM
Dave S, Please provide the name of that Calgary study, I would like to read it for myself.
Lyle Ruble March 19, 2011 at 12:27 AM
Keith, I hate to correct you, but the American Revolution was not to overthrow the aristocracy, but to assert our rights as full fledged British citizens. Thus, the rallying cry of no taxation without representation. Historically the power in colonial America and the newly formed nation was concentrated in a quasi landed aristocracy and a rich mercantile class. The French overthrew the monarchy because of taxation coupled with failed grain harvests resulting in the starvation of the masses.
Keith Schmitz March 19, 2011 at 01:18 AM
I hate to correct you Lyle, but what you assert was the original intent which morphed into the realization that they needed to throw off the British aristocracy, otherwise there would have been no desire to make a break for independence. As for the French ,the failed grain harvest was the spark, but the taxation of the poor and middle class in lieu of upper income taxes led to the Revolution. In fact, driving force behind the French Revolution was mainly the middle class, like it will be now.
Bewildered March 19, 2011 at 01:45 AM
My issue with Abele is I just don't know what he is doing now. He has no record to run on politicaly sure hos past could be a sideshow, but hos past judgement has to be questioned. I actualy like the guy and think he could do the job, it's just that he's definitely a wild card. No matter who wins county exec, they face huge deficits. Expenses will have to be cut and fat trimmed. I think both guys could do the work, with all this neg that has come out (see today's Journal), now I don't think Abele can win anymore. Way too much baggage. Should have been vested before primary and everyone jumped on his bandwagon. It's a shame cause good guy, lousy judgement.
Bewildered March 19, 2011 at 01:48 AM
iPhone spelling. The "hos"s are meant to be "his"s
Keith Schmitz March 19, 2011 at 01:53 AM
Freudian slip? :)
Bewildered March 19, 2011 at 01:58 AM
Ya know, that's exactly what I was thinking too
Michael Schwister March 19, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Wanted to Share this . I would take any one of you that participated in this exchange to govern over any body I supported in recent elections. I am pleased I can say I did not vote for Walker and am now trying to help amend the mistake I made voting for bought and paid for supporters of his. Stay in the debate. Having knowledge makes decisions easy. I am still in preschool in politics, but the goal is now a masters. Edward Bernays, the founder of the modern propaganda industry, described the process: Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of ... in almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.[1]
Dave S March 19, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Keith, first, sorry about calling you Kevin. Don’t know where that came from. Next, the tax rate in the 50’s was 90% of taxable income over $400,000. Adjusted for inflation, that’s income over $3.5 million in today’s dollars. Today we tax income over $350,000 at 35%, which equates to income over $40,000 in 1950. There isn't as much difference as you think. Also, comparing our economy in the 50’s with any other period is ridiculous. We were booming from manufacturing of war materials and post-war reconstruction efforts across the globe. By the way, who was our competition then? The economies of Europe and Asia were decimated.
Joe Peterlin March 19, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Kirk: I'd advise a bit of caution on your blanket support for Greenspan. I thought that he did an excellent job as Fed Chief for his first three terms, balancing the two major Fed mandates of steady growth with low inflation. That said, I think that he gradually began to show his true philosophical colors (libertarian and disciple of Ayn Rand) towards the end of his third term (late '90's). He was a major supporter of the repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act of 1933, which had previously separated banks, insurance companies and investment companies. This was repealed on Nov. 12, 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (end of the Clinton administration). During his last two terms, the Greenspan Fed ignored one of it's other important mandates to monitor these monster institutions that Gramm-Leach-Bliley created. Mortgage lending was allowed to expand unchecked after this point, along with the mortgage derivatives markets, with Greenspan's libertarian blessing that the markets were capable of self-regulation. After the dot.com bubble burst on March 10, 2000 and the Sept. 11, 2001 the Greenspan Fed kept interest rates too low for much too long, which exacerbated the formation of the unregulated real estate and derivatives bubbles. Greenspan retired as Fed Chairman on Jan. 31, 2006, about one year before the real estate bubble burst and the financial crisis began. I personally believe that he realized his errors in judgment and decided to get the hell out of the public eye.
Joe Peterlin March 19, 2011 at 05:33 PM
For those of you who haven't read it, I'd highly recommend Secrets Of The Temple: How The Federal Reserve Runs The Country, by William Greider, 1987. I think you'll be fascinated how a better understanding of this institution will affect your thinking on many of the topics discussed in these forums.
Lyle Ruble March 19, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Joe, You nailed it about Greenspan. His Northwestern University-Ayn Rand philosophy ended up burying us. Personally I miss the days of Paul Vogel.
Dean Howell March 29, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Michael, you seem to hate people based on the amount of money they have in their bank account. Do you hate them based on the fact they have money, how they earned it, or how they choose to use it?
Dean Howell March 29, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Michael: at what point does someone have too much money? Who makes that decision? Is it any person that has $1 more than you?
Dean Howell March 29, 2011 at 06:52 PM
Keith, you just stated that feingold could not have won even if he had $100m more. Doesn't that mean that money doesn't always buy elections. Increased activism is what won the election for republicans. Are you so blind and biased that you can only accept activism which elects obama and feingold but not activism that elects walker and johnson?
Dean Howell March 29, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Michael: that can best be answered by the "haves" is anyone having $1 more than you and the "have nots" is everyone else.
Michael Schwister March 29, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Dean, I'll post here to avoid pursuing past posts to answer. Your rant towards me leaves me wondering what your point or points are. You said nothing fact based. Didn't argue issues and called me names. If you read my posts carefully you would realize that I could care less about somebody else's money. Anyone is entitled to die with as much money as they can accumulate. Right? Best man wins.!Great! You win. All I am trying to say is that MY TAX DOLLARS are for EDUCATION. Not PROFITABLE BUSINESS. If you have a problem finding some of your money, perhaps you should be looking in a different basket.
Dean Howell March 29, 2011 at 11:31 PM
Shorewood has always "had the tools". The problem is that the unions and boards of shorewood have always taken the easy way out by using our children and education to put us on a guilt trip. There has never been a law that forced shorewood to hire SEVEN people at the village hall for inspections with salary and benefits much higher than what is needed to attract qualified employees. There has never been a law that forced shorewood to pay 7 years of a retired teacher's salary. There has never been a law that forced the boards to spend the way they did. There has never been a law that forced shorewood to preserve its "diverse" architecture or to bring back brick in the streets that can't even last one winter. Frugality of the government used to be a given fact, now it is just a dream. We have "had the tools", our leaders have chosen to maximize our extravagance at the law's edge and minimize frugality at the hope someone else will bail us out.
Joe Peterlin March 30, 2011 at 01:59 AM
G.M. headed down this road several times (refinancing union pensions) to try to outrun their liabilities. I think we all know how it worked for them.
Michael Schwister March 30, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Dean, I have no argument with government waste. I agree that government should lean and there are many ways to reduce the waste. I have no argument of reigning in abuse of the system. My argument is that education along with most of the infrastructure society has built serves a purpose. Banks tanked the economy. Many of us have had a hard time dealing with the fallout. Everytime the economy dumps the first thing every one looks at is their property tax bill. Those dang teachers are sucking up all the money. Not so. If you have ever read the book"Who Moved My Cheese" you may get what I'm getting at. The taxpayers cheese has been moved to the room of profitable business at the federal level and has a direct impact on how much cheese the rest of us mice get. I can provide the proof of my statement if you like.

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