Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Wisconsin’s Shrinking Middle Class

No state has seen a bigger decline in the percent of middle class households than Wisconsin, new data shows.

By - Mar 31st, 2015 10:15 am

It was not long ago that Wisconsin was a leading state in the size of its middle class. “In 2000, only one state – Utah – had a bigger middle class than Wisconsin,” the non-profit Wisconsin Budget Project notes. “But by 2013, eight states had larger middle classes than Wisconsin, including the nearby states of Iowa and Nebraska.”

This change happened in just 13 years, and is documented in a new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which shows that no state in America saw its middle class decline more than Wisconsin from 2000-2013. All 50 states and the District of Columbia saw a reduction in the percent of households that are middle class during this period, ranging from Wyoming with just a 0.3 percent decrease to Wisconsin, with a 5.6 percent decrease. Only three other states saw a decline of at least 5 percent in middle class households: Ohio (5.2 percent), North Dakota (5.1 percent) and Vermont (5.0 percent).

Pew defined middle-class households as those making between 67 percent and 200 percent of the state’s median income (in Wisconsin this included households earning $34,000 to $103,000), and found this group shrinking across the nation. “In most states, the growing percentage of households paying 30% (the federal standard for housing affordability) or more of their income on housing illustrates that it is increasingly difficult for many American families to make ends meet.”

In Wisconsin their data shows, the percent of households spending at least 30 percent of their income on housing jumped from 24 percent to 31 percent during this 13 year period. Meanwhile, the state’s middle class declined from 54.6 percent to 48.9 percent of all state households.

As the Wisconsin Budget Project notes, this 5.6 percent decline means that one of 10 middle class households left the middle class during this period. “That translates to a drop of about 220,000 households in Wisconsin’s middle class,” writes researcher Tamarine Cornelius.

All of which represents a dramatic change for a state that long had a very strong middle class. “Between 2000 and 2013, the income for a typical Wisconsin household fell by $8,900,” the group notes, and “only four states had larger declines…. Wisconsin’s rank for median household income fell from 18th to 24th.”

The Pew analysis comes on the heels of a joint study of the wealth gap in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Budget Project and the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, calling “Pulling Apart,” and released in late January. These numbers were even more stunning. The study found that as of 2012, 18.2 percent of all income in Wisconsin went to the wealthiest one percent in the state, up from 1974, when they got just 7.0 percent of all income.

Between 1979 and 2012, the study found, the average income of the top 1 percent in Wisconsin grew by 149 percent while the average income of the remaining 99 percent of the state grew by only 1 percent. This has become a state where the middle class is stagnant in income and declining in numbers.

But Wisconsin and the entire nation has become a fantastic place for the wealthy. The average income of the top 1 percent in this state is now 22.1 times higher than the average income of the other 99 percent in Wisconsin, the analysis in “Pulling Apart” found. This state’s wealth gap is now much greater than in the Midwest, where the one percent earned 19.7 times more than the other 99 percent.

And the wealth gap becomes stratospheric when you look at the top .01 percent, whose average income of just under $22 million is 499 times higher than the average income of the bottom 99 percent in Wisconsin.

These changes are happening nationally, but as the Pew analysis suggests, they have had the worst impact on Wisconsin since 2000. A Democratic governor, Jim Doyle, served for eight of these 13 years, with Republican governors before (Tommy Thompson, Scott McCallum) and after (Scott Walker). All have had problems dealing with the continuing impact of the decline of manufacturing in a state that has long ranked first or second (to Indiana) in the percent of its economy devoted to manufacturing. Wisconsin has trailed the nation in job growth in most years since 2000.

Less manufacturing has also meant less unionized jobs, which hollows out the middle class. As Cornelius notes, “Unionized workers earn more in wages and other compensation than non-union workers who are otherwise the same, and the higher wages help push additional households into the middle class.” And Wisconsin has been a leader in the decline of union workers. “In 2000, 17.8% of Wisconsin workers belonged to a union, dropping to 12.3% in 2013,” she notes. “Only five other states had bigger percentage-point declines, and Wisconsin’s ranking has dropped to 19th in 2013, down from 10th in 2000.”

Of course that decline was also attributable to the massive impact of Act 10, whose elimination of collective bargaining rights for nearly all public employees slashed the number of union members. The recent passage of the Right-to-Work will lead to a further decline, this time in private sector union members.

Walker and the Republicans have promoted such changes as helping the middle class. Act 10 has saved taxpayers $3 billion since it was enacted, but “a majority of state and local savings were due to state employees contributing half of their pension contributions and a minimum of 12.6 percent of their health insurance premiums,” as the conservative MacIver Institute has trumpeted.

“Thus the funding source for the tax cuts was a group of middle-income people,” Urban Milwaukee’s Data Wonk, Bruce Thompson has noted. “Quoting the state budget office, the Journal Sentinel said Act 10 reduced the take-home pay of the average state worker making $50,000 a year by $4,228. By comparison the Walker income tax cuts would save this person $172.”

“Like most reductions in income tax rates the benefits of this change were heavily skewed towards wealthier taxpayers,” Thompson noted, with the top 20 percent of Wisconsin taxpayers receiving about 43 percent of the total tax cut. “Thus, the combination of Act 10 and the income tax changes resulted in a substantial upward redistribution of income from a group of predominantly middle income people to very wealthy people, thereby increasing income inequality.”

Defenders of this have suggested that any across-the-board cut in the progressive income tax would naturally skew upwards. But as Thompson notes, Walker could have chosen a tax credit that applies equally to everyone. The state levies a basket of taxes which provides policy makers with a range of choices they might make.

For instance, Walker’s cuts in the Homestead Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit resulted in low-income individuals and families paying $170 million more in taxes. This, too, is another policy choice which has significantly lowered income for those below the middle class. The latest decision to end food assistance for people working less than 20 hours a week will further shred the safety net for low-income people. The policy choices of Walker and the Republicans amount to Robin Hood in reverse, taking from the poor and the middle class to help the wealthy.

63 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Wisconsin’s Shrinking Middle Class”

  1. It might be leap to tie government policies to the decline of the middle class in Wisconsin.

    This the transfer of wealth and jobs due to globalization has been effecting the United States, and more specifically Wisconsin, for decades.
    Not just the loss of union jobs, Wisconsin has lagged behind creating jobs at the top of the pay scale as well.

  2. AG says:

    So is this about the shinking m iddle class or is it about tax rates? Because, despite skewing towards the higher incomes, it actually made the latest tax cuts more progressive.

    Regardless, these measures are pre-tax. All the information about state workers contributing more (offset by ability to forgo expensive union dues and no more furlough days) doesn’t affect their pre-tax income.

    One thing that DOES affect pre-tax income would be union contracts that create higher than market rate wages. Good for middle class… unless the jobs leave. Just as they’ve been doing the past 13 years as mentioned in the article.

    Final note, if WI population grew 6.7% from 2000-2013 and the number of people who were middle class dropped by 5.6%… doesn’t that mean we actually gained some middle class? Although clearly the poor and (probably a very very few) rich are growing faster.

  3. PMD says:

    Hey look bipartisanship in Wisconsin! The state economy sucks regardless of whether or not the governor is a Democrat or Republican. See working across the aisle is possible after all.

  4. Dave says:

    What will it take to show the stupid people in this state that supply side economics DOES NOT WORK!!!

  5. Matt S. says:

    The link to the Pew report is broken.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @Matt S. Thanks… I’ve fixed the link.

  7. Alice says:

    Because we certainly wouldn’t want to tout the truth: Wisconsin ranks NUMBER NINE out of all states when it comes to the size of its middle class.

  8. PMD says:

    But we used to be NUMBER TWO and are falling fast. That’s also the truth.

  9. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Lefty programs have dominated that period from doyle to obama, Walker programs are just now taking root. obama has been worst president for the middle class than Carter. Ike, Reagan, tommy were best.

  10. PMD says:

    Walker has been in office since January 3, 2011 but his programs are just not taking root more than 4 years later?! Hey whatever helps you sleep at night man. Also Tommy Thompson was never president.

  11. Victor says:

    I always read about demands for a raise to the minimum wage. What about reducing the income tax? That would be very helpful for the working poor but won’t solve the bigger problem the nation faces with the shrinking middle class.

  12. Justin says:

    I think the commencement message at every college and high school graduation ceremony in Wisconsin needs to be: “Go Forward to Lead a Better Life-Leave Wisconsin ASAP”. Seriously.

    With the way the Scott Walker has destroyed the Wisconsin economy, destroyed the K-12 public education system, and now is targeting the University of Wisconsin system for MASSIVE cuts, why would any college or high school graduate want to stay in Wisconsin?

    The new motto for Wisconsin should be “Life Gets Better When You Leave Walker’s Wisconsin”.

    The current brain drain of 10,000 college graduates a year will soon be regarded as only a trickle in comparison to the torrent of educated people of all ages that will be fleeing the Wississippi of the Midwest over the next 20 years. As someone who works with large numbers of college students, I encourage ALL of them to leave Wisconsin as soon as they graduate. Most don’t need that encouragement, though. They see the bitter, divisive state that Wisconsin has become under the “leadership” of Walker and can’t wait to graduate and leave Wisconsin forever.

  13. AG says:

    Justin, if you directly influence the minds of college students, I fear you’re probably doing more individual harm to these students and our state than any legislation passed by our state government. Let’s hope these students see you for the extremist you are.

  14. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    The dumbest people in the world are those that yell income inequality and want to tax the rich more. You do not improve middle class by taxing another class more, you put together system that produces better education for lower classes and better jobs, less regulation. You do not do it the way Milwaukee does by demonizing the 1%, tax the rich crowd. Look where the growth has been in Waukehsa. Hear that stupidity from Vrakas, Farrow etc?

  15. BT says:

    So here you all are arguing whether or not some minor tax issue or whatever is the issue, oblivious to the looming doom for WI that Obama’s choice to circumvent congress and the “separation of powers” concept we’ve had for 200+ years and ordering EPA to slam into effect new rules which will basically destroy whatever manufacturing base is left in any state (LIKE WISCONSIN!!!) all for his hatred of coal, even clean coal. Then, assuming Walker hasn’t replaced the current Disaster in Chief, you’ll all be here again, blaming Walker for both the last manufacturer leaving the state and probably the country thanks to Obummer as well as the fact that your utility bill doubled!

  16. Justin says:

    Often when I speak to larger groups of college juniors and seniors (100-300), the first question I ask them is, “how many of you are considering moving from Wisconsin after you graduate”? Usually only a sprinkling of hands go up. Truth is that, like the many generations before them, most Wisconsin students leave high school planning to get a college education and then return home again to live somewhere in Wisconsin.

    During my speeches, I provide the raw data showing how the last 4 years in Post Act 10 Wisconsin has forever changed the direction of Wisconsin. I show statistics and articles (like this one) on the Republican decimation of the K-12 educational system, the Work For Less laws, the flight of great teachers from Wisconsin schools, and on and on….. The truth is that the children of these college students will have a far worse experience, a far worse education, far worse living conditions in future Wisconsin because of the dramatic changes supported by a majority of Wisconsin voters over the past 4 years. Walker’s Wisconsin has turned into a state where children are brought up to HATE their neighbor, rather than LOVE their neighbor. Walker’s Wisconsin is a state where educated people like scientists, researchers, doctors, teachers, are made fun of, and parodied as eggheads, pointy headed dopes, stupid…..

    At the conclusion of every talk I give, I ask the students the same question again, “How many of you are considering leaving Wisconsin after you graduate”? At least 80% of the students have their hands up HIGH after learning the facts about the dismal future facing Walker’s Wisconsin. I end by encouraging these students to take a serious look at moving to Minnesota, Iowa, or Illinois if they want to live in a state that is still like the Wisconsin they grew up in. I think these border states are going to see an influx of Wisconsin’s best and brightest talent over the next 20 years…which is exactly what the majority of Wisconsin voters who voted Walker into office deserve.

  17. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Justin what BUNCH of CRAP!. When Tommy left this state was in fantastic shape, then the left took over and then obama took over and that has taken the middle class and the working folks right down hill. the figures are there. Walker took negative job growth and turned it into positive job growth and we have a bright future unless you nuts get back in power.

  18. Kent Mueller says:

    Wisconsin used to punch well above its weight in any statistic, state to state, you’d care to use, now we only rank high in decline, across the board. Congratulations Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP, you’ve replicated Alabama.

  19. Andy Umbo says:

    Wisconsin has had a brain drain going on since the 70’s. Sixty-five percent of my college graduating class left the state within 18 months of graduation back in the mid-70’s, mostly because they couldn’t get a white collar job in their field. I came back from the east coast to take care of an aging parent and couldn’t find a ‘real’ 9-5 middle class white collar job at all, and I applied all over, with all the big employers (left me cobbling together freelance, temp, and going through my 401 (k)). I left after my parent passed, and found full time (although not highly paid) work in another state. The truth is, for whatever reason, that there hasn’t been full time, middle-class, white collar employment in Wisconsin for many, many years; and there certainly has NOT been full employment for the middle to tail end of Wisconsin baby-boomers, that’s why many left if they expected to work.

    I had a business consultant tell me that if things like the alleged “bio-tech” industry really happened in places like Madison, it might, might, in their wildest dreams, result in 500-1000 upper middle class jobs. Count up how many people graduate from all the uni’s in Wisconsin with business degrees, every year. Do you really think that many entry level white collar jobs exist here? Do you really think middle class kids with 80K of college loans really think they’re going to start their own business out of college and not worry about the loans? No, they want jobs…

    When I was constantly applying for positions, I was told repeatedly that many departments in various companies, hadn’t made an “add-to-staff” in over ten years. That’s not a road map for growth. I also feel at many places, I was the victim of ‘ageism’. Although I had extensive experience in my field, they were automatically going to go with someone right out of school mostly because if they were actually going to shoe-horn a new position in through their manager, they were going to have to make it cheap.

    This recipe for disaster has been going on for a long time now…

  20. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Andy you are absolutely right. Many people will tell you that. I have 5 kids all college graduated, doctors etc have gone and see no future here unless you essentially start your own business.

  21. PMD says:

    WCD, you agree with Andy that the recipe for disaster has been going on for a long time now? Doesn’t that contradict your claim that everything was wonderful while Tommy was governor? And earlier you said Walker’s programs are starting to work but now you say there’s no future in Wisconsin for graduates? Can you please make up your mind?

    @BT… Wisconsin is doomed because of the EPA? It’ll single-handedly destroy the state’s economy?

  22. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Doyle and Obama are responsible for the disaster, the Clintons for the mortggge disaster and everyone for overspending.

  23. Andy Umbo says:

    To AG’s comment about what Justin says to college classes: regardless of any political theories associated with whether or why the state will be doing good or bad, he is not giving them bad information to leave the state. See my above entry, but also, I have to say, I was someone who got a pretty good job when I originally left college, and then while I saw a future of slowing advancement and working for companies not performing in the best and brightest capacities, the people I graduated with who left the state and went to the coasts, did far better and had a much longer work life than people who stayed here. That is why I had to leave in my early 40’s, which was just too late (not to mention I had to come back for family responsibilities). I will say to anyone, the biggest dunder-head in my class did better long term, going to the coast, than some of the smartest people that stayed here.

    You hear a lot from highly place individuals and large corporations about being careful not to drive the best and the brightest out of the state, but then the ones that stay never get the compensation or work environments they would have gotten leaving. Want to keep people? make sure old “Germans” with draconian employment practices aren’t running your HR departments!

  24. David says:

    WI has been shedding production type jobs that drive the economy since the 80s and USA policies that continue to reward business for off shoring production and even hiding trillions of dollars in hidden bank accounts in the Caymans and other countries. During the last great recession, WI lost at least three paper mill plants in the Fox Valley, and two car manufacturing plants with high paying jobs. Nothing has replaced them and WalMart, Walgreen retail positions are not an equal trade.

    A regional successful economic formula has always been 1/3 production jobs to support the 2/3 service sector.

    Act 10 allowed Walker to steal 15% of public workers wages and future pensions payouts, and reward his benefactors in payments and lessened regulations. These stolen wages further erode the economy on a continual basis.

    Trickle down economics was voodoo under Reagan and a big lie. Trickle down is rob from everyone else and reward your rich greedy benefactors.

    Walker greases the economy for a continued downward spiral, a boot into the backs of working people, with their fascist laws written by corporations and supplied by ALEC.

  25. tim haering says:

    Trickle down works, Bruce. Just not the trickle down liberals are so fond of sticking their fingers down their throats to spew on. Trickle down economics is natural – it’s the hydrologic cycle: the poor are in the hills, the wealthy are the seas. All water that falls on the hills flows to the see. It’s the gravity of money. It flows to those who own the means of production. When the poor become interested in fiscal discipline and owning, then things will change. But don’t expect that to happen. Jesus said the poor we would always have with us, and he was right, bless his soul. Some tax policy tweaks may be in order, but expect this redistribution and reconcentration to cycle on forever, until entropy wins.

  26. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    BS, Tommy added 750,000 jobs and cut taxes. Most prosperous period in wisconsin History. election of Doyle and Barrett was the disaster. 8 years and down 130,000 jobs, difference of 800,000.
    No one has ever explained to me why you public employees deserve to have better salaries, bennies, pensions, health, dental, vacation, days of,f sick days, holidays etc. etc,. than the rest of us. You used your monopoly to rape us. Act 10 that restored equity.
    Walker has put us back on the right path with positive, but slow job growth cause the national economy under Obama had not performed. Most of the the jobs went to Texas, where they do not pay much attention Obama and co.

  27. PMD says:

    Yes only the poor lack fiscal discipline. No one other than the poor carries any debt whatsoever. I’m guessing you’re not an economist tim.

  28. PMD says:

    WCD, you have yet to explain why police officers and fire fighters deserve to be exempt from Act 10.

    40th in the nation in job growth and last in the Midwest is “on the right path.” Fascinating.

  29. Nate says:

    We all know that facts can be bent to show whatever you want just omit the things that contradict your point.

    Anyone with a stick can make a point.

    Now let’s focus on what is really wrong the fact that there is little to none bipartisan discussion about any important issues whatsoever. All we hear is they are wrong and we are right. The truth is that we are all wrong if we are not working with each other to make better this state and world for the little ones that will inherit.

  30. PMD says:

    @Nate… I agree, and it starts at the top. Our governor says not only is he not concerned with how politically divided the state he leads is, he actually believes it’s a good thing, because it means people are paying attention. And there’s little incentive to be bipartisan when your political party completely controls state government.

  31. Andy Umbo says:

    As an aside to my previous posts, while I was employed in Washington DC, I did an underwriting job on a documentary about another mid-west city that is doing well today. One of the tenets of the film, was that the grand and great-grand sons and daughters really hung on to the companies during a lot of the bad times, and really pushed to remake them in the 1980’s and 1990’s, keeping jobs and profit in their city. One of the tipping points in company owner-ships was during the Arab Oil Embargo years. A lot of companies nation-wide had to sell out and consolidate with national and international companies to survive. Problem is when you do that, a lot of the profit and front office business goes to whatever the buyer is, and none of it stays (along with charitable giving, etc.) in the city of the buyee. What’s interesting about this, is many of the gran and great-grand kids of Milwaukee’s “Golden Families”, sold out of their businesses and took the profit far before the Arab Oil Embargo years. Most were educated not in the mid-west, and most didn’t want to come back. Once that started to happen, Milwaukee was doomed. All the city became was the “China” for east and west coast companies. Keep the manufacturing here, take the profit out, do little to improve the assets. I ran this buy an old-timers that was born and raised in the northern lakeside suburbs of Milwaukee, and he said “I knew those kids and it’s absolutely true.”

  32. Allison says:

    I tend to agree with nate that you can tilt the data to fit your point of view. The authors here have their own biases as does Governor Walker so things need to be taken with a large grain of salt. I would not rely on what is written here as fact (from either side) as people generally hear what they want to hear. presenting opinion as fact is dangerous.

    I also agree with PMD that there is little incentive to be bipartisan when you control state government. But I also think that the Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves. Governor Walker got his break in politics due to corrupt Milwaukee government and the Recall was a huge, huge mistake and made him much bigger than I ever thought. In fact, he is possibly the next President of the United States (I think Bruce’s head just exploded, though it will give him lots of material to write on).

    Finally, just my own two cents. Much of the divisiveness today is unnecessary. I feel it is blogs like these (on both sides) that unnecessaryily rile people up (see comments above). It is all in the name of generating clicks/eyeballs and thus profits for the blogger, and divisive stories like these are the vehicle for those profits, in my opinion.

    I will get off my soapbox now.

  33. PMD says:

    When a Lutheran pastor emails a blogger threatening rape because they disagree politically, things are bad.

  34. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    People on this site are so naive. Bipartisan, ask Harry Reid. Want divisive?? Check out Adams vs jefferson, Lincoln election 1860, all court proceedings. Our forefathers realized that there would always be difference so that is the system they set up and it works.
    Murphy’s dream politicians: Barrett, Kohl, Baldwin, Moore. None have ever accomplished a damn thing.

  35. PMD says:

    The existence of hyper-partisanship in the past doesn’t prove that its existence in the present is without consequence or relevance.

  36. Justin says:

    Wow! My posts sure struck a nerve with the staunchest Walker defenders on here. Perhaps if I clarify the audiences I have been speaking to, many of the Walker lovers on here will actually be happy that the majority of the students in my audiences are planning on leaving Wisconsin when they graduate.

    Most of the members of my audiences are education students planning on becoming K12 teachers. You know, those folks which a majority of Wisconsinites have absolutely demonized the past 4 years-those lazy moochers, parasites, scum, thugs, filth, overpaid incompetent crybaby least that’s what the majority of Wisconsinites refer to them as in the numerous You Tube videos that I show to these future teachers as an example of how they will be treated if they pursue their teaching careers in Wisconsin.

    Then I get into salary projections in the Post Act 10 world…in a world where no state has cut, and continues to cut BILLIONS of dollars from public education. In Post Act 10 Wisconsin, a new teacher will earn at least 1 million dollars less in career earnings by staying in Wisconsin than if they left for most any other state. If they go to Minnesota or Illinois, they will earn at least 2 million dollars more during their career than if they stayed in Wisconsin. Plus they won’t be demonized and disrespected EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIFE in these other states. Under the new Post Act 10 pay systems that school districts are imposing, many of these teachers will never earn more than $50,000 as the maximum salary during their career.

    Something that many of these teachers haven’t considered is the rapidly declining quality of the Wisconsin teaching corps as more of the best and brightest young teachers flee Wisconsin. Already, the number of Wisconsin teachers with advanced degrees has dropped precipitously. There are severe shortages of middle and high school teachers in all STEM areas; it is nearly impossible to hire a degreed certified teacher in physics, technical education, chemistry, mathematics, special education, and most foreign languages in Wisconsin today. Right now, there are over 25 chemistry teaching jobs open for next year in Wisconsin, and well over 100 technical education teaching jobs open as well.

    That is why Governor Walker’s budget includes the provision to let ANYONE with a degree in any field and some “real life” experience be a teacher. Today’s college graduates don’t want to live in a state where their children will be taught physics by someone whose qualifications are that “they watched five seasons of The Big Bang Theory”, yet that is the future of Post Act 10 public education in Walker’s Wisconsin.

    Every one of these future teachers will say that many people, including their parents, have tried to dissuade them from answering their “calling” to become teachers. What a shame. In talking with many of them after my presentations, I have had the pleasure of meeting many young people that have such a great personality that I think will help them develop into excellent teachers. My message to them is clear: Life is too short to do something that you hate. If you are called to be a teacher, accept your calling. However, please take your teaching talents to a state where you and your future family will not be demonized and even hated by a majority of the people in that state.

    With the severe shortage of teachers in mathematics, science, and technical education, it would appear that many young teaching graduates are heeding the message to leave Wisconsin for a much better life.

  37. Kyle says:

    Justin, it’s the internet. No one really believes you. But just to play along…

    “at least that’s what the majority of Wisconsinites refer to them as in the numerous You Tube videos that I show to these future teachers”

    Yeah, I can convince a captive audience almost anything with the right series of videos from the internet too. But I’m willing to bet you don’t speak to “(100-300)” college students at a time out of the goodness of your heart. So who pays you for your fair and balanced narative on getting rich through education?

  38. PMD says:

    Allowing anyone with a Bachelor’s degree to be a teacher is a really terrible idea. Regardless of how one feels about Act 10 or teachers unions, I’d think most parents would want qualified, adequately prepared teachers educating their children.

  39. Justin says:

    Kyle, “no one really believes you.. but just to play along…”

    Obviously YOU believe me, otherwise you wouldn’t have made your comment..

    No one gets rich through education. No one.

    No one pays me to do what I do, I do it to educate the next generation of teachers so that they understand the absolutely HATRED that they will face every day of their lives IF they make the TERRIBLE choice to pursue a teaching career in Walker’s Wisconsin. I have found that you can TELL these new teachers how bad conditions are for teachers to live and teach in Post Act 10 Wisconsin, but to really drive home the point, you have to SHOW them. I open up my program with excerpts of half a dozen You Tube videos of Walker supporters packing school board meetings and screaming at teachers, chanting ‘Stand With Walker” and laughing at an auction where a local teacher and her husband were losing their house at a foreclosure sheriff’s sale. I show videos where teachers are confronted by Walker supporters calling them “moochers, parasites, lazy human filth” right in front of the teacher’s children.

    That introduction certainly “gets their attention” to the treatment that will await them everyday of their lives should they choose to pursue a teaching career in Wisconsin. Then I present the facts and figures of how teachers in other states still are able to live a middle class life because those states haven’t cut BILLIONS of dollars from public education, AND how those states WELCOME Wisconsin teachers to pursue their careers in those states. In December 2014, a consortium of school districts in northern Minnesota sent a mailing to every tech ed teacher in Wisconsin under 35 years old to check out the opportunities in Minnesota to escape the teaching conditions in Wisconsin.

    My presentations and website detailing the ugliness of teaching in Wisconsin are self financed. Again, my contribution to the next generation of teachers so that they will understand the HATRED that the majority of Wisconsin residents have towards teachers and practice their careers in states where teachers are still respected as professionals and compensated accordingly.

  40. Kyle says:

    Oh, I do so love improper use of capitalization. It really drives home a point.

    So, I absolutely believe that you have a website with youtube clips, and that no one pays you for that (even though you’re failing to provide us a link to this wonderful fount of truth). It seems like everyone has one of those. What I still have trouble believing is that you take no payment to speak to groups up to 300 people, and that people are lining up to bring you in to hear this. Surely you have to schedule these seminars somehow. So are you a visiting professor, some respected education scholar, or a recruiter for, say, the Minnesota department of education? Anybody can rant on a comment section, but I don’t believe you speak to people for free. Somebody pays you, and you have an agenda. Or you’re exaggerating badly (which I’m sure would be a first in the history of internet comment sections, so we should mark the occasion).

  41. AG says:

    So Justin, you use the video’s of some extremists to actively shove future educators out the door? Is this supposed to be good for Wisconsin?

    I’d also appreciate any links you have to those youtube video’s. It may even rile me up enough to join your cause, who knows??

  42. Justin says:

    Wow-for not caring or believing my comments, the two of you sure responded FAST.

    The videos aren’t of extremists, just common ordinary Wisconsinites, the majority of which Stand With Walker and have a high degree of animosity towards teachers. You know, regular Wisconsin folk…

    Regarding your comment, “is this supposed to be good for Wisconsin”? With the near universal animosity and hatred directed towards Wisconsin’s teachers since the election of Scott Walker, isn’t Wisconsin better off when these “moochers, parasites, lazy overpaid crybaby whiners, thugs,…(Wisconsinites have SO many derogatory names for their teachers) leave Wisconsin to practice their profession in other places? As I’ve stated before, I’m just doing this for the next generation of teachers, to help them see that there is a far better future for them if they choose to leave Wisconsin.

    Besides, soon ANYONE with a college degree can be a teacher in Wisconsin. Wisconsin will have no trouble staffing its schools when the “Anyone Can Be a Teacher” laws pass in a month or two.

  43. PMD says:

    But Justin what about implementing change from within? Don’t we need these teachers to stand up for themselves and their profession, and (rationally and reasonably, not shouting “fascism”) explain why certain policies are mistaken? I don’t think it’s good for the state for quality, committed educators to leave. I want them to stay and state their case. In certain respects I agree with you, there is way too much anti-teacher sentiment in the state and it’s a mistake to allow anyone with a Bachelor’s be a teacher, but encouraging good teachers to leave is not the best way to counter that.

  44. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    everyone here is just interested in the Left wing politics of some teachers, I want them to teach kids to read. Unions and Feds have screwed up our schools. At MPS, 3 of 4 kids, after 3rd grade cannot read. Quit worrying about the rights of teachers, their politics and start as Hubert Humphrey would say: “the bright lights of human rights, the students”.

  45. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Justin, you are complete wacko, the majority of teachers are well loved in their communities whether they be private or public schools, always have been. It is the nutcase Leftists that revere Jane fonda and Karl marx that are not loved and those that cannot teach kids to read need to leave.

  46. PMD says:

    I never worked with or have known a single teacher who espoused the politics of Jane Fonda or Karl Marx.

  47. AG says:

    It’s unfortunate someone like Justin is in a position to influence young potential educators. I’d still love to know how and for what purpose he speaks in front of all of these students and what his motivations are. But alas, we won’t see that, just as apparently he doesn’t want to link the video’s of the wacko’s who are berating these teachers.

    Everyone I know, regardless of which side of the aisle they lean towards, appreciate what teachers do and respect them and their position. Likewise, most teachers I know, even if upset with ACT10, are less concerned with being “demonized the past 4 years [as] those lazy moochers, parasites, scum, thugs, filth, overpaid incompetent crybaby whiners” and more concerned about parental involvement in their child’s education, behavioral issues, and safety.

    Justin, I sincerely hope you come to realize that the “majority of Wisconsinites” do not demonize teachers before you do too much more damage.

  48. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Jane fonda was the featured speaker at their state conference !!

  49. AG says:

    I just spent way too much time trying to find a source for all these cries of teachers being “lazy moochers, parasites, scum, thugs, filth, overpaid incompetent crybaby whiners.” Again and again all I came up with were leftists saying that conservatives were calling teachers these things, but no evidence of it actually happening. The worst thing I found was an anonymous comment on an op-ed piece that called union leaders moochers… but to be fair, I saw more comments comparing conservatives to hitler than calling anyone moochers. As far as actual published conservatives, the most I saw were op-eds saying not so nice things about union leaders… but never anything about teachers themselves.

    I’m sure there has to be some conservatives who have actually said things like that… but the links to liberals telling me what conservatives said far overshadow any factual incident.

  50. PMD says:

    So what WCD?

  51. PMD says:

    @AG… That’s what I am trying to get at. I’m sure many people said terrible things during the Act 10 protests in Madison. It’s not productive, and it doesn’t serve the cause well because no one is going to take anything you have to say seriously when you compare someone to Hitler (I can’t believe how often people from all political persuasions play the Hitler card).

  52. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    The union has always been way Left but the average teacher, my wife taught 3 rd grade, have been moderate or not interested that much.
    Latest numbers out again show the middle class shrinking, few people hired, 93 million unemployed, 63% Labor force is worst participation, since depressions, and most jobs under obama have been low paying with out benefits. Nothing new. The last governors from the left in Wisconsin have been disaster, Mayor of Milwaukee is worthless. Where are the lefts leaders with ideas? Nowhere. Gwen Moore is their best and brightest.

  53. Casey says:

    WCD (or any other partisan) help me out with some logic if you can. Wisconsin’s governors during my adult life have been the of the opposite party of the president. So who gets credit for the 80’s Reagan or Earl, 90’s Thompson or Clinton, ’00’s Doyle or Bush, 10’s Walker or Obama?

    Or here’s a really crazy thought…..maybe these politicians don’t have as much to do with the economy as they and the people like to believe?

  54. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    We were lucky that Reagan/Tip were perfect combo and tommy came along with good ideas and cut taxes regs and we prospered. Tommy was the governor that led us to the most prosperous time in our life.
    Then newt/Clinton came along and also worked out problems, and again we prospered. Obama has been incapable of doing that. Doyle just spent and regulated thereby killing us.
    I thought that Dreyfus was most incompetent governor till Doyle came along, then Barrett proved he could be even more incompetent. Cannot make a decision or has any ideas what to do about major problems.

  55. Justin says:

    For not believing what I have posted here, you folks are sure taking my posts seriously.

    For the record, I have only spoken to 2 groups of college students (so far) about the realities of teaching in Post Act 10 Wisconsin. Many of these students are also on the Wisconsin Blacklist (Verify the Recall) that will prevent them from ever getting a position higher than that of a teacher. Often their BF or GF which are non-teaching majors are also on the Wisconsin Blacklist, likely preventing them from getting a job in a conservative profession like engineering, finance, business, from the many Wisconsin employers who refuse to hire anyone who does not support Scott Walker.

    Most of the You Tube videos I use excerpts from were actually created and posted by conservative groups to rally their supporters. I downloaded these videos, but most are still available for viewing on the Net. The verbal slurs are from podcasts of the various right wing AM talkers who seem to be slamming Wisconsin teachers nearly 24/7 for the past 4 years. All of those podcasts are being put on a webpage on my website so to be available 24/7 to those considering a teaching career in Wisconsin.

    While the majority of Wisconsin residents have engaged in a four year verbal and written rant against schoolteachers in Wisconsin, there are those of us who have been quietly recording and taking down every word of the hatred spewed from their mouths towards teachers in Wisconsin.

    As many teachers have retired, left the profession, or just left Wisconsin, now Wisconsin is having to recruit young teachers from across the United States to fill jobs in classrooms across the entire state. I am one of a larger group of people who think that any teacher who is being recruited for a teaching position in Wisconsin should KNOW the true feelings that the majority of Wisconsinites have towards teachers prior to coming to Wisconsin to work.

    But of course, this is the Internet…. who actually believes that I am but one of a larger group of people who are out there advising the next generation of teachers to leave Wisconsin for a better life. Who would actually think that the teaching conditions in a state with a Governor running for President by comparing teachers to ISIS or bragging that “I made it easy to FIRE TEACHERS in Wisconsin”, would be so much worse than nearby states that haven’t demonized their teachers? C’mon, now who would believe that?

  56. Casey says:

    Justin- this is the internet so would you be able to provide a link to your website with these podcast?

    “While the majority of Wisconsin residents have engaged in a four year verbal and written rant against schoolteachers” I don’t think anyone would say that a MAJORITY is against school teachers just a few well chosen squeaky wheels.

  57. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Recent jobs reports tell us why we have problems. Last month and the previous 6 months have shown that all the job openings are in lower value jobs cause of the policies of the Obama gang, High taxes for corporations, refusal to allow trillions to come back from over seas to come back here that have been taxed over seas but overwhelmingly the destruction of the two parent families have reduced families form one prosperous to two,
    barely holding on.

  58. Kyle says:

    Justin, I don’t think anyone here doubts that there are people actively working to show people the “true” Wisconsin. Lots of people work toward a lot of different ends. Personally, I enjoy trolling people on internet comment sections by picking apart their carefully constructed narative. Allow me to recap so we’re all on the same page:

    “Often when I speak to larger groups of college juniors and seniors (100-300), the first question I ask them is…”
    “For the record, I have only spoken to 2 groups of college students…”
    I suppose 1 out of the 2 times could make “often” true. Was one group 100 and the other 300, or is that an exaggeration too?

    “If they go to Minnesota or Illinois, they will earn at least 2 million dollars more during their career than if they stayed in Wisconsin.”
    If this sounds amazing, it is. This amounts to at least $50k more each year for a 40 year career. According to takepart (Look! A source! ) Wisconsin still ranks 8th in teacher pay. But Let’s assume that #1 (Michigan, for the record) really does make that much more. At an average of $61.5k, Justin is either predicting that teacher pay will fall by 80% in Wisconsin, or he’s presuming that a “career” lasts just over 313 years (based on the difference between Wisconsin and #1 Michigan).

    Casey touched on your misuse of “majority of Wisconsinites”, a term you’re particularly attached to, but later admit that “The verbal slurs are from podcasts of the various right wing AM talker”. So you’re putting choice verbal bits from a handful of people over other video, and calling that a majority. At least, that’s the best guess I can come up with since you still refuse to show us a link to this website that you want everyone to see.

  59. Justin says:

    Gee Kyle, for not believing me, you sure have spent a lot of time and effort analyzing all of my posts.

    Your analyses have many flaws, most notably relying on salary averages to make your ridiculous projections attacking my statements. I don’t feel any compulsion to “justify” any of my posts on this site. While you guys waste your time on this site, I continue to prepare my main website for the rollout that is coming within a few weeks.

    The public speaking engagements are an outreach of the main website. As to the question of how many college groups I have spoken to, well it might be one, or two, or quite a few more…. From every presentation, I learn which information about the true colors of Wisconsin has the greatest impact on my student audience and adjust the next presentation to reflect that. For instance, I used to begin my presentations with a video clips and podcast excerpts of Governor Walker disparaging teachers and Wisconsin talk show hosts & ordinary citizens also disparaging teachers. I have dialed back on that introduction because I found it was too intense for these future teachers to handle emotionally. I was getting college kids literally tearing up as they viewed one anti-teacher rant after another. These young people have spent their college studies preparing to be teachers and now they find out that they are literally hated by everyone in Wisconsin from Governor Walker down to the cashier at the gas station.

    My message to them is to take a calm rational approach to their future career. If they have what it takes to be an excellent teacher, then take their talents to a state where teachers aren’t demonized by the majority of the population. Life is too short to endure the misery that now accompanies a teaching career in Wisconsin. Using examples from the past 4 years, I show these future teachers how a teaching career in Wisconsin is dramatically different from the other 49 states. Many of these students are on the Wisconsin BlackList (Verify the Recall) and have no hope of ever being hired as a school counselor, assistant principal, principal, or superintendent. These future teachers deserve to know the truth about how a teaching career in Wisconsin is different from other states; including the dramatically lower career compensation they will earn (at least 1-2 million dollars less) teaching in Post Act 10 Wisconsin than they will in nearly every other state in America.

    The group that I am a part of is tracking the Post Act 10 teacher compensation and working condition information that no one else in Wisconsin is. The number of students who will graduate teacher education programs across Wisconsin will be less than half of the number graduating pre-Act 10. There is a developing teacher shortage in Wisconsin; severe in technical certifications such as science, math, technical education, and special education.

    I am but one of a larger group that will be educating the next generation of teachers on how the near universal anti-teacher animosity among majority of Wisconsin citizens since 2011 will affect the teaching and working conditions they will face for their entire careers should they make the choice to teach in Wisconsin.

  60. Andy Umbo says:

    Wow, came back after the weekend and found all this mayhem about teaching and the value of teachers, etc. in the comments section. Everyone’s opinion made fascinating reading, BUT, while I say everyone in the world needs great teachers, let’s get back to the core of the article: dwindling middle class in Wisconsin. To which I reply, as I have above, no jobs, no middle class.

    Regardless of what you think about unions (and I’m sure many on here are agin’ ’em), they were basically responsible for middle class structure Wisconsin had all those years, and in fact, I’m sure if you did the research, you’d find that cities like Milwaukee are probably being held up today, entirely by retirees from good union pension jobs, as well as city and county employees! I had to leave (twice) to get livable work, because no job existed for someone my age, white collar, and I spent the years I took care of my mother trying to find them until I just gave up. Snide republicans will off-handedly tell you that “people just don’t want to work” (like something out of a bad right wing documentary), but I’m here to tell you, if no one gives you a job, you cannot work! Doesn’t matter if you have a college degree and 40 years experience. I’ve applied for many a 10 dollar an hour job I was willing to do, and never got hired because who WOULD hire a college graduate with 40 years experience to work a mindless job, even if they were begging.

    The idea that there IS work out there, people just won’t do it for the money, is one of the biggest republican lies (like ‘checks in the mail’). These same republicans are the ones running businesses that underpay and won’t hire guys like me begging for work because eventually “he’ll find a better job, then leave, so let’s not hire him now”.

    I ended up in Indiana (another nightmare, but for a different reason), and I have to say, anyone that thinks Gov. Pence is going to be Walkers savior is dreaming. Gov. Pence has cut the tax structure so deep, that we don’t have proper police protection, consumer laws, or mass transportation. It took over 30 minutes for the police to respond to a kidnapping call in my apartment complex, they just have too few cops. Pence gives deep tax breaks to companies willing to move some of their business here, but the businesses they move here are their warehouse operations they want to pay 8 dollars an hour in (which, considering there are no laws protecting rents, you cannot live on); and they never move their intellectual business too, they all stay on the coasts. Is this what Wisconsin wants? A “pro” business environment, which is really “pro-your-crap-business”. Paying people 8 dollars an hour, having no mass transportation systems for them to ride, and then putting all the warehouses out in the exurbs doesn’t really make a lot of sense, does it? Welcome to Indiana, a “pro” business state! Let’s not even talk about the religious mayhem…

    When I look at the lack of services in Indianapolis, and the gouging on apartments, and the lack of mass trans, I think Milwaukee must have the worst PR department ever, as with just a few minor tax law changes, you could certainly make a case for Milwaukee being far better to move a business to than this dump! That would be more jobs!

  61. Kyle says:

    Justin, thank you for doubling down on every single contradiction without offering anything new. That should effectively demonstrate to anyone who stumbles upon this thread in the future just how little you were willing to contribute to the conversation. Good luck getting your website and your lies straight.

  62. A family with kids making $34,000 is not middle class, those are poverty wages with the cost of rent, fuel, and food these days. A real lower middle class income would be around $60,000 to start.

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