Calculatedly Candid Open Letter to the United Council of UW Students, Inc.

Donate to Educational Reformer Joseph Ohler, Jr.!

The purpose of this piece is not to disturb the peace — although I cannot control how sensitive types will misinterpret and perhaps internalize this organizational critique as a personal putdown — but rather, to explain why United Council (UC) has struggled in recent years.

UC needs to move beyond its normal operations. Leadership, rank, and file must do more than the usual United Council routine, which proves ineffectual in practical policy outcomes:

1) Why spend so much time trying to save its own skin — time made by ducking phone calls from alumni, because staff are preoccupied and meeting internally about their own woes — by presenting to a small slice of SGA leaders on campus to pitch an affirmative fundraiser referendum and sell another year of membership, without so much as showing concern for the opinions of the non-SGA-official student plebeians? Gotta be home by your curfew, eh?

2) Why stop at electing members to leadership positions, which don’t carry any cachet outside the extremely niche field of student government? Look out for the interests of non-leaders, too.

We can’t all be grassroots organizers or attain employment in Student Affairs. Even fewer of us can launch into politics (unless sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, which indirectly dictates our national policy and therefore the type of leaders we get, in undemocratic fashion, via institutional positioning and media priming).

3) Why talk about unconscious victimization of certain groups, when we’re all blatantly victimized by declining job prospects — or at least know someone who is — irrespective of UC’s head-in-the-sand attitude towards this?

To be certain, some students pine for the verbal nectar you give their itching ears: They want to feel as if they’re changing the world by attending meetings about internal UC business (to contrive stuff to do that looks good on a resume); making it easier for newer students to graduate (and therefore compete with them for jobs they might not even qualify for anyway); and fruitlessly lobbying for UW funding (of which $250 million in cuts were finalized, thanks in part to my grassroots organizing as the anti-UC).

Those are the activities that comprise the inner workings and visible doings of UC. So, how does United Council improve life for actual students? Let us examine some possibilities:

1) The tuition freeze on 2-year colleges? Not UC’s doing!

Governor Scott Walker — the very antithesis of everything UC purports to represent — proposed the tuition lock! UC cannot claim credit for what is politically inevitable.

I’m surprised United Council does not take credit for desirable weather in the Madison area! Such grandiosity would suit UC’s self-importance.

2) Sending UC staff to campus to explain what UC does? NOT helping students! It is merely self-serving promotional activity paid for by the very same students’ UC membership fees.

“Pay us, because we do important things for you, such as persuade you we’re important.” Hah!

3) Enhance the job prospects of students? No; United Council has never concerned itself with the job prospects of UW students generally, which is a damned shame and totally dismissing a valid motivation for thousands of student members.

Board members are too cowardly to challenge the UW System or professional programs at member campuses to produce job placement rates or 1-year post hoc occupational outcomes for those who recently earned their degree. It’s not that difficult to measure, but weak-kneed UC lacks the political will to fight that much-needed regulatory battle.

The only way to promote action on this underserved issue of school-to-work accountability within the UW System is to shame officials into responsive policymaking via blog articles.

Although this piece has posted United Council into the steel for its inaction on the matter, that is galvanize student leaders into utilizing UC’s core competence grassroots organizing into holding UW regents, chancellors, and their underlings at each campus accountable for how well their respective schools’ promise of “career development” has panned out in terms of wage premium (or the lack thereof) for some quantified plurality (or non-majority) of graduates.

By doing nothing, United Council is content that the UW System continues its exploitation of those students aspiring to become gainfully employed professionals. The knowledgeable bystander becomes an accomplice!

Even among “soft sciences” majors, you’ll find this attribute of career orientation applies to MOST students! I doubt few attendees of UC General Assemblies would say having a decent-paying job after college is NOT important. With that said…

…WHY isn’t United Council being directed to work on this?! Are student leaders so arrogantly self-assured that they’ll “have theirs” after degree conferral?

Dream on — we need collective action on this issue: If not for self-preservation of your own career track, then in altruistic solidarity. (That’s your lingo; those are your shibboleths. This SHOULD resonate, unless you’re being contrarian for contrary’s sake.)

The Bright Side of Missing 13 Percent of the UW System Budget

Donate to Educational Reformer Joseph Ohler, Jr.!

05-29-2015 UPDATE: Thanks to concerted grassroots lobbying efforts from disgruntled alumni and dissatisfied citizen-consumers, the Wisconsin legislature has mostly agreed with Governor Walker’s retrenchment of the UW System.

Only $50 million was restored, leaving 83.3 percent of the reductions in place. That’s great news for the University Accountability Movement! This has been a good year so far, on that dimension.

04-16-2015 UPDATE: In a rare case of insulated administrators acknowledging economic realities, UW-Madison has agreed to leave 400 positions unfilled; to indefinitely shutter over 320 Letters & Sciences courses; and to divert $3.5 million from the athletics department within Fiscal Biennium 2015-2017.

Good! That is but the beginning of fiscal retrenchment if UW-Madison doesn’t lead by example in proving its worth in as-of-yet unquantified employment rates and wage premiums of job-seeking alumni.

Students need this data to decide whether they even want to be students, when job prospects remain dismal despite conferral of one, two, or however many degrees. Risk management, people!

02-16-2015 ORIGINAL: Many have fretted over the imminent cuts to the University of Wisconsin (UW) System budget. Less for the state university means more for much-needed transportation projects, so what’s the big deal?

Most of those complaining about fiscal retrenchment are, of course, those on the UW payroll (the higher education hucksters and their nine-to-five, don’t-give-a-care-about-graduate-job-outcomes, support staff).

Some of those concerned are students, naïve people who somehow believe their future relies upon an educational institution with a mediocre track record for alumni career success — and if not mediocre, then why not publish some aggregate statistics, beyond hand-selected anecdotes?

Many more students are apathetic towards the budget cuts because they understand the following:

The university always cries wolf whenever it doesn’t get what it wants. Yet, life goes on despite the UW babies not getting all the candy they demand.

Neither university staff nor the system generally cares about their post-student success, so these well-informed students conserve mental and emotional energy by focusing on #1 instead of being sidetracked by those who would conscript them into a cause that mostly benefits UW employees.

Even if a student has such great relations with staff that they are invited to interview for USPA or whatnot, budget cuts that result in the cancellation of positions they want are a necessary introduction to economic reality. Call this “School of Hard Knocks Lite,” as there is always H2A migrant work on which to fall back — and you’ll get priority for selection as a U.S. citizen, unless you’ve never worked on a farm.

(That’s how I was disqualified from an H2A recruitment for which I went out of my way to apply. !No lo puede creer! Estoy un graduado sin futuro.)

Satellite Campuses Need Retrenchment, Too

UW-Madison is clearly in the best position to shoulder the lion’s share of budget reductions, because it receives the plurality of General Purpose Revenue (GPR): about 40 percent! But what about the satellite campuses, those so-called directional schools that comprise the majority of the UW student population?

I’ll use UW-Milwaukee as an example because it recruits heavily in the local Greater Milwaukee Area. Nowhere being a heavyweight on national rankings for any its programs, UWM nonetheless markets itself as a good school for career-oriented people — as opposed to those dreamers at UW-Madison, I suppose, who nonetheless wind up running circles around UWM grads in the labor market due to their proximity to startups and state government offices.

The Madison market is still glutted, though perhaps not as much as Milwaukee’s!

We hear of UWM’s handful of new graduate career successes every May — a dozen or so out of thousands of job-seeking grads; not even a reliable sample size — but what about its failures? The taxpaying public deserves an accounting of graduate occupational outcomes.

Here’s an up-close-and-personal example of such education-induced ruination: I bill myself as an educational consultant, but my primary means of income is packaging boxes for $10 hourly through a temp agency. That’s the best job offer I’ve received following 4 years of a full-time job search after I earned my master’s degree in public administration from UWM in 2010 (and I was pursuing positions each hour I wasn’t studying, working, or sleeping in grad school).

I know that I cannot possibly be an isolated outlier! There must be another 10, 20 percent of students generally who wash out in the labor market, i.e. work a job a GED or diploma holder could do; and this number is probably closer to 60 percent in some UWM departments / academic programs.

Who knows this, without hard data? Universities *don’t* want to know!

Duplicitous Universities Wash Their Hands of Alumni Woes; Demand Funding to Victimize More

The longer a university “has no substantial evidence” of economically ruined graduates, the longer it can play the denial card so common in public relations. Never mind how people such as me ARE substantive in their career woes that stem directly from dedicating their time, effort, and money to the stinking UW System!

Here’s why that systemic lack of information is deleterious — persistently harmful — to the public welfare:

Potential students (and parents, politicians, etc.) deserve to know what the median and mode earnings and nature of the job worked by graduates of each program are (salaried, FT hourly, PT hourly, involuntarily unemployed) for each year’s graduating (exiting senior) cohort following 1 year of degree conferral.

Surveys of (highly optimistic) expectations for employment at the time of graduation don’t communicate job outcomes; they don’t reflect reality!

Make restoration of that 13 percent contingent upon UWM and the other campuses coughing up class-wide data on actual employment outcomes for those alumni who have been either employed or seeking jobs approximately 1 year after degree conferral.

They won’t, unless forced to by the legislature. This underscores why it is better to slash an ineffective training system than to pump more money into it and expect change!

Pain Precedes Progress

This budget cut is painful for many UW workers and wanna-be UW workers — but needs to happen, so that my aforementioned accountability measures may be passed into law. That pain is but a fraction of the turmoil chronically under- and unemployed graduates endure for dedicating their time, effort, and money to the crummy UW System!

Just because these school-to-work accountability ideas are coming from a grossly under-employed holder of an advanced degree — with zero post-college wage premium and no *apparent* political standing — doesn’t mean everyone influential ignores the possibilities inherent within these ideas.

If every campus within the University of Wisconsin System would only provide solid data to show by what margins its program graduates are attaining employment — lest administrators fear otherwise (fraidy cats!) — then legislators and citizens alike would better operationalize the extent to which this vague notion of career preparation comes to fruition — or does not (ha!) — by investment in the UW.

This is my institutional legacy; my gift to higher education: Not settling for merely being a guy who wasn’t allowed by circumstantial consensus to earn what some graduates make — although that certainly informs my social views — but being the one to propose these tremendous reforms!

The $10 hourly manual labor job that I went to school to avoid, has inescapably become my highest-paying occupation. College wage premium = $0 for Joe Ohler!

And yet, I’m far from alone in this predicament, despite aspiring state college students’ collective delusion they’ll somehow fare better than someone who graduated college with an above-average GPA and student government administrative experience.

(I will someday publish an autobiography, at which point those interested may learn precisely what my GPA and pastimes were at various stages of my life. If that sounds boring, then consider all the people with whom I’ve interacted during my first 30 years alone. It gets wild!)

Anyway, I take the side opposite of the UW spin doctors: Consider that 13 percent budget cut as the institutional receipt for churning out so many graduates with poor job prospects!

BONUS: A New Day for UW

Recent news about UW leaving 400 jobs indefinitely vacant, and concomitant cancellation of marginally useful classes, has made many mucky-mucks morph into mopey-mopes.

However, I’m here to invert your grimace! Karaoke, you say? Indeed!
Let us all sing this song together, in grandiose celebration of a new day for the UW System. A one; a two — a 1-2-3!

“College Under Thumb” – Parody by SenatorJPO – 01:01 (1.40 MB)

[—Click above to download; lyrics are below—]

Under my thumb, that UW / That had pushed me around /

Under my thumb, now defunded / What had gone now comes around /

Glad it’s not me / I’m glad it’s not meUnder my thumb, demanding classes / That had jerked me around /

Under my thumb, now they’re canceled / Fewer students to be found /

Glad it’s not me / I’m glad it’s not me

Under my thumb, master’s program / That had promised me the world /

Under my thumb, now it’s shuttered / Its deceptions now unfurled /

Glad it’s not me / I’m glad it’s not me

6 Highly Effective Tactics of Protest for Political Influence (and Marching Isn’t One of Them)

Donate to Educational Reformer Joseph Ohler, Jr.!

Demonstrators have wondered how they can effect change without publicly begging or screaming for attention in the streets in a way that causes decision makers to respect them even LESS!

“If protesters are only causing themselves trouble by congregating in the streets, then what should they do instead to influence policy?”

Mercifully for the uneducated and the misinformed, I hereby enumerate respectable public thoroughfares by which to communicate. If you want change, then use these avenues judiciously.

A peaceful and overall effective protest would consist of behaviors that I call the:


Six Tactics of Effective Protest

1) Write and mail articulate letters to elected officials — no page limit or word count is specified, and snail mail gets you a physical acknowledgement letter (usually a policy position template);

2) Submit timely comments at local hearings and via the Regulations.gov portal;

3) Send op-eds and letters to the editor to as many newspapers as you can — no acknowledgement is given unless your op-ed is published, so stick with email to save postage;

4) Author and publicize well-researched blog posts about facts and misconceptions pertaining to your cause — unlike letters to the editor, you can guarantee yourself publication and yammer on as long as you want;

5) Make polite, yet urgent phone calls to legislative district offices to explain why a public need exists for whichever cause you support (or why a certain cause is deleterious to the public welfare); and

6) Purchase advertising through channels that include at least some of your target audience. Because concision is everything in advertising, summarizing your policy position in a 30-second radio spot may prove more difficult than writing a well-reasoned letter to the editor.


Honorary Mentions

A) Vote. This has limited communicative ability because it implies you support ALL of a candidate’s political opinions, when in reality you might think all the candidates are unsympathetic to your causes.

This dilemma stems predominantly from causes that precede primaries and the cognitive inertia for most voters to trust only Republican and Democrat ballot choices.

Also, voting is only effective once every 2 years for representatives; 4 years for president, mayors, and some municipal council or town board seats; and every 6 years for senators. Voting is nonetheless useful if you truly support a particular candidate or ballot initiative — or even if you want to block an exceptionally bad candidate or defeat a referendum.

B) Boycott. This is more likely to get corporations’ attention that a mere street protest because it directly reduces their bottom line, except in case of a whiplash sentiment in the positive direction by that company’s most loyal customers!

Besides boycotts backfiring unpredictably, they simply don’t work against governmental units. Although a person might “vote with their feet” by relocating to another jurisdiction, that costs much more money than many protesters have. Ergo, the resources spent on a boycott are better spent lobbying government officials.


“Wow; that seems like a lot of writing!”

Yes, but writing is how laws are proposed, passed, and changed. You cannot expect anything outside the realm of official letters to make official impact; because officials do not recognize disturbances as legitimate policy inputs. Emergencies to be quelled with forceful detainment? Yes. Reasons to change the law? No!

Only campaign money; lots of constituent correspondence; and the occasional constitutional court case — not a criminal case for disturbing the peace, mind you — has ever brought or will ever bring any politician towards proposing or voting for a law change.

I know that sounds boring, but officials are more responsive to those who communicate in ways similar to how legislators communicate, i.e. professionally via institutionally legitimate means. The few “professional protesters” who exist are actually event monitors and intelligence agents disguised as run-of-the-mill demonstrators. Their social pedigree and income are far above that of those who’ve reason to protest!

Like any tool, constituent correspondence and publicly readable opinions must be used accurately to have their intended effect. It is particularly paramount to be not only accurate in your views but also precise enough to eliminate unwanted connotations and to minimize opportunities for incorrect interpretations of your words.

This especially rings true for contentious topics; the range of ideas explicitly expressed and implicitly implied must be something for which you take responsibility! Some further observations are therefore warranted about efficacious communication.

I prefer to write letters and to leave voice mails so that I can elaborate on specifics without having to repeat myself to whichever staffer is taking notes. This also ensures details are preserved, as otherwise an aide might paraphrase a well-articulated argument into over-simplistic talking points.

On the bureaucratic side, it is also easier for staff to photocopy a received letter or to transcribe a replay-able voice recording than it is to jot everything down during a live phone call, i.e. one real-time pass-through of the information within the statement.

Even if you’re not deaf, sending written remarks is the least ambiguous way to communicate complex policy positions. Comments are the best option for maximizing clarity if you have a speech impediment.

You have a better chance of acknowledgement for your political opinion, rather than for alleged criminal activity, when you lobby because the interactions are one-on-one. This is much better for being recognized as an informed, concerned constituent who is likely to vote than you would signal as part of a vaguely identified mob of unknown geographic voting constituency.

Email is also one-on-one if you remember to address one email per legislator and to personalize the greeting. If you send an obvious group email, then legislators and aides will feel less pressure to respond, lest your message allegedly “got caught in the spam trap.”

To create the impression that many constituents are independently reaching the same conclusion(s) on a policy object, don’t copy a phone script or message template given to you by some organization.
Interest groups — such as the conference-and-meeting factory known as United Council of UW Students — understand their members lack the intelligence and critical thinking to customize their boilerplate copy without losing the gist of the prose, but you can do better.

The fact that you’re reading my blog sets you above the pedestrian political pawn! It also implies you have the independent will and the inquisitive mind for cleverness to express policy problems and solutions in your own terms.

Time-Wasting Protesters Not Unique to Low-Information Ferguson

Donate to Educational Reformer Joseph Ohler, Jr.!

In my previous article, I explained why demonstrating is more dangerous to the participants than to policy makers. This present piece examines how protesting is a waste of time.

In contrast to institutionally legitimate means of communication, marching in the streets — no matter how organized — in the vain hope of influencing decision makers, means you’re incompetent at learning how to use the intended tools to express your political views outside the ballot box.

Yes, protesters immediately identify themselves as having a long learning curve on how to function in society. Austerity protests I can understand to the extent official avenues for public input are shut down due to budget cuts.

But throwing a hissy fit over a grand jury deciding insufficient evidence exists to pursue a prosecution, is just as immature as claiming all the forensic evidence against O.J. Simpson was somehow tampered with any more than the evidence that put away Bundy, Dahmer, Gacy, and Greenwood Attorneys at Law.

These ineffectual individuals are living proof that poor people screw themselves over, most notably by having children.

When the economically handicapped become disenchanted enough with their chances at a better life to the point of futile demonstrations, they should not produce offspring, for their children will be subjected to the same economic constraints and learn the same pessimistic outlook that ultimately leads to self-marginalization.

And even with an idealistic attitude that all you need for some measure of success is to conform long enough to receive you reward, zero-sum reality dictates a critical mass of poverty — around 30 percent of a local population, according to studies — results in a situation where unemployment remains high.

This wage scarcity keeps familial income low, further straining social services and encouraging higher-income people to move into lower-tax locales. Why bring children into such an unforgiving social milieu that is stacked against their financial success and wellbeing?

Desiring to raise a family when poor might seem noble and traditionalist. In fact, some aging parents encourage, henpeck, and lobby their adult children to produce grandchildren for entirely selfish reasons. Such an approach of “give me grandkids at any cost” spells economic doom for already impoverished adult children because their offspring are bred into an unwinnable situation of too few jobs for too many consumers.

In this perpetual scarcity scenario, acting irrationally, i.e. street protesting, seems like the most sensible choice — but it’s not, as demonstrated by the illegality of public exuberance and when compared to institutionally accepted means of lawful influence. (Read more about six legitimate means of influencing policy.)

Civil rights marchers did not cause Brown v. Board of Education or any other judicial interpretation of constitutional protections; only the plaintiffs and Supreme Court judges influenced the outcome.

Similarly, opponents of purported police brutality flood the streets in hopes that enough grand jury members will see their painful emotional appeals and be moved to presume guilt against the cop who killed in self-defense during a perpetrator’s commission of a felony, i.e. see a justified homicide performed in the line of duty as somehow illegal, because a bunch of uneducated, under-employed protesters said so!

Demonstrations are an instance in which the “wisdom of the crowd” is really folly. If you want to make an impact, then file a court case, launch a boycott, comment to regulatory agencies about notices of proposed regulations; and/or lobby elected officials. Anything else does you a disservice.

That sounds rather depressing, no? But the means of change are within grasp — and that “grasp” is not a clenched fist; a Molotov cocktail; or stolen goods!

Legally permissible means of change are — surprise! — those which enumerate specific problems with statutory and regulatory language and those that communicate solutions in terms of legal modifications.

Yet, that is too much to ask from a bunch of immature protesters — for they lack the capacity to think clearly most days and need their sensational fixes through drugs, music, television, and movies. Education for these people happens predominantly when they are stuck in a classroom or learning an illicit, unlawful trade from acquaintances.

The sidewalk blockers are therefore a bunch of intellectual cattle, who rely on figureheads to speak coherently for the incoherent masses that have no destiny but that which is selected for them — because they lack the level-headedness and intelligence to exploit politically feasible avenues for legal change, rather than waste their (empirically worthless) time protesting and demonstrating to absolutely no politician’s concern.

Calling and writing Congress, state government, and your common council does not take any more money than inviting your friends to a protest! You may as well host a legislative action party instead of fooling around with confrontations-gone-wrong.

As for a demonstrators’ economic prospects? Unless you’re already a member of a professional union, marching is a lower-class behavior that designates you as unhireable for white-collar positions. Even if you aspire to be a grassroots organizer, you have plenty of cutthroat competition from your fellow ideologues — and they’re probably not letting you into the organization that hires them, due to defensive self-interest.

Don’t enroll at a university by any stretch — unless for a particular managerial or technical certificate your supervisor says you “need” before s/he can promote you — but explore some low-cost training such as teaching yourself graphical design and writing for the sake of clarifying and informing.

Why do people protest instead of make themselves useful? Emotional contagion from collective learned helplessness.

This is what happens when people protest unwinnable issues: They invest emotionally into a course of action (protesting) without first verifying the potential efficacy of that plan of action (no one will decide things differently after the protest).

Their learned helplessness is from a consistently poor living situation, no matter how many job applications sent forth (no one’s interested) or wages saved (rent increases eat up emergency savings).

Emotional contagion from “Generation Frustration” and similar demographics spreads within their social circles, such that cathartically making a boisterous scene is more appealing — provides “greater economic utility,” as the Ivory Tower academics would put it — than writing an articulate letter or speaking calmly with a legislative aide.

And yes, this means a few bad apples or agent provocateurs in a group can cause mass rioting — the effects of emotional contagion are that predictable!

The textbook example for ineffectual collective action is every demonstration ever for a pending court decision: Courts do NOT listen to public sentiment when handing down verdicts! They rely upon legal precedent and the facts of the case — nothing else!

Ergo, attempts to influence courts and grand juries are inconsequential for them as court officials and perhaps injurious to you as an individual. Either you file an amicus curie brief like the legislators and state attorneys general do, or you effectively say nothing at all!

Trying to reach court personnel via the media is pointless because — even if you’re allowed on camera or are quoted in articles — your messages will NOT be heard by the judiciary: Judges and jury members are not allowed to consume news about their ongoing cases!

That’s a really simple principle, but the Ferguson demonstrators didn’t care. It literally took a police crackdown to persuade protesters they would have nothing to gain by continuing their demonstration, except to look like dummies.

They subsequently feel not only helpless but also forcibly oppressed — acknowledged for the WRONG reasons! — whereas writing letters and speaking with official staffers would have only resulted in helplessness at worst, without anyone to intervene in their non-violent communications or to entice them into illegal activity.

You have a better chance of acknowledgement for your political opinion, rather than for alleged criminal activity, when you lobby because the interactions are within an institutionally welcomed communications channel. This is true whether you call, write, or visit the offices of legislators.

Public Protests Self-Defeating, Not Protected When Speech Turns Violent

Donate to Educational Reformer Joseph Ohler, Jr.!

Sore losers they are, the crybaby protesters are leeching onto a class action suit filed by some wanne-be-doer-of-good lawyer.

Even if the suit fails, Tommy Harvey gets public recognition for lacking the critical thinking skills to see why his side will lose. But knowing his target audience of ineffectual people, Harvey Esq. will receive some pats on the back — and perhaps a few new clients — for wasting his time on such a frivolous suit.

Criminals have fewer rights than law-abiding citizens.

Nonetheless, here’s why the demonstrators’ lawsuit against “unconstitutional restriction of free speech and assembly” will, in fact, be dismissed. A protester loses his or her constitutional rights of assembly and free speech when s/he commits a crime.

The definitive distinction of protected versus unprotected speech may be found in your state’s disorderly conduct statute. News media have little to say about the comparatively milquetoast protests in Milwaukee or Madison because Wisconsin statutes are considerably — but not overly — broad in construction, thereby giving law enforcement ample leeway to detain for any remotely suspicious or mildly disturbing conduct.

Consider this excerpt from the State of Wisconsin statutes on crimes against the public peace:

947.01: Disorderly conduct.

947.01(1)(1): Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor…

Application of the disorderly conduct statute to speech alone is permissible under appropriate circumstances. When speech is not an essential part of any exposition of ideas, when it is utterly devoid of social value, and when it can cause or provoke a disturbance, the disorderly conduct statute can be applicable. State v. A.S. 2001 WI 48, 243 Wis. 2d 173, 626 N.W.2d 712, 99-2317…

Defiance of a police officer’s order to move is itself disorderly conduct if the order is lawful. Braun v. Baldwin, 346 F.3d 761 (2003).

And when you defy such a directive, you give police power to lawfully Taser, tear gas, or pepper spray you for continued non-compliance. Get it?

Your responsibility to be lawful outweighs your right to free speech.

It is quite telling of a group’s mentality when their members seek confrontation but then complain when they are punished for creating trouble. Say it with me, “Confrontation kings and drama queens!”

The businesses and police cars torched by demonstrators constitute at least 15 counts of arson. The boisterous pushing and shouting exhibited by post-verdict protesters constitute many counts of disorderly conduct.

Tear gas was the minimum force necessary to subdue such a wild crowd. The next escalation of force would have been Tasering, which has been used without indictment on those who merely spoke out of turn at public meetings. (I could use the generic term “electrically conductive weapon,” but Taser is briefer.)

Remember the, “Don’t Tase me, bro” guy? Andrew Meyer was never recompensed for being incapacitated, and neither would any Tasered demonstrators. The police involved in Meyer’s Tasering were cleared of wrongdoing by review of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Also recall the UC-Davis student protesters who were pepper sprayed for refusing to depart from their kneeling (loitering) position. Again, police were found to have lawfully used force in their actions against those non-violent protesters. Force is even more justifiable, condign, and appropriate when the demonstrators ascend from mere disorderly conduct and become violent.

It is conceivable that even a nonverbal cue, such as extending one’s middle finger, would incite imminent lawless action and therefore be illegal. And when one member of an organized crowd acts illegally, the others must make room for police to arrest the criminal, or else they also become criminals by obstructing justice or otherwise disobeying police orders.

Do you understand how this domino effect can easily, but constitutionally, result in mass criminalization of otherwise lawful demonstrators? Understand this before you volunteer for a protest!

Benefits of protesting are nonexistent.

People marching to and fro; chanting pedestrian sentiments; and waving handle-less signs (made so as to avoid potential of the supporting bracket as a club): What do they accomplish?

Zilch — nada — nothing at all!

Did all those people getting firehosed during the Civil Rights era make a difference? Only the ones who filed court cases against the government! The rest of the activists were just cannon fodder, so to speak.

“Yeah, but what about the people who participated in boycotts?”

Boycotts can work against private organizations, but it is difficult to boycott a government: You still pay sales tax, income tax, and property tax — the latter of which is borne by renters via higher rent prices. So rather than boycott government, take advantage of the official policy levers that it provides to all, courtesy of tax-funded staffers, offices, and phone lines. And — need it be said? — vote!

“But, what about emotional release — catharsis? A person can only vote once every term; otherwise, they’re powerless!”

Yes, that opportunity comes along once every term; and most candidates for a given spot agree on all but a few issues. Elected officials end up enacting centrist legislation anyway due to the organizational dynamics of the legislative chambers, regulatory bodies, and councils.

Assiduous students of this phenomenon know this effect is modeled by the Pareto principle — but for practical purposes, all you need to remember about political compromise is that some politicians are more influential than others.

And when their fringe unpopular candidates aren’t elected, politically frustrated people might therefore describe themselves as “disenfranchised” despite wielding the full right to vote.

Nonetheless, vent your emotions through other means: blog posts; correspondence with elected officials; phone calls to radio shows; online petitions; etc.

Making a scene in the street just makes you look unemployable and too incompetent to utilize established avenues for reaching decision makers!

Here’s a big hint for you emo boys and girls, of all ages and hardships, who rant in the thoroughfare: Legislative staffers do not record your demonstration chants; your protest signs; or how many participants you have.

They record only communication about policy that is delivered to them via official channels, such as the legislative hotline and the constituent affairs mailbox, and politicians care only about what in official correspondence sent by constituents, not about the apparent message of the protest that makes the nightly news.

Every congressional bill, executive order, regulatory rule, and judicial decision ever to come about arose due to lobbying through official means and by either getting oneself involved with a legislative exchange council or writing one’s own legislation.

Demonstrations are self-destructive by nature.

“A protest ain’t confrontation!”

Yes, protest is confrontational — by its very nature. An intrusive expression of discontent, such as walking up to a stranger and mouthing off, amounts to disorderly conduct if in a public place and an additional trespassing charge if in a fully private or semi-private area, such as to accost someone during their work hours.

On a larger scale: a protest in the streets, neighborhood, or physical business district invites numerous counts of disorderly conduct by disrupting commerce and disturbing the peace. And if you rest from all that pacing, then you are technically loitering.

As demonstrated above, demonstrators walk a fine line between peaceful assembly and criminal activity. The manner and demeanor of congregation, relative to state and local laws governing orderly assembly and public conduct, determine the legal determination of lawful or unlawful status.

Given the inherently confrontational expression of a protest, the threshold between “enthusiastic” and “boisterous” is easily and inadvertently crossed — at the expense of a participant’s right to assembly and self-expression.

The demonstrator who doesn’t write Congress doth protest too much.

A protest communicates that you are adequately angry to get off your couch but too inarticulate and ignorant to explain, directly to legislative staffers and regulatory councils, what must be changed about current laws and regulations.

Even those council resolutions and gubernatorial orders calling for the National Guard, commonly misinterpreted as arising “from the people,” are but constraints upon the protesters requested by law enforcement. Sure, you might receive some “humanitarian aid” from FEMA — but also at the price of a curfew and de facto martial law via National Guard patrols.

That is exactly what those stupid protesters are doing when they seek confrontation! Protesters crave victimhood to validate their worldview. If involuntary part-time employment or unemployment is the root cause of discontent, then lobby administratively to address those issues.

3 Reasons Why Fergusonian Marches and Other Street Protests Are Pointless, Misguided Time Wasters

Donate to Educational Reformer Joseph Ohler, Jr.!

Apparently, explaining why the demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri are self-defeating is a quick way to be banned from various online forums. Such pervasive censorship of well-reasoned alternative views on a given issue contributes to the illusion of consensus.

I thankfully have this blog as an outlet for educating the general public as to why they should neither support nor emulate any protests. In no particular order, I’ve identified three reasons public demonstrations are self-defeating behaviors:

1) Statements made during public demonstrations are generally not public record and are therefore forgotten by public officials and decision makers generally. Although the mainstream media might quote a handful of statements, you give enormous control to third parties to summarize what you say.

Also, most people in a protest are never identified, which means decision makers question the relevance of the demonstration because many protesters might be from outside their jurisdiction and even communicate messages the other protesters don’t agree with, i.e. starting violence.

By contrast, a letter, phone call, or email to the offices of elected officials is read or listened to at least once and then archived. Your phone call or correspondence is acknowledged, contingent upon your recitation of your identity and voting address to evince you reside within the jurisdiction of elected decision makers.

Your statements are taken verbatim in written form — including any facts, statistics, and anecdotes you want to share — and an aide summarizes your main ideas over the phone — thereby communicating in much better quality the nuances of your message, above and beyond the vague notion, “So-and-so is angry enough about something to protest, but we don’t have any details as to what s/he wants changed in our statutes.”

2) Because demonstration involves physical presence, you run the risk of committing a crime when impassioned by the emotional contagion of fellow activists. Even if you don’t do anything illegal, your reputation with police can sour — be guilty by association — if you’re around when the protest turns into a riot “in the heat of the moment.”

Staying at home and contacting your elected officials is a far less risky alternative. You can say what you would have said during a protestation, but in a more professional tone that is less likely to angrily or boisterously scare away potentially sympathetic parties and would-be supporters.

The use of institutionalized means of communication imbues you with a sheen of respectability that the common, “shameless attention-craver” demonstrator lacks. And once you’ve written and called enough times, aides recognize you as an amateur lobbyist and not just some palooka protester!

3) Protestation too easily turns into violent, unprotected speech. Boundaries are blurred between individual behavior and group behavior, so police can forcefully disperse a crowd in which one person has created a public disturbance and officers deem the others likely to follow suit.

Who doesn’t see that coming? Surely, not all the protesters were born yesterday! Maybe they don’t care about being labeled as trouble makers or receiving citations for disorderly conduct.
So long as they don’t lose the handful of part-time jobs amongst them, why care about anything other than venting? Ah, the life of a disillusioned palooka!

Myths and Facts About Unemployment Compensation for Student Workers

Donate to Educational Reformer Joseph Ohler, Jr.!

Opponents of allowing university student workers to earn unemployment compensation / insurance (UI) often get their facts wrong or don’t bother with facts at all, preferring to summarily dismiss the notion without serious consideration.

However, a sober examination of the merits and setbacks of enabling student workers as a UI-eligible class will show, time and again, the benefits outweigh the costs.

To educate decision makers and the general public, this informational article aims to dispel the many misconceptions surrounding the debate over whether to offer student workers the right to earn unemployment compensation or whether the historical ban should be continued.

MYTH: Full-time students are unavailable to pursue full-time work.

FACT: Full-time students are capable of either dropping classes within the first 6 weeks of each semester; withdrawing from classes after the 6-week mark; or skipping classes — even re-scheduling final exams — to accept an offer of full-time employment.

They are not obligated to turn down a full-time job just to stay in good standing with a school, especially one which probably won’t make any difference in their employ-ability.

MYTH: Student workers understand their jobs are limited-term employment (LTE) anyway, so they know well in advance they’ll need to find a follow-up job sooner than later.

FACT: Most public universities do not classify student employment as LTE! These are, in fact, ongoing positions. This may be confirmed by speaking with any UW business unit manager who supervises student workers.

The only term-of-employment difference between non-student LTE and student-only job is that the student might or might not be re-appointed, just the same as a “permanent” or non-temp job might be made redundant.

The latter workers receive unemployment benefits; so should student workers. This contrasts with the limited-term employee, who knows 100 percent that s/he will not be re-appointed, irrespective of one’s ability to re-enroll for classes or take other actions that extend the employment period.

MYTH: The 30-hours-weekly cap on student employment means they’re unable to work full-time.

FACT: Student workers can always take on a second part-time job — collectively bringing their weekly hours worked to 40 or more — or quit their student job and skip classes to work full-time if offered an off-campus job while still in school.

Either scenario indicates the student worker IS available for full-time employment; alleged “unavailability” for such work is simply NOT true.

MYTH: Student workers don’t care about earning unemployment compensation. After all, they never contacted me about the issue!

FACT: Student employees are increasingly informed of how they’re denied the right to earn unemployment compensation as part of their labor.

Historical ignorance is being replaced by awareness of one’s self-interest as a student-worker — and that interest includes earning UI, to pad against the sting of unemployment following graduation.

MYTH: Student workers are inferior workers who don’t deserve UI. They’re inefficient!

FACT: Inefficient student employees are disciplined and discharged / terminated / fired. Every student worker who performs well enough to maintain university-sponsored employment, until their non-reappointment on graduation day, is separated from his or her job by no fault of his or her own.

And if you claim student workers are held to different standards and therefore should not have UI, then remember apprentice and journeyman workers are just as eligible for unemployment compensation as master craftsmen, skilled workers, and office staff.

In other words: Allegedly inferior work output does not disqualify any non-discharged / non-terminated / non-fired / non-quitting worker from receiving UI.

Neither should it be grounds for banning eligibility for UI, as the supporters of the short-sighted prohibition from so many years ago (before the 1970s, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau) apparently failed to understand.

MYTH: The university system cannot afford the financial cost of permitting student employees to earn unemployment insurance.

FACT: The statewide unemployment compensation fund pays unemployment insurance. Those who are permitted to earn UI are covered by that expenditure fund.

Student workers will also be covered after the long-overdue repeal on the ban against student-worker UI.

The university would pay into the statewide unemployment benefits pool from the operating balance of those business units that utilize waged student labor.

Budgeting for Student-Worker Unemployment Compensation

Because UI payments are calculated on the base period compensation earned — in the case of the student worker, entirely wages because no pension, 401K, healthcare, or sick pay is conferred upon the student worker — up to $500 more per student worker per semester would be paid for those earning more than $10 hourly at the UW System cap of 30 student-work hours weekly.

The budgetary fund balance (BFB) shows how much cost the business unit can absorb without going into the red, and subtraction of (over-)estimated student-worker UI costs from the BFB shows the financial health of a business unit following the roll-out of unemployment compensation for student employees.

The following table lists maximum UI paid per semester and biennium, with the biennial UI cost also reflected as a percentage campus-wide biennial budget and relative to the auxiliary operating (BFB) of the campus budget.

The latter comparison to operating BFBs for auxiliary operations is important because Aux. Ops. is where most student-worker compensation occurs.

Selected campuses were chosen for demonstration purposes due to the relative increments between budgetary sizes, thereby facilitating subsequently scaled-up comparisons of student-worker UI cost vis-a-vis total campus budget and actual auxiliary services BFB.

Those who wish to view FY2014-2015 auxiliary operating BFBs for every campus may consult the budgetary screen capture following the table and related calculations.

Student-Employee Unemployment Compensation,
as Portions of Campus Operating Budgets
Student
Workers
Semester Cost Annual Cost Portion of
Total Budget
Portion of
Aux Ops Budget
100 <$50,000 <$100,000 00.08%
(UW-River Falls)
01.12%
(UW-River Falls)
300 <$150,000 <$300,000 00.16%
(UW-Stout)
07.13%
(UW-Stout)
600 <$300,000 <$600,000 00.32%
(UW-Eau Claire)
04.98%
(UW-Eau Claire)
1,000 <$500,000 <$1,000,000 00.42%
(UW-Oshkosh)
06.95%
(UW-Oshkosh)
2,500 <$1,250,000 <$2,500,000 00.4%
(UW-Milwaukee)
36.78%
(UW-Milwaukee)
5,000 <$2,500,000 <$5,000,000 00.18%
(UW-Madison)
05.65%
(UW-Madison)

Even the largest feasible scale in the University of Wisconsin System — 5,000 student-workers, who cost the member campus a maximum of $5 million in UI contributions over 1 year — makes but a fifth-of-a-percent increase to the FY2014-2015 UW-Madison budget.

NOTE: To estimate the UI cost for the UW Colleges, the number of student workers must be tallied at each of the 13 two-year institutions. Until that information is disclosed, the sum of rounding errors among estimates of the student employees at each campus would make a preliminary guess at the UW Colleges’ total and Aux Ops percentages unreliable.

Budget Percentage Calculations


General Formula, % of Total: (Student-Worker UI Expense / Base Budget) * 100 = % Cost Increase from UI


General Formula, % of Aux Ops: (Student-Worker UI Expense / Aux Ops Budget) * 100 = % Cost Increase from UI


% of UW-River Falls Total: ($100,000 / $118,515,317) * 100
= 0.0008 * 100 = 00.08%


% of UW-River Falls Aux Ops: ($100,000 / $8,102,000) * 100
= 0.0123 * 100 = 01.12%


% of UW-Stout Total: ($300,000 / $184,327,866) * 100
= 0.0016 * 100 = 00.16%


% of UW-Stout Aux Ops: ($300,000 / $4,207,000) * 100
= 0.0713 * 100 = 07.13%


% of UW-Eau Claire Total: ($600,000 / $189,843,214) * 100
= 0.0032 * 100 = 00.32%


% of UW-Eau Claire Aux Ops: ($600,000 / $12,051,148) * 100
= 04.98 * 100 = 04.98%


% of UW-Oshkosh Total: ($1,000,000 / $235,709,381) * 100
= 0.0042 * 100 = 00.42%


% of UW-Oshkosh Total: ($1,000,000 / $14,390,964) * 100
= 06.95 * 100 = 06.95%


% of UW-Milwaukee Total: ($2,500,000 / $624,493,029) * 100
= 0.004 * 100 = 00.4%


% of UW-Milwaukee Aux Ops: ($2,500,000 / $6,796,951) * 100
= 0.3678 * 100 = 36.78%


% of UW-Madison Total: ($5,000,000 / $2,720,485,168) * 100
= 0.0018 * 100 = 00.18%


% of UW-Madison Aux Ops: ($5,000,000 / $88,342,399) * 100
= 0.0565 * 100 = 05.65%


Campus budget totals (on page 14) and Aux Ops BFBs (on page 16) were taken directly from the 52-page operating budget for the entire UW System.

This master budget summarizes many student-cost drivers within one document. It conveniently includes: tuition rates (schedules); university-owned housing costs (room rates, meal plans); semesterly textbook rental cost (at those campuses offering it); and miscellaneous fees (segregated / SUFAC fees, differential tuition) by campus.

Myriad cost comparisons are possible. For example, UW-Madison charges $700 less than UW-Milwaukee per semester for its dormitory meal plan because it receives 70 percent more revenue from gifts, grants, and contracts than UWM does.

Continuing on: Line-item budgets for business units at each campus are available via UW Red Book summaries.

Updates to the budget may be posted between fiscal years, but usually only if legislators decide to tweak the budget after the fact — such as to reflect an infusion of unemployment compensation payable to the state UI fund for every non-terminated student-worker.

Summary of Affordability & Feasibility

As shown from this composite graph derived from page 16 of the FY2014-2015 budget — an enlarged left column showing campus names and an enlarged right column showing auxiliary budgetary fund balance — every campus can accommodate UI fund contributions for up to half its respective enrollment’s equivalent in student workers.

This is well within the realm of feasibility because the actual number of student employees per campus is between 1 student job per 6 students at smaller campuses and 1 student job per 10 students at larger campuses.

Budgetary Fund Balances for the UW System, Fiscal year 2014-2015

May the critics present evidence contrary to my statements, as my claims regarding student-worker UI are well supported by the documentation displayed above and in my ground-breaking benefit-cost analysis of UI for student employees.

Now that you’ve been shown unemployment compensation for student employees would not only yield tangible economic benefits but also be affordable for UW campuses, here is my model legislation that will, in some way or form, be the basis of enabling legislation relating to UI for student workers.