Wisconsin businessman: Havoc isn't 'what this process is about'
Dan Mulder of Madison says the political bickering is out of hand. "He who creates the most mayhem prevails in the day.”
February 19th, 2011
05:24 PM ET

Wisconsin businessman: Havoc isn't 'what this process is about'

Dan Mulder is staying away from the marching and chanting around the Capitol steps in Madison and staying put in his office and warehouse. But it’s not because he doesn’t have an opinion. Far from it.

Mulder is the general manager and chief executive officer of a local business employing 25 people. He’s seen costs skyrocket and health care insurance premiums continue to rise.

He describes himself as an independent — he did not vote for the recently inaugurated Gov. Scott Walker. These days, however, he says Walker’s plan on fixing the budget deficit, which includes removing public sector employees’ collective bargaining rights, is right on the mark.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2011/02/20/wisconsin.biz.avoids.chaos.cnn"%5D

“I just think [Walker] deserves an Oscar for standing up,” Mulder said. “He’s got the resilience and the constitution to stand up and take on this issue.

“He fully realizes and understands that you can’t pay with what you don’t have, so he’s trying to live within his means. And that’s something that is completely foreign as a concept to most government sectors because if they need more money, they just raise taxes. The people who are paying those taxes are saying, ‘We can’t pay any more’.”

Mulder is a proponent of a civil and rational dialogue and exchange of ideas. He says the protests and chaos happening at the Capitol is not the way to go about getting things done.

“He who is loudest, he who is most vocal, he who creates the most mayhem prevails in the day,” Mulder said, shaking his head. “That should never be what this process is about."

“It’s really tragic because this is somewhat akin to the Civil War. Not that we’re at that level and hopefully we won’t be. But you’ve got brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor—that’s how driven this argument is.”

As far as the Democratic legislators fleeing the state to prevent a vote on the controversial bill, Mulder says they were elected to do a job - and not just when they feel like it.

“The last time I woke up, we were in a democratic society,” Mulder said, adding that the November elections — which put both a Republican governor and Republican legislature in place—were a clear mandate that it’s their turn to try some solutions.

“That Republican administration has been put in place by public mandate. And now that they’re exercising that mandate there's a minority of the population that doesn’t want to conform to that. Then it’s not a democracy anymore.”

He concluded by saying if people aren’t careful, the situation could eventually turn into anarchy.

“It’s tragic.”

soundoff (233 Responses)
  1. JD

    This isn't a pretty picture. The republicans are dead bent on crushing unions here, and if they do what they set out to do, there will no longer be a decent paying job in this country. The unfortunate thing about this is, it still won't create any more jobs, because business owners have learned to run their business with less help and are getting the same amount of production under the threat of, "If you don't want your job, someone else does." And it's so true. The one thing none of these people are thinking about is the public won't lay back jobless for too awful long before their jobs become taking what they can get, for whoever has what they want. We have been watching what has been happening overseas in Egypt and Libya, and we think it can't happen here. I have news for you, you are wrong. If you think you can just jail one clown "Bernie Maddoff" for killing the economy and looting the money from union pensions, then just allowing Wall Street to be rebuilt by taxpayer money without repurcussions, you are a lost soul. Now the republicans are pitting worker against worker figuring they will win in the end, when in the end, we all lose..... but the mortality rate may not. This is gaining too much momentum way too fast, and that allows for lack of thought. It's time to think a bit, Mr. Walker..... or the history painted about you may embarrass your family.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeadGuy

      JD - You need to get out more!! I have a 4 year bachelor's degree; I'm not in management; I don't now and never have belonged to a union. I make $135K/yr. Please don't make me laugh with your 'Wages will go away without Unions." Biggest joke I've ever heard!!

      February 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin

    I love how they view the November elections as a mandate of the American people. It reminds of me of GWB declaring that he had earned political capital which he intended to spend after winning the 04' election. How did that work out for the Republican party? They are sadly mistaken if they think the midterms represented a mandate. It's going to be ugly for a while, but I feel confident that this will be the final nail in the coffin of their backwards way of thinking.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • RichardS

      Kevin, I have to laugh.... " the final nail in the coffin " should have been when GW Bush and his gang of republicans were thrown out, but apparently not. The problem is that the American voter has absolutely no memory....... or simply doesn't have a clue. Who was it that got this country into the financial mess it is in? Who put us in hock for two wars? Bush and the Republican congress...... Does anyone remember? Of course not... they voted in another republican house! How stupid is that? Whether the Republicans call it a "mandate" or not...doesn' t really matter.... they now have the power in the House and a lot of Governor Mansions .... and who's going to get hurt? Big Business? Nope! The wealthy CEOs on Wall Street? Nope! The ones that will get hurt are the middle class.... the very people that put Republicans in office. The middle-class voters that stayed home this last election are as much to blame as the misguided middle-class voters that bought into the tea bagger (billionaire sponsored) BS. Now it's time to pay the price.

      February 19, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @ RichardS- Sorry but true, American people have Alzhiemers.

      February 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JohnR

    The Dems are taking the heat right now because they are the ones using this run and hide ploy right now, The Repubs took heat for it when THEY did it. Both parties try to cram as much of their agenda through as possible when they are in power and do what they can to obstruct the other side when they aren't. The run and hide tactic gets a lot of coverage regardless of who is doing it because even by fiercely partisan standards, it's rather over the top. But denying those who wish to pass something a needed quorum when all else has failed is a parliamentary tactic that has been from time used all over the place in deliberative bodies large and small for about as long as rules requiring a quorum have been in place. Once again, BOTH major parties are being hypocritical, which is an almost inevitable consequence of severe partisanship of the sort both major parties have been displaying of late.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brian

    “That Republican administration has been put in place by public mandate. And now that they’re exercising that mandate there's a minority of the population that doesn’t want to conform to that. Then it’s not a democracy anymore.”

    Did you ever stop to think that maybe there is something wrong with the voters in this country? After all, our worst presidents – Nixon, LBJ and Harding – were elected by landslides. Those people got elected because they knew how to pander to the weakness of human nature.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnR

      Ding! Ding! Ding! We've got a winner!

      February 19, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sydney Australia

    One of the few unbiased articles I have read on CNN. And the business owner is correct.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank Sellers

      I guess I'll have to buy an Australian dictionary to see exactly what an Aussie definition of "unbiased" is. Whoever wrote this story didn't interview a single person opposed to this guy's view. This story could only be defined as "unbiased" in Lala Land!

      February 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob gn

      I agree. Teachers get summers off ,holidays, spring break, winter break, snow days, personal days and sick days.
      And most cant even spell. Those that do do those that cant teach...

      February 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • A.A.


      Take the log out of your own eye. "Those that do do those that can't teach" ? You spell really well ("do" and now "dew", for example), but I'd prefer an orthographical error to a completely incomprehensible sentence.

      Learn what the obligations of a teacher are before you allow yourself to agree or disagree. Learn how to write before you criticize people who have trouble spelling. Learn not to make sweeping generalizations if they're not founded in fact (they rarely are).

      Reading your comment, though, I can see why you have such a bad opinion of teachers, and why you think they have such an easy job. Clearly your teachers did very little for you.

      February 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • A.A.




      February 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John T

    If I am not mistaken when the Governor of Wisconsin entered office did the state not show a "SURPLUS?" When he decided to give large tax breaks to business then the surplus went away. Now it seems to me that this issue ins't really about money it is about stopping people's rights to seek a better life. Be careful Republicans, I have been a lifelong Republican but I grow wary of taking a person who has educated my son and daughter and did a great job of it and taking from them what they have earned.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob gn

      Do you own a biz? I do and the over head kills. Raise my taxes and I will have to lay people off or fire them. Keep drinking the koolaid.

      February 19, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      @ Bob

      Cool – you don't want to pay taxes.

      1) Stay off the roads.
      2) No hiring anyone with a 1st grade education or above.
      3) No drinking the clean water – or using the sewers

      Get the point? (Unlikely but I tried.)

      February 19, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. lmc

    The problem is that it's NOT about state workers paying more for their health coverge and more into their pension. Most unions have already agreed to do that!!! The governor wants to get rid of collective bargaining and break the unions–that is the issue that is making people angry. State workers aren't stupid, they know they need to help out. Teachers don't want to lose the rights to bargain about issues other than pay, health care, and pensions. I imagine other state workers want the same. This is about getting rid of unions, not about the money!

    February 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnR

      And that's precisely the point that has to be hammered home. The protesters, the unions and their democratic supporters HAVE to make it REAL clear that they are on board with making financial sacrifices of the sort that everyone still holding a job has to make, but that THAT issue is VERY different from being asked to give up rights to collective bargaining. It's a job and a half to get the media to focus on the substance of the dispute rather than just the tactics one side is using or the endless babble re who is gaining or losing this nanosecond politically. So once they DO, it's CRITICAL to make it clear to everyone what the protests are and ARE NOT about.

      February 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Roark Calling

    @TIRED – I can see why you hold so much disdain for the teachers: it's because you did not learn anything from the ones you had. Not a single 'fact' you stated is correct. Who made up those numbers – you or the TEA party?

    February 19, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frank Sellers

    Why doesn't CNN interview some of Mr. Mulder's employees and see what THEY think about workers being denied the right to fight for fair wages, at least adequate benefits and a better way of life. Of course business owners applaud the governor – eliminating workers' rights put more money in THEIR pockets! DUH!

    February 19, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • GT66

      Exactly! This guy thinks he's the only one who should get a say.

      February 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GT66

    Havoc and chaos are EXACTLY what democracy is about. Trucking in shills to counter protest not so much.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnR

      Trucking is shills is part of the havoc both labor and management have employed for decades.

      February 19, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Walter Ruether

    If men were angels, we wouldn't need unions. Unfortunately, men are not angels and corporate abuse occurs just like union corruption occurs. Unions provide a needed check and balance against corporate abuses. Collective bargaining provides the means for workers to address their concerns without resorting to civil lawsuits in a circuit court. The laborers of this nation deserve fair treatment. Unions made the middle class in our nation.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Forrest

    CNN good article. I might start watching you again

    Commenters- Work on the logic please. I appreciate hearing opposing views, but not the illogical noise.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Patty

    And why aren't these elected lawmakers, whose salaries are also provided by taxpayer dollars, offering to pay more towards their healthcare, and cut their salaries too? Lead by example, that's what educators do on a daily basis when we teach your children.

    Fair Question.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. secretsquirrel

    It's amusing when people read something they disagree with then start the name calling. A shining example of stellar intellect and substantiated debate. Focus on the issue folks. That's what Mr. Mulder did. I thought the article was fair and balanced and that Mulder neither suggested nor implied any sort of disrespect. He submitted that living beyond our means is unsustainable, that the governor (right or wrong) had guts for standing up and sticking with his campaign promises and that elected officials abandoning their posts are undermining a democracy. So... you insult him? Class act.
    I don't support collective bargaining units in government, particularly after witnessing the embarrassment of teachers on strike outside my classroom in the early 70's. The focus turned from standards of education to standards of living in one quick year.
    I have heard teachers complain about the cost of their education. In essence, they are complaining about the very thing the rest of us are seeing. The costs go up for a reason, it's NOT the cost of lunch meat in the cafeteria. No one is suggesting that it's easy to teach or that it doesn't require a great deal of commitment AND support. Yet, the benefits, salaries and security have steadily increased regardless of the economic climate to the point that there is nothing left to give.
    In any event, walking away will not solve the matter nor will playing hooky from your job. Leadership is lacking all the way around this issue and an entire nation is watching Madison. Here's an opportunity to set an example for the country because, eventually, ALL schools and levels of government will be dealing with precisely the same choices.
    Do something that will make Wisconsin proud.

    February 19, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Madtown guy

      Thank you for that.

      February 19, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |

    it wont matter for this country is a sinking ship it will never ever be a great country again thank your filthy evil politicians they are the real problem in america , american soon to be known and mexico north i hope you all like tacos and re fried beans think i am wrong get the real numbers on the increase in crime since they INVADED this country

    February 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
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