Associated Press photos
Little Egypt? Thousands of Wisconsinites protest, inside and outside the state’s Capitol in Madison, the plutocratic assault on labor-union members by their state’s plutocratic Repugnican politicians. The state’s Repugnican governor stupidly has threatened to call on the National Guard to stop the protests — just like a despot in the Middle East would do.
Come and get me with your pitchforks and torches, because I am — gasp! — a government employee. And a member of a labor union!
Indeed, we labor-union members are the Jews du jour.
Yup. Just as the Nazi Party blamed Germany’s economic woes on the Jews (and on other relatively powerless minorities), the Repugnican Party today blames the nation’s economic woes on unionized public/government employees.
In 2004, according to the Repugnican Party and its wingnutty allies, it was gay men and lesbians wanting equal marriage rights who were the largest threat to the nation. Then, it became the “illegals.” (With, of course, the “Islamofascists” being an omnipresent threat since the unelected Bush regime failed to prevent the events of Sept. 11, 2001.)
Now, it’s public/government workers, whose ranks include not just the stereotypical governmental bureaucrats but also teachers, nurses, cops, firefighters, doctors, custodians, construction workers, trash collectors, dog catchers, et. al., et. al., who are the cause of the nation’s problems.
Why public/government workers?
Well, they’re (we’re) unionized. Because they’re/we’re unionized, they/we tend to do better — have better working conditions, better pay and better benefits — than do those workers who aren’t in unions.
But is the solution to kill (what’s left of) the unions? No. The solution is to get every American worker in a union so that working conditions and economic conditions can improve for everyone.
The resources are there for everyone. It’s not a problem of a lack of resources. It’s a problem of the grotesquely inequitable distribution of resources. Labor unions help to level the playing field, which is why the pro-plutocratic Repugnican Tea Party fights against labor unions tooth and nail.
The assault on public/government employees works to some degree for the Repugnican Tea Party because:
- There are many, many dipshits in the lower and working classes who gladly follow the corporately funded and corporately led assault on labor unions, who buy the right-wing propaganda that labor unions are the enemy — when instead they should be pushing for (more) union protection for themselves. (Although misery loves company, the solution to miserable conditions isn’t to help the plutocratic power elite to create even more misery for others, but to try to lessen your own misery. Duh.)
- There are many, many dipshits in the lower and working classes who buy the plutocrats’ argument that privatization is the best thing (and that government is evil), even though privatized workers are the most miserable workers and government/public workers generally are happier than are their privatized counterparts. (The plutocrats of the Repugnican Party push privatization only because they want to squeeze profits out of everything, but they hide their agenda of profiteering by proclaiming that the private sector can do things better when reality demonstrates that whenever ever-increasing profits is the No. 1 goal, the operation, whatever it is, only gets worse — except for the plutocratic thieves and thugs at the top.)
- There are many who don’t know any unionized public/government workers, who have no real idea of what it’s like to be a public/government worker, and who thus buy the right-wing noise machine’s myths about public/government workers, such as that all of them (us…) are lazy and enjoy benefits fit for royalty.
I, for one, can tell you that my decade as a unionized public/government worker here in California has not been what I would call glamorous. Last year, under Repugnican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who came to power only because of an unethical, right-wing-orchestrated do-over election in 2003, I took a 15-percent pay cut due to furlough days (forced days off without pay).
Now, I have what amounts to a 5-percent pay cut due to furlough days — and I’m very happy that California now is led again by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who got the state’s workers unionized in the first place.
I had to pass state job examinations to get where I am (many if not most of California’s state-worker-haters couldn’t pass such an exam…), and for my education and my skills I am quite underpaid. But I cherish the fact that I cannot be fired unfairly, that I have actual rights as a worker, and I have benefits that no money-grubbing, employee-hating corporation would provide. (However, my benefits have been eroding, not increasing, due to the state’s budget crisis.)
I am a public/government worker mainly for the reason that I do not want to be treated like chattel, like a wage slave, by some fucking corporation. I would rather serve the public than make some fat-cat plutocrats even fatter with the fruits of my labor.
And before you whine that you pay my salary, well, I fucking pay state income tax, too, so I pay my salary as well!
If you are employed by a corporation and you find yourself miserable (and you probably do), the answer to your corporately caused misery is to join a union or fight to form a union and to combat abusive corporations, not to combat those of us who are unionized.
The way out of the nation’s mess is not to further weaken our labor unions, but to strengthen them. The super-rich among us need to be de-fanged, not empowered even further.
Just as I admire the people of Egypt for having steadfastly stood up to U.S.-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak for more than two weeks until he finally fled Egypt, I admire the people of Wisconsin for standing up to Repugnican Gov. Scott Walker, who is leading the right-wing charge to strip the state’s labor-union members of their collective bargaining rights that they achieved in 1959.
The Associated Press today reports that
The nation’s most aggressive anti-union proposal has been speeding through the [Wisconsin] Legislature since Republican Gov. Scott Walker introduced it a week ago. After clearing a major legislative hurdle [last] night, it was headed to votes in the Senate and Assembly.
Hundreds of protesters massed outside the Senate chamber on the second floor of the Capitol early [today], hours before the planned vote. Republican leaders said it has the votes to pass in both the Senate and Assembly.
The bill marks a dramatic shift for Wisconsin, which passed a comprehensive collective bargaining law in 1959 and was the birthplace of the national union representing all non-federal public employees
Thousands of protesters, including children and teachers from more than two dozen schools forced to close due to high [coordinated] absences [in protest], were expected in and outside the Capitol for a third day of protests. Schools in Madison, the state’s second largest district with 2,600-union covered employees, closed for a second day.
Hundreds of people, many of them students from the nearby University of Wisconsin campus, slept in the rotunda for a second night leading up to the vote.
They chanted “Kill the bill!” and “Recall Walker!” early [today]. But there appeared to be little doubt the bill would pass.
The AP also notes:
While other states have proposed bills curtailing labor rights, Wisconsin’s measure is the most aggressive anti-union move yet to solve state budget problems. It would end collective bargaining for state, county and local workers, except for police, firefighters and the state patrol. [Emphasis mine.]
Wisconsin has long been a bastion for workers’ rights. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was founded in 1936 in Madison.
Gov. Scott Walker has threatened to call out the National Guard on the protesters. Note that plutocrats like Walker recognize that they need thugs to protect them from the angry masses (and firefighters to protect their private property from the angry masses) — thus, as the AP reports, the collective-bargaining rights of state and local police officers and firefighters in Wisconsin very conveniently are not threatened.
Walker is a fucking fool who just might find himself Mubaraked.
Speaking of which, Ted Rall is right, of course, that any revolution in Egypt has only just begun. Thus far, the people of Egypt don’t have a government by, of and for the people. But they’ve taken the first step by ousting their despot.
The plutocratic powers that be here at home aren’t used to massive uprisings of the American people. Among many other things, they got away with stealing two presidential elections in a row last decade and they launched a bogus war on Iraq — and they tell us now, after they’ve spent hundreds of billions of our tax dollars on their bogus war profiteering, that we don’t have the resources to take care of our own working class and our poor.
These traitors, who because of their disproportionate amount of wealth and power are far removed from the average American’s daily experience, obviously take Americans’ continued passivity for granted. I guarantee you that they are not prepared for massive uprisings here at home.
Who’s going to protect them? The same overworked, underpaid cops and soldiers whom they also shit and piss upon? Will these cops and soldiers accept the plutocrats’ bribes, such as exempting them from labor-union-killing legislation?
How are these underpaid and overworked (and bribed…) cops and soldiers going to feel about being ordered by their plutocratic masters to turn upon their fellow Americans who are only fighting for better working and living conditions?
It might not be too long before our treasonous plutocratic elite find out.
P.S. I love this news photo that I came across. It was taken last month during Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s inauguration. In the poignant photo, a protester with a paper sack on his head makes his point, while a lone state cop apparently guards the Capitol from this “threat.”
Associated Press photo
It doesn’t look all that much different from the images that we’ve been seeing out of the Middle East as of late, does it — the working-class thug protecting the status quo?
Again, I have to wonder how far our cops and soldiers will go to prop up their plutocratic masters.
Those cops and soldiers who ever do turn against the people who are fighting for their rights are despot-enabling traitors and need to be treated as such. They need to serve the will of the people — not the will of the overprivileged, treasonous few.
P.P.S. Rachel Maddow, one of the only actual journalists we have left, yesterday reported brilliantly on the right-wing phenomenon of assaulting public/government workers, of making them scapegoats for the nation’s ills. (This phenomenon, by the way, is not new but has been going on for a while now. Billionaire bitch Repugnican Nutmeg Whitman made blaming California’s state workers for the state’s problems a centerpiece of her failed bid for the governorship for which she spent more of her personal wealth [well, the wealth that she stole from her employees and from consumers, not really her wealth] than any other candidate in U.S. history.)