Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wisconsin--Not the End Game

Being middle class, or maintaining a middle class for our children, will be a tough battle, even if Wisconsin's corporate puppet Governor Scott Walker gets his comeuppance. (Wakening voices in our country suggest it's coming.) Still, you'll hear a lot of arguments from reasonable-looking shills like NY Times columnist David Brooks--here's how it goes--private workers need a defense against bosses who want to maximize profits. Public workers, he suggests, have no such need.

This is utter nonsense. Politicians like Walker indulge in Shock Doctrine. Walker not only took advantage of a crisis, but actually created it by initiating a tax break that caused the shortfall he claims, with a straight face, he must eliminate collective bargaining in order to close. He's also heavily financed by New York's Koch brothers, a fact even the staid New York Times editorial board arose from its slumber to note this morning.

Brooks speaks softly, wears a tie, but gives the appearance of reason by deliberately withholding vital info from his readers. He fails to acknowledge, for example, the tax breaks that created the crisis, and fails to note that the legislation not only cripples unions, but also allows Walker to sell public utilities via handy no-bid contracts. There's also implicit criticism there, more explicit elsewhere, that because folks like Walker are democratically elected, they're somehow beyond reproach. This is the same canard Bloomberg trotted out when he complained of loud protests at his thoroughly undemocratic PEP meetings. In fact, as Paul Krugman points out, moneyed interests dominate our society, caused the economic meltdown, and now manipulate politicians like Walker with ease.

One argument that I keep hearing from even people like Krugman is that we must give back something, usually meaning a reduced pension. It wouldn't be necessary to give back anything if the wealthy, partying since Ronald Reagan came to office, would pay their fair share. Yet people say, "Gee, why should public workers have a decent retirement and health benefits if I don't?" A more sensible question would be, "Gee, why the hell don't I have a decent retirement and health benefits?"

And the attack on LIFO is the same thing. The fact, as most readers of this blog know, is over our careers we've made less than our equally-educated private sector counterparts. In fact, city teachers have made far less than our suburban counterparts for most of our careers. I remember meeting a Long Island teacher with ten years fewer experience than I had who made 10K a year more than I had. Perhaps the disparity is no longer quite so outrageous. But that's not the point. What is?

The billionaires who sponsor these things are the same ones who attack LIFO. And the goal is the same--to get rid of employees who make too much money and keep a low-paid work force. Said work force will have no collective bargaining and be in constant fear of being fired for speaking out. This is clearly the agenda of the Koch brothers, and it's reflected in Fox News, the New York Post, Mayor Bloomberg, Michelle Rhee, DFER, ERN, E4E, and whatever other offshoots billionaire money creates.
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