Friday, March 18, 2011

Right to Shirk

Diane Ravitch writes an impassioned condemnation of Governor Scott Walker, and his cynical, disingenuous push to kill collective bargaining rights even though all his economic requests--the ones he said were crucial--were met. Of course there'd be no crisis whatsoever had Walker not granted Walmart such a huge tax break, but that's neither here nor there.

Several commenters suggest that unions are extortionists. Simply because they offer advice, representation, negotiation of contracts, benefits, higher wages, and all sorts of other services, you have to not only join, but also pay dues. How dare they? Actually you don't have to join, but unions here require you to pay a fee anyway, so there's not any advantage in not joining.

I know how these people feel. After all, I failed to vote for George W. Bush, not once, but twice. Despite this decision, every time I looked at my paycheck stub, I'd paid plenty to support his programs, many of which I viscerally opposed. There were those endless wars. There was that utter lack of support for organized labor (which I happen to support). Then there were those tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, who least needed them, while we were at war. There were the huge deficits. There were the reprehensible social priorities, the loathsome and cynical disregard for the needs of most Americans, the rampant corruption.

Yet still I had to pay taxes. And now, President Barack Obama, for whom I actually voted, seems not much different from cowboy GW. In fact, his education policies seem not much different from those Johny McCain proposed, the ones that kept me from voting for him. We're still in both wars, the health care bill is a shadow of what I'd hoped for, the Bush tax cuts are extended, and the Employee Free Choice Act, which Obama promised to support, is more dead than Elvis in the face of the GOP House.

Now President Obama spends his time talking education with Jeb Bush rather than walking it in Wisconsin.

If I had half a chance, maybe I'd withhold taxes. If there were a President I liked a bunch of other people would withhold taxes. But when you're part of a community you can't, you don't do that. Those who speak of freedom to withhold union dues do not want union to survive, just as a government couldn't survive with voluntary taxes.

Their talk of freedom is simply nonsense, another distraction. We're all about distractions in this country today. If people were paying attention, the whole country would look like Wisconsin--if not Egypt.
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