By David Seth Michaels
Thank you to everyone who attended a demonstration on Solidarity Saturday in support of Wisconsin's public workers! It's important to turn up in physical as opposed to digital form, to link arms, to carry signs, to speak out, to be counted on this important issue.
I've been on fire about Scott Walker's plan to abrogate public workers' collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin, and the copy cat legislation introduced in other states in which the Teapublicans and probably more important, the Koch brothers or other members of the oligarchy, have control. I've written about it. I've bought pizza for the demonstrators. I've talked to colleagues and friends about it.
So pulling on the heavy boots and the thermal underwear and hitting the pavement with others in Albany, New York on Saturday was a natural, positive next step to express my view that the termination of collective bargaining for public or private workers, in Wisconsin or elsewhere, is an unwarranted regression to Teapublican Nirvana, the nineteenth century. That and every other atavism that increases oppression and exploitation, however disguised, has to be fought.
I have little doubt that what we are seeing is a dramatic exercise of the Shock Doctrine. The excuse is that the states don't have money in the treasury. You can tell this is so: asking the top 1% to discontinue their tax exemption to balance a budget is immediately called tyranny, but cutting a teacher's salary by 8% along with his/her pension and medical benefits is necessary to curtail excessive spending. Asking for an increase in corporate taxes is decried as socialism, but abrogating the right to collective bargaining is a necessary sharing of the pain.
Bailing out Wall Street to the tune of billions is necessary because they are too big to fail, but extending unemployment benefits to workers who cannot find work is an incentive to sloth. Look. It's really simple. The rich don't pay their fair share and they control the Government to prevent that from happening. Everybody else, meaning you and me and everyone you know, has to "share the pain."
Why? Because we're only willing to look at one side of the equation: the side about spending. We don't dare look at the side about income. This is silly. But it's also simple, household bookkeeping. Want to balance your budget: you can either increase the money coming into the till by taxing those with the most, or you can decrease spending on the backs of the soon to be once-middle-class by impoverishing teachers, firefighters, state workers, policemen, sanitation workers, on and on. The Teapublicans clearly prefer the latter.
The fact is that the Teapublicans are just stooges for the Oligarchy. It should be obvious by now. Scott Walker immediately took the phone call from "David Koch." Do you think for a second that you could get your Governor on the phone by calling up? And that once you got the Gov on the line, you could have a rambling, pointless, unhurried blibber blabber? Are you kidding? When officials-none of these are in as exalted a position as the Governonr-- rarely take my calls, they want to get down to the bottom line in a big hurry and they want to get off the line. Not so if you're "David Koch." And if Scott Walker won't take the call and grovel for a while, the Citizens United decision and the Koch Brothers' money will assure that there will always be someone else in the office who is more receptive, more appreciative. And just as much a tool.
The only known counterpoint to this is organized labor. Only organized labor has money to fund candidates who aren't Koch heads. If labor is destroyed, there is no obstacle to the Oligarchy's impoverishing everyone, include the once-middle-class. There is no check to its rapaciousness. The government will slowly be filled with even more tools and stooges. And you and I, amigos, will do more than share the pain, we'll carry all of it.
NOTE: Salon.org's Joan Walsh was reporting on Sunday night that Wisconsin's unionized police had allowed demonstrators to remain in the state capital another night. Also, a Wisconsin state Republican reportedly had come out in opposition to the Governor's union-busting tactics.
Writer David Seth Michaels is an attorney in Columbia County, New York, who keeps a wonderful blog called The Dream Antilles. This post appeared first on a series of blogs associated with the Port Writers Alliance.