Saturday, March 5, 2011

I guess unions do work after all

Soon-to-be-recalled Republican Governor Scotty Walker is waging a Moammar Gadafi style civil war against the labor rights of the citizens of his own state who have the misfortune of being public employees under his "leadership". It is clear to us all now that his attack on unions has absolutely nothing to do with balancing budgets and everything to do with attempting to destroy union rights. It's not about balancing budgets, but about payback to political cronies who coincidentally are getting just as much in tax cuts as he proposes "saving" by imposing what amounts to a tax on public workers in the state.

This is interesting, because it requires Republicans to admit that unions are actually effective at securing higher wages for their employees. Contrary to a half century of right-wing propaganda against unions, Walker is admitting that union workers make more money and have more benefits, compared to their non-union counterparts, and he wants to put a stop to that right away, by God. It's unfair for them to make more than the rest of us....except it's fair for rich people to make more...especially the Koch brothers who underwrote his campaign. Taxing the rich is unfair, by Republican logic, but taxing a group of working class public employees by charging them higher fees for medicine and retirement is A-OK.

What's so wrong with working people bargaining for more money, anyway? Isn't this the American way? Republicans have even fought against minimum wage, refused to raise it for a decade, and have created sub-minimum wage "training wages" which are used as loopholes to short change workers even today.

Talk about a race to the bottom. If you get rid of a system that has and proven to help people earn higher wages, as even Republicans now admit, replace it with their proposed systems which pay less than current minimum wage, how is this supposed to help the "average Joe" that McCain/Palin so epically failed court in their disastrous presidential campaign?

I know, I know, by the magic of voodoo it with mysteriously "trickle down", but "how's that been working out for ya", to paraphrase Sarah, over the last 30 years that Republicans have been hocking it as the patented cure-all elixer for our economy? Wages are flat for the average worker while the rich are richer than before. Mighty geysers of tax dollars have blasted (not trickled) upward and into the bank accounts of the rich, but the middle class worker has less net worth than before under the leadership of primarily Republican presidents and a Republican congress.

Trickle-down economics has itself been an epic failure, so much so that now, as I alluded to earlier, Republicans are playing "divide and conquer" games with American citizens, pitting union workers against non-union ones, much like Moammar Gadafi is known to pit one tribe of Libyans against another in a desperate bid to hold on to privilege and power. However, history has shown us that you can't build up the rights and pay of non-union workers by tearing down the rights of union employees. If employers will not make concessions to an organized group of professional negotiators, what makes people think that they will offer anything better to unorganized amateurs and individuals?

Walker has inadvertently spilled the beans here, about the Republican double standard on labor. He wants to abolish unions so that he can pay people less, but this means that unions do succeed in getting people paid more. This means that those who haven't been brainwashed by decades of anti-union misinformation, should be wanting to go out and join one, rather than demanding that the ones that exist be abolished.

It is also noteworthy that Walker's egotistical comparisons of himself to Ronald Reagan when dealing with striking air-traffic controllers is completely off the mark. There were no strikes in Wisconsin. Reagan was dealing with people who were on strike even though public workers are forbidden from striking. I have already addressed the silliness of calling a one day "sick out" a strike as well. A real strike is not a minority of workers calling in sick for one day. A real strike is occupying the factory floor and bringing work 100% to a stop for weeks or months. Nothing like that was happening in Wisconsin.

Air-traffic controllers acted first and force Reagan to respond after-the-fact, but Walker threw the first punch in this brawl trying to cut wages and benefits that had already been negotiated under contract. He doesn't like the contract so he wants to change the law to say that he doesn't have to follow it. Gee, wouldn't it be nice if we could all just change any law that we didn't feel like following. That's how Gadafi operates. Then Walker threatens to layoff thousands of workers unless his demands are met. No negotiation. Hummm, this sounds more and more like Libyan dictatorship everyday.

So maybe when Walker is removed as Governor, by a popular uprising at the polls, then he can move to Libya, where there are no pesky union labor laws. He would probably get along fine with people like Gadafi, if he is still in power.

Oh and lest you protest too much about how Walker never threatened violence like Gadafi, Walker actually was already on record before he started this fight as threatening to call up the national guard to deal with union protesters. So far he hasn't had the courage to attempt to follow through with that, perhaps because he has already generated enough negative publicity for himself.

It must also be said, on the subject of protesting too much, that right-wingers have been apoplectic about a few people on the left who started twittering about wishing Walker would die. Of course, they know quite well, if for no other reason than because many of those complaining have participated in it themselves, that not a single day goes by without fringe right-wingers wishing death upon Obama and in many cases calling for more direct assassination of him and other Democrats such as Reid and Pelosi. Therefore, when a few people on the left talk about something far less direct, though still distasteful, their hypocrisy on the subject gives them no room to manuever.

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