John Colson: Hit and Run
Aspen Times Weekly
Aspen, CO Colorado
OK, let’s be clear about this – the protests going on in Wisconsin and other Republican-controlled, Midwestern states have nothing to do with balancing budgets and everything to do with political strategy and union-busting.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a tea-bagger to the ultimate degree, is out to destroy the public sector unions of the state, which happen to be among the biggest unions there, thanks to the decline of private-sector unions generally, the recent financial meltdown and the closure of in-state automobile factories.
Walker has claimed he is trying to balance the budget by getting public sector employees to pay a larger share of their health-care insurance costs, take a cut in pay and relinquish their right to collective bargaining.
Crap, that’s what that is. He could balance his budget by not promising lavish corporate incentives for companies to come and pillage Wisconsin’s natural resources, or by raising the taxes those corporations pay, or any number of other fiscal moves. But killing unions is part of his game strategy, which includes keeping the working class on the edge of ruin at all times.
The unions, after some initial resistance, accepted the pay cuts and benefits reduction, wisely agreeing that something had to give.
But Walker rejected that compromise, adhering to his desire to strip the unions of most of their collective bargaining rights, which, in effect, takes away a union’s effectiveness in dealing with the bosses. And in Wisconsin’s case that happens to be – SURPRISE! – Scott Walker, who probably is hoping his slash-and-burn campaign against unions will one day propel him into the White House.
Understandably, the unions said, “No way” they would sign their own death warrant. And the fight erupted. And, as I write this on March 4 (severely missing my deadline, but my boss gave me permission), the fight continues, with 14 state senators hunkering down in Illinois hotels to withhold a quorum and a final vote on Walker’s detestable plan.
According to one wag, writing from the safe remove of Arizona, Walker has taken to hiring bounty hunters to chase down the 14, because his state troopers apparently are on the Democrats’ side and cheerfully citing their jurisdictional limitations whenever he tells them to go arrest the Dems.
But, to get back to the point, Walker is lying about his motives and intentions, and trying to use popular unhappiness over just about everything in life these days to destroy the strength of unions in Wisconsin, where they have been a pillar of society for decades.
Other Republican governors are trying the same ploy, and it is becoming clear that this is a not-so-hidden strategic move on the part of the Grand Ol’ Party to eliminate one of the last organized bases of opposition to Republicanism, corporatism, and the greed of the uber-rich and their management class. With unions gone, corporations will rule us all.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not so blindly anti-corporate that I can’t see flaws and downright evil tendencies in certain branches of organized labor. The problem is, the crooked elements in organized labor learned their worst behaviors directly from the bosses.
Humanity is rife with such situations, and it is one of our biggest challenges to overcome – this apparently genetic predisposition toward selfishness, brutality and disdain for anyone not just like us. But that, as they say, is fodder for another day.
Right now, anyone who doesn’t want to see the United States degenerate into a completely feudal society, where there is a tiny class of the super-rich, a slightly larger management class, and a monstrously huge, underpaid, underfed and persecuted worker class, had better wake up and smell the blood, sweat and tears of our forebears.
We’ve been through this before, over most of human history, as we slowly evolved to the point where we, the underclass, realized there is no such thing as a divine right to power held by a mysterious, mystical but inherently nasty upper-class.
In this country, the realization came in the early 20th Century, a time of bloody riots and ruthless attempts by the ruling class to hold on to its undeserved plutocracy, with the ignorant aid of an army of thugs and cops.
Scott Walker and his ilk want us to go back to those times, because they believe they will be among the rulers. And getting rid of the public-sector unions, which are just about all that’s left of a once-mighty labor movement, is a big step in that direction.
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