Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why Wisconsin matters

If you're keeping up with current events in the US you know there have been mass, public demonstrations in Wisconsin because the Republican governor and his Republican dominated legislature are trying to pass a bill that would neuter union bargaining power. (See this link, for example.) The Republican argument for this is that their pension plans are too generous and expensive and thus causing a budget shortfall. A New York Times article made clear that pension plans are broke not because of earned retirement payouts but because of government mismanagement of the funds. They made bad investments into the exact type of banking and insurance frauds on which Taibbi reports in this previous post. So the answer is to take away union bargaining for fair retirement benefits?

Granted the article made the point the government pensions enjoy certain rights that private plans do not. But instead of questioning why private plans do not it is assumed that fair benefits as the government plan are causing the problem; they get too much and it's not fair. Perhaps it is the private plans that get too less and that's not fair? That it is the greedy corporations that do not want to distribute benefits equitably because then god forbid the CEOs might have to reduce their golden parachutes by a couple of million dollars. Yes, we have a budget crisis not only federally but in the states. So again let's go after the workers but not the corporations and their government cronies who created the crisis?

But is this the real issue? Or is it perhaps the corporate-government smokescreen for the real agenda of further weakening unions and workers so that they can continue their corrupt relationship, keeping even larger pieces of the financial pie while everyone else gets fewer leftover crumbs?

This video is of Chris Hayes and Naomi Klein discussing why Wisconsin matters, what's at stake, and what is the true motivation for this draconian legislation. Hayes points out that the real agenda is the destruction of unions and to abolish public education. Klein sees it as the shock doctrine in action. And the mass demonstrations are a time-honored, viable means for the public to express their discontent and hopefully influence legislation.

George Lakoff, commenting on the above, says in his article "what conservatives really want":

"Budget deficits are a ruse, as we've seen in Wisconsin, where the governor turned a surplus into a deficit by providing corporate tax breaks, and then used the deficit as a ploy to break the unions, not just in Wisconsin, but seeking to be the first domino in a nationwide conservative movement. Deficits can be addressed by raising revenue, plugging tax loopholes, putting people to work, and developing the economy long-term in all the ways the president has discussed. But deficits are not what really matters to conservatives. Conservatives really want to change the basis of American life, to make America run according to the conservative moral worldview in all areas of life."

We need to win the rhetoric war and Lakoff is an invaluable guide. He says much more of pertinence so please see the article, especially about empathy (which relates to Rifkin's message). More from Lakoff I appreciate.

"And Democrats help conservatives when they function as policy wonks -- talking policy without communicating the moral values behind the policies. They help conservatives when they neglect to remind us that pensions are deferred payments for work done. 'Benefits' are pay for work, not a handout. Pensions and benefits are arranged by contract. If there is not enough money for them, it is because the contracted funds have been taken by conservative officials and given to wealthy people and corporations instead of to the people who have earned them."

Rachel Maddow made clear that the budget crisis in Wisconsin, whose budget was projected to be a surplus just a couple months ago, was caused by almost the exact amount the governor gave away in business tax breaks recently. This has nothing to do with unions getting an unfair advantage or causing a budget shortfall. The real agenda is to get rid of unions because they are the only big players in filling Democratic campaign coffers. With them out of the picture giant corporate campaign graft would then dominate and win all elections, which is what they want. They do not want what they claim is their capitalistic ideal: fair competition in the marketplace. They want monopolies, in politics as well as business.

And here's Robert Reich's take. He says the conservative strategy is to pit the working class against itself by separating public from private employees, union from non-union, older from younger. All with the intention of drawing attention from what's they' really up to: increasing wealth at the top at the expense of the rest of us. Another must read for seeing behind the smokescreen.

It's about time the US has learned from not only the middle east protests bringing about the downfall of dictators but from our own past, when we the people effected change in the Vietnam war through peaceful, yet very vocal, public protest. The people of Wisconsin are doing their civic duty to right yet another injustice against them in the face of ever-increasing corporate fascism. If we don't take a stand right here, right now, we face even further degradation at the hands of our masters. Please put down your toys and trinkets given to you by the masters as diversion from what really matters here. Turn off Facebook for a few minutes and go outside, get involved, march against this madness. If you don't you'll have no one to blame, not even the fascists, when they completely take over and we are entirely enslaved.

Update: See this link for solidarity demonstrations around the US. It's time to get back to the streets with our values.

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