Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's the Matter with Wisconsin?

c. David Grim (taken 2/12/11)

Is it just me, or are the Tea Party minions overreaching ever since the 2010 elections? You'd think that they comprised a simple majority of the voting public. What's really telling is that they have now finally dropped the pretext of being anything other than an extreme wing of the Republican Party (and even that is a bit of a redundancy nowadays). At least truth in advertising is prevailing at last. Unfortunately the "liberally-biased" mainstream media hasn't caught on yet. Too bad, really.

The events in Wisconsin are certainly worrying. Apparently the newly-elected governor, Scott Walker, has discovered the panacea to all the state government's budget woes. He's moving to outlaw collective bargaining on behalf of public employees. That ought to solve the problem. And Tea Party operatives from all over the country are serving as the shock troops for this attack on unions. It's becoming more and more obvious that the Tea party is merely a front for corporate interests. This is an ideological crusade... not simply harsh measures for tough economic times. And it's an assault on labor rights in general.

Despite the fact that support for Walker is pouring in from representatives of the "free market" from all over the nation, Wisconsin legislators in the GOP-controlled State House have already warned the Obama administration not to get involved in local events. That's an interesting precedent for a group whose forebears lauded Reagan's decision to involve himself in labor disputes throughout the nation. Apparently an active president is only acceptable if he is aligned with the so-called conservative movement.

A quick internet search provides numerous examples of right-leaning mouthpieces pronouncing the irrelevancy of labor unions. If these sources were to be trusted, one would have to come to the conclusion that Walker is just enacting the will of "Real America". Meanwhile the reality is that 61% of those consulted in a recent USA Today poll would oppose similar attacks upon government workers' unions in their respective states. But that's not a study likely to get a lot of traction with folks who fancy themselves "populists". Anti-government sentiment is out of control, and as a result civil servants are being tarred as greedy and selfish.

The historical truth is that government has always been on the vanguard of labor reform and worker's rights. If these protections are chipped away at the municipal level, it's only a matter of time before they are lost altogether. A lot of folks will say that unions were once important but have outlasted their utility. But that will only approach the truth as long as unions retain what little power they have left. Once their example is gone, we'll be returning once again to the glorious Gilded Age. That's sure to please our newly-enfranchised corporate citizens.


  1. Having negotiated "against" two public unions for 35 years, one would expect me to have no problem taking sides. That is, until I tell you that I have repeated many times what a management colleague of mine said more than once...we wouldn't be where we are today if it weren't for the unions of the past. That being said, I was somewhat surprised by the statistic that only 12% of American workers in the private sector are unionized. I would have thought that number would be at least 25%. That public sector union workers have taken less pay in years past in exchange for a higher level of benefits and some job protection should be a given. That government has underfunded the pensions to balance state budgets over the past decade and more is also a given. Now, it's come down to the perfect storm...thus, the contention.

  2. Thanks. That's a remarkably lucid and fair analysis.

    One thing only... I actually read that only 8% of the private sector is unionized... 12% including the public sector.

  3. I didn't re-check the percentage discrepancy, though that's not important to me. What is important is you calling my lucidity "remarkable". Should I be insulted? No reply necessary. I'm smiling.