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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A requiem for working people

I am among some academic colleagues, which include political scientists, who avoided any predictions about the recall election in Wisconsin.  We regarded the outcome of the election as a significant indicator of the direction that America is taking. 

I opposed Scott Walker because he is a dictatorial tyrant who has no compunction about stripping people of their rights and reducing their status to a subservient inequality.  Wisconsin led the nation in progressive politics.  Now it is leading it back into a system of overlords and serfs, and Scott Walker is a willing instrument of that regression into feudal state.

His corporate bosses came into the state, supplied 66 percent of the $30.5 million Walker collected for the campaign.  He outspent his opponent 8 to 1.  

Walker and his supporters speak of beating the union thugs and taxpayers  being forced to pay for exorbitant benefits they gained for their members, who are the teachers, the nurses, the police, the firefighters, the road workers who maintain the highways and plow the snow, the office people who keep the essential offices of government functioning.  

The right to bargaining collectively does not, as many people who voted for Walker seem to contend, give unions the right to extort the government agencies into paying over the benefits it demands.  It simply gives the members the right to form a collective voice and to present their proposals at a negotiating table where both parties have the opportunity to prevail.  The law also prohibits public employees from striking.  

The "union thug" meme does not in any way represent the how unions work or how they have worked in Wisconsin; but it does illustrate what $30 million can buy in terms of brain-washing propaganda and how successful that propaganda has been.  The workers in Wisconsin who are so  resentful of the benefits earned at the bargaining table for state workers are smarting because no one has represented them so effectively.  They cannot consider that perhaps the union gains were possible because of the ineffectiveness of the way management represented them at the bargaining table.  A majority of Wisconsinites have bought into the idea that unions are groups of oppressive gangsters and that their only hope for economic equity is to submit to and suck the one percent.  

Those who deny that the money spent in the election had any effect on the minds of the voters simply do not understand the fact of operant conditioning in a totalitarian society or what it was that George Orwell was portraying and analyzing in 1984.

Mitt Romney has attacked unions and upon news of Walker's win, a campaign staff member immediately tweeted: "Pack it in, Unions. It's over."  Unions and the voice it gives workers are the biggest threat to the plans of the one percent for the total subjugation of America.  They must be demolished, as they are in Wisconsin.  They represent the major barrier to people obediently and unquestioningly voting the way the brain-washing campaign instructs them to.  

Perhaps, the most facetious thing to come out of Walker's victory is his announcement that he is inviting all Wisconsin legislators, Democrat and Republican, over to his house to a convivial peace gathering over brats and beer to start a unification process.   The expectation seems to be that the losers will accept the "union thug" label placed upon them and grovel in humiliation.  Scott Walker declared himself an enemy of unions and his state workers and it would only compound the defamation to accept any efforts at conciliation.  It is one thing to give earnest consideration to his proposals in the halls of the legislature, but making nice on a social level would be a further betrayal of the people who have been so maligned and defamed.

In protesting Walker's actions, the workers of Wisconsin have used every means provided and permitted by law to address them.  Peaceful, massive demonstrations and political activism have not worked for them.  The system has not merely taken away their voice, but the propaganda blitz has denied any respectful and honorable consideration of their concerns and what they actually contribute in terms of their work.  The damage has been done and there is no way to repair it.  It is a fact of life and the workers and those who represent their interests could better expend their thought and energy on new and better strategies for restoring freedom, equity, and justice to them and, if possible, to the political process.

I have been a part-time resident of Wisconsin and a longtime observer of working people's efforts to gain a voice in their own destiny.  Collective bargaining became law as a  result of some very violent and destructive confrontations between labor and the management that regarded and held it in such inferior status.  When Scott Walker took away the collective bargaining rights, a few people spoke out from memory of the bitter, angry times that led to the establishment of collective bargaining by law.  

Those peaceful protests of tens of thousands of people at the Capitol in Madison were an attempt to work within the system.  But when the system designates those people as predatory thugs and takes away their right to have a reasoned voice at bargaining tables, the system is not working.  When a system does not work, people can either submit or try something else.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States