FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What’s at Stake in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin State Capitol sits in the center of the Isthmus in Madison, a narrow funnel connecting the East and West sides of town. 80,000 protesters jam things up. I’ve seen crowds on the Isthmus, never like this, not since Vietnam. Wisconsin is again rising to challenge oppressive government.

I do not belong to a union, never have, never will. By my own choice I do not have collective bargaining rights, no benefits package and no weekends off. I wish I did. These are things that should be a right for everyone, rights won by union workers putting their lives on the line for everyones future. My work, farming, does offer other benefits, but that’s not the story here.

Governor Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill” will supposedly save $150 million by cutting wages and benefits for public employees, money he claims is needed to offset a $137 million deficit. A coincidence that, in just over one month in office, he has run up a tab of $140 million on new special interest spending?

So, I can understand that he would want to keep his credit score clean in the new job, and go after someone to pay the bills, why not the public employees? And as long as he has carte blanche to write whatever onerous language he wishes, why not get rid of collective bargaining, leave some room to scrap Medicaid and BadgerCare at some point and, in time, shift more power away from the Legislature to himself. This is how you impress the Republican National Committee. This is what Autocracy looks like.

Walker is talking a big lie, the unions have said they are willing to negotiate wage and benefit cuts, exactly what he said was needed to fill the budget gap. Still, he won’t negotiate. Obviously this bill was never about saving money or balancing a budget, it’s about shifting money from the middle class to corporate interests and the wealthy—- a payback to those who funded Walkers rise to power. It’s about busting the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions, it’s about getting rid of unions.

Wisconsin is a test case, if the public employee’s union falls here, other states will try union busting as well. If the union fall here, all unions are at risk, Teamsters, IBEW, SEIU, all of them.

The Republicans and corporate America want unions to go away, and Scott Walker is apparently the point man. Flushed with power from the November elections they see no need to compromise, no need to debate, no need to listen to the people,— just humor the Tea Party, the conservative bloggers, and Fox News.

So, why should I or anyone else care what happens to union members pay and bargaining rights? Well, because it’s the right thing to do. Everyone should care, we all owe the union movement. I know the power of corporations and how government works in their interest. They don’t like small farms, they don’t like unions, solidarity! We fight the same battles.

What about cooperatives; health cooperatives, farm cooperatives, they were formed to bargain collectively, will they be targeted as having an unfair advantage over private enterprise?

In the long view we come to this,– targeting one group, dividing and conquering the middle class, helps no one in the middle class. “Everyone does better when everyone does better.” That’s why everyone should care.

No doubt about it, Walker is smooth, he has good coaches and aspirations for a future in national politics. Wisconsin’s Republican Legislature, like Walker, has plenty of hubris and an agenda targeting unions, social programs and a deep passion to shift more wealth to the wealthy. But in this fight, they are dead wrong. They are not, as Molly Ivins would say “dancing with them what brung ya”

The protesters have shown us what Democracy looks like.

Governor Walker is showing us what Autocracy looks like.

The Republican Legislature is showing us what dupes look like.

And the Tea Party wants to show us how tearing down over 100 years of union organizing for social justice will somehow better their lot (logic is apparently not their strong suit).

Making health care more expensive, cutting wages, putting pensions out of reach will not repay decades of no holds barred military spending. It will not bring back jobs and industries exported in the name of higher corporate profit. It will not stop the economic spiral to the bottom, indeed, it will only hasten it.

Cutting wages and benefits to teachers will not give us better schools, nor will we have better hospitals and municipal services if we allow Governor Walker to crush collective bargaining.

It comes down to this, will Wisconsin continue to be a “Laboratory of Democracy” or will we become a Laboratory of Autocracy?

JIM GOODMAN is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

 

 

More articles by:

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail