So Much for Freedom

Anyone who works for a living in the United States and who doesn’t support the public service workers union in Wisconsin is an idiot. A brainwashed, drooling idiot.

The puppet masters want you to hate unions, especially pubic workers’ unions. They want you to resent public employees, because (if you’re employed in the private sector) they get pensions, and you don’t. They spread disinformation about what public employees are paid because they want you to believe that public employees get outrageously padded salaries.

They want you to hate unions, because they want to distract you from what they’re doing to you. Instead of resenting the chains that bind you, you resent those with fewer chains.

Via the BooMan, here’s the plan, according to Georgetown professor Joseph McCartin —

But an even more important factor is basically a 20- or 30-year period of failure in the private sector. What we are really looking at here is a private sector that for quite a long time now has not generated a lot of rising income for the great majority. It has not generated stable benefits for its workers, it has not generated increasing retirement security — in fact we’ve had income stagnation or decline, we’ve had rising indebtedness, we’ve had growing insecurity for retirement. The private sector has failed on a massive level. And the tenuous position that so many American workers find themselves in as a result of that now makes it suddenly appear that public sector workers are just living off the fatted calf. I think some of it has to do quite simply with the way in which so many nongovernment workers have been suffering, and legitimately so. You can go to those folks and say: Why are you paying for the pension of the guy down the street? You don’t have one!

Here’s the bottom line:

It is a real liability, but it is liability that is not the result of union munificence, or that came from squeezing the taxpayers; it is a liability that basically flows from the fact that the private sector has done so poorly at creating a really broad growing thriving middle class in the past 20 years. And without a broad growing, thriving middle class, government workers are increasingly isolated and increasingly under threat and it is easy to play the dynamic this way, unfortunately for them.

I say again, anyone who works for a living in the United States and who doesn’t support the public service workers union in Wisconsin is an idiot. Instead of railing against “greedy” public employees, which should be shaking our fists at private sector employers who are padding their profits on the backs of employees.

Here’s how backward it is — Flaming Idiot Tool Him Hoft is promoting a WISCONSIN FREEDOM RALLY to support the effort of the governor to bust public employee unions. Orwell himself would struggle to come up with this. The serfs are being rallied to support serfdom.

Freedom is the right to say two plus two make four. If granted, all else follows.- George Orwell

Well, folks, giving up bargaining rights ain’t “freedom.”

At WaPo, E.J. Dionne writes that it’s reasonable to ask public employees to make some sacrifices during tough times. However,

But this isn’t just about budgets — or even primarily about budgets. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is drumming up a crisis to change the very nature of the relationship between public workers and the government. He would strip their unions of their bargaining rights on everything except wages. And, as The New York Times has noted, “any pay increase they win would be limited by the consumer price index.” Whether you think the second is good policy or not, it essentially renders collective bargaining meaningless. Why shouldn’t this be seen as a Republican governor and a Republican legislature looking for a way to strike a political blow against allies of the other party — and using budget issues as an excuse?

In response, Charles Kane sniffs, “what we have here, apparently, is a clash between two very different concepts of American democracy.” Ya think?

Kane’s argument is that the voters elected Gov. Scott Walker to do a job, and he’s doing it. But did Wisconsin voters specifically agree to union busting? Or just to some general idea that maybe the budget ought to be trimmed?

In another remarkable example of Orwellian doublespeak, Gov. Walker says he won’t be “bullied” by the unions. Wow. That’s like the wolf declaring he’s not going to let those thug chickens push him around.

Again, the issue here is not just whether public employees might be expected to make some sacrifices during an economic downturn, even if the downturn wasn’t their fault. This is about union busting; this is about taking away workers’ rights in perpetuity. And as the unions crumble, private sector employees will have even less incentive to do anything but ruthlessly exploit their non-union workers.

And if the financial sector were a farm, we’d all be the sharecroppers.

34 thoughts on “So Much for Freedom

  1. Welcome back, maha. I trust everything is ok. 🙂

    Hoft is the leader of the “Chickens for Col. Sanders” movement. What a tool.

    WI may be either a rallying point for the nation, or the first stroke of the death knell.
    I hate to be pessimistic, but this morning I took a CNN online poll. In it, 54% of the people had a NEGATIVE “general view of labor unions.”
    54%is a lot of idiots.
    It’s, in fact, a majority of idiots and dunces.
    Even if they didn’t work for a union, this is what it means:
    -54% of the people don’t know that unions are why they work a 35-40 hour week, with overtime, instead of 72 to 80 hours+.
    -54% don’t realize that they get vacation time because of unions.
    -54% don’t realize that they get sick time because of unions.
    -54% don’t realize that they get personal time because of unions.
    -54% don’t realize that they get benefits because of union.
    -54% don’t realize that they, if they still get them, that they get pensions because of unions.
    -54% don’t realize that they get FMLA largely because of unions.

    -54% don’t realize how f*cking moronic they are, and how deeply indebted they are to unions, even if they never worked of one, and no one in their families ever did.

    Today, in this country, 54% of the people might as well petition the Tsar to be turned back into serf’s, or Lincoln to be turned back into slaves, or indentured servants and wage slaves.

    -54% of Americans are dooming the sentient ones to work the fields right next to them.
    Well, I won’t be shackled.
    If I had the money, I’d go to WI and march with them. If there’s something comparable in Upstate NY, I’ll drag my handicapped ass to stand with them.
    If there’s one in NY City, I’ll somehow find some money to drag my handicapped ass down there to stand with my EMPLOYED brothers and sisters.
    And, though I’d join a march, I would NEVER cross a picket line. And there should be uncountable numbers of protests in this country, hopefully leading to picket lines.

    Our days to make some changes are numbered, and rapidly declining.

  2. Robert Reich makes an argument that to me is a little more persuasive:

    The demonizing of public employees is not only based on the lie that they’ve caused these budget crises, but it’s also premised on a second lie: that public employees earn more than private-sector workers. They don’t, when you take account of their education. In fact over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education – even including health and retirement benefits. Moreover, most public employees don’t have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year.

    Highly unionized Wisconsin, with deep progressive roots, is a bellwhether state, and a lot of eyes are on this battle. If it falls, so will many other states. I wish I could get some sense of how things are going there, whether this movement is gaining legs and ground. It some ways it feels like our Cairo.

  3. I can tell you that my counterparts over at FDOT earn considerably less than I do, and years ago, when I worked at the Port of Los Angeles, the pile drivers on the “inside” were paid about 20% less than the union hall guys. Most guys on the “inside were happy with that because of the continuity (no lost days due to weather or time between jobs).They also paid no S.S. because they were covered under the City of Los Angeles pension plan. If I’d have stayed, I’d be retired now. But NOOOOOOOOO……………

  4. Thanks for hitting this Maha. Spent Tuesday and Thursday night in Madison protesting. Met with my state rep last night (a republican) and the only thing HE talked about was how us teachers would be better off without the union. Didn’t mention the bennies or anything or paying our fair share, just getting rid of the union. Our teabagger Gov I believe is getting national pressure to stay firm and not give in. Not sure how long the Dems can stay in Illinois, I’m hoping a LOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG time. Maybe they should buy a house, but I guess that would make them Illinois residents. The real point is that we have already been contributing to our pension and health insurance, it just hasn’t come out of our paycheck, as in a deduction. I could take a paragraph to explain it, and it’s not a hard concept to understand, unless you’re a republican. At which point you may as well be speaking Greek. Lets just say there were some things teachers should have done to make us look better in the eyes of the public. Like, instead of taking less in salary but still having health insurance “paid” for by the district; taken the pay increase and paid some to the health insurance. The take home pay would have looked the same, just an accounting trick to make it look like we were paying for health insurance. Going tomorrow, teabaggers are gonna be there. Can’t wait.

  5. Here in Ohio the scumbags are better organized. The tea partiers are out in force supporting the Wall Street flunky-looser governor.

  6. It’s interesting that the Republicants have chosen Wisconsin as the first try at busting a public employee union. Wisconsin is basically where much of the public sector unions originated and is by far the most pro-union state in the country. I guess they are using the Rovian tactic of attacking one’s strength. They (the wing-nuts) are however attempting the same thing all over the country, here in Indiana our Gov. has threatened to eliminate collective bargaining for all school city jobs, teachers, janitors, electricians, etc. I sympathize with the teachers but I wonder how many of them drive cars built by foreign companies with non-union labor right here in the USA. I have lots of friends who are teachers, one of my friends is president of the union for a big city school system here in NWI. All of them drive Hondas, every last one. I have been harping at them for years about how they are facilitating the union busting going on in the Auto Industry, hopefully some lessons will be learned here. With so few union workers left in this country members need to practice solidarity across union sectors.

    Much of this budget cutting is a shell game, Wisconsin’s Gov. apparently cut taxes for corporations creating the deficit that he is now trying to fill by busting the union. Sort of like the big tax cut passed last year on the federal level, now we are cutting headstart, LIHEAT, education funding, etc. It’s also really unfortunate that with Democrats controlling all three branches we didn’t pass card check. If we had all unions would be in a stronger position now.

  7. What’s worse is that the budget “crisis” is entirely the fault of the new republican governer. He entered office with a surplus, immediately cut a bunch of taxes and added a bunch of spending on republican special interests, and voila, a budget crisis!

    Since he created the mess, why shouldn’t the difference come out of his pocket?


  8. Ian – can you back that up with sources? I am in an online war with wingnuts and I would love to be able to back that up..

  9. Hey Doug, take your light saber to “The Fellowship of the Minds”; I’ve been banned there for being a naughty boy ….

  10. uncledad: Great point. I always buy American, cars and everything else. GMC and a Chevy now. Last foreign car I bought was a little Fiat Spyder 850 when I was in college. Fun little car.

  11. Check out Organizing Recall in Wisconsin

    Wisconsin law says that you can recall any government official that has been serving their current term for one year. This means that Walker and most of the state congress are off-limits until January 2012. While the “Recall Walker” movement has gained traction – it is neutered for the better part of the next year.

    However, since only half of the state senate is elected every two years, 16 state senators, including eight republicans, are eligible for recall RIGHT NOW.

    I am in an online war with wingnuts and I would love to be able to back that up..

    I confess to a secret pleasure of seeking out minor fights with wingnuts on the Yahoo comment threads – truly the bottom of the bell curve, but it’s more or less unmoderated, and easily hundreds or thousands vent their spleen there. In other words, it’s a complete waste of time.

    All things considered, I’d much rather be in Madison right now, freezing temps and all, raising a bit of hell where progressivism got its start, and where the oligarchs have drawn a line in the snow.

  12. erinyes , What did you do to get banned from the Fellowship of the Minds? I hope you weren’t making fun of Joan’s meatloaf recipe and spiritual advice.

  13. Ya know, when you look at what is really happening here the cons are asking these citizens to give up rights they now have to the government. I thought they were against that kind of thing?
    They are transparent and shallower than your itty bitty tea cup.

  14. @moonbat: one thing that has really helped has been unseasonably warm weather, in the 40’s and then 50’s all week. It is cooling down, however.

    @Ron: Walker is just not a bright guy. I wonder how many national Republicans are doing a face palm on this thinking he fucked this up royally. I think what has started in WI is the first of a national plan that would make the United States look like a Grover Norquist wet dream; or Alabama if you prefer that analogy. I’m not saying we’re getting it stopped but I do think the Dems have gotten a foothold with the workers who typically vote Republican, we can at least make the argument that you’re next.

  15. Oh ,Swami: The “eye of Newt” in the meat loaf really turned me off.
    After a regular commentor called me a “communist” then told me I’d one day be hung along with Obama, or deported to “Russia” I responded “Tina, YOU are an idiot!”(WTF is up with all this “Communists” and “Russia” stuff, are we in a friggin time warp?)
    Several days earlier, one of the hostesess floated the question ” what do you think would happen if we printed up a bunch of these anti-“Obamacare” tea shirts and marched around D.C.?”
    I responded “Nothing, but you’d look like a bunch of idiots”
    I really tried to enguage them in some verbal swordsmanship, that monkey didn’t fly.Actually they were rather friendly until one tasted blood, then the frenzy started.Something tells me they don’t appreciate my brand of humor.
    I’m SO crushed……………
    (fun while it lasted!)
    Good Luck today Buckyblue!
    WE Florididanidans will be a bunch of screeming banshees also over our Governor shortly, just as soon as the indies and swing voters realize how deeply we’ve been gored by him crushing the rail project..
    I was on the line with his office, the state rep office, my Senator, and emailed John Mica’s office asking them to please push it through.Mica and Dockery are Republicans, but they are pushing hard to get the rail going, Gov. Scott pissed inside the tent big time.

  16. If the Republican plan works and unions are busted all around the country, they figure it won’t be long before jobs are back.

    Yes, you read that right. Jobs will come back.
    I think here’s their jobs plan.

    We will eventually get them, but they’ll be the very low-wage, no benefits jobs that China and India will outsource to us, an impoverished, 3rd World “At-Will” country, where people and their children will take anything that’s made available.
    Never mind 3rd World.
    I think they want to make us a 4th World country.

    Stand firm WI unions members and supporters!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Uh-oh!
    Breitbart and the Teabaggers are coming to rescue Wisconsin’s Governor.

    I hope the protesters watch their lines, because I’m sure General Breitbart will try to outflank them using his newly formed “Teabagging 1st Madison Motorized Medicare Scooter Cavalry Division.”
    He may try to bait the protesters by having Teabaggers with walkers and wheelchairs try to probe the center of their lines, sacrificing them for the benefit of his cavalry.
    Oh, the humanities!

    It could be a long sustained cavalry attack, as long as the batteries hold out, or unless they strategically brought spares with them.

    Seriously, I hope things stay peaceful. But you know Breitbart and his Koch-sucker supported minions will do everything in their power to gaod the protesters into doing something that will put all of them in a bad light.

  18. If I had an old “Solidarnosc” T-shirt from 1981, I would totally be wearing it these days. Back in your tired old faces, Reaganauts. Especially you, Orange Boehner.

    Interesting info in these comments about Gov. Walker, which I didn’t know before. Thanks everyone!

  19. I’m a college student at UW-Stout and I’m happy to report that students and professors have been protesting on campus and in Madison all week. I’ve heard from friends that in some areas some public schools closed early because so many teachers left to protest. Professors at my university were freely allowed to cancel class, or supported students who decided to participate in a walkout at noon on Thursday and Friday.

    Times like these make me super proud of my state–minus the Gov and like minded fellows of course 😉

  20. Mizuki Ranimo,
    WI was long been one of the most important states regarding union activity.
    I’m glad to see that there’s solidarity.
    We are with you in spirit!

  21. Something that has been overlooked is that any organization who hires public employees usually is not the top paying job in the area. The public organizations have used these benefits to lure top people over to their jobs. Thus, the explanation of how the private sector failed to create jobs is really the problem is right on. I am a retired Federal Government employee. Throughout my career, private sector equivalent positions paid far more then the Federal Government and most state governments. Thus, the benefit packages were thrown in to compete with the private sector. Through most of my life this was the norm, public employees severely underpaid; but, worked to serve the community and neighbors. However, the Repugs seem to think we should all work for free and be thrown away when too old. Such crass idolatry to manmade idols (money) is going to doom the Repugs sooner or later. Also, Federal Government employees had unions but we were unable to bargain for salaries and benefits. Those are set by Congress. One more thing, the hardest part of being a public employee is having live day after day with the “stereotype of the lazy, good-for-nothing public employee” no matter how hard you work.

  22. In the Viet Nam Era, WE THE PEOPLE ended a war. All across the Middle East, today, PEOPLE believe they can make a difference. I’m not so optimistic about the possible outcomes in a situation where shameless mean-spirited ideologues like Walker were recently, legally elected, admittedly in a very low turnout midterm election. Prove me wrong Wisconsin, Ohio–send these creeps crawling back under their rocks. Recall them. Storm their offices. Expose their sex crimes. Whatever (peacefully) it takes.

  23. I was at the protests yesterday. It was very peaceful, and nobody took the tea party’s bait. Some messages before things got started warned progressives to stay away from the King Street entrance to the square (where the TP rally was held) for fear of violence. That was utter BS. There was a popcorn wagon set up on that corner, for crying out loud. I have some pictures on my blog, The Madison Police issued a statement thanking everyone who showed up to express their first amendment rights for doing so peacefully. There were no arrests, and protesters left the place cleaner than they found it (volunteers with trash bags even scraped up some debris left behind by the melting slush).

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