Does the word that just popped into your head show up here? Find out:

19 March, 2011


After Wisconsin's governor saw to it that corporations got $140,000,000 in welfare (I believe he termed it tax relief and incentives), after he proposed plugging the resulting budget gap with public worker benefits, he claimed that it had nothing to do with union busting. Before his legislature unveiled this lie by passing a bill that did nothing to fix the budget, but did strip public workers of collective bargaining rights, workers and rank and file Wisconsin Americans took to the capitol to voice their outrage. You should've seen them when the bill was passed. They were pissed. People across the country agreed, and rallied in their capitols.

Last time I did anything like that was when the US invaded Grenada, a petty little flexing of American might, a trouncing trumped up for hawks bored since Vietnam, but too chicken-shit to take on Castro, or East Germany. I was in a college in DC, and we took to the street immediately, protesting and getting on the news (while a gaggle of non-reporters in dark sunglasses and trenchcoats took our photos). Larger rallies followed,but it didn't stop it. And I figured, if it ain't gonna work on a piddly-ass invasion like this, with no oil or gold, then protests sure as hell wouldn't stop a real war. So I sat out subsequent US Government sponsored violence on Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iraq and all the other places where our anti-Communist strongmen had either lost or cut us out of the revenue stream.

I mean, people so desperately opposed to economic fairness that they would sell arms to the Ayatollah's henchmen who had kidnapped, terrorized and killed American citizens are sure as hell not going to take marching orders from a bunch of freaks. Unless it was specifically my presence that would have stopped the Bush Dynasty's wars (theirs because yeah, Reagan was a puppet and no, Clinton's kicking of Serbian fascist ass does not seem so unjust), unless somehow my moral lassitude fucked up chance for peace, then I'd have to say I was right.

Maybe I'm just the kind of jaded lazy citizen who doesn't care that much about what's happening in some far-flung place. Or maybe afraid of having too thick a dossier at the FBI or Young Americans for Freedom.

During the brief flailing after the Soviets called it quits, when real enemies called in sick, the new world order considered fingering drugs (not the anti-communist cocaine, mind you, but easily discovered weed grown by liberals), eco-terrorists, and illegal aliens before Boom!, 9/11 provided a convenient target. Because if a crew of Saudis attacks your financial center and your military HQ on the same day and kill thousands of people, then obviously you have a bottomless well of funding to attack your anti-Communist Afghanis gone sour, and uh, ummm.... Iraq. Yeah. Disgruntled former employee Saddam has to many embarrassing secrets.

The smart hawks, having squeezed what gold they could from the privatization of military action and secured a few pipelines, are ready for the pendulum to wing back to domestic action. Namely, end this travesty where the top few percent control 95% of the wealth, and bring it up to 99% (or as the former athaletes would prefer, 110%). Turns out that foreign war is not an effective long term business model: it leaves you open to being played by the North Koreans when you are busy dousing mid-east fires, the invadees eventually figure out the game and insist on being paid,... and as recent Bush-buddy Gaddafi reminds us, all sorts of complications can arise.

So the plutocracy turns its attention on the US of A. Business has done what it could, gaining passage of trade deals to make outsourcing profitable, buying favorable tax legislation, knocking down any meaningful regulation, inventing profitable gambles. And maybe the gambling didn't work out that great as a sustainable model, either. Millions of people will not be able to buy a home or other valuable collateral worth repossessing for a long time. Their teats are dry. And that measly $2,000,000 TARP-funded bonus can be gone in a single purchase.

Turning on the public workers, in retrospect, was completely foreseeable. Americans love drugs too much to disrupt the markets with a drug war, and the concept that a hippie girl in a redwood constitutes a security threat has never tested well with focus groups (women tend to have soft spot for defenders of nature, and men have a hard spot for hippy chicks). Most all of the other unions have been broken, the industrial backbone of labor is prone before the financiers, just begging to keep a few jobs stateside.

But government workers remain unionized for the most part, and targeting them makes good bidness sense. Step 1 was the appeal to free market values among the general public and greed among the government workers that drew their pension funds from safe and boring investments and into more volatile financial markets, where the people who knew how to play that game made off with plenty of dough.

Gambling losses affected public pension funds along with everything else, and the sacred tax cuts for the wealthy choke revenue to states, so along comes the GOP to say, "We cannot pay for that pension anymore, we're broke. You have to settle for less." And for that matter less pay until you retire, fewer jobs (which sometimes miraculously reappear in the private sector, where the Owning class gets a cut of every hour worked), and, if the plutocratcy has its way, no rights to question the bargain.

The real goal may not be the money at all--government workers don't make that much. Anecdotes proliferate of the lavish benefits, the princely pension (still just a tiny fraction of what an inept CEO makes, but who does math anymore?), and the double dipping, but believe me, the real greedheads are too smart to believe that chump change like that is affecting the bottom line. Skipping the Iraq war would have paid for all those costs through the rest of the century.

More profitable is the proposition of making government "small enough to drown in the bathtub," in the words of that yammering yahoo of Yankee-ism, Grover. Lay off, underpay, vilify, and mistreat the workers who teach you kids, who build your streets and police them, who keep poison out of your water and shit out of your food, ... Push constantly for weakened consumer protections, loosened standards, defunded oversight. Let the Big Boys run loose.

You know where that ends up. We the People get nothing. The people are pitted against each other, to the ends and amusement of the few who own it all.

I dont want that to happen.

So it befalls me to take to the street once again. On February 26, 2011, before Wisconsin legislators cast their vote against the workers, I joined 2500 other people to support those workers, and to tell Washington's legislature that we won't abide being cheated like that. I'm proud to say that both of my state reps turned out to support us workers.

Here's the truth math. Times are tough, and I am lucky to have a job. I do it the best I can. I agreed to do it in return for certain pay and benefits, and have already agreed to contribute 25% more for health insurance, frozen cost of living increases for half decade (= Loss), and (were I not lucky enough to be in an agency that saved the required amount in other ways) the furloughs (= 3% paycut) hitting other state workers. Not to mention the 10% of my agency who flat out lost their jobs (that's officially a Decimation, folks), and the masses who got bumped down a pay grade or three.

We are the small fraction of the population that takes care of the public domain. Most of us love what we do, and are good a it. We just wanna have a decent life, and society can afford it, especially if we were not dragged down with war debt, corporate bailouts, and the subsidized extraction of pubic resources for private profit, socializing only the costs of the inevitable complications and clean-ups.

If we'd wanted more money, we'd have gone into the private sector. Hell, if we wanted money we'd have been something other than teachers, social workers (guess who's dealing with the victims of rabid capitalism), scientists, and cleaners of everything from your shitty flushings to the halls of justice.

People are finally getting to the point where they see the injustice. Public workers are among them, but the movement is much broader. Where there is no justice, there will not be peace. It would be wise to make some adjustments to the economy while the ruckus is just people with signs and songs. Give in to some of the slogans before things get ugly.
Right now the plutocrats are beginning to feel some resistance (ergo "Ohm"). The smart among them (there must be some) realize that Winner Takes All is not a sustainable business model, either. They look at Plutocracies threatened and falling, see the choice of Mubarak's retreat or Gaddafi's bloody civil war.

I don't want that, and I hope they don't either.

No comments:

Post a Comment