A closer look at concerted anti-union efforts across the U.S. reveals they are not about state budgets
Seems like the debate over the union-busting measures around the nation is inextricably couched in budgetary terms. Wisconsin has taken center stage in the debate and is facing a daunting budget deficit of over 100 million dollars. Jobless taxpayers across the country are faced with exhorbitant property taxes and no real prospect of financial security on the horizon. Any relief at all from the scary financial conditions facing taxpayers and states is tough to fight against when the stakes are so high.
But the argument that it is unions that have lead state governments down the road to perdition does not hold up under scrutiny: Some states that are in big trouble right now already lack bargaining rights for state workers:
And how is Kansas HB 2130 about money?: It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the state budget, which is indeed the biggest issue that our legislature shoud be focusing on. SB 2130 is aimed at all unions and it effectively legislates that instead of checking 'donate to PAC' on a one time piece of paperwork union members have to write a check and send a note along with it stating that they want it used for PAC money, every single time they want to participate in political funding. This is ridiculous. Union workers can speak for themselves and they ain't asking for the legislatures help them add another administrative barrier to their political voice.
Indeed, reading these bills reveals a set of different priorities quite out of line with budgetary concerns. Every single one seeks to limit collective bargaining rights in one way or another in a blatent attempt to wrest political power away from unions. The implications of such moves have far more significance than mere temporary budget concerns, as rights won through unions' collective power have long served as benchmarks for employee rights in the U.S.
In addition to these glaring inconsistencies wherein the argument stays focused on money, there are other quite alarming provisions in the bills themselves: Ohio's Senate Bill 5 opens with new provisions for privatization of the prison system, even though in 2010 widespead abuses in privatized prison systems across the nation scandalized states and lead to costly lawsuits. Recently here in Kansas a mentally ill woman was mistreated - denied medication, warm food and a heated cell by the privatized prison contractor, and has filed a lawsuit against her jailers.
Here is an account from the NYT comment page from a citizen in Indiana about how privatization of state services played out in Indiana:
"Privitization that Daniels implemented in Indiana, especially the privitization of Welfare offices with a huge contract with IBM, left my county without a welfare office, so a person applying for help was forced to apply on-line. Nice....so many poor people have computers handy! It was a disaster and Daniels had to back down. He broke the contract with IBM and the state is now involved in a multi-million dollar law suit. He privitized the large prison near my home where I have taught college classes. It's a pretty miserable place to work. There were rumors that the prisons would soon be moving to a two meal a day plan (same amount of calories--but a late lunch and early dinner). Daniels looks good on paper but he has not helped our economy. Without the Recovery Act, Indiana would be in big trouble."
Wisconsin too, as we all now know, also has sweeping provisions for the privatization of public utilities that were built with taxpayer money; the general basis for privatization parroted over and over as a means to making government smaller and leaner. But how are smaller less intrusive government principles at work in legislation that interferes with the right for individuals' to enter into contracts? And how is liberty achieved when the means by which the average person is able to flex his or her civic muscle is being threatened by government agencies?
Unions aren't perfect, and people in states like California, have a justifiable bone to pick with public employee unions who have crippled the state budget. Many union members in the private sector also have valid grievances with the unions which have done a poor job of representing their interests as individuals. But as the only real counter weight to the enormous politcal clout waged by monied interests on both parties of our government, which are poised to continue gobbling up government contracts for the further privatization of everything the taxpayers have already paid to implement, we little people can not afford to abide measures that seek to cripple the voice of the workers in the political process of the nation that our fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers built with their very own hands.
So I started this blog out of frustration at the level of discourse that dominates the political and social dialogue in these United States. Maybe I’m just adding to it and making the pile of poop bigger by writing a blog to vent. Some people who commented seemed to think so. I am willing to admit they might be right but I’m not done blogging yet!
I wish people who have a problem with what they read (including myself) would stick to specifics and being constructive with criticism. The Journal World comments section is pretty typical. Any article about abortion will invariably be followed by the same old back and forth assertions that the extreme positions on both sides of the issue take for hundreds upon hundreds of posts with almost no real debate or dialogue. I understand that this new ability to share one’s opinions with the world is somewhat cathartic, and I’m not condemning anyone who takes the opportunity to follow up on their intellectual purging sessions with some real open minded soul searching when and if statements they make are countered with legitimate arguments.
I am condemning the people who post basically the same messages day after day without any pause or genuine reflection upon arguments made against them. I am calling out the morons (oh yes you are!) who congratulate themselves on how brutal their comeback is or in silencing people with intimidation or just sheer persistence. And I am unabashedly hating on people who post hate speech in the form of blanket statements:
conservatives are women hating, gay bashing know nothing blah blah blah… liberals are baby hating, godless sexual deviants blah blah blah
It’s astonishing to me that full grown adults (many of whom are at a job that they are supposed to be focusing on) are spending a significant portion of their days drumming up internet drama! Are you one of those people?
The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both have a recommend button in their comments sections, and the NYT also has editor’s picks that get highlighted. I like these functions because they do seem to make it easier to prune away the nonsense a bit. However for the most part they seem to do little in the way of improving the quality or the veracity of the content, instead functioning as consensus builders.
A lot of people have taken the view that comments sections and anonymity in general are a negative. I disagree. I don’t want to give up on following up articles by reading the comments sections. Many times I have found opinions that would never see the light of day if they had to be filtered through an editor are contained in the comments. I like the democratic function of comments and I credit the equalization that the internet offers us all with some developments that I consider to be positives for the ‘little guy’. What to do? How can someone like me who likes copious amounts of divergent information but also prefers to ‘cut to the chase’ make the most of internet time?
What have you done that has worked for you?
This is a letter to the people who want to take back America. No not you Tea Party guys. Thanks but no thanks. I’ve had enough with the shouting, angry, victim mentality. You’re like the guy who tries to finesse a girl into dating him with increasingly desperate maneuvers that border on creepy. Maybe you aren’t all racists but I don’t care. It’s too late and I really want don’t to hear any more of what you have to say unless it’s “sorry for inciting and legitimizing the crazy, militant, dangerous people”.
If you have painted yourself into a big government democrat or lil government republican corner, this letter probably is not for you either. Believe it or not, it’s not all about size.
No, I’m talking to YOU; the frustrated, jaded but hopeful, tired but optimistic, skeptical but not hateful and cynical and driven to misanthropy. You are the people who:
Hate what illegal immigration is doing to our country but don’t hate the immigrants for it.
Believe marijuana should be as legal as cigarettes and alcohol, but also realize that people who use it every day are just as pathetic as people who chain smoke or get drunk every day.
Would have liked to see health care reformed from the OUTSIDE, by empowering customers and on-the-ground providers, and not from the INSIDE, by the people who screwed it all up in the first place.
Don’t hate everything Obama does, and didn’t even hate everything Bush did but just dislike the government in general, because voting for the lesser of two evils all these years has left us with nothing but a bunch ‘mini-me s’.
Laugh at the fact that for 2,000 years the republican mantra has been “f*ck” the poor, and yet people still get all indignant about it like it’s some kind of modern human trait. Babies.
Cry at the fact that for 2,000 years the republican mantra has been “fck” the poor and in the new global economy billionaires are throwing million dollar birthday parties for their supermodel wives, and there is nothing out of sorts about a socialite wearing a $500,000 necklace with her $30,000 gown to a charity ball. A*holes.
You are the people who have opinions and passion, but don’t have answers and arrogance.
You are weary of celebrities and rock stars, and wary of athletes.
Are equally as disgusted at educated people who look down their noses at those who have not had their educational opportunities, and ignorant people who have a universal disdain for anyone who has more than a high-school diploma.
Don’t really know for sure about global warming, and would rather stop arguing about it and start building nuclear power plants pronto.
Doesn’t eat fast food, buys local and drools over organic tomatoes, but would never be so arrogant or naïve to think that those food choices are options for everyone.
Don’t smoke, drink to excess, or text while driving, and don’t think it’s unreasonable government interference to regulate these types of activities.
Would dance in the street if all the agricultural subsidies, auto industry subsidies, airline subsidies, Wall Street subsidies, mortgage subsidies, tax abatements, corporate welfare, and all the schemes written into the tax code were to get repealed, but know better and dance anyway just to dance because sometimes that’s all one of us ‘regular folks’ can do.
I am writing this letter because I know you are out there. Frustrated, tired of the hyperbole, the ad hominem, the childish semantics that dominate our national discourse.
You feel you have something substantial to add, but feel drowned out and shouted down by the “I know you are but what am I” rhetoric.