Friday, February 18, 2011

"Wisconsin is fine" - Maddow uncovers the budget cover-up

Last night, Rachel Maddow brought the Scott Walker scam to light on her show [see below]. Wisconsin has no budget crisis. The state is not bankrupt. The budget shortfall was made into a crisis by the amount of tax breaks given to business interests. What we have here is a trade-off. To balance the budget, public money is being taken from workers, children, public school kids, elderly, unemployed and given to companies with the argument that, magically, good-paying jobs will be created which, magically, will make all those workers' and kids' and seniors' lives better - how?

250,000 jobs, Walker promised. In your dreams, Scott. It ain't real, and the jobs you're trying to create will not help if they come with poverty wages and no way for a family to support itself. Gut public sector workers' income and benefits? Right, or fire them. That's what Harley-Davidson, Kohler, and Mercury Marine offered, and we saw the result. Now this union-busting strategy has come to the capitol in Madison, and one result will be more and more workers falling into poverty just as these same folks shred the social safety net.

A major structural shift is happening to the US economy right now, being played out here in Wisconsin. It is no longer in the financial interests of corporations to have a large middle class, to have a core of high-skilled, well-paid workers manufacturing things and making enough money to buy them.  Now fortunes are made in financial investment, and if you are still making things (like Harley-Davidson motorcycles), the best way to increase your financial return is to cut labor costs - fewer workers at far lower wages and little or no benefits - certainly no collective bargaining rights.

Now this era has come to the public sector big time.  The only way to resist such a massive shift in power is through precisely what is being attacked by the Walker government right now - collective action, strong people-based organizations, including unions, with a commitment to an enduring solidarity across various sectors of workers, the poor, community organizations defending rights and dignity of those under attack by these corporate interests and the politicians they put in office with lavish campaign funding.

It's an old tried and true refrain - united we stand, divided we fall. The other side has endless resources to buy elections, to buy and/or influence votes, with paid professional lobbyists and money for TV ads and more. What we have is our organized collective voice. If we don't have that, they can continue to pick us apart.

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