Friday, April 29, 2011

Another attempt to gut government services meets federal pushback

Scott Walker & Co. are bent on destroying government, or as one infamous Repub, Grover Norquist, once put it: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."  Now they're playing that game with poor people's access to food in this state.

Here's the story in today's Journal Sentinel.  The Feds are not happy with Walker's plan to centralize and privatize the processing of applicants' elegibility for food assistance. As the article notes, such attempts have been disasters in other states. This approach has a track record.  The suffering of poor people? Too bad. Some things must be sacrificed on the altar of a corporate driven, rightist ideology.

Public sector unions, educators, healthcare workers, students, writers, you know, all of us - are we prepared to join together to also defend the rights of the most vulnerable among us?  Will we all join together in this struggle to defend basic human decency and core human rights, to defend government programs that are meeting the needs of those under direct assault from the Walker administration?

Beyond each threatened group or sector is this broad assault on government itself, on the public realm. To defend that democratic 'space,' what is required is a strong broad-based movement to push back against this assault from the right.

They are determined; they are focused; they are well-funded; they will not stop. Only democracy from below can salvage government as representative and at the service of the people. Otherwise, 5-10 years from now, we will be reeling at the country that these people are trying to create.

For a couple of decades now, they have been playing working people and taxpayers for fools with their rants about government waste and how our tax dollars are taken from us to make lazy bureaucrats happy - until Alabama gets hit by scores of tornadoes and suddenly federal help is wanted and crucial. The right would love to privatize FEMA, too.

Walker has a scary determined unbending focus that shows me he is prepared to violate federal law (as in this case), to destroy as much government as possible, without any real sense of connection to the suffering that will follow. How do these people envision our society a decade from now, or two, or three?  I can tell you this - it will be mean, more people will be poor, more cities will be crumbling, education will be only for those who can afford it (they want to privatize education, too), and rich people will live well in their walled-off communities and summer vacation homes.

What they want, friends, is to take our public money and make it available to private investors to make profits, to make it available in the private sector for more corporate power over our economy with far fewer constraints in how big business operates (like environmental regulations, like worker rights, like child labor laws, etc. -- all these things about which we do have laws, rules, and regulations). They want access to our state and federal parklands.  They want our tax dollars for their pockets.

That's the agenda. I am not making this up or making baseless accusations. At least now these intentions are getting some airtime, some space in more newspapers.  Pay attention, because if we don't understand what we are really up against, we will not be able to effectively put the brakes on this agenda.

Photos: Margaret Swedish

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