Class Warfare, Wisconsin-Style
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is facing a recall fight for his job. A million voters in his state decided that after just a year or so in office, they’d had enough of the man and wanted him out. The main issue here, the main cause of anger toward the governor, involves his taking away collective bargaining rights from most state government workers.
Sure, at a time when governments like Wisconsin’s are fiscally hard-pressed, state government workers have to take some hits. But they agreed to these hits in collective bargaining sessions. What, then, is Walker’s justification for also going after their future collective bargaining rights?
I heard him explain his position the other day in a TV news interview. I found it a most curious exercise.
He claimed he was not only protecting hardworking taxpayers from predatory union members, but these members themselves from union bosses who make money from dues members are required to pay. His actions were thus not only justified, they weren’t even union busting. That was his argument.
So in Walker World, it seems, there are two distinct classes: hard working taxpayers led by elected officials who don’t tell voters what they actually plan to do before getting elected; and a different class of predatory, over-compensated government workers who in turn are exploited by their own union leaders (oops, I mean ‘union bosses,’ I gotta get the Walker World nomenclature right).
The inanity of this argument is awesome: Don’t government workers in Wisconsin work hard like other hard-working Wisconsin workers, or is government work there a kind of sinecured, no-show thing? Don’t they also pay taxes, or is there something in the state constitution that exempts them? And isn’t the appropriate job of union leaders (oops, I mean bosses), the job these people are paid to do, to protect the interests of their members, just as it’s the obligation of corporate managers to protect the interests of stockholders?
That fact that Governor Walker’s message is illogical, nasty, small-minded and vulgar aside, what I found so curious here are two other things: How could anyone possibly take this rap or the person spewing it seriously? And in a larger scale, how can anyone possibly listen to Republicans around the country who keep prattling about Obama’s purported class warfare positions, when they are such avid practitioners of class-based divide and rule?
A suggestion, friends. Listen carefully to Governor Walker and his ideological soul mate in the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan. Then consider the pattern of what they are espousing and where it would lead.
First they come after the government unions, and because you aren’t a union member you go along; then they cut food stamp entitlements, and because you don’t require food stamps to eat regularly you go along; then they cut taxes for the rich paid for with reductions in college aid, and you go along because you don’t have any kids in school at present.
And then they get to you.
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