Polls suggest the public is siding with the unions locally and nationally. A survey last week showed 53% against cutting benefits and pay for government workers and 61% opposed to removing collective bargaining. Even conservative polls suggest a majority in Wisconsin is opposed to Walker’s attempt to eliminate collective bargaining.
Coming so soon after Republican electoral victories at federal and state level, Walker might have anticipated an easier ride for his agenda than this. After all, membership of unions is at an all-time low and public support for them does not fare much better. Moreover, support for unions ordinarily falls when unemployment rises. But these are no ordinary times. For if organised labour has fallen out of favour, the illusion that you can make it on your own is not far behind. A Pew survey in 2008 – before the banking system imploded – showed that fewer Americans than at any time in 50 years thought they were moving forward in life. The number of those who don’t believe you can get ahead by working hard has doubled in 10 years. Half the country thinks its best days are behind it. While many may question the role of the unions, few believe firing 12,000 government workers, as Walker has pledged to do, is the answer.
Walker’s case is as predictable as it is weak. Government workers, he claims, have higher pay and better benefits than others in a bloated state that must slim down if it is to keep running. This is hardly true. Accounting for age and education, US local government employees earn 4% less than their private sector counterparts. Yes, the shortfall in pensions is real. But if the political will existed, calamity could be avoided with a fairly modest increase in the budget allocation. Union members do generally enjoy better benefits. That’s the whole point of being in a union: to improve your living standards through collective action. And that is precisely why Republicans like Walker want to crush them.
His agenda has nothing to do with redressing a fiscal imbalance and everything to do with exploiting the crisis to deliver a killer blow to organised labour. If fixing the budget deficit were really Walker’s priority, he would not have waved through $140m in tax breaks for multinationals or refused to take federal funds for transport or broadband development. Like 10 other states, he might even have raised taxes progressively.
While tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pro union protesters across the country marched this weekend in defense of average Americans, where were the American Taliban tea nuts. A few were counter protesting. They were not protesting in front of multi-national banks and corporations that caused the United sates to lose three trillion dollars in wealth. What were right-wing conservatives pundits doing? They were not posting or speaking about Americans the lack of economic justice for people who put in a forty plus hour week to provide the essential services many Americans take for granted, no, they were bust greatly exaggerating some minor clashes between pro union and anti-union dip sticks. Gov. Hosni Hosni Mubarak Walker and his comrades highlight the glaring hypocrisies of alleged conservative populist. Republicans are claiming unions should not have rights while trying to portray themselves as populist voices of the people. Their agenda is also at odds with their bizarre populist claims. They are working to make sure all power is in the hands of corporations, Americas new ruling class, the new plutocracy. Conservatives would like the public to think they and they alone understand the Constitution and have recently taken to having to cite specific passages of the Constitution that justifies any legislation that is proposed. Where is it in that document that says the people shall be powerless and corporations have all the power. If Walker and the Rights thinks elections are about stealing power from the people and giving even more power to the technocrats and the elite there is a bright side. Once again The U.S.A. has been provided yet another insight in the corrupt and anti-republic nature of the conservative movement.
David Weigel also reports on the Right’s ( mostly echoes of Michlle Counter Top Inspector Malkin) coverage of the few repoted clashes between pro-union and anti-union nutbars. Where Are the Thugs?
I just spent four days in Madison and the state Capitol, reporting, and saw absolutely no violence. There were no arrests on Saturday, when 80,000 liberals rallied and a smaller number of Tea Partiers counter-protested. There were no arrests last night when hundreds of angry protesters watched the GOP-led Assembly pass the budget repair act. There are no arrests, so far, in Madison. And Malkin cites actual violence in only two cities where protests have taken place.
I’m old enough to remember the days of, oh, six months ago, when Tea Party activists claimed that anyone saying racist things or committing violence at their rallies were infiltrators.
Violence is wrong and anyone on any side who’s temperament is such they can’t keep their hands to themselves should get some anger control therapy. That said, heated verbal exchanges are inevitable. They hardly count as incidents of thuggery. Did Malkin go to high school in the U.S.? If she did she would know better.