I haven't been on this blog to even read the other posts all week now. I've been entirely focused on the tremendous developments here in Wisconsin--listening to the news, reading on-line papers of all sorts, emailing my representatives, discussing the situation with friends, etc.
To me, this fight is all about the future of representative government in this state, and possibly in this country! I never thought I'd be witnessing such a thing in my lifetime--but I am!
There are powerful wealthy forces at work which are determined to increase their share of the wealth of this state at the expense of the average citizen. Our governor has authorized millions of dollars in additional tax breaks to the wealthiest individuals and corporations in this state (where more than 60% of businesses pay ZERO taxes!) and has forfeited nearly $100 million in federal monies. If his budget proposal is passed, we'll be losing nearly $50 million more in Federal transportation monies! Now, he complains that the state has a budget deficit that needs to be taken care of before July 1, 2011.
He wants public employees to balance our budget shortfall by taking a 7% hit in wages and benefits on top of the 3% we already took in the past 2 years. Guess what? The top unions HAVE agreed to do that and Gov. still won't compromise on this bill. That's because his bill is about union busting, not correcting the deficit! In this bill, which I have read in it's entirety, 56% of the pages are devoted to dismantling the unions. In that way, ALL public governments from the State to the County to the City and Village, including the School Boards, will have the ability to fire and lay off staff willy-nilly!
If the unions are busted, they will no longer be able to make significant contributions to political campaigns as in the past. The national unions are the only organized groups which have the money to make a difference and their contributions are competing with millions (billions?) of political contributions that come from the wealthiest people and corporations through their conservative PACS. So, what this fight boils down to is:
preserving the ability of the PEOPLE to have balanced political campaigns so rational and intelligent decisions can be made.
If the only source of political contributions is from the ultra conservative and libertarian groups, how does the average Joe sift through the hype and know what the real issues are?
In a taped conversation that was revealed yesterday, Gov. Walker believed he was speaking with one of the wealthiest men in the USA, a man who contributed significantly to Walker's campaign last year. Walker speaks freely about planting agitators among the demonstrators to stir up trouble but has refrained only because it may backfire on him politically. He jokes about keeping a baseball bat in his office in case he needs it. There are many other things in the conversation that make my stomach turn--if you haven't heard it yet, go here for the transcript: http://host.madison.com/wsj/article_531276b6-3f6a-11e0-b288-001cc4c002e0.html
Regardless of your political orientation, please, pay attention to what's happening here in the Midwest. If you value democracy and representative government, you MUST support the protesters. If you can join the demonstrations this weekend in your state capital, I urge you to do so!