WHY AMERICA IS RIPE FOR A REVOLUTION!
‘Mad As Hell’ In Madison
By Ralph Nader
The large demonstrations at the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin are driven by a middle class awakening to the spectre of its destruction by the corporate reactionaries and their toady Governor Scott Walker.
For years the middle class has watched the plutocrats stomp on the poor while listening to the two parties regale the great middle class, but never mentioning the tens of millions of poor Americans. And for years, the middle class was shrinking due significantly to corporate globalization shipping good-paying jobs overseas to repressive dictatorships like China. It took Governor Walker’s legislative proposal to do away with most collective bargaining rights for most public employee unions to jolt people to hit the streets.
Republicans take rigged elections awash in corporatist campaign cash seriously. When they win, they aggressively move their corporate agenda, unlike the wishy-washy Democrats who flutter weakly after a victory. Republicans mean business. A ram rod wins against a straw all the time.
Governor Walker won his election, along with other Republicans in Wisconsin, on mass-media driven Tea Party rhetoric. His platform was deceitful enough to get the endorsement of the police, and firefighters unions, which the latter have now indignantly withdrawn.
These unions should have known better. The Walker Republicans were following the Reagan playbook. The air traffic controllers union endorsed Reagan in 1980. The next year he fired 12,000 of them during a labor dispute. (This made flying unnecessarily dangerous.)
Then Reagan pushed for tax cuts—primarily for the wealthy—which led to larger deficits to turn the screws on programs benefitting the people. Reagan, though years earlier opposed to corporate welfare, not only maintained these taxpayer subsidies but created a government deficit, over eight years, that was double that of all the accumulated deficits from George Washington to Jimmy Carter.
Maybe the unions that endorsed Walker will soon realize that not even being a “Reagan Democrat” will save them from being losers under the boot of the corporate supremacists.
The rumble of the people in Madison illustrates the following:
1. There is an ideological plan driving these corporatists. They create “useful crisis” and then hammer the unorganized people to benefit the wealthy classes. Governor Walker last year gave $140 million in tax breaks to corporations. This fiscal year's deficit is $137 million. Note this oft-repeated dynamic. President Obama caved to the Minority party Republicans in Congress last December by going along with the deficit-deepening extension of the huge dollar volume tax cuts for the rich. Now the Republicans want drastic cuts in programs that help the poor.
2. Whatever non-union or private union workers, who are giving ground or losing jobs, think of the sometimes better pay and benefits of unionized public employees, they need to close ranks without giving up their opposition to government waste. For corporate lobbyists and their corporate governments are going after all collective bargaining rights for all workers and they want to further weaken The National Labor Relations Board.
3. Whenever corporations and government want to cut workers’ incomes, the corporate tax abatements, bloated contracts, handouts and bailouts should be pulled into the public debate. What should go first?
4. For the public university students in these rallies, they might ponder their own tuition bills and high interest loans, compared to students in Western Europe, and question why they have to bear the burden of massive corporate welfare payouts—foodstamps for the rich. What should go first?
5. The bigger picture should be part of the more localized dispute. Governor Walker also wants weaker safety and environmental regulations, bargain-basement sell-outs of state public power plants and other taxpayer assets.
6. The mega-billionaire Koch brothers are in the news. They are bankrolling politicians and rump advocacy groups and funding media campaigns in Wisconsin and all over the country. Koch Industries designs and builds facilities for the natural gas industry. Neither the company nor the brothers like the publicity they deserve to get every time their role is exposed. Always put the spotlight on the backroom boys.
7. Focusing on the larger struggle between the people and the plutocracy should be part and parcel of every march, demonstration or any other kind of mass mobilization. The signs at the Madison rallies make the point, to wit—“2/3 of Wisconsin Corporations Pay No Taxes,” “Why Should Public Workers Pay For Wall Street’s Mess?”, “Corporate Greed Did the Deed.”
8. Look how little energy it took for these tens of thousands of people to sound the national alarm for hard-pressed Americans. Just showing up is democracy’s barn raiser. This should persuade people that a big start for a better America can begin with a little effort and a well-attended rally. Imagine what even more civic energy could produce!
Showing up lets people feel their potential power to subordinate corporatism to the sovereignty of the people. After all, the Constitution’s preamble begins with “We the People,” not “We the Corporations.” In fact, the founders never put the word “corporation” or “company” in our constitution which was designed for real people.
As for Governor Walker’s projected two-year $3.6 billion deficit, read what Jon Peacock of the respected nonprofit Wisconsin Budget Project writes at: http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org about how to handle the state budget without adopting the draconian measures now before the legislature.
WHY AMERICA IS RIPE FOR A REVOLUTION!Click on image to enlarge
Image New York Times
|Protesters across US decry Wis. anti-union efforts|
(AP) – 12 hours ago
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Rallies were held across the country Saturday to support thousands of protesters holding steady at the Wisconsin Capitol in their fight against Republican-backed legislation aimed at weakening unions.
Union supporters organized rallies from New York to Los Angeles in a show of solidarity as the protest in Madison entered its 12th straight day and attracted its largest crowd yet: more than 70,000 people. Hundreds banged on drums and screamed into bullhorns inside, while others braved frigid weather and snowfall during a rally that spilled into city streets.
"I want to thank you for coming out here today to exercise those pesky First Amendment rights," actor Bradley Whitford, who starred in television's "The West Wing," told his hometown crowd. "This governor has to understand Wisconsin is a stubborn constituency. We fish through ice!"
Republican Gov. Scott Walker has introduced a bill that includes stripping almost all public workers, from librarians to snow plow drivers, of their right to collectively bargain on benefits and work conditions. Walker has said the bill would help close a projected $3.6 billion deficit in the 2011-13 budget. He also argues that freeing local governments from collective bargaining would give them flexibility amid deep budget cuts.
The bill has sent Democrats and unions into an outrage nationwide. They see it as trampling on workers' rights and as an attempt to destroy Democrats' strongest campaign allies.
"Wisconsin is opening up people's eyes a little bit," said Jay Van Loenen, a teacher who attended a rally in Denver that attracted about 1,000 people. "So I think that the move is to try to get people more involved in their unions and create a stronger front so that if something happens here, we are prepared."
Several thousand people gathered for a rally in Columbus, Ohio, where lawmakers are considering a similar bill. Indiana Democrats successfully blocked a Republican bill last week that would have prohibited union membership from being a condition of employment.
Large crowds of teachers, firefighters and public workers also gathered for rallies — holding American flags, wearing pro-union clothing and holding signs — in other capital cities including Topeka, Kan.; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Olympia, Wash.
In Los Angeles, public sector workers and others held signs that read "We are all Wisconsin." Some wore foam "cheeseheads," the familiar hats worn by Green Bay Packers fans.
Covered in layers of coats, scarves, hats and gloves, about 1,000 rally goers outside the Minnesota Capitol chanted "Workers' rights are human rights" and waved signs, some reading "United we bargain, divided we beg."
"The right to collectively bargain is an American right," Eliot Seide, a local union leader, told the crowd in St. Paul. "You can't have American democracy if you don't have a strong trade union movement."
The rallies were part of a campaign by the liberal online group MoveOn.org to hold demonstrations supporting Wisconsin workers in major cities across the country. Some of the demonstrations attracted counter-protests, though the pro-union rallies were larger.
Madison Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said he didn't have a firm estimate on the Wisconsin capital's crowd, but said it was larger than last weekend when nearly 70,000 people descended on the Capitol.
The crowd cheered as pilot Jeff Skiles, the first officer on the US Airways Flight that landed in New York City's Hudson River in January 2009, told them that "justice and righteousness will always win out." Skiles helped pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger land the plane, whose 155 passengers and crew members were safely rescued.
Protesters jammed the Wisconsin Capitol steps, packed the ice-covered lawn — some sat in trees — and filled surrounding streets. Several thousand counter-protesters came out last Saturday to support Walker, but they were hardly visible this time.
Capitol police planned to let protesters stay overnight Saturday into Sunday, but plan to finally close the building Sunday afternoon to let crews clean it.
People held signs that called Walker a parasite and a dictator and demanded voters recall him. Michael Janairo, a 4-year-old of Sheboygan, held a sign that showed Green Bay Packers star linebacker Clay Matthews tackling Walker. Michael's mother, Lisa Janairo, is not a public worker but drove to Madison to show support.
"For him to dictate and not negotiate is just wrong and we won't stand for it," the 45-year-old said.
Associated Press writers Tara Bannow in St. Paul, Minn.; Sheila V. Kumar in Denver; Beth Fouhy in New York City; Michael Virtanen in Albany, N.Y.; and Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.