Federal, state, and local government budgets, and the lives of working people, across America, are in deep trouble for three dominant reasons:
(1) Federal and state policies, including tax policies, during the last three-plus decades have redistributed a consistently and drastically increasing percentage of the income and the wealth of the nation to large corporations and the super-rich. The consistently increasing tax cuts lavished on corporations and the very wealthy over this period have been substantially financed from the Social Security Trust Fund.
(2) Deficit financing of the military-industrial complex, the escalating cost of empire, and the undeclared wars waged, and continuing occupations, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.
(3) The national economic crisis (which immediately expanded worldwide, and trickled-down to state, local, and family budgets) that was caused by the largest fraud and larceny ever perpetrated in world history.
This worldwide economic crisis, with its massive, tragic consequences, was intentionally perpetrated by decision makers in huge, transnational financial and insurance and investment and accounting corporations. Neither the government that is supposed to be of, by, and for the people, nor either major party, has taken the necessary steps to:
(a) prevent such an outrageous fraud from happening again,
(b) prosecute the looters, and
(c) recover the loot.
Instead, we have been expected to collectively dig the very crooks (and only the crooks) out from under the collapsed consequences of the disaster they initiated.
We must defeat efforts to scapegoat any portion of the people and force them/us to pay even more for this continuing economic crisis.
Public employees, and people who now or in the future might need a social safety net, and environmental protection programs, are among those particularly targeted as scapegoats by Walker’s budget “repair” bill. But it is everyday working people in general, and the planet we inhabit, which are now threatened by the ultimate objectives of the class warfare of which Walker’s bill is only one, and only a preliminary initiative. The current scapegoats are not to blame for this crisis, and we must not allow them to be forced to pay for it.
Be advised that Walker’s budget “repair” bill was provoked by Walker’s own precipitous action immediately on taking office that granted well over a hundred million in ill-advised tax breaks to corporations and well-to-do individuals. The budget for the coming year (while admittedly facing challenges in the future, but which are not as bad as those facing most other states) was actually balanced before Walker’s welfare handout to the well-connected this winter.
The attack on collective bargaining rights, and on the already badly shredded safety net, and on the environment itself, is evidence that if we allow Walker to plunder the scapegoats currently on the line, we will all become victims – lined up and picked off, one by one. The attack is widening and spreading even now – to all working people, to the entire middle class as well as the poor, to our very planet and the basis on which we build our lives and the future.
A few teachers (and certainly the mass media) seem to think that this is all about teachers who want to protect their rights and compensation. It’s not. Teachers have been persistently excoriated and slandered by elements in our society for years, and it is high time that all of us stand, speak out, and defend teachers (and their union), as a whole, as a profession, as a calling, as individuals. We owe them our gratitude for their service that is so essential to our nation and our future, and is so often performed above and beyond the call of duty. And we, as a community, owe them more than just cheap lip service.
But while teachers, and other directly impacted public employees, currently happen to be on the front lines in this struggle, they are not the only parties to be directly impacted by this bill. This bill would also remove legislative authority over the Badger Care Medicaid program, allowing the Governor’s office sole control of administration, funding and eligibility. This bill eliminates state revenue sharing to local municipalities and to public schools, thus putting Wisconsin school districts, cities, and towns in financial crisis. This bill authorizes the state to take out an additional 200 million in loans in excess of current authorization. This bill, if it passes, will result in the state losing 46 million in federal grants for public transit, as a consequence of prohibiting collective bargaining with transit employees. This bill will also actually allow the state to raid 28 million dollars from existing deposits in the Employee Trust Fund in order to “pay” the mandated future state contributions to that “Trust” fund from now until 2013. And in 2013, public employees will become required to pay the entire amount of contributions to the Trust Fund, with no employer contributions. This bill would allow the no bid sale (privatization) of state assets, including land and power plants.
This conflict will be lost unless we soon recognize that we are all in this together and act accordingly. The corporate National Association of Manufacturers has long had a slogan or motto that goes, “Alone We Are Weak, Together We Are Strong”. Now, if directors of huge, multi-national competing corporations realize and accept the necessity for themselves to join forces for strength, why on earth would everyday working people give any credibility at all to PR spokespersons for these corporations, their media mouthpieces, or their bought-and-paid-for politicians, when they lecture us with forked tongue to, “Be individuals, be self-reliant, you don’t need unions, only incompetent bums need a union. Trust us.”
Never fall for the strategy employed by our enemy to “divide-and-conquer” us, by pitting public vs. private, union vs. non-union, manual vs. mental, skilled vs. unskilled, professional vs. technical, employed vs. unemployed, blue collar vs. white, black vs. white vs. brown vs. red vs. yellow, rural vs. suburban vs. urban.
We are the working class! 90 percent of the people are certifiably, automatically in the working class. Maybe 95 percent. The other five or ten percent – it’s kinda up to you. Which side are you on?
Solidarity forever shall be our remedy for injustice and oppression and attacks on our rights, our families, our communities, our air and water, our planet and our future.
The people, united, will never be defeated.