Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Choice Is Ours

I wondered at the people of Egypt and their courage.  And I wondered how long before our citizens, once proud workers, would fight back against those who truly believe the rich should inherit, well, everything.

They are fighting back in Wisconsin.  A governor whose reputation hinges on union-busting, who first gave tax breaks to business, and then claimed the need to cut government employee salaries and benefits because of the deficit -- a deficit that will only happen because of the business tax cuts.  And government employees who see this as the political play that it is; that is, it is not about the salaries, it is about the elimination of bargaining rights.

We have been losing the battle over our unions for decades.  It is no surprise that salaries and benefits have been on the decline as union membership has declined.  It is not in fact because our country is doing so poorly, it is because our corporations are doing so well, that the middle and lower classes continue to lose.

When the first union agreed to freeze wages the war began.  Because when times were bad, the cuts got bigger, and when times were good, the cuts continued to get bigger, even as the corporations got fatter.

And so it saddens me to see the brave people of Wisconsin, and the brave Democrats of the Wisconsin legislature, taking the position that "It's not about the money", and agreeing to concessions in order to keep their bargaining rights.  Because it is about money, money and benefits, that the governor gives to the wealthy, and forces from the middle class and the poor.  And when they concede the money, they have agreed that it belongs to the wealthy, and not to them.

And it is no surprise that Governor Walker is rejecting this compromise, because the powerful and wealthy do not compromise.  And the small-minded greedy Tea Party protestors have come out, on demand by those who control them, convinced that when one group is paid fairly it takes from them.

This fight, in Wisconsin and throughout our nation, will be a long one.  We fought it before, and while I reaped the benefits, it was before my time, and my children and your children don't remember a time like this, when handouts are given to the rich and a livelihood is being taken from the rest of us.  But it has to be fought and it has to be won.  The alternative is too tragic to consider.

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