Reichsfuhrer Scott Walker, and the Demise of Wisconsin Labor

It’s in the news, it’s on Facebook, in the papers, and, if you live in Wisconsin, every night at 5pm and at other unscheduled times during the day, Reichsfuhrer – oh, I meant Governor – Scott Walker appears for another press conference in an attempt to win the battle of public opinion. He spins, he lies, he does everything but actually say what he means – that he intends to bust Unions in the State of Wisconsin. He also keeps relating anecdotal stories of isolated individuals who support him, individuals that he supposedly has run across in the last week or so as he strolled the highways and byways of Wisconsin undetected. The odds of The Fuhrer and his party moving about undetected are very slim indeed, especially given the fact that he is all but proceeded by a band playing “Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles.”

I have listened to the stories from both sides. Walker says that unions are not being fair, as they rush to get contracts signed with local communities before Walker can disband them. What would he expect them to do? Could he possibly be so naive as to believe they would sit passively by, waiting for the hatchet to fall? Does he believe that the local communities are compelled to enter into these agreements? Is he really that ignorant of the process? Sadly, he may just be that naive and just that ignorant. This is a man who recognizes that he has control of both houses of the Wisconsin Congress, and so he intends to ram through whatever he chooses to stuff down the throats of Wisconsinites.

I live in Milwaukee County, where Walker was County Executive before running for Governor. As County Executive he went around cementing public swimming pools and doing just about everything he could to cripple what was one of the finest County Park systems in the Country. How it is that removing County assets would make anyone want to move to Milwaukee is beyond me. It’s very telling that Milwaukee County did not vote for him for Governor. He is ego run amok, and the only thing secondary to his ego is his arrogance. The truth is, he doesn’t care what people believe, or feel, or need. He is going to exercise power at every opportunity, more indiscriminately that perhaps any politician in the history of America.

No matter how both sides attempt to spin the question in Wisconsin, this is about collective bargaining. Americans have a pathetically short memory, and so every one of us needs to re-read the history of the development of labor unions. Labor unions didn’t develop because workers were greedy, labor unions developed because employers – yes, even government employers – took advantage of workers and treated them in a subhuman manner, including children. I find it unbelievable selfish that any human being would deny the right to collective bargaining to the people who haul away your trash. If you disagree, go stick your head deep into your garbage can, take a deep whiff, and then we can talk more. Human beings died to earn the right to collectively bargain. Have we become so callous that no longer matters to us?

I have heard the argument that union households as a percentage of American households have been in steady decline as our economy has transitioned from a production to a service economy. That’s just fine, but it doesn’t logically follow from those statistics that the unions that remain should be outlawed.

As a person of faith, I am not moved by Fuhrer Walker’s urgent need to balance a budget that he, in fact, unbalanced with a big tax cut for the richest people in Wisconsin and for corporations. I am of the belief that when you create a problem, you are responsible for cleaning it up – and not at the expense of other people. I also believe that as the gulf between rich and poor continues to grow, and as the middle class continues to disappear, we are going to need labor unions to work on our behalf, perhaps more than ever.

Jesus Christ stood with the poor, the marginalized, the outcast, and the forgotten. Teachers are among the forgotten, and they are public employees who remain vastly under compensated as we spend billions of dollars every week on a war we can’t win in Afghanistan. We value killing in this Country more than we value education. Jesus would slap the shit out of us, and rightly so. I believe that teachers most certainly need collective bargaining. I do not believe that Jesus would support Fuhrer Walker’s strong arm tactics.

Make no mistake about it, the debate in Wisconsin isn’t about balancing a budget. It is about power, pure and simple, and a Governor who believes he was elected dictator. It has to stop, and it has to stop now.

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