In Feb. 26 IssueBy John Thompson, Columnist
Want to know how to turn a budget that's nearly balanced into a major deficit? Provide increased tax breaks to corporations. That's what the governor of Wisconsin did in a cynical political bid to destroy unions.
Yes, unions, those evil Marxist entities that have labor grouping together to negotiate for better wages, better working conditions, pension plans and vacation time, among other things. You know, common working man/woman things that are just what conservatives stand for. No, not really. It's the conditions that have been steadily deteriorating over the past 30 years or so.
Did you know that the average income has hardly moved from what it was 20 years ago? The growth rate of the average income was incredibly slow compared to the overall growth of the economy. During this time productivity skyrocketed, profits went through the roof and that almost the entire benefits have gone to the very top. You can look it up. Why people don't I don't know.
So we hit a hard time in the economy and what happens? We bail out the rich, who took all the increases and we told ourselves we are just going to have to cut back on social spending, or as I like to call it, cut back on advanced civilization. But we also don't like to put the onus on the rich so many in our class decided it must be the Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac welfare recipients' fault. So now it looks like they are on their way to dismantling the only program that was made to try to allow affordable housing. Expect home ownership to fall. Well not fall, all the homes will still be there, they'll just be owned by fewer people.
It never ends and it never fails.
Since private labor has been destroyed the public sector looks like it has it too good. So we must destroy it also. "There's just no money," I keep reading from people commenting to articles online. Ok, let's just look at the creation of money aspect. We've printed more money than ever, so wouldn't there be more money? Let's look at it from another aspect; real wealth. Real wealth cannot be measured so easy by an economic system… or at least certainly not with our insane sort of capitalism system where it seems the driver of the economy is financing (an industry that produces nothing by the way).
No, real wealth is the physical things and some types of intellectual properties. We have much of this wealth still around us. We have all the makings of food, clothing, shelter, and if we gave a damn, providing basic medical needs for all. But we're sort of bamboozled into thinking we can't sustain such things, and that if it's all eventually owned by 1) China, 2) massive multinational corporations, or 3) the billionaires, well that's just the way it has to be. Don't take what I've said there too far, I'm not that na´ve. We're not going to go build ourselves a car in the backyard. But what I would say is that most of the power that we do not have is because we have given it away. In some ways we've ceded power for luxuries.
Social structure does not define reality. It is a subset of reality. It is the way it is because we collectively either agree, or are coerced by threat; any of those three groups mentioned above will take what is ours only through our collective agreement, or that we've allowed a situation to generate such that we are powerless to stop it even by force.
Which could get me back to Wisconsin, except I've got one more digression; one of the characteristics of my column is that I often do not put a lot of details of the specific event I'm talking about. One reason I don't do that is if you're keeping up with the world at all then you already have some idea of what the situation is, what the positions are, everyone's arguments and such. If I just outlined an oppositional argument and then tried to reasonably refute it I would be doing much of what is already done throughout the media. I'd just be another pundit.
What I try to do, often, with more or less success, is to try to get down to either the heart of the matter, or at least a bigger picture concern. With Wisconsin that concern is 1) societal domination by corporations and billionaires (Koch brothers, hired politicians, misguided right wingers), 2) in this case the lack of solidarity between people of seemingly the same socio-economic class.
Union membership is at an all time low. Their influence, and I contend therefore OUR influence, in government is waning. At the same time corporations are winning more and more rights to control the political system.
In fact I think the turning point in our nation has passed. I do not think there is a going back. There is only a going forward; and yes, that going forward will be ugly, and will eventually end in revolution. One week soon I'll paint a scenario for you of how that might look, as I see it.
Ok, Wisconsin; if you're fighting against the collective bargaining of unions then I'd say your wrongheaded. I've outlined at the start what they fight for and those are noble indeed.
Is there corruption in unions? Well let me ask you what massive organization hasn't had corruption? Do we throw the baby out with the bathwater? I've heard argued "oh they had a purpose but no more." This argument being made NOW, as we have been systematically dismantling the concessions unions once fought and died for? You think doing away with unions is going to make it better when we see right before our eyes the disintegration of private labor power right along with the destruction of unions?
I don't hear corporations collectively calling for the dismantling of all corporations because some of them have corruption. That would be crazy and not in their interest. But we willing do bash and want unions gone.
I understand why rich people fight for these things. If I was CEO or an anonymous major shareholder who successfully put away my conscience many years ago I would not support it either. It might mean less millions for me. But when the average man/woman fights against their own I always find it disturbing.
I will close with this; The Courier-Journal had an Op/Ed piece on February 19 entitled "The Pork Capital." In it the author is talking about another piece by Paul Begala, former counselor to President Bill Clinton. In it Begala is, tongue in cheek says of Kentucky, "Defund Kentucky. Cut it off the federal dole."
I mention it because he talks of our particular penchant for wanting to elect officials that say they want to cut pork, yet Kentucky actually receives $1.51 for every $1 sent in Federal taxes. So when we were all happy about Bush's federal tax cut, we were happy that we were going to be receiving 1/3 less back to the states. How do you like those cuts now?
Oh, and if you can't see the connection between that and our state's budget, and therefore our counties budget woes, then I can't help you.
If you read my column you know I was pointing this out two years ago and again less than a year ago when we were gearing up to elect Rand Paul.