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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

 
American Infighting

by digby


Greg Sargent makes a point that really can't be made enough: the Wisconsin public employee unions have already capitulated on all financial requests. They did so early on. What they will not give in on is their right to be unionized. All of Walker's arguments about this being a budget issue are therefore moot. This is just about breaking the unions, plain and simple.

I watched a fair amount of gasbaggery yesterday and this wasn't made clear by either the press or the Democratic defenders. The other side just rolled out its usual misdirection and babble of nonsense and the point consistently got lost. And this is terribly important. Here's Greg again with the latest polling:

Key finding: When read a very detailed explanation of Walker's proposal, 52 percent of Wisconsin voters oppose it, 42 percent strongly so. Meanwhile, 42 percent support it, only 24 percent strongly.

The poll finds that since the standoff began, "Walker has seen real erosion in his standing, with a majority expressing disapproval of his job performance and disagreement with his agenda."

And: "When asked more specifically, 58 percent oppose eliminating collective bargaining, 57 percent oppose reducing wages for public employees and 50 percent oppose reducing pension benefits for public employees." And 59 percent of independents oppose the collective bargaining piece, too.

Of course, at this point, one presumes Walker's intended audience is national conservatives, not his own constituents. The full polling memo is right here.

(Greg's right that this is a national union busting campaign.)

These results show that when people understand what is happening, they side with the unions, not the Republicans. Even a lot of Republicans side with the unions. After all, it's kind of hard to argue about freedom and liberty if the only people who have it are employers.

But then this is a sour country right now, full of angry disappointed people who've been sold a bill of good for a long time. Many of them, as has been true since the beginning of the Republic, are drawn to the Resentment Tribe, which has politically organized itself as the GOP for the past few decades. Sadly, this is how it's manifesting itself in these troubled times:

Among the top five employers here are the county, the schools and the city. And that was enough to make Mr. Hahan, a union man from a union town, a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker’s sweeping proposal to cut the benefits and collective-bargaining rights of public workers in Wisconsin, a plan that has set off a firestorm of debate and protests at the state Capitol. He says he still believes in unions, but thinks those in the public sector lead to wasteful spending because of what he sees as lavish benefits and endless negotiations.

Here in Janesville, a city of about 60,000 an hour southeast of Madison, Crystal Watkins, a preschool teacher at a Lutheran church, said she was paid less than public school teachers and got fewer benefits. “I don’t have any of that,” she said. “But I’m there every day because I love the kids.”

In Palmyra, a small village bounded by farmland and forests, MaryKay Horter remembered how her husband’s Chevy dealership had teetered on the brink of closing after General Motors declared bankruptcy, for which she blamed unions.

Ms. Horter said she was forced to work more hours as an occupational therapist, but had not seen a raise or any retirement contributions from her employer for the last two years. All told, her family’s income has dropped by about a third.

“I don’t get to bargain in my job, either,” she said.

And in nearby Whitewater, a scenic working-class city of 15,000 that is home to a public university, Dave Bergman, the owner of a bar, was tending it himself on Sunday. He has been forced to cut staff and work seven days a week.

“There are a lot of people out of work right now that would take a job without a union,” Mr. Bergman said.

This is the result of the aristocracy's strategy since time began --- pitting the serfs against each other to fight over an ever shrinking piece of the pie --- while the nobles enjoy the fruits of their labor. In our democracy the way to do that is by exploiting the long standing resentments and cultural divisions that have been with us since the beginning. It's very effective as we can see.

If you think I'm wrong, take a look at this and ask yourself why any working person should be fighting another working person over wages and benefits:



That chart is from Mother Jones, which has put together several great visual aids to simply and easily explain how the average worker in America is being screwed. Why so many of them side with the oligarchs is probably more psychological than anything else. But it's a long tradition here --- Americans may hate "the Man", but they often hate their fellow man more.


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