24 February 2011

The Wisconsin Question

We're being told this week that public employees are a privileged lot. Because of their alleged symbiotic relationship with government in general and the Democratic party in particular, they can get away with demands for wages and benefits that would be rejected out of hand anywhere in the private sector. While the private sector must be ever mindful of the bottom line, politicians too often borrow money to make life more comfortable for those workers who pay them back, in many cases, with votes. There may be some objective truth to these propositions, but beneath them are some less pleasant premises. There's an implicit assumption in the statements of Republican governors, radio talkers, and reactionary rabble, that public employees should have less leeway to negotiate for optimum working conditions than their private-sector counterparts, that they have less right to demand their due when their boss is "We the People." Of course, "We the People" will still want the best quality service, if we want the service at all, but we seem to believe that we should unilaterally determine what the services are worth, and that our will on the matter, this being a democracy, should be absolute. It thus appears monstrous that public employees should defy the will of the people and the majority of their elected representatives, and assert for themselves what their fair compensation should be. But here, at least, unlike when a sports team raises ticket prices to pay for the latest superstar acquisition, we think we can hold public employees to account. We can root for governors to lay them off. We can discreetly agree when some twit tweets that they should be shot. We can accuse the teachers of betraying our children by taking a sick day to demonstrate at the state capital when we would rather have our kids taught by the low-bid and most likely least qualified contractors. With that attitude prevalent, no wonder public employees are among the most thoroughly unionized in the country today; they have the suckiest bosses. But since this is a democracy, "We the People" must rule. So what do we really want? Do we want the cheapest public servants we can hope to keep? Or do we want our public servants to be slaves?


Anonymous said...

The question you should be DEMANDING an answer to, is why do these repugnicans not hold their corporate leash-holders to the same standards they hold the working class to?

The question I'd like an answer to is what will be the breaking point where those who at least have some self-determination afforded them by the power of collective bargaining going to grab their own baseball bats and say "ENOUGH" to these self-centered, selfish right-wing S.O.B.s

Corporate America, through the use of their repugnican lackeys, are attempting to turn this nation into a corporate-run feudal state where we are all beholden to one corporate lord or another. We have both agreed that this is unacceptable. So when will you accept that the only available solution is to hold the Koch brothers and their ilk, as well as their right-wing puppets PERSONALLY accountable for the war they are waging against the working class?

Samuel Wilson said...

How about when you give us a realistic idea of how many people will have to held accountable before change results? With what army are you going to hold accountable the tens of millions of Americans who vote "Repugnican" in every national election, not to mention all those others who for whatever reason refuse to accept public employees in the same boat that they're in? Until you convince or terrorize people into saying otherwise, a lot of them are going to believe that their corporate leash holders have earned the leash and the right to hold it, and that many others are only any good with a leash on. Why that has come to pass remains a mystery to me, but there it is. We seem to have become too decadent culturally to accept the responsibilities of social solidarity; they're too much of a burden on our liberty. Yet corporate feudalism is not seen as such a burden, if anyone can even envision it. Under these conditions, it'll take a lot more than whatever exemplary punishments you may have in mind to change the national consciousness.