SELF PRESERVATION ENTERS THE BUILDING

The situation in Wisconsin has taken yet another fascinating turn, as (unionized) police officers have joined the ranks of the protesters in the Capitol. It doesn't quite have the same substantive impact as Libyan army units defecting to join the anti-government wave but it's an intriguing development nonetheless. Police are not exactly a profession that one associates with anti-government protests, obviously, and moreover some police organizations actually endorsed Walker just a few short months ago (N.B.: the media's allusion to "the police" endorsing him is incorrect – of over 300 police labor organizations in the state, four of them did). Well, I guess they're un-endorsing him now.

What changed? Even Republican elected officials aren't stupid enough to mess with law enforcement, what with all the War on Drugs, Tough on Crime rhetoric and the constant emotional appeals to our various Heroes in Uniform(s) in place of actual arguments. Indeed, Walker's various Gilded Age union-busting proposals have repeatedly and explicitly excluded police and firefighters (Heroes! 9/11! Bald Eagles shitting red-white-blue chemtrails!) Given the presumption of special treatment and the natural antagonism that exists between cops and dirty hippie protesters, why would they take the unusual step of becoming protesters themselves?

For once and once only I am going to assume that the correct answer is "Cops are not idiots."

I've written at length before on the progression of inter-class victim-blaming in this country since 1980. First they convinced the blue collars to scapegoat the Welfare Queens. Then the suburbanites scapegoated the blue collars and their cushy union factory jobs (hence NAFTA). Then the suburbanites started to cannibalize themselves: first the greedy retirees with their sweet benefits were redefined as Leeches, and now it's the teachers and public sector workforce. While Americans in general have failed to notice how this game of "Find a new scapegoat every 3 years until there's no one left with benefits or a salary over $10/hr " has progressed methodically for several decades, the cops appear to have no illusions about what is happening. They are waking up to reality: "They're going to come for us next."

Yes, they are. Though cops and firemen are left out of the Kochs' Walker's plans for the time being, imagine that he succeeds in crushing the teachers/public sector unions now. In two years they will need a new scapegoat. It is already well established that the right wing media machine and Teabag-o-sphere can demonize anyone, so why not America's Heroes? Can you imagine a lot of salutes to the bravery of our police and fire departments followed by caveats about deficits, austerity, and "tough choices"? By the time 2013 rolls around and the public has acquiesced to the public sector being crushed, there's absolutely no reason that another manufactured budget deficit couldn't serve as an effective burning Reichstag to rally the timid, scared, angry public behind the whitest "Fuck the Police" movement ever seen.

First they came for the minorities, and I did not speak up because…

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58 Responses to “SELF PRESERVATION ENTERS THE BUILDING”

  1. jazzbumpa Says:

    My nightmare image is the select few living in their gated communities, while the rest of us starve in a bleak landscape of crumbling infrastructure, and the work formerly done by community police is handled by foreign mercenaries.

    It's all very 12th century.

    WASF,
    JzB

  2. Xynzee Says:

    This could all get very interesting. What if the State Troopers and Nat Guard baulk next?

  3. HoosierPoli Says:

    Your best work yet. And need I remind anyone who doubts whether the "Heroes" could be left to rot like the rest of us: the "Troops" have been fucked over in countless ways by a political class that used them as a fucking mascot and then dumped them down the drain like the ignorant underclass they mostly are. Where are the Infantry unions?

  4. cromartie Says:

    My nightmare image is the select few living in their gated communities, while the rest of us starve in a bleak landscape of crumbling infrastructure, and the work formerly done by community police is handled by foreign mercenaries.

    Save for the foreign mercenaries, you've just described India perfectly. (Instead it's natives sharing security guard uniforms).

  5. SHG Says:

    Two words: Robocop.

  6. Radical Scientist Says:

    Yup.

    I think a lot of the same rhetoric applied to teachers could be used to fuck over cops–make some noise about how their work is oh-so-important, then move on to whining about how back in the good ol' days it was a job people took to make a difference, and end with insinuating that treating teaching/policing/whatever like any other job–where people expect to be paid appropriately for their work–is somehow demeaning.

  7. Peter Patau Says:

    It probably wasn't lost on the police that the Republicans in Congress blocked the supplemental funding for 9/11 first responder medical expenses on budget cutting grounds — until they were finally shamed into reluctantly passing the legislation. And, of course, in Milwaukee County, there was the shabby episode of Walker laying off security guards for courthouses and other public buildings and replacing them with some low-life Wackenhuts, a move later — and expensively — reversed by the courts.

    The handwriting is on the wall.

  8. Ike Says:

    The folks in the gated communities can't live without the lower classes. The security guard with the gun is only as cooperative as his stomach is full. When the overlords forget to feed him, he will shoot them in the face.

  9. cromartie Says:

    It probably wasn't lost on the police that the Republicans in Congress blocked the supplemental funding for 9/11 first responder medical expenses on budget cutting grounds — until they were finally shamed into reluctantly passing the legislation.

    I have a good friend who is a police officer in one of the states facing a similar type of bill for their public employees. He's a life long libertarian who simply cannot fathom what the Republicans are doing to him. Having a conversation with him is like watching cognitive dissonance destroy a robot, complete with sparks shooting out of his head.

    I can't imagine he's close to being the only one. Plenty of these folks come from law and order lifestyles that don't exactly lend themselves to liberalism or even the basic common sense of voting for the party that has your best financial interests in mind.

  10. Sugar Says:

    @Cromartie: I know a guy from high school like this. Long time city employee in a union that may get fucked by SB 5 in Ohio. He is short circuiting. On one hand, I want to snap at him in a Nelson ha HA, but on the other I pity him, because he's been fed a bill of goods by the Tea Party. You want to shake him and say, "your union is a group supported by DEMOCRATS and always has been. Did you REALLY think you'd be safe?"

    I just saw this today and thought it was fitting:
    A unionized public employee, an ill-informed citizen, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the ill-informed citizen and says, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."

  11. Basilisc Says:

    Well said. They've already screwed over police a few times, e.g. the Zadroga bill (which would have passed without a trace if not for some well-timed histrionics by Weiner and a well-timed interview by Stewart), or the many times that police have been ignored on gun control issues.

    jazzbumpa has it right on the trend. More and more government or government-subsidized functions are being eliminated or privatized in a way that the benefits go almost entirely to the very rich: pensions replaced by 401Ks, public education by private schools, healthcare replaced by "concierge plans" where a group of wealthy individuals hire some doctors to be on-call for them, and only them, 24/7.

    And the next step is security: who needs police when you can hire security guards to keep watch over your gated community, from which you emerge only to work at an office building with its own private security force, and shop at a mall with its own private security force? Policing will increasingly be considered a poor-people's service, sort of like public hospitals or public transit or public schools. And then the "tough but necessary" budget cuts will start in.

  12. Basilisc Says:

    (in the second line above, by "passed without a trace" I meant "disappeared without a trace")

  13. Noskilz Says:

    What are the next significant deadlines in this tragicomedy? Walker hasn't really shown any signs he's interested in reconsidering his position, and as long as there's no quorum in the Wisconsin Senate he's stuck, but are there any approaching dates by which something has to happen that will up the ante for one side or another? Is there any mechanism to short-circuit this stand-off other than for someone who seems profoundly oblivious getting a clue or the unions surrendering everything including the collective bargaining option(which was their only hold out)?

  14. comrade x Says:

    I can see the teabagging b.s. spinning now: " Public police forces were never mentioned by the Founders… read your Constitution."

  15. Nancy Irving Says:

    I was reading the comments on an Ohio tea-bagger site, and it was really comical: cop after cop blowing his stack, saying he'd agreed with the Tea Party on everything before this, but now the TP was supporting the Ohio anti-union bill they were gonna tear up their Tea Party cards. Some of them even said that it would be okay if the law targeted only "fluff" unions (their word), but not THEIR union! First they came for the fluff, LOL…

  16. Virgil Bierschwale Says:

    Amen.

    Let me show you where this path leads too.

    http://keepamericaatwork.com/?p=39809

  17. Seth Says:

    Already happening, Ed.

    Two words: Camden, NJ. OK, I suppose that's three words. Anyway, in the process of gutting the police force in one of America's most violent cities per capita, our new conservative hero Chris Christie started rumbling along the lines you're predicting here.

  18. displaced Capitalist Says:

    Ike said:

    The folks in the gated communities can't live without the lower classes. The security guard with the gun is only as cooperative as his stomach is full. When the overlords forget to feed him, he will shoot them in the face.

    Actually, as Gaddafi has recently shown us, it's easy to keep a small army loyal while oppressing the masses.

  19. anotherbozo Says:

    G & T: an island of clarity in a swamp of collusion, disinformation and prattle. Many of the comments are as good as Ed's essay, IMHO. Hope there are more and more readers here, thanks to Rachel.

  20. xynzee Says:

    Well if anything the man is going Hell for Leather on his war against the Middle Class. He intends to take $900mil+ from the schools over the next two years.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/117023198.html

    Think that speaks for itself on how ideological the man is. Hopefully, no one earning $12/hr was hoping Timmy was going to get a full ride athletic scholarship after they cut sporting programs.

    Supposedly, the collective bargaining thing is so that schools can make decisions with restructures after he gut them of money.

    Hmmm… I wonder what that would look like. I wonder if he would then use back room pressure on school districts so that they could get rid of teachers who aren't in the ideological fold, or maybe even gay, etc. That's me just extrapolating to the next umpteen degree.

  21. Pat f Says:

    Don't forgot about Bachmann's plan to cut funds for the VA–that didn't go over well.

  22. Aaron Weber Says:

    In Boston, they've done a pretty good number on the firefighters– although at least a few of the firefighters did kind of deserve it (refusing drug testing, some real pension scandals, ongoing racial conflict…)

  23. Monkey Business Says:

    The greatest scam of the 20th and 21st centuries has to be how the Republican party managed to raise up a group of people hellbent on voting against their own best interests. This party should have been relegated to the scrapheap a long time ago. It should have been the last stand of the massively overcompensated executive and the fundamentalist Christian. Instead, somehow 17% of the populace is driving a national agenda, and the rest of us are just getting fucked.

  24. Kulkuri Says:

    My nightmare image is the select few living in their gated communities, while the rest of us starve in a bleak landscape of crumbling infrastructure, and the work formerly done by community police is handled by foreign mercenaries.
    First noticed this in L.A. back in the early 80s with everybody having their little backyards fenced in, thought at the time that it was like Rhodesia. That it was an effort to keep those people out. Then it moved on to gated communities, and the irony is that there is more crime in the gated communities than in communities in general. Hey, if you're looking to steal something, go where the money is!!

  25. Charlie Says:

    Hell, I'm just happy the liberals are remembering what unions are for. For too long many of us have forgotten the labor part of the equation. Equality for minorities just means a diverse boardroom pushing the rest of us to subsistance wages. Too many Democrats were willing to push the neo-conservative economics of the 1990s in exhange for a few token social provisions. Politically-minded religious diologue was dominated by wedge issues. Now, it appears that, at least for a few more news cycles, everyone is realizing that if the teachers who require Masters degrees can be forced into becoming another gear, dignity for all educated Americans could become a thing of the past. Solidarity with workers can become a lifeblood issue for the Democratic Party rather than something we abstractly throw around every four years.

  26. mojidoji Says:

    I keep waiting for them to go after veterans. At least state employees' pensions are not on the states' budgets: Veterans' benefits are on the federal budget. The question I keep asking myself is why aren't they going after us? If all of this is really about budgets and not political shuffling, we should be in there with other government employees.

    Then, I get to thinking about wanting to go back to 2008 budget levels: How about we go back to 1955 taxes?

  27. Da Moose Says:

    sounds like the faux Koch discussion had a most positive affect on the attitudes of many WI cops. It's unfortunate that it takes such a stark example to prove to blue collar GOPers that the establishment GOPers are not really on their side. But, at least the realization has finally happened.

  28. John Says:

    @Nancy Irving: "cop after cop blowing his stack, saying he'd agreed with the Tea Party on everything before this, but now the TP was supporting the Ohio anti-union bill they were gonna tear up their Tea Party cards. Some of them even said that it would be okay if the law targeted only "fluff" unions (their word), but not THEIR union!"

    This is the core of the teabagger mindset. When people were making fun of "get the government out of my medicare", it wasn't in the abstract — there really *were*, and in some cases still *are*, people who cry to get the government out of their medicare. Because, you see, *their* government subsidies are wholesome, just, and necessary. It's *everyone else's* government subsidies and entitlements that need to be slashed.

    And so it is here: busting unions is fine, as long as it's not *my* union. Slashing benefits is fine, as long as it's not *my* benefits.

    This is what happens when you raise an entire nation on the consumerist notion that they're the only person that matters. This is what happens when you bathe your citizenry in the profit motive, where their only goal is to acquire more shinies for themselves. They lose the capacity to think about other people. They are literally incapable of doing so. They are no longer people, but twisted creatures of pure avarice, only looking out for #1, all else be damned.

    Make no mistake, these cops aren't speaking up because they suddenly give a damn about their fellow citizens. They're speaking up because they just realized that they're next on the chopping block. As has been pointed out in this thread a few times before (and in Ed's original post), that old poem is spot-on for the situation.

    First they came for the X, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an X. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me.

    The point of the poem is that we, as human beings, cannot just sit by and ignore wrongs committed against our fellow humans. Because even though those wrongs don't directly affect us now, one day they will. And when you've sacrificed all of your brothers and sisters at the altar of personal betterment, you won't have anyone left to save you from the jaws of the beast you've created and raised.

    The cynic in me notes that these cops wouldn't give half of a rat's ass if they thought it wasn't going to directly impact their personal comfort down the line. The optimist in me is glad that at least *someone* is finally speaking up.

  29. displaced Capitalist Says:

    The cynic in me notes that these cops wouldn't give half of a rat's ass if they thought it wasn't going to directly impact their personal comfort down the line.

    Hey, not all cops are fascists!

  30. jeneria Says:

    @mojidoji in Montana, the legislature passed a bill to privatize all the VA hospitals. The vets are pissed because they voted Republican because of all the good homey rhetoric and the third thing they do is this. The first was to pass a bill stating state law supersedes federal and local law (a way to workaround the pesky anti-discrimination laws in Missoula and Bozeman) and the second was to go back to cyanide leach mining (after the people of Montana voted that down in two prior elections). Democracy at work, my friends.

  31. Brighton Says:

    There's plenty of money to solve all our problems without cutting anything. It's on the balance sheets of the banks, the corporations and the super-rich. Stop talking cuts, start talking teamwork! read here:
    http://brighton-towne.blogspot.com/2011/02/correct-me-if-im-wrong-but-weve-got.html

  32. displaced Capitalist Says:

    Well this didn't last long. FDL is reporting that the Capital police are blocking access to the state house:

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2011/02/28/capitol-police-blocking-access-to-building/

  33. Southern Beale Says:

    Cops are not idiots? I dunno. Some sure are. I know some cops who are flag-waving, misspelled-sign carrying members of the Tea Bag movement, who took off work to go to Glenn Beck's Whitestock in D.C. They are fine trashing unions and union workers because the Fraternal Order of Police isn't really a union! It's a club! Yeah, that's the ticket!

  34. Chris Gerrib Says:

    The demonization of police unions has already started.

  35. Mrs. Chili Says:

    Okay, Dude, you need to get out of my head, because there's barely room in there for me. This?

    First they came for the minorities, and I did not speak up because…

    creeped me right the fuck out. I was JUST THIS AFTERNOON talking to a student about these protests and the people participating in them, and I brought up Niemoller's poem as a way of explaining that it's in everyone's best interests to stand up for everyone. Then I come here and read your last line….

    Weird.

  36. Jado Says:

    Already done in Camden, NJ.

    It was a "hard choice", but they laid off 1/3 of the police and half of the firefighters in one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the US. So now all those people living in 100 year old tinderboxes surrounded by gangs (cause the schools suck and there are no jobs), will have a choice of being shot or burned to death.

    Conservatism is all about choices, after all…

  37. anotherbozo Says:

    It's hard to know from my vantage point (New York City, whence MSNBC, and a circle of friends all agreed about the G&T POV), but the only positive possibility from recent events is that there could be some kind of turning point here, that the Koch-heads and Teabaggers have finally awakened the Great Beast from its trance and it's starting to figure things out.

    Probably too much to hope for…

    But as with any cataclysm, who can look away? Will Pauline get freed from the railroad tracks in time? If this were only a movie…

  38. sadness Says:

    I have been reading your blog for about 2 months. I agree with a lot of what you have to say. I do not agree with how to conclusions about what to do about it. Point me to a society where the people standing up together against the elite class has worked. Any society. Point me to an example of how the philosophies of shared output has led to a utopia. It does not exist. It has never existed for any length of time. There will always be someone in charge and they will always have more than those who are not.

    Now, Unions can be useful when both sides have skin in the game, either their labor or the business owners profit. Government employees should not have, nor do they need, collective bargaining. Government jobs should not pay as well as private sector jobs because the government does not produce anything. Therefore they have to take from someone who is producing in order to provide services. I am all for providing services(although not to the level we currently are providing them) I am all for taxing the higher producers(of which I am one) more to provide those services, but only if we admit that we can not provide for every citizen according to their wants. And we have to admit it is just as important to balance the government budget as it is to balance your checkbook.

    I agree that cutting teachers benefits is an ineffective way to balance the budget, but let us look at this from a different point of view. If we did not have unions that set unrealistic demands on wages and then accepted businesses policy of promising the moon in "retirement" then companies would not have the pressure to move out of the US, taking our production base, and the tax revenues those companies generated elsewhere. Then the government could have had more revenue to pay salaries and the cost of goods and services would have remained in line with salaries and we would not even be having this discussion.

    The most important thing to change is the way we communicate. Calling names and making generalizations about any group of people, whether they be neo-cons, tea baggers, or left wing loons does not get us any closer to finding a solution that will make our country the exception, instead of ending up as another bankrupt European quasi -socialized cesspool of assumed rights, or an oppressive theocratic nightmare for women, or even a proletariat controlled nightmare where the standard of living for over 80 % of the population is agrarian hand to mouth existence. Our Democratic Republic has produced the highest standard of living in the world, with the most fluid socio-economic population that has ever existed. And many of those who have achieved wild economic success have given, and given, millions and millions of their wealth to those who have not had the success they have had.

    Now if you are still reading and blood is not shooting out of your eyes with rage remember, I am not necessarily right, but I am not necessarily completely wrong either and there is an answer somewhere in the middle. So let us talk about it, instead of hurling insults because someone thinks differently than you do.

  39. Major Kong Says:

    Oh gee, where to start?

    "Government jobs should not pay as well as private sector jobs because the government does not produce anything." – So what exactly does a credit default swap produce?

    Government jobs produce the infrastructure that lets you produce things. Go try and run your business out of Mogadishu and see how that works out for you. Yeah, it's a simplistic answer but that's all your "quasi -socialized cesspool" remark rates.

    "If we did not have unions that set unrealistic demands on wages" – There were no unions in the IT sector so explain how that moved overseas. Nobody in IT had a pension either so you can't blame that.

    There's no magic tax cut that's going to change the fact that people in the Philippines will work for 10 cents on the dollar. I don't see how running a race to the bottom with the third world is the path to prosperity.

  40. sadness Says:

    Alright Kong, now we are talking. Let's assume that everything I said confirms that I am an uniformed, ignorant, southern hillbilly who has no idea of what goes on in the real world and that you have just educated me on my abysmal lack of knowledge. I only ask one thing. Answer the question I asked in the first paragraph:

    Point me to a society where the people standing up together against the elite class has worked. Any society. Point me to an example of how the philosophies of shared output has led to a utopia.

    Oh, I at no point mentioned cutting taxes, I do not think that the government needs less revenue, I think they need less spending.

  41. cromartie Says:

    Government employees should not have, nor do they need, collective bargaining.

    Right. Because people didn't spend an entire century losing jobs due to political patronage, creating the need for collective bargaining to begin with. History books. Read them.

    Government jobs should not pay as well as private sector jobs because the government does not produce anything.

    Again, not a terribly intelligent statement. Without government, no one or no thing produces anything. Government provides the entire infrastructure, defense, and education, to name three items, by which anyone produces anything in modern society. Why people like you don't seem to understand this is beyond me. The only thing that props up an economy like India is the sheer numbers of grossly cheap labor the US (for now) lacks. In fact, I'd recommend a few months in India to help you gain an understanding of just how lucky you are and how important infrastructure is, and what role dirt cheap labor is. I mean, sure there are a quarter of a billion people starving to death, but hey, they're collateral damage to the capitalist process. Just like they would be here.

    Our Democratic Republic has produced the highest standard of living in the world, with the most fluid socio-economic population that has ever existed.

    Which, since you appear immune to actually paying attention to anything as you're a "high income producer", is headed directly toward the shitter at an accelerated rate. I could quote income inbalance statistics and standard of living declines ad nauseum that have paralleled our declining tax rates, but that's asked and answered as far as anyone reasonably paying attention is concerned. We were most productive and our standard of living was highest before people became enamored with the Laffer Curve. Wage stagnation has been in place for a majority of Americans since the 1970s.

    If we did not have unions that set unrealistic demands on wages and then accepted businesses policy of promising the moon in "retirement" then companies would not have the pressure to move out of the US, taking our production base, and the tax revenues those companies generated elsewhere.

    I must have missed the part where all those southern textile mills unionized, forcing manufactures to move their operations overseas.

    This comment is stunningly naieve for a number of reasons. First, companies eliminated manufacturing labor costs prior to free trade agreements and the rise of contemporary unions by relocating their operations to rural areas with less overhead. Then, once unions ascended they used automation to consolidate tasks that were repetitive in nature. But since that wasn't enough (because there were shareholders to satisfy) they lobbied lawmakers for reduced tariffs and free trade agreements. And once they got those (and it's important to note that NAFTA ruined both American manufacturing and Mexican agriculture industries) they tore everything down and shipped it overseas. Manufacturers seeking cheaper labor pools is as old, if not older, than the labor movement in this country.

    Secondly, every union critic I run across seems to conveniently forget that it takes two parties to negotiate a union agreement. Sitting across from every set of union reps is a mealy mouthed HR and financial person operating on the principal of IBG YBG, who uses the "retirement" carrot to represent some time in the future when the management team won't be there to deal with the problems the negotiations create. We've raised roughly two generations of idiot CFOs and CEOs that have floated to the top on the Peter Principle.

    But it's far easier to blame greedy workers. Especially when you aren't one.

    Third, this whole idea that everything would be hunky dory if people other than ourselves would all just embrace our serfdom and work for less money than our forefathers did is morally unconscionable. The fact that it comes from the party of Jesus would be sad if the charade wasn't so laughably transparent. You're supposed to want your fellow citizens to do better, and their children to do better. Not worse.

  42. sadness Says:

    Now we are cooking in oil!! Cromartie, you answered my belief that government employees should not have collective bargaining with:

    Right. Because people didn't spend an entire century losing jobs due to political patronage, creating the need for collective bargaining to begin with. Then you insulted me.

    So your answer to why government employees need unions is because government servants abused their power when elected. Which is why our Federal Government, when first constituted, was not a high paying, or full time job. I am beginning to think that government may be the problem? But let us continue.

    Then you insult me again and tell me government provides all of the infrastructure I need to do business. That is not entirely correct. As far as Defense goes, I agree with you entirely, although our definition of "defense" in this country is way out of hand. As far as roads and rail, I believe almost all rail was built by private companies and many roads were also built privately, or by the states to attract business. The Federal Highway system was not built for commerce, but for Defense. At least that is how Eisenhower sold it. And if it was not built, the rail companies would probably be more profitable, and the government would not have had to spend all those billions, so it would not need the revenue from taxes to build it, hmmm… may government is a little bigger problem when they expand beyond their charter (they are our servants aren't they?)

    to continue…You insulted me again, then told me about wage stagflation and declining tax rates. As I posted to Kong, I do not think the tax rates need to go down. I think spending does. And as far as Laffer Curve economics go, I discount entirely the idea of income tax as a way to raise revenue. It is ineffecient and encourages corruption. We can stay revenue neutral with a National Sales Tax that would provide more benefit to the poor and lower middle class and encourage the wealthy to spend more of their money.

    After insulting me again, you educated me on the rise of the industrial revolution and automation and you also pointed out the government corruption again was the reason for the loss of our industrial base, at least to some degree, and I agree with you completely. I also agree that short thinking Leaders are as much to blame, if not more so than unions for our current accelerated run at Balkanization.

    So if I read your post correctly we are in total agreement that the corruption of the Federal Government, and its inablility to resist the temptation of money from Greedy Corporations is the real reason we are taking the best idea for a society and flushing it down the toilet.

  43. Blakenator Says:

    Sadness, some interesting ideas. Cromartie beat me to the point that there are two sides to the negotiations. My only direct dealings with unions was as part of management but I heartily support the right of labor to organize. I agree there will always be an "elite" class but when they get too greedy, the peasants start to get restless. Your assertion that "uprisings" never worked is incorrect because the elites had enough sense to ease up on the greed. I'm sure you can find some examples in European history books. There will be a breaking point here in the USofA, too. Where you argument breaks down, though, is when you use the very argument Ed alluded to by stating public sector employees are not "producers," therefore they are not "deserving." Ayn Rand couldn't have been prouder. At least, back in her days, there were no dirty bloggers to point out her own hypocrisy in taking government "handouts" while publicly disparaging her fellow dole-mates.

  44. mother earth Says:

    For years, I have wondered when the voters in the South -my neighborhood- would wake up and realize that voting the Republican agenda for pro guns, pro God and anti-gay was economically ramming it up their own butts. But they just didn't seem to care. Unions are a dirty, dirty word down here. Arkansas is a Right to Work state, which humorously means you can be fired at any given moment. I'm watching Wisconsin with great interest and wondering if the Republicans have finally overreached in their efforts to fuck the middle class again, but with every little bit of hope usually comes great disappointment. I'd better find me a gated community!

  45. sadness Says:

    Blakenator, I must admit I am being somewhat of a provocateur, and I do so for the purpose of getting us talking. As long as you pigeon hole me to a certain mindset, and I do the same for you, we will never have the conversation that needs to happen. What is going on in WI is unfortunate on several levels. The state is broke, the government is looking for solutions, lines get drawn, and everyone starts shouting at each other, instead of talking to each other. I personally think if you kicked every politician out of office and replaced them all with a lottery drawing you would get a better representation of the people and a lot more work would get done with a lot more common sense. Unfortunately, you will have to do this every few years or the same problems that we have now will emerge. While Cromartie had some very good points he was also quick to point out what an idiot he thought I was and Kong was condescending as well. I also admit I have been a little snarky in my response, but I mean no harm.

    So from now on this ignorant barbarian who dares to speak to gin and tacos will lurk from the shadows and not upset the righteous indignation of the educated class to any who question the rightness of their beliefs and ideas.

    But I am willing to talk about it not at it, and even, perhaps, be persuaded at times.

    Are you?

    If you are offended and the offense is intended, the offender wins.
    If you are offended when no offense is intended, you surely lose.
    So if you are never offended then you can never lose, and you will always win.

  46. xynzee Says:

    @sadness: hmmm… Germany seems to have a highly socialised system, and they're kicking arse. Australia though not European seems to be doing quite well, however since the Howard Gov't most people seem to be a whole lot more stressed than when I first moved here. If I recall Japan had tremendous growth while they kept the wages of the top and the wages of the bottom in line with each other, it all seemed to go pear-shaped for them when they let things go the way of Wall Street.

    One thing that we have to remember is that when competing with China and India is that they have no environmental protections to worry about. So they can just dump their pollutants every where. Their manufacturing standards are actually crap (see the milk fiasco).
    A friend of mine does Standards tests and checks for fire equipment (eg. fire extinguishers) to be sold here in Australia. Many of the people he deals with just *do not get it* about these requirements and are always trying to pull a shifty on him. While he works for a private company, he has to sit down every month or so with nice people from the Australian Gov't who audit his audits. Both *he* and his company are liable for any auditing issues.

    Now ask yourself, do *you* want to try to save your family and your home from a kitchen fire and have the fire extinguisher *not* work?

    To maintain these standards *costs* money to regulate. The prisons system that everyone wants (whether public or private) again have a cost. *Where* is this money to come from? The prisoner's families? Seriously, most of them are in prison because they had no money to begin with.

    Personally, I like having affordable and drinkable water, food that has been slaughtered/grown to the best standard, and won't kill me or my family/friends, and breathable air.

    Why does the fact that a child dying of e. coli from a Jack in a Box burger make headlines in the U.S.? *Because* that child is the *exception* not the rule.

    I'm pro-regulation and pro-union because *I AM a Christian*. The main tenant of Christian belief is that *all* human endeavour is tainted by sin. This means that Capitalism will eat itself if left to its own devices. People *will* cut corners to make a short term buck and leave a wake of destruction behind them. Back to IBG-YBG principal.

    What we have now, is returning us to the mid-1800s. I'm assuming that you are college educated and "middle class". Why are you where you are today and *not* down the pit? Because of the union movement.
    We're in this mess, because the Government wasn't allowed to oversee Wall Street and ensure that certain banking standards were kept. Enron melted and took lots of pension funds with it, *because* of lack of proper oversight and conflicts of interest. I know people on the inside who saw it coming, and sent up warning signs, which were silenced.

    I agree that there do need to be changes with the Government, but this certainly isn't it.

    You complain about the road system. Again, in the late 1800s-early 1900s it was deemed that there are certain rolls that the Government is in the best position to fill. Fire and Police services being two. We've tried this model and it proved lacking and was superceded by the the current model that does work. Road systems enable commerce, and Europe worked out years ago that having a private model was inefficient, which later was adopted here. The rail system that you say was so wonderful before Government intervention, had a natural monopolistic nature to it, and the story for the farmers in the West to reach markets in the East wasn't pretty.

  47. Arslan Amirkhanov Says:

    "Point me to a society where the people standing up together against the elite class has worked. Any society. Point me to an example of how the philosophies of shared output has led to a utopia. "

    Pretty easy. Answer: Any society which has ever had a significant rise in the standard of living for most, if not all of its population, including the United States and all other industrial countries. The fact that you missed this is pretty pathetic. You might as well be cheering for feudalism, or slave-master society for that matter. The destruction of both those modes of production centered around the overthrow of those systems' respective elites.

    Your last line there, about leading to a utopia, is a strawman. Nobody is seeking utopia. The fact is that capitalism is indeed the most advanced mode production known to man, but it is simply naive and incorrect to say that something better cannot possibly come about. Utopia is not necessary, only the resolution of certain contradictions inherent within capitalism. Since mankind lived for a few thousands of years within a classless, stateless society, it stands to reason that one day we will be able to do so again.

  48. Major Kong Says:

    I believe the state of Wisconsin was running a surplus before they went and cut taxes. So the "we're broke" condition is self-induced.

  49. Blakenator Says:

    Sadness; I never meant to "pigeonhole" you but I can only respond to what you have written. Please don't allege that any disagreement is also offence. As you said, we have to continue the conversation if anything is to be gained. I am disappointed in your last post where you admit to being a provocateur while claiming martyrdom. I will say the conversation seems to always get poisoned because too many of us have fallen for the model presented by our public figures. When Bush made the "with us or against us" statement, what was better suited for a B movie script was adopted as a basis of argument. Add to that the preference for the false argument, especially the ad hominem attack, we see everywhere in the media these days and it should come as no surprise when honest discussion is so difficult to come by, IMO.

  50. Nil zed Says:

    Its already happening. Monday on a local ( Los Angeles) public radio show I DID hear someone criticizing the pay scale and retirement benefits for firefighters. Sorry, I was in and out of the car all day with errands so not sure what time of day, much less which station or show.

  51. Andrew Says:

    Calling names and making generalizations about any group of people, whether they be neo-cons, tea baggers, or left wing loons does not get us any closer to finding a solution that will make our country the exception, instead of ending up as another bankrupt European quasi -socialized cesspool of assumed rights,

    Lulz.

  52. David Says:

    Re: sadness

    "Point me to a society where the people standing up together against the elite class has worked. Any society."

    The united states was founded by a revolution against a monarchical government and since then has produced the highest standard of living in the world, with the most fluid socio-economic population that has ever existed

  53. Patrick Says:

    the old game of divide and conquer in action.

  54. Isabel Says:

    "Instead, somehow 17% of the populace is driving a national agenda, and the rest of us are just getting fucked."

    Yeah, how does that work? I personally don't believe it is true.

    "Solidarity with workers can become a lifeblood issue for the Democratic Party rather than something we abstractly throw around every four years."

    Yes!!!!!! Thank you.

  55. Bernard Says:

    wow, Sadness, really has the Republican line down pat. but i digress.

    the die is cast the spell is spoken. enjoy your totalitarian state. Sadness. i gather you know better.

    ps. unions came about here from the same conditions we are about to go under, from the reign of the Corporate State/Gilded Age. read about the Triangle fire. one of the many "flashpoints" that led to unions. also read F. Scott Fitzgerald and other turn of the century writers about labor conditions in America before the rise of unions.

    this is where the small amount of people/unions/ got us 40 hr work weeks and holidays and no child labor laws.

    i'm not here to show you are wrong, i'm calling you to educate yourself on the purpose of collective bargaining. you seem to think what you do as unquestioned and correct.

    you sound to me like someone who votes Republican, mostly because i gather you don't know the truth/basis of the propaganda/stuff they Right wing has sold to most uneducated Americans. and i mean uneducated about how unions, bargaining rights and labor history and all that "stuff" that has led to the rise of the Middle Class.

    that America has gotten sold/bought off by the media, Republican/Democrat/Wall St. BS is part and parcel of the Big Lie that has been sold to the American Public for the last 40 years.

    actually, i had to learn the hard way. i was an easy mark. i even voted for Sir Ronnie Reagan, destroyer of America, way back in 1980. learning the hard way is sometimes the only way.

    i frankly can't expect you to learn the truth about the whole PR scam the Republicans did on America, you'd have to want to. and i detect a note of holding back on your willingness to accept/see the other side of the story.

    what amazes me most is the Middle Class did this to themselves by voting Republican. totally self stupidly voting against their own self interest. divide and conquer really work!!!

    down here in the South, the lies have been going on so long, the PR game, i mean, that the lies no longer work like they used to. and of course poverty changes people's perceptions.

    i hope you enjoy what the Republicans did to the Middle Class. there is no way around it now.

    like i said. 40 years of selling the Faith based BS propaganda, the lies/propaganda is so completely interwoven into our society now. unless you are willing to face the truth,that is, for lies are so much more comfortable.

    so as you sow, so shall you reap. and god knows the whirlwind has no Republican/Democratic preference.