If it weren't for other examples of incredible political stupidity, I could believe that Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker was a "stealth" Socialist playing the Red Tactic to revitalize the American labor movement. He couldn't have done a better job of it if he'd tried.
The evidence, however, argues for stupidity. It's rather well known to Wisconsin voters that Walker, whose previous political experience as county supervisor was a disaster for his county, only got his current job because the infamous Koch brothers gave him $1 million and a good advertizing agency to get him elected. It's also obvious that what Walker promised them in return was to gut the labor movement in his state. Now why did they choose Wisconsin, long a union state, instead of some likelier place like, say, Mississippi? Because they believed that, if they won in Wisconsin, they could knock down the unions in all the other states. And why did they think they could succeed? Because we've reached the point where the rich and powerful speak and listen only to each other, and have totally lost touch with the vast numbers of the people they rule. Ironically, this blind spot created both the Tea Party and what is now shaping up to be the first General Strike in America in decades.
Anyway, Walker tried to pass the first version of his bill on the excuse of saving Wisconsin's almost-gone state budget. Apparently he truly believed the standard Right-Wing lie, that paying a living wage and benefits to one's bottom-level workers somehow costs any business -- govt. or private -- more than the enormous salaries and golden parachutes of middle-to-upper management. (He blithely forgot that the govt. workers' unions had already, months earlier, agreed to take a pay cut in order to keep the state from going bankrupt.) He also seems to have assumed that the only govt. workers' unions in the state were the SEIU and the NEA. He'd forgotten all about the police, firemen, garbagemen, sewer-workers, electricians, and so on. He also assumed that, once he'd inveigled the legislature's Republicans into line, the Democrats would give up and fold.
Well, we all know what followed. The Democrat senators fled the state, so as to leave the legislature with less than a legal quorum, and govt. workers by the thousands staged a huge protest march on the state-house plaza. Walker ordered the state troopers to go hunt those missing senators, and told the capitol city cops to clear away the protesters -- only to learn that the state, county and city police had unions too. By this time all the other unions in the state -- including the IWW, if you please -- had gotten involved, the story had gone global, and people were expressing solidarity with Wisconsin workers from as far away as Poland and Egypt. The little pizza shop on the state-house plaza was doing a land-office business feeding the protesters, and was getting donations from all over the world.
At this point anyone with the sense of a goat would have backed off, but not Walker. A clever hacker got his personal phone number and, pretending to be one of the Koch brothers, phoned him and nudged him into talking freely. We know what Walker freely admitted to, because the hacker recorded the conversation and then put it up on YouTube. Even then, Walker lumbered on; he cut all reference to anything financial out of the bill -- thereby killing his argument that he was only trying to save the state money -- and (in a secret session, likewise illegal) used that as excuse to force the bill through the state legislature even without a quorum. His buddies the Koch brothers began paying for anti-union TV ads all over the country, which convinced nobody. The runaway senators returned to a heroes' welcome, a state supreme court judge declared a hold on the bill until its legality could be proved, and the collection of the state's unions started seriously discussing General Strike. People all over Wisconsin, not to mention elsewhere, began joining -- or rejoining -- unions. The ripples from Wisconsin are quietly spreading out all over America.
That's where things stand right now, and it's an unfinished story with farther-reaching implications than the disaster in Japan or Qaddafy's slaughters in Libya. The American labor movement has been dormant, if not comatose, for decades -- and what it couldn't do for itself, in all those years, two stupid millionaires and one stupid governor have done for it.
--Leslie <;)))>< Fish