From Paul Krugman’s column today, a key quote (emphasis added):
On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.
Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.
You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.
The protests continue in Wisconsin today. I stand in solidarity with the workers there. What Governor Walker proposes could spread to states everywhere, effectively busting unions and the benefits and increases in quality of life they bring to all workers in their units. This is unconscionable and cannot be allowed to happen.
From the comments of Dr. Krugman’s column:
Also sharing front-pages news on the Times website:
“There was no sign that Colonel Qaddafi, 68, intended to allow the revolts that have taken down the longtime leaders in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt to fell him as well. Colonel Qaddafi for decades has skillfully cultivated tribal rivalries to avoid any threat to his authority.”
In our case (the U.S.’s), old and young, Republican and Democrat, women and men, all religions and none, immigrants “legal” and “illegal,” should logically ALL be staging sympathy protests across the country with WI (goodness knows we don’t have the money to fly or drive there…)
…because an astounding 80% (or more) of us quietly submit to the individual “at will” contract in our employment: rendering ourselves lone lambs of sacrifice to the alter of temping, contracting, and part-timing, for the almighty beast of outsourcing to the most-efficient, least-paid workforce du jour…in a border-less world where human beings are “less than” corporations, because individuals are not worth as much money as all-powerful corporations, who can border hop around the world at will without ever being called the dirty name, “illegal immigrant.”
Will all 300 million of us continue this lunacy of bargaining individually for the right to feed these nation-less masters, or will we spurn divisions such as Republican and Democrat, that our politicians so love to fuel, so that we can keep our eyes on the prize?
Just think about it: our current tenuousness as workers, the instability in our lives because of the power of corporations to summarily fire us and strip us of our livelihoods, the worry that this introduces, the compliance…it doesn’t have to be this way. They don’t have to have this power and control over our lives.
Couple this with the efforts by the GOP to limit and strip unemployment benefits for workers who have lost their jobs, the recent vote in Congress to defund low-income health clinics and Planned Parenthood…it’s a sobering picture. The efforts to break the worker, to vilify the poor and the middle class, to manufacture our consent that it’s not okay to ask the rich to pay more, but it is okay to ask unionized workers to pay more…come from all sides in the U.S. political arena. Given the mounting effort to break unions down in a concerted effort by big business, Wisconsin is an important front in the effort to hold on to the respect and dignity of the worker that only unions acknowledge (after all, it wasn’t big business that gave you weekends, the minimum wage, vacation time, the 40-hour work week, etc., etc….it was the labor movement). This is why we need unions. This is why I stand with the workers in Wisconsin.