By Mark Gibson
AFGE Labor Relations Specialist
It is clear that Scott Walker is playing in political payback and retribution to those who did not support him. It is also clear, that like many in this country, he is engaging in a campaign of misinformation and the human calamity that many of Wisconsin’s citizens are feeling today due to the economy.
Picking on public employees and unions for the state of the economy was the logical choice for trying to hide the real problem. The failure of those elected to manage the affairs of the people in managing the balance of cost (taxes) and services demanded by its citizens.
The targets in this scheme of misdirection is to blame government without blaming yourself. So if government is too big, it’s the average public employee at fault.
If government costs too much, it is easy to blame those who appear to be living better than other citizens. This in most cases is not true, as most public employees live in the middle to low ground of income per person.
Since public employee’s unions are politically active (as they should be) and for the most part did not support Scott Walker, they too became a logical target. Combine this with the fact many business owners are fearful of unionization of workers, and many lower-income workers would want the benefits of a union but reject having to contribute to obtaining them, dislike unions.
Combine this with some of the highest unemployment seen in decades, the bottom dropping out of the housing market, foreclosures and failed banks, many people need someone to blame. More scary, someone to hate.
For those of you who follow elections, remember that the republicans did not really have a platform. They rode on a small very extreme right-wing group associated with hundreds of tea party movements. Both, capitalized on misinformation, fear of government, the poor economy, and finding an easy resting place in putting the cause on public employees.
These same people favor privatizing government operations. This merely swaps who does the work of the government, public employees or for profit private companies. So while on paper, there are fewer government employees or a smaller government, the cost of government is still there with a profit margin built-in for the company winning the bid.
That is the capitalism that many of today’s ruling party have pushed into the minds of many lower-income wage earners. The hope that capitalism will produce sufficient jobs to help them elevate their standard of living.
Sprinkle this misgiving with the belief that by taxing the rich, you stifle the creation of jobs. These taxes on personal income, end up in the pockets of that richest 2% of American’s.
Many of the public employees’ unions have indicated that they recognize that some things need to change. They have voiced a willingness to come to the table and help find fixes to the problems the state and its citizens face. But Governor Walker has rejected those and has attempted to railroad through the state legislature a bill to effectively eliminate public sector unions in Wisconsin.
Just as many said overtaxing the richest 2% of our population is wrong, how then can they now say, dismantling the pay and benefits of a larger percentage of the population is ok? A percentage of the state’s population significant enough to where such cuts will affect other segments of the economy.
For most Americans, money earned is money spent. Spent money stimulates business and jobs are created. If you wonder why the interest rates are down, not only in what you borrow, but also in what you save, it’s because saved money doesn’t always stimulate the economy. Spent money always does.
But for Wisconsin’s public employees, they get that wages and benefits may have to change. They understand that money is tight and people are hurting. They get that. What they don’t get is why Governor Walker does not want them at the table helping create a fix for the long haul.
I wonder what segment of Wisconsin’s society will be his next victim when this doesn’t work.