Our triangulating President made a tepid statement — in tone — about the demonstrations with his one step forward-two steps backward MO: He said Governor WANKER’s approach “seems like more of an assault on unions” (oh really, Mr. Obama — what else could it possibly be?!?) but OTOH commiserated with the Governor about everybody making “some adjustments” to new “fiscal realities.”
What if these “fiscal realities” turned out to be a whole lotta BULLSHIT?
As TPM points out, slashing the unions’ hard-fought right to collective bargaining does NOTHING to save funds in a true austerity budget:
“The reality is radically different. Unlike true austerity measures — service rollbacks, furloughs, and other temporary measures that cause pain but save money — rolling back worker's bargaining rights by itself saves almost nothing on its own.”But the state’s fiscal bureau which is its “equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office” says there’s no need for an austerity budget in Wisconsin and the state could end the year IN SURPLUS! In fact, the entire budget shortfall is contained in Gov. WANKER’s tax cuts for special interest groups which he’s trying to fund off the hides of middle class public employees, as this Op-ed in a Madison paper points out:
“In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state’s budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.What is happening in Wisconsin is a coordinated assault by the ruling corporate plutocracy, its political Republican/Tea Party arm, its propaganda arm of Fox/Limbaugh/Hannity/Beck et al, to break the labor unions in America and completely defund the Democratic Party’s last reliable source of campaign financing, without which — in this post-apocalyptic Citizens United world — it will cease to exist as an effective political party. Money, as they say, is the mother’s milk of politics. Never more so now as the Democratic Party struggles to stay competitive against the unlimited buying power of the corporation, that “person” that went on a spending spree last November, purchasing a political party, a political movement, and just about every elected official in Washington, D.C. to varying degrees, up to and including the President.
To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes — or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues — the “crisis” would not exist.”
Oh, Progressives still have a pulse. We’ve got Independent Senator Bernie Sanders in Vermont and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in Ohio (they’re going to toss the kitchen sink at Brown in the next election) and a few outnumbered Spartans in the House. And of course, Senators Durbin of Illinois, Schumer of NY, Whitehouse of RI remain reliable liberals. But the bottom line is that liberals are vastly outnumbered by corporate money and influence.
So yeah, Rachel’s partly correct when she says this is a fight for the survival of the Democratic Party. And Big Eddie too, when he says Wisconsin is “Ground Zero” for the unions’ stand against the corporations and the GO/TeaP. But more than this, no one dare mention (it is one of the unstated PROHIBITED words in the MSM) the “F” word — and I don’t mean THAT one; it’s already been appropriated by Big Ego politicians running for president.
I’m talking about FASCISM in America. Simply put, Fascism is a totalitarian (or gentler, kinder authoritarian) system of government that bases its economy on capitalism. Corporations, for example, are already structured in this way. They are not democratic institutions. At best, they are benignly authoritarian if they are small enough or have a competing representative of workers’ rights — the union — with which they must negotiate salaries, hours, working conditions, healthcare and safety, etc. At worse, and more commonly, they are totalitarian. Corporations are not democratic institutions.
They can slash jobs, close plants and move overseas where labor is cheap and slavish, fire employees almost at will, give and take away benefits including health care, which are merely an inducement for work-valued employees to remain — until they can be cast aside. Corporations are amoral. They are rapacious of people, of the environment, of entire nations sometimes. They say they’re for a laissez-faire competitive economy, but that is a useful myth. They are all about consolidating markets and eliminating their opposition in business and government — by whatever means necessary, including assassinations, or simply buying out their opposition, because everyone has a price.
There is always a tension, a competing interest that goes beyond merely the business interest — for the rest of us. That's the quality of life interest. The worker's right to a living wage, safety in the workplace, health care (still to be secured), and a comfortable retirement. The community's right to a safe environment, safe food and drinking water, clean air to breathe, and a reasonable expectation the corporation will not rip out the economic heart of the community chasing cheap jobs and ever higher profits overseas. The Commons, the community interest necessarily runs afoul of the corporate interest, which is simply to make a profit. That is why the people's democratic government regulates the coporation, just as the undemocratic, fascist corporation seeks to gut all regulatory impediments to its bottom line.
So it isn’t a big leap for the corporation to transpose its fascist culture onto our vanishing public institutions of government and the courts. They are already in control of the Supreme Court, as noted in the recent dalliances of Justices Scalia and Thomas with the Koch Brothers. For these Justices this is a slam of the system they are willfully destroying, an arrogant ‘because I can’ power-play, their version of the end zone dance. It’s not as if Scalia and Thomas would have voted any differently on corporate versus individual rights or restricting the influence of corporations in our political campaigns. The corporations always win their vote. Thomas is so seemingly disinterested he hasn’t even bothered to make an oral argument in years. His wife is gallivantin’ around with the Tea Party, in another obvious (to most of us) conflict of interest, while her husband decides cases directly impacting groups that are paying her.
Now, after this past election, the corporate plutocracy controls both chambers of Congress, the Republican governorships, and holds enough influence over the President that he must come before the Chamber of Commerce, hat in hand, as a supplicant or a beggar: “Oh please, won’t you consider investing just a little on the people? Pretty please?”
Fascism is the unspoken word. I think it will remain so because America still clings to its myths. They are the last thing to go before harsh reality hits. That’s what got Reagan, the American mythmaking cowboy, elected. And amid all of his self-evident destruction, the Reagan myth is still going strong in parts of America. Bill Moyers put it best in this piece, “America Can't Deal With Reality — We Must Be Exposed to the Truth, Even If It Hurts.” He said, “Many people inhabit a closed belief system on whose door they have hung the "Do Not Disturb" sign.”
By the time history — as distinct from revisionism — catches up to reality, it will have been too late. Because in the last analysis, most people just don’t want to know about it. Unless the working people of Wisconsin can raise the nation's consciousness and awaken a sleeping giant.