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David A. Schwinghammer

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Wisconsin gov's assault on unions blessing in disguise?
By David A. Schwinghammer
Last edited: Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Posted: Monday, February 28, 2011

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David A. Schwinghammer

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• Fire Lover, a True Story, book review
• Harper Lee (book review)
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           >> View all 154
Scott Walker may have bitten off
more than he can chew.

According to EHOW, a web site focusing on “how to” videos and articles, the most respected professions in America are doctors (I‘d say nurses), teachers, soldiers, firefighters, scientists, police officers, engineers, and farmers. Somehow CEOs also got into the top ten. Note how many of these are public service employers and union members. Also note that teachers came in second, despite the full scale attacks by governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Chris Christie of New Jersey. Want to guess which professions come in near the bottom? Would politicians be on your list? How about lawyers? We’ve got a lot of lawyers in congress.

Voters need to do a bit more preparation before they check the Republican nominee in the next election. The eighty-some new members of the House of Representatives and the right-leaning governors above don’t represent all of the people. 40% of Americans identify themselves as conservatives, but I’m wondering how many really know what that means. Walker, Christie and others seem bent on realizing the goals of the Cato Institute, a libertarian conservative think thank. The Cato Institute would privatize social security; abolish minimum wage; reform policies on illegal drugs; eliminate corporate welfare and trade barriers; diminish federal involvement in the marketplace and in local and state issues; enhance school choice; abolish affirmative action; and abolish restrictions on discrimination by private parties (restaurants would be free to bar blacks). Charles Koch, one of the founders, was a contributor to Walker’s campaign. Surprise, surprise, Koch is a billionaire oil magnate. A liberal activist recently impersonated Koch’s brother in a telephone conversation with Scott Walker in which Walker revealed his goal to take a baseball bat to public employee unions.

During the 2010 campaign Republican candidates took control of legislatures in many former blue states. Since then they have tried to pass legislation restricting same day registration at the voting booth; legalization of raw milk (obviously these people don’t know about undulant fever); overturning laws against smoking in restaurants and bars; making English the state language; and doing away with state background checks for purchase of guns. In Minnesota one of their first acts was a caucus to make plans to shut down the government if the democratic governor refused to back down from his pledge to raise taxes for the rich.

In Texas Rick Perry brandishes a gun in anticipation of more lenient gun laws, one of which would make it legal for professors and students to carry a gun on campus. Obviously he didn’t see the 20/20 study that simulated a situation similar to the one at Virginia Tech. Several students were given fire arm training and told that their class would be visited by an intruder. When he finally showed up, the surprise element won over. The armed students were unable to hit the broad side of a barn and several of them would have died if the intruder had been using real bullets. The study was replicated several times with the same results.

The Cato Institute isn’t the worst conservative think tank by any stretch. Those run by Tim LaHaye make them look rather liberal. LaHaye and his wife oppose day care for one thing. Conservative women voters must like being second-class citizens.

But who comes up with the following crazy ideas? Rewriting American History (Giving Jefferson Davis equal time in history books); the them vs. us philosophy (blacks vs. whites; homosexual vs. straights; the rich vs. the poor; intellectuals vs. demagogues; socialists vs. capitalists; American Moslems vs. Christians); scapegoating; fear tactics (fear of another Al Qaeda attack got Bush reelected; fear of an economic meltdown got Tea Partiers elected to congress when conservative politicians caused the recession in the first place). Conservatives have also debased the Supreme Court. Who among us really expects Antonin Scalia and his four clones to affirm the new Health Care Act. Conservatives refuse to believe the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that the new health care laws will actually save money when the bi-partisan CBO is the only reliable tool Congress has to go by when crafting spending bills.

Reporters also went nuts when Obama tried to ban Fox News from his press conferences. Why would he want to bar an obvious propaganda tool for Right Wing policies? You might as well invite the National Enquirer.

The United States may be the only developed country where the rich protest against the poor. A CBS/New York Times poll identified Tea Party members as well off financially, conservative politically, and generally better educated than most Americans. I’m not sure of that last one; I’m thinking there were a lot of business majors in that crowd. Speaking of which, Obama recently met with some of the leading CEOs in the country; one of them said his only obligation was to his stockholders. I sure hope they aren’t teaching that kind of stuff in business school these days. Conservatives have been clamoring for years about the large majority of liberal professors in our universities. Common sense would say your primary responsibility should be to your customer, then your employees to insure a safe working environment. We don’t want to go back to the Triangle Fire days where women seamstresses were locked into the building. Toyoto kicked the butts of American automakers by encouraging a team atmosphere in its factories. Profit sharing, consensus building, employee suggestion boxes etc. are a whole lot better than downsizing on a whim and outsourcing your customer relations people.

It would seem CEOs would be a bit leery of the Conservative/Christian/Corporate alliance Republicans are trying to fashion. We’re talking about people who believe the dinosaurs co-existed with cavemen. In Kentucky there’s a museum portraying a dinosaur with a saddle. Supposedly there’s a quote in the Bible that refers to a behemoth that sounds a little like a dinosaur. And I thought the characters in “Inherit the Wind” who drank arsenic and handled snakes were a figment of the authors’ imagination. Surely CEO’s can’t think teaching Intelligent Design in the science classroom is a good idea (It’s been shot down in the federal courts twice, but who knows what will happen if it ever gets to the Supreme Court. There’s also nothing that says it can’t be taught in the individual states, unless the teachers protest.)

Whatever happens, I think the Wisconsin situation may be a blessing in disguise. Scott Walker has got the union movement all riled up and they could be a counter-balance to the Tea Partiers, whom we know are going to keep up their deranged rantings all the way up to the 2012 elections. I’ll put my money on the unions. 

Dave Schwinghammer's published novel, SOLDIER'S GAP, is available at, new and used copies.  

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 6/9/2014

enjoyed the read

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