Monday, February 21, 2011

Behind the Great Cheese Wall of Politics, Worker Bashing and Deception!

By Randell A. Monaco
February 21, 2011

American’s, and particularly Wisconsin residents, please permit me to ask what your answers would be to a few questions about ethics. I’m interested to know how each of you might chose to manage the following situation. Suppose that you lived in Wisconsin and were to learn or even observe someone take advantage of your neighbor, either by omission, half truth or misleading factual representations. Would you just mind your own business and ignore the unfairness of the scheme because you weren’t directly affected? Worse, would you lend your support to the scheme because you saw your neighbor as having something you didn’t or couldn’t have now? What if your decision to speak up or not didn’t seem at the time to make a real difference because your friend or neighbor was in another state, would you still speak up?

My guess, if I’m allowed, is that when push comes to shove the answer to those questions would be, no way am I going to let those dirty crooks get over on my neighbor or my friend if I can do something about it!

Well that is exactly the type of organic grass roots stand-up and be counted American backbone that has been going on - on the other side of the Great Cheese Wall for the past seven days. Our Wisconsin neighbors are speaking up for themselves, for you and for every worker in America and we should listen, here’s why.

Private sector unions have been reduced to roughly seven percent of the workforce and it’s not because workers don’t want to join unions. In fact, many studies have shown that there is a huge pool of workers who want to join unions but can’t. A coordinated assault on public sector unions has arisen in the last few months, not just in Wisconsin, but in states like New York and Ohio too. Right in step with this assault on labor is a most impressive white wash of propaganda deflecting attention away from those who actually created the economic crisis, like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, their associates in the government like the Federal Reserve and others who let all this go on and helped it. So, to switch attention away from the cause and people who are really responsible for the crisis, teachers, police, firefighters, sanitations workers and their unions have become the villains with their Rolls Royce healthcare benefits and pensions.

The reason why we should stand with our Wisconsin neighbors now is that there’s not a worker in this country who will be unaffected if we don’t quickly come to understand that the contracts won by organized workers function as a ceiling for what the rest of the workforce, union or otherwise, is able to maintain.

As a nation, we are by and large not a society of indifference that permits our friends and neighbors to be cheated, taken advantage of, or mislead. What is happening in Wisconsin is not really a local labor dispute at all. It is a strategic assault on the public sector unions that follows on the heels of a movement that essentially destroyed most of the private sector unions in the United States.

Now ask yourself, if I were a Wisconsin resident what more would I expect from the fire fighters, teachers and public employees who contribute daily to the general good of the community? Beyond their daily contributions as public employees and willingness to negotiate, cooperate and contribute to the ultimate solutions that would allow the State of Wisconsin to meet its financial obligations, what more would any reasonable person ask from these people? Now, if your answer to this last question is nothing more, then why should it be necessary for Gov Scott Walker to attempt to take away their “right” to collective bargain? Simply said, there is no reason!

The facts as they stand are that Union leaders have taken money issues off the table. They’ve said that they would go along with the proposed financial changes of increasing their pension contribution from 1 percent to 5.8 percent and increased health care premiums from 6 percent to 12.6 percent. Bottom line, public employees have agreed to Gov Walker’s concession demand which solves the budget challenges, right? Not so according to the new Wisconsin governor.

Today, Gov. Scott Walker made clear he won't back off his proposal to effectively eliminate collective bargaining rights for most public employees. The deception which has taken place in Wisconsin makes it transparently obvious that Scott Walker has been given one part, in fact a leading role, in a larger pre-planned strategic union-busting campaign. Not surprisingly too, the newly sworn Wisconsin governor during his campaign received $15,000 from Koch Industries (according to Forbes the largest private company in America) the maximum contribution allowed and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in support from other Koch-funded groups. Walker’s conflicting interests will begin to come into focus as the first domino in a larger scheme to undermine labor in America once it is realized that what is taking place is not simply about balancing Wisconsin’s state budget.

Americans must recognize now that public sector labor has become the last line of resistance to corporate control of our government and that collective bargaining is the sole and only means of protecting, not just workplace fairness, but safety too. The entire deception scheme depends upon getting us American’s to argue about small government big government so that we aren’t watching the ball. Inflate numbers, exaggerate facts, and twist meanings, are by design, the tools used to make reality almost incomprehensible to ordinary Americans. The main concern for Americans, at this moment, should be how much more damage will be done to our government and democracy before our friends and neighbors understand and realize what really is happening, not just in Wisconsin but across the nation?

Early last week, what caught my attention was a report that Gov Scott Walker was planning to call up the Wisconsin National Guard. No demonstrations or public behavior had been reported at that point requiring the need for assistance of local military and law enforcement to maintain public safety or keep the peace. This seemed an unnecessary, if not a reckless, expenditure of public money in the middle of a financial crisis. As I began to look further into what was happening behind the Great Cheese Wall of politics people began protesting in Madison, 25 and 33 thousand each day. Now, we have couple of long time friends I now affectionately refer to as Cheeseheads that live on the other side of the wall. Were all originally from the Land Of Lincoln and lived in Chicago in 1969 during the protests at the democratic convention. Given those memories this sounded serious, the National Guard?

As I began analyzing the purported budget crisis and the ethics of a newly sworn governor the idea of calling up the National Guard stood out in my mind. To me, just the idea reflected his state of mind and showed the anticipation of a plan and a knowing determination to carry out a violation of public trust. After all, labor negotiations are a matter of ordinary business.

On Wednesday, sometime during the morning after learning about Gov Walker’s demands, I posted a short article on my blog, Just For The Yell Of It! and sent it off to some friends including those in Wisconsin via Facebook. Offering my opinion, I wrote a personal assessment of what I thought might likely be happening. I suggested that given the Governor’s notable anticipation, needing the National Guard for ordinary everyday government business, my opinion was that it meant he was up to no good and that there’s more behind the scene.

As the week progressed the Governor’s tactical maneuvers quickly escalated. He commandeered the assistance of law enforcement, not to control public outbursts or dissidence, but to bring one of those damn democrats by the collar into the legislative chambers while 19 of Walker’s republican henchmen waited for a quorum to hammer home the purported solution to the Wisconsin budget crisis. Had he been counseled by Tom DeLay?

The matter at hand here is the present and existing obligations of the state which purportedly has become a financial crisis in Wisconsin. At this point, union leaders have taken the financial issues off the table so in effect the crisis no longer exists, if in fact it ever did. But how does this all become the basis for a taking of a property interest belonging to public employees and why should the financial responsibility of the state be born solely by those who are owed the obligation? Keep in mind, Wisconsin’s financial situation didn’t become a crisis until after their legislators had spent $140 million in the first weeks of this new term. Does anyone smell an accounting stench?

Public employees presently have the “right” to collectively bargain with their employer, the state. Each and every public employee has a “property interest” in that “right” to collectively bargain. They have relied upon that right, invested their reliance upon having been conferred this right; they have forgone other possible opportunities in life on that reliance and earned what they have invested through their commitment to make safer and better communities for everyone.

As it turns out, Gov Scott Walker may have already blown the game plan for his political co-conspirators and failed to carry out his mission and marching orders. Sending law enforcement to round up a quorum of legislators seems an act of desperation. Clearly, he is not serving the general welfare interest of Wisconsin residents because he has placed the aspirations of the national conservative agenda and unethically his own, above the general welfare of those who reside in the state. I don’t care what state you live in, or whether you work in the public or private sector, Gov Walker isn’t to be trusted further and we surely don’t need to sort out his lack of character in the future on the national stage, get rid of him.

Every person who lives in the State of Wisconsin has been betrayed by Scott Walker in only his first days of having been sworn. He has betrayed many of the people who likely were the very same conservative voters that supported his election into office. He has demonstrably shown that he is not acting in the general interest of the people of Wisconsin or those the state employs. An investigation into the entire scheme, and his commitment to carry it out, surely will reveal that this plan was in the works during his campaign. Did he come out and tell prospective voters that he intended to carry out an assault on collective bargaining in the state? That deception serves as a solid basis for his removal from public office. An omission is a lie. Under some legal mechanism, be it recall, impeachment or government shutdown and forced resignation if necessary, he needs to go. We’ll leave that up to the Wisconsin resident’s who have braved the snow, cold and extreme elements of their state to decide but now is the time. Politicians need accountability now!

Let me make clear that from 2000 miles away and the arm chair that I’m sitting, I think Gov Scott Walker has breached his oath of office, his responsibility to govern without conflict and deceived the voters of Wisconsin. He has pursued his own self interests and overtly acted against the general welfare of every employee, resident of the state and for that matter every worker in America. Get rid of him now we’ll all be the better. Unless an epidemic statewide loss of memory were to occasion the entire population of Wisconsin, he couldn’t really have planned to serve a second term as governor so give him the vacation he deserves now.


  1. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy.

  2. Walker has made it clear that rather than bargaining with workers, he wants to end workers’ ability to bargain.

  3. "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."

  4. The Associated Press
    Monday, February 21, 2011; 6:26 PM

    MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he won't negotiate over his plan to strip most collective bargaining rights from nearly every public employee.

    Walker said at a news conference in his conference room in the Capitol on Monday afternoon that he won't accept any compromises.

    Democrats and the unions say they would accept an increase in the cost of benefits, but not removal of collective bargaining rights. Walker rejects that idea.

    Senate Democrats skipped town Thursday and say they won't return unless Walker is willing to make concessions.

  5. USA Today's Dennis Cauchon also reports the following results which, he writes, "suggest how politically difficult it is to solve budget shortfalls" in state governments:

    •71% oppose increasing sales, income or other taxes while 27% are in favor that approach.
    •53% oppose reducing pay or benefits for government workers while 44% are in favor.
    •48% opposed reducing or eliminating government programs while 47% were in favor of cuts.

  6. Check out this dialogue with Walker (he thinks he's talking to David Koch):

    WALKER: You've got a few of the radical ones -- unfortunately, one of them's the minority leader -- but most of the rest of them are just looking for a way to get out of this. They're scared out of their minds. They don't know what it means. There's a bunch of recalls up against them. They'd really like to just get back up here and get it over with. So the paycheck thing, some of the other things threatening them, I think collectively there's enough going on, and as long as they don't think I'm going to cave, which again we have no interest in. An interesting idea that was brought up to me by my chief of staff, we won't do it until tomorrow, is putting out an appeal to the Democratic leader. I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders--talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn--but I'll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly. They can recess it... the reason for that, we're verifying it this afternoon, legally, we believe, once they've gone into session, they don't physically have to be there. If they're actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they'd have quorum because it's turned out that way. So we're double checking that. If you heard I was going to talk to them that's the only reason why. We'd only do it if they came back to the capitol with all 14 of them. My sense is, hell. I'll talk. If they want to yell at me for an hour, I'm used to that. I can deal with that. But I'm not negotiating.

  7. The Pew report, issued last year, concluded that Wisconsin is a "national leader in managing its long-term liabilities for both pension and retiree health care." Walker has cited the fund's lack of sustainability as grounds for his plan to revoke collective bargaining rights for state employees, but that proposal has sparked outrage among state employees and drawn tens of thousands of protesters to the state's capitol.

    "We're going to ask our state and local workers ... to pay a little bit more, to sacrifice, to help to balance this budget," Walker said in a Sunday interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, adding that he would be forced to lay off 5,000 to 6,000 state employees if his budget plan was not approved, as well as a comparable number of local public employees.

    Where else can you get soft pitch opportunities but FOX? Union leaders have agreed to do their part in the purported crisis but evidently not enough without surrender of collective bargaining. Deception is Walker's game and impeachment should be his destiny!

  8. Union busting is not a valid legal tactic and the Conservati­ve agenda will get their just due put right back in their faces by the recent Citizens United v FEC decision that was used to get corporate money to fund thier campaignes­.As I have been telling people collective bargaining is a recognized right under federal law. Suspending that right would suppress the political voice and power of the unions that is now a matter of free speech and the First Amendment to the US Constituti­on says that union members too have that right just as corporatio­ns according to the US Supreme Court. Thank you very much CJ Roberts, J Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy. The Unions have a vested right and a product and their business, and now their 1st Amendment rights depends on that ability to speak and to deliver their product and services. A Denial of collective bargaining would tend to suppresses speech of a union just as denial of a business license to a corporatio­n would tend to suppress the speech of that corporatio­n. Under the new 1st Amendment standards of free speech establishe­d by the Citizens United ruling, conditions on a labor contract that inhibit free political speech of that union are as protected from political duress just as is a contract between government and a corporatio­n.Here’s Why Republican­s Will Shut Down The Government­: http://law­­­011/02/her­es-why-rep­ublicans-w­ill-shut-d­own.html

  9. Passing the Fair Elections Now Act is an essential first step toward restoring trust in our democracy. But if we want to guarantee that nothing will stand in the way of fundamenta­l reform, then we have to write this reform into our founding document, the Constituti­on itself.

    Here are a few good ideas about how to approach a real solution to the needless drama that has consumed our money, energy and trust: http://www­.fixcongre­ssfirst.or­g/blog/ent­ry/is-lobb­ying-the-n­ew-campaig­n-finance/

  10. To overcome any suspicion that party leadership was not going to deliver on their promise to deliver major spending cuts to the public who supported them Republicans must now deal with the reality that they can’t enact their agenda because Democrats control the Senate and the White House. To save face, Republican leaders must dramatize their fight to carry out the promised agenda which leaves them no room to come out with a compromise.

    Republican leaders have openly declared their hostility to compromise because they know that their support base, unlike moderates or even liberal Democrats, oppose compromise and as a matter of self interest and preservation the writing is on the wall, Republican’s will shut down the Government. Keep your eye on the political ball, here comes the shutdown; Tea anyone?

  11. The current conservative exercise of attacking public employees for getting pensions, decent health care coverage, and occasional salary increases is irony on a scale rarely seen. Republicans and conservatives' basic argument is that since private-sector workers have been so thoroughly screwed on wages, health care, and retirement plans in recent decades, those same workers should be mad that teachers and cops and social workers have gotten a little more economic security than they have. If that ain't the politics of envy, I don't know what is.