America has its Hosni Mubarak moment.
American workers gathered at the State Capitol in Madison,
Wisconsin, for several days over the past week is a sure
sign that people are waking up to see that there are people
among us who are stealing their future.
been a long time coming. Perhaps, they have been inspired
by those who in recent days have thrown off the yokes of
authoritarians and petty dictators in various countries
in the Middle East.
in America, it has been difficult for rank-and-file Americans
to see their own yoke. That’s how sophisticated is the
hand of the very small elite that has controlled how many
jobs we will have, where we will live, whether we will have
a house or an apartment, how our children will be educated
(or mis-educated?) and, even, what and how much we will
consolidation of power over the people by that small elite
has occurred over several decades, but just now the minions
of Corporate America are coming out into the open and trying
to administer the coup de grace. The minions are Republicans
and, unfortunately, they have had help from many Democrats.
are some of the latter, however, such as the 14 Democrats
in the Wisconsin Senate, who have taken a stand against
the depredations of their brand new Republican governor,
Scott Walker, who seems to believe that, since the Tea Party
put him in office, he has a mandate to adopt their scorched
earth philosophy of grinding government down to a size at
which it will not be able to do anything.
Wisconsin Senate Democrats have gone to Illinois, where
they plan to stay until Walker, the governor from Corporate
America, says he is willing to negotiate with the public
worker unions. The one act he is bent on committing is
to remove the right to collective bargaining for a majority
of public workers. The one thing that the workers will
not yield on is their right to collectively bargain. Without
the presence of at least one Democratic senator, that body
without a quorum cannot act to destroy the unions.
one should wonder that Walker does not know what it took
for millions of American workers to win the right to represent
themselves in the workplaces of the nation. He has no clue
what it took in blood, sweat, and tears to win child labor
legislation, the eight-hour day, the five-day week, and
all of the other benefits of a decent society that the workers
won. He doesn’t know that not one of these things was given
freely by the robber barons or Corporate America. The right
to trade union self-representation through U.S. labor laws
was a decades-long, hard-fought series of battles.
a willing tool of the worst elements of American society,
the obscenely rich right wing of American politics (as are
most Republicans), Walker is willing through his intentional
ignorance of American history to destroy all that workers
have won for their families and communities in the hope
of impressing his masters among the economic elite. Surely,
he does not plan to retire as governor of Wisconsin. If
he plays his cards right, he will land in a very lucrative
job with a transnational corporation. After all, he said
that he went to Marquette University only to get a good
job and, once he had the job, he didn’t feel the necessity
of completing his degree.
much for education for education’s sake, or just for the
love of learning (at one time, the principle reason for
education). It’s likely that his attitude about education
is what makes him so cavalierly reduce education to the
lowest common denominator and to exhibit absolutely no respect
for those who teach the children.
of his political benefactors have been working diligently
since before he was born to destroy the last vestige of
dignity for American workers. Koch Industries and the brothers
who inherited the multi-billion-dollar company (they didn’t
make it themselves), and many others like them have been
propagandizing the American people for most of a century,
but the most recent, relentless assault came with the firing
of the air traffic controllers union 30 years ago.
we are witnessing in Wisconsin is the first full frontal
and public assault by the right wing directly on the labor
laws that were passed in the 1930s. They want them to be
abolished. A vast array of foundations and “think tanks”
funded by the right wing have brought the unions in the
private sector to about 7 percent of workers in those industries
and businesses. Now, they are working to demolish the unions
of public workers.
way they do it is by lying. They lie every day about workers
and they mask what they are doing by whining that they don’t
hate workers, they just hate their unions. Of course, their
willful ignorance kicks in here, because they don’t want
to see that the “unions” are the workers. For all
of their problems and faults, they are democratic institutions,
and the people do have something to say about how
they are run.
the lying would not work but, in a society in which so much
is owned and controlled by a very few, the powerful U.S.
elite own the news outlets, from the weekly paper in the
smallest county, to the broadcast networks, the biggest
city newspapers, and all the rest of the means of communication.
Even the Internet is not safe from their control, as they
are busily attempting to act as gatekeepers to determine
who can get on line and communicate with anyone in the world.
who would control the Internet in the U.S. have seen how
vital it has been in keeping the people together and informed
in the Middle East, even as the rulers have tried to keep
order with their police and militaries.
theft of the wealth of America has been going on too long.
The evidence is the tragic unemployment rate of about 10
percent, with another 10 percent among the long-term unemployed
or underemployed. The evidence is in the collapse of housing
and the millions of working people who lost their savings
when their homes were foreclosed. The evidence is in the
bailout and the stimulus of corporate entities that were
“too big to fail.” The evidence is in the bloated defense
and military budget that is the sacred cow of the small
American economic elite. The evidence is in the myth of
free trade that works solely to transfer wealth from working
Americans directly to the coffers of the transnational corporations.
The evidence is in the giveaway of our natural resources
to Corporate America at fire sale prices (prices from the
19th Century). The evidence is in a food supply
that is unhealthy for the people and the planet and firmly
under the control of a handful of corporations. The evidence
is in the deadly disparity in wealth.
shills have targeted education for decades. For the likes
of the Koch brothers and others, schools are just another
sector of our public life that should be privatized, and
the effort to do that was ramped up about 20 years ago.
They have made public school teachers and their unions (don’t
forget, they don’t hate the teachers, just their unions)
objects of derision and, even, hatred.
bile from the windbags of the right on both radio and television
against teachers and other public workers flows without
end. They continue their attack all day, every day, without
much of a response from the real people, doing the real
work of society. What they count on is that the listeners,
and there are millions of them, are not really aware of
being manipulated and propagandized.
of the people who claim Tea Party sympathies are aware that
something is wrong, but they don’t realize that they are
identifying with the very people who have caused the problems.
Instead of going after the perpetrators who are most directly
responsible, they go after “liberal” organizations and groups
that empower working people and the disenfranchised. In
short, they align themselves with Republicans and with the
elite who have taken their money and their substance.
“Mubarak moment” in Wisconsin is an opportunity for Tea
Partiers to take stock of the side they are on and to see
that their “leaders” are taking them, like lemmings, to
a long drop off a tall rock into the sea. The attack on
public workers is an attack on unions, in general, which
historically set the standard of living for all American
workers. This is an education moment for those who believe
the liars who fill their minds every day with disinformation.
should be an education for them. If they study a little
history, they will see that the slide of America into a
Third World condition has happened in parallel with the
decline of the union movement. That decline has not been
an accident. It was caused by people who are small in number
and large in power. In a democracy (and we still have the
structure of one), the people hold the power, but they have
to learn to use it and they have to be willing to use it.
Corporatists started this class war, and it’s time for Americans
who work for a living to weigh in on the side of the working
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, John Funiciello, is a labor organizer and former union
organizer. His union work started when he became a local
president of The Newspaper Guild in the early 1970s. He
was a reporter for 14 years for newspapers in New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family
farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous
pressure from factory food producers and land developers.
Click here to contact Mr. Funiciello.