Friday, February 25, 2011

Points on a Graph of Union Bashing

There were three good articles from the New York Times today about the national debate on union rights and union bashing, with the theme running through them that the union bashing bills rely on maximizing economic uncertainty among average people to provoke a "conservative" response--pushing through a particular agenda that is antithetical to their own interests.

1. Paul Krugman: the Shock Doctrine comes to the US
The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.

In recent weeks, Madison has been the scene of large demonstrations against the governor’s budget bill, which would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state’s fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions — an offer the governor has rejected.

What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.
2. How union bashing plays in Columbus, OH
The heart of the problem, said Vaughn Carner, a retired risk management specialist who was drinking coffee in a diner on High Street on Wednesday night, is the rapid change that has left Americans confused, disoriented and struggling to adapt.

In Ohio, economic decline has redrawn the map, devastating towns and cities, and making some places unrecognizable. Mr. Carner, now 70, recalled making a wrong turn at night in Toledo a number of years ago, not realizing where he was because population decline had left entire blocks abandoned and dark.

“We’re just a little bit afraid, like an old man who is trying to make his way, but is lost,” he said. “We used to be the big boys on the block, but the rest of the world is catching up with us in so many ways.”

Richard Freeman, an economist at Harvard, said he saw the hostility toward unions as a sign of decay in society. Some working-class people see so few possibilities for their lives that it is eroding the aspirational nature that has long been typical of Americans.

“It shows a hopelessness,” he said. “It used to be, ‘You have something I don’t have; I’ll go to my employer to get it, too. Now I don’t see any chance of getting it. I don’t want to be the lowest one on the totem pole, so I don’t want you to have it either.’ ”

3. Proving the theses of the above two articles, here's how Chris Christie wants you to think of the union struggles.

No comments: