Greetings, all --
I have waited a while before compiling this follow-up to my commentary, "Which Side Are You On?" Now it's time. I have gotten lots of feedback --almost all complimentary-- by word-of-mouth, phone, email, etc. I appreciate all of it. Some people sent articles or referred me to links, some of which I will share now.
One article expressed a contrasting viewpoint, titled "A Union Education". It comes from the Wall Street corporate perspective, echoing the effort to divide public and private workers, misreading the Wisconsin situation, and blaming public workers for increased state and local spending. Someone like Robert Reich or Paul Krugman could probably take it apart point by point. It gives you an idea what we are up against. As the friend who sent it to me said, it is "food for thought for ALL of us." Here's the link:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704615504576172701898769040.html
Another friend sent a link for an article about a teacher in Maine that is really great. Here it is:http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/09-6
My commentary was published in the Ashland Daily Press (http://ashlandwi.com/articles/2011/03/26/opinions/doc4d8a0c4f43211120603518.txt) There have been no on-line or in-print comments there as yet.
But there were several comments when it appeared in the Ashland Current (http://ashlandcurrent.com/opinion/11/03/19/which-side-are-you), including a correction. Apparently the Lincoln Day dinner only cost $25. I wish I had verified the cost. (Good thing I am not a journalist.) But one of the comments read: "The cost of the meal isn't really that important." Or as one of our slogans goes, "It's not about the money."
Another link that was sent to me gives a pretty good summary of our Wisconsin situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k7F8O_5yaE&feature=player_embedded, by someone called TheBadgerMom.
One more link that I will share is a New York Times column by a UW-Madison prof, Bill Cronon, who is now being harassed by some Republican state legislators:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/opinion/22cronon.html?_r=1&ref=opinion
Also from James Fallows, on the harassment of Cronon:http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/03/have-you-no-sense-of-decency-the-wm-cronon-story/73010/
Now, just a few additional comments of my own:
1) Some folks seem to think that unions have outlived their usefulness, and now we can have all the good stuff without collective bargaining. This seems naive at best.
2) I continue to notice a certain disdain for educators, for other public employees, and for education in general. Compared to other societies, we do not value education. Our culture values sports, but not physical education. It values entertainment and competition more than cooperation and science.
3) Some of what comes from the Tea Party types sounds almost socialist. Apparently if one earns a living as a public employee, that money is not his/her own. It's communal taxpayer money. Sure, the governmental entity collects taxes and uses some of those taxes to pay for services which the employees provide, but they earn that money.
4) We have a growing disparity between the very, very rich and the rest of us. Call it class war, if you must, but the inequities are growing, and the attacks on unions and on medicaid recipients are scapegoating, not budget balancing.
5) The governor and his allies are changing the rules in the middle of the game --without consulting the other players. Public workers and local governments, school boards and teacher unions, are made of people who have learned to work together, respecting each other's roles in the system --a system that was not broken. Everyone realizes that economic times are rough. But where is the shared sacrifice? Are the corporate bigwigs doing their part or just getting theirs?
6) Finally, we need to step back and look at this in perspective. We are not Japan or Libya or Haiti. And in many ways we have been forced into a distraction that diverts us from issues that ought to have more of our concern: the environment and climate change, global economic concerns, health care, real improvements in our education system, war and peace.
Please vote on April 5.
Friday, April 1, 2011
The view from Wisconsin (2)
Here is the rest of my friend Jim Oakley's writing (to date!) on the assault on teachers and other working people taking place in Wisconsin and around the country.