Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On! Wisconsin...

It is interesting to hear the different takes on what’s happening in Madison, Wisconsin. This much we know, the Governor, refuses, is absolutely adamant about, not negotiating. (Perhaps this is the reason the unions want to have the right to bargain collectively.) The Governor threatened to drag all the Democratic elected officials to jail. (Which is why there are so many of them in Illinois.) The Governor maintains that in a democracy people keep working until they reach agreement. But he is not willing to have a conversation – it’s his way or the highway (presumably the highway to Chicago. Pat Buchanan thinks what the protestors are doing to the Capital is sinful, outrageous, and disgusting. My contacts in the Government think that a State Trooper culture which allows people continued access to the people’s house, is a remarkable tribute, not only to the police, but to the workers united in peaceful protest.

There has been no violence, no destruction of property. Just some signs taped up to make a visual statement to the ever-present media. Where is Senator Kohl on this issue? We have heard a many pronouncements from Washington talking heads, but not from any prominent Wisconsin Democrats. Do they think if they comment, the nutty Governor will have them arrested as well. It’s easy to blame the number of Democratic losses in the last election on the local economy, or the mood of the country – or White House lack of leadership. But none of that may be the villain.

Last November there was an article in the (Madison) Capital Times, that addressed some other issues. http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/john_nichols/article_c57190c5-68e9-5318-8b51-f5b9304a28cb.html

The last Statewide election was clearly lesser of two evils for some people. But for many, the choice was to sit it out. They refused to make a bad choice—they preferred no choice at all. Admittedly, there are economic problems everywhere, particularly at the state and county level. (What happened to a balanced budget after Bill Clinton left?) It is unneccessary to play the blame game – obviously the next and following administrations over pontificated, overspent and were pretty damn short-sighted. Now, along with the Federal Government, almost every state, New Jersey, New York, California, just to mention a few, are broke. The cry for “Shutdown the government” has been heard by everyone who depends on the government for any support. The elderly, the sick, children, civil servants, as well as people who are receiving financial assistance, Social Security and Veterans benefits are a few. It is easy for people who are not financially dependent on the state or Federal government to shut it down. People who have money and resources aren’t as apt to care.

When the Government shut down during the Clinton Administration it was horrific – especially for those who were considered “Essential Personnel” (usually a political appointee and no one cared if we missed a paycheck or two) who just answered phones for the entire shutdown. Even if a civic minded civil servant wanted to help, they couldn’t, because it is illegal to volunteer for the US Government. People dependent on government subsidies (earned or otherwise) were simply out of luck. It hardly mattered to elected officials or VIPs, none of whom answered the phones and listened to the stories. But apparently, we have a short memory. Once again, there are threats by elected officials who have no idea what the consequences for the “average citizens”, will be.

It should be interesting to see what the outcome of all these state-wide crises will be. Maybe interesting isn’t quite the right word. It should be devastating to see what happens when elected officials think the power they have gives them the right to determine the definition of Democracy. It sets me to think about my favorite quote from “The Wizard of Oz”…. “If they only had a brain.” We’re just sayin.... Iris

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