Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pay No Attention To The Money Behind The Curtain

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has a small problem – the curtain has fallen away, and the citizens  of Emerald City are getting a good look at the “wizard” ruling over them: The Monied Powers. His strings are being deftly pulled by those who seek to gain the most from the economic nightmare, the financial vultures that pick over the carcasses of Middle America. Three weeks in, and his shadowy masters commanded that he end the stalemate in the State Legislature by whatever means necessary. And so, on March 9th, 2011, Governor Walker set aside consensus building, government by and for the people, and prudent governance, by relying on a parliamentary trick to pass the bill he has been trying to get through for so long, stripping it of all financial materials, leaving the naked ambition to break the unions behind, and passing it quite easily in the State Senate. The bill, already passed in the House, will now wend its way to his desk for signature.

In one fell swoop, Governor Walker has undone the compact – first lain down by our Founding Fathers and the reason for the blood spilled during The Revolutionary War – that stated that he was enjoined by the people of the State of Wisconsin to uphold, protect, and defend the State's Constitution and the citizens of Wisconsin. He has, instead, thrown his weight around, directed by those who hold his purse strings, the ones who can lend him the nearly unlimited funds to continue his Governorship. There is no longer any pretense; the people of Wisconsin have been sold to the highest bidder.

He is not alone in his lust for absolute power – several of his peers are also busy trying to dismantle public sector unions in order to break the last vestiges of organized electoral might belonging to the people. They see unions as some sort of “privilege factory,” making public employees rich and lavishing them with goods and services, when the reality is quite different. I daresay ninety-nine percent of those who work in the public sector are not living in palatial mansions with servants and lavish golden parachutes. Teachers, firefighters, police, sanitation workers... they all struggle to get by on what looks, at the surface, to be a pretty sweet deal. But measure that deal against the bills they must pay, the hours they must work, and in some cases, the dangers they must face, and you see that the numbers that look so large in isolation, are, in fact, pitiably small compared with what they ought to be.

It is not as if the unions have been averse to belt-tightening; major unions throughout the nation have, of necessity, bent to necessary austerity measures in order to keep State governments afloat through the rough financial times. They have not been happy about it, forced to give up raises, bonuses, or even take pay cuts, but they would rather do that than see their jobs go away completely. Even so, those like Governor Walker do not even acknowledge the sacrifices already made in the name of fiscal prudence. Instead, they act as if unions and their members are pariahs, milking the public treasury for every penny, while they loll around eating grapes and relaxing in the baths. This is not ancient Rome, but the barbarians are most definitely at the gate, and these governors are more than happy to let them in.

The Monied Powers seek entry into the final domains that would secure their positions of influence and wealth: State legislatures. Having sown their seeds and watched them bear much fruit in Washington, D.C., they now, like some greed-besotted Johnny Moneyseeds, look to infest the States. Once they do so, they will have successfully cut the average American citizen off from the protections first outlined in the Constitution. There will be no freedom of speech or press or worship that is not carefully steered and monitored by them. They will ensure that any restriction on their ability to earn money at the expense of the middle-class and poor will be lifted; any regulation that keeps them from raping the land of resources or pouring their filth on the ground will be squelched. America will become a morass, a fetid landscape of industry, commerce, and abject poverty. And they, secure behind iron gates in stately manors, will toast their success, and compare their wallets. The brinkmanship of wealth will be the only game in town, and there will be true equality at last, for the only dividing line left will not be race or religion or gender, but net worth. Best of all, only a minute fraction of us will get to play the game, the rest of us being the chips which tell the score.

The most galling part of this, is that The Monied Powers will be helped to dismantle the Constitution of the nation and of each State by its own citizenry, or at least that part of it that is gullible enough to believe that their hand-picked lackeys have the best interests of the citizenry at heart. They will gladly push aside reason and logic, as political flunkies throughout the nation prey on their darkest fears, insecurities, and prejudices. They will tailor the message to each and every part of their base, knowing that once elected, they will have no need to actually carry through on any promises, so loyal their sycophantic adherents are. An appeal to Mom, apple pie, and baseball is all it will take to rev them  up for each election, as more and more disenfranchised Americans stay home rather than vote. It will be the end of freedom and liberty as it was envisioned and crafted by the Founding Fathers, and spell the destruction of all that we hold dear.

Even now, Wisconsin is being followed by Michigan and Indiana. Right now, the ball has just started rolling, and it may yet be early enough to stop it from barreling down on top of us, if we take a stand. The good citizens of Wisconsin have already shown us the way – we only need follow in their footsteps. We must rise up, leave our homes, and gather before our capitols, and tell our legislators that will not stand idly by and let them sell our nation and its freedom to the highest bidder or richest benefactor.  If they will not stand with us, make the hard choices, and, above all, force The Monied Powers to chip in their share of the debt they owe society, then we shall remove them and find people who can. We wield the power in this nation, and it is time we picked it back up and used it for its intended purpose: the preservation and prosperity of all Americans.


  1. The most galling part of this, is that The Monied Powers will be helped to dismantle the Constitution of the nation and of each State by its own citizenry

    I don't often feel like the fear that we are about to lose a big chunk of what we hold dear is justified... I often point to how much better Today is than Yesterday was, in more ways than we can enumerate.

    But this time? This time, I will admit that I genuinely, bone-chillingly worried.

    As soon as I get a rather big check that I'm waiting on, I'll be making a donation to the ACLU....

  2. Unfortunately, it's not just those who vote against their own interests that will help The Monied Powers along. It's also those who choose to sit out an election because they believe their vote doesn't count or the policy outcomes they see are not sufficiently close to an idealized vision.

    Current practices in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Texas, Florida epitomize the 'market' approach of the New Public Management. Unfortunately, constituents do not have a choice in their preferred supplier of government services, so it's more like a company store than an open market.

    Further, these NPM proponents do not recognize public interest as anything more than an unnecessary artifact of an obsolete form of governance.