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George Lakoff writes: "Unions, through their political contributions, support the basic freedoms, protections, and resources we all require to have a decent life and live in a civilized society. If those unions are destroyed, American life will become unrecognizable in a remarkably short time. Democracy as we know it - not just budgets and unions - is at stake in the Wisconsin protests."

The door of Democratic Rep. Brett Hulsey's office, covered in notes of support at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, 02/26/11. (photo: John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal/AP)
The door of Democratic Rep. Brett Hulsey's office, covered in notes of support at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, 02/26/11. (photo: John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal/AP)

 

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+25 # Baruch 2011-02-28 08:34
Mr. Lakoff keeps missing the point. Hidden in the Budget Repair Bill Scott Walker has included a provision empowering the Governor to sell any publicly owned utility, real estate, or infrastructure in no bid contracts to provate corporations. Walker could, if this goes into law, sell, for instance, any power plants, or public lands, in Wisconsin to the Koch brothers for $1. This is an attempt at outright theft from the commons by a corporation and must not be allowed.
 
 
+31 # Mel 2011-02-28 10:58
Baruch...

No, Mr. Lakoff is on point. So are you. It's all the same, it's all related. Let's not argue over who's right and who's wrong. The point is that Democracy is being attacked by the rich and by corporations with the help of the conservatives. Every one sees it, including republicans/ult raconservatives . So, let's unite not fight over who's more right. The republicans/ult raconservatives are very good at having us do that. We know what's right for the majority of Americans. They do too, but it's not what the few rich and powerful people want. They do not want a fair fight. They would lose. That's why they want us to fight among ourselves, the poor, African Americans, Hispanic American's, gays, the middle class, the lower economic class, Asian Americans, etc, etc, etc. Read history. There were class wars during the Civil War and for many years thereafter. This has always be a struggle for us against the rich who want to feed their EGOS. They can't spend the money they have so it must be about something else. Whatever it is, let's not let them have it my fighting among ourselves. Unite. Divided we fall. The "we" is us, not them.
 
 
+14 # mtnview 2011-02-28 12:47
There is one more sneaky provision in this bill: it requires all receipients of state funds whether for education, health care, social service agencies, etc, to be a "Legal American citizen". This provision would require anyone to produce documentation of citizenship prior to receipt of services. This leads us towards the infamous "national identity card" which has been part of the Conservative agenda since the PNAC (Project for the New American Century) designed by the neo-cons.
 
 
+35 # Lee Black 2011-02-28 08:51
Key point: "Without unions, large corporations have an unfair advantage".

This is similar to outlawing or capping lawsuits. Without law suits and some regulation (also a target of the conservatives) there is no restraint on the corporations producing medicines, food or other goods.

If corporations had to pay fair domestic wages; for cleaning up the air, ground and water they poison; a fair price for natural resources there would be a basis for a free market.

IMHO, the war in Iraq was about oil, we are paying dearly for that subsidy. The foreign aid we provide to protect "American interests" is often about oil and support of our domestic corporations (the foreign aid is invested in Boeing, GE, etc.).

The Democratic Wisconsin legislators are heros.
 
 
+14 # EHopkins 2011-02-28 09:41
Great column.
 
 
+9 # Buckles 2011-02-28 10:33
Walker won't budge, whats he got against the people he's supposed to represent? He calls them agitaters from all over America. These are taxpayers,hard working people who are giving up too much, and Walker ignors them.
 
 
+12 # Russ 2011-02-28 11:01
Of course this is going on all over the country. Face it; tea party-ers love deficits! Walker created (a puny) one in Wisconsin, the Republicans insisted on keeping the deficit-booming tax breaks for the millionaires in Washington, and here in Texas, Governor good-hair and Comptroler Combs concealed the 27+billion deficit so they could cut schools, police, fire departments, Medicare, the whole public sector. As Prof. Lakoff says, it's not about deficits.
 
 
+8 # lkach 2011-02-28 14:46
Trouble is, Unions gave money to Democrats who sold them out to corporations ever since the 1976 Supreme Court made it legal to buy elections. Unions should have funded an effort to get money out of politics, then they would not have to fight these corporatist puppets in the streets instead of in fair elections.
http://moneyouttapolitics.org/
 
 
-27 # skylinefirepest 2011-02-28 14:51
Hellllloooo people! The rich and corporations did what?? Other than provide jobs for all these poor people who have to work somewhere to feed their families?? And for some reason I'm still not sure what happened to all the stinking oil that some folks think we went to war over. WMDs or oil?? I am not aware of any oil that we gained from Iraq but contrary to the msm we did find the remnants of the WMDs.
I can't figure out why the country will go to hell if we don't have unions. I've retired recently and worked all my life and was never a union member. So let me get this straight...if five of us pool our money and start a business and we hire five more of us as workers...they then have the right to form a union and tell us how to run our business??? I don't freaking think so!! Since only a small percentage of the working class belong to a union why will the country go to hell in a handbasket if there were no unions?? And if a worker who is essentially in government work joins a union isn't that just practically stealing from us, the taxpayers??
I ran my business for over thirty years and hired a fair number of people. I never had a union worker and would have never had one. It was MY MONEY in the business and if I went out, it was MY MONEY that was lost. End of story!! I treated my guys well and never had a problem.
 
 
+6 # soularddave 2011-03-01 07:32
Quoting skylinefirepest:
Hellllloooo people!
I can't figure out...


Dear Mr. Pest,

Please go back and read the article and do your homework. You have not been paying attention. If I could give you a thumbs down for each of your inacuracies, you'd have made it to at least -98 or so.
 
 
+7 # photonracer 2011-02-28 16:08
Everyone here should pat themselves on the back for participating in free speech. Now take the other step and get away from your computers, walk like a Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan or at least an American. Make your self seen as well as heard. Reconsider the French Revolution and the use of the guillotine. I have a list.
 
 
+9 # Homer Peters 2011-02-28 16:35
Re: "Hellllooo people!"
And you would have sent all those jobs to Mexico or BFE if it were possible, huh?
Your mindset is no different from the WI governor or his big $$ donors, just screw the workers, they're not nearly as important as your bank account.
More, more, more, enough is never enough, eh skyline?
 
 
+3 # greenmtnman 2011-02-28 18:40
Re: skylinefirepest and Homer Peters
Let's not be so harsh. Skyline, in relative terms, is one of us. He is a small business owner/operator who employed some others and apparently provided jobs here, not in Mexico. He probably did treat his employees fairly. He's not the large corporation wielding financial and political power to bring more imbalance into our democracy. He might just be the kind of person to embrace. As was said above, let's not fight among ourselves. Unity brings strength. Isn't that what unions rely on after all?
 
 
+5 # Ken Hall 2011-03-01 01:01
I do have a problem with people, Ronald Reagan and skyline, for instance, thinking that what is good for them is good for the rest of the country. I, too, have been a worker and producer all my life, and have been employed most of the time by people of modest means. They are the ones who have their homes remodeled instead of buying a McMansion, who spend money in the US instead of sending it to Switzerland, who send their kids to public schools rather than elite prep schools. People died so we could have a five day, forty hour work week, overtime pay, a decent wage. We should respect and support the important contributions of unions to the creation of the US middle class. Without them we'd still be working six days a week, twelve hours a day. Without them we may soon be working, once again, twelve hours a day, six days a week. Power to the PEOPLE! Support the unrest! Irritate the rich! Defeat the vested interests!
 
 
+5 # peg 2011-02-28 19:10
I just dont get why we have to listen to and read hours of democratic struggle in the Mideast when we are having the very same experience at home. As they move towards democracy, we are moving away from it.The collusion in censoring this event is beyond all comprehension with the Madison story relegated to back pages and end notes if at all. National Public Radio is so rattled by their own funding fears they go on about Libya to the point of distraction and into dysfuntion. Its just so apparent that the conservative plan is to dismantle unions as a voting block and a formidable financial force in controlling election outcomes.Wake up!Get up! Stand up!
 
 
+5 # VSweet 2011-02-28 19:24
Stand together in solidarity and support our labor brothers and sisters. If we begin to fight one another, this will give the Republicans and the rich the power to defeat us. I agree with Mel that both Mr. Lakoff and Baruch share very good sound information. Together we stand, divided we will fall.
 
 
+6 # brucevi21 2011-02-28 19:42
It's not that big business wields power by and for itself. It is beholden to its shareholders/in vestors first and foremost.
The author should not call this a "conservative" issue. There are huge numbers of poor and middle class conservatives. This is about the powerfully wealthy trying to take us back in time to the "robber baron" days where the average workers had no one to advocate for them. Remember hearing about the company towns?
 
 
+1 # rf 2011-03-01 06:33
The idea that unions are important politically is questionable. Through corruption and greed, they too have become elitist at their management level. Unions need to be taken back into worker control. Many of the things fought for by unions historically, like limited work hours, have been slowly eroded due to management strategies like "Salary", meaning if you are on salary you work whatever you are asked, not hourly..so abuse is rampant. The present union model is bankrupt and it seems that they are doing pretty well bringing down the power structures in the middle east without much corrupt union help. Time to stop leaning on sold out unions.
 
 
+2 # fredboy 2011-03-01 07:03
Might be a good time to take a look at legislators' pay, perks, and expenses. Turn the heat on them.
 
 
-9 # I. B. Marshall 2011-03-01 09:27
The problems start with 30% of the students do not complete High School, States like California only 50% of the students complete High School, (they spend more than anyone per pupil), and many other states and cites. The United States was #1 in education when Jimmy Carter started the Federal Dept of Education, now 30 years later we are #20. It is time to abolish the Federal Dept of Education and let each state manage their schools with out the interference of the Federal Government. It is time laws are passed that students must complete High School or a Trade School that will train them for a job. If they do not complete one or the other they will not be able to receive unemployment or welfare unless they are actively in school making progress toward graduating. Trade Schools could be as simple as being a Waiter, Shoe Repair, Store Clerk and many other areas of work. It is not the Money,the United States is ranked 20th but spends at the rate of 2nd in the world per pupil in the world. The problem is not the money it is the Government Schools. Time to change and stop the cycle of government paying the teachers and teachers giving the politicians large amounts of money to be elected and give them huge pensions and salaries..... and guarantying them their jobs for life.
 

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