Why Wisconsin Matters

February 24, 2011

Filed under: Politics — Tags: — jonathanpoisner @ 9:45 am

What’s happening today in Wisconsin and a few other states matters.   A lot.

Taking away the rights of public employees to collectively bargain and form effective unions represents a threat to our freedom.

The big battle for freedom in America today isn’t between citizens and so-called “Big Government,” as the right wing would have us believe. It’s between citizens and corporations.

(By corporations, I’m not referring to small businesses — heck I’m incorporated myself; I’m referring to large corporations publicly traded that have zero allegiance to anything except the singular goal of maximizing shareholder value).

Yes, government takes some of our income as taxes and places some limits on our behavior through laws.

But corporations limit our freedom in many more profound ways.   And they’d limit our freedom far more if not for government as a tool citizens use to fight back.

Corporations thrive by making us dependent on them.  And we are – for our health, our sustenance, our housing, and many other necessities.  It’s impossible to live in America today and not transact with corporations literally dozens of times per day.

We are rarely in a position to bargain with corporations; almost always we must accept their terms.

Aside from limiting our freedom when we buy, corporations limit our freedom in many other ways.

Corporations limit freedom when they pump poisons into our air and water, thus limiting our ability to safely breathe the air and drink the water.  If not for government enforcing clean water and clean air rules, our freedom would be limited to a far greater degree.

Corporations limit freedom when they charge obscene amounts for basic health care and use all sorts of underhanded tactics to remove sick people from health insurance coverage after taking their money.  I have a friend who is still paying off medical bills more than a decade after a major illness, when he lived briefly without health insurance because his employer had him under contract instead of permanent employment.

Corporations limit freedom when they prey on desperate people, charging usurious rates of interest short-term loans.

Let there be no mistake – the battle over whether public employees can unionize is really part of a much larger battle over whether and how individual citizens can band together via unions or any other type of institution to seek redress from government and corporations.

If states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and other states with long union traditions strip away the rights of public employees, it will mark an acceleration in the decline of America’s middle class and a significant weakening of our ability to fight back.

So if I were in Wisconsin today, I’d be at the rallies.  And perhaps even more, I’d be raising money and preparing for an epic election in the year or two ahead.

And when it comes down to it, we’re all in Wisconsin when it comes to this battle.

The November 2012 general election is just 621 days away.   There’s no time to waste.

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful article. I’d like to add something:

    Good is the enemy of great. With unions, we have a *good* method of combating the corporate oppression we experience in the United States. But let’s face reality – unions are a 19th century method of fighting this fight.

    Look at what’s happened in Egypt, and the rest of the middle east. A corporation is no match for 40,000 angry, peaceful marchers.

    Out society must undergo profound, fundamental change in order to be healthy. Unions aren’t going to even come close to fixing this problem, so let’s throw them out. We’re drowning, and if we ban unions, we’ll just sink lower; hopefully low enough to touch the bottom of the pool with our foot, kick off, and get back to air faster.

    It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Jonathan, I totally agree with you about where we need to go, I just disagree about how we’re going to get there.

    Comment by Carl Rittenhouse Larson — February 24, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

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