Thursday, March 10, 2011

On Spiked Penises And Union Busting

The cool thing about having your own blog is that you can write about whatever you want. And this evening seems as good as any for an impromptu discussion on how, if not for evolution , male human beings might have penises studded with "small, hard spines". That's right, spiked penises ladies and gentlemen. Female humanoids might take this opportunity to send gratitude out to the Universe for the evolutionary forces that intervened on their (and our) behalf. Crazy stuff, yo.

Okay so I don't really intend to defile the hallowed ground of this blog with an essay devoted to penises. But I did come across this today and thought it was kind of disturbing and unique and I thought my distinguished readers might also find it as amusing, interesting, and grotesque as I did. So enjoy.

One thing I do feel compelled to comment on, completely unrelated to the spikey penis thing, is this brouhaha in Wisconsin; and by brouhaha, I mean this latest assault on people who work for a living - the lower 99%, economically speaking.

Wisconsin republicans managed to pass their cynically and euphemistically named "budget repair" bill last night. Many conservative, working class Americans are very enthusiastic about this because hey, now public employees in Wisconsin will be that much closer to sharing the same level of powerlessness, job-insecurity, and lowered standards that they currently enjoy.

Teaching school is a very modestly paid and noble profession. And God knows it's a difficult profession, dealing with insolent, sometimes gun-toting, and heavily medicated kids, and apathetic or belligerent parents. One can't imagine a person making that career choice for the financial rewards. I know it's cliche, but there are few outside figures who will have a more lasting impact on a person than one's school teachers. Yes, like any profession, there are bad ones. But there are also really, really good ones. It's hard to think of a profession that contributes more to society and that we have somehow been persuaded to demonize school teachers is appalling and embarrassing. Only in a society that's gone horribly wrong can public school teacher become a symbol of greed and extravagance.

Make no mistake, this move on the part of Governor Walker has nothing to do with balancing the budget. The teachers union agreed to the pay and benefit cuts that were requested. What they did not agree to was surrendering their collective bargaining rights, without which their union would be effectively neutered and meaningless. This bill was not about saving taxpayer money, it was about striking a blow to what's left of organized labor in this country. Solidarity among working people, public or private sector, terrifies the corporate oligarchy and must be crushed by whatever means necessary.

They started this assault back when His Holiness The Ronald Reagan fired the unionized air-traffic controllers and made it cool to hate unions. Union membership in the US has fallen from almost 30% of the workforce in the late 70s to less than 8%currently. And the American middle class has suffered accordingly, as can be seen in the various studies that compare income/wealth inequality trends over the past 40 years.

And it's not just wealth and income that has deteriorated for the working class. Long before public sector unions existed, private sector employees once enjoyed guaranteed pensions and generous health benefits. As political power and therefore policy has shifted further in favor of the economic elite, these benefits have eroded for private sector employees. Pensions have been replaced with 401Ks, shifting risk and expense from employer to employee, and the amounts employees contribute to their health insurance premiums have exploded.

The Wisconsin situation is just another move to disempower the working class, ensuring cheap labor for the corporate elite. And if busting public employee unions becomes the trend it will affect more than just public employees and will be a significant factor contributing to further economic inequality in the US. Class war at it's finest.


Ben There said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben There said...

(Still having trouble with your comments posting Tony. Had to do it under my account. At least it made it to my email.)

Hello Ben, I put this here 'cause it suits. I's off WRH so you may have seen it already but it's from one of your fellow usaians. Tony.

You believe we’re broke. I believe we live in one of the wealthiest nations on earth.
You believe public employees don’t deserve good health and retirement benefits. I believe everyone deserves good health and retirement benefits.
You believe it’s okay to silence your opponents. I believe everyone’s voice should be heard.
You believe might makes right. I believe a bully is a bully, whether he’s an angry kid on a playground or an angry man in a suit.
You believe government should be vilified, belittled and shackled. I believe government is the only institution in the world in which we can all share and participate equally.
You believe in every man for himself. I believe we are better and stronger when we work together.
You believe “we can’t…” I believe “We can. We must. We will!”
You believe I’m a socialist. I believe you use labels so you can abdicate your responsibility to understand issues, to reconcile your loudly-stated values with your actions.
And so, in this time and place, I plant my flag and make my statement. With all the fervour and strength I can muster I tell you now,
There is room in this world for honest disagreements. There is room for differing policy views and different world views. But there is no place in this state, in this world, for the behaviour you have chosen. There is no place for those who would trample the rights of anyone, be they in the minority or the majority. There is no place for those who would hide from the voice of the people behind armed authority . There is no place for those who would serve the interests of wealthy corporations ahead of the poor or disadvantaged. There is no place for those who would say “We have nothing to discuss.”
I did not ask for this fight. But you have brought it to my home, so fight I will. I will not allow you to create the ugly, selfish, hateful world of your vision. We are better human beings than that. While your world view insists that self-interest is the way forward, my world view rests on the power of community.
The new day starts now. We are going to clean house. Your power derives solely from the consent of the governed, and we no longer consent to be treated as your subjects. Your experiment is over…
Dennis Deery

Ben There said...

And thanks for that. It does indeed suit. Wise and passionate words.

Anonymous said...

I can't post as first commenter on current articles but I can post to older articles. Lets see if I can post -not as first commenter- here.
Tony and elswhere as Anonthy (because there are too many Tony in the world - as a species)

Ben There said...

This one made it Tony. Weird.

Anonymous said...

I'll whisper this one Ben, nationalisation.
Can you see the people seeing, eventually, that the only way out of debt is to nationalise industry, banks, whatever that needs to be nationalised to bring the wealth back to the people and if not run by the government maybe a public board or such? Take the ownership away from the multinational corporations.

Ben There said...

Tony -

There might be something to that but I honestly don't think we'd even have to get that drastic. Just dissolve the global military empire, stick to actual "home land" security and not world military/economic domination, get rid of the corporate tax loopholes, restore the tax rates back to what they were during the 50s, and have some regulations in place that will keep Wall Street from the kind of reckless behavior that led to the financial crisis, and that would surely solve most of the debt problems in the US.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and it's like either one of our scenarios are going to happen... right!