Protest or Abdication of Responsibility?

When we get right down to it, the behavior of just about everyone involved in the Wisconsin budget controversy is reprehensible. The most obvious villain is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who is using the need for budget cuts as an excuse to bust public unions in Wisconsin, or at least the unions that didn’t help get him elected. Eliminating the right of collective bargaining goes way beyond any needs to control salary and pensions. In fact it has been documented that the unions are willing to compromise on salaries and pensions. That is not good enough for Walker who wants to make a national name for himself as a union buster.

The natural response to this power grab is to put all our weight behind any and all efforts to stop Walker. Unfortunately, neither of the two most newsworthy responses to Walker pass the smell test as appropriate.  First, we have the Democratic State Senators who have fled to Illinois and other parts outside Wisconsin to avoid a vote on the budget in the Senate. Without a quorum, the vote cannot take place. To make matters more bizarre, the Senators can be compelled to show up at work if they are in-state. Hence, their decision to flee across state lines. This might make most liberals cheer but I find it plain irresponsible. Senators are elected to legislate. They speak their mind, they debate, and they vote. And the chips fall where they may. That is the way the system works. To sabotage the system by playing fugitive is juvenile at best and dereliction of duty at worst.

Of course the other newsworthy “protest” going on is that of the “people on the street”. But these aren’t just run of the mill people. These are not postal workers, or other public workers whose work would be missed but not to any great consequence in the short-term. These are teachers. When teachers refuse to teach, our kids don’t get an education. To make matters worse, they are not officially on strike. They are calling in “sick”. Don’t we teach our kids that it is wrong to call in sick to school when you are not sick? Not only are these teachers sending an incredibly hypocritical message to their students, they are encouraging students to protest with them. The students don’t belong in the rotunda of the State capitol, they belong in school. The teachers belong in school doing the jobs tax payers pay them to do.

In the 80’s when Ronald Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers, I for one, cheered. There are certain jobs where there should not be the luxury of a walkout. Those jobs involve life and death issues (like air traffic safety, or doctors or nurses or police) and the education of our children. Collective bargaining is one thing and I believe in it but the threat to walkout should be off the table as a bargaining tactic.

Perhaps we are witnessing the consequence of a slow devolution of societal norms: whether it’s Joe Wilson yelling “you lie” at a sitting President of the United States during a national address or Christine O’Donnell making a career running for office to pay her rent or Democratic Senators playing hooky to hijack the legislative process or teachers teaching by example that if you don’t like the system just opt out. We no longer have any shame. Any tactic will do.

I’d love to just go partisan on this one. Clearly Governor Walker’s intent and methods are out of line. But I just can’t get behind folks refusing to do their jobs. Walker may be wrong but he’s showing up to work everyday. That puts him one notch above his opponents in my book.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

A New Kind of World War

After two World Wars, I think many of us have a concept of how WWIII would go down. Lots of us assume it would pick up where WWII left off, namely with the use of nuclear weapons. The real pessimists among us figure this would be the last World War since we would make the planet uninhabitable from nuclear decay by the time we were through.

Recent events, however, have me thinking out of the box a little. I think we may be witnessing WWIII right now but it’s not at all how we imagined it. This World War doesn’t involve countries banding together to fight other countries. This World War involves country after country exploding from within. It started in Tunisia. Then Egypt. Now the countries experiencing civil unrest have grown to include Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Algeria, Iran, Jordan, and Syria. Saudi Arabia’s leaders are supposedly very nervous.

Our “War Against Terror” has been supplanted by a war against tyranny. The Allied Forces consist of mostly young people, wired together through social networking. The “Axis” forces consist of government after government of decades-old despots and dictators. The United States which had no problem choosing sides in the first two World Wars has the dilemma of finding some of its friends on the Axis side.

All the more interesting is that ordinary working folk in this country are being supported in their civil protest by … Egypt. Will we explode from within also? Will Obama find himself part of the Axis while the people of Madison, Wisconsin join the Allied Forces? Will the United States become embroiled in WWIII, the War Against Tyranny?

Stay tuned.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

A Modest Proposal: White History Month

Since we are in the midst of Black History Month, I thought it might be a good time to remember the words of actor Morgan Freeman on the subject and then suggest an equally offensive alternative.

The definitive statement on Black History Month was uttered by Morgan Freeman in an interview with Mike Wallace on the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes”. In the video, Morgan asks Mike why blacks should be singled out for this distinction. Why should black history be relegated to a month? Isn’t black history American history?

In another hat tip to Jonathan Swift, I have a modest proposal to present: an alternative to Black History Month, namely White History Month. But this is a very special view of White History. I propose that each February, every day one of 28 illustrious examples of White History be taught in schools complete with after school TV specials and NBC “The more you know” TV ads. Here would be some examples:

  • 1619 First Africans to be kidnapped and sold into indentured servitude by white people.
  • 1705 Slavery formally legislated in Virginia by white people.
  • 1865 White supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan is formed.
  • 1896 All white Supreme Court rules that segregation is cool in Plessy v. Ferguson.
  • 1963 White Alabama Governor George Wallace stands at the entrance to the University of Alabama to block admission of two black students.
  • 1968 White fella James Earl Ray kills nonviolent civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

And the list goes on. Then as a special treat, every four years on February 29 we celebrate white achievements in film and TV such as the white writers who created such characters as Amos and Andy, Stepin Fetchit, Buckwheat and Fred Sanford.

The greatest benefit of this celebration of white history is that no longer do we need to have conservatives label blacks and liberal whites “race baiters” who “play the race card”. All that pent-up grievance-based anger can be vented in one month instead of being spread across the year. Then for the other eleven months we can just treat people as people and forget about race. We can use February to get it out of our system.

Well, I don’t suppose this solution is what Morgan Freeman had in mind either. Perhaps the time has come for African-Americans and Polish-Americans and Italian-Americans to drop the longing for the homeland and just become Americans. Regardless of how we got here, we’re all stuck here together and we’ve got big problems to solve.

The history of the melting pot includes us all. Every month that inclusive history should be taught and either celebrated or used as an object lesson for what to avoid in the future.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance