Friday, February 25, 2011

Wisconsin Goes Corporate in Madison

 Update: The following quotes offered by the governor of Montana expresses why citizens should be very concerned with his view of how to govern and how to problem solve in a crisis situation, contrived or otherwise. Brian Schweitzer (D-Mont) reveals not only the myopic vision of Walker (R-Wisc), but also of Brian Schweitzer and the general rule of governance being shaped today.
"If you are a successful CEO of a company or of a state, the most important thing you can do is to build morale of the people who work for you," said Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-Mont.), citing his experience bargaining with Montana's public-employee unions, which agreed to forgo a salary increase two and a half years ago to avoid layoffs. "It is the people that work for you that make you successful, and when you do that to morale, you are cutting your own throat."
As for Walker's management style, "Every governor has to use his own model. But I don't know how this one ends in a good way," Schweitzer said. "How long do you think that CEO would keep his job and how successful do you think that business will be?" From an article at the Huffington Post.
 While Brian Schweitzer  believes he is offering words of wisdom in governance, he is starting from a very skewed perspective, that a country should be run as if it were a business or corporation.

That is the error of the late 20th century. This is the inherited political myopia infecting the beginning of the 21st century and halting the real progress we could make at this historical time.

A country is not a corporation. The purpose of a corporation is to make a profit, and in our current profit-seeking climate, to do so regardless of whose body, health, soul, mind, or children you step on to do get it.  Okay, okay, we all know the goals of a corporation, that profits shape and determine how and why decisions are made, how workers are treated, how management conducts itself, how consumers are treated, how research is conducted, how advertisement is shaped, and how governments are considered. A country, on the other hand, is not in the business of making a profit. It is not selling a commodity. It is not for sale on Wall Street to stockholders. A country is an organized body of citizens. The main purpose of a country is to collectively live together in a balanced manner so that the least amount of strife and greatest amount of freedom is possible for everyone. Its issues are outside profit making.

So why should we stock our political offices with those who are trained to run a corporation, are funded by those running a corporation, or believe that a country should be run like a corporation?

I can't see why it isn't obvious that if you turn the country over to the corporate mindset, the rules of governance will be those that satisfy the corporate mindset, even the liberal corporate mindset, which tends to pat itself on the back for not being as cruel to citizens as those on the conservative side. From a distance (in a future era), our limiting ourselves to a corporate worldview will probably appear stupid because of its limitations on the imagination of the entire country--of any country. You get what you vote for.

UPDATE: I find it disheartening that workers in Wisconsin so easily agreed to take on the burden of their pensions and benefits in order to keep bargaining rights as if doing so shows their willingness to pitch in is somehow in the best interests of the country. While I support their steadfastness to stay in the streets, I can't help but feel compassion and disappointment. They seem to be following the lead of Obama, who continues to, in a business-like manner, offer up the better life for the majority, whether in health care or taxes, in order to meet with Congress as if they are board members in some corporate entity whose main goal is to get along so that the corporation can maximize its profits. Meanwhile, he pushes himself into some imaginary higher realm (bringing democrats and republicans together kind of but not really) while millions of people continue to suffer and fall short of their potential.  Wouldn't a country filled with people provided arenas to reach their fullest potential be a better country?

Now that's the appearance. Whether it's intentional or not, Obama's presence is raising the consciousness of the American working people. Alinksy would be on the ground standing with the people if alive.

How come we're not talking about how running America as if it were a corporation is a slap in the face of  the American imagination, which keeps getting buried into advertising slogans and sound bites--and shoved or stored in the pockets of the greedy?

The very wealthy have always stepped on and over the working people in order to secure their wealth and power.  The working people have always been expected to drop their hard earned labor on the doorsteps of the wealthy. This whole idea of the working classes having to carry the corporations on their labor and time is not only an outdated idea, but a tragic one that comes partly from internalizing the ideology of the wealthy and powerful, who see the common person as a tool for money making or in the way of money making.

What is particularly disturbing to me is the vast numbers of women affected by tho loss of these benefits in Wisconsin. Many single women and mothers need those benefits without having to cut into their pay.  Why aren't people speaking out, demanding they not only keep their benefits and pensions as is but get a raise in salary?   Where aren't the workers in the private sector demanding higher pay, pensions, benefits?  Why aren't people in the streets demanding the state tax the profits of the rich to pay for universal health care and pensions? Why would anyone in Wisconsin ever leave the streets until the state changes its corporate agenda and mindset?  And yet, they will. They will get a few crumbs and take their snappy shoes and go home.

The majority of Americas might want to insist they CATCH UP not PITCH IN.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Madison Rallies Over Workers Rights and Compensation

Democratic lawmakers are stating that Wall Street Governor Walker must be willing to compromise before they return from their hideout in Illinois. However, is compromise the right approach? Perhaps there have been too many compromises made by working people. Perhaps it's time to catch up not give in.

So far, as of March 1, workers may not be staying in the streets, but they are in the streets in their demand for a decent lifestyle based on  fair share. Madison. Chicago.Across America

I can't help but see this as a woman's issue.

Most teachers and nurses are women, and these working professionals are among the lowest paid professionals in the workforce. If I were doing a feminist comedy skit, I might connect Walker's attitude to his having mother issues.

In another skit, we can situate Walker at the ovens of patriarchy, which must be fueled at any cost.

On the serious side, kind of, several years ago, I had the chance to sit in, as an observer, on a negotiating contract meeting, in a college in Oregon. This is true. It was my first encounter with unions and management. Management came in with no notes. Nothing. A pen, I think. Not even paper. Maybe, a small pad of blank paper that never gotten written on. The union president and chief negotiator came in with not only piles of notes but charts. Management had nothing to say. It didn't even doodle while the union built its case for a cost of living increase, etc. It was clear management planned to say no, which it did, to whatever the union people wanted.

That too deserves a comedy skit.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Progressive Spark, Feingold in Wisconsin


Perhaps Egypt nudged Americans to wake up a little from their restless sleep and find the open streets forum. Perhaps it took the middle east demonstrations for Americans to finally get it that the only real platform of power for citizens under any kind of economic system is the streets.

Yet, have Americans learned from Egypt it isn't just flooding into the streets for a day or two that brings about real power and change?  Have workers understood the impact of flooding into the streets in very large numbers and staying put until your demands are met?  We will have to stay tuned to what happens in Madison, Wisconsin. The key is not only in numbers but, crucial, also in staying.  What lasting effects can a sudden but short presence in the streets have on  the comfort of the status quo or the deciders of the cash balance sheets?

Sudden but short demonstrations pass. Things return to the pathological "normal."  Borders get more secured. Years pass.

Moreover, the pathological normal tends to get reactively worse. Those deciders, self-appointed through accumulated piles of money, demand casualties (deaths, incarcerations, beatings). It likes clean and orderly streets to conduct its business in.

What am I getting at here? Holding on or getting back to is our current pathological normal. While corporate profits are rising at an alarming rate, workers, public and private, for the most part, are fighting to sustain what they have.To sustain or to get back to should not be the driving issue here. To equalize should be the issue. That should be the goal of the new century. Already we are eleven years behind our potential in this.  Workers and management should stand equals across the table from one another in the 21st century. Without workers, management cannot accumulate profits. Workers in fact need to catch up to management  in the profits column. That should be a given by this historical time. In our "as in" work condition, that's the premise from which all workers should begin negotiating their pay and their benefits today.

 I'm not sure exactly why workers continue to accept the dominant system of employer decides all, but it's apparent, by the systematic economic upheavals, that the corporate takeover of America is clearly frightened of workers. The last thing the bankers and others in power positions  (See George Carlin) want is for American workers to realize their real untapped power to stand as equals and make "this is the way it is" demands over their own economic conditions. The scales have been so tipped against workers for so long that meeting in some arbitrary middle should be on hold for a very long time. It should be all catch up from this day forward. Collective bargaining does little more than afford an arena for that untapped power to come into play. It's up to the workers in their unions to make it happen. It's up for all workers to organize into collective bodies called unions in order to stand face to face with management on equal grounds at the table to determine their catch-up terms. And if you don't like the word unions, make up another name for it, or put together another collective power structure that generates a voice that lays out the terms to catch up.

While, yes, it's refreshing to see so many people at the state capital in Madison, Wisconsin, we should also note the implications.  I'm 100% in support of what is taking place. But one or two days in the streets is not enough for workers to hold onto what they have. More importantly, it isn't enough for workers to finally once and for all gain control over their pay and benefit levels in exchange for their labor and time.

Egypt has now provided a fine example of how to get started.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mubarak Resigns: Egypt Rejoices, America Watches

Now that Mubarak says he's resigned and the army has stepped in to maintain order, Egypt is celebrating the exit of Mubarak. It's really uplifting to see so many people in the streets. It's quite inspiring to witness the momentous power in the single act of large numbers of people staying in the streets until their demands are met. It speaks to how real change is made. In this sense, Egypt has left President Obama, who promised real change, behind. The people of Egypt, without a leader telling them what to do, have demonstrated just how real change comes about in the people's interest, and how to bring it about quickly, during the current era, to end suffering. Staying in the streets was a heroic act on the part of the Egyptian people. Now that Mubarak has left office,  President Obama said Egypt will never the same. That was the same thing that George Bush and Dick Cheney said after 9/11.

 What's the difference? It may be telling.

Egypt's never the same means the promise of broader freedom and dignity, lower prices in every day necessities, and greater opportunity for more people. It means the chance for a stronger labor movement and a means to lessen the monetary gap between owners and workers. And it means a window of opportunity for women to group together and push themselves toward equality in family, state and personal matters. In fact, if women are to rise to their potential as the new arena takes shape, they must step forward together into leadership roles to lift all women up with them. America's never the same has meant the rationalization for greater restrictions on freedom and dignity, greater police surveillance, wider unchecked corruption in government, more wild west unregulated corporations, additional constriction in economic growth for most, weaker labor unions, broader freezes on opportunities, less opportunities for women, and a growing malaise in spirit in which a general citizen's identity and contribution to the greater society is primarily shaped by his or her consumerism.

Can America learn from Egypt? Perhaps. Perhaps its citizens can learn why it's important to remain peaceful in the streets if its citizens ever decide to visit Wall Street. Perhaps its citizens can learn why it's important to not leave the streets once you get there until all of your demands are met without compromise. Perhaps its citizens will come to find it important to go to Wall Street and demand Wall Street hand over the banks to the people, so the people can use the profits to build their roads, improve their schools, build rails and clean energy devices, engage in sky's the limit research in heath and science, provide no limit medical care for all, get the homeless off the streets, protect animals, end oppression against women and minorities, promote art centers, take care of its lost youths and those down on their luck, and yes, uplift all the citizens into real opportunities so they can try to reach their potentials. I'm just not sure what else we should all be doing other than living under the best conditions for each of us to reach our greatest potential. We can have that arena now. But it means engaging in actions that bring about real change.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Latest blogs on Egypt: Negotiations


BBC evening news
 "Egypt's opposition groups say government proposals on how to end the political crisis are not enough."

USA Today reports on    Aljazeera

Best sites

 CommonDreams offers several sources, including Twitter, Al Jazeera, and Democracy Now!

 The Huffington Post dedicates one page to the week in review.

 The Guardian in UK offers analysis beneath the video. Scroll down for the articles.