Amanda, a public union supporter and environmentalist friend, has raised some questions of me in our fiery political debates and I think they deserve a reply. Basically she wants to know why a nice person like me does not support the persecuted public unions.
I do feel a bit guilty as a common worker myself, and it seems that I am bad for not having solidarity, but I begin to remember when loggers were kicked out of the woods, and I cannot recall any union people coming to our aid. In fact, I would have to believe that most were in favor of kicking us out for good, taking away our livelihood for good, and killing the whole industry, under a facade of caring about an 'endangered' owl, and for some esoteric concept of preserving a pristine forest.
None of these people, except for Amanda, a Forest Service worker, have ever been out in the woods. But this is not about me or loggers, it is about the Public Unions and Governor Scott Walker.
Since losing my trade as a logger, I took up construction and became self employed as a small business owner doing drywall. We have, in the last few years, been similarly traumatized by the economy. I know few who still work in construction. A huge percentage of my fellow construction workers lost their jobs, their cars, their homes. I have seen a construction guy in his work clothes turning in cans at the local market, hauling garbage sacks full on his bicycle. This is a man willing and capable of working hard and framing up a new house, running a crew, but out of work.
My wages are less than 50% of a few years ago, and that is when I can find work. No guaranteed hours here. Should I feel guilty for thinking the Wisconsin people, who are angry over a wage freeze and benefit cuts that are still way above average should suffer like the rest of us. The rest of the country has had to adjust, why should not they?
It is not as if they are being asked to take these cuts for without reason. Their state is bankrupt. Governor Scott Walker is a Republican who campaigned on doing exactly what he is doing in a state that usually votes predominately Democrat. Those facts right there indicate the extent of the crisis the state faces and the confidence the people of Wisconsin have in the same old same old being able to fix it. In other words, they wanted this. Their representative is doing exactly what they elected him to do.
That pretty much sums it up. My sense of fairness thinks the Public Workers need to tighten their belts and make the sacrifice demanded of all the rest of us workers.
Then there is the tax the rich argument. My Uncle is sort of rich. He is worth a few million dollars. He started with nothing, worked extremely hard all his life, and is now 82 yrs old. His body is worn out but he has money. He made the statement that the rich could pay more taxes. Many of the rich feel this way. I think it is telling that these good people are willing to sacrifice more to help out the nation, but the union workers are not.
My knowledge of how taxes work, from my 50 odd years of experience and history tells me that if we make the economically unsound decision to raise taxes in the middle of a recession, that many unwelcome surprises are in store for us already suffering workers. We will inevitably be the ones who end up paying. The poor will pay for the union workers' benefits. That is because no matter what the politicians say, the taxes always somehow end up getting paid by the bulk of the work force. If not directly, then they are passed on by all the businesses that get taxed and pass it on to customers, from food, to cigarettes, to lottery tickets to gasoline to all the other things we all want and need. No one ever escapes any tax increase, especially us workers and small business owners. Yeah, if I had a surplus like my Uncle, I would not be so hard core, but another tax is not going to help me at all. I do not have it.
Inflation is an indirect tax. My Social Security fund turned out to be a tax. It is gone. Promise broken. Even FDR's initial Federal Income Tax was supposed to be temporary, just until the war was paid for. Promise broken. I do not trust the taxers, I do not care who they say is going to pay it, I know it will end up being me one way or the other. The Oregon legislature is considering as we speak, taxing horse ownership -- there is another obstruction to my dream of someday owning a horse. Freedom curtailed in the name of taxation again. Yeah, it never ends. Taxes = slavery, not some magical remedy for all that ails our society. Just my opinion...but there you have it. I do have some reason behind it that justifies my stand that is objectionable to some of you.
Sometimes I wish I could join the cause and stand in solidarity with these good people, but the last time I was in solidarity was with the Polish people as they fought socialism and won by virtue of facing down certain death in huge numbers. This cause is not the same. To me it is socialism trying to get a few more of my dollars which will not sate the beast -- it will want more and more and more, just like always before until I am a slave of the State. This is Regression, not Progression. I hope Governor Scott Walker wins one for me.