Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Republicans Waging War on American Working
The Cases of Wisconsin & Ohio
By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 8, 2011
Outside the beltway, ground zero is Wisconsin, but worker rights
are threatened across America, including by the Obama administration's
spurning them since taking office in January 2009. While giving at least
$12.4 trillion to Wall Street crooks and hundreds of billions more to other
corporate favorites, he stiff-armed budget-strapped states and local
governments, especially in the current fiscal year, leaving them on their
own sink or swim.
He also did little for distressed households.
Promising millions of new jobs, he created few, leaving real unemployment
over 22% more than three years after economic crisis began.
Moreover, he provided little popular aid overall, and facilitated Wall
Street's home foreclosure racket, involving fabricated documents, forgery,
perjury, lost paperwork, and "rocket docket" eviction speed throughs lasting
20 seconds on average. He also froze federal worker wages and plans sweeping
austerity for working households, while showering business and America's
aristocracy with generous tax breaks and other handouts.
reactionary governors and mayors hammer their residents, Obama is doing to
America. He's no friend of labor. In mid-February, he cynically told
Milwaukee's WTMJ television that:
"Everybody's got to make some
adjustments to new fiscal realities," claiming worker sacrifices are
necessary to "save jobs" when, in fact, they're killing them and driving
millions into poverty from wage and benefit cuts. At the same time,
corporate profits are better than ever, achieved on the backs of hammered
workers, swindled by a Washington-business cabal, sacrificing people for
marketplace sovereignty - a government-sponsored racket.
Obama pretends to support workers. In fact, he spurns them, his vague, tepid
rhetoric a dead giveaway for supporting class warfare, including harsh
measures to quell dissent.
Extremist Think Tanks and Media
Assault Worker Rights
Numerous right-wing think tanks
infest America's landscape, generously funded by conservative foundations,
including Koch Family Foundations (established by David, Charles and Claude
R. Lambe), several Scaife ones, John M. Olin Foundation, Lynde and Harry
Bradley Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, various others, and George
Soros' Open Society Foundations, pretending to be liberal, when, in fact, he
supports everything smelling money.
Their agenda includes
marketplace sovereignty, deregulation, privatization of government services,
ending popular entitlements, social spending, and affirmative action,
prioritizing business friendly policies, waging class war, controlling
electoral politics and supportive media backing everything on their wish
Among many others, their beneficiaries include the American
Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Club for Growth, Federalist Society,
Heritage Foundation, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, and Hoover
Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, founded in 1919 by Herbert Hoover,
best known for inaction while America sank into depression while he was
Its notorious members include Condoleezza Rice, George
Shultz, Edwin Meese, Margaret Thatcher, William Perry, Thomas Sowell, Shelby
Steele, Michael Boskin, James Woolsey, Christopher Hitchens, Milton Friedman
until he died, and Robert Barro - his Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking
collective bargaining discussed below, typical of what Hoover members
Its mission statement endorses representative government,
private enterprise, its definition of peace and personal freedom, and
safeguarding America's system, benefitting wealth and power, not popular,
Herbert Hoover's 1959 statement guides policy, saying:
America's "social and economic systems are based on private enterprise
from which springs initiative and ingenuity....Ours is a system where the
Federal Government should undertake no governmental, social or economic
action, except where local government, or the people, cannot undertake it
for themselves. (Safeguarding) the American system, (based on) individual,
economic, and political freedom; private enterprise; and representative
government" is fundamental to bedrock Hoover principles, ones very much
So were Milton Friedman's. He said markets work best
unfettered by rules, regulations, onerous taxes, trade barriers, "entrenched
interests" and human interference, and the best government is practically
none at all as anything it can do private business does better. Democracy
and government of, by and for the people? Heresy for Friedman, an ideology
he taught and endorsed.
He felt public wealth should be in private
hands, accumulation of profits unrestrained, corporate taxes abolished, and
social services curtailed or ended. He believed "economic freedom is an end
to itself....and an indispensable means toward (achieving) political
freedom." He opposed foreign aid, subsidies, import quotas, and tariffs, as
well as drug laws he called a subsidy to organized crime. It's also one for
money laundering banks, especially major Wall Street ones, profiting hugely
by doing it.
He favored a constitutional amendment requiring
Congress balance the budget because deficits "encourage political
irresponsibility." He claimed taxes were onerous and "favor(ed)...cutting
(them) under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever
possible...." He wanted corporations exempted from them. He opposed the
minimum wage, supported a flat tax for the rich, and believed everyone
should have to buy his or her own medical insurance like any other product
He opposed public education, supported school vouchers
for private ones, and believed marketplace competition improves performance
even though voucher amounts are inadequate and go mostly to religious
schools, breaching America's inviolable church-state separation.
also wanted Social Security and Medicare privatized and vocally opposed
unions, saying "high" wages and benefits harm everyone, including workers.
Extremist economists like him endorse the same policies, wanting America
returned to 19th century harshness. Acolyte Robert Barro is one.
February 28, his Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined, "Unions vs. the Right
to Work," saying:
"Labor unions like to portray collective
bargaining as a basic civil liberty, akin to the freedoms of speech, press,
assembly and religion," mocking the most fundamental labor right without
which no others exist.
As enacted in the landmark 1935 Wagner Act,
it lets unions bargain collectively with management on even terms, a goal
never achieved and now gravely weakened after decades of major erosion.
Ideally, however, collective bargaining provides a level playing field to
resolve worker-management conflicts, and, as such, represents an equitable
industrial jurisprudence system, by including civil rights issues and
establishing them in workplaces.
It thus counters one-sided
management authority, limits its arbitrary decision making, strengthens
worker rights, increases their self-respect, morale and productivity,
enhances unionism, promotes fairness, and facilitates equitable
labor-management resolutions, benefiting both sides by establishing open
communications to achieve workplace harmony and peace.
to Barrow who calls it "more similar to an antitrust violation than to a
civil liberty," an astonishing mischaracterization by a Harvard economist,
playing politics, not sound economics left out of his assessment.
Pre-1935 when labor had no rights, they were subject to (1890) Sherman
Antitrust Act guidelines, removed by the 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act and
Wagner Act (the 1935 National Labor Relations Act).
(1947) Taft Hartley Act legislation, letting states pass right-to-work laws.
Twenty-two mostly Southern and Western ones now have them, prohibiting
union-management agreements making membership or union dues an employment
condition, before or after hiring.
Barro's convoluted reasoning
claims the right to work trumps worker rights, and besides: it "has a much
more pleasant, liberal sound than 'collective bargaining.' "
neoliberal, an extremist ideology Barro endorses, advocating marketplace
sovereignty, profits over people, a large reserve army of labor to restrain
wages and benefits, privatizing state resources, deregulation, slashing
social services, and militant enforcement when necessary.
legislation in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states, says Barro, "stems from the
collision between overly generous benefits for public employees - notably
for pensions and health care - and the fiscal crises of state and local
governments," omitting that years of Wall Street shenanigans created them.
"Teachers and other public-employee unions went too far," said Barrow,
another astonishing misstatement, contrary to facts he ignores. Public
workers, in fact, are under, not over-compensated compared to their private
Using Census Bureau data, a National Institute
on Retirement Security (NIRS) study titled, "Out of Balance? Comparing
Public and Private Sector Compensation Over 20 Years" concludes:
"Wages and salaries of state and local employees are lower than those for
private sector employees with comparable earnings determinants, such as
education and work experience. State workers typically earn 11 percent less
and local workers 12 percent less."
"During the last 15 years, the
pay gap" widened. The pattern holds for most large states. "Benefits make up
a slightly larger share of compensation for the state and local sector."
Nonetheless, based on total compensation, state workers earn 6.8% less, and
for local ones it's 7.4%.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Economics
Professors Keith Bender and John Heywood co-authored the study, saying:
"These public sector employees earn less than they would earn if they took
their skills to the private sector."
Maybe Barro should enroll in
one of their classes to learn real economics he doesn't know or teach, his
students losing out from a man endorsing union-busting extremism, calling
Wisconsin's bill "fiscal reality." In fact, it's fiscal fascism,
substituting right-to-work zealotry for collective bargaining fairness.
No matter. Barro concludes saying, "Hopefully embattled politicians
like Gov. Walker will maintain their resolve and achieve a more sensible
long-term structure for the taxpayers in their states."
them, in fact, are public employees, the same ones making the state work.
Like all working Americans, they deserve fair pay and benefits for it, not
Barro's "fiscal reality," heading them for neoserfdom if enacted.
NIRS's entire study can be accessed through the following link:
A Final Comment
Walker's intransigence, Wisconsin public
workers are considering a general strike to shut down the entire state. He
threatened firings and layoffs. Challenging him is crucial, standing firm,
holding the line, and beating him at his own game, as well as discrediting
him and fellow Republicans endorsing his
Walker also slapped $100 a day fines on absent Democrat
senators and ordered them arrested for walking out, charged with "contempt
of the Senate." In fact, Walker wreaks of it, defiling public workers for
big money backers demanding it. So do fellow Republicans and Democrats.
Despite walking out, they caved on making workers pay more and weakly
supporting collective bargaining rights because their constituents demand
Notably, the Madison-based Cullen Weston Pines & Bach law firm
explains that "the Wisconsin Constitution absolutely prohibits members of
the (state) Senate from being arrested for non-criminal offenses. The
Wisconsin Senate action today (is invalid by) the law of this state."
Moreover, if arrests are made, Republican legislators and Gov. Walker may be
subject to contempt charges for violating state law, including a statute
protecting public officials from this type chicanery, including fining
absent senators $100 a day.
Battle lines remain drawn. Thursday
night, Dane County Circuit Judge John Albert ordered protesters out of the
Capitol. Most remained at first because his ruling said the state violated
the public's free speech and assembly rights by restricting access to the
building. Later they left. No arrests were made. Resolution remains nowhere
in sight, but sustained protester courage demands universal support for
their rights. Their struggle is ours.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at
sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with
distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive
Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at
noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Reactionary Extremism in Wisconsin and Ohio
By Stephen Lendman
It's spreading nationally under Republican and Democrat
administrations, but Wisconsin and Ohio are key
battleground states. Wisconsin especially - ground zero to save
organized labor, on the chopping block to be weakened ahead of eliminating
it altogether, returning America to 19th century harshness.
a shadow of its peak strength, it's been gravely harmed under corrupted
union bosses, betraying rank and file members for power and self-enrichment.
Short of real change, working Americans face stiff headwinds for their
rights fast eroding.
Nonetheless, Wisconsin public employees show
heroic stamina, 17 days after protests began, rallying in cold and snow,
sleeping on Capitol floors, staying the course for rights too important to
lose, facing off against extremist governance wanting them stripped of
Fascism is rooted in Washington under Democrat and
Republican rule, America's one-party system with two wings, each as
corrupted as the other supporting money and power, not beneficial social
change. It's also virulent in Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states.
Merriam-Webster calls it:
"a political philosophy, movement, or
regime that exalts nation(s) and often race above the individual and that
stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial
leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression
Mussolini endorsed "the Corporative System (that's)
destined to become the civilization of the twentieth century."
Hitler in Mein Kampf wrote enthusiastically about the "National Socialist
Others say it incorporates authoritarian rule,
revolutionary change, messianic faith, autarky and corporatism. Combined, it
represents right-wing extremism, concentrated power, masculinity, force,
racial superiority, imperialism, war as a means to spread it, and
intolerance of opposition or dissent.
In Wisconsin and Ohio, these
elements are deepening under two reactionary Republicans, Scott Walker and
John Kasich, neither giving ground in their crusade to destroy unionism and
public worker rights in their states.
On March 2,
New York Times writer Sabrina Tavernise headlined, "Ohio Senate Approves
(Anti-)Union Bill," saying:
By a 17 - 16 vote, six Republicans
voting no, Ohio's Senate passed extremist
"legislation that (will practically eliminate) collective bargaining rights
for public sector workers by banning strikes" and weakening union
power overall in labor-government negotiations. Easy House passage is
Kasich not only endorsed it, he played hardball for
Senate passage with Republican Tom Niehaus,
the chamber's President. Together they perhaps staged an unprecedented
political coup by removing two GOP committee dissenters for supportive ones
to get a full floor vote for passage.
The bill redefines collective
bargaining terms. Wage negotiations are permitted, but not entirely.
Disallowed are others for healthcare coverage, pensions and other benefits.
Strikes are also prohibited under threat of fines and incarceration. New pay
rules will be based on merit, not seniority.
Overall, a new labor
dispute resolution system will be established, empowering government at the
expense of workers, heading for losing all rights.
passage, Republicans outrageously claimed worker are too powerful. Opponents
call the measure unjust and unconscionable, stripping them of hard-won
rights. Independent observers expect an anti-Republican backlash.
Democrats vow to re-fight the measure by ballot referendum this fall. Unions
call the law the biggest blow to public worker rights since 1983 legislation
On March 2, Washington Post writer Greg Sargent
headlined, "Four national polls show solid support for public employees" by
a nearly two-to-one margin for collective bargaining rights.
Democrat Nina Turner said, "This bill seeks to vilify our public employees
and turn what used to be the virtue of public service into a crime."
Hardball in Wisconsin
Addressing the state legislature on March 1, Walker announced $1.7
billion in budget cuts over the next two years, hammering school districts,
teachers and social services, the same scheme playing out across America -
rewarding corporate favorites and the wealthy at the expense of ordinary
Class warfare is alive, spreading and deepening, inflicting
enormous harm on working Americans losing out, mostly affecting low-income
employees, many already earning poverty-level wages.
proposed cuts will heavily impact education, deny healthcare to those
uninsured, and increase tuition cost at state universities. State worker
jobs, wages and benefits are also affected, Walker claiming overall pay and
benefit compensation is "out of line with the private sector" when, in fact,
it's nearly 5% less on average.
Nonetheless, he proposed cutting
$900 million from local school districts, $250 million from state
universities, $500 million from programs providing low-income families
healthcare, and prescription drugs for seniors, as well as $96 million from
counties and municipalities.
At least 1,200 jobs will be eliminated,
another 20,000 outsourced, perhaps becoming low-pay, no benefits part-time
School districts and local governments plan school closures,
teacher and other system layoffs, and cuts in other services. State school
superintendent Tony Evers said:
"When you make unprecedented and
historic cuts like these to schools, it means teachers are laid off, class
sizes are larger, course offerings are reduced, extracurricular activities
are cut, and (most) of what we value in our schools (will be) gone."
At the same time, in a rage to privatize, Walker plans increased funding for
quasi-public/private charter schools and private school vouchers, including
for religious ones, violating a core church-state separation principle.
The state university system will be hammered by 11 - 13% cuts on 14 campuses
in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Eau Claire, Oshkosh, Platteville, and
others. The state's technical college system will also face $71.6
million in cuts, about 30% of its funding. Moreover, UW-Madison, the main
campus serving 40,000 students, will be free to set its own tuition rates,
perhaps making it more costly than others. Its Board of Trustees, mostly
state-appointed corporatists, will also control wages, benefits, staffing
and other policies, running the university like a business, not an
institution of higher learning. Expect the same system elsewhere.
a result, students will face stiff tuition hikes, for many putting college
out of reach. For others, imposing greater than ever long-term debt bondage
A previous article discussed permanent indebtedness from
America's student loan racket, accessed through the following link:
According to the Student Loan Debt Clock, cumulative principle and
interest owed is nearly $900 billion, rising by $2,854 per second, a
shocking indictment of a Washington-sanctioned scam, affecting students and
families alike. For many, lifetime debt bondage results, including in
default, requiring payments and late penalties continue, or have them
garnished from wages or other compensation. Once hooked, there's no escape
under a system as ruthless as loan-sharking. Pay up or get knee-capped.
National Public Worker Cuts
According to a February Center on Budget
and Policy Priority (CBPP) study, state governors face daunting fiscal
"State tax collections, adjusted for inflation,
are now 12 percent below pre-recession levels, while the need for
state-funded services has not declined. As a result, even after making very
deep spending cuts over the last several years, states continue to face
large budget gaps."
Currently, 45 states and the District of
Columbia expect FY 2012 deficits. As a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs
and public services are affected. FY "2012 (beginning July 1 in most states)
is shaping up as (their) most difficult budget year on record." Yet options
for addressing them are dwindling. Past federal aid is largely gone. Deep
cuts are coming, affecting public workers and other residents alike, hitting
poor and low-income ones hardest.
Total state spending on average
will be 10% less than in 2008. Only North Dakota and Alaska aren't affected.
North Dakota's state owned bank (the nation's only one) helped create the
largest ever budget surplus during the height of the economic crisis. The
governor and legislature are looking for ways to spend it, including by
increasing public services, not cutting them. Alaska benefits from its oil
CBPP said that "(d)espite modest signs of improvement,
states continue to face a long road to recovery." As a result, "significant
state shortfalls are expected to persist into the future." Moreover, the
more staff and compensations packages are cut, the less revenue is produced
that, in turn, means further reductions ahead as part of a continuing race
to the bottom cycle, hammering ordinary people most. For them, greater
deprivation and despair are coming, not relief when they most need it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to
cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio
News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time
and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy