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Viewing Unions From Right And Left

As the fights in Wisconsin and Ohio rage on over efforts to strip workers of their rights, everybody has an opinion. It's interesting to see the difference. Rich Lowry's op-ed in the Columbia Tribune was most representative of the disdain the

As the fights in Wisconsin and Ohio rage on over efforts to strip workers of their rights, everybody has an opinion. It's interesting to see the difference.

Rich Lowry's op-ed in the Columbia Tribune was most representative of the disdain the right has for union workers. Here's a taste:

No, the most important measure at stake in Wisconsin is the governor’s proposal for the state to stop deducting union dues from the paychecks of state workers. This practice essentially wields the taxing power of the government on behalf of the institutional interests of the unions. It makes the government an arm of the public-sector unions. It is a priceless favor.

Wisconsin doesn’t collect dues for Elks lodges or the NRA. What makes these organizations different from public-sector unions is that people freely choose to join them and freely choose to pay their dues. They are truly voluntary organizations that don’t rely on the power of the state for their well-being. Walker wants to give members of public-sector unions a measure of this same autonomy.

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Public-sector unions are a creature of government, and the Democrats are the party of government. The two of them have identical interests and worldviews, and both want to leverage government to swell their campaign coffers. How to characterize this? The word “shame” comes to mind.

Lowry of course fails to note that unions must disclose each and every penny they spend on campaigns, independent ad expenditures, and other political activity. That doesn't seem to faze him as much as the outrage that union dues are collected by payroll deduction. Is he also outraged that insurance companies' coffers are fattened by private corporations who take payroll deductions for their employees' health insurance? Of course not.

Now here's the view from the left side of the aisle, via Thos Payne at MyAuburnJournal:

The fact that Americans for Prosperity is now going on the air makes it clear that this is about something far larger going on than getting Wisconsin's finances under control; it underscores the degree to which this has become, for the Republicans, an ideological battle of elite corporatism verses the working class - oil industry billionaires are pitted against union workers; their ideological ally a rented governor who is intent on destroying trade unions. This kind of struggle needs to be called what it is - class warfare.

What's happening in Wisconsin is no accident. Class warfare depends on the suppression of democracy. The Koch brothers depend on corruption within the Supreme Court. The extreme right-wing judicial activism that was the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision was just the opening salvo.

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Buying elections didn't stop in Wisconsin and the agenda isn't confined to the Koch brothers. It's the entire Republican agenda - an agenda that is threatened by America's demographic evolution. This agenda has always has depended on suppressing the vote, and now it depends on the suppression of democracy itself.

Make no mistake, this is class warfare. It's a war on democracy itself, and Wisconsin is just the first battle.

Wisconsin is symbolic to both sides. To the right, it's an effort to weaken the power of collective voices by de-funding unions. To the left, it's a class war.

The right wing takes away. The left wing gives back. In Wisconsin, they're looking to take away people's voice and their power. The left (and most independents, too) are giving back that voice and power by the only means available to them -- protest.

Which is why it shouldn't surprise you to discover that Jim DeMint is hedging Governor Walker's bet by introducing a federal right-to-work bill. Evidently states' rights only matter when they're exercised to rob ordinary people.

“No American should be forced to join a union and pay dues to get a job in this country,” said Senator DeMint. “Many Americans are already struggling just to put food on the table, and they shouldn’t have to fear losing their jobs or face discrimination if they don’t want to join a union. Forced-unionism shields unions from member accountability and has a detrimental effect on the economy. In states where companies are forced to hire only union workers, businesses have struggled to compete while they deal with counterproductive work rules.”

Funny thing. Statistics prove that workers in states which are not right-to-work states have more job security, and those states have lower unemployment rates, which means Senators DeMint, Coburn, Hatch, Lee, Paul, Risch, Toomey and Vitter are big fat liars.

But we knew that.

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