Friday, February 25, 2011

Wisconsin, Indiana union-busting

Somebody said to me recently, "the Democrats are at their best when they are not there." Actually, I think that's a little harsh, but there is an important point there. Workers in this country have only rarely been able to count on politicians of any political stripe to back us up, much less pitch in with improvements.

Most often we have to fight like hell just to not get robbed, for example in the state sector when workers' contributions to their own pensions are used -- we should say "stolen" -- to pay the employer's other bills. (Somehow this little tidbit gets lost when the public debate begins over public employee pensions, along with the "pension holidays" we get in Illinois for example when the employer doesn't have to pay its obligations: maybe because so many in office are guilty of this legal racketeering?)

Democrats are often as guilty as Republicans on that score, sometimes moreso.

But these legislators who have fled their states to deny quorum to these reprehensible anti-worker bills are very close to heroes at the moment, , like a kind of more creative Mr.-Smith-goes-to-Washington-type-filibuster. See them as a suit-and-tie 300 in the pass at Thermopylae, if you like. (I actually think of the workers in Wisconsin more that way.) But these legislators are not avoiding their responsibilities, which are after all not to the governor and his nutcase agenda, or to some misbegotten sense of decorum, but to the people.

Don't let anyone tell you they are avoiding anything. They are doing the only responsible thing.