Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
George Lakoff, commenting on the above, says in his article "what conservatives really want":
"Budget deficits are a ruse, as we've seen in Wisconsin, where the governor turned a surplus into a deficit by providing corporate tax breaks, and then used the deficit as a ploy to break the unions, not just in Wisconsin, but seeking to be the first domino in a nationwide conservative movement. Deficits can be addressed by raising revenue, plugging tax loopholes, putting people to work, and developing the economy long-term in all the ways the president has discussed. But deficits are not what really matters to conservatives. Conservatives really want to change the basis of American life, to make America run according to the conservative moral worldview in all areas of life."
He says much more of pertinence so please see the article, especially about empathy (which relates to Rifkin's message).
More from Lakoff I appreciate:
"And Democrats help conservatives when they function as policy wonks -- talking policy without communicating the moral values behind the policies. They help conservatives when they neglect to remind us that pensions are deferred payments for work done. 'Benefits' are pay for work, not a handout. Pensions and benefits are arranged by contract. If there is not enough money for them, it is because the contracted funds have been taken by conservative officials and given to wealthy people and corporations instead of to the people who have earned them."
We need to win the rhetoric war and Lakoff is an invaluable guide.
It is obvious that Republicans are attempting social engineering under the guise of 'fiscal responsibility'. Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan received multiple dissenting opinions when he made a simplistic comment on the situation from people on the ground in Wisconsin. To his credit he publishes & engages intelligently with readers with opposing views. You can read them here:
Rachel Maddow has her own take on the situation, seeing it as an attempt by Republicans to undercut the base of Democratic support in Wisconsin. She makes a plausible case.
Meanwhile, the House is attempting to defund PBS, NPR, & Planned Parenthood. What amazes me is that no one is talking about our state of continuous war in Iraq & Afghanistan. Obama lost me when he capitulated to the military adventurism of the Bush administration. Andrew Bacavich has pointed out that it is often the Democrats who have been the biggest supporters of militarization in the last 30 years because they don't want to appear soft on defense. This is what collapsing empire looks like.
My greatest hope would be for a renewed anti-war movement that lights a fire under the Democratic base.
And this dissent from the Sullivan site adds weight to Klein's contention of creating a crisis to manipulate voters:
"The new Governor and Legislature passed business tax cuts that took the current budget from black to red to create an exploitable crisis."
"Budget deficits are a ruse, as we've seen in Wisconsin, where the governor turned a surplus into a deficit by providing corporate tax breaks, and then used the deficit as a ploy to break the unions, not just in Wisconsin, but seeking to be the first domino in a nationwide conservative movement...."
The corporate tax rates were lowered to try and attract companies to Wisconsin. Wisconsin has an average state deficit but above average per capita (i.e. they need jobs). Recently their Lieutenant Governor made the news here in Chicago. She was calling Illinois companies and trying to lure them to Wisconsin with the lower tax rate. But I am sure Naomi is right, I heard there was an email about to be released on Wikileaks about all the Republicans getting together at a golf course in Florida with Satan planning to destroy all the unions. :-)
Another interesting article, excerpts following:
"All sorts of states are working on budgets, and are negotiating with public sector unions. What makes Wisconsin different? The short answer is that in Wisconsin, the 'budget shortfall' isn't simply being used as an excuse to pare back public sector salaries or pensions -- it's being used to strip away labor rights altogether, with an eye toward eliminating collective bargaining completely. David Weigel and Harold Myerson made a Friday appearance on Dylan Ratigan's show, and Weigel's succinct summary of that appearance excellently captured the heart of this matter:
'I was just on Dylan Ratigan's show, where Harold Myerson gave the right answer to a good question: Why aren't unions up in arms about the pension reforms proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Ca., and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY?
'Well, they sort of are. New York State United Teachers are buying up ad time to oppose Cuomo's cuts to the school budget. But in the state with the most union members, and the state with the highest proportion of unionized workers, the unions are mostly holding their power. And that's because unlike Scott Walker, the Democratic governors are limiting their reforms to pensions and other items relevant to the budget. Walker is doing that and 1) going after collective bargaining rights and 2) asking for mandatory annual elections to determine union membership. And those measures are patently designed to weaken labor for all time, long after the crisis is over.'"
Regarding Wisconsin public employee pay, complete with charts and numbers (oh boy!), from Ezra Klein's Washington Post article:
"'Republicans say that public-sector employees have become a privileged class that overburdened taxpayers,' write Karen Tumulty and Brady Dennis. The question, of course, is whether it's true. Consider this analysis the Economic Policy Institute conducted comparing total compensation -- that is to say, wages and health-care benefits and pensions -- among public and private workers in Wisconsin. To get an apples-to-apples comparison, the study's author controlled for experience, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship and disability, and then sorted the results by education. Here's what he got:
"If you prefer it in non-graph form: 'Wisconsin public-sector workers face an annual compensation penalty of 11%. Adjusting for the slightly fewer hours worked per week on average, these public workers still face a compensation penalty of 5% for choosing to work in the public sector.'"