“Where Free Unions and Collective Bargaining are Forbidden, Freedom is Lost. Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” – Ronald Reagan
Republicans in Tennessee are trying to ensure we lose as much freedom, as defined by conservative icon Ronald Reagan, as possible. Their method, ending the very thing that Reagan himself said was a cornerstone of American freedom in the form of SB 0113 a bill that “abolishes teachers’ unions ability to negotiate terms and conditions of professional service with local boards of education.”
While Reagan’s record on unions is a mixed bag in and of itself, what we’re seeing now, the summary dismantling of a whole category of collective bargaining, flies in the face of the words used by a man who, was himself, the President of a labor organization.
From the just signed law in Wisconsin, to moves in State Legislatures across the country, conservatives are working overtime to ensure people, eventually, won’t get paid any overtime, as they attempt to strip collective bargaining, and related workers rights from people in the midst of a recession that has left millions either unemployed or underemployed.
What’s all this about?
It could be political retribution, unions have traditionally supported Democrats rather than Republicans for office.
What about the budget? That’s the rationale they’re using, but cutting money from teachers is like cutting off your leg so you’re not burdened by the weight as you run. By making teaching even less attractive, there’s not much chance you’ll get the best and the brightest turning to teaching, unless their down with a vow of poverty.
Nope, what all this really seems to be about is more tax cuts, at least in Wisconsin. The budget shortfalls that are reported up there are the result of a package of nearly $200m in tax cuts, $117m previously approved, and an additional $82m yet to be approved. So while teachers and students, Medicare recipients and public sector workers are asked to sacrifice, business gets a tax cut in the midst of a $3.6b state budget shortfall. Let’s hear it for austerity.
At the end of the day, this is nothing more than an attack on an already suffering middle class. Conservatives have waged this attack, not just at unions, but every social institution that supports the middle class, a group that carried our nation to a level of prosperity since the 1950’s that no other nation on earth has ever experienced. The result of this and other Republican proposals is a huge tax cut for the 400 people who hold 50% of the total wealth in the nation and a big screw you to the other nearly 311,000,000 of us.
Way to work for the working man Republicans, and start us down the path that ensures, to paraphrase Reagan, this will be the last generation in America that saw freedom.