Tim McMullen's Missives and Tomes

Monday, June 4, 2012

Occupy the Ballot Box: Recall Scott Walker & Rebuke the Koch Brothers and the Chamber of Commerce

This is the last day to contribute to the recall of Governor Scott Walker, the poster boy for the Koch Brothers' and the Chamber of Commerce's coordinated attacks on unions, workers and women. With the help of a Republican legislature, Walker has rammed through nearly every regressive and repressive law that ALEC and other rabidly wrong-wing think tanks have on their "destroy the middle class" wish list.

Why would uber-wealthy corporations want to destroy the middle class? Read The Grapes of Wrath— especially Chapters 5, 19 and 25—for a brilliant and cogent analysis. A strong middle class makes demands, but when people lose their jobs, when people have been put out of their homes, when people's retirement savings have been decimated by the market manipulators, when a single illness can wipe out a family's life savings, then the people become desperate; they become hopeless; they become divided and selfish because they are convinced that there is not enough to go around and that getting theirs first, as meager as it might be, is all that matters. This is Ayn Rand’s “virtue of selfishness” in practice.

The transformation of the middle class into the working poor (or even a “peasant class”) is "Who Moved My Cheese" on a grand scale. In case you don’t remember, this was a hugely successful “motivational” book from 1998 subtitled, “An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life.” Its basic message was: Who cares what the masters have done to you? Don't ask, “Why have we been screwed?” Don’t ask, “How did it happen?” or “Who is responsible?” Just quit questioning and complaining and learn to live with it!

The assault on the middle class is an organized attempt to overthrow one hundred years of social, political, and economic progress and get us back to slave wages, no social safety net, squalor and desperation for the masses as the prerequisites for unrestrained power and wealth for the "intellectually and morally superior supermen" (see Ayn Rand); or Milton Friedman's amoral, free market corporate executives; or the newly-coined, ironic misnomer, "job creators" all of whom share the same view that unencumbered personal gain is the only moral measure of human worth. Those peons, i.e., the middle class and working poor, who demand a greater share of the largesse amassed by the “creators of wealth,” are evil parasites trying to siphon off the just rewards of the divinely favored rich man. The call for minimum wage, labor negotiations, pensions, overtime, health and safety regulations, environmental regulations, non-discrimination, education, and health care are just examples of the selfish desires of the lazy and irresponsible workers to feed off of the rich.

Both sides agree (Boehner bragged about the fact) that corporations are sitting on billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars of cash while the economy falters and workers’ lives and families are jeopardized through this inaction. Everyone knows that the big banks and the big market gamblers were “bailed out” during the Bush administration with no strings attached, followed by a second, “bail out” in the early days of the Obama administration (again without “strings” as demanded by the Republican lawmakers), and that lack of strings has brought no significant reform to the wildly reckless and deregulated speculators in the banking, securities, energy, pharmaceutical and insurance industries who daily threaten our economic well being. Nor has it curtailed the consistent efforts of the Republicans to thwart the recovery at all costs while using their propaganda echo chamber to blame the results of their intransigence on the President.

The job numbers continue to be dismal because for every job the private sector “creates,” two or three workers in the public sector are losing their jobs. We don’t have too many teachers, too many firemen, too many policemen, too many health and safety inspectors, too many support staff in the courts or public service agencies; the truth is, in most cases, we don’t have nearly enough, yet these workers are being fired by the millions. Grover Norquist (of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which has legislators vow, “I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes”) famously said, "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." As early as 1955, Milton Friedman was denouncing public education per se while promoting vouchers or government subsidies for private education. Howard Jarvis, leader of the Tax Revolt, spoke openly about eliminating public education.

Scott Walker and Paul Ryan are both from Wisconsin. Ryan has blatantly championed his proposals to privatize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid while lowering taxes and maintaining government handouts and protections for cutthroat criminal corporations and war profiteers. Scott Walker is the “executive branch” of this transfer-of-wealth juggernaut. Destroy public workers rights, women’s rights, immigrant’s rights, and you have a formula for fleecing the consumer and the worker while carting corporate tax-dodging wealth off to the Caymans.

“Citizens United” was the contribution of the ideologically and morally corrupt conservative majority of the Supreme Court to the overthrow of the middle class. As a result, we cannot hope to compete with corporations and their unfettered billions, but millions of us contributing something can counter their impact.

We can’t truly Occupy Wall Street physically for any length of time, but we can “occupy” them morally and legally if we “Occupy the Ballot Box!” We can rein in their reign of terror, reduce their obstructionist clout, and curtail their economic blackmail if we educate ourselves to the failure of the corporate raider free-for-all that has wreaked havoc on the lives of everyday Americans for the last thirty years.

It’s pretty simple these days: if the Chamber of Commerce has its name on it, it is not in your interest. If it claims that regulation is the problem, it is not in your interest. If it claims that the market is magic and should be left alone, it is not in your interest. If its name is “Taxpayers For” or “Taxpayers Against,” you know that they are not really taxpayers but tax dodgers, and their policies are not in your interest. 

With those provisos in mind, I encourage you to put your money where your heart and brain are, and “OCCUPY THE BALLOT BOX!”

“The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!”
Tim McMullen