Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bread and Circuses

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately"

                         -Benjamin Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, 1776

Last year, in a highly publicized series of events, Scott Walker ended the collective bargaining rights of most public employees in Wisconsin.  What was less well publicized were massive cuts to public education that came in the budget that followed Act 10.  These cuts would eventually total over a billion dollars, and were some of the highest cuts per pupil in the entire nation.  

Based upon Wisconsin's history of tremendous public schools, I would have expected that these draconian and unnecessary cuts would have brought people in the streets much like the attack on public sector workers had.  In addition to losing their collective bargaining rights, our teachers would see class sizes increase and resources dwindle.  Every parent that has a kid in public school had a stake in this situation, as did every employer that relies on a workforce educated in Wisconsin. Yet there has been relative silence since the protests around Act 10 ended.  

In my more frustrated and cynical moments, I would routinely remark to my wife that the one scenario that would finally cause outrage would be if the budget cuts resulted in high schools disbanding football teams.  I feel safe in saying that if this occurred, Wisconsinites would absolutely lose their minds.

Monday, September 3, 2012


"A rising tide lifts all boats"

                -John F. Kennedy, 1963

Today is labor day.  This should be a day of celebrating the achievements of the labor movement in providing dignity and a voice for all workers, yet this year I am filled with a sense of both urgency and alarm.  Workers in this nation are in real trouble, and many don't even know it.