Ever since corporations started getting active in the media in the 1970s, there has been a growing dislike of unions in the public eye — a dislike that Governor Scott Walker (R, WI) thought to capitalize on when he moved to neuter his state’s public unions. But who here is the real enemy of The People? Scott Walker would like you to believe that the unions are, but the truth is more complex than he wants to admit.
For decades, as the American economy grew in power between the end of World War II and the early 1970s, the power of the corporations that ran the economy was balanced by the power of the labor unions. These groups, while nominally not political in nature, collected money from the workers and often used it to fight for laws that made working conditions and wages better than the corporations would have liked. Then, in the early ’70s, something changed. Corporations become more politically active, and began to advance their battle against labor unions in the media as well as at the negotiating table.
They succeeded admirably; labor unions in America have all but faded from the public eye until Governor Scott Walker made his move against them. Now, however, he has called the conservative rhetoric surrounding unions under public scrutiny, and the People are starting to see the many ways in which that rhetoric breaks down.
Very notably, pop pundit Jon Stewart of The Daily Show absolutely skewered Gov. Scott Walker’s views on the ‘greed’ of teachers in a beautiful skit. He did leave a few points out that deserve to be made, however.
The talking heads on Fox News, as one example, claimed that the average teacher’s salary is roughly $50,000 each year, plus another $38,000 in benefits brings their “total wages” up to about $80k. But this completely ignores the fact that the vast majority of teachers barely scratch the surface of the total benefits they’re offered. That $38,000 is mostly in the form of insurance — if any particular teacher happens to go all year without a medical emergency, most of those benefits simply go unused.
Similarly, while Stewart did point out the hypocrisy of the conservatives in supporting Wall Street financiers — the ones responsible for destroying the economy through the abuse of synthetic collateralized debt obligations — over teachers, he didn’t complete the allegory. Not only are the financiers the ones who killed the global economy, after all, but the teachers are the ones who are responsible for teaching our youth to know better than to repeat the mistakes of the past, including those of the financiers themselves.
Governor Scott Walker, apparently, wants Wisconsin children to be stupid, Wisconsin unions to be unable to stand up to Wisconsin corporations in any way, and, of course, The People to have no say in either matter. Scott Walker, or the unions: which, in the end, is the greater enemy of The People?