Busting Democracy

For groups of people to elect representatives to advocate their interests is a foundational principal of American democracy.

Imagine a scenario in which a president dictates how tax money is to be spent, and then announces that he is dissolving Congress and stripping citizens of their right to vote. The population would be unified in its outrage, and rightly so.

This is why Scott Walker’s proposal to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights is so disturbing. Unions are nothing more than groups of employees who elect representatives to advocate on their behalf. Republicans in Wisconsin are trying to eliminate democracy in the workplace.

The right wing claims that this must be done to balance the budget. Bovine excrement! For one thing, the governor inherited a surplus, gave money away to his rich corporate buddies, and the”hole” in the budget is exactly the size of those giveaways. In spite of this, the state employee unions are willing to make the economic sacrifices outlined in this proposal in exchange for retention of their collective bargaining rights.

Walker greeted this gesture of compromise and accommodation with the words, “nothing doing.” This proves that the “save the budget” reasoning was a lie. This is all about crushing unions – dictating working conditions and shutting down any possibility of future negotiation.

This is mean-spirited and un-American, and it must not stand. I am ashamed of our governor for proposing this, but I am proud of our fellow citizens who are resisting.

An Open Letter to the Tea Party

As a progressive, I share a lot of fundamental beliefs that you Tea Partiers promote.

You say you want your country back. I’d like my country back, too, and I think we’re talking about the same country. It was the country we knew as kids, where families made a comfortable living on one salary, where there was plenty of honest work for good wages, and where people helped out their neighbors in a time of need.

But now it takes two salaries to support a family (if you’re lucky) while the wealth we produce is hoarded by greedy Wall Street investors who think nothing of dismissing thousands of workers to gain 1% in profit margin.

I’ve been victimized by the same economic injustices that you have, so I can understand the frustrations behind your anger. What I can’t understand is why you are supporting Republicans.

Don’t you know that Republicans are the party of Big Business? They’re sponsored by the same fat cats who trashed our economy, and if elected they will continue to do the bidding of this uber-rich elite. There are no true advocates for working people in the GOP.

Check out the front groups sponsoring your Tea Party rallies. The people paying for those expensive stage sets, tour buses, sound systems and promotion are the same oil billionaires, Wall Street banksters and job exporters who’ve ripped off our country.

If elected, they will resume their orgy of casino capitalism, and they’re tricking you into endorsing it.

What Kind of People Are We?

There’s a popular bumper sticker that says a lot in three words: “Mean People Suck.” Because the world would be such a better place if it weren’t for the small minority of mean people we have to put up with.

Most of us are not mean people. I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled overseas, and there are nice people all over the world, just as there are nice people all over La Crosse and the rest of America. But the actions of our government reflect badly on us as a people.

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Pro-war Party Debates with Insults

During a recent public hearing, a leader of the La Crosse County Republican Party made references to the Green Party that fell somewhere between fighting words and slander.

This is something we can expect to see a lot of during the upcoming debate on the Bring the Troops Home referendum: with no rational arguments to support their case, they will resort to irrational ones. Expect a lot of lies, distortions, distractions, insults and personal attacks.

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What If?

Consider a scenario in which partisan roles are reversed:

What if the election process in Ohio and Florida was supervised by the chairman of the Kerry campaign in each state?

What if the computerized voting system was designed and built by Apple Computer, where CEO Steve Jobs is a known Kerry supporter? What if there were countless “irregularities” involving these machines, all favoring Kerry?

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Two Kinds of Christians

I am an atheist, but I grew up with enough Catholic indoctrination to recognize that there are both good people and bad people who call themselves “Christians”.

The “Good Christians” can be found feeding people, comforting the sick and their families, or working for peace and justice. They spend more time practicing than preaching, and they don’t impose their faith onto others.

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Taxpayers should not pay for campaign rallies

When George Bush travels to read to kids or to lay a wreath, he always pops in to a party fundraiser afterwards. It’s as if he’s doing a fundraiser because he happens to be in town. In truth, the ceremonial appearance is an excuse to bill the taxpayers for Bush’s round trip on Air Force One, which would otherwise be billed to his campaign.

This kind of thinking is in play locally, where the richest campaign organization in the history of the world is passing its expenses onto local governments who can least afford them. Mayor Medinger must be applauded for standing up on behalf of local taxpayers in the face of shameless Republican operatives on the Common Council and mean-spirited ranters on the letters page.

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Highways and Neighborhoods Don't Mix

Among people who commute regularly between New York and Los Angeles, there is a small clique who refer to the rest of us as “fly-over people.” I think of this every time I cross West Avenue, when I have to face down aggressive suburban traffic charging through our city. Too many of these drivers show the same arrogant disdain on those of us who live here as their jet-setting counterparts.

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Treasonous Liars and Gullible Morons

According to the latest edition of the American Heritage Dictionary, a lie is defined as “A false statement deliberately presented as being true”, or “Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.”

Members of the Bush regime have been showering our airwaves with so many lies that responsible and astute citizens can no longer trust a word they say. Unfortunately, the lies are still effective on Bush’s most important constituency: America’s vast population of loud and gullible morons.

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Low-wage WalMart jobs erode tax base

Too many people in La Crosse have been bamboozled into the belief that a south side WalMart would be a good thing.

We keep hearing about the hundreds of jobs this monstrosity might create. What keeps getting overlooked is that these jobs typically start at $6.50/hour or less, and precious few people see a double-digit hourly wage. Furthermore, WalMart seems to have a nasty habit of pressuring employees into unpaid overtime, and has even gone as far as to lock employees in the store after they’ve clocked out. (New York Times, June 25). (This story was carried by many papers nationwide. I wonder why the Tribune has neglected to pass along this important and locally relevant story?)

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what will happen to the local tax base when these hundreds of overworked and underpaid WalMart employees can’t afford to buy, improve or maintain decent homes.

We have a decent locally-owned supermarket and a respectable Wisconsin-owned discount store up the street from this proposed blight. Why do we need to abandon our fine local businesses just to send our money to a predatory corporation from Arkansas?

WalMart drones will go on about “low prices”. They confuse price with value. WalMart is infested with cheap junk from third-world sweatshops. In terms of value, we are far better served at “Main Street” stores, where the staff actually know and care about their products and their customers.

If this obscenity gets built, it will create a traffic nightmare. Those of us who fought so hard to keep a new highway from being shoved down our throats will have to contend with the WalMart people when they come crying for more concrete (as they always do).

Every way you look at it, this WalMart deal is bad news. But I don’t think the city should walk away from it … they should run like hell.