Union, Yes

Imbolc                                                              Waning Bridgit Moon

This week had a lot of Latin time.  I made it through ten lines of Diana and Actaeon which Greg and I discussed at length during my tutoring session today.  I need to pay more attention to the verb and its object; when I get that, I get the translation; when I don’t, I make it fit anyhow, the Procrustean bed of my mind.  The work of translation, at least in Latin, lies within my competency level, I can see that now.  All it will require is ongoing attention.  All.  Well.  Good thing there’s a lot in Latin that interests me.

Madison, Wisconsin.  Politics, the way they work in our country, allow this mercurial swing from one perspective to another in the course of one election.  Republicans seem to need two things in the public arena:  enemies they can flog and to be the enemy themselves.  It’s a peculiar combination, like group sado/masochism with both aspects of S&M in action at the same time.  Enemies right now:  public sector unions, bloated budgets and those that love them, perverters of the constitution–at least they one they read, environmentalists, the environment.  Being the enemy right now:  ruling with a peculiar maliciousness–witness the Wisconsin Governor’s “conversation” with billionaire David Koch,  acting as if the nation were a one party system, theirs, with a pesky group of liberals who act like horseflies and insist on inhabiting seats in their government, choosing a mainstream way of interpreting the constitution, the living document school, and pushing it, in their minds, to the dustbin of history as if it had never existed.

We need parties that represent different communities and different interests, that’s what politics is for, the mediation of disputes, but our politics don’t work unless respect for the others existence stands as a given.

I’m a pro-union guy.  Here’s why.  If I work at Target, say, as a clerk making $10.00 an hour, do you think my interests are the same as the CEO making multiple millions a year?  They are not.  At best I’m a number on the sheet which reads costs of employees, a number to be cut if times are bad or enlarged if times are good.  I’m not a person.  If I work as a teacher in a large public school system, are my interests the same as the school boards?  No.  Why?  Because they manage a large budget with many moving parts, my salary and benefits only one among many.  Who will speak for me in the management suite if there is no union?  It is a simple matter of power distribution.  When the power lies with the money and hierarchy, the power of the lower wage, bottom of the heap employee has significance only in numbers, in a group that can sit down and represent the employee’s needs.

Have unions become corrupt?  Yes, but they hardly beat the bosses to the trough.  Corporate corruption entails a wide menu of things from price-fixing, account jiggering, golden parachutes and a focus on quarterly reports.  Just as corrupt corporations do not make the corporation useless in our society, neither does a corrupt union make unions useless.

Holders of power do not relinquish it without a fight.  Just look at the Middle East.  Think citizens as employees and autocrats as corporate chieftains.  Same same.

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