15 February 2011

Speech to the Wisconsin State Joint Finance Committee Hearing


I am a graduate teaching assistant with the TAA at UW Madison. As we’ve heard already, this bill has very little to do with repairing the state budget and everything to do with rescinding workers’ rights. The right to collective bargaining is in no way connected to balancing a budget. Taking away workers’ abilities to bargain for their contracts is completely undemocratic and dictatorial. Moreover, even if this bill had anything at all to do with repairing a budget, taking what small scraps are still held by those who have the least (and have the least to do with the deficit) while extending benefits to those who have the most—as the governor recently did by passing tax cuts to big businesses—is an unwise and misguided path toward destruction for the state. President George H. W. Bush called it “voodoo economics” and over the past two decades, he has consistently been proven correct. At no time in American history has the gap between rich and poor been so wide and the unfounded rhetoric against workers and unions been so vitriolic.

There was a time in America when people like my grandfathers—with barely a high school diploma—could raise families, send them to college, protect them with access to health care, and then also comfortably retire on either a public or private sector income. That was because workers enjoyed protections provided by unions, which afforded them a decent life. Those protections have already been systematically destroyed in the private sector, as CEOs have amassed record wealth while employees have suffered record losses. Now, public sector workers’ rights are at risk as well. This constitutes a race to the bottom. It is an unethical and immoral way to run a business or a government. It is also an enormous political miscalculation. As people lose all rights, they also lose all fear. There will be nothing more left to lose. And as we’ve seen in recent weeks, people around the world are no longer tolerating their lack of freedom under dictatorial regimes. With this bill, Wisconsin will not be “open for business”; it will be closed, indefinitely, for repair.


Madame Fromage said...

Yeah!!! Keep up the fight!

Cara Mia Harris said...

KM-you are my hero. wish i could be there to protest alongside you, but i am with you in spirit.
cara mia

The Game Never Named, the Addendum Never Spoken

Remember that silly game we used to play with fortune cookies from Chinese restaurants? Maybe people still play it. It’s the one where...