The Republican Conspiracy to Cut Your Wages
Wherever Republicans have had the votes, they have used them to attack unions, attack retirement, attack health benefits and attack salaries. What do these assaults on personal prosperity all have in common? They increase the number of workers in the labor force. Why would that be good public policy? It’s not.
Labor is a demand commodity just like oil or water or soy beans. When the labor pool includes everyone who should be retired, it means more workers are competing for each job. Too many workers (more than a few percentage points more than total jobs) and employees lose bargaining power. When supply exceeds demand, workers are compelled to work longer and harder for less money. After the last few years, that problem probably seems familiar.
“It’s just Capitalism” Republicans will tell you. But government that is organized to favor corporations and the rich is an economic theory called Fascism. I’m not using the word just to get your attention. President Franklin D. Roosevelt framed it in 1942, at a time when Fascism was fresh in the mind of every American:
“…democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
Governor Walker’s vision for Wisconsin is a perfect example. He argues evidence that unions lead to better pay is de facto evidence of harm. Harm to whom? Walker demonizes the very notion of good pay whenever he can. He likes to repeat this story about his brother, whom he describes as a “banquet manager”:
“In every way, they are a typical middle-class family here in Wisconsin. David mentioned to me that he pays nearly $800 a month for his health insurance and the little he can set aside for his 401k. He—like so many other workers across Wisconsin—would love a deal like the benefits we are pushing in this budget repair bill.”
To him, this story is not about why his brother’s job stinks. It is an argument for lowering the pay of government workers. The median salary for restaurant managers is $10.28 an hour. So by Walker’s logic, teachers should make $21,382. On the face of it, Walker’s brother doesn’t appear to have amounted to much. But maybe he is struggling because he doesn’t have the benefit of collective bargaining. Just sayin'.Continued on the next page