by Don Washington on 2012/06/11
On June 5th there were three elections that people are not talking about as exactly connected to each other and no one but me is talking about how they are all directly connected to Chicago and the machinations of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. You see in Wisconsin, San Jose California and San Diego California two Republicans and one Democrat demonstrated that it doesn’t matter which party a politician belongs to it matters if they have campaign investors and if their moral compass is on loan from Dick Cheney or Jamie Diamond. With apologies to Mark Twain history doesn’t repeat it rhymes and the tune Mayor Emanuel is whistling is the same one that just knocked the hopes, aspirations and possibilities of ordinary people half way back to the 18th century. Which side are you on boy, now means you are either with organized people, human beings or organized money... corporate monsters.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a manifestation of organized money. He doesn’t care if your kid gets sick and dies if there’s not a dollar in it somewhere for someone he actually cares about. Don’t believe me ask the people who right now have no access to free to low cost mental healthcare because he gave $19 million dollars to the wealthiest corporations in Chicago and lobbied for what will come to close a trillion dollars in tax relief for the impoverished Chicago Mercantile Exchange over the next decade. So I’m not engaging in hyperbole here I’m just pointing out what the Mayor has already done without losing any sleep or being held even a little accountable by say the crack Chicago Stenography Corps.
So, what the hell happened five days ago? In Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, after destroying collective bargaining, striking down equal pay for women and cutting public services like a slasher film villain at a sorority panty party won big. In San Diego Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders’ swan song was to give public worker pensions to Wall Street in the form of 401k’s. Anyone that has one of these “retirement plans” knows that they would be better off buying a bag of magic beans or putting their money in a brown paper bag and giving it to a guy named Alexi to invest in an Eastern European internet fund. In San Jose Democratic Mayor Chuck Reed decided that he would be reducing public pensions by 10%... NEXT YEAR. In the years to come such reductions will, at some point make the word pension synonymous with beer money because once you start cutting then it is always on the table.
What these people all have in common is they sound exactly like our Mayor. They are talking about shared sacrifice, fiscal responsibility, flexibility, having an adult conversation, pension reform and efficiency. But the truth is that they are all agents of organized money and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the ultimate manifestation of organized money, was paying attention. Our idiot media is going to pitch this as the winds of change and reality forcing Democrats to finally deal with the dead weight of lazy public workers like this some internal party battle but it isn’t. This is the 1% doing in the last barrier, public unions between them and absolute control of lives of ordinary people and the saddest thing here is that ordinary people are not only not fighting them… we’re helping them.
Polling indicates that roughly half of union households voted against the unions and in favor cutting pensions & for the death of pensions, collective bargaining and perhaps the sacrifice of small children to the Elder Gods. We can never be sure about what evil lurks in the hearts of organized money. They are willing to starve entire nations for an extra dollar. We have proof.
What we should be thinking, as dangerously informed citizens, is that most ordinary citizens, even those with a dog in the fight have bought the “conventional wisdom” that public workers are fat, pampered and overly pensioned. That wisdom says that pensions are too big, that there is no money to support them and that budgets have to be balanced. The word they won’t use is austerity; which means that government cuts budgets and services to erase deficits, which sounds like common sense but as Gwen Washington once told me that if sense were common more folks would have some. When an economy is contracting and the private sector is not hiring if governments don’t hire you get what I like to call an austerity spiral. NO ONE has any money and small businesses go out of business, huge businesses gobble them up and economic inequality grows. That’s what’s happening in Europe now and what happened after 2008… but I digress.
What I am telling you is that as Mayor Rahm Emanuel gets ready to do battle with teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public servants is that he has the weight of the media and “conventional wisdom” on his side and as an agent of organized money he will not be happy until public workers are reduced to the same level of uncertainty, rights, retirement and compensation as Wal-Mart employees. So when he starts talking about shared sacrifice, balancing budgets, out of control pensions and the need to be fiscally responsible he’s lying. Sadly, most of our fellow citizens, if enough time and money are applied to them are going to believe the conventional wisdom unless we do something about it and we better. Because if we don’t we won’t be victorious citizens riding under the Champs Élysée we’ll be Hector tied to the back of Achilles’ chariot.
What Wisconsin, San Jose and San Diego taught Mayor Emanuel is that now is the time to crush a bunch of unions and not only get away with it… but get accolades for doing it. What it better teach us is that the unions, none of them, can go it alone. When nasty push comes to ugly shove Rahm is going to be able to count on billions in outside resources to help him demonize, out last and out resource any of our unions and turn us on each other like a starving mob of hundreds fighting for fifty loaves of bread. And here we are fortunate that history doesn’t repeat it rhymes. We’ve done this before and we can do this again… okay none of us were alive and our grandparents, if they’re still living were probably in their forties but the 1930’s weren’t that long ago in historical time and it was the last time things got this bad.
You see, just like the last time the degenerate gamblers of the finance, investment and real estate sectors let neoliberal economics off chain; the chickens that came home to roost were about the size of Rodan and I’m talking the flying lizard not the painter. And just like last time the people that didn’t cause the economic crisis, didn’t profit from creating economic crisis and didn’t get bailed out of the economic crisis were asked to pay for it. Back then we had a one- two punch that was so devastating it got middle of the road FDR, that’s right middle of the road, he ran for office promising to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, poverty stricken and middle class, pass the New Deal.
The Great Depression was about three times worse than what’s happening right now and we didn’t have even the lousy safety net we have right now. We had no Social Security, no Unemployment Insurance and for damn sure no Federal Employment Programs… we had nothing but FDR wasn’t able to embrace austerity. Nope, he had to CREATE all of those things by taxing the people who’d caused, profited from and had been bailed out of the crisis by Hoover. That one-two punch was a radical, principled union movement, whose DNA is in our Chicago Teacher’s Union and NOT in the Laborers Local 1001 and a strong social movement that went into neighborhoods, churches, schools, community centers, old folks homes and small businesses and educated ordinary people about who caused this crisis and who benefited from it.
The people, who went into those communities, were progressives and actual Socialists and Communists. They understood then what we understand now. They knew then like we know now that there is plenty of money in this country. Sadly, it’s all in the possession of a small number of greedy, amoral and vicious people who’d rather stab a newborn in the chest than part with any of the wealth they possess and stole from the society that made that wealth possible. They know, just like we do that we’ve privatized the profits and socialized the losses and that what’s really happening is that the forces of organized money are looking to steal what’s left of the public trust.
So what I’m saying is that the Chicago Teacher’s Union, the CTU cannot do this alone and if we don't get involved with this strike conventional wisdom will win and those teachers will bear the cost of CME's and JP Morgan Chase's refusal to pay to support the society from which they steal. It will happen because that's what the organized money wants. It's what the Tribune's editors and owners want. It's what Penny Pritzker wants and it's what Eden Martin and Laurence J. Msall want and so it's exactly what Mayor Rahm Emanuel will work for unless you, me and everyone we know gets directly involved in informing the public that this is about having a school system where kids learn, teachers teach and resources exist to make both of the above possible and sustainable. Try and remember that Republican and Democrat are just labels like Coke and Pepsi to the rich and powerful. Remember good people that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in the service of money in a way that makes him as close to being absolutely evil as politician who can’t physically have you killed can be. Organized money must be stopped somewhere and the next big battleground is going to be right here over schools and for kids and parents or for corporations and profit.