6 State Battlegrounds in the Right-Wing War Against Teachers, Firefighters, Caregivers and the Entire Middle Class
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You're not likely to have known Robert Clark, Ruth West, Chet Newall, Webb Kamp, or Darrell Odom, but I wouldn't be who I am without them. And you might have a similar honor roll of those who spurred, inspired, lured, intrigued, goaded, and otherwise motivated you to do more than you might otherwise have done -- a list of your special public school teachers. The junior-high, senior-high, and college teachers on my list largely sparked my lifelong interests in language, history, politics, and how (and for whom) government really works.
However, I was naive about their motivation. Little did I know at the time that their ilk are tax-sucking leeches, glorified babysitters, overpaid slugs who leave work at 3 p.m. and take the whole summer off. "Greedy," as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie barked at teachers in his state.
Thus America is suddenly at war against its own teachers -- along with its firefighters, police officers, public health researchers and caregivers, sanitation workers, census takers, park rangers, air traffic controllers, and the whole horde of 'do-nothings' on the public payroll. Fire 'em, bust their unions, take away their democratic rights, slash their pay, increase their workloads, eliminate their pensions, and (most especially) scorn them.
Those are not just the vitriolic sentiments of a few red-faced, tea-party lunatics -- but of a squawking flock of right-wing governors, state legislators, mayors, and members of Congress. These are our leaders speaking!
[Ironic aside: The 'leaders' who're so wildly assailing public employees also happen to be public employees, and they consume a whole lot more of our tax dollars than those they're dissing. Gov. Christie, for example, siphons $175,000 a year from the public treasury in salary -- far more than any of those "greedy" teachers in his state. And while politicos screech for deep cutbacks in rank and file workers, notice that they're not volunteering any givebacks in their own pay, pensions, health care, limousines, mansions, and other public subsidies. Apparently, they never had a teacher explain 'irony' to them, but it would be a better world if they took a remedial class on the concept. Oh, too late -- teachers of irony have been fired.]
Funded and orchestrated by such hard-core, anti-laborite billionaires like the Kochs, DeVoses, Bradleys, Scaifes, Coorses, and Waltons, the right wing has declared open season on public employees. But don't think that the assault by corporate extremists stops there. Using the GOP and the tea partiers as their political foot soldiers -- they intend to dismantle the public sphere, crush all unions, downsize the entire middle class, and banish egalitarianism as an American ideal. Ready or not, our nation has devolved into a new and nasty civil war, with moneyed elites now charging into legislatures and courts to separate their good fortunes from the working class and to establish themselves as a de facto plutocracy.
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," declared Sen. Barry Goldwater in his failed presidential try in 1964. Today, though, the billionaires masquerading as Goldwater's libertarian heirs are seeking only to 'liberate' themselves from our democratic society's essential rules of fair play. They resent paying taxes for anything that benefits others, they demand freedom from regulation of their corporate excesses, and they absolutely reject the notion that workers, consumers, environmentalists, and other community interests should have any power over corporate whim.
Their sense of entitlement is nauseating, and their ongoing militant maneuvering in state after state to dis-empower America's workaday majority constitutes a declaration of war against our people's democracy. "Extremism in the defense of elitism" is their ugly purpose. That is a vice.