I feel the need to take a break from what I normally do here, which is usually creative and relatively playful stuff. But I can’t really have a site called Wisco-anything without giving some attention to what’s happening to my home state. Below is a list of resources I compiled and posted to Facebook. Read, educate yourself, and combat the viral ignorance out there. If all you want is the Action list, click here.
As FDR once said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” It is in the spirit of education that I am compiling a list of resources on Scott Walker’s assault on public employees. Please, take the time to educate yourself and gather information. The coming war will be an information battle. Those with money will fund propaganda, and those in power will spread lies and half-truths. The mainstream media has shirked its responsibility as the “fourth branch” of government; it is up to us to seek out accurate information.
Walker has chosen to favor corporations over working class employees; he has manufactured a crisis that doesn’t really exist. Not to say that we aren’t facing some tough economic times, but to blame public employees for those economic hardships is disingenuous. Our country is involved in two unpopular wars, and we have just bailed out irresponsible banks and their bonus-earning CEOs, who caused the conditions of our current recession. In the meantime, here’s what got passed on March 10th.
I’ve categorized the issues as follows:
1) Class War: this is about the unfair fleecing of public employees for the benefit of the rich. A sub-category here: cronyism.
2) Lies: the misinformation and lying perpetuated by Walker Republicans (I specify Walker Republicans because not all Repubs are as dishonest).
3) Media Fail: the various ways in which the media has participated in the misinformation or spread lies.
4) Polls: obvious, no?
5) People: a look at who these “union thugs” are.
6) Inspiration: a few videos that might encourage those who feel as depressed as I do.
7) Action: what you can do to help out.
Connecting the dots from Wisconsin to D.C. (video explaining the Walker Republican “unpopulism”)
Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About (article with charts!)
Colbert’s The Word – New Country for Old Men (exposes the economic injustices at work here)
GOP strategy: Disaster capitalism (video; Naomi Klein interviewed)
Maddow Exposes Walker’s Privatization Agenda and His Past Failures in Doing So (Cronyism 101, here)
Battleground Wisconsin (Op-Ed by Dean Bakopoulos)
The hollowing-out of Wisconsin (A good, brief article about how Walker is flushing Wisconsin down the toilet.)
Media Malpractice in Madison (article from The Awl)
Poll: Majority want Walker to negotiate (WI Policy Research Institute (conservative-leaning))
Weirdness in Wisconsin: Poll on 2/17 paid for by We Ask America
Voices of Wisconsin (video)
Ground Zero in Wisconsin (interactive photos)
Help to Recall The Republican 8
I encourage you to spread this information to friends and family. It might help to cull it and pass on just a few articles or videos. Truth, reason, and compassion are on our side; if you approach others with compassion, you can change their minds.
A personal note of my own:
As a public educator, I have seen how school boards deal with budget constraints. Scott Walker’s proposed budget has almost $1 billion of cuts from education (in the upcoming 2 years) and his abolition of collective bargaining will result in the quality of schools plummeting. Why? Because in order to meet the financial constraints they face, school boards will cut enrichment opportunities (like extracurriculars and reading specialists); they’ll likely mess with the schedule of the day/year (having fewer days of operation or requiring teachers to have fewer prep periods–two things that will reduce the quality of the curriculum); they’ll definitely reduce teacher pay (guaranteed because of Walker’s changes to benefits and pensions), and they may change the entire wage scale (eliminating higher pay or raises for teachers with professional development or advanced degrees, thereby discouraging teachers from getting any better at their jobs); they’ll be forced to have smaller staffs (mass retirements may somewhat offset the need to lay teachers off, but schools won’t fill the vacancies), which will increase class size. I could go on and on. The forecast is dark.
I’m not pleased about receiving a massive pay cut (one that will essentially equal the mortgage I’m paying on my house), but I’m even less pleased with the coming decline of public education. I have been demoralized and disheartened by the events of the past few weeks. But I’ve also been thrust into gathering with a group of people with whom I’m sure I would often disagree, but with whom I’ve felt a sense of community I have not ever experienced before. One night, while down at the Capitol, I overheard a woman telling a young girl, “All these people are our friends.” Please keep the passion going in the next year.