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Resentment

[ 108 ] June 4, 2012 |

Josh Eidelson’s latest column on the Walker recall election gets at a very important issue:

“Unions had their place,” a woman named Jerri told me soon after I arrived in Wisconsin last week. “They did their part back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and then they got too big, and are abusing their power.” Jerri and her husband Tim (both declined to give last names) were eating at a bar in Wauwatosa, the purple Milwaukee suburb that’s home to Scott Walker. They both work in sales: she’s in retail at the mall; he’s in wholesale, selling caskets. Tim said Walker’s union “reforms” were necessary because local politicians had been “looking out for the union” instead of “people like me.” He said unions are for people who don’t “feel they should have to work very hard.” Jerri complained that unions “are sucking off my teat.” Public workers’ benefits, she said, “should be the same as anybody in any kind of private job.”

That last statement is most telling. While resentment towards unions has grown since the 1950s, it’s not because they got too big. It’s because they got too small.

There is something about people’s psychology where they see people of their own social class who have better pay and workplace protections and, rather than strive to create those conditions at their own workplaces, feel bitter resentment and try to tear others down. That in 2012 the workers with representation work for the government and the workers without labor for private companies only adds to the divide, what with Americans’ traditional mistrust of the government.

In my darkest hours, I read quotes like this and I really wonder whether the long-term future of unions only sees success after several decades. The decline of working-class solidarity and identification, which has too long and complex a history to explore here, helps fuel this desire to tear other workers down. Since modern Americans believe so strongly in individualism, the free market, and the destruction of the parts of the safety net they don’t personally benefit from, will it take decades of struggle, poverty, dead workers, malnourished children, and extreme income inequality for the American working class to begin seeing solidarity with each other again? How do we get back to 1880 or 1910 or 1945, when a big chunk of working-class Americans saw the world in this way?

Comments (108)

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  1. mark f says:

    he’s in wholesale, selling caskets.

    And we’re supposed to surprised he votes for the party of wholesale death?

    • Bart says:

      Wholesale must mean he sells caskets to mortuaries; a death’s middle man.

      A mortician once told me their motto: ” Get ‘em while they’re crying so they don’t know what they’re buying.”

  2. Malaclypse says:

    Since modern Americans believe so strongly in individualism, the free market, and the destruction of the parts of the safety net they don’t personally benefit from, will it take decades of struggle, poverty, dead workers, malnourished children, and extreme income inequality for the American working class to begin seeing solidarity with each other again?

    Anecdata: there is a big Verizon repair center around the block from my house, and it had big picket lines last summer. And I saw a lot of people honking horns, waving, giving thumbs up, and so so. Not sure things are as bleak as you paint them.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Yes, I did note that this was in my darkest hours. Not all hours are that dark.

      • jefft452 says:

        “Not all hours are that dark.”

        Nor should they be
        I’m sick and tired of gloom and doom talk over Walker

        There is a chance, that by a razor thin margin the citizens of Wisconsin may decide not to fire Walker at this precise moment

        Maybe its even the most likely outcome, but if I avoid being fired by the skin of my teeth, it wouldn’t be a ringing endorsement of the esteem that my employer hold me

        • Erik Loomis says:

          To be clear, my hours of darkness are only peripherally about Walker, who is just a pawn of the capitalists.

          • jefft452 says:

            understood, Walker was just an example

            There is a lot more push back today then there was in Reagan’s day (or even in Clinton or W’s days)

            And while the push back may not always be successful, it’s more likley to succede then even a few years ago

        • Richard says:

          Well I hope I am proven wrong but right now it doesn’t look like he’s going to win by a razor thin margin. It looks like a pretty solid five to eight percent margin. The only poll showing a razor thin margin is an internal Dem poll showing two percent for Walker and only released to counter what the other polls are showing. Maybe the Dems organization will make it close or maybe even win but that seems unlikely.

    • James E Powell says:

      If things were not bleak, Walker would be trailing by ten points or more.

      • jefft452 says:

        Union busters havent had a setback in 30 years, Mitch Daniels did what Walker is doing just a few years ago and not a peep of protest

        but this year, Ohio’s law got repealed in a referendum 60/40
        6 union busting state senators in WI faced recalls, 2 being defeated, and the Gov and 4 more senators are now facing a recall

        • Cody says:

          Don’t bring Mitch Daniels into this! He’s the best Republican ever, shifting revenue from the state lottery to the general fund instead of education.

          To compensate education, he slashed their budget by an additional 15% and offset it by cutting property taxes.

  3. TK421 says:

    How do we get back to 1880 or 1910 or 1945, when a big chunk of working-class Americans saw the world in this way?

    I can’t get anyone to be dismayed that the president thinks he can blow them up with drones if he suspects they are up to no good. Unions? Good luck.

    • Malaclypse says:

      I can’t get anyone to be dismayed that the president thinks he can blow them up with drones if he suspects they are up to no good.

      That’s because you are a one-note troll. If every comment is Obama-verb-drone, we can safely tune you out, because honestly, we’ve read the exact same comment a few hundred times already. Hell, Manju at least worked his way up to three different comments, endlessly recycled.

      • “Can’t” is “won’t” I think. I’m sure there’s data here somewhere, but it’d be pretty shocking to think that most people choose the drone issue over feeding their family.

    • chris says:

      I am far more likely to be oppressed by my boss than Obama. Even if Obama picks his death targets completely at random with no attempt to locate genuine terrorists, the odds of him picking me are still down around being struck by lightning and *way* below drunk drivers.

      I’m not saying I don’t mind the drone assassinations, but there really are more important issues. Government is big and often does big things that affect thousands of lives at once. And the same opponent who is worse on most or all of those other issues is *also* no better on the drone issue!

  4. Holden Pattern says:

    Crabs in a bucket, man.

    • Prodigal says:

      I am reminded of the joke about the employer and two employees who sat down at a table with ten cookies on it. The employer took nine of the cookies, turned to one of the employees, and said “That other guy’s trying to take your cookie away.”

  5. David Kaib says:

    Since modern Americans believe so strongly in individualism, the free market, and the destruction of the parts of the safety net they don’t personally benefit from, will it take decades of struggle, poverty, dead workers, malnourished children, and extreme income inequality for the American working class to begin seeing solidarity with each other again?

    I don’t think this is true. It’s easy to confuse our elite driven discourse with the views of Americans. Polls suggest people are plenty willing to expand government in order to improve economic opportunity and security for all, that they are willing to raise taxes to do it, and that often they are willing to pay more themselves to do it.

    The problem is this is not offered as an option. It’s rare to have taxes connected to what they pay for. It’s rare for Democrats to offer truly universal programs as opposed to the neoliberal approach of targeting help to narrow, seemingly deserving populations (or providing hidden benefits). It’s rare for unions to openly fight for everyone as opposed to making more narrow appeals. I see this as a problem of neoliberal strategy rather than the views of ordinary Americans. Whether solidarity could be produced remains an open question, because so few are trying to produce it.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      1) There’s no money in it.

      2) I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter what anyone says. Public opinion won’t change.

      • David Kaib says:

        I’m not sure what you’re saying. But the bigger issue is that public opinion doesn’t drive policy (which I think is related to your point 1).

    • Anonymous says:

      Interesting…
      If affirmative action (for example) had from the beginning been framed in terms of class, not only race and gender, would the divide and conquer strategy of the GOP been able to succeed?

  6. J. Otto Pohl says:

    I am pro-union. But, I don’t see America ever going back to the level of unionization that existed in the 50s and 60s. Far fewer Americans today see themselves as “proletarians” or “working class” people that benefit from unions. Instead everybody sees themselves as middle class. Many also see unions as being parasitic. In part the unions are to blame for not consistently and aggressively enough seeking to expand private sector unionization. But, there certainly has been a systematic organization of business interests in recent decades to prevent workers from effectively unionizing as well. I first really noticed it in the 1990s, but I am sure it started earlier.

    • Malaclypse says:

      I first really noticed it in the 1990s, but I am sure it started earlier.

      It started August 5th, 1981.

    • David Kaib says:

      Far fewer Americans today see themselves as “proletarians” or “working class” people that benefit from unions. Instead everybody sees themselves as middle class.

      Ok, but what drives this? It’s not a natural occurrence. I’d say two things. First, there was a long stretch where more and more people were moving into white collar as opposed to blue collar jobs. No doubt those people increasingly saw themselves as middle class and were less open to unions as a result (Galbraith predicted this would happen in the 60s). But now the reverse is happening – deprofessionalization across the board.. When college professors are increasingly treated like workers, who’s safe (outside of the financial sector). I should note too that there are lots of people who are poor and know it who this claim doesn’t apply to and few of them are presently unionized. (FWIW, I think people overestimate how many people think of themselves as middle class, but I need to do a little more research on the subject).

      The other thing is that unions have been under attack, and as a result have been on the defensive. They aren’t making the case that they can help everyone, which means no one is, and thus people are only getting one message. That could easily change if people started hearing the alternative view.

      Many also see unions as being parasitic.

      Unions don’t poll nearly as bad as most people think. Again, that’s pretty amazing considering you can’t ever hear anything positive about them in the media. That needle is movable. But few are trying to move it.

      • Barry says:

        “(FWIW, I think people overestimate how many people think of themselves as middle class, but I need to do a little more research on the subject).”

        I’ve seen figures like 40% of people think of themselves as ‘working class’. When given a choice – if the choices are only ‘lower’, ‘middle’ or ‘upper class’, few choose ‘working’, of course.

        • David Kaib says:

          When given a choice of three things in a survey, people rarely choose a fourth one. But that 40% is the same figure I seem to recall as well. It might be lower than it should be, but that’s still a lot of people.

    • thomas smith says:

      well said, and absoutly correct

  7. actor212 says:

    Since modern Americans believe so strongly in individualism, the free market, and the destruction of the parts of the safety net they don’t personally benefit from, will it take decades of struggle, poverty, dead workers, malnourished children, and extreme income inequality for the American working class to begin seeing solidarity with each other again?

    Yes.

    And now for the good news: we’re nearly through the worst of it. I see good things in the next decades for unions.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My parents were, by any objective standard, working class. They got a salary working for a company in which they had no ownership interest. The salary wasn’t great but it paid the bills and a little more.

    They didn’t see themselves as working class. They saw themselves as part of the great, vast middle class. And they assumed that their kids would be part of the middle class as they understood it (as happened). And their views were very typical.

    Any idea of working class solidarity died over 50 years ago for a whole variety of reasons and I dont think it will ever come back. The goal has to be to realize economic gains for the people who aren’t making enough money now whether you call them working class or middle class or whatever and its most likely the case that such gains are not going to be realized through a union resurgence or by a resurgence of an idea – working class solidarity – that practically disappeared decades and decades ago. You simply can’t turn back time (and its somewhat silly to blame the neoliberal, a group that only came into existence in the 70′s for something that happened thirty years before).

    • Richard says:

      Whoops. That Anonymous was me

    • Bill Murray says:

      neoliberal (also called neoclassical) economics goes back to the late 19th century with people like John Bates Clark and William Stanley Jevons

      • Richard says:

        But I was referring to David Kalb’s post above where he clearly meant the Bill Clinton/DLC sort of neo-liberal, not neoclassical economics.

  9. c u n d gulag says:

    “How do we get back to 1880 or 1910 or 1945, when a big chunk of working-class Americans saw the world in this way?”

    Keep voting for Republicans!

    Put Romney in the WH in 2012, give him a R Congress, and, over the years, with the Supreme Court minority going from 5-4, to 6-3, then 7-2, etc.
    Do that, and we’ll reach those goal-dates pretty damn fast.
    With a heaping helping of Old Testament ‘smiting,’ and ‘eye-for-an-eye’ and ‘tooth-for-a-toothing,’ in the guise of Jesusy goodness, and we’ll be on our way to “Serfin’ USA!”

    At least the Whorecorporatist Democrats still try to do SOME things right regarding women, workers, the old, children, the handicapped, the black, the brown, the gay, the… etc.

    OY!

  10. wengler says:

    This woman’s sentiment is the Republican Party ca. 2012. The good news is that they have a narrow voting base that’s getting even narrower as time goes on. The bad news is that they have an incredible amount of resources at their command that they will use for manipulation before and after the vote.

  11. James E Powell says:

    One cannot understand public opinion with respect to unions or the current state of unions without considering the decades of propaganda regarding unions. How is it that people come to believe what they believe?

    Or maybe the rich are in the habit of wasting their money on useless public relations efforts.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      How is it that people come to believe what they believe?

      Midichlorians.

      Or maybe the rich are in the habit of wasting their money on useless public relations efforts.

      Apparently, the answer is “yes”.

    • Bill Murray says:

      How is it that people come to believe what they believe?

      repetition, authority and lack of effective push back.

      • Holden Pattern says:

        This can’t be true. Political science assures us this is not the case.

        • DrDick says:

          Also, advertising doesn’t work. Especially if you use celebrity spokespersons.

          • UserGoogol says:

            Yes. There really isn’t that much scientific evidence that advertising is super effective at persuading people to actually buy products. Advertising most clearly works in fairly unimpressive ways: promoting brand awareness and spreading information about the product. Making people actually want a product they would not otherwise want is harder to show happens. But businesses try to do it for the same reason politicians do, they’re afraid of losing whatever advantage it might confer and falling behind.

        • Davis X. Machina says:

          When done by Presidents, in furtherance of causes no one really likes, in speeches no one really watches, or remembers, no.

          Which isn’t quite the same thing….

          • Holden Pattern says:

            Good golly, that MUST be what one advocates when one thinks that it might be helpful over the long term for politicians to take a consistent line on issues of substance which actually lined up with policy positions that would be better for ordinary people than whatever deal they can cut with Ben Nelson.

            Not that it matters, because the Dems don’t really have a consistent line on anything, and the Dem collapse on unions (thanks, Preznit Clinton) means that the only source of funds, future jobs and the like are the money players.

            • Davis X. Machina says:

              Churches kick stuff off. Labor did. Ethnic groups and such. Neighborhood associations.

              Abolition, women’s suffrage, prohibition, most worker protections, the modern civil rights era, the environmental movement — all began as outsider movements.

              The Whig party began, in part, as an anti-Masonic movement. Politicians got on later.

              Politicans don’t start stuff, and never did, not at the beginning. They follow. They jump bandwagons.

              • Erik Loomis says:

                I think this is a very important point and one that progressives have a hard time learning sometimes, despite knowing this in history. When I think of the Nader campaign, I can’t help but shake my head that we (including myself) thought that was a useful idea rather than focusing on our own outsider organizations and issues.

                Though obviously it’s more complicated than that.

              • chris says:

                Churches kick stuff off. Labor did. Ethnic groups and such. Neighborhood associations.

                Community organizers, you might say?

                If only there were an association of them dedicated to reform. Now.

            • Cody says:

              President Clinton just proves what happens when you compromise with the Right. You keep moving farther right, and they keep calling you farther to the Left. Until eventually you discover yourself working for corporate interests while in public office.

              • njorl says:

                Anyone unwilling to sell himself as a compromiser in 1992 couldn’t have won even 100 electoral votes. Would ideological purity have been worth two more Clarence Thomasses on the Supreme Court instead of Ginsberg and Breyer?

                As it is, Bill Clinton is the only Democrat to win in an election which did not follow a complete Republican disgrace since 1964. 1976 and 2008 were guaranteed Democratic victories due to Republican disgrace, and don’t say much about the electorate.

                How much the electorate changed in 2008 as opposed to a one-time reaction to the ultra-incompetence of the Bush administration is not yet clear.

                • Cody says:

                  I don’t mean that as a reprimand of Clinton. I’m a fan of Bill Clinton, but in the end you can only compromise with insanity for so long. Obama seems to have governed in his mold, except that the “center” is even farther right now.

                  It’s all he can do to even approve things that are liberal. Championing them is like suicide.

                  Maybe this is more of a reflection of the general weakness in leadership for the Democratic party.

              • thomas smith says:

                yes!! that is exactly right

    • stickler says:

      How much of the attitudes of “the rich,” or at least a sizeable chunk of those involved in industry, were tempered by a certain working-class experiment conducted between 1917-1990 in a big portion of the Eurasian landmass?

      Certainly there were members of our upper crust who paid very close attention to the material misery of the masses after 1929, and kept on doing so after 1945.

      What I wonder is, did the fall of Communism allow the American overclass to revert to a greedhead norm that the Bolshevik threat had at least partially tempered?

      • Erik Loomis says:

        “What I wonder is, did the fall of Communism allow the American overclass to revert to a greedhead norm that the Bolshevik threat had at least partially tempered?”

        It is my contention that the fall of communism led to the triumphalism of American capitalism coming from all angles–even the old 60s left fully embraced capitalism. It was the lack of any alternative or even roadblock that really led to the extremist greed of the new Gilded Age. And it won’t be until we articulate a new alternative to capitalism that there will be an effective pushback against it (although an extreme depression could certainly hasten this).

        • Bill Murray says:

          I think the new alternatives to Capitalism (especially the 21st Century American version) are out there.

          Ecological Economics, Modern Monetary Theory, Sraffian Economics are just a few that are out there that I can easily remember.

          The problem is neo-classical, marginal value economics serves the interests of he powerful very well, so will be almost impossible to drive out of its plum position. Even Krugman and DeLong are mostly neo-classical in outlook

          • Erik Loomis says:

            It is possible that the next Marx is out there and at some point whatever theory will seep into more of a public consciousness. But if there all of these threads out there, I feel we are at best in an 1870s-1880s type of scenario where we are just grasping at straws (Single Tax! Looking Backwards! Knights of Labor! Chinese Exclusion!).

            • chris says:

              ISTM that Marx was too focused on ownership and the success of modern social democracy shows that many of the same objectives can be achieved through regulation and taxation, while preserving the legitimate benefits of private-sector competition.

              Essentially, it’s a synthesis between capitalism and socialism that not only can exist, it already *does* exist in some countries, the only problem is how to get there from here when you have a political system already de facto ruled by plutocrats and their propagandists.

              Of course, it also helps to have strong organized labor to keep the wage gap between workers and management from becoming too excessive.

          • tt says:

            Bank bailouts aren’t justified by neo-classical economics. Neo-classical economics is abandoned by the financial classes whenever it goes against their interests.

            What gets the rich their political power isn’t some economic theory; it’s 1) they have the money 2) lack of effective opposition due to various misplaced resentments among the other classes, as described in this post.

            • Bill Murray says:

              no perpetuation of the theory is what keeps the middle class from stringing up the rich

              • tt says:

                Nah. Most middle class people don’t know what neoclassical economics is. When RWers go on tv they don’t advance neoclassical economic theories, but 1. “common sense” silliness; e.g. governments are just like households and we need to cut back spending to deal with the debt 2. trickle-down “job creators” nonsense (which is distinct from neoclassical economics) 3. resentment politic:, unions are living up high, politicians are taking your money and giving it to lazy black people.

                Hearing actual neoclassical ideas communicated to the middle class is pretty rare. You can blame it for having a perverse influence on some technocrats but it’s not actually the source of our problems.

            • LosGatosCA says:

              Misdirection, wedge issues, alienating less committed voters by poisoning the process.

              Their tactics are well established, predictable, and well understood since the time of Nixon at least.

              Sad.

        • njorl says:

          I think it is a very unfortunate coincidence that the Western European social welfare nations are having such a bad time of it. Ironically, it is the Euro and ridiculously lax banking regulations which are killing them, but the welfare state is being blamed.

      • Lee says:

        Various historians have advanced this theory. There isn’t a lot of evidence for it IMO, at least not in America. Even at the height of Communism, ultra-capitalist wingnut tendencies were prominent amoung the Right. The also fought against every welfare and pro-labor piece of legislation.

  12. Lee says:

    Did America ever have a period of working class soliditary the way that some or many European coutnries had? There were periods when large section of American workers were more militant politically like the late 19th and early 20th centuries but another large section always were more individualistic and hostile to unions, socialism etc. Southern workers were notoriously hard to unionize even when race was not an issue because unions were willing to ignore African-Americans. Same with many workers in the Western United States.

    I think it should also be pointed out that even in Europe not all workers got behind the Leftist parties or had solidarity. Many were apathetic or supported more rightist parties. I think that in the mid-20th century, the Democratic Party got a greater percentage of the working class vote than the various socialist parties did in Europe. This suggests somewhat greater solidarity amoung workers in the US than Europe even if there was less militant political rhetoric here.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Generally, no. There were racial and ethnic divides that really precluded that. But certainly the past a lot more working-class solidarity than it does today, so by comparison it’s a legitimate claim to make. However, there’s no question that American workers have always been hard to unionize, particularly those of an Anglo-Saxon background.

      • jefft452 says:

        “There were racial and ethnic divides that really precluded that.”

        Aye, there’s the rub

        Back in the early 60’s I remember my dad talking to one of his coworkers at a back yard cookout about civil rights opponents
        Dad’s friend: “I don’t understand it, these are good union men”
        Dad: “If they put fellow white over fellow union brother, they aint good union men”

  13. Heron says:

    Hmm… A big part of labor solidarity in the late 1800s, early 1900s was, in part at least, an outgrowth of popular literacy and awareness of important local and national events. These days far fewer people read, fewer people are members of newsletter lists, fewer people have newspaper subscriptions, fewer newspapers are willing to give labor a fair hearing in their pages, fewer people follow local news, and all but the most major industrial catastrophes get ignored by the press. Add to that the news environment most working class folks encounter in the course of their day -I don’t know how it is in the rest of the US, but in Texas it’s dominated by bizarre conspiracy theories, misinformation, and Fox news- and I can’t say the chances of a return to the sort of strength unions had during the first half of the 20th century is all that likely. USians score so low on international knowledge surveys in large part because of how massively propagandized we are compared to most other post-industrial populations.

    • Heron says:

      …A big part of labor solidarity in the late 1800s, early 1900s was, in part at least an outgrowth of popular literacy and awareness of important local and national events…

      FTFM

  14. Steve M. says:

    Your darkest hours are nothing. In my darkest hours I see America becoming Haiti with nuclear weapons.

    • Malaclypse says:

      In my darkest hours I see America becoming Haiti Yugoslavia with nuclear weapons, and a history of having used them.

      That’s my fear.

      • Cody says:

        Well, can we hold out at least to become the Dominic Republic with nuclear weapons? Least the beaches are nice there…

    • thomas smith says:

      I know you mean well; but your comment is a bit racist and a-historical. If america had not been invading haiti and manipulating haiti politics for the last 100 years and whites / europeans had not forced haiti to pay reperations to france for 100 years; haiti would not be ruined

  15. Kadin says:

    I like to throw around the phrase “the politics of envy” whenever I come across people saying stuff like this, because it annoys right-bloggers.

  16. DocAmazing says:

    When I think of Western Europe in 1848, I think of potential revolutions.
    When I think of the United States in 1848, I think of a gold rush.
    There might actually be an unbridgeable cultural gap.

  17. The Pale Scot says:

    In the the Irish the word is pronounced “Begrudgery”, and it has a long sad history.

  18. David M. Nieporent says:

    How do we get back to 1880 or 1910 or 1945, when a big chunk of working-class Americans saw the world in this way?

    Simple: follow your preferred economic policies, which will impoverish us to the levels of 1880, 1910, or 1945.

    • Walt says:

      Fortunately the Republicans have already taken on that job, so we just need to wiat.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Instead of bullshit platitudes, how about specifying which policy will likely have which negative effect? Because if you can’t do that, you are no better than AnonyTroll screaming “SOCIALISM!!!”

  19. Dan S. says:

    Jerri complained that unions “are sucking off my teat.”

    … Well, that’s certainly … vivid.

  20. bradp says:

    will it take decades of struggle, poverty, dead workers, malnourished children, and extreme income inequality for the American working class to begin seeing solidarity with each other again?

    Maybe. You have to be pretty old to remember unions as a spontaneous worker reaction to social problems like that.

    Most people now see it as workers buying into a privileged system.

    • Cody says:

      Personally, my issue with unions was I always supported them in cases of workers safety. It was much more black & white morally. Unions saved many lives by enforcing safety. However, when it comes to economic disparity, my vision becomes more hazy. I recognize that people are being taken advantage of, unless that CEO making 500x the wage of the guy working because he laid the other 3 guys off is a fair pay scale.

    • David Kaib says:

      You don’t have to be old. There are plenty of examples today. And a few organizations that aren’t technically unions, but that easily fit into what you are talking about. But you have to go find them – rather than think that what you hear is all there is.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      It’s interesting to see how this is playing out in the UK.

      Doctors are about to strike over pensions. The lecturer union is currently in a suspended work to contract action over pensions. A lot of papers trash these actions:

      The BMA used to insist that the point of medicine in Britain was to cure ill health. That, it argued, is what makes the NHS unique. But to judge by the justification now given for the strike, the point of medicine in Britain today is to protect fat pensions for doctors. If they want to destroy the ethos of the NHS, the striking doctors are going about it very efficiently indeed.

      Just about every action has been met from Labour with a “Oh yes, we understand your concerns but good heavens don’t strike.”

      These are mostly public worker unions which still seem pretty strong. Even then, it’s a bit tricky to get people involved and to fend off the “growing fat on the government teat” malarky.

      • Cody says:

        It’s so very tough to compare yourself to others. I struggle not to think that way. It seems hard to imagine that doctors aren’t making enough. And please do away with pensions, everyone should have a 401k at this point. Pensions are not sustainable in a recession of any kind.

        • Malaclypse says:

          And please do away with pensions, everyone should have a 401k at this point.

          Why?

          Pensions are not sustainable in a recession of any kind.

          They used to be. Solve the problem of spiraling health costs that, unlike any other industrialized nation, are stuck on employers’ P&Ls, and they could be again.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Again, not the most coherent.

          The real problem is that this is all classic pension raiding which is a sneaky way to cut wages (by increasing employee contributions while lowering total compensation). Private companies did it. Now governments are doing it. The right thing to do is to resist it and hard, esp. when permanent changes are proposed during recessions (investment portfolios always look like crap during recessions, so the sky is falling line looks better).

          Since private pensions have been fucked over, it’s easier to exploit ressentiment.

          Your 401K idea is silly. If pensions are not sustainable then 401Ks will do no better and arguably much worse.

  21. Comrade Carter says:

    Wauwatosa, where I live, is not any more a “purple” suburb, and anyone thinking that is shining back to the late 70s and early 80s.

    Wauwatosa is a blue city. It just is.

    Yeah, once the home to the John Birch Store, it has left that behind. And Scott Walker only lives here now, for a short while.

  22. I think it’s amusing how the conservative “class warfare” bullshit breaks down once you get to the intra class level. Mitt Romney and his kids are a bajillion times richer than you because they were born into privilege and wealth? Stuff it you commie! He obviously got there because of hard work and smarts. Your neighbor is more financially secure than you because he has a union job and you do the same thing in a non-union shop for less money and benefits? He’s a fucking mooch that needs to be put in his place.

    • Cody says:

      It’s only class warfare if you do it to help the lower classes. Otherwise, it’s just he natural flow of things.

  23. Roger says:

    Exactly the same situation in the UK where private sector workers (except of course senior managers) have been systematically stripped of pension and employment rights and resent public sector workers who haven’t (yet).

  24. Barry says:

    I like John Cole’s tweet (https://twitter.com/#!/Johngcole)

    “If your answer is anything other than money, you are an idiot. RT @TheFix: Why Scott Walker won. http://ow.ly/bo2Dq #wirecall”

    Being outspent 8 or 9 to 1 is rough.

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