Last month there was an election in Wisconsin that had implications for every union member in the tradeshow industry, as well as every union member throughout the country. Governor Scott Walker held off a recall election that was brought about in large part by his attack on public sector unions.
The stakes were high for both parties: Unions wanted to put an end to the anti-union tactics of Walker, and the incumbent Governor wanted to show he could, as he so eloquently stated, “divide and conquer” union members.
Unions were upset that Walker used a budget shortfall as the reason to attack the wages and benefits of public sector workers. They claimed the budget crisis was created by Walker when he gave tax breaks to the wealthiest individuals and corporations. Walker argued this tax break would create economic growth and jobs. He said his policies would create 250,000 new jobs, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics showed that Wisconsin had experienced the largest job loss in the entire nation. So clearly, this job growth had not materialized.
Walker had supporters across the nation, and many out of state contributors bankrolled his campaign. In fact, two thirds of his campaign funds were provided by out-of-state donors. This allowed Walker to have an eight to one edge in campaign spending in this election.
You would have to be pretty naive to believe these wealthy, right wing donors contributed because they were concerned about the well being of the average Wisconsinite. In fact, I wonder how many of them could even name the state capitol of Wisconsin.
One can only imagine the motivations of these wealthy contributors. The ridiculous spending on this election was the result of recent changes in the election financing laws, brought about by the “Citizen United” ruling. This 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, voting along ideological lines, said that corporations were people, and therefore campaign contributions could be classified as free speech.
So wealthy individuals and corporations were free to give unlimited political contributions anonymously. Since this ruling, spending on all campaigns has skyrocketed, so politicians have spent more of their time fundraising and less time doing what they were elected to do. Since it makes more sense to have few large donations than many small ones, a few very rich contributors will have much greater influence on public policy than millions of average Americans. I don’t think the founding fathers of our country would have thought this is a good idea.
It’s not surprising that wealthy people want to eliminate the ability of the middle class to achieve a degree of self-empowerment. What I find astonishing, however, is the fact that four in ten union households voted for Walker.
However, we have in that type of person in our union. They reap the benefits of union membership and will fiercely protect their union jurisdiction, but march to the polls and vote for candidates who openly work to eliminate the very organization that makes their standard of living possible.
Union membership and the existence the middle class in our country are directly correlated. In other words, as union membership increases the middle class increases, as it decreases, the middle class shrinks. Despite what many conservative pundits claim, the true job creators are middle class consumers. They buy the products and services that increases demand and overall economic growth. This leads to sustainable job growth.
Ten years of tax cuts for rich folks have yielded nothing but the dismal economic conditions we now face. We were told tax breaks would lead to more jobs, but after ten years, where are these jobs? I think ten years is enough time to determine that this strategy was unsuccessful. It’s obvious tax breaks for the very rich have failed to achieve anything but increased budget deficits.
Unions are good for the middle class, and anything good for the middle class is good for America. Policies that are only good for the richest Americans, help only the richest Americans. One percent of the population isn’t going to win any elections, they require help from the people they’re victimizing.