Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wisconsin And Other Unpleasant Places

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker isn't threatening to shoot his own people, as far as I know. For one thing, too many people are watching (mind you, that didn't stop Qaddafi). But, as he revealed as he was in the midst of giving a tongue-bath to the fellow he thought was one of the Koch Brothers, he had thought of sneaking spoilers into the peaceful protests and start something. Now, he's sending out the cops to arrest the AWOL Democratic legislators and Capitol Police claim to have discovered 40 pieces of .22 caliber ammunition scattered around the Capitol building and are using that as an excuse to expel the 100 protesters who have been staying there since the protests began. (actually, I don't doubt that the cops found the ammunition -- I just doubt that the protesters left if lying around). (By the way, it it just me, or does Walker look as if he were carved out of the same block of cream cheese as every one of those Bible-Belt dweebs who turn up on Dateline NBC and 48 Hours after they've done in their wives and sometimes their kids because they don't want to pay alimony or they've found a hot check-out girl at the local Wal-Mart? Just wondering.)

Actually, there's nothing particularly surprising about greedy billionaires and slimy, self-righteous politicians being in their pay. Human beings are weak, greedy creatures, prone to take a mile if given the proverbial inch. That's what government agencies are for; to regulate such behavior. And businessmen, being practical as well, will generally give in when they know that folks in Washington mean what they're saying. They made peace with the unions in the 40's and 50's, and Wall Street began to behave like adults, or at least like obedient children, after federal agencies began to seriously regulate the banks and stock-brokerage firms. Despite all of the claims that regulation would drive them out of business, all but a few idiots would keep going. Most of them actually like doing business.

Unfortunately, Washington hasn't been doing its job for years. It started with Ronald Reagan, who, as President of the Screen Actors Guild, sold out his own union to the talent agency who represented him in exchange for television work. It was under his administration that the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed, allowing banks and Wall Street firms to run amok and all but destroy our economy in 2008 (many of the scams with mortgages and such would have been illegal before the repeal). And in the years that followed, the regulatory agencies that weren't eliminated were essentially gutted of their power to control the worst behavior of businessmen in various sectors. On more than one occasion, the agency was delivered into the hands of the very predators they were supposed to be keeping an eye on. As a result, much of the public media is in the hands of a few huge corporations and income disparity in this country is soaring. The possibility of this country becoming as miserable as some of the African and Arab countries we now pity or revile is less remote than it used to be, and that is scary . . .

Among the other nasty places is Ohio, where Republican governor John Kasich and the GOP-dominated legislature are ramming through a bill even nastier than the one in Wisconsin, this one aiming to destroy ALL of the public-service unions in the state. (Walker was partially out for revenge on Wisonsin's teacher's unions for not supporting him in the November election). By the way, did you know that Toledo, Ohio is the second-largest center for human trafficking in the country? By your deeds you shall know them . . .

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