Thursday, February 24, 2011


Increasing numbers of Middle Eastern people are gathering in peaceful protests. Citizens in countries undergoing profound upheaval are literally dying for freedom since their despot, tyrannical leaders are resisting leaving. Unknown is what sort of replacement governments will emerge in these countries.

Fearsome to me is the thought they might end up with a government that is controlled by a religious group, as occurred with Iran’s revolution some years ago. A pairing of religion with a military force willing to shed their own people’s blood for such an autocratic theocracy is just as dangerous and oppressive as any dictatorial agnostic or atheistic leader.

Strong religious factions are evidenced in each of those countries that are in turmoil, as they are in the nations we’re attempting to liberate with our ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The danger there is that once our army leaves those countries that a religious civil war between opposing factions could occur.

No nation, including our own, is free of the danger from religious groups, often a minority in number, who are dedicated to imposing their personal beliefs on a whole population. If choice exists, it’s only with options they define. Make no mistake this is not freedom.

Current protesters marching in the U.S. are motivated by quite different reasons than those Middle Easterners. No blood is being shed here. They are protesting political government efforts to take rights from them – the right to collectively bargain with their public employer for recompense and working conditions. I recently heard an intelligent discussion on these issues.

One interesting point made was that typically in communities where the public sector groups with bargaining rights exist, their earnings coupled with benefits, are higher than those enjoyed by comparable private sector workers. This is being cited by the opposition as one reason for taking away these rights during these times when serious budgetary deficits are being experienced by all levels of government – local, state, and nationally.

But significantly, salaries and benefits become lower for all workers, public and private, where there is no collective bargaining.

One might wonder if employer profits are accordingly lower, also? If not, might we find that disparity unjust? Might we not wonder if the widening gap between the haves and have-nots would expand even more? Might we not see a further eroding of the middle class in our nation as we move toward becoming more like a third world country?

All U.S. workers would be well-advised to consider that if collective bargaining rights cease, not only public, but private sector wage-earners are likely to share the effects in ways they might not want, or have anticipated.

In connection with the protesters Dick Klade, former newspaper editor, who writes at "gabbygeezer" reports an interesting story (Mon. 2/21/11 post.) He briefly notes both sides of the bargaining argument, then describes the unique national and world wide support that protesters in Madison, Wisconsin are receiving. As the effort to end collective bargaining rights spreads to other states some people may want to adopt the support-from-a-distance measures being taken there by those protesting marchers who want to protect their bargaining rights.

These are momentous times in which we live.


  1. anyone who complains about teachers' salaries & benefits being too high has never been a teacher! also, it used to burn me up good when i learned that the bus drivers and garbage collectors in my town earned LOTS more than the secretaries and white collar coolies (H.L. Mencken's term for "proofreaders"). I think these public workers earn every single penny of their jobs. teaching, in particular, is long long hours, buying supplies out of your own pocket, and putting up with parents (the kids were never the hardest to deal with). and if the corporations are shipping all the jobs overseas so they don't have to pay living wages here, let's not blame the people who have been able to stand up for themselves.

  2. It was reported on NPR that, when education and training were taken into account, the public sector "take" for a job was similar to that for a private sector job.

  3. But now we see what happened in Wisconsin. However, I believe that some good will come from the protests there.

  4. By now everyone who has been paying attention knows what this is about. We need to understand that what is good for one is good for all.

  5. XtremeEnglish: I spent some time leading a special diagnostic class composed of half the number of students of a regular classroom, assisted by one Aide. By noon I was exhausted and too many could not receive the 1:1 therapy intervention attention they needed -- true of all those classes. Even being a parent volunteer in my childrens regular classes,I noted the teacher's challenges were far greater than many workers in other positions (I've held those, too) could handle well. Also, classrooms today are much more demanding for teachers than when I was a student many years ago.

    marciamayo: More States are facing the same political issues as Wisc., including Indiana that isn't presently experiencing the same fiscal deficits.

    Hattie: That's a problem -- attention, or lack thereof for palatable exposure to all the facts is a problem for many of the very people who need to be reached. Some need to have both sides of the argument presented in such a way they're willing to read it all instead of the one-sided incendiary presentations often encountered, otherwise a writer just ends of 'preaching to the choir.'

  6. Great post!!!!!

    Teacher, firefighters and cops all do thankless work that others don't want to do. They deserve what they earn. Anyone who wants to reduce them to penury is plain damn crazy and goes beyond the realm of decency. That's the bottom line.

    Scott Walker, John Kasich and those who support them are warts on the backside of humanity.

  7. Very thoughtful post! I'm glad I stopped by this morning.