Thursday 10 March 2011

"What Have you Done?"

Let's not fool ourselves: this is a dark day for the working class and for democracy, not only in Wisconsin and the whole US, but, more broadly, the whole world over.

After last week's news from Ohio, the Koch brothers and their State puppets circumvented the Wisconsin constitutional system. See here and here.

They did this by stripping the Budget Repair Bill (BRB) of its fiscal content.

Apparently, after approval in the State House of Representatives, non-fiscal bills require a simple Senate majority vote, unlike bills with a fiscal content, which also require a Senate quorum.

Given that the 14 Democratic State senators fled to neighbouring Illinois (not Indiana, as I mistakenly reported earlier) in order to delay the bill's approval by the Republican steamroller, that was the trick the Republicans used.

So a Budget Repair Bill, allegedly stripped of its budgetary provisions and unconnected to the State budget, was approved by the Republican senators (with the opposing vote of Rep. Sen. Dale Schultz), without any discussion of what was removed, as required by law.

As the fiscal provisions contained in the original BRB were allegedly removed, the resulting "non-Budgetary" Budget Repair Bill seems to aim exclusively at restricting the State employees unions, eliminating collective bargaining and implementing the increased paycheck deductions.

I don't know if it contains the measures that would enable the State Executive to arbitrarily sell energy assets (see previous post for more details on this).

In view of these irregularities, Mike Konczal (from Rortybomb) argues that there are jurisdictional avenues to dispute this "non-Budgetary" Budget Repair Bill. (I urge the readers to view the YouTube video below, also linked at Rortybomb).

For all I know, Konczal is right and this problem could still be solved through courts. I am no lawyer to discuss the finer points of law involved or the likely outcome.

It seems worth a try, in any case. And whatever the final outcome of a process of legal challenge, it will have at least one positive result, for it will require the organization and mobilization of workers.

Richard Trumka, national president of AFL-CIO, has welcomed the opportunity of a debate on the situation of the American working class and believes Scott "Walker's 'overreaching' has ignited labor unions".

But I would like to remind our friends in Wisconsin that, while this may yet prove to be a painful defeat, it does not need to be THE defeat.

For your good, and the good of your children and your country; for the good of all of human kind, it better not be THE defeat.

As a friend and a Marxist, I say this with honesty: neither victory, nor defeat, are certainties or definitive. Whatever your fate, it is you who will make it and who will pay its costs or reap its benefits.

Trumka, in the links above, said "it’s not over until we say it’s over". If by we, he meant the American workers, he is right.

In this dark moment, the only tiny spark of hope I can give you is this piece of wisdom:

"Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes." Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto.
And this appeal to your responsibility before history. You are free to take it or to leave it.

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