Saturday Sequel: Solidarity from across These United States

Aaron Foster, Reclaimed License Plate Map. Click to view at uncommongoods.com

Good morning, news junkies!

Last Saturday, I rounded up some headlines state-by-state, in solidarity. Well, it’s time to supersize: This Saturday is set for a 50-State Solidarity March. MoveOn.org has organized gatherings, dubbed “Rally to Save the American Dream,” in front of every statehouse and in every major city, at noon local time today, to stand in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.

I don’t know about you, but a 50-state solidarity has my attention in a way that Dr. Dean’s 50-state strategy–to court “socially conservative economic moderates”–never did.

I’m not the biggest fan of MoveOn, given their timidity in the age of Obama, but if today’s rallies are the start of a concerted effort by everyone involved to–as Krugman and Wells put it at the start of the year–delink their political fate from Obama,” then more power to ‘em.

Okay, so let me get started with my offerings to go with your morning brew.

New Deal 2.0′s Lynn Parramore put out a great read this week about Coolidge, Reagan, and Governor Walker, in response to the revisionist anti-union propaganda being promulgated by Amity Shlaes and other rightwing hacks.

Shlaes’ narrative is a hoot. According to this rightwing propaganda, Coolidge put himself on the national map by crushing unions and firing striking police officers in Massachusetts, which turned him into a hero and real man of the people. Soon enough Coolidge becomes Harding’s VP (Shlaes says that like it’s a good thing!) and then president himself. Union membership went down, and so did joblessness… apparently the birds started singing, the sun was shining…as Parramore quips, the way Shlaes tells it, it was “Morning in America” again. Thus, the code words “Boston Police” cemented the American principle that union causes do not trump others.

Are these people insane?

The money quote from Parramore’s response to Shlaes:

Coolidge got to the White House for crushing unions, where he slept ten hours a day and hopped on and off a mechanical horse in his underpants and a cowboy hat.

Here’s what America got: the Great Depression.

Between Shlaes and Glenn Beckistan, I wonder how much more warped the conservative reading of history is going to get. I’m sure it can *get* much worse, since there is no depth they won’t sink to (for the latest proof on that, see the Nebraska bill that would effectively legalize murder of abortion providers).

Still, it’s hard to imagine *how* their reading can get much worse. Harding and Coolidge were horrible presidents, remembered for corruption and corporate cronyism. The Harding and Coolidge “prosperity” of the roaring twenties existed side-by-side with quiet desperation, evidenced by the growing phenomenon of Hoovervilles. Is this really the history the right wanted to remind us of while we watch the current-day battle over unions play out? If the Republican overreach to annihilate public worker unions is astonishing, the conservative attempts to brand this move as Coolidgesque are utterly inexplicable.

(Then again, we live in an era where creative class progressives–the operative word there being creative–think Obama, an ostensibly Democratic president, being Reagan’s true heir is something to brag about. I’m reminded here too of the Heritage Foundation’s newfound interest in heeding the admonitions of FDR. We live in topsy-turvy times. But, more on that later.)

Parramore goes on to say:

Intuiting correctly that the public may not be on their side in this battle, conservatives have relentlessly pushed the deceptive idea that public employees enjoy higher salaries and better benefits than their private-sector counterparts. But this has been widely debunked. Careful research has shown that when you adjust for skill levels, public sector workers are not overpaid relative to private sector pay scales.

It’s the age old scapegoat story of the Little Guy falling for the lie that everything is the fault of the even Littler Guy, while the Too Big to Fails laugh all the way to the bank.

More from Parramore:

Governor Walker says he’s fighting for ordinary Americans. So why does he want to require unions to re-certify every year, but we don’t hear a peep about corporations being required to renew their charters every year? Why does he want to control the salaries of public employees, but doesn’t have any interest in controlling the salaries of grossly overcompensated corporate CEOs? Why does he call for sacrifices from hard-working people who have been screwed by the economy through no fault of their own, and none from the financiers who caused the crisis?

Maybe it’s because he has quite a bit in common with Coolidge and Reagan after all. In Reagan’s case, as in Coolidge’s, union-busting led to some of the biggest peacetime income re-distributions in modern history. Democracy got weaker, oligopolies got stronger, the rich got richer, and the rest of us got left behind.

I was born a couple months after Reagan took office, so all I’ve ever seen is “democracy getting weaker, oligopolies growing stronger, the rich getting richer, and the rest of us getting left behind.”

Except, of course, for that dreadful “pause” called the “Clinton nineties.” I so much prefer Obama’s rewinding back to Reagan over that icky pausing thing. Thanks for that, creative clueless class!

But, I digress. Parramore concludes:

The real lesson from Coolidge and Reagan is this: If Governor Walker and his Republican friends are allowed to crush the public unions, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

My takeaway from all of this is if Republicans want to follow in the footsteps of Coolidge and the Democrats want to follow in the footsteps of Reagan, perhaps we should all just call our efforts to secure all these human ‘luxuries’ we’ve been fighting for (i.e. jobs, food, shelter, education, healthcare, collective bargaining, etc.) a real nice try, declare it’s time for an “orderly transition,” and get in line at our local soup kitchens. Why prolong the inevitable. We need to do this as orderly as possible so we can ensure maximum “stability” for the too-big-to-fails!

Sorry to get so sardonic on a solidarity Saturday, but this is what we’re up against. We’re only to listen to FDR when it’s to crush unions, and both wings (D and R) of our Corporate party are chasing the corporate welfare ghosts of Coolidge and Reagan. It’s a good thing the Oscars are tomorrow, because bread and circuses is all we have left.

Anyhow, be sure to read the rest of Parramore’s piece when you get a chance. It’s a meaty and satisfying read.

There’s more, so go get your morning cuppa refilled, and then click to continue.

Read the rest of this entry »