This has been quite a week for disciples of liberty. Apparently, people everywhere have an innate need to have their voices heard. With historic events unfolding by the minute in the Middle East, one would think that the last group to foment a national insurrection would be third grade teachers from Wisconsin. But you’d be wrong. We were destined to come to this point, it just happened in Wisconsin first. The Nation is at a tipping-point where we must all decide how to best make use of our clearly finite resources.
Plainly, people are scared. They are scared of losing their job; of seeing their children grow up with less opportunity than they had; of our Nation’s relative decline on the world stage; of growing old without assets; of being sick, cold, and hungry; or simply being helpless. When people are scared and desperate, they will sometimes do desperate things. We witnessed a huge cry for help this last November. There are good people out there, and they are hurting. The teachers in Wisconsin don’t want to lose what they have fought long to achieve, and they are making their voices heard by the thousands in Madison. But there are millions more in Wisconsin who voted for Scott Walker and the Republican majority now calling the shots. Here’s the kicker: they are not the enemy; they are just folks who are scared. Wisconsin offers a unique opportunity for those willing to see it.
There was a time when corporations, states, and municipalities could afford to abide just about any union demand because growth was in the air. But those days are gone, and now workers without rich pensions or secure public sector jobs feel like they are having to pay for all that largess with no hope that their own lives will ever improve. There’s nothing like the fury of one who feels slighted. So instead of fighting the Republicans, or chastising those who voted for them, instead we should offer hope. Is it fair that hard working store clerks, farmers, newsstand agents, cab drivers, wait staff, bus boys, bank tellers, and yes, used cars salesmen have no pension, health insurance, or job security while public employees and other union members enjoy these benefits? Of course not. Would they want those benefits if given the choice? Of course! Why are they not unionized already then? Because they work for small businesses, or their jobs are transient, or any number of other reasons that they haven’t been able to unionize, and now they feel left out in the cold.
So what is the answer? A National Union for all workers (except bosses). Let’s bring everyone under the protection of collective bargaining, and not just those fortunate enough to work for large corporations or the government. Every enterprise, no matter how small would be required to adopt a union shop and negotiate with a powerful centralized National Union. Just imagine, the teenager behind the counter at the local greasy spoon with a nationally negotiated wage and benefits package. With everyone covered, there would be no repeat of last November because everyone would want to protect their new-found security. The Republicans would go down screaming because they could no longer turn worker against worker by playing on fear. A new worker party would arise. All it would take is a simple whisper of how things could be during the national debate that started this week in Wisconsin.