The crowd chanted "They say cut back, We say fight back" before the speakers came to the podium.
Congressman Ed Markey addressed the crowd to remind them what caused the financial crisis (and it wasn't public public sector workers.) Next, Congressman Mike Capuano announced, "I am a cheesehead" to communicate his solidarity with the working people of Wisconsin fighting for the right to bargain collectively for wages, benefits and work conditions. Mike foretold of similar attacks on worker rights by Republicans soon to come in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He said it was a fight for the middle class.
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Once again, American labor is leading the way and awakening a broader movement of democratic activism, an activism that is in direct opposition of the memes broadcast in the main stream media and the right-wing noise machine. To wit, the meme about the lazy, lavishly paid, public sector worker.
Republicans like to divide us between union and non-union, public and private. They like to get everyone pissed off at the public sector worker so they conflate two issues, the cause of the Great Recession and public worker benefits packages. It's a false equivalency.
For the record, I think its fine to ask all members of society to share the burden of an economic crises but it's dead wrong to blame public sector workers for the economic crisis when they didn't cause it and its wrong to use the crisis as a cudgel to bash them.
So what does it mean to share the burden? For starters, let's not give millionaires and billionaires tax cuts they don't need and don't want. To be clear, I blame Obama and the Republicans for doing this. Three percent of all income over $250,000 would go a long way to addressing the fiscal crisis. In fact, George W Bush tax cuts are a significant reason we find ourselves in a mountain of debt. Add to that, two wars on the national credit card and Medicare Part D and its easy to see why the Clinton budget surplus vanished like a fart in the wind.
$80 trillion is the amount of middle class wealth that vanished in the housing bubble collapse. Why aren't the banksters gong to jail?
Let's be clear, state budgets are in trouble because of the Great Recession and the huge gap in tax receipts that resulted from the unemployment, not becuase public sector workers have lavish pay and benefits. Fox and other right wing noise machines have been beating that drum for two years, and they still are.
It's true, public workers have benefits packages better than many companies but that is because they made deals in which they conceded pay raises for better benefits. These are agreements aka contracts. It seems public sector unions are ready to concede some of their wages or benefits in order to share the burden. Are the richest people in our society ready to also?