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Simply astounding! One day we watch in awe as the people of Egypt protest in the streets of Cairo and then our attention is turned inward as we watch the people of Wisconsin protest and occupy the state capitol in Madison. From Tunisia, to Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and now Madison, Wisconsin, the people are rising up to fight for their rights and, by all indications, they have no intention of bending to the dictates of the powers that seek to suppress their cause.
It is amazing how the Middle East revolutionary movement erupted out of the blue with no warning of any kind. But, then again, it is easier to understand when we consider the many decades that these suppressed people have suffered under a succession of dictators and oppressive regimes. The Middle East has often been referred to as a tinder box that could be ignited by some small, unexpected spark and, then, all of a sudden it happened.
It was generally thought that such an eruption would be caused by war between various nations in that volatile region of the world, with Israel constantly being at the center point; but who would have guessed that it would be the people that provided the spark that ignited the rebellion. While it was a long time coming, it was inevitable as the people finally reached the point where they no longer could live under the iron fist of dictatorial regimes.
Middle East meets the Midwest and it's all about people's rights. Watching the protests spreading across the nations of the Middle East indicates that this is now a very strong movement that is virtually unstoppable. It is a movement that is ushering in a new era of governments of the people. A new day has dawned. That is why the U.S. and Israeli leaders are in a frantic state as they try to figure out how they can maintain their domination and control over that region. The probability of them doing so is very low since the formerly entrenched dictators have now become an endangered species.
Not long after the Middle East rebellion exploded onto the world stage, another kind of rebellion erupted in Madison, Wisconsin when the Republican Governor Scott Walker decided that it was time to bring the hammer down on the state's union workers. He and his controlling majority in the legislature created a bill designed to end the union's collective bargaining rights. The resultant backlash and vehement opposition to that bill rocked the capitol as protesters stormed into the streets and the capitol building to strongly voice their opposition.
Protests in the Middle East and protests in the Midwest. What do they have in common? Actually, much more than we might think. The one common, overriding issue in both these regions of the world has to do with oppressive governments violating the basic rights of the people. In the Middle East it is the thirst for freedom and government of the people, while in Madison it is the rights of the people to retain collective bargaining. In each case it is the people demanding that their rights be honored by governments who want to restrict them.
There is yet another common factor that is causing unrest in both the Middle East and also in America; and that has to do with the great disparity in the distribution of wealth. For Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations, the vast majority of the wealth is held by a small minority of people in the upper income levels. They hold the power and they hold the wealth. In Egypt, for example, 40%, or nearly 34 million people in a population of 84 million, live below the poverty line.
Let's look at America and the distribution of wealth. Most analyses show that the top 1% own about 35% of total wealth, the next 19% own 50% and the bottom 80% own only 15%. So the richest 20% of Americans own about 85% of America's total wealth. Not only that, but there are now 47.4 million Americans, one in six, that live below the poverty line. How is that possible in the so-called richest country in the world?
So what is it that the governor/dictator of Wisconsin and his fellow GOP governors have in mind as they attempt to strip away union bargaining rights? Why, it couldn't be more obvious. They want, over a period of time, to continue to reduce the wages of union workers, eventually lowering them to the minimum wage. This is the latest strategy in their master plan to increase the already uneven distribution of wealth in America toward the very rich.
Madison, Wisconsin is just the tip of the iceberg. This head on collision of the state and the working class represents the beginning of a massive fight to determine which side will prevail. States are beset with tremendous deficits, largely due to their own wasteful practices, that threaten their solvency and are using the workers as their scapegoat. These workers have made up their minds that they will not allow their bargaining rights to be taken away. This is a gigantic impasse that, no matter what happens in Wisconsin, is destined to spread across America.
How great is the potential for more of these clashes in other states? Well, there are currently 29 Republicans, 20 Democrats, and one Independent holding the office of governor in the 50 U.S. states. Of that number there are 20 states in which the governments are totally controlled by both a Republican governor and a Republican-controlled legislature, an ominous sign to be sure.
Those 20 states, which include Wisconsin, will be the future battleground upon which a monumental battle will be fought over these union bargaining rights, especially so if the governor of Wisconsin prevails. The states where unions will be in the most immediate danger are: Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. The Republican governors of those states are anxiously waiting to see what happens in Wisconsin but, you can bet, they will act against the unions no matter what happens in Madison.
What is going on in Wisconsin is an assault on what is left of the middle class; this is actually a class war by which the Republican Right, backed by Wall Street and Corporate America wants to squeeze the remaining wealth out of the majority of Americans and transfer yet more of it to those who sit at the top of the income strata. The people of American who do not wish to live under these repressive, oppressive conditions must use every ounce of energy to fight against these powers and destroy their venomous agenda.