On Budget Eve – Letter to Republican Legislators; and Citizen Call to Action

Dear Wisconsin Republican Legislators and Citizens of Wisconsin,

On the eve of what may likely be the passage of the most divisive budget in Wisconsin history, a letter from Badger Democracy to serve as a Call to Action to its citizens; a harbinger of fiscal and social disaster to Republican Lawmakers. It has become apparent that the GOP fully intends to pass Governor Walker’s budget in lockstep. Every sensible amendment being offered by Democrats today, which normally would bring bi-partisan support, have been defeated. The “moral document” being forwarded by the GOP is about to serve its purpose – a re-shaping of the very social and financial structure of Wisconsin. It is an indisputable fact – that is the purpose of this budget.

To the Republican Legislators – History is repeating itself in Wisconsin. Your failure to observe and learn from the lessons of the past doom us all to learn its harsh lessons.Your lazy governing has caused you to be blind to the very consequences of Legislation you are about to impose upon the people of Wisconsin. You object to the term “lazy.” You have been busy, yes – but the accusation is intellectual laziness. Laziness of being seduced by corporate influence and philosophical ideology instead of holding true to the “Wisconsin Idea” – that government is to function in the greatest interest of the greatest number of people. You are leading all of us, as lemmings to the sea, over the cliff and into the sea of a Corporatic State.

“What history,” you ask? Are these ideas of ours not new to Wisconsin? Are these not innovative, bold ideas to lead us out of our fiscal desert? No – had you listened, paid attention, researched, LEARNED…instead of practicing talking points over and over – you would realize this “bold experiment” has been performed before, on a much larger scale. Where? In this hemisphere. Twice, two decades apart. The results in each case had the same outcome – corporations and the wealthy saw incredible profits and prosperity, leading some economists to refer to the events as “miraculous.” In real, human terms, these countries saw a dissolution of the working class that they still have yet to recover – as well as “middle class” jobs. I implore you to read on… 

Chile and Argentina in the 1960’s saw an emergence of the “Southern Cone” of the continent. Their prosperity was due to Democratically – elected leaders that established a nationalized, socialist government under which the working middle class thrived. Low unemployment (3%), healthcare, education, low inflation, by all standards a successfully emerging economy with an engaged population. The undoing of that system has been documented extensively in a Senatorial investigation, and first hand documentation. In brief, the multinational corporations doing business in the Southern Cone were unhappy at trade and profit restrictions (Ford, Del Monte, Exxon, etc.). The CIA funded and expedited a coup, placing ruthless dictators in place of elected Presidents. This is fact, indisputable – for the sake of brevity, I leave it to the reader to further research. These dictatorial governments received direct economic policy advice from “The Chicago School,” Milton Friedman and his disciples. Funded with money from Washington and the CIA, Friedman viewed these nations as “labs for practicing radical capitalism” (Gunder Franke, Economic Genocide in Chile, 1976). Previously nationalized utilities, education, healthcare, and industries were privatized. Banks, businesses and trade were de-regulated opening the door for unfettered profits. Unions were broken, and the minimum wage eliminated. The result was an abject failure. Unemployment rose to 30%, the rich got exceedingly richer, and the working class became destitute. Any proclamation of capitalist gains was diminished by the human cost of “radical capitalism.” The brutality of the dictators is not understated here – the point is an economic one – the population lived in terror and torture from the corporate/CIA sponsored regimes, or “junta.” The regime brutality aside, do these economic policies sound familiar?

Bolivia in the 1980’s was emerging from a tyrannical dictator for its first democratic elections in decades. The nation faced hyperinflation (30,000% – not a typo), national debt greater than its national budget, and a full-blown economic crisis. Enter Jeffrey Sachs as economic advisor to the new Bolivian President Victor Estenssoro Paz – with the full blessing and funding of the Reagan Administration (NY Times 9/12/84). Friedman disciples working in the Reagan Administration convinced the President to make aid to Bolivian recovery contingent upon it adopting Sachs’ prescribed “shock route” of fiscal policy – after “Chicago School” principles.

The “shock” prescription? Deep austerity measures including deregulation of banks and commodities, deep budget cuts, freezing government workers’ wages, eliminate unions, lift import tariffs, adopt “free trade” policies, privatize everything from schools, healthcare, public services, and energy utilities. Bolivia created an unfettered capitalist zone in one sweeping budget bill, known as “The Brick” due to its sheer weight and impact (Foronda, Latin American Press 2/16/89). Again, the regime had to brutally control a citizenry resisting these draconian measures – the human cost was terrible. For the purpose of this writing, the fiscal effects on Bolivia were striking. Inflation was brought under control – falling from 14,000% in 1985 to 10% in 1987. A remarkable feat, yes – causing Friedman “Chicago School” proponents to again pronounce a “miracle,” especially considering the record profits generated by multi-national corporations.

The real financial costs – In the same two years, unemployment rose to 30% while real wages dropped by 40%. The top 2% of earners saw wages skyrocket, while the bottom 98% saw wages plummet. The job situation was so dire, that under the new austerity measures, the number of workers eligible for Social Security plummeted by 61%. This created an even more desperate working class while corporations sent record profits home to the United States. When the masses attempted to organize and protest, there was an extra legal “special police” crackdown on the population at large. Setting aside the violence of the regime, do these economic policies sound familiar? They should, they are the same policies Scott Walker has been pushing from day one – privatize, eliminate unions, freeze wages, “business friendly,” free-trade, de-regulate business practices. They have had the same effect every time they have been practiced. Now in Wisconsin.

Call to the Citizens of Wisconsin – The “experiment” being pushed in Wisconsin is nothing new. The proof is in history, which for convenience sake the Republicans have chosen in their intellectual laziness to ignore. There will be record corporate profits, and the working people of Wisconsin will suffer for it. Their laziness in following a hollow ideology will cause a downward shift in the social structure of Wisconsin. We have an obligation to the future of this state to fight this corporatic agenda. This link contains the Republican Senator’s email addresses – all of them.

Badger Democracy is emailing this writing to every Republican Senator – this is a call for everyone reading this to do the same, sending the following statement:

“As Legislators in Wisconsin, you have had a choice in the budget you vote for. You have had options and differing opinions available to you. Your historical and factual ignorance; your intellectual laziness has caused you to follow ideology and not fact. You have chosen to follow, not lead. While you may temporarily rest in security that your corporate sponsors will tend to you when you leave office,  you will receive no respite from the PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN whom you serve. As the impact of this budget unfolds, so will the ire of the people increase. In making this choice, you will feel the quiet and peaceful rage of the people at the polls. As these fiscal policies affect the working families and population of Wisconsin, you will feel the effect of the “silent and peaceful” revolution that is coming.”

The Corporatic agenda may speak for you as a Republican Legislator – it does not speak for the people.

Sincerely,

Scott Wittkopf for Badger Democracy

One thought on “On Budget Eve – Letter to Republican Legislators; and Citizen Call to Action

  1. This is a brilliant piece, Scott. I hope the Wisconsin GOP can focus their attention long enough to read it. Sue

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