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File this under the We Couldn’t Have Said It Better Ourselves Department: Op-ed columnist Joe Nocera articulated on the very respectable pages of the New York Times what many of us have known for years: Unions are good for the economy. Well, no – make that, unions are essential for the economy to work for everyone. Nocera, the famously contrarian business writer, talks about his picket-line-walking parents and his union-solid Rhode Island birthplace – but how, as a member of America’s post-war educated class, he came to view organized labor “with mild disdain.”
The madeleine that stokes his remembrance of union things past is The Great Divergence, Timothy Noah’s new book about income inequality. After confessing to holding an outlook once similar to Noah’s early views of labor as “a spent force,” Nocera now agrees with him that liberals have turned their backs on unions with terrible consequences.
While hardly surprising to anyone who read the polls, yesterday’s victory by Republican Governor Scott Walker was a body blow to Wisconsin unions and to American workers. Within Wisconsin, Walker’s victory ensures that his law repealing collective-bargaining rights for public employees will stay on the books, and if Republicans maintain their hold on the state senate—four of their senators faced recall elections, and as I write this at least three have survived—they will, at least in theory, be able to go forward on other parts of their Social Darwinist agenda. Whether they will—and whether they opt to go after private-sector unions, too, with right-to-work legislation—remains unclear. Such a move on Walker’s part, coming on the heels of the most divisive 18 months in the state’s history, would only escalate what is already a political civil war. Even Walker may think it the better part of valor to pass on that for now.
But the damage already done by Walker’s anti-union legislation,
When I arrived in this country, you conform to what is given. I came by myself. It’s very difficult living here without knowing anyone, not knowing where a store is, not having money to buy water or bread. When you find a job, if they offer you $50, you don’t have to think about it – you need this money, so you take it.
– Jose Juan Romero, restaurant worker
and former food-processing worker
If you’re like me, you probably try to watch what you eat, eat healthy, eat organic when possible, shop at the farmers’ market to support local family farmers… but have you thought about the workers who do the work to provide the food on your plate?
When I first became a vegetarian almost 20 years ago, I didn’t think about the workers. I made an ethical decision to change the way I ate,
All the bad things you heard about the 2012 Whitney Biennial, which closes June 10, are too true. For some time now the Biennial has been a favorite piñata of conservative critics who’ve bristled at the introduction of Lowbrow art and other populist trends. This 76th biennial, however, annoyed a number of reviewers across the spectrum. Huffed the Village Voice:
Composed of arty ephemera, light musings on decades-old conceptual processes, and bogus curatorial gestures that conflate sculpture with performance and installation with music—the mind boggles at the notion of turning over most of the museum’s fourth floor to genre-mixing “free collage,” i.e., choreographer Sarah Michelson’s noodling at preview time—the 2012 biennial promulgates a dark sensibility as an artistic foil to America’s Tim Tebow culture.
Part of the reason some New Yorkers were riled up was the show’s corporate provenance: It was bankrolled by Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank,
Here’s a headline you won’t see, but should: “Scott Walker Spent 88 percent of the Money to Get 53 Percent of the Vote.”
Political pundits will spend the next few days and weeks analyzing the Wisconsin recall election, examining exit polls, spilling lots of ink over how different demographic groups — income, race, religious, union membership, gender, party affiliation, independents, liberals/conservatives/moderates, etc — voted on Tuesday.
But the real winner in Wisconsin on Tuesday was not Gov. Scott Walker, but Big Money. And the real loser was not Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, but democracy.
Walker’s Republican campaign outspent Barrett’s Democratic campaign by $30.5 million to $4 million — that’s a 7.5 to 1 advantage. Another way of saying this is that of the $34.5 million spent on their campaigns, Walker spend 88 percent of the money.
Walker beat Barrett by 1,316,989 votes to 1,145,190 votes — 53 percent to 46 percent (with 1 percent going to an independent candidate).