- by Richard F. West
From My Rocker
Publishers Weekly (July 21, 1997) "...vividly captures the daily routine of the retirees...
Hosted by -
March 15, 2011
Vol. 8 No. 1
I'd been sitting in the rocker on the porch all alone. The weather was beautiful, but nobody was out here except me.
I miss Henry. It's too quiet and boring. Things are exciting when he's here ranting. He went up north a couple weeks back to visit his son. He did come back a week ago, but he hasn't come out of his room at all. Something's up, but I haven't a clue to what.
Just as I was mulling over this, who shows up and sits in the rocker next to me but Henry.
"Hey, Henry. Missed you," I said. "What's kept you in your room all week?"
"Been doing some research," he said. "Trying to find a new country to live in."
I gave Henry a hard frown of a question, but didn't say anything. I just waited for him to explain.
Henry started to rock slowly. "So, far, New Zealand seems a good place. I'm also looking at Poland. Seems you can smoke anywhere in Poland. Indicates to me that they are a little smarter and more logical than most."
I couldn't hold back anymore. "Why are you looking for a new country to live in? What's wrong with right here in the good old U.S.A.?" As those last words came out of my mouth, I knew I had been sucked into his trap.
"Are you kidding me! Have you been reading what's going on in this country?"
I nodded. "Yes, I've been keeping up with the news." But I was hurt by his insinuation that I was somehow blind to what was happening.
"Well, they obviously have been successful in not making their plan clear."
"Plan? Who are you talking about?" Now I was interested. I didn't recognize any plan.
"The Republicans. Don't you think it odd that all the newly elected Republican Governors have made moves to break the backs of the State employee unions? I don't remember any of them campaigning on that, but it seems they are of one mind."
"Well," I said, "there are no federal laws protecting unions of government employees. And that Wisconsin debacle excluded the police and firemen's unions."
He nodded with a knowing grin. "For now. But let me lay out the plan for you."
I leaned back and relaxed. Seems Henry wanted to do the talking.
"First let me state the objective. The Wisconsin Sen. Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, appeared on Fox after Governor Walker signed the union-busting bill into law. Here's a quote - 'If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you're going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.'
"Now that's what this is all about. Remember, Senator Mitch McConnell said they were intent on making President Obama a one-term President. He blatantly said that, and no one really paid much attention to him. Big mistake.
"So, the first thing is to push for a balanced budget. This is what the Republicans did to Franklin Roosevelt during the New Deal period. And that slowed the economic recovery from the Depression to near zero. And as Representative Boehner said, if jobs are lost so be it. In the next election that would be a mark against President Obama - no change in the economy and no change in unemployment.
"The next thing is to remove the unions because they are big contributors to the Democratic Party. And the Republican Governors all took that on. But Wisconsin got the most publicity about the union-busting thing. However, there were other things in the budget bill that people have ignored. For one - a cut in education funding and installing voucher programs for children to go to private schools.
"Now what do you suppose that's all about."
"Don't bother guessing. I'll tell you. Getting rid of the Government obligation for public schools. No public schools, no government paid teachers, no union - ever.
"And it's not just in Wisconsin. Governor Rick Scott here in Florida cut over a billion dollars from education, and handed out tax breaks in the same amount to business and residents. Not a penny went toward the budget shortfall. I haven't checked the budgets of the other Republican Governors but I'm sure they are operating on the same plan.
"They plan to hire private companies to do the work of the all government employees - education, road construction and repair and the like. That eliminates unions all together. They are going to privatize everything they can, including, down the line, police and firemen. Some states have already privatized their prison system.
"The final step is to make all those states Right-to-work states which will crush the private industry unions. The industrialist will be dancing around in glee. And the Democrats will have lost their major funding.
"So, I'm moving to a country with a more reasonable government whose members consider they are serving the people, not the corporate interests. This country is heading for Third World status. I don't want to be here when that happens. It'll just make me cry."
Thinking about that, it would make me cry, as well ...