It would be funny if it weren't so serious. The national republican party justified voting against the UN Treaty on the rights of the Disabled because several of them suggested that the Senate should not ratify treaties during the lame duck session. In Michigan, state Republicans decided that the lame duck was a perfect time to gut the unions that have built the middle class. Our friend Smitty has more on this, and I just found this Youtube of a very angry Democratic senator speaking very eloquently about the people who will be harmed by this bill.
Conservatives have won over the last 30 years in their attacks on unions. It started with Reagan taking on the air traffic controllers union and has culminated in this most recent attack on public sector unions. I am constantly amazed to hear most of my conservative friends bash unions as corrupt and encouraging laziness instead of hard work. But not one of them has explained how lower wages will actually help our economy. We have seen wages stagnate at the lower middle class and working class level for the last 30 years. Lower wages have not stopped outsourcing. They have not made us more competitive, nor reduced poverty.
These moves have simply made the rich richer. They have made the worker less safe (about which my Republican friends seem to care little), and they have served to whittle down benefits and pensions. Contract, as it turns out, is only unassailable when it is about executive bonuses, not about teacher pensions. Conservatives have appealed to some kind of resentment culture, and appealed effectively. My conservative friends resent the idea that a laborers might make a good wage doing unremarkable, or unglamorous work. Teachers, nurses, auto-workers, firefighters, bureaucrats--all of them should not make too much money. God forbid they make a wage that allows them to purchase goods and services and contribute to the broader economy.
No, as the Walmart model shows us, better that the worker be paid so little that he or she has to rely on food stamps and Medicaid for food and healthcare. And better, savagely, to then lobby to reduce both programs.
There is a vein of cruelty in the conservative mind that I think most conservatives are afraid to acknowledge. Cruelty toward pregnant women, gays, and minorities--and as Michigan and Wisconsin demonstrate, toward people who work for a living.