Sunday, November 20, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
There is a big split in the Heathen community, one that most Heathens become aware of shortly after they first come into contact with Germanic lore. While there are many specifics and nuances to the competing ideologies the heart of the matter lies in the importance of ancestors and heroes in modern practice. No Heathen in the world would deny the importance of heritage and reverence for our ancestors. It is as much a part of our folkway as blot, sagas, and honor. To remove the veneration of our forebears from practice would be like asking a fish to live on dry land. Sadly this beautiful, integral practice has been twisted by modern, ahistorial ideas about race to fit prejudices that did not exist in pre-Christian Europe.
In modern Heathenry there are many groups that require their members have direct descent from the Germanic world. They argue the importance of ancestors and tradition as their justification. They claim all indigenous traditions are founded intimately in family and ethnicity. They claim this is in line with the historical record, tradition, and practices found in other indigenous religions. In documents such as Tacitus' Germania, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the Heimskringla we see there was heavy emphasis on ancestral worship. Great heroes in one's lineage were honored. This extended into naming conventions with it being very common for families to name newly-born children after recently deceased family members or great ancestors. This is indisputable and commonly cited by proponents of blood lineage.
From this evidence those obsessed with blood and soil claim ethnicity must be important if lineage was so vital. This is a logical leap that has nothing to stand on. In every case of the tracing of descent there is no mention made of the national origin of the ancestor. The importance given in sagas was not if an ancestor was a Roman or a Dane or a Pole but specifically who they were and what they did. This practice was not unique to pre-Christian times or Western Europe. In Ibn Fadlan's account of the Rus the only mention he makes of the ethnicity of the Rus is in describing their appearance. He spends much more time discussing their religious practices, cleanliness, and social customs than he does their ethnicity. He always refers to them as Rus, not by their ethnicity. This emphasis on culture, class, and religion remained the main forms of identification up to the settlement of the Americas.
This lack of concern for ethnic descent is shown most dramatically in the treatment of slaves in Iceland and Norway. Slaves came either from raids or as punishment for a crime. In spite of this status it was possible for slaves to accumulate property and eventually buy their freedom. Any who did, while socially not quite equal to other freemen, were in the eyes of the law the same as other free people. In Iceland the children of free slaves were considered legally and socially equal to other members of society while in Norway the taint of association took four generations to wash away. Religiously speaking these freed slaves practiced along with other free members of society as equals. No consideration was given for the ethnic or national origin of the former slave anywhere in the laws of the Old North. To many this may come as a surprise. According to the blood and soil argument ethnicity and race are ancient universally held ideas. This argument sweeps aside the facts in the historical record that show the flaws in their reasoning. In truth our society's ideas on race are very modern in origin.
The tying of culture to ethnicity in Western thought began not in the distant past but in the 17th century. In the Americas much of the labor on sugar and tobacco plantations was done by slaves and indentured servants. To ensure poor whites and slaves would never unite against the power of the great plantation owners as they did during Bacon's Rebellion laws were passed stripping the African slaves of rights and protections affirming their status as the permanent underclass in the American South. The ideas of racial supremacy that started with these laws would be reinforced as a means to divide the lower classes. Prior to the passage of these laws it was not unusual for black slaves and white indentured servants to work, live, and runaway together. This fear of a united front was very real; the only thing that stopped Bacon's Rebellion was the death of its leader. Another uprising could have easily swept away the great landowners of Virginia who depended on cheap and slave labor for their wealth. The Virginia slave codes would be the first in Western history to establish legal supremacy based solely on ethnicity.
At this point the most common rebuttal by blood and soilers is to cite Jewish and Native American practices regarding ethnic descent. They argue these examples prove the centrality of ethnicity to culture and indigenous religion. These arguments are similarly flawed and use a highly selective examination of the facts. In the case of Judaism the most commonly cited fact is the importance of matrilineal descent in Jewish society. This ignores the long-standing practice of accepting converts by all denominations of Judaism who prove themselves worthy. The Native American argument is similarly fallacious. For centuries prior to the American subjugation many of the tribes intermarried freely. It was not unusual for runaway slaves fleeing their masters to seek membership in the tribes. One of the most prominent examples was the Seminole Nation who formed from a conglomeration of Creeks, Choctaw, Yuchi, Yamassee, and runaway African slaves. The blood quotient requirement was imposed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the late 19th century based on older laws passed in Virginia in the 18th century as part of the aftermath of Bacon's Rebellion. Claiming culture and ethnicity are one in the same, as the blood and soil Heathens do, can only work if you ignore the facts and make things up to fit your personal conception of reality.
At the end of the day the claims of cultural and historical justification for requiring blood descent to practice any form of Heathen spirituality are built on a twisted, deceptive interpretation of the facts. This rotted foundation has no higher justification or purpose. It only exists to justify prejudice and disguise racism as “spiritual purity.” The blood Heathens accuse those who do not meet their arbitrary and indefensible standards of being cultural vandals and thieves. It is they who are the thieves and vandals. They loot from a body of lore that embraces pragmatic wisdom, honor, courage, and fairness to justify their insecurities and fears. They vandalize a beautiful folkway to fit their cowardly obsession with race. Their claims of protecting the spiritual legacy of the Old North are nothing more than a smokescreen meant to hide their true feelings.
You may wonder, “Why worry about an ideology based on fictions? Won't the truth bring them down?” There have been many cases in history of ideas built on deception gaining far more credibility and influence than they had any right to because it sounded good. There are others where the radical actions of a few tainted the honor of the many leaving them stuck fighting ghosts. We as a community stand at a vital crossroads. If we do nothing and hope the problem goes away the problem will overwhelm us one way or the other. Our ancestors were not ones to shy away from struggle when it was justified. We must stand and with a strong voice refuse to have anything to do with the blood and soil Heathens whose obsession with ethnicity belongs in the dustbin of history with the institution that spawned their prejudices. If we cannot cut loose this deadweight of the past then we will be doomed in the future to see it drag us down. In the old days our Folkway died once under the onslaught of the flame and steel of missionaries and invaders. It would be a terrible shame on the Folk if we fell in the modern age not to mighty foes but thanks to our unwillingness to act decisively and expunge an idea with no ethical, spiritual, or factual foundation.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Yesterday Congressman Cliff Stearns' (R-Fl) amendment to the 9/11 first responders aid bill went into effect. What is this amendment you ask? One that has the gall to question the patriotism of the heroes of that terrible day:
"(5) DISQUALIFICATION OF INDIVIDUALS ON TERRORIST WATCH LIST.-No individual who is on the terrorist watch list maintained by the Department of Homeland Security shall qualify as an eligible WTC responder. Before enrolling any individual as a WTC responder in the WTC Program under paragraph (3), the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall determine whether the individual is on such a list."
It is exactly what it says it is. To add insult to injury the amendment was added to the bill without dissent with this odious provision going into effect yesterday. There are no words that can truly describe the depth of the disrespect shown by both parties in Congress.
With fears of Muslim takeover fanned by the Cordoba House controversy and Peter King's radicalization circus Congress has, in the name of "pragmatic politics" acquiesced to the worst in us. Saying any group of people, including the greatest heroes of the past decade, can be investigated as terrorists by Congressional fiat attacks the foundations of our criminal justice system. Ever since the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1789 one of the bedrock principals of our legal system is probable cause. Searches, arrests, and indictments cannot be obtained for any charge without first proving there is a very solid, justifiable reason to be poking around in the private lives of American citizens. With a simple voice vote Congress has swept aside any need for probable cause declaring everyone who worked at Ground Zero in the days and weeks following 9/11 is now a suspect for terrorism. As far as our elected representatives are concerned "pragmatic" politics trumps the rights of American heroes.
What is worse are the chilling implications of this act. When the best among us, the heroes who rose to the call, can be declared terror suspects then any one can be put under the same microscope for no better reason than "national security" or "practical politics." If the Ground Zero workers can be thrown on the pyre of a new witch hunt on Congressional whim then what is stopping legislators from tossing others into the flames in a fit of political hysteria?CORRECTION: The provision was included in the bill passed last year. The amendment's effects as per the Huffington Post went into effect yesterday which they learned through an unnamed source..
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
In the fall of 2010 the Tea Party was swept into power on a wave of voter discontent promising to turn the country around by reigning in out of control government spending. They were riding high on populist anger pushing a hard ideological line as the solution to our nation's problems. Five months later the Tea Party's approval ratings have plummeted, Republican governors riding the wave have seen their support evaporate, and the oncoming government shutdown has put the ascendant Republicans in a serious bind. Regardless of the cause of the Tea Party and GOP's woes can be summed up in one word.
No one can deny the Tea Party-fueled gains of the Congressional Republicans in the 2010 elections. They trumpeted their victory as a mandate by the voters to pursue a ultraconservative antigovernment agenda. Yet for all the claims of strong support what the mandate they received was less clear. A large part of their victory in 2010 was thanks to highly depressed voter turnout especially among groups that Obama depended on for his 2008 victory. With only 41% of voters bothering to come to the polls as opposed to the low 70s that we saw in 2008 probably the clearest thing the voters did say was they had enough with government as usual. With the certainty of victory the hard-right Tea Party candidates in Congress and state government moved forward to make the perceived mandate a reality. Ironically enough it was putting their agenda into action that has led to a serious case of buyer's remorse across the board.
Also posted at PAGAN+Politics
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
To say the states of the Union are facing fiscal problems would be an understatement. With nearly every state in the country facing serious budget deficits as the recession takes its toll and stimulus funds drying up states are doing whatever they can to stay above water. Whether through steep cuts in spending in Texas, structural reforms in California, or weakening public unions in the Midwest all are united in their search for an answer. Nowhere is a more radical effort being waged than in the state of Michigan.
The Republican-controlled Michigan State Senate recently passed a highly controversial bill to address the fiscal crises facing state. In the name of fiscal responsibility a group of state officials appointed by the governor known as emergency financial maangers would gain virtually unchecked power over all aspects of the local government in their charge. Some argue these powers are necessary to address the multitude of fiscal problems in Michigan by giving the emergency managers the extra leverage needed to get the job done. As they see it emergency managers are necessary to clean up the state's problems and they have been used successfully in Michigan previously. This does not answer the question of if the new powers, or the changes to process, go too far.
The first line crossed is in the process of declaring a state of fiscal emergency. The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act grants a considerable amount of unchecked power to the governor's office. In the new bill the governor would have the final say on if a local government is in a state of fiscal emergencyi. The governor have the sole power to appoint the emergency manager with no outside review or confirmationii. The new manager, once appointed, could only be removed by the governor or impeachmentiii. The law goes further by giving emergency managers full immunity from any legal liabilityiv.
So why would the emergency managers need protection from legal sanction? The Fiscal Accountability Act gives the emergency managers unprecedented authority over their municipalities. The list of powers given to the managers is staggering in its breadth and scope. Once in place there is little the emergency managers cannot do. From the outset they completely control the process being given the sole responsibility of developing the financial plan for the municipalityv. The plan does not need any outside approval of any kind; the public has no opportunity to vote on the issue. The state fiscal emergency remains until the emergency manager declares the crisis has been resolvedvi.
During this time the manager is charged to issue “all orders necessary” to make the plan happenvii. This is backed up by substantial authority explicitly spelled out in the bill. The manager is given the power to create the budgetviii, sell or transfer local government assetsix, and remove non-elected local officialsx at their sole discretion. They handle all contract negotiations and, at their discretion, can unilaterally terminate themxi. If a manager is put in charge of a school district they are given the power to set their educational planxii. Any municipal official deemed by the emergency manager to have “not reasonably” carried out an order can be barred from access to municipal facilities, mail, and internal informationxiii. In spite of being in a state of fiscal emergency the municipality is required to foot the bill for the emergency manager's pay, expenses, and staff for the durationxiv.
These powers, while staggering in their totality, are not the most potent they receive. With the approval of the state treasurer they can waive any need for competitive bidding on any contract over $50,000xv. Based on their sole discretion and judgment they can recommend the municipality be declared a debtor and placed under their complete controlxvi or worse yet be legally dissolvedxvii. The governor alone makes the final call. Most astonishingly the law makes legal appeal of any of these actions impossible. The only chance given to the local government is during the investigation process which requires the municipality to request appeal with a 2/3rds majority votexviii. Once an emergency manager is appointed the locals have no legal recourse between the manager's legal immunity and the law's restrictions.
What is happening in Michigan could be waved away as unique, radical measure born of an economically devastated and desperate state. It could be argued given Michigan's genuinely terrible situation extreme action might be justified. This all assumes that what happens in one state will remain in one state. Currently 44 of the 50 states of the Union are facing serious fiscal problems. While Michigan's situation is especially grim they are not the only state with local governments facing serious deficits. We have already seen how Scott Walker's union-busting bill in Wisconsin has been copied in Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Tennessee, and is being seriously considered in Maine. Public outcry proved, in the short term, to be in vain in Wisconsin and other governors press ahead in spite of the lack of popular support. If Michigan puts this law into effect what would stop other states from considering their own version of the Michigan solution?
Also published at PAGAN+Politics
iSenate copy of Michigan HB 4214, Sec. 15(1)
iiIbid Sec. 15(4)
iiiIbid Sec. 15(5d)
ivIbid Sec. 25(1)
vIbid Sec. 18(1)
viIbid Sec. 24
viiIbid Sec. 17(1)
viiiIbid Sec. 19(1b)
ixIbid Sec. 19(1r)
xIbid Sec. 19(1n)
xiIbid Sec. 18(1c)
xiiIbid Sec. 17(1)
xiiiIbid Sec. 17(2)
xivIbid Sec. 15(5e)
xvIbid Sec. 19(3)
xviIbid Sec. 23(1)
xviiIbid Sec. 19(1cc)
xviiiIbid Sec. 15(3)
Friday, March 11, 2011
übersetzt von Erin Banks
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The clash over Governor Scott Walker's effort to strip Wisconsin's public unions of the right to collectively bargain has reached a new level of intensity. This morning Governor Walker gave his ultimatum to the absent Senate Democrats: return to Madison or state workers will receive layoff notices. In the latest of a string of escalations Walker's stubborn refusal to compromise or negotiate has inflamed passions on all sides of the debate. The governor insists that his actions are backed by the people of Wisconsin riding the political wave that swept him into office. In spite of this his claims of popular mandate as justification are running aground of growing grassroots opposition to his radical agenda.
Scott Walker has advanced his union-busting bill under the cover of his recent election as vindication of his platform. Walker has insisted from the beginning his plan is in line with his platform of fiscal responsibility. Walker's unsupported spending aside it is highly unlikely that most voters think of rolling back labor rights as necessary for fiscal responsibility. The elimination of the right of public employee unions to collectively bargain was something Walker never argued for while on the campaign trail. Far from being a major element of his message Scott Walker never discussed the possibility of breaking the backs of the public unions of Wisconsin. It would make sense for him to cite the public's backing for an issue he actually discussed unless being successfully elected to state office allows the officeholder to campaign retroactively.
All of this assumes Walker has the public at his back. If anything Walker's plan is running headlong into strong political winds. Before being sworn in the governor only enjoyed a 41% approval rating. His hardball tactics, far from inspiring the public with his resolve, have largely succeeded in solidifying public support for the unions. The growing opposition is not limited to college students, unions, and Democratic activists. The President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce recently released a statement declaring that while they support pushing for a balanced budget, “That support ends at the adversarial way elected officials are approaching it.” She goes on to say that with Wisconsin's long history of collective bargaining, “policy changes of this magnitude should be thoroughly debated for an adequate period of time, in good faith by both sides, with all potential consequences considered.”
Scott Walker's most recent escalation, the threat of layoff notices, has exposed how weak his hand is. By Walker's own statement no layoffs will happen yet. In Wisconsin public employees receive early notices of being laid off as prior warning. A layoff notice does not put anyone in the unemployment line. The actual layoffs are scheduled for July. This is not to say the threat of people losing their jobs over the budget fight is not serious but the details take a lot of the wind out of it. If anything it comes across as more of a desperate bluff than a genuine threat. That Walker's ploy sounds more like hostage taking than negotiation undermines the credibility of his claims of seeking a fiscally responsible budget.
Scott Walker's union busting campaign has been disguised as fixing a fiscal emergency. His claims of enjoying the public's mandate to act so radically are adrift. For all his bravado in public Walker is sitting on a ticking time bomb. In Wisconsin any public official can be recalled if they have been in office for a year. With the budget bill only needing three votes to be defeated eight of the Republicans who supported it are in danger of facing a recall. One of the most popular chants is to recall Walker himself. While he will not be vulnerable until 2012 his allies in the state legislature are not so lucky. As the public's anger rises Scott Walker and his party will reap the whirlwind sown by their ruthless campaign against a century of workers' rights.
Also published at Pagans+Politics
Monday, February 21, 2011
Human nature is one of the foundation stones of ethical philosophy. Every philosophy the world over, from Rousseau’s theories on the General Will to Lord Shang's stark Legalism, are based on fundamental axioms of what defines humanity. These assumptions regarding human nature determine how one should treat other people, view the world, and live your life. In the West the most dominant theories of human nature can be summed up in one of two schools of thought.
One school of thought holds that humans are inherently flawed by nature. Whether the cause is Original Sin or our barbarous natural state the assumption remains the same. Humans are imperfect. Society must therefore assume that people will, given the choice, give in to their base natures putting their self-interest ahead of all other concerns. If one assumes that people are innately flawed and prone to acting in a potentially destructive fashion to fulfill their base desires then all responses are going to assume that people must be restrained for their own good.
This is not the only understanding of humanity that has sprung up in the West. The other holds a much more positive view. This view, first summed up by John Locke in his Two Treatises on Government, argues that humans far from being creatures driven by impulses we must struggle against are blank slates when we come into the world. We are neither good nor evil by nature but instead boundless potential shaped by our experiences in life. We are not given to destruction as a result of being human but as a consequence of one's experiences and circumstances. In this understanding humans do not need to be held back from danger but given the best tools to guide ourselves to the best possible outcome in pursuing our desires.
The genesis of the assumption of flawed humanity can be found in the creation myth of Christianity. While later philosophers like Thomas Hobbes have built on the foundation Genesis provides it is from the first book of the Bible that this assumption is born. In Genesis Yahweh creates the first two human beings, Adam from dust and Eve from his rib, and places them in charge of the paradisaical Garden of Eden. In the Garden He places two trees, one the Tree of Life which gives life everlasting and the forbidden Tree of Knowledge which gives understanding of the world. It is in this idyllic setting created for humans shaped in the image of God that the Original Sin, the first act of willful disobedience, took place. By eating from the Tree of Knowledge Adam and Eve disregarded the restraints imposed by Yahweh leading to their exile from Eden and the end of Paradise on Earth. In this narrative we see the classic hallmarks of the understanding of humanity as flawed. Humans must be restrained for their own good, which we may or may not understand, and we are given to trespass by our nature in spite of these necessary restraints. This assumption casts humans as being torn between free will and their destructive base urges forever locked in a battle to do what is right.
The more positive, blank slate idea is one that for the modern world was born with Locke and the Enlightenment. Yet this is not the first time this idea took root in Western thought. It is from the Voluspo, the whirlwind tour of Norse cosmology, where we find this idea rooted deeply in pre-Christian Germanic thought. This saga describes the creation of Midgard, the Earth, and the ordering of the universe by the Gods. Part of this, quite predictably, includes the creation of humans by the Gods. In the Voluspo three Gods; Odin, Honir, and Lodur, are walking along a beach in Midgard having shaped the world and set its boundaries. On their walk they come across two pieces of driftwood. They decide to take up the dead logs and give them life, making the first two humans. As it says in the Voluspo:
Soul they had not, sense they had not
Heat nor motion, nor goodly hue
Soul gave Odin, sense gave Honir
Heat gave Lothur and goodly huei
After creating the first humans the Gods let them go on their way. There is no special charge or rules handed down after They finish their work. Ask and Embla are given shape, life, and sense before going out into the world to live their lives.
Aside from the obvious differences there is a profoundly different assumption about human nature in these two creation stories. In Genesis humans are created from nothing in a perfect world under the firm hand and guidance of Yahweh to serve as His stewards for creation. When they fail to follow the rules He arbitrarily laid down humanity is marked with Original Sin for all time and cast out into the wilderness. The Voluspo couldn't be any further from Genesis in intent if it was deliberately trying. Odin, Hoenir, and Lodur do not lay down any special tasks, prohibitions, or directives to Their new creations. They do not admonish them to obey unexplained rules. All They do is give form, life, and sense then let the first humans go on their way. Humans are not made in the image of a perfect God and marked with an original, underlying flaw that will perpetuate their imperfect nature as an act of punishment. Humans in Germanic lore are divinely created with the Gods letting them live their lives.
This distinction is a fundamental one when it comes to the question of human nature. In Judeo-Christian tradition the flawed, sinful nature of humanity is the justification for needing repentance and redemption. The problems with humanity are ones that are inescapable partially because they are imposed from on high as a punishment for disobedience. This simultaneous tug of war between perfection and damnation drives human motivation in the Abrahamic tradition. Humanity, because of this fall from grace, must redeem itself in the eyes of Heaven. Consistently humans are portrayed in the Bible as sinful, given to their base desires, and easily tempted. This is escalated in Christianity and Islam with the inclusion of adversarial figures; Satan and Iblis respectively, who war with God to bring down humanity. Caught between mighty forces and their own drives humans must strive to do what they have been told is right trusting in the ineffable wisdom of God.
In the Heathen tradition humanity is not trapped in such a conundrum nor is it cast in such a negative light. Humans were shaped by the Gods then left to go out into Midgard. We are not given stewardship over the world sculpted from Ymir's flesh but neither are we punished with any equivalent of Original Sin. This implies a strong sense of trust the Gods have in us. They did not put us in a special, controlled paradise to be watched over with unexplained rules handed down. They created humans and let us go on our way, secure in Their knowledge that the gifts of life, sense, and form we received from Them would be enough. Instead of coddling and sheltering humans from the world then thrusting them out as punishment They put us in Midgard and trusted that Their gifts were all they needed to give us. This tremendous level of trust by the Gods implies that humanity was not viewed as some innately flawed creation that had to be set on a specific path to avoid falling into self-destruction. It says humans are perfectly capable of living our lives with the gifts the Gods gave us as a compass to guide help guide us. This is not to say there are no expectations of what is right and wrong but rather that the Gods trust us to do what is right without divine proclamations setting the boundaries.
The Heathen view is an optimistic understanding of human nature. We are not imperfect creatures given to falling in to destruction without a firm hand to guide us but beings divinely shaped and gifted with the freedom to stumble and learn from our mistakes. Quite contrary to the Abrahamic view which holds a somewhat pessimistic view of humanity the Heathen understanding is one where humans have no such inherent flaws. Having never been punished with the burden of the constant danger of temptation and sin we are free to shape our lives through our deeds with the gifts of Odin, Honir, and Lodur as the tools to do it.
iVoluspo 18, Poetic Edda translated by Henry Adams Bellows
Friday, February 18, 2011
The political situation in Wisconsin has come to a head following the proposal of a budget bill by newly elected Republican Governor Scott Walker which would for all intents and purposes strip public employees with the exception of police, firefighters, and state troopers of the right to collectively bargain. Governor Walker has claimed this radical measure is necessary to avert a deficit crisis for the state of Wisconsin. The situation has rapidly escalated with Walker threatening to call out the National Guard shortly after introducing the bill. Demonstrations broke out almost immediately with Wisconsin State Senate Democrats leaving the state to prevent a vote on the bill. The conservative media has advanced in full force unconditionally supporting the Governor's union-busting measure claiming the state is on the edge of total chaos. Glenn Beck has taken to the airwaves claiming the city of Madison is rioting as has the Wall Street Journal's editorial page. Voices like Rush Limbaugh and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan have repeated this assertion of chaos in the street. Above all they have consistently advanced the argument that gutting the rights of workers is necessary to balance Wisconsin's budget.
All of these arguments and claims by the conservative movement are bald-faced lies.
This is not hyperbole or exaggeration. These claims of civil disorder in the streets and a deficit crisis are completely at odds with the facts. Contrary to the fear-mongering claims of Glenn Beck the demonstrators in Madison have remained orderly and peaceful. The Madison Police Department released a statement today saying they are proud of the way the protestors have conducted themselves. The only advisory from the Madison Police to the public is a notice to motorists of greater congestion in the vicinity of the Capitol. If you don't believe the police there are the photos submitted by people in Madison showing large, energetic, and perfectly peaceful crowds. Hardly what one could seriously call a riot.
The next falsehood being circulated is the claims of a deficit crisis. The line of reasoning goes that it is only possible to balance the budget by completely destroying the right of public workers to collectively bargain. It skips straight past negotiations, furloughs, and other austerity measures to one of the most extreme solutions possible. 44 states are currently facing serious budget problems and yet the only other state considering such a radical tactic is Ohio. With such an extraordinary measure being advanced and the National Guard being readied in case of strikes it sounds like the deficit in Wisconsin must be insurmountable. This again is wrong. The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued a report on January 31st asserting the bulk of the budget shortfall of $202 million was caused by a series bills supported by Governor Walker. Quite contrary to his claims of union benefits and salaries being the cause it was his own deficit spending that created the alleged crisis.
Governor Scott Walker has created a crisis and rapidly escalated it in a bid to crush the public employee unions of the state of Wisconsin. There wouldn't be a budget crisis of Walker genuinely practiced what he preached on the campaign trail. There are no facts supporting any of the claims of civil disorder or a deficit crisis. Walker's attempt to ramrod a rollback of the rights of workers by a century has nothing to do with fiscal conservatism and everything to do with political opportunism. His readying of the National Guard over budget negotiations is extraordinary overkill. If Governor Walker was genuinely interested in serving the people and balancing the state budget he should sit down with the state workers and negotiate not threaten them with an unnecessary and malicious attack on their most basic rights.
Also published at Pagans+Politics