Sometimes I find I have to hold my nose and just accept I occasionally like things I shouldn’t. A recent speech by Michael Moore on the topic of Wisconsin is most certainly a good example. Here’s a link to help you find it
First some background. I do not like Michael Moore very much … but I used to. Back in the days of Roger and me, before he was loaded and before he learned the trick of making data say what you want, as opposed to what it actually means, I used to think of him as a good second opinion, and I imagine I wasn’t alone. I knew a lot of people who held his opinion as fact, without any effort to check even the most outrageous of his statements. But then I started to notice a bad habit of his. My wife describes it quite plainly as “he lies about stuff he doesn’t have to.” That’s it in a nutshell. He needlessly stretches the truth, even when the truth has all the legs it needs to stand on it’s own. It has left me feeling that his opinions are now suspect at best, and at worst they become simply profit motivated attempts to pander to us little people.
On the 5th of March Michael Moore gave an impassioned speech to the pro-union protesters of Madison, Wisconsin. I read the speech, and I agree with pretty much everything in it. The problem is I can’t decide if he is sincere about the emotions and the goals he is discussing, or if he is simply playing his part as the outraged blue collar booster … the part he must play every day to keep his title as the CEO of Michael Moore Inc. I read the speech again, and even looking through the fact it was meant to be delivered as a rousing oration to a group of tired protesters, I couldn’t help but feel it rang hollow. It made me think of that joke about Michael Moore being a rich white guy who made his money telling us nobodies how rich white guys are ripping us off.
The facts he is stating are pretty much bang on, and the need for action is truer now than at any time since the second world war, but somehow I felt like he was trying to wear a shirt that was just a bit too long in the sleeve.
So what do I do? Isn’t it obvious? I accept that even if he isn’t 100% sincere, he is in fact on the ground in Wisconsin, his presence and his public support are most probably helping, so those should be good enough for me. Bluntly put, I’m not there while he is, and yet I would be quite pissed at anyone telling me I wasn’t supporting the people in Wisconsin. So I will send a warm thank you to Michael Moore. Thank you for helping, and thank you for using your public profile to make this fight seem that much easier to win. That’s going to be important really, really soon.
That said, I wouldn’t be myself without some sort of opinion as to what the final outcome is likely to be, so here it is.
For the unions of America, and to a lesser extent the unions of Canada, this current crisis is their Kent State. Before this is over there will almost certainly be violence, deaths are likely, and the direction of the working class will be decided by it’s outcome for the next few decades at least. Even assuming none of that doom and gloom prognostication comes to pass, the events in Wisconsin to date have changed the face of unionism for the foreseeable future, and there isn’t likely to be any going back. Any union leader in North America who imagines they can coast through their term without being fully prepared to do jail time to stand up for the needs of his or her members is deluding themselves dangerously. They are facing an opponent who will no longer be happy with negotiations. Now they want obeisance and full capitulations. Nothing less will do. The scary part is, they are probably going to get it.
The powers that be are more than entrenched, they are massively emboldened by decades of near absolute power. They own the banks. They own the media. They own the government. They own the courts. They are right now trying to find a way to force this through, not really having any clue that by doing so they are all but lighting the fuse. Realistically they have every right to think they can do it, as they have all but drained the economy at will for their own benefit over these last few decades, and frankly they have done it all but unopposed. Who is going to stop them is probably the first thought that crosses their minds when asked about this whole Wisconsin affair. Considering the heist they collectively pulled with the 2008 “crash” can you really blame them for thinking these protesters are simply going to fade away? Will it really be all that surprising when they tire of the constant nagging from the unwashed masses and demand that their governor does something concrete and forceful to end the rabble rousing?
In the end I think they are going to pass the law. I think they will face heavy protests and even general strikes for doing so. I think people on both sides of the issue will get hurt and I think in a few months things will settle down, with the only change being that in Wisconsin you get what they give, and nothing more. Other states will pass similar laws in time, and even Canada will join in. It sounds sad and defeatist, but I will be surprised if it goes any other way.
I really hope I am wrong. I want the fight to be with me today, not with my kids in twenty years.