Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Lakoff’s analysis of Wisconsin

Here is the post-mortem for Wisconsin from George Lakoff (one of the inspirations for this blog) and his colleague, Elisabeth Wehling. As always, values trump issues or policies. The post can be found here.

The Wisconsin recall vote should be put in a larger context. What happened in Wisconsin started well before Scott Walker became governor and will continue as long as progressives let it continue. The general issues transcend unions, teachers, pensions, deficits, and even wealthy conservatives and Citizens United.

Where progressives argued policy — the right to collective bargaining and the importance of public education — conservatives argued morality from their perspective, and many working people who shared their moral views voted with them and against their own interests. Why? Because morality is central to identity, and hence trumps policy.

Progressive morality fits a nurturant family: parents are equal, the values are empathy, responsibility for oneself and others, and cooperation. That is taught to children. Parents protect and empower their children, and listen to them. Authority comes through an ethic of excellence and living by what you say, rather than by enforcing rules.

Correspondingly in politics, democracy begins with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly both for oneself and others. The mechanism by which this is achieved is The Public, through which the government provides resources that make private life and private enterprise possible: roads, bridges and sewers, public education, a justice system, clean water and air, pure food, systems for information, energy and transportation, and protection both for and from the corporate world. No one makes it on his or her own. Private life and private enterprise are not possible without The Public. Freedom does not exist without The Public.

Conservative morality fits the family of the strict father, who is the ultimate authority, defines right and wrong, and rules through punishment. Self-discipline to follow rules and avoid punishment makes one moral, which makes it a matter of individual responsibility alone. You are responsible for yourself and not anyone else, and no one else is responsible for you.

In conservative politics, democracy is seen as providing the maximal liberty to seek one’s self-interest without being responsible for the interests of others. The best people are those who are disciplined enough to be successful. Lack of success implies lack of discipline and character, which means you deserve your poverty. From this perspective, The Public is immoral, taking away incentives for greater discipline and personal success, and even standing in the way of maximizing private success. The truth that The Private depends upon The Public is hidden from this perspective. The Public is to be minimized or eliminated. To conservatives, it’s a moral issue. Continue reading

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A Step Closer to China (in Lead Laced Shoes)

Lead-tainted Kid’s Shoes – Huffington Post

Over 85% of the toys coming into this country for sale are from China, according to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. More reports today come in about a shipment of children’s shoes from China that contain lead.  Anything with dye or paint in it (ahem, that’s about everything), may contain lead. (Here‘s a reminder why lead is so poisonous, especially to children). You see, China has no rules against including poison in their products. They have no OSHA, they have no unions.

Why should that matter to the US? We are buying and consuming Chinese goods at a breakneck speed, by doing that we are exposing ourselves to whatever residual nastiness may have resulted in the creation of that product – like lead. At the same time, we are supporting and encouraging those businesses and factories that underpay and exploit workers. Foxconn, a factory recently exposed due to it’s involvement with Apple products, was paying many workers less than $17 per day and they were working for 6 days a week without proper overtime. Now that they have been exposed by whisteblowers, they will be raising monthly pay to $400.

Anti union voters of Wisconsin and those that oppose collective bargaining rights must think the Chinese are doing something right. They are hoping to bring this style of exploitative labor to the U.S. Continue reading

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