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In Support of Wisconsin's Public Unions and a Milwaukee Farmer
Supporting Democracy in Madison and Milwaukee

Though the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board still can't quite grasp how doing away with state employee union collective bargaining is essentially busting public unions, the Board is at least willing to say that the state unions should not be busted:

"But no matter how deep the budget hole, Walker and his Republican allies in the Legislature were wrong to try to bust public-employee unions. Workers have a fundamental right to organize, even when it's inconvenient for the rest of us."

Yes, but what good is the "right to organize" if the right to bargain is removed? The democratic power lies in the right to bargain.

To claim, as some conservatives do, that public-sector unions serve no legitimate function since they are bargaining with government is an odd position for those politically inclined to be suspicious of government.

Are all elected officials incorruptible? Is it not possible to elect an anti-tax tyrant who in the interest of furthering his or her public or hopefully lucrative private career might not try, once safely elected, to curry favor by slashing the pay and benefits and /or the jobs of teachers, firefighters, secretaries, policemen, janitors, nurses, etc. ? Or maybe just teachers, nurses, secretaries and janitors?

Government leaders cannot threaten to move jobs elsewhere in order to lower wages and benefits. All government leaders can do (besides "privatize" services as much as possible) is to issue edicts and pass laws. But what's legal is not necessarily just or moral, as American history has repeatedly shown.

Do some public servants take advantage of their power and serve themselves? Sure. Is this a just reason to do away with collective bargaining rights for all of the other honest and modestly-paid state public servants? No.

State public unions serve us all by being a defense against crony capitalism and the weakening of public services.

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Meanwhile, here in Milwaukee, Will Allen of Growing Power is asking for public funds to help his nonprofit organization grow more urban farms (including a "vertical garden" on the northwest side) that will both provide fresh, healthy food and 150 desperately-needed green jobs.

Milwaukee's African-American Male Unemployment Task Force has approved a request for $425,000.  Here is a use of tax dollars for a private purpose we should all support, as it is a local investment in the physical, aesthetic and economic health of the community.

Unlike the "high-growth" and "high-tech" start-ups Gov. Walker and others are now trumpeting and seeking money for who may have no strong ties to the community and are likely to end up making (if they make anything) the suburbs wealthier and the state poorer, Growing Power deserves our wholehearted moral and monetary blessings. The Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, I'm happy to say, is in full agreement, at least on supporting Growing Power.

Farmers of small farms, rural or urban, are the last line of defense against "futurists", factory farms and starvation. Growth in the number, not the size, of small farms, is a democratic growth the public ought to support.

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