Stuff Ballard Wrote

Category: Politics (Page 3 of 8)

GOP heroes, and why

Citizen-Times, 6/2014

Out of curiosity, I checked Google to see how historians are rating G.W. Bush’s presidency – and whatayaknow, there was a conservative website with “Top 10 Conservatives Presidents.” I couldn’t resist.

My primary interest was the list itself (in order): Washington, Reagan, Lincoln, Coolidge, Cleveland, Eisenhower, Jefferson, Monroe, Truman and (da-da!) G.W. Bush. Some ho-hums, some hoo-hahs.

But more fascinating were the reasons given for each one in the list. It’s a right-wing walk through history – and a vivid lesson in Republican values.

Cleveland was “pro-business” – which in 1884 and 1892 meant indulging and even collaborating with robber barons like J.P. Morgan. Clevelandism rules in Raleigh today. Republicans sweep a clear path for corporate profits while they cut Medicaid and schools. The people are told not to be “irresponsible.”   Cleveland was a union-buster, too.

Monroe is touted for vetoing improvements on the Cumberland Road because, he said, “Congress does not possess the power under the Constitution to pass such a law.” But then Eisenhower’s credentials include building the Interstate highway system.   This same loosy-goosy approach to the Constitution brands today’s GOP.

For example, the first principle of the Constitution is popular sovereignty – that is, the people rule, through their elected representatives. But Raleigh Republicans’ extreme gerrymandering of voting districts makes elections a farce and the people, spectators. Likewise their passing laws that inconvenience opposition voters.   They claim devotion to the Constitution, but by their actions they disdain it.

Eisenhower and Coolidge are cited for presiding over booming post-war economies. Coolidge was the modern Republican’s dreamboat. He repealed regulations and cut taxes on the rich. But then what happened? Crash! Hoover, now president, responded with more Coolidge, making loans to businesses. He was unwilling to help the public because he believed that would “injure the spiritual response of the American people.”   He faithfully did the conservative thing, so where is he in the list? Oh my, they forgot him.

Another reason for inclusion is toughness.   Truman dropped the bomb and stood up to Communism. Reagan broke up the USSR. Eisenhower was firm against Communism and built a super power. Today’s Republicans in Washington want intervention everywhere.

Lincoln, never anybody’s conservative, is praised for saving the Union – never mind, I suppose, that he didn’t pay much attention to the Constitution in doing it.   And Truman proposed universal healthcare and won reelection by bashing the “do-nothing” conservative Republican Congress.

I have no problem with religious conservatives or social conservatives. We all have our beliefs. And I’m mostly an economic conservative myself. But conservative Raleigh Republicans? Ah now, they’re a skunk of a different color. They’re self-serving frauds.

(Oh yes, George Bush. He cut taxes. No mention of resulting deficits.)

Democrats solve problems. Join us!

Daily Planet, 6/2014

An old friend wrote me an email reminding me that she was raised “an Evangelical, liberal-hating, NRA-supporting Republican.” Now, she said, she’s terminally disenchanted with Republicans but isn’t ready to become a Democrat. “I don’t want to be under the same roof with all those wacky liberals,” she said.   She changed her affiliation to Independent.

I won’t comment on her wacky liberals other than to say that indeed, there are liberals who scare me, too – but they don’t scare the beejabbers out of me like the no-government, gun-in-every-pocket wackies on the extreme right.

Instead I want to use this space to argue with my friend at a distance, and with the many others like her closer to home in WNC (190 have gone from GOP to Unaffiliated in my small county) – that they should go all the way over the fence and switch from Republican to Democrat.

Today, according to Gallup, 31% of Americans consider themselves Democrats; 25%, Republican; and 42% independent. If the independents are pressed as to how they lean and tend to vote, Democrats and Republicans each add 16%, totaling 47% ideologically Democrat and 41% ideologically Republican.

In 1988 the three groups were bunched at 36% Democrat, 34% independent and 32% Republican. The trend is definitely toward voter independence.

I only have room for one argument against Republicans’ switching to Unaffiliated rather than switching to Democrat. This is it:

Democrats solve problems.

Democrats were in power when all the great and positive changes in American life took place: women’s right to vote, Social Security, minimum wage, overtime pay, GI Bill, Medicare, Civil Rights Act, on and on. Democrats passed the Civil Service Act of 1883 to end the spoils system after Republicans had refused for 20 years.

I raise a question to those who would switch to Unaffiliated: Which of these actions taken by problem-solving Democratic would you do away with?

That’s precisely the difference between the parties. Democrats do.

John Kennedy said it well:

“Government is…a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.”

That’s the heart of Democratic thinking: first, observe points of pain for the people, then be willing to use government power to relieve the pain.

Republicans, on the other hand, find highest virtue in doing nothing. A leading GOP theoretician famously said he wanted government small enough to drown in a bathtub.

The Tea Party, now in power, takes the idea to anarchy. Raleigh Republicans downsized state government and then walked away, leaving counties, school districts – and the people – to pick up the pieces. They’ve created problems where good order existed before them.

Republicans believe that government should stay out of the way and let “the market” do what it will. Problem is, the market believes in bonuses for bosses and disposable working people – and for-profit schools.

That’s my appeal to the pre-Unaffiliated. Don’t go halfway and express yourself only on Election Day. Join the Democratic Party and work to elect Democratic candidates who will do their best to solve problems.

Don’t shrug at GOP disdain for Meidcaid recipients, the mentally ill and other areas of society that don’t turn a profit.

John Kennedy spoke of the Democratic approach as “not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.”

May it be so.

Money bought a stacked deck

Citizen-Times, 5/2014

The presidential election of 1896 and the N.C. legislative election of 2010: 114 years apart and remrkablyy similar.

Democrat William Jennings Bryan thundered against Robber Barons like Rockefeller and Carnegie, vowing to break up their empires.

Republican William McKinley was managed by Mark Hanna, who had one political belief: money wins.   His fundraising was easy. The Robber Barons were terrified of Bryan.   Rockefeller, Carnegie and J.P. Morgan contributed the modern equivalent of $20 million each. They gave McKinley a 23-to-1 money advantage. Then as president, McKinley delivered for them, and their profits soared.

Early in 2010, as The New Yorker magazine reported, former Bush chief-of-staff Ed Gillespie flew from Washington to Raleigh to meet with multimillionaire GOP super-activist Art Pope. He pitched a plan to take over the N.C. General Assembly.   With redistricting coming up in 2011, GOP computers could change N.C.’s Congressional delegation from 7-6 Democrat to 10-3 Republican. And legislative districts could be drawn to give permanent Republican control.

Gillespie’s key component was money. Relatively little was spent in off-year legislative races in N.C., so big dumps of cash in key races could bring a GOP majority.   The U.S. Supreme Court had just decided Citizens United vs. FEC, so big money could flow.

Pope jumped into the flow. He set up and mostly funded two organizations: Real Jobs NC and Civitas Action. They plastered N.C. with half-truth and no-truth mailbox cards against Democratic incumbents.

The New Yorker article details how in Senate District 50, in far-west N.C., two dozen mailers plastered John Snow.   Nearly a million dollars was spent against Snow in a district where both candidates wouldn’t normally spend $250,000.   They beat Snow.

As we all know, Republicans took the General Assembly in 2010 and redistricted as Gillespie wanted.

In 2012, Pope encored 2010. To view his mailers, visit

Democrats knew Pope’s barrage was coming in 2012 but lacked resources and state party leadership (they still do) and could do nothing about it.

Since then, the Supreme Court has further struck down limitations on campaign contributions.

So, here we are. Money is practically unlimited. Redistricting is blatantly stacked. Republicans are expert axmen.

As the philosopher says, “It is what it is.”

Now, what do we do about it?

Remember how Redcoats grumbled when Patriots fired from behind trees? Well, Democrats have been Redcoats long enough. Blunt-force tactics work. People say, “I hear terrible things about Kay Hagan” – untrue terrible things in TV ads.

I don’t say match lies with lies. Tell the awful truth about Raleigh Republicans – but tell it like Civitas Action would.

Money to do it? Gotta get it – race-by-race, county-by-county, precinct-by-precinct, dollar-by-dollar. The future’s at stake.

Courage & First Alabama

Citizen-Times, 2/2014

I was Internetting my way through Sherman’s March to the Sea, to see how close the March came to my ancestors, when one sentence stopped my eyes in their sockets. Sherman’s personal escort across Georgia was the First Alabama Cavalry, a Union regiment.

What? White Alabamians protecting Sherman? Who were these guys?

A recruitment flyer (from the Internet) tells their story:   “Loyal Southerners, Come to Your Country’s Call!   To put down Treason and Rebellion and hand down to our Children, unimpaired, the Rich Legacy of the Glorious Union achieved and sealed with the blood of our forefathers.”

These guys saw through the scam of the Confederacy.   “Planters and so-called gentlemen” had pushed through secession and were successfully whipping up war fever.   First Alabama men went against the anti-Union enthusiasm all around them. They knew they would suffer retribution, during and after the war, but they went to secret recruitment sites in 13 counties to ride under the “Old Flag.”   They were men of discernment and courage.

When I read this, I said out loud, “That’s what we need this year in N.C.”

The Confederacy was an experiment with no hope of long-term success. It existed entirely for the benefit of the wealthy. States’ rights hamstrung Jefferson Davis. (Georgia threatened to secede from the Confederacy.) Poor whites, who fought their war, would be infinitely worse off in this piecemeal plutocracy. The Confederacy was a suicidal theory, and First Alabama guys knew it.

Republican experiments in N.C. today are likewise suicidal. Their theory of small government, not proven anywhere, benefits the wealthy and big business, short-changing everybody else. Our schools, healthcare and environment will likely be devastated beyond remedy if their experiment continues.

In the election of 2014, N.C. needs people of discernment and courage to save our future. Republicans have rigged the election system, though extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression laws, so they’re guaranteed reelection – barring a massive backlash.

And that backlash must necessarily include people who have voted Republican in the past.

These people may be in a church community where everybody assumes that because Republicans oppose abortion and homosexuality, they can be trusted to make decisions fair to all. But can they? For example, there’s no election fraud that calls for voter IDs. There’s no Democratic plot to outlaw gun ownership.   New tax laws shift burdens away from the rich. We can afford Medicaid expansion.

It will take thousands of courageous people to ignore what everybody around them is saying and examine facts for themselves – like how a for-profit company that will privatize our schools gave big to key Republican campaigns.

Let’s hand down to our children the rich N.C. legacy of equal benefit for all, rich and poor.

Misinformation: easier than truth

Daily Planet, 2/2014

I don’t read Daily Planet’s “Candid Conservative” for self-improvement. The world he wants is not mine. When I read the column, it’s to try and put some kind of meaning into what the Republicans are doing to us in Raleigh.

The C.C.’s a fine source because he’s on the board of directors of the John Locke Foundation, a think-tank funded by Art Pope.   Who is Art Pope? He’s the super-wonk of conservative right-wing theory in North Carolina, our governor’s brain. The C.C. drinks deep at the fountain of what’s happening.

Most C.C. columns are predictable reruns of last season’s shows. Occasionally there’s new light on Republican Raleigh, like in the most recent offering.   The subject was gun control, but C.C. strayed off into places I think he’d have corrected if he’d indulged in editing.

Where is that? Into the loonies.

Here’s one quote: “Behind the guise of public safety, the mission of removing guns from private ownership is a defined platform of socialistic power brokers who apparently fear a well armed [sic] citizenry.”

(A “power broker” of course is someone who influences others, not someone who holds power himself. But let’s give him slack on that. He’d have caught the flub if he’d edited.)

In broad overview, the quote tells us what we already know about GOP election strategy: they misinform voters who don’t make the effort to educate themselves.

Here the misinformation is about “removing guns from private ownership.” Elsewhere in the column he uses “disarm the populace” and “disarming America.” We can understand why. There’s a lot more punch in “disarming America” than in “regulating gun ownership,” the actual Democratic policy proposal.

Saying that “removing guns from private ownership” is a “defined platform” is a lie, and they know it’s a lie. If you read the Democratic Party platform on guns, you’ll find statements like, “Rights to own firearms are subject to reasonable regulation.” Regulation, not disarming. Check it out:

I believe this kind of twisted propaganda is intentional. It’s the same kind of political cynicism we get in our mailboxes just before every election.

By contrast, the “socialistic power brokers” part is something different. It’s insanity – somewhere between paranoia and fantasy prone personality (FPP).

Assuming C.C. intends “socialist” as equivalent to “liberal” – food stamps, universal healthcare, etc. – think about it, folks.   Liberals have led every campaign through history to EXPAND rights of the people: women’s voting rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, on and on. Liberals don’t take advantage of weakness; they want the people ever more empowered.

The world’s strongest democracies are countries far more liberal than America: Scandinavian countries, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands.

And when it comes to suppression of the people’s rights, which group is famous for that, left or right? We got our voter suppression laws in North Carolina from extreme-right Republicans. It’s the right, not the left, who use tricks to hold power. Liberals work to maximize democracy.

So “disarming America” is intended to deceive gullible voters. It’s part of the GOP election strategy of Boobeyman Liberal. It’s an old-time GOP strategy, one that even otherwise devout Christian Republicans embrace because ends justify means.

“Socialist power broker” on the other hand, is more symptom than strategy. It says Republicans are irrational. They see liberals everywhere. Their mission as a party is to counter, to reverse liberalism. Public schools and universities are seen as liberal, so they must be cut down to size, privatized, reoriented into conservative philosophy.   They see liberals sneaking about everywhere, as in gun control, seeking advantage, grabbing more power. Again, this ain’t liberalism, in theory, practice or history.

(It’s possible the C.C. is using “socialist” more like Rush Limbaugh’s technical definition: “governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” If so, the C.C. is even farther out. This is totalitarianism – coincidentally the topic of my next column, North Carolina totalitarianism.)


Marcos & NC GOP

Daily Planet, 3/2014  (shorter version in Citizen-Times, 10/2013)

In September, 1972, I was a luncheon guest (with others) of President and Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos at Malacañang Palace in Manila. Coincidentally, that same week, Marcos declared martial law.

The power grab was perfectly orchestrated.   The main national newspaper was closed, and a government paper appeared in days. Marcos’ harshest critics were imprisoned. Marcos declared a “New Society” – a flood of “reforms” that changed Philippine life. Congress was replaced by a parliament. Many businesses of old Spanish and Chinese families were privatized. Marcos had efficiently established a totalitarian regime.

Hold it! Why does this sound so familiar – like déjà vu backwards?

Of course! It’s like the Republican regime in Raleigh!

Republicans can’t declare martial law or shut down newspapers, but that’s just a detail. There’s more than one way to skin the cat named Tyranny.

Tyranny in Raleigh? Exactly. Here’s what the Declaration of Independence says about tyranny: “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

The key word is “usurpations.” Dictionaries generally define “usurpation” as “wrongful seizure or exercise of authority” or “wrongfully seizing and holding an office or powers.”

Some definitions use “illegal” in their definitions, but that can hardly be Jefferson’s intent. After all, he’s writing about the king. Whatever he wanted to do in his colonies was legal.

The usurpations Jefferson had in mind were acts against a higher law than the king. The king was guilty when his legal actions violated the God-given rights of the American people.

Over the past three years, the Republican General Assembly has taken actions, legal actions, that have precisely paralleled those of King George and Ferdinand Marcos.

King George, Jefferson says in the Declaration, retained absolute control by squelching opposition. Specifically, he prevented state legislatures from doing anything that opposed “his invasion of the rights of the people.”

Marcos changed the Philippine form of government to ensure a friendly legislative branch. He weakened all opposition to his regime.

Republicans in Raleigh have abused power to guarantee they won’t lose power. The new GOP voting law, that the League of Women Voters calls “NC’s voter suppression law,” puts severe restrictions on Democratic constituencies – seniors, minorities, young people.

But the big power move was in redistricting.   Majority parties have slanted electoral districts in their favor ever since our nation began, but redistricting in North Carolina has always been reasonable.

For example, Democrats held majorities in the General Assembly in 2000. They configured congressional districts so that our 13 members of Congress were seven Democratic and six Republican. More than fair.

When the GOP gained control in 2010, they hired Tom Hovelled at the Republican National Committee to draw their redistricting maps. His computer worked in Washington, without input from North Carolina.

The resulting gerrymander was stunning. In 2012, Democrats got 2.2 million votes to 2.14 for Republicans statewide, but Republicans held the state House 77 seats to 43 for Democrats and the state Senate, 32-18.

This is tyranny.

I predict that for all their talk over decades about wanting nonpartisan redistricting, Republicans will make no effort to pass the bipartisan bill titled, “Nonpartisan Redistricting Process.”  Why give away the gravy train?

I also predict that if Republicans hold the General Assembly in November, they’ll move to rewrite the state constitution to make permanent the changes they’ve made on social issues, schools, state economy, the election process.

One thing to remember about tyranny: a taste of unchecked power makes the tyrant hungry for more


Libertarianism can’t govern

Daily Planet, 10/2013

My son mentioned in a 20o8 phone call that he was “impressed with Ron Paul.” I was stunned – too stunned to ask why, what or how much. You see, this son is a lot smarter than I am – and more liberal.

Until then, Ron Paul had been a caricature:   the 10’x8’ banner on the house down the road, the straw poll winner at a nutcake convention, someone one notch less bizarre than the John Birch Society.

(Why am I thinking of that old episode now?   Because the nutcakes have taken over the bakery down in Raleigh, that’s why.)

Anyway, after my son’s comment, I started giving Paul more attention and more respect. I found him easy to understand. Most politicians dip and dodge; Paul says, Here I am.”

I found his ideas of “freedom” – a standard part of libertarian philosophy – really somewhat appealing. Everyone should be free to live as he or she chooses.   That lines up well with liberal beliefs that led to such as the civil rights movement. Suppression of individual rights is a basic wrong of history.

But that’s not what Paul and the libertarians mean by “freedom.” They use the word as a verbal tool in their anti-tax campaign. They envision a land where government involves itself in the lives of its citizens only when absolutely necessary (they mention prohibiting rape, murder, robbery, fraud). If government doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t need money, so it taxes less, and people with money get to keep theirs. Everybody takes care of himself in this world. This is their idea of individual freedom.

It’s a deceptive philosophy. It’s a selfish, prideful world.. At its core, it’s contrary to the teachings of all religions, including those of Jesus.

It’s also a primitive philosophy. This model of government was the norm for centuries.   Rulers owned their subjects. An occasional ruler, like Isabella I of Spain, set up departments of government to care for the needy, but these rulers were the oddity.

In 2008 I would have said that libertarianism could not possibly govern anything in the modern era – nation, state, even a small county like mine. In the past, yes. Calvin Coolidge governed by libertarian philosophies. (Prior to H.L. Mencken, a contemporary of Coolidge’s, “libertarian” was synonymous with “anarchist.”) Debt was an abomination to Coolidge. He vetoed spending bill after spending bill, even flood relief and veterans’ pensions.   Herbert Hoover continued his policy of non-intervention, and he gets the blame for the Great Depression.

Then in 2010, the Tea Party swept in libertarians, in Washington and in Raleigh. Now my “can’t govern” opinion is being tested.

Well, whatta ya know, we’re watching the U.S. House of Representatives, gummed by Tea Partiers, happy to block everything that comes their way. Their leader says yeah, they’re not passing new legislation, but they hope to repeal some.

And Raleigh? They’re not Coolidge-ite libertarians really. Sure, they’re doing some tax-cutting, but these Tea Party folks are activists. They’re intervening all over the place.

I stand by my view that libertarianism can’t govern in the 21st century. What’s going on in Raleigh ain’t governing.

(Footnote: I hadn’t talked to my son about Ron Paul since he made his comment in 2008. I called him while I was writing this. He said, “Ron Paul had some good, rational ideas about a lot of things. But he got wacky when he talked about money.”)

The Stream & NC gov’t

Daily Planet,8/2013

Hasslebrook probably thinks too much. Maybe he thinks because he doesn’t talk much. Or maybe he doesn’t talk much because he’s thinking.

Not that he comes up with solutions. Mostly he wonders. He wonders if there really are people like the ones in TV commercials. In church, he will sometimes miss the sermon because he’s pondering something new in the Scripture lesson.

His mind often makes comparisons. Looking over his flower garden recently, he saw a similarity between intrusive plants and aggressive drivers. He wondered if some humans and plants might share a twisted gene for bullying and competition. He didn’t wonder enough to do research. He just found the similarity remarkable.

So when the flash flood came last month and disabled his bridge, he had much food for thought.

The big rain came at night. By midnight Hasslebrook’s happy little stream was a mud-red juggernaut, carrying along tree trunks seemingly too big to have fit under bridges upstream.   High-water lines on trees showed the creek rose 15 feet. It topped his bridge.

Now Hasslebrook stands on the bank of a peaceful stream – 12-foot wide again, ankle deep, crystal-clear. The great destroyer of last week is puttering its way over the solid rock creek bed, whispering hello to the bridge as it passes underneath, as it always did, seeming not to notice that its fierce alter-ego had smashed the bridge out of commission.

As Hasslebrook ponders this transformation of his creek, he feels…what? The popular word today is “surreal.” And it fits.   The scene is unreal, unbelievable.   He looks up at the bridge towering overhead and tries to recreate in his mind his creek reaching that height and higher.

Then as so often happens, a clear comparison came to his mind:   the Republican Revolution now underway in Raleigh.

Republicans came out of nowhere and swept away Democratic legislators long-secure in their districts. And once in control, the flood of their legislation was determined and inescapable.

Hasslebrook admires their efficiency of action, but he doesn’t agree with the substance of it. Just two days before the big rain, a friend had sent him a link to a New York Times editorial, “The Decline of North Carolina,” that listed some of the Republicans’ actions that we here know so well. “Decline,” Hasslebrook thought, “Yes, my proud state is in decline.”

But the now- quiet stream gives him pause. It doesn’t fit in the comparison to the Republican Revolution.   Raleigh is a swirling turbulence today, not a dancing brook. The stream obviously speaks of rest.

Maybe this is about the future, he thought. But when in the future?

If it’s near future, say 10 years, then the Republican Revolution worked! Their predictions of “freedom” came true. Crushing labor unions and slashing environmental regulations did bring in business, and jobs are abundant. The disabled bridge is an institution the GOP pushed aside – maybe the public school system.   It’s still standing, but now it’s more bygone than busy.

If the future is farther out, Hasslebrook thought, then the peaceful stream is N.C. after Democrats have regained power and sorted out the GOP years. The debris of GOP failure litters our lives in N.C., but the stream of state is calm once more.

As Hasslebrook turns to leave the creek, the phrase “Bridge of Sighs” pops into his wondering mind. He muses that it’s appropriate both literally (of his destroyed bridge) and figuratively (of the institutions destroyed by the Republican flood).

“No matter,” he says out loud. “Time will tell.”


Business controls

Citizen-Times, 6/2013

For people trying to understand why Republicans are doing what they’re doing in Raleigh, it all starts in the 19th century.

Professional baseball was a thoroughly American game at its beginning in the 1870s. Players jumped year by year to whatever team would pay them the most. Classic free-market capitalism. But teams were owned by rich businessmen, and these men wanted baseball to be like their businesses: they wanted full control. In 1889 team owners met secretly and agreed that while players only got annual seven-month contracts, players were bound to their teams for life.   When a players’ union formed, the owners broke it. (Google “brotherhood war baseball”)

The key word here is “control.” Business owners are sometimes called “job creators,” but once they’ve created the jobs, then they become Creators and want full control over their creations.

Two years after baseball’s Brotherhood War, Andrew Carnegie’s CEO brought in hundreds of heavily-armed thugs to break a strike at his Homestead steel mill. They failed, but the subsequent lockout succeeded. Pennsylvania’s governor only cared about Carnegie’s property, so he sent in the state militia to reopen the mill.

Government support for companies in labor disputes was the norm until Franklin Roosevelt’s National Labor Relations Act of 1935. In the 1934 Horse Creek Valley textile strike, for example, the governor of South Carolina sent in the National Guard with machine guns on the side of mill owners.

So we come to what Raleigh Republicans are doing.   Broadly speaking, they’re taking N.C. back to a time before Franklin Roosevelt. The GOP has never accepted FDR’s “socialism” as legitimate, from Social Security to union rights to minimum wage. They want to bring back a time when businesses had full control and governments backed them solidly.

In 2011-12, led by our own Ralph Hise, they moved against public school teacher organizations with Senate Bill 727. Then in January this year, the newly elected state House of Representatives passed in first reading House Bill 6 ─ a constitutional amendment that restricts worker organizations forever. If passed, it will be on the 2014 ballot.

Not only is our state government siding with business against workers, like the old days; they’re actively crippling worker organizations. Gov. McCrory’s inner circle includes the owner of a large retail chain that gives employees low wages, uncertain hours and no benefits.

Carnegie was enlightened at first. His workers actually considered themselves co-owners of the mill. This, I believe, is what capitalism would be like in the Kingdom of God ─ business and labor working profitably together, neither seeking excessive gain. But Carnegie demanded more hours for less pay, and the workers felt betrayed.   Carnegie won ─ but then business will always win without government support.


Allegory of NC politics

Citizen-Times, 5/2013

Nobody could remember when squirrels didn’t control the Neighborhood Assembly. They were the majority and were supported by most other animals, raccoons and possums especially.

But not the mice. Mice squeaked that squirrels were dictatorial, that they didn’t give mice a voice in neighborhood government. Squirrels chattered in laughter, mocking how a mouse would sound calling the Assembly to order. Mice wanted representative boundaries set by nonpartisan committee. Squirrels called them pipsqueaks and “nibblers” and mostly ignored them.

Mice were different from others. Mice were political animals. Squirrel policies in Encee ─ that was the name of their neighborhood ─ were praised in other neighborhoods as “progressive.” But mice hated squirrel policies; they called them “bushy-tailed.” Whenever mice gathered, they denounced the biased bushy-tailed media and squirrel “giveaways” that kept minorities loyal to them.

Mice were obsessed with their own “wire-tail” political theory. And some, called Pack Rats, were very wealthy. This combination, political obsession and money, would turn Encee upside down.

Mice were happy when others underestimated them.   They smiled when their ideas were called “Mickey Mouse.” Mice dreamed of power. And they had plans, secret plans. They quietly broadened their base of support. One group of mice, the Church Mice, hadn’t wanted any part of dirty politics.   The political mice brought them in by promising to pass laws forbidding things Church Mice didn’t like. It worked. They had study groups on how to turn wire-tailed theory into legislation.

The mice made their move in an off-year election when most animals wouldn’t vote. They were quiet (“Like a mouse” was their code) until the last month.   Then they sprang. Yes, the mice sprang. They used Pack Rat wealth to destroy non-mouse candidates. (Their attacks were too nasty to describe here.)   On election night, the unimaginable happened. Mice now controlled the Assembly.

You can just imagine how excited the mice were!   They had planned all those years.   Now they could make wire-tailed theory the law of the neighborhood. They paid back Church Mice by passing a constitutional amendment they wanted.   They paid back Pack Rats by restricting organized workers. In their first budget, they cut money for “bushy-tailed schools” and approved more schools that could be easily controlled, that would teach wire-tailed theory.

Mice surprised everyone by acting so quickly.   Their “BB brains” (a squirrel epithet) had legislation ready for consolidating power. Mice now had no interest in nonpartisan Assembly boundaries.   They devised a scheme that guaranteed their own reelection. And they passed laws that would reduce voting numbers for squirrels.

Mice now scurried about looking for other bushy-tailed policies they could reverse. And yes! Squirrels had probably named the neighborhood. Encee had to go!

So they renamed the neighborhood…Shambles.

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