The current situation in Madison, Wisconsin, and several other states starkly points out the need for system change. This represents more than a partisan challenge. Some (not all) of these Republican governors seem to think that attacking the right of public employees to organize will be the solution to their current economic deficits, although that may only be a smokescreen to obscure the bigger problem. That deeper problem is the increasing flow of wealth to the top relative few in our society (only partly due to their not being taxed as much as they were for decades), the increasing dominance by big business of our political process (including co-opting the energy of the Tea Party movement), the impact of “business needs” on our foreign and domestic policies, and the degradation of our natural environment due in large part to an economic system pressing for ever-increasing consumption and endless growth, much of which has nothing to do with meeting basic human needs here and abroad.
I agree with those governors that starting to balance state (and Federal) budgets is essential – but it is also important to look at increasing revenue by taxing the wealthiest citizens at higher rates, as has been true in earlier decades in our country – instead of just reducing services and negotiating adjusted contracts with state employee unions (and private contractors). That seems to be a “third rail” in the Republican Party, which today seems blind to the concept of social and economic justice. It is good to recall that the first U.S. government effort to “rein in” the excesses of our economic system came from the administration of Republican President Teddy Roosevelt and, I believe, a largely Republican Congress.
The move towards major economic (and political) reform requires input from citizens and from BOTH political parties. Let BOTH parties move to a focus on national and global justice, instead of being locked into favoring certain interest groups.