When one of my facebook friends first mentioned the protests in Wisconsin, I thought she was making a joke. "Protests? in Wisconsin? in the Winter? Did they run out of cheese curds? Are they up in arms over their right to call a water fountain a bubbler?" Although I have not spent much time in Wisconsin (48 hours tops) I went to school in Minnesota. Surely the good people of Madison are happy go lucky mid-westerners like those I went to school with--what could they possibly have to protest about--especially when it's Fuck You degrees out?
Then I found out what was happening. Yup, that's worth standing out in the cold to protest about. Wear smartwool socks and a down parka. I'm not going to go on at length about this but although I realize that there are problems with unions*, I am pro-union. I wish there was one for white collar support staff (administrative assistants, receptionists, and yes, tech support personnel.) However I accept that there isn't one, and I'm not going to be the firebrand that tries to start one.
I have been distressed at watching unions concede privileges throughout the latest financial crisis, and further distressed by the narrative I see about unions and pensions at work in my job at a Wealth Management company and at school in my classes. "GM failed because they offered pensions." Um, no, GM failed because they didn't *account for their pensions properly.* Also, maybe because they made cars that no one wanted to buy.
But I'm straying from my point. There were protests in Egypt and there are protests in other middle eastern countries. Several nut bags in the mid-west of the US have taken it into their heads to try a spot of union bashing. And instead of rolling over and saying "thank you sir may I have another?" people are actually *objecting* vocally to what's going on.
That is what I find surprising. People are actually protesting instead of just rolling over. We Americans are soft (I count myself in this--I haven't made it to any solidarity protests nor am I likely to make it to any) or we have Other Things To Do (like getting an MBA or playing Wii).
I don't know if it will make any difference in the long run--all these protests. After all, we got up off of our couches in vast numbers in 2003 to protest the invasion of Iraq and that made no difference. We even re-elected W afterwords.
In addition to all that fun, Barack Obama has suddenly decided that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. And the Republicans in the House of Representatives are trying to shut down the federal government again. *Sigh*
All of this is going on while I do my Statistics homework, process Gain Loss reports for my employers, argue with my boss about software, call my nephew to wish him a happy birthday and have the occasional dinner with my friends. I feel bad for not participating, somehow. But my time taken up by other things, so I watch and hope for the best.
*Yes, people get corrupted by power and occasionally abscond with other people's money and some people are just plain lazy and only do the minimum amount of work required by the union. Lucky for me I work in financial services, where no one would ever think of doing that.