Home > Uncategorized > “Contagion” in Greece – “Courage” in Trenton

“Contagion” in Greece – “Courage” in Trenton

[Update: 6/27/11 – Bob Braun of Star Ledger echoes my views, a nice counter to Moran: N.J. public workers aren’t the enemy – or the solution – in budget battle]

Greece, cradle of the western intellectual and democratic tradition, is afflicted with a “contagion“, the media tell us.

The disease?

Too much of that messy democracy thing:

The protests that roiled Athens on Wednesday underscore the challenge the government faces as it tries to reduce its budget deficit with harsh spending cuts to reassure investors, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Fresh fears that these measures could trigger a political upheaval are seen complicating efforts to find a fix for the country.

That’ the Wall Street Journal view – but it’s no suprise that they see the world ideologically through the oligarch’s eyes. Investors simply must be protected from the non-productive parasitic hordes and democracy must always yield to capitalist market power and values. 

But that same austere view is now shared by so called “liberal” Tom Moran, columnist for the “liberal” Newark Star Ledger?

In a cynical dismissal of democratic protest, Moran wrote today that the Christie-Sweeney deal took “courage” and illustrated that our political system was “working”:

Mark this as the day that the spell was broken, the day that the public worker unions finally lost their stranglehold on the Legislature, the day that Democrats ginned up the courage to confront the most important special interest group in their coalition. …

Of course, this is not all about clueless unions. Believe it or not, this is also a story about effective politics.

That’s right. New Jersey politics worked Thursday because the leadership on all sides showed courage. Strange as it may seem to say this, the state was well served by its politicians.

Earth to Moran – your views are upside down:

1) political courage is taking on those with power and money, and fighting against a false dominant narrative: “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” .

Cops, teachers, firemen, nurses, social workers, librarians, health care workers, and environmental regulators are not “special interests” and they did not cause the economic recession or the fiscal crisis. 

They are being scapegoated in a craven political defense of the Wall Street oligarchs and financial fraudsters, many of whom live in New Jersey and support Christie.

It is no accident that our political discourse and media coverage are saturated with these issues – this narrative was constructed by right wing corporate funded campaigns. The Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, and Teabagger groups are now running campaigns in NJ that echo Republic Governor’s Association talking points. That’s no accident.

An exercise of real journalistic courage and intergity would expose all that. Instead, we get echoes of right wing ideologues from the likes of liberal Tom Moran and the Star Ledger (“… and now, a word from our sponsors“).

While the middle class is under attack, the gap between the rich and poor widens, thousands are evicted from their homes, unemployment is at record levels, pensions are lost, opportunity and social mobility squashed, and home is equity stolen, wealthy corporations pay little or no taxes.

Taking on those issues takes political and journalistic courage. But they are ignored because our political system is totally broken.    

2)  Political deals must be participatory, transparent, and rooted in democratic consent to be legitimate.

The Christie – Sweenie deal will affect hundreds of thousands of current and former public sector workers.

It abolishes collective bargaining rights. 

It was negotiated in secret, announced as a fait accompli from on high, and is being rammed through the legislature in less than a week.

Meanwhile, thousands of people in the street protesting the deal are ignored and dismissed as playing some kind of game.

This is not what democracy, politics, and journalism are supposed to look like.


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