Monday, February 28, 2011

'US oligarchy attacks middle class'

Protesters cheer during a rally in support of Wisconsin workers

Source: Press TV

The American middle class is being attacked by an oligarchy, who wants to control economy, as Wisconsin protests the plan to constrain public sector unions, a US expert says.

The demonstration against the controversial move to curb power of labor unions and lay off thousands of public servants in the US state of Wisconsin has been driven by the middle classes who say they are witnessing a dramatic decline in unions and are outraged by an attack on public sectors, Jennifer Loewenstein, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Press TV on Sunday.

On Saturday, about 100,000 people converged in the Wisconsin State Capitol to show their anger at the Republican governors' decision to strip public sector unions of most collective bargaining rights in areas of healthcare coverage, pensions and other benefits.

The demonstration, which was one of the biggest rallies since the Vietnam War, has taken place on the character of revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt whose autocratic leaders had control of vast areas of the economy in their countries.

When asked about the fact that five percent of the US population control 85 percent of the productive wealth, Loewenstein stated that "It's unbelievable, in fact, how much the middle class… is being attacked by an oligarchy, basically, of people who want to control the nations' economy."

"In Madison, this [problem] came out in the form of a so-called reform bill by our state governor… and this is now the last straw. This is an attack on public sector workers and public labor unions…this is time for a democratic revival in the United States," said Loewenstein, who is also the Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Elsewhere in her remarks, she turned the spotlight on the overhanging issue of the budget deficit of $137 million and a projected $3.6 billion gap over the next two years in Wisconsin, which have often times been referred to as the primary cause of the curb in power of public sector unions.

"The state does not have to cut the collective bargaining rights of the middle class or the lower class in order to repair its budget, what it needs to do is to start taxing corporations, taxing the rich, raising taxes on people who have billions of dollars, and, in addition, we should have long ago realized that the trillions of dollars going towards our overseas military adventures are going to have a profound effect on the US economy," she noted.

"Why don't we cut our defense spending, which is not defensive spending in any case, because we are not fighting defensive wars, we are fighting offensive wars, and ruing, destroying countries overseas with state of the art weaponry, which also has an economic base in the United States,” the American expert emphasized.

She went on to say that "the budget crisis and the attempt by the governor of Wisconsin to grab power in favor of big money, and powers that control our presidential elections are going to wake up our public sector workers and make them realize that we can afford to go off on these adventures overseas."

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