Wisconsin, of course.
All eyes are on Wisconsin.
And I'm sitting here thinking about power.
And I'm wondering: What's its point?
Governor Walker wants to bust up the unions. Yes, that's what he wants to do. This isn't about a state budget crisis. All that talk is a smokescreen. If this were about finances, he'd sit down with the unions who have said they're willing to make concessions. But no. Walker only wants his way. It's been reported that before he was governor, he said that he'd decertify the unions. It's also been reported that he didn't know that a governor didn't have the power to do that. But the intent was there. This Washington Post account
details Walker's long-held anti-union stance.
Why decertify unions? Why take away the rights of workers to organize? Well, individual workers have very little power. But workers organized together have the strength of numbers. Individually, very little power. Collectively, some measure of power.
Why do they need power? To stand up to the entities that exist to serve their own best interests. Which is to say: money.
It's always about money.
Money is power.
Hence why the story in Wisconsin took such an interesting turn when it was learned that the billionaire Koch brothers were Walker's second-largest campaign contributors. The Koch brothers hate unions. So, the Koch brothers bankroll a guy into office, the guy in office is then expected to do the Koch brothers' bidding.
Quid pro quo, eh?
It's Citizens United in action. Corporations now have the ability to effectively buy elections. And the elected, who will now be bought and paid for, don't even have to disclose their benefactors. Though based on the way they vote, we'll probably be able to guess.
All of this is about the pursuit of power, right? Whoever has the most money can influence elections to elect the people who will do the bidding of those who put them in office, to pass legislation that benefits their interests, so that they, in turn, can make even more money, and with that money grab hold of even more power, and on up the spiral they go.
But what's the point?
No, really, I'm asking: What's the point?
If you want to earn a lot of money in order to effect positive change in the world, right on, mister. Let me shake your hand.
It's not as though I think Bill Gates set out expressly to become a multi-billionaire, but now that he is, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing incredible things around the globe to help humanity on many levels.
Why? I expect the simple answer is something like: "Because it's the right thing to do."
I mean, how many billions can you stash away in investments or wherever billions are stashed? (I have no idea. I'm sure it's an issue I'll never face.)
How many homes can you buy, how many jets, how many sports franchises, how many diamonds, how many cars, how many whatevers? At some point, some people seem to think, "Well, I can't possibly ever spend all this money. I don't want to buy another company. I don't want a bigger empire. OK, let's give a lot of it away."
Mark Zuckerberg recently made a pledge to give away a lot of his wealth. Some rich people seemed rather pissed off by that.
But back to my question about power: What's the point?
So you have a lot of money and you have a lot of power. And? Like I said, if you're using it to benefit mankind, that's awesome.
But if you're hoarding it, if your sole pursuit is simply to expand your wealth in order to expand your power to expand your wealth to expand your power?
You do know that you're going to die someday, right? Just like everybody else?
So you're going to pass it on to your heirs?
OK. What are they going to do with it? Live a life of luxury, make more money to get more power to make more money to get more power? OK. And then they're going to die someday, too.
So what's the point? What's the point of the Koch brothers and their fiendish pursuit of power? And yes, I mean fiendish. They've effectively brainwashed an entire segment of the population. Members of the Tea Party might like to tell themselves that they're a grassroots movement and they may have started out that way, but folks, they're puppets now. They were bussed in to Madison yesterday to protest the protesters. The "grassroots" Tea Party, so opposed to government intrusion, was in Madison yesterday siding with the government.
I'm not saying there should be no distribution of wealth. Everything shouldn't be exactly equal. But how is it OK for the wealth to be so hyperconcentrated at the top while so many at the bottom literally suffer? At what point doesn't a conscience kick in to say, "Wait a minute. I have ten billion dollars. And you're going to die because you can't afford your medication?"
My brain can't fathom how anyone can find that acceptable.
My feeling about money has always been this: I want enough money so that I don't have to worry about money.
If I ever come into a great amount of money, I'm very sure that I'll give a lot of it away. Because what's the point in keeping it? How much does any one person need?
For my birthdays, I've started asking people to contribute to the Greater Chicago Food Depository
in lieu of buying gifts. Because while it's very nice of my friends to want to buy me presents, I have far more than I need and I'd much rather know a family is going to be able to eat for a week instead.
And maybe some people can't understand why I would do that just as I can't understand why they wouldn't.
But at the end of the day, why are we here if not to leave the world a little better than we found it?