April Fools

By Richard Thayer

I rolled out of bed early this morning with the intention of posting a blog celebrating 2011’s April Fool — a public figure or institution that I deemed worthy of being labeled the biggest fool so far this year. Quite an accomplishment since this year is only three months old.

The first name that popped into my head was Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, the new Republican governor of that Rust Belt state who has managed to make a fool of himself by attempting (by hook or crook, as they say) to strip public-sector employees of their collective bargaining rights. In so doing, he has stoked the fires of the labor movement that had been un-stoked for many a year.

Then I got to thinking, are the Republican lawmakers in the Wisconsin legislature any less deserving of the April Fool award than their illustrious leader? After all, several of them have put their jobs on the line and face recalls in November. The good governor, on the other hand, can’t be recalled until 2012.

But what about Governor John Kasich of Ohio who just this past Thursday signed into law union-busting legislation that would also strip public sector unions of their bargaining rights? Is he any less a fool because he succeeded where Walker has thus far failed?  Plus, his law is even more far-reaching than Walker’s.

There is also Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan. Earlier this year Snyder cut corporate taxes by a whopping 86 percent while increasing taxes on working families. Of course the tax breaks he gave his corporate buddies was much greater than the money generated from taxes on the average Joe and Josephine. Foolish. And then, on top of that, he signs into law this past week legislation that cuts state unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks. This is an incentive to make these people find a job, I suppose.

And let’s not forget Governor Paul LePage of Maine. Last weekend LePage had a 36-foot mural stripped out of the state’s Labor Department building. It was obscene. Well, evidently it was obscene to the anonymous person who faxed LePage complaining about the artwork. Did it contain nudity? No. Were there dirty words? No. The mural, completed three years ago, depicted Maine’s proud labor history. Imagine that? In a Labor Department building, too. Mr. LePage, not one to rest on his past achievements, is now busy as a little beaver crafting a bill that would weaken Maine’s child-labor laws. Certainly a worthwhile project for a fool.

Also in contention was Governor Rick Scott of sunny Florida. Like the others, he’s a jewel too. Although he’s only been in office for a scant three months he’s racked up some rather impressive successes. Among these is his uncanny ability to alienate everyone around him, both Democrats and Republicans alike. He’s the guy who said Florida didn’t need a high speed railway system in Florida. Didn’t need the money, didn’t need the jobs. We’re just fine down here, thank you. Keep your money in Washington. He is quickly becoming the poster child for “Buyer’s Remorse.” The latest poll  shows that if the people of Florida could have a do-over in elections, Democrat Alex Sink would win by a 20 percent margin. It’s a shame there can’t be a do-over today. It’ll have to wait.

The freshman congressman out of Wisconsin, Sean Duffy, was also a contender for my April Fool award. Not long ago congressman Duffy told a group of attendees at a town hall meeting that he, like them, was struggling to pay his bills too. Asked how much he gets paid a year as a freshman congressman Duffy replied, without cracking a smile, “$174,000.” Yes, congressman Duffy would certainly be a worthy recipient of the April Fool award.

Then other names flooded into my head: Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachman, Donald Trump, the Tea Party, and several Mideast dictators who now find themselves under siege because they have been…foolish. All well-deserving of the April Fool award.

And it hasn’t just been political figures who have crowded into my head, waving their signs, shouting to be heard. Celebrity names have also popped in demanding attention, names like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity of Faux News Channel fame. They too would be worthy recipients of my award.

And the more I sat here trying to narrow it all down to just one name, more names flooded into my head. I became dizzy and nauseus.

So who, dear reader, was to receive this blog’s first annual April Fool award?

I finally decided that it would be….

None of the above.

I finally decided that the award should go to…..

Us.

You and me. If…..

If we don’t do something about those who have been elected to represent us. They have been elected to represent you and me, not the big corporations, not Wall Street, not the Koch brothers, not themselves and their interests — us. They have been elected to represent you and me. If they are incapable of doing that, then we need to elect people who will. In the meantime, until the next elections roll around — although they may be months away — we must make our voices heard, just as they have been heard in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, Florida and other states where middle-class America is under attack. “We Are One” rallies celebrating the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and showing our solidarity with our union brothers and sisters in the public sector, will be held this coming Monday, April 4. For details on these, you may go to the North Carolina State Association of Letter Carrier’s website at nclettercarrier.com.

If we sit idly by and do nothing, we, not them, are the fools.


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