247 results for author: Phil Anderson


Reducing Money in Politics

Do you think there is too much money in politics? Do you think politicians are bought by big money contributions? We need to do something about the extreme amount of money being raised and spent on elections. But it is unlikely that the politicians, or the industries that profit from the current mess, will allow change. What can we do? We can reduce the influence of money in politics if more of us participated in elections. First we should recognize that politics is the way we make decisions in a democratic society. It is how we decide priorities, spending, and public policy. If citizens abdicate, then special interests take over.   Refusing to ...

Unions: The Real Homeland Security

Americans are obsessed with national security. Over half of the national budget is spent on defense. The Department of Homeland Security has brought us the biggest bureaucracy in the history of human kind. But for most of us real security is a job with a future, a family supporting wage, affordable healthcare, affordable housing, and a secure retirement. Family supporting jobs are on the decline. Average workers are being paid less when adjusted for inflation. Homelessness is on the rise. Workers in their 20's are especially insecure with high costs of schooling, student loan debt, poor job prospects, and continuing high housing costs. Secure ...

Why I Am A Retired Union Member

Unions serve a number of useful purposes for working people. They give workers a voice in the workplace. They provide protection from arbitrary treatment by an employer with workplace rules and grievance procedures. They negotiate better pay and benefits. But a retired worker no longer has an employer. So why would a retired person join a retiree union? There are many reasons why I joined my retiree local. Unions give you a collective voice even in retirement. That voice can continue to protect your economic interests. Through lobbying, policy research, and political activism many unions help to advance the interests of all working people, ...

Unions: The Folks That Brought You the Weekend

We are all better off because of unions and this is true even if you have never been represented by one.  A good example is the weekend.  The standard work week used to be 60 to 80 hours a week in the early 20th century.  Everyone, including children, were expected to work 10 or 12 hour days six days a week. Sunday was a day off only because you were expected to go to church. The weekend did not come about because employers cared about their employees. Employers had to be forced, through laws and union contracts, to allow workers time for their families or some social life. The struggle for the 40 hour week took many years, and many people ...

Outsourcing Superior

The decline of good jobs has been the defining feature of our economy for some time. The results have been disastrous for working families and the economy as a whole. The trend is continuing in Superior, only this time it is our public employers killing jobs. UW-Superior is planning to outsource the custodians and grounds maintenance staff to a for-profit company. These jobs have always been state civil service jobs. They were usually full time, paid modest wages, but had good benefits. The 26 affected employees only average about $12 per hour. The community reacted to this plan with strong opposition. Hundreds of letters and thousands of emails ...

Remember the Past but Work for the Future

August 6, 1945 we dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The world changed forever. We came under the shadow of a nuclear mushroom cloud that is still with us 69 years later. We should remember the dead and wounded from the horrific events of that time. At Hiroshima we killed an estimated 166,000 and, three days later, 80,000 in Nagasaki. Most of these dead were non-combatant civilians of all ages. We should remember that war has always been destructive. But with the atomic age we reached a new level of destructiveness. During the arms race of the cold war we built arsenals with the power to literally destroy the world. When you ...

Questions on Patriotism

Questions About Patriotism  Fourth of July celebrations get me thinking about patriotism and its role in our country. We are good at flag waving and platitudes. But our history shows we are not good at living up to our ideals. So patriotic holidays get me asking questions about what patriotism really means in America. Why is patriotism considered the highest of virtues? Shouldn't we be more concerned about people?  Shouldn't we love morality, justice, or tolerance more? Christ said we should love our neighbor, not our country. Why is patriotism always expressed in military terms? War is considered the ultimate sacrifice for country. But our ...

Pipeline Expansion: Their Gain – Our Risk

Enbridge Energy is expanding the capacity of its pipeline through Wisconsin. You may ask, “What is the big deal?” Pipelines run over the state and most of the country. There are many good reasons to be concerned discussed by the Sierra Club, 350.Org, and the National Resources Defense Council. These include concerns over accidents, spills, higher risks associated with tar sands oil, lack of regulations, the poor safety record of Enbridge, and the threats to water resources in the state. Middle Wisconsin News highlighted some of these in the article The Dangers of Tar Sands Oil in Wisconsin. The expansion will increase private profit while ...

Demand a New Approach in Iraq

President Obama's decision to sent 300 special forces “trainers” to Iraq is taking us back to war and the same mistakes of the past. It will not help the situation in Iraq. We spent 11 years “training” the Iraqi police and military. Why do we think 300 can do now what 150,000 could not do before? The deteriorating situation in Iraq proves that our intervention and occupation failed. It did not build a stable country. It did not promote democracy. It did not defeat extremism or curb terrorism. It only killed people and wasted money. Why do we continue to throw good money after bad? Why do we continue to think social and political problems ...

Honor the Fallen by Working for Peace

On Memorial Day we remember our military dead and honor their sacrifice. But we do not honor veterans by lying to ourselves about why they died. Many Americans believe we are “free” because of the military and the sacrifice of our troops. “Got freedom? Thank a Vet!” This is a nice sound bite, but it is not true. This slogan only blinds us to the real causes of war. It promotes the next war. It justifies the war industry and maintains recruiting. It is misleading because it assumes that only veterans have protected our freedoms. And it assumes our numerous wars were necessary for defending freedom. Many people worked to expand and ...