• Colonization of Wisconsin

This is the third in a series of articles by Dr. Keith Roberts discussing the corporate colonization of the state of Wisconsin. In this segment Dr. Roberts explains how the corporate colonizers are exploiting the working people of Wisconsin by keeping them unorganized and increasingly uneducated. Previous articles in this series can be found archived under the author’s name.

Keeping Workers Unorganized

Previously I have discussed the exploitation of the resources of Wisconsin by outside individuals or corporations that control Wisconsin’s current Colonial Governor-General, Scott Walker. In addition to exploiting natural resources, colonialism also exploits the labor of the colonized. The current ALEC/Koch/Republican agenda is in the process of just such exploitation.

Koch Brothers

Walker’s ties to and dependence upon the Koch brothers is well known

In order to understand the motivation for legislation such as “Right-to-Work” (RTW,) it is necessary to know who has funded the campaigns of Governor-General Walker during his recall and reelection so that we know who is really calling the shots. Walker’s ties to and dependence upon the Koch Brothers is well known and is the motivation behind the majority of Walker’s and the ALEC/Koch/Republican legislation. “We’re helping him, as we should,” David Koch told The Palm Beach Post in February 2012. “What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He’s an impressive guy, and he’s very courageous.” Another Walker donor Richard DeVos, the grandfather of Amway, and his family have been actively supporting “Right-to Work” legislation and are credited with financing the successful RTW legislation in Michigan. Walker donor and mentor Sheldon Adelson, the man responsible for Walker’s reelection has invested in union busting in Wisconsin because of his obsession with getting rid of the unions in his Las Vegas Casinos. For these rich and powerful men “Right-to Work” legislation is a “twofer.” First, it shifts more power to the employer and away from the worker, and second, it weakens the unions who are most often supporters of the Democratic Party. This systematic weakening of one party solidifies the other party and creates a dangerous “one-party” control of the State. This one-party control is essential to the colonizer.

RTW has nothing to do with attracting new investment into Wisconsin. RTW legislation’s only objective is to reduce the power of the worker and the workers’ unions. Any studies that have supported RTW legislation have been conducted by Koch funded special interest think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and of course the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These are faux think tanks that cherry pick data to prepare reports to support the specific positions their funders advocate.

There is no objective information that can document that “Right-to-Work” legislation will bring more jobs into a state. In fact, when Rich Studley, the head of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, was asked why Michigan had not shown any increase in companies moving in to take advantage of the RTW legislation that had been passed in Michigan, his response was revealing. Studley, said it’s not a mystery. No company in its right mind would tie an expansion, relocation or investment decision to right-to-work. “That’s like putting a big red target on your company.” This was further documented in the Detroit Free Press when the Michigan Economic Development Corporation was asked to identify projects landed because of RTW. The corporation’s spokesperson, Emily Palsrok, cited none, and instead issued a statement that said Michigan’s business climate is “significantly improved” because of measures including business tax cuts, deregulation and right to work.

The DeVos family successfully implemented RTW in Michigan, the center of the union movement, not to increase investment in Michigan, but rather to increase profits of employers’ currently in Michigan and to reduce the power and influence of unions. The DeVos money that supported Walker in the recall will expect no less from Walker and the ALEC/Koch Republicans in Wisconsin.

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson

The inevitableness of RTW in Wisconsin is further cemented by the control that Sheldon Adelson holds over Scott Walker. Now that Colonial Governor-General Walker is auditioning for Viceroy of the North American States (formerly USA) in front of Sheldon Adelson, he must deliver RTW legislation. The inevitableness of this decision is obvious from the fact that Walker has stated several times that it is not important at this time. Because Walker is a pathological liar, his actions are predictable. He will sign RTW legislation for Adelson just as he rejected the Hard Rock Casino for Adelson.

Walker has built his reputation on “standing up to big union bosses” and he will build his campaign for Viceroy of the North American States on that reputation. In order to impress the billionaires he solicits at the Club 21 in New York, while ignoring the Menominee who have walked 150 miles in Wisconsin’s freezing winter to meet him in Madison, Wisconsin, he has to deliver a RTW colony. Ignoring the pleadings of the Menominee is his only choice if he wants to maintain his reputation as a tough guy and at the same time deliver for both Sheldon Adelson in Las Vegas and the religious right in Iowa.

Walker, as an ambitious Colonial Governor-General is even more divorced from the real needs of Wisconsin’s citizens because of his ambitions to become Viceroy. This ambition has caused him to overplay his hand in such a way as to emulate fascist leaders from the past.

Although critics of the Walker colonial administration of Wisconsin have been careful not to use the reference to fascism because of the negative connotation of the word itself, his legacy so far has become increasingly definable by the term. For example, according to William Shirer, author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Hitler, on May 2, 1933 dissolved all of the unions in Germany and confiscated their assets and arrested their leaders. Hitler then outlawed strikes and abolished collective bargaining.

The Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and Richard DeVos would have been proud.

Keeping the Citizens Uneducated

Colonial Governor-General Walker’s signature legislation was Act 10. This achieved two important goals for the Corporate Colonizers who manage him. First, it took power away from the public sector unions (keeping workers unorganized). Second, it reduced the power and influence of teachers in the public schools in Wisconsin. Act 10 was the required legislation that removed power from public employees (keeping the citizens uneducated).

Before we examine the potential impact of this and Walker’s current assault on Education and the University of Wisconsin, it will be important to look at the relationship between a colonizer and an educated citizenry. Mlilo Mpondo a political writer for the Guardian explained the importance of education that encourages critical analysis as an integral part of empowering the citizenry in South Africa. She states that through the ages literacy has been used as a measure of social control. America’s Jim Crow laws and Apartheid’s Bantu education are testimony that literacy has always been the preserve of the dominant class. Mpondo states:

“The dominant classes throughout the centuries knew all too well that education of any form bestows knowledge, and since knowledge is power, education itself becomes power actualized. Conversely, illiteracy breeds ignorance, and an uneducated populace has always been key to sustaining the status quo. From tribal slaves, to the peasants of feudal Europe and the proletariat of capitalist society, the elite have always known that “the danger posed by critical thinking far outweighs its benefits to the status quo”.

“There is a very clear link between literacy and political literacy, and by extension liberated citizenship. Because education is power, whosoever controls education controls power.”

Although Mpondo is referring to South Africa, it is similar to Paulo Freire’s account of the colonialized in Brazil, and anthropologists and historians assessment of colonial societies throughout the world. The statement of Mpondo that is driving all of the ALEC initiated, Koch supported legislation that has been assaulting education in Wisconsin is so important and insightful that it bears repeating;

“There is a very clear link between literacy and political literacy, and by extension liberated citizenship. Because education is power, whosoever controls education controls power.”

That is the motivation for every decision that has been made by the new Colonizers of Wisconsin. When Walker tried to remove “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth ” from the mission statement of the University of Wisconsin System, it was deliberate. He was “showing off” for his funders Koch et al. They are not interested in the search for truth and Walker’s new goal for the University of Wisconsin System “to meet the state’s workforce needs” will not include anything about political literacy.

At the elementary and secondary level, the increase funding of voucher schools serves several purposes. First, it reduces the influence of educators who have been committed to teaching critical thinking and political literacy. Second, it transfers public funds to the private sector. Third, it gives legitimacy to anti-intellectual content such as creationism. Even though public schools in Wisconsin must, by law, teach the scientific theory of evolution, the public funded voucher schools are not subject to the same requirements.

So, the combination of reducing and transferring funds away from public education and towards private, often religious, education, and the reduction of support of the University of Wisconsin system while morphing the university mission statement into career training, achieves the objective of controlling education while assaulting political literacy.

Unorganized, Uneducated, Suppressing the Truth

Chris Cline

Chris Cline

One very specific example of the “suppression of truth” mentality of the Colonial Governor-General is the entire narrative concerning the proposed massive open pit mine in the Penokee Range of northern Wisconsin. It is now well known that the legislation that was passed to enable the largest open pit mine in the world to be excavated in northern Wisconsin was written by the same people who would own and develop the mine. Florida billionaire Chris Cline, the owner of Gogebic Taconite contributed $700,000 in order to exert control over the legislative process in Colonial Wisconsin. The lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite was Bob Seitz and his job was to be sure that ALEC/Koch Republicans got the job done for Cline and Walker . . . a very tidy situation.

As an essential routine activity, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ scientists conducted an extensive report on the mine. They did a scientific analysis of the water, wetlands and forests in the area to determine how the mine might impact them. This report, according to the press, was intended to “brief agency regulators on what the scientific literature says about extensive testing and environmental monitoring that are typically needed to prevent serious damage from acid runoff into streams and mercury emissions into the air.” A lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite attacked the report and the scientists.

Two important Colonial decisions were made in February 2015 relative to this interaction between the DNR scientists and the Gogebic taconite lobbyist:

First, Walker’s budget would cut 18.4 positions from the Bureau of Scientific Services in the Department of Natural Resources – the same bureau that did the study on the Penokee Hills mine. (Scientists were punished for pursuing the truth).

Second, Former Gogebic Taconite mining company spokesman Bob Seitz has been appointed to be the executive assistant to Wisconsin Public Service Commission Chairwoman, Ellen Nowak, where he will make $112,000. (A lobbyist was rewarded for denying the truth.)

Think about this . . . in Colonial Wisconsin, a Bureau of Scientific Services that produces scientific reports that question the legislation that was written by a private company (Gogebic Taconite) is punished by having 18.4 scientists positions eliminated, and the lobbyist for that same private company is rewarded with a $112,000 job in the Public Service Commission. This is why the Kochs, Adelson, DeVos, Kline et al. do not want Wisconsin citizens to have political literacy.

In order to protect the citizens of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin media have the responsibility to not only report such corruption, but to also editorialize against this corruption in order to rescue the State from Corporate Colonialism. This is not happening and therefore the corruption will not only continue, but will become worse. This quote from Paulo Freire sums this situation accurately:

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”

Keith J. Roberts, PhD lives in Greendale, Wisconsin and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for International Studies in Education, University of Pittsburgh, and a Senior Ambassador for the Globalization for the Common Good Initiative, Oxford, UK. In addition to his work in the USA, Dr. Roberts has been a planning and development consultant in diverse locations around the globe including China, Mongolia, Tibet, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, the Marshall Islands and elsewhere. Upon returning to Wisconsin from China in January of 2011 he was stunned by the actions of the Walker Administration and could see that while Third World countries were implementing policies that were moving their countries to First World Status, Walker was implementing policies that were moving Wisconsin to Third World Status. Since that time he has applied his research and analytical skills to document the “Cycles of Greed” in America with a special emphasis on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its role in undoing the Progressive Traditions of Wisconsin. Since February 2011 he has made numerous presentations to unions, educators, retirees, political organizations and grass-roots organizations.