There was a time in life when I thought about a career in some sort of public service. But we had a war in Korea so I joined the military and put the public service idea on the back burner. Somehow, life went on after my hitch and I never got back to it.

What brings that memory to mind, at the moment, is the outrageous and deliberate attempt by mostly Republican office holders in several states and Congress to try to demonize public servants. Teachers, fire fighters, police, garbage collectors, office workers and just about anyone else who toils for the taxpayer – especially in state and local levels of government.

When did these folks – a lot of ‘em highly educated professionals who could do better for themselves in some other line of work – become the enemy? When did my granddaughter’s eighth grade teacher go bad? And my friend, the fire captain. What did he suddenly do to earn such legislative animosity?

What we’ve seen in Idaho, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Maine and a few other states, is a direct attack on the professional rights of those in public service to enjoy collective bargaining and the ability – through association – to try to protect and improve their lot in life. It’s not a money issue. It’s a professional rights issue!

I’m neither pro nor anti-union. That’s another topic for another time. Fact is, what’s behind this scurrilous public flogging is another story, entirely divorced from public service. It’s been a flat-out – and thus far successful – misdirection drive to take away the right to bargain or other collective association. That’s wrong!

We’re being fed a barrage of trumped up and entirely phony messages that teachers are in it for the money and not for our children; that police and fire personnel are more interested in feathering their economic interests than protecting life and property; that garbage workers – through their unions – have emptied the taxpayer’s pocket and are being paid too much.

Because of others excellent research and good reporting, it’s no mystery where this crap is coming from and who’s paying for it. Much of the money – hundreds of millions of dollars of it – comes from the Koch brothers of mining and chemical producing fame. Through dummy “public” fronts, they and some of their billionaire friends have become the deep pockets for all things right wing and anti-union. And mostly phony. They’ve created shell “associations” with high sounding names like “Americans for Freedom and Justice.” But research regarding membership and who pays the bills has found, in some cases, only a single contact person hired by the Kochs, with a mailing address in one of their companies.

This fraudulent political prostitution is part and parcel of the tragic decision by the U.S. Supreme Court granting the individual right of free speech to corporations. We’ve had one election cycle since the “activist” conservative side of the Court prevailed on that one and already Americans have lost much of what little control they’re otherwise guaranteed in the election process. The price tag for politicians who will sell themselves to the highest bidder in their attempts at self-preservation has gone up. Way up! Anonymously. And legally. Far beyond the ability of citizens to individually compete.

National – and some state – politics have gone from an open process, with constitutional rights of participation by the electorate, to a meat market where only corporate “individuals” can afford to play. If a corporation – or as in this case, the Koch brothers – finds a willing politician who’ll vote the corporate line, no individual and no group of individuals can prevail. If the Kochs say unions are bad, guess who’ll get rid of them? The whore with the vote.

If you think the legal and anonymous pile of money was large in the last election, as Mr. Jolson said, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

This nation is beset with more major problems at the moment than any single time in my life. Many of them – undeclared and losing wars, a national debt we can’t even pay the interest on, dozens of elected incompetents who have no idea how government operates – are the result of too much money having a cancerous effect on the rights of the electorate. Even an informed electorate. We no longer control our political affairs or destiny because of a Supreme Court decision that says you and General Motors have the same rights of citizenship. But, in reality, because of outsized corporate economics, your rights are being abridged.

In 1954, Pres. Eisenhower rightfully warned us all of the military-industrial complex, of its excessive power and resources, of its ability to work against America’s interests if in the wrong hands. He just never thought to look East, up Constitution Avenue, to warn us of the Supreme Court for the same reasons.

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