The issue is hot in the North Shore. On the blogs, on Facebook and no doubt in our many coffee shops the talk has spin around the urge to boycott or not to boycott those local businesses owned by supporters of Governor Scott Walker.
It’s not just happening here. People in other parts of the state are talking boycott.
This one has me a little torn. Boycotts have been a tool for political change as long as there have been politics and businesses owners that have been politically active.
Some would say that boycotts have dubious effects and can harm the wrong people. But history shows that though many poor South Africans suffered through the boycott of their country, Nelson Mandela thanked the United States for doing it and for the boycott’s role in throwing off apartheid.
On the other hand, Scott Walker has done what I was afraid he was going to do. In exchange for running Milwaukee into the ground, Walker stirred a lot of rancor within the county. Now that he has taken his act statewide, his right-wing talk show-driven agenda is causing people in this normally cordial state to go at each other’s throats. What a legacy.
That is why when it comes to the notion of boycotting people who I normally get along with, I hesitate. Guess I’ve seen way too many Twilight Zone episodes where an alien force descends on a quiet small town and sets neighbors against neighbors. It can’t happen here.
We are going to need each other. Scott Walker has set off an economic tsunami as we learned Monday night at the Shorewood Auditorium. Not only are we going to see the poor, the sick, the elderly and children denied needed government service that the private sector cannot or will not provide, but our public employees will take massive hits, all on the altar of business growth, with out the messiness of shared sacrifice.
It is not that we haven’t seen private business employees take massive hits before. But the reduction in disposable income of between 6 to 8% that will go to paying for benefits will affect hundreds of thousands of employees across the state, an unprecedented loss all in one fell swoop.
Sure we all hate taxes, but that percentage in disposable income loss will equal or exceed what people in this income bracket pay for state income taxes. But will you see your income taxes reduced by that amount?
Now look at Shorewood. Thanks to our proximity to UWM, Shorewood has enjoyed the economic benefits of having a number of decently paid residents who work there, either as faculty or on administrative staff. Add in the many others who work for the government. There are hundreds of families here in the Village who will see their income shrink over night.
That means we will be seeing fewer of our friends and neighbors in the grocery stores as often as usual and probably more rarely in the number of new restaurants that have just opened and in the Village’s other fine establishments. Less money will be tossed in church collection plates.
There will be fewer people frequenting the many coffee shops and styling salons, some owned by Walker supporters and some that are not. You won’t have to be in a public employee union to feel the effects of Walker’s plan to punish those “lazy” and “overpaid” workers in the evil government.
I don’t have to participate in a boycott here in Shorewood to make an economic impact. Scott Walker has done it for me.
Keith Schmitz is president of KRPR Inc. in Shorewood and editor of Grassroots North Shore.