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Cary Brunswick

December 31, 2011

Unrest, energy, economy were big news in 2011


The economic crisis this year involved not only the volatile stock market, high unemployment, foreclosures and Washington's inability to do anything about those problems, but also the rising anti-union sentiment in some states.

In March, I analyzed how the worsening economy had led some governments, private sector workers and those less fortunate to make vicious verbal attacks against union workers because they have decent pay and good benefits.

"Now, times are tough," I wrote, "so many of those 93 percent of non-union workers resent public employees and retirees, whose pay and benefits are paid by governments and taxpayers. That's because state and local governments are going broke, and taxpayers are struggling just to keep up with their living expenses."

The backlash was taking place in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states, where leaders were proposing to dismantle public-sector unions and do away with collective bargaining. They were blaming unions, and the pay and benefits they help secure for workers, for their fiscal woes.

I commented that it was indeed "unfortunate that with the changing times and sour economy so many people are struggling to afford health insurance, most big businesses have scrapped pension plans and governments are facing budget crises. It is also unfortunate that we have to point our fingers with disdain at our public employees because they have what everyone should have."

Returning to the president's State of the Union address, Obama was clearly optimistic in his hopes that "government can harness technology as an ally in our struggle for cleaner energy, different kinds of work and alternative resources _ in effect, a better future."

I continued: "His antagonists in Washington would rather our future be thrown to the winds of private enterprise, where they believe the unrestricted drive for profit will somehow result in what is best for our nation and its people."

After going through 2011, however, it is all too clear that we have to put people over profits, as one of the popular Occupy Wall Street signs notes.

Cary Brunswick, of Oneonta, is a freelance writer and editor. He can be reached at

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