Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Yesterday a friend of mine sent me her political joke of the day, with the message “Might be too true to be funny”:
A unionized public employee, a teabagger and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the teabagger and says, "watch out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.”
As states around the country prepare to go head to head with workers’ unions, I’ve heard many differing viewpoints, the most confusing of which is the complaint that unions are stealing from the middle class. I continue to be shocked that the link between budget deficits and corporate tax cuts (or dwindling tax revenue) is not the major argument that I’m hearing.

But what I find more surprising when I view this through a commons lens, is that we continue to let the argument be one of scarcity. That in order for me to get mine, you have to give up some of yours. We are like the public employee and the teabagger fighting over one cookie while the CEO’s get full. In an abundant society, resources – as well as hardshipsare shared by all. Another way to think of this comes from an article David Bollier wrote back in 2007: “competition may work reasonably well when resources are abundant, but cooperation may be more successful when resources are scarce.”

As we continue to move through this recession/depression, it’s heartening to know that there is a way to not turn on each other. We can support each other without seeing it as a loss for ourselves.

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