Milk and Cookies

As she has said before, The Free Agent may number few among her peers, but is catholic in her associations.  An ex-colleague and native of America’s Dairyland, posted this joke on Facebook:

This joke is too good not to share… A unionized public employee, a teabagger, and a CEO are sitting at a table.  In the midele of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it.  The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the teabagger and says, “Look out for that union guy—he wants a piece of your cookie.

Setting aside for a moment the positioning of the Tea Party adherent as a witless dupe of big business, the more intriguing question about the underlying assumptions of the joke is what exactly are the cookies?

At first blush, the cookies would seem to be the zero-sum pool of wealth too many politicians still believe in.  (Using this logic, Cro-Magnon man had sufficient resources to reach the moon but they were tied up in spearhead production and the NECP, the National Endowment of Cave Painting.)  The Free Agent chooses to give the wag credit that the humor is subtler than merely random scapegoating.  Elsewise, the joke would work as well if we substitute “Brad Pitt” for “CEO”.

The most likely explanation is the cookies represent tax dollars.  That, after all, is the cheddar over which Governor Scott Walker took to the hustings last year.  Then a veteran Milwaukee County Executive, Walker campaigned for the nomination as governor thusly, “It’s what I call a bit of brown bag common sense – based on three simple principles:  Don’t spend more money than you have.  Smaller government is better government.  People create jobs, not the government.”  Like many governors, Walker immediately realized public employee pensions and other benefits were a vast bog of Cheez Whiz, threatening to suck Wisconsinites into bankruptcy like quicksand.  Public employees, disoriented perhaps by his ‘walking the Walker’ even after he was safely elected, and their Democratic supporters in the state house are now approaching the month mark of obstructing a vote on a balanced budget.

Union supporters like President Obama mourn the termination of collective bargaining rights the bill contains.  But it’s more correct to say that by eliminating union force, the bill restores the right of employees to not bargain collectively, to independently contract with their employers, to accept buy-out offers, and generally to negotiate for wages and benefits packages that suit them, rather than those union overlords have chosen for them.

Mister Obama also Rodney Kinged it up in a radio interview, pleading, “ . . . I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends.”  The Free Agent reassures the president that Governor Walker is not asking for his friendship bracelets back.  He is trying to put employees of Wisconsin’s taxpayers on a more equal footing with their bosses.  Over time, the stewards of tax money across the country have generally inflated public employee wages and work rules far above those we, who pay them, receive.

But The Free Agent has not succeeded in explaining how, if the cookies are tax dollars, the CEO gets 92%.  Perhaps it is a variation on the age-old demonize-and-marginalize after all.  ‘Then they came for the CEOs, and I didn’t object…’

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