Belmont Club

The Shaking of the Foundations

The MacIver Institute recorded the video at the Wisconsin Capitol which is shown after the Read More. It illustrates what Michael Moore meant when he said “this means war”, referring “to the Wisconsin Senate’s 18-1 vote earlier in the evening in favor of legislation, supported by Gov. Scott Walker, that would strip politicians of the power to reward government employee unions for their political support.”

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Here’s the b-roll of the video showing what reception the MacIver reporter got from the protesters.

The Guardian says “Republican Governor Scott Walker’s ‘budget repair bill’ would pave the way for wholesale privatisation of Wisconsin’s state infrastructure … and deal a coup de grace to Progressive Era institutions”. 

Others see Wisconsin as the first serious challenge to public sector unions in decades. Ohio, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee are considering similar measures. According to Reuters, that is only the beginning.

Limits on public worker collective bargaining have been introduced in several other states as of last week, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These include Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Washington, Alaska and Arizona.

The danger that “Progressive Era institutions” face is if Wisconsin succeeds, the campaign against the unions will snowball. With the stakes so high, all the stops are being pulled out. The AFL-CIO “called for its members to rally on Thursday in support of public sector workers, saying Senate Republicans and Walker had exercised ‘the nuclear option to ram through their bill attacking Wisconsin’s working families in the dark of night.'”

It is above all, a crisis of within the government staffing system. “More than a third of U.S. public employees such as teachers, police and civil service workers belong to unions while only 6.9 percent of private sector workers are unionized,” Reuters reported. The Wisconsin Democratic Party, perhaps realizing they need for a fallback position in case the protesters at the capitol fail, is working to recall elected officials who voted against the unions. The Washington Post quotes them as saying:

“We now put our total focus on recalling the eligible Republican senators who voted for this heinous bill,” said the Wisconsin Democratic Party in a statement.

The WaPo observes that “Wisconsin law is designed to make recalls difficult and rare”. The net effect is that the unions and the Democratic Party are facing a result they cannot abide with little or no legal way to change it. That means that they are either going to 1) bide their time until the next elections and hope to get a majority to reverse the legislation; or 2) change it anyway by any means necessary.

The problem with 1) is that Walker’s initiative may cascade to other states, leaving the “Progressive Era institutions” with too much to roll back. The problem with 2) is that the consequences may be incalculable.

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