Oh!pinion Rotating Header Image

Wisconsin’s puppet governor deserves recall

brass screwPaul Krugman cuts to the core motivation behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s bid to strip many of his state’s public-employee unions of their bargaining rights, on the way to crushing the unions altogether.

Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state’s budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there’s not much room for further pay squeezes.

So it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.

In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.

You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.

And now Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to get rid of public-sector unions, too.

Even though Walker, a radical-right Republican, raised his right hand and swore to serve the people of Wisconsin, his actions reveal him to be nothing but the Koch brothers’ hired hand.

That’s right, Wisconsin’s chief executive isn’t a public servant. Rather, he’s an agent of two Texas billionaires with extensive business interests in the state. They wanted — and are getting — the best Wisconsin government their money could buy.

The same can be said for Wisconsin’s wealthiest citizens, who are benefiting to the tune of $400 million from the tax cuts Walker arranged for them almost as soon as he became governor. Oh, and the $42 million budget surplus Walker inherited upon taking up his duties? Not two months  in office and it’s gone.

This is blatantly government of the oligarchs by the corrupt and for the wealthy.

Walker claims he’s just doing what he must to deal with a $360 million fiscal crisis, not mentioning that he very deliberately caused the fiscal crisis.

Sound familiar? It should because it’s right out of the Karl Rove/George W. Bush playbook. It’s the same dirty work that made a complete mess of U.S. finances just in time for the worst economic collapse in 80 years.

Walker’s conniving mismanagement and union busting must be stopped. Because if he succeeds it’s only a matter of time before his radical-conservative clones in Ohio and elsewhere follow suit.

The good people of Wisconsin who’ve turned out in tens of thousands in Madison to raise hell and demand fairness are doing their best to see to it that it is stopped.  We wish them good luck, Godspeed and plenty of support from millions of good Americans nationwide. But even if Wisconsin’s public employees succeed in beating back this assault on their bargaining rights, it won’t be enough.

The proper and absolutely necessary response to Walker and other Republican governors like him is a recall election. We understand Wisconsin law is such that a recall can’t be undertaken for a year. That’s a terrible restriction, given how much damage one power-hungry, sold-out pol can do in a year.

Alas, the law is what it is. But once the year is up, the people of Wisconsin should go after Walker with a justified vengeance, unelecting him by a landslide margin.

To borrow a term from the Tea Party dupes who did plenty to help elect this Bush clone, this fraud, a successful recall would be a splendid example of the people taking back their state.

That is, taking Wisconsin back from their marionette governor and his Texas billionaire puppeteers.

Did we say Bush clone? Read this excellent report at Think Progress to learn how Walker is gutting environmental oversight and rules enforcement to benefit Georgia Pacific and other heavy-polluting Koch industries.

7 Comments

  1. Jolly Roger says:

    He and Czar Kashitch I are both arrogant, both elitist, and both less than bright. IOW, it is no surprose to find out they are owned by the Koch brothers.

  2. Tom Harper says:

    I’m definitely in favor of recalling Walker.

    That was an excellent column by Paul Krugman. I especially liked his closing sentence:

    “So will the attack on unions succeed? I don’t know. But anyone who cares about retaining government of the people by the people should hope that it doesn’t.”

  3. S.W. Anderson says:

    J.R., arrogant, elitist and less than bright are downright diplomatic terms for these jackals. They’re like little Bushes, minus a Defense Dept., although I understand Walker put the National Guard on some kind of alert status two or three weeks ago. Do I detect Capt. Queeg tendencies?

    Tom, I think it likely a recall would have a chilling effect on this chicanery in several other states, which is exactly what’s needed. IMO, Krugman is a gem.

  4. tnlib says:

    Here I is! Thanks. I don’t understand all these things.

  5. oso says:

    SW,
    Thanks, missed Krugman’s post. Good way to phrase the union’s role-as a counter balance to big $. I concur completely. My father was a teamster, mother IBEW and me CWA. I’ve been well provided for all my life,much of that due to collective bargaining.

  6. S.W. Anderson says:

    tnlib, good to see you made it in OK. Shouldn’t be a problem from now on, but if it is, please let me know.

    Oso, right on. This is a matter where reasonable balance of power is needed. Oh, one year or two business might have the upper hand a bit, then for awhile labor has the upper hand. But if you can look back 10 or 20 years and see rough parity over that time, you’ve got a fair and healthy balance, one that benefits everyone in the long run.

    The reality in America has grown more lopsided over the last 35 years, to the point where it’s a matter of survival for organized labor — and for our democracy.

  7. Dave Dubya says:

    No republican is a public servant. They are all agents of Big Money infiltrating our government. Sadly this true for most Dems as well. Sigh…