Why Wisconsin Matters (and the wishful thinking of the Left)

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 and is filed under Blog

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Make no mistake. What happens today in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election matters. It matters because everyone knows what is at stake: Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill and the newly signed tort reform law. If David Prosser retains his seat on the court, it is likely that both survive and the judiciary continues to let the legislature do what it is supposed to-enact laws. If JoAnne Kloppenburg wins, it is likely that both will eventually be overturned and the last bastion of the Left, an activist judiciary, will once again rule Wisconsin under the watchful eye of Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

Wisconsin also matters because it has become ground zero for the fight against the oligarchy of the public sector union bosses. This isn’t about collective bargaining. One thing left untouched by Scott Walker was the ability for public sector unions to collectively bargain for wages. What Walker has done is one, told the public sector unions they will contribute to their pension and healthcare plans. Two, he has taken away the monopoly long enjoyed by the public sector unions. Does anyone else think it’s odd that the school districts in WI have to purchase their healthcare from an entity owned by the teachers’ union, WEA Trust? 64% of all the school districts in WI, because of collective bargaining, have to purchase health insurance for their teachers from WEA Trust. Under Walker’s plan, no school would be forced, through collective bargaining, to purchase healthcare from WEA Trust. The total savings? $68 million per year (for more on this, go here). In other words, someone is getting rich off this scheme and the people getting soaked are the taxpayers.

And speaking of the Wisconsin, the unions and the Left, I got a chuckle out of Harold Meyerson’s article yesterday at The American Prospect.

Meyerson writes: Who knew? What with conservatives’ continual demonization of public-employee unions, the support that Americans show for public employees’ rights has to come as a surprise. Three factors, I believe, informed the public’s judgment. The first was the demonstrations themselves, which put very human and sympathetic faces — those of teachers, nurses, cops, and firefighters — on Walker’s targets. The second, which followed from the first, was that it’s hard to believe that those teachers, nurses, cops, and firefighters, once you see them, are really the folks who are making out like bandits in our no-end-in-sight jobs recession.

And third, Americans aren’t keen on the idea of taking away long-established rights, particularly when doing so fundamentally destabilizes the social balance of power that we take (or took) for granted. In the industrial (or post-industrial) Midwest, which was not only the stronghold for manufacturing unions but also the place where public-sector workers first won collective-bargaining rights, unions are a venerable yin to businesses’ yang. Wiping them off the map, as Walker, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, and other Republicans are trying to do, is not only undemocratic but violates every precept of Burkean conservatism. Stripping Americans of their rights and uprooting the social order isn’t high on the public’s to-do list.

First, Meyerson calls the demonstrations in WI “human and sympathetic.” I was there. They were neither. Secondly, Meyerson incorrectly says Walker targeted policemen and firemen. Both were left out of the budget repair bill. Thirdly, the public sector union employees are making out like bandits in WI. For more on that, go here. I could go on and on about Meyerson’s wishful thinking, but why bother.

The bottom line is that the American public is awakening to the fact that the public sector union bosses are fleecing them to the tune of millions and millions of dollars and it has to stop before more states become insolvent. End of story.