Wisconsin: Greece, Interrupted?

Last night, something historic happened in Wisconsin. The Left threw everything but the kitchen sink at the incumbent governor, Scott Walker in an historic recall election.

The Mainstream Media played along with the Blue State meme that the Libs were putting out. Even going so far as to predict that it would be a “tight” race. Well, they were wrong. It was a blow-out for Walker.

The victory was even sweeter because in the only other two recall elections that have taken place in this country, both governors were retired. Walker won and won big. So did his reforms.

This is bigger than Wisconsin however. States all over the Union are now going to look very carefully at fighting the public-sector unions that are bankrupting them. The wind is at the back of the reformers. That’s a good thing, because we were well on way to becoming Greece. I think that that probability has decreased significantly, if not vanished entirely.

For a more in-depth look at what just happened, please take the time to read this insightful essay by Walter Russell Mead.

Source: The American Interest | By Walter Russell Mead

The American left as we have come to know it suffered a devastating blow in Wisconsin last night. The organized heart of the left gave everything it had to the fight against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: heart, shoe leather, wallet and soul. The left picked this fight, on the issue and in the place of its choice; it chose to recall Walker because it believed it could win a showcase victory. That judgement was fatally flawed; it is part of a larger failure to grasp the nature of American politics and the times in which we live.

The left gave this fight everything it had. It called all the troops it could find; it raised all the money it could; it summoned the passion of its grassroots supporters, all the moral weight and momentum remaining to the American labor movement and every ounce of its strength and its will.

And it failed.

The tribes of the left danced and rallied in the streets of Madison. They knocked on doors. They staffed phone banks. They passed fliers. They organized on social media. They picketed. They sang. They brought in the celebrities and the stars; they marched seven times around the city blowing the trumpets and beating the drums. They hurled invective; they booed; they cheered.

And they failed.

For labor, this was a key test of strength and clout. Scott Walker attacked the American labor movement where it lives: the public sector unions are the only bright spot in the dismal world of modern American unions. They have the growth, they have the money, they have — or they had — the hope.

The Walker reforms hurt AFSCME in Wisconsin almost as badly as Ronald Reagan hurt PATCO, the air traffic controller union he famously crushed in 1981. Public sector workers have deserted their unions in droves since the state clipped union bargaining rights and stopped automatic collection of dues. After a string of bitter, humiliating and expensvie defeats, labor in Wisconsin will now be a shadow of its former self, lacking the troops, the money and the morale.

The public sector unions are critical to what remains of the American left. The power of the public service unions in Democratic politics pulls the entire party to the left and gives ideas that are important to the left an access to power that they would otherwise lack. But more important than that, they provide a kind of center to a movement that otherwise threatens to fragment into antagonistic cliques.

The New Left of the 1960s and 1970s rapidly devolved into different factions. There are environmentalists, civil rights and Black activists, poverty activists, feminists, intellectuals in the academy and the arts, gay rights advocates and many other groups whose agendas often don’t overlap and sometimes conflict.

Two big things unite them: a general sense of being on the same side in opposition to the economic and social right, and the belief in a strong, well-funded state. Some want the state to enforce mandates and empower them to reshape and uplift the bitter clingers. Others want the state to fund their universities, create jobs for their communities or otherwise provide concrete benefits. But for all of them the progressive, bureaucratic government machinery of the 21st century is both the prize for whose control they struggle and the agent they hope will make their dreams real.

This is exactly what public sector unions believe in and want: more government mandates and more government jobs — with more security, higher wages and better benefits all the time.

A Democratic Party dominated by its public sector unions is a party married to government and to bureaucracy. To the degree that the public unions shape its agenda, the Democrats become a lobby for the servants of the state. For the unions who represent its employees, the bureaucratic, civil service state is a solution permanently in search of new problems to solve and new worlds to conquer. The power of the public unions within the party pulls Democrats much farther to the left than they would otherwise go.

This is one reason the Wisconsin reforms stimulated such a powerful and united emotional wave of push back from virtually every section of the left. The threat to the public unions isn’t just a threat to a powerful source of funding for left-liberal candidates and to strong organizations with political experience and muscle; it’s a threat to the heart of the left coalition and to the structures that give the left much of its power in Democratic and therefore in national politics.

But the dominance of the public unions in the left had consequences for the left itself — bad ones. In contemporary America, the public sector unions are essentially a conservative constituency. That is, their core goal is to get more resources in order to fight all but superficial change in the structures their members inhabit. They want ever growing subsidies to the postal service, the public school system, the colleges and universities, even to health care — but they do not want the kind of reforms that could make these institutions more efficient, more productive, more serviceable.

To the extent that these unions shape the Democratic agenda, Democrats aren’t just the party of government; they are the party of inefficient, expensive, unresponsive, bureaucratic government. They are the party of government workers first and foremost, and if there is a clash between the interests of the providers of government services and their consumers (between, for example, unqualified, unmotivated life-tenured public school teachers and kids), the unions come at these issues from the standpoint of protecting workers first, others second.

In terms of the blue social model, they are the party of the bitter clingers: the power of public sector unions among Democrats is a power that inhibits Democrats from putting forward innovative, future-facing ideas (about schools, health care, and so on) and keeps them focused firmly on the defense of the past.

The left’s analysis of its loss in Wisconsin resorts to some classic tropes: it is despair masked as defiance in order to avoid deep introspection. The rhetoric of resistance is employed to describe the substance of collapse in an effort to insulate conventional pieties and beloved assumptions from withering critiques. Thus from Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation and a deeply engaged and thoughtful person of the left, came an op-ed published in the Washington Post. Contemplating the imminent defeat in Wisconsin, she titled her article “Wisconsin gives progressives something to build on.” She is clear about the nature of the threat:

By attacking labor unions, flooding Wisconsin with outside cash and trying to cleanse the electorate of people who don’t look, earn or think like him, Walker has taken aim at more than a single campaign cycle or a series of policies; his real targets are the pillars of American progressivism itself.

But contemplating the likelihood of defeat, she calls on her allies to take the long view. The very long view. They must contemplate history with the eyes of faith.

Elections are over in a matter of hours, but movements are made of weeks, months and years. The Declaration of Sentiments was issued at Seneca Falls in 1848, yet women did not gain the right to vote until seven decades later. The Civil War ended with a Union victory in 1865, yet the Voting Rights Act was not passed until a century later. Auto workers held the historic Flint sit-down strike in 1936-37, yet the fight for a fair, unionized workforce persists 75 years later.

Victory is inevitable, though perhaps not for another two generations. Build the movement; fight the fight. The message at once consoles the faithful and acknowledges the scale of a historic defeat. When she tries to sound positive about what the long, expensive, draining, bitter, losing fight in Wisconsin accomplished, she waxes eloquent but not, I think, convincing:

Just as the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt motivated people around the world, including in Wisconsin, the occupation of the Madison statehouse helped inspire the occupation of Wall Street a few months later.

This seems at once grandiose and hollow — like Donald Trump, though without the vulgarity. And the fight in Wisconsin gives us an example, she enthuses:

…in the last 15 months, Wisconsin’s progressives have shown us that the battle against bankrolled austerity can be bravely waged by an army of dedicated people committed to protecting working families. They’ve reminded us that good organizing is our only chance to withstand the blitzkrieg of corporate funded advertising — and better yet, leave a lasting mark. Their movement, with thousands of new Wisconsin activists mobilized, energized and educated, can be permanent — and it can keep growing.

Yes, they can do all that, and they can lose. Big time. They can fail to get their favorite candidate nominated by the Democratic voters, they can fail to move public opinion on the core question of the Walker labor reforms, and they can fail to move the state or the country towards their point of view.

Vanden Heuvel’s analysis of why the left lost in Wisconsin is simple, and if it is true, the left looks doomed. The answer is money, she says, reflecting a very widespread line of analysis. Thanks to the Supreme Court, the right is able to outspend the left ten to one, ensuring that the left can never win.

If the argument is correct, then this really is a “Seneca Falls” movement — and the left is doomed to generations of marginalization or, as The Nation would more optimistically put it, “struggle.” If the right can “flood the zone” with dough, the left will never be able to win enough presidential and senatorial contests to reverse the Supreme Court’s trajectory. If the American people are really so stupid and clueless that they docilely follow the big bucks and the deceptive campaign ads of their clever class enemies on the right, then the right is pretty much set for a long spell of power.

The reality is more complicated. For one thing, the left had more money on its side in Wisconsin than many reports acknowledge; $20 million from labor groups, according to this estimate. More importantly, money does matter in politics, but money alone is rarely enough, especially on an issue which voters care deeply about. When the left — or the right — can summon popular passion and energy to its side, it can not only put up a noble fight. It can win. This actually happens quite a lot in American politics: poorly funded campaigns with charismatic candidates tap into some deep reservoir of popular sentiment and they deal out bitter defeats to the pallid, colorless but well-moneyed Establishment candidates. This has been happening relatively frequently in Republican politics of late. There have been times in American history when it happened also on the left. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has had Socialist mayors.

The left’s problem in Wisconsin wasn’t that the right had too much money. The left’s problem is that the left’s agenda didn’t have enough support from the public. Poll after poll after poll showed that the public didn’t share the left’s estimation of the Walker reforms. Many thought they were a pretty good idea; many others didn’t much like the reforms but didn’t think they were bad enough or important enough to justify a year of turmoil and a recall election.

The left lost this election because it failed to persuade the people that its analysis was correct. The people weren’t a herd of sheep dazzled by big money campaign ads on TV; the Wisconsin electorate chewed over the issues at leisure, debated them extensively, considered both points of view — and then handed the left a humiliating, stinging and strategic defeat.

What happened in Wisconsin last night wasn’t, as a distraught young voter told CNN in the video above, the death of democracy in America. But it was an important stage in the death of an old vision of what America is about. What was once a common vision of the future — the “liberal” utopia of the last fifty years — is behind us now. We need a new future because the old one has turned into the past.

Governor Walker and Mayor Barret both gave good speeches last night, and both called for an end to the bitter divisiveness that has polarized Wisconsin for the last 18 months. Both, in a characteristically American way, spoke of the need to put the past behind us and work to build a better tomorrow.

There has never been a greater need for the American faith that leads us to embrace change. The old certainties don’t work anymore, the old institutions are too expensive and too slow, and the old economy isn’t coming back. In Wisconsin, the left embraced the visions and the hopes of the past, but the voters were ready to move on.

Voters in Wisconsin didn’t reject a role for the state in regulating the economy and easing the harshness of life in a market economy. But they turned decisively against the argument that well-paid armies of life-tenured bureaucrats can produce enough good government to justify the cost. And the lesson of the election isn’t that the right has too much money; the lesson is that while the left still has plenty of passion and fire, it has, thanks in part to the power of public sector unions, largely run out of compelling ideas.


  1. George,

    I think the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision played a wee bit of a factor in the outcome. Outlander money from both sides but much more supporting Walker sullied the results and reveals how money is the name of the game even more than in the past in American politics. I think it is all very sad.

  2. another anon says

    The left “through” should be “threw”. ( second sentence). Sorry. I tend to proof read everything I read, and I find typos and little mistakes in most everything.

  3. Exit polls in Wisconsin show that 2/3rds of voters across the board thought that recalling the Governor over something that wasn’t malfeasance or pure criminal activity was wrong. (Funny, I don’t recall Republicans having issues like that when they drove the Grey Davis recall in California a few years ago, but then consistency is not a Republican strength, reference their current presidential candidate.) But that was the message that all that outside money paid for.

    Thanks to a corporate-friendly Supreme Court and the “Citizens United” decision, this and all future elections, where corporate or other monied interests are at stake, was and will be decided not by who has the better idea, but who has the most money to “catapult the propaganda” (to quote our former president). You can get people to vote against puppies and apple pie if you throw enough money into the debate. You only have to look at what the tobacco industry did in the recent California cigarette tax referendum this week, a state with one of the lowest percentages of smokers in the nation. They spent even more money that was spent on Wisconsin to get a vote that was polling at 60-70% in favor of the tax all the way down to dead even in a few short weeks.

    As we can see over the past 30 years or so, from Reagan to Walker, unions have been decimated. Is it any wonder that over the same period the wages of the average American family have flatlined, while the income of the corporate elite have doubled and tripled. There used to be a counterweight to corporate interests, but no longer. So welcome your new corporate overlords, conservatives. I hope you like the way things are in this country, for you have been able to move your agenda. Monied interests will set the policy from here on out, for they are the only ones with the resources to do so any more. Be careful what it is you wish for, for you just may get it.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      BOOmer. As a resident of Illinois I and many others watched what happened in Wisconsin with great interest because our state (Illinois) is in a financial shambles and only getting worse. Personally, I did not like what Governer Walker did and I do NOT like the intimate connection he has with the Koch Brothers and Corporate money. I also believe that the Citizen’s United case was bad law and equated free speech with money. A connection that was never made because previously Money was NOT equated with Free Speech, but with Undue Political Influence. Guess what, I also don’t like Roe v. Wade and the scourge of Abortion that was unleashed in this country so all I can say to my Progressive Bothers and Sisters is “Welcome to the Party.”

      Regardless, I agre that we need to keep an eye on and regulate “Crony” and Vulture” Capitalism, but we also have States and a Federal Government going broke. Would I have liked a phased in approach to all of this? Sure, but no matter what something needed to happen.

      Also, my wife is a school teacher and the State of Illinois has taken HER money that SHE worked for out of HER paycheck and deposited it in a pension account that the State of Illinois is CONSTITUTIONALY responsible to match, but has not. Well something needs to be done in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, etc., to save these pensions and to provide some incentive for people to get into teaching, the Police, Fire-fighting, etc., Illinois wants to pay the invested people in the Pension Program, but for new public sector employees to re-negotiate everything. Is this the answer? I do not know. Gov. Quinn, Speaker Madigan, Rep. Culerton, etc., are attempting (cough!) to work this out; but to suit their interest not ours.

      So something needs to be done that is a certainty otherwise we will become like Greece and let me tell you when Syriza wins over 31% of the vote on June 17, which it is perdicted to do, all hell is going to break loose and all of us Americans of Greek heritage better get off that crazy train and fast! Greek Banks have already a run that has seen almost 1 Billion Euros in losses.

      So Governor Walker may not have the answers, but at least he is trying, and tying something is better that keeping the status quo. The Status Quo will lead us to Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. No thank you. America is better that this.

      As a side note just know that this also had a Real Partisan side to it in that The Republican Party basicall shut down the economic pipeline from the Unions to the Democratic Party. So for the Republicans this whole economic fiasco had a clear positive. Economically disabiling the Wisconsin Democratic party, at least, for a time. Dems play this game too so I am not too upset by this.

      All in all my assessment of Wisconsin and Gov. Walker is guarded. Let’s just wait and see.


  4. Diogenes says

    It’s really rather simple. Unions protect the working class people. The rich want to eliminate unions so the working class won’t be able to demand better wages, pensions, health care, etc. Now, with many city & state govts having problems paying for these things, the obvious thing would be to get rid of the unions, but this is throwing the baby out with the bath water. The correct approach is to have all parties negotiate. If the rich are getting richer while the working class and poor are getting the shaft, this isn’t the answer. This will only lead to serious class warfare.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Diogenes, your assertion was true at one time but no longer. As the son of a union man –an actual working man who got his hands dirty–I resent the fact that public service employees who are primarily desk workers are members of unions. They don’t need unions because they are in the public sector and have protections that real working people in the private sector don’t have, never had, and never will.

      Hold on to your hat: FDR was right on this issue. If gov’t workers unionize, then they would be in opposition to the people they serve.

      What has happened? Bureaucracies have grown intolerant, haughty, corrupt, and arrogant. Good work if you can get it. Peter’s right, if nothing is done then Greece will look like a walk in the park. Outside of the traditional American stock (and even here it’s being frittered away thanks to the evils of feminism, illegal immigration and globalism), this nation doesn’t have the social cohesion that a homogeneous culture like Greece does.

    • Michael Bauman says

      What should be negotiated in private sector businesses is a win/win for both the owners of the business and the employees. That is actually prohibited under U. S. Labor law (and I understand why).

      It is only good business to create a profitable and productive work environment so that the worker bees will willingingly and enthusiastically contribute to the growth of the business. That is what unions should be working for. Of course, those that own the business have to see well beyond the next quarterly stock dividend as the stock market seems to reward those who fire empolyees–at least in the short term. A business cannot not look at labor as “our most valuable asset” and “our most costly overhead” at the same time. The two attitudes are mutually exclusive logically. There has to be a balance but it need not be so damned war-like.

      The neo-fuedalism of the early industrial age was/is tragic, totally unnecessary. The Robber Barons of that age made Gordon Geko look like a pansy do-gooder. Unfortunately, many of the CEO’s of today are little better and, IMO, the globalization of the economy is a form of fascism (don’t think Hitler folks-not what I’m talking about).

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      When public-section employees are getting paid a higher salary rate with the money paid by the private-section employees than what the private-section employees are earning, who’s getting the shaft???

      • Daniel E. Fall says

        This is a baseless comment; sorry, but it is…

        In general, there is an attempt to make wages fair and it is needed, but the CEO of the country, by your standard, is, well, grossly underpaid when you think of the revenues of the US government versus his wages.

        My brother, for example, is a programmer, and does great work for the feds. He could be paid higher in the private sector, but enjoys the project he is involved in…

        For the times when you hear about government golden parachutes; there is an abject failure due to privacy and pure don’t carism by the media, to report the daily golden parachutes the private sector provides, so bite your tongue please. I worked for a small non-profit whose board ask it’s CEO to retire one year and he agreed as long as he got 50 grand a year for 5 years as a payoff. In the public sector, those deals get hollered about high from the mountaintops. The only reason you know about it from me is I did the books.

        The only time public sector employees have faired well, perhaps better than some private sector employees is in pensions, and that was due to the simple size of the pools and the buying power they had investing and betting on higher Dow returns under Dems (okay I shoved that in for fun); it had little to do with your 15% tax rates.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Diogenes says, “It’s really rather simple.”

      Oh that it were.

      The “employer” of the unionized government worker is the tax paying public.

      The negotiator with the unionized government worker is the government.

      This distinction introduces what I believe—and FDR believed—to be a very distinct complication.

      The situation of the government employees in Wisconsin bears scant resemblance to those situations faced, nearly a century ago, by my grandfather, who was a labor union official for the building trades council in Louisville.

  5. Michael Bauman says

    Boomer the unions stopped being a legitimate counter weight to “corporate interests” when they became havens for thugs, criminals and whiners.

    My state, Kansas, has a big budget problem which could be solved or at least ameliorated if the education unions in the state and other public employees did not have their ‘free’ pension plans. The state (we taxpayers) are on the hook for something like $3.2 billion in unfunded pensions (there are a little over 3,000,000 folks in Kansas). The Kansas Public Employee Retirement Plan (KPERS) has been an albatross around the states fiscal health for decades.

    Not only that, we have a portion of our state constitution that requires the state to ‘appropriately fund’ education in the state. To some that seems to mean that every last tax dollar the state collects must go into ‘education’ which means into the pockets of the administrators, union leaders and the politicians that support them. In the meantime, the small school system by wife’s daughter works in (she is an excellent teacher) the administrator gets a new wardrobe paid for every year while my wife’s daughter has to fund her classroom out of her own less than full pocket.

    Administrators across the state are famouns for double and triple dipping by ‘retiring’ from one position and getting their pension while fully employed at and exorbitant salary in another school system in the state. They work a few years there, ‘retire’ again and start up somewhere else.

    The education unions are corrupt, greedy and are destroying quality education in this country while being nothing more than a flack for the most liberal of democrat policies. You don’t think there was a lot of NEA money poured into Wisconsin from the dues of teachers all across the country?

    There are no such things as local elections any more. If you want to put a damper on that you’d have to outlaw all PACS, all union giving, all corporate giving–no one but natural persons allowed to give and, except for the Presidential race, no giving across state lines. Then the politicians would actually have to get out and see folks again and pay attention to the folks they are actually supposed to be representing. I could live with that.

    My guess is that the unions and the corporations would find common cause to object to such a ‘restriction of free speech’

    Also, IMO, the whole idea of labor vs management is a false dicotomy. Greed and lust of power amongst all parties keeps that falness alive.

  6. An elderly German friend of mine, whilst showing me slides of his trips to Western Europe remarked, “these are magnificent structures (referring to the cathedrals) but we can’t dwell on the human sacrifice involved in their construction…it’s very ugly. During the heyday of organized labor in this country, particularly in the rust belt states, along with buying homes, sending their kids to college, maybe summering in a vacation cottage…unionized workers also contributed physically, *and* financially to the building of many an Orthodox church and cathedral with their now-in-retrospect-ill-gotten-gains. Perhaps the Koch-brothers enlightened generation of Orthodox Christians in Wisconsin should turn over the keys to their churches to Gov. Walker with a sincere apology?

    Is it a sin to belong to a union and not recognize one’s place in society?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Walter, you’re missing my point. Public sector “unions” are a contradiction in terms and a slap in the face to actual working men.

  7. Ivan Vasiliev says

    Well said! A very thoughtful and well written article. Thanks for sharing it, George.

    The recall election in Wisconsin illustrated not the power of outside money, but the common sense of the American people in general. In what is very often a very “blue” state the people looked at what Gov. Walker has accomplished: a massive reduction in the state debt without raising taxes, a fully funded state pension plan, minimal reduction in employment among government workers, stability in Medicaid eligibility and payments to doctors, new schools, and an end to the strangle-hold of corrupt and self serving union rajas.

    Compare this with the state to the south, Illinois, where the old and corrupt political machine has managed to do precisely the opposite on all accounts: higher taxes, layoffs in education, stalled school building programs, bloated unions, an underfunded pension plan, and so on.

    Walker’s victory in a frivolous, expensive, and divisive recall election foisted on the people of his state by the public service unions illustrates not what the power of money can do, but what the power of plain common sense can do. Americans are pretty good at figuring out that when something is broken beyond repair and dangerous to democracy the only sensible thing to do is get rid of it and try something new. And we are compassionate enough to make sure that doing so won’t hurt those who most need help. The left-progressive agenda has gone wrong not in its concerns about the poor and middle class (those concerns are shared equally by conservatives) but in its prescription for how to make things better. A bureaucracy of unelected, undemocratic, inefficient, and unaccountable public servants indebted to self-serving unions is just plain dangerous. An economy increasingly dominated by a sector that can only eat up resources without ever producing a profit for its purported beneficiaries is a prescription for disaster ( and in the very near future). The right did not buy the Wisconsin vote; it was decided by the people based on what they clearly perceived as their best interests and the best interests of their state.

    To use a slogan from the former Soviet Union (another example of bureaucratic and economic catastrophe) in a way it was never intended: Вперед к победу! Forward to victory!

  8. lexcaritas says

    Unions originated to insure workingmen a living wage and safe working conditions from inconsiderate private employers, including private corporations. In that regard they are a necessary counter-weight to “corporate greed.” However, the case is different when the employer is the commonwealth in genera–that is the people acting through their duly elected representatives. In that case, employer is not a private profit-making person or entity but the public as a whole and free and open elections are the way to resolve issues not strikes and colletive bargaining.

    I believe our brother Michael has hit the nail on the head.

    As for education, the universal trend for 40-50 years has been consolidation into bigger and bigger schools with top heavy adminstration, pre-professional athletic teams and impressive facilities accompanied by metal detectors, gangs, and declining test scores, emotional and intellectual maturity and responsiblity. Results could be improved overnight by restoring small neighborhood schools and paring administration and transportation costs.

    To reduce corrpution in politics: prohibit anyone in elected office from standing for election toanother position while in office, make the source of his pay the same electorate that put him in office, and end government aid to particular persons and entities limiting the use and disposition of government funds to matters of general welfare and common good not private interests.


  9. Michael Bauman says

    All of this union talk has made me nostalgic for an old Paul Robeson song:

    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
    Alive as you and me.
    Said I but Joe you’re ten years dead
    I never died said he (repeat).

    The cooper bosses shot you Joe,
    They killed you dead, said I
    Takes more than guns to kill a man
    Said Joe, I did not die (repeat)

    As standin’ there as big as life,
    And smiling in his eyes,
    Said Joe, what they forgot to kill,
    Went on to organize (repeat)

    From San Diego up to Maine,
    In every mine and mill,
    Where working men defend their rights
    ‘Tis there you’ll find Joe Hill (repeat)

    Repeat first verse.

    Ah, those were the days and unions really were needed.

    Maybe these days we need to unionize against the corrupt and greedy bosses our elected (often for life) politicians.

    What do you think? Instead of government unions, anti-government unions.

  10. G. Sheppard says

    I worked for the LA County Department of Mental Health for a short time as a contractor and it was there that I got my first exposure to unions. During orientation, the HR person excused herself and a very obnoxious, aggressive union rep entered the room. He reminded me of my elementary principal who used to pace the room when he was angry. He said that if we joined the union and our supervisor even “looked at us funny,” they would be there to defend us. I was surprised, because I had believed that unions just fought for benefits to match what people received in the private sector. This was not the case. The County had extraordinary benefits that you could NEVER find in the private sector. It was all about holding on to what you had. The union was there to protect your job for 2% of your wages. – Something else I found interesting is the power local politicians have. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told us that as County employees we had to boycott Arizona because of their tough immigration laws, which meant we were not allowed to make phone calls to the the State even on our personal time! This came from the Deputy Chief. I had to ask for permission to receive calls from my parents who live in Tucson. The City Council “suspended official travel there, ending future contracts with state businesses.” There was a point when LA was in danger of losing 50% of its power, which comes from AZ, over this stupid vendetta of Vilaraigosa’s.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/05/19/arizona-official-threatens-cut-los-angeles-power-payback-boycott/#ixzz1xEE9szQt

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      Kinda makes me think about stories of shops in certain neighborhoods who would have to pay a protection fee to the local mobster.

  11. Michael Bauman says

    In the small Kansas County where I used to live, the government employees have the best benefit package anywhere in the county paid at 100% with tax dollars and they still gripe.

    Unions in general tend to have a warped sense of reality. There were some aircraft workers in eastern Kansas who went on strike a few years ago because the co-pays (not the premium, the co-pays) on their health insurance were increased by $10.

    It is not so much the benefits as the attitude of entitlement, ungratefulness and arrogance that goes with the benefits that is offensive to me–especially when, as with government employees, they are using my money to pay for them, not their own.

  12. Thanks for this article, George.

    If the MacIver Institute numbers are accurate ($20 million into the recall campaign from organized labor), then the reported 7-1 advantage that Walker enjoyed is vastly inflated. This site estimates that Walker raised $32 million. Anyway you look at it, a lot of money on both sides.

    Good analysis on the Wis. election at Public Sector Inc.

    Also, this from the Washington Post’s coverage:

    Richard L. Hasen, an elections law specialist at the University of California at Irvine, said that Citizens United is “a convenient scapegoat” but that “it’s hard to see it as the culprit” in the Wisconsin contest. He noted exit poll results suggesting that a large portion of pro-Walker voters opposed the recall process on principle.

    “There certainly was a disparity between the money raised on the pro-recall versus anti-recall side, but I don’t think there was any question that those mounting the recall got their message out,” Hasen said. “I’m not convinced that if there was less disparity it would have closed the gap between Walker and Barrett in the results.”

    As for comparisons between the United States and Greece, that to me sounds like a stretch. We’re talking about vastly different cultures, as this Nikos Dimou interview on Spiegel Online makes clear:

    SPIEGEL: And you truly believe that Greece’s history continues to determine your fellow Greeks’ behavior to this day, in the current crisis?

    Dimou: Yes, without a doubt. Modern Greeks will always suffer from knowing what the ancient Greeks accomplished, which we can neither forget nor surpass. My theory is that the Greeks suffered culture shock when they were catapulted from feudal conditions to modernity within the space of a few years in the 19th century. Being caught somewhere between east and west, ancient glory and present poverty, between orthodoxy and enlightenment, has left the Greeks with an identity problem. That’s what makes them unsettled and uncertain to this day. They always feel under threat.

    SPIEGEL: Does that mean Greeks never entirely arrived in Europe?

    Dimou: Greeks weren’t free for a long time. First they were part of a multinational empire that spoke many different languages. Then they lived under Turkish rule for 500 years. Then all of a sudden they had to become Europeans, importing all these institutions. The result is that, to this day, Greeks don’t have a good relationship with their government.

    That isn’t to say that the United States couldn’t also veer into the fiscal abyss. It’s just that we’d do it our way. See “CBO: Debt will be double GDP by 2037” and “Why Austerity Isn’t Enough” by Samuel Gregg on The American Spectator.

    • Geo Michalpulos says

      John, thanks for putting up this quote from Dimou. It’s a biting analysis but the fact that we’re starting to hear some harsh truths being spoken is a giant step in the right direction for Greece and the Greek people in general. Having been force-fed the triumphant happy-talk like all good Greeks, I believe this is the Lord’s way of instilling some necessary repentance in us.

      As to your other point that the cultures of America and Greece are so different that a Greek-like future for America is difficult to see, you are right in the main. However entire states (California) and regions of other states (Detroit, Gary, East St Louis) have already arrived at the dystopian future. I imagine the Reliably Red states will escape this and some of the more purplish Blue States (Wisconsin, Oregon) will have the cojones to stick it to the public-sector unions but only time will tell.

      • Geo Michalpulos says

        I also don’t agree with the sentiment behind Dimou’s assertion that Greeks “don’t have a good relationship with their government.” That is very true, Greeks and government don’t mix. The problem is not this dysfunction but that the Greeks of Greece don’t have a concept of a commonweal. This is true of all peoples that are very clannish and/or tribal.

        An ethical culture which believes in the rule of law is far more important than the relationship between the people and bureaucrats.

      • Yes. Detroit should be a reminder to us that the Greeks don’t have the market cornered on corruption and collapse.

        To your point about commonweal, ever wonder why so many of the “diaspora” organizations are focused on regions or islands? Pontic, Pan-Cretan, Pan-Macedonian, Pan-Lemnian, Chian, Pan-Karpathian, etc.

        This is from a Bloomberg story about Alexis Tsipras, the man who leads the Coalition of the Radical Left in Greece, described in the article as “the Greek political party that could bring down the European economy.” Tsipras seems quite prepared to do just that. Note also how he resorts to the old dodge of blaming “Great Powers” for Greece’s problems.

        “The election isn’t between Syriza and the other parties,” [Tsipras] said. “It’s between hope and fear. It’s between the powers of yesterday that ruined Greece and our power that wants to make a step towards a better future. It’s between the power of corruption and the power of the poor.”

        When Tsipras finished speaking, he took questions. One woman sought his views about renewable energy. A student asked what he would do to help the youth. A man inquired how he would clean up the public sector. His answers weren’t specific. He used them to attack his opponents, to promise a future in which nobody went hungry, and to repeat his assertion that the real problem with the Greek economy lay outside its borders.

        He had spent much of the previous week framing his criticisms of the debt deal as a hand extended toward the rest of the union. As the sun set in the plaza, he showed that the hand could also be a fist.

        “We ask you to give power to Syriza in order to be powerful as Greece,” he said. And then, a few sentences later: “We’re going to have the power to say, if you want to send us to the bottom, we will take you to the bottom too.”

  13. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Someone mentioned the difference between two kinds of government workers in Wisconsin:

    Teachers, who tend to vote Democrat, and
    Police and firemen, who tend to vote Republican.

    Notice that the unions representing these two groups are treated quite differently.

    Public attitude is also very different: Police and firemen receive high marks for their performance in Wisconsin; teachers don’t.

    This difference may have contributed to Walker’s overwhelming victory.

  14. Michael Bauman says

    Since the philosophy behind the public education movement in this courntry particularly Dewey and Horace Mann was to make the little ones good and productive creatures of the state, I can see your point Father.

    Police and Fire people tend to see their job to protect and serve while educators tend to see theirs and indoctrinte and control.

  15. cynthia curran says

    IActually, the Unions themselves turn against the working man. The AFLl-CIO use to be against illegal immirgation but now they support them. The problem is illegal immirgation added a lot of low skilled people which depresses wages. Trade has caused some problem with the wages of the working native but now robots are elimanting factory jobs more than China. On the other hand, their are a lot of factory jobs that joe blow which doesn’t received the trade education of 30 years ago with a new emphasis on computers can’t do and those jobs go wanting. A lot of machinists of a computer programming type are needed. Also, SEIU has not booasted wages either for the service industry since they also have many members here illegality. In fact, the Robber Baron period mention earlier was also a period of high immirgation which depressed wages. Both parties still support high levels of immirgation around 1 million a year in a recesssion.

  16. cynthia curran says

    Gee, Walter that was the old unions and I think the height of the unions was in the 1950’s in fact the standard of living was lower in the 1950’s since white poverty was around 20 percent. Granted, there was few homeless since a lot of flop houses kind of like the motels in Calfornia were housing for the poor in the 1950’s there were still places in the USA that didn’t have indoor plumbing. Granted, there are folks that have it hard these days and not all of them want to live on the dole.

  17. Daniel E. Fall says

    Wisconsin is fairly red as a state and it wasn’t firefighters versus teachers. Claiming one is good and the other is inherently bad is a flatout false, baseless statement. Teachers helped your kids; you just like to pretend it isn’t really true cuz it implies they were dumb without education.

    And for the person that suggested the 20 million labor dollars in the Barrett campaign, where are you getting your facts? Everything I read had Walker spending 32 million and Barrett spending 4 million, plus or minus a million for each. I think that was the WP; so not a left wing rag I read there… My folks said Walker had full page ads in the local paper paid by the NRA; Barrett did not.

    Taking away collective bargaining for public employees doesn’t have an impact today, but it will in the future if wages are impacted negatively by the decision. For all the chatter about public employees getting overpaid; it isn’t true; my father was a public sector employee and was never, not ever, well paid. His retirement was the only great benefit and that was related more to public sector investment pools being successful in the Clinton years than your taxes being too high (trying to keep you all from tearing up).

    As for the comments about comparing Greece to Wisconsin; there is no comparison. If you make over 100 Euros, the tax rate is 45%; Wisconsin and the Fed combines are never 45% for the quarter million club. Shipping is not taxed, trading in the stock market is not taxes, and tax evasion in Greece is rampant.

    The austerity measures in Greece of the last 2 years have essentially failed. The real problem in Greece is noone with the wherewithall is willing to pay the bill and it is too politically unpopular to talk about taxes in a positive light. You can’t have socialism and low, uncollected taxes; ain’t hard math there.

    Taxes in Greece will go up; they will not in Wisconsin no matter what party the governor hails from.

    It sure is fun to log in here and see how you all have been so propogandized by FNN; very fun.

  18. cynthia curran says

    Truth about Greece not wanting to pay taxes with the benefits, same in California a measure against the cash economy draws some complains and even some Conservatives want their sons to practice in a new high school football stadium when people complain about the school budgets being less funded and larger class sizees. Anyway, in the short tem I think Calfironia will still be run by public unions with the Dems but at one time I thought that since the inland counties like Riverside are growing more minority that the Dems would even have more of a lock but I saw the results of the recent election and the Cig Tax mention above lost greater in Riverside thanOrange Couny. Steve Sailer a paleo con has a theory that Republicans do better when housing is cheaper and guess what housing is cheaper in Riverside than Orange. And Riverside, San Diego and OC are growing at a faster rate than La County so maybe Calif where be the New Mexico of the next decade in 2020 and so since the Inland counties and the more conservative or moderate coastial counties are growing faster than the liberal ones.

  19. cynthia curran says

    Well, actually Greece or Italy or Spain or even Portgual are not poor by world standards, the average Greek has a good chance of attending high school countries like Mexico to our south are behind Greece in that reagard and Greece wages are in line with South Korea. Greece even in classical times wasn’t as wealthy as Persia but allow prior to Alexander’s conquest a better chance for the peasant farmer. I think the Ottoman control didn’t do the Greeks any good since as mention in the 19th century they were behind most of Western Europe.

  20. cynthia curran says

    Wi is not fairly red it usually votes Democratic in the general election for president its a siwng state at best the Republicans have came up since with a few exceptions the state is mainly aging white and the Republicans do better with middle age whites and the poverty rate isn’t high.

  21. cynthia curran says

    Personality reading about Obama’s childhood mentor Frank who is known to be Frank William Marshall, a devote Communists who thought that Truman was evil and the Marshall Plan was American Imperialism. Also, the man Frank wrote under another name about his sexaul relationships with children. Two good reasons that Obama tried to not gave too him on who Frank was. Granted, Frank Marshall doesn’t make one a leftist but Obama seems to involved with people like Ayers and Company as well. I think the man has too many secrets.

  22. cynthia curran says

    Actually, he wrote Davis a hardcore porno novel about having sex with a 13 year old girl.