Skip to comments.Krauthammer: Wisconsin vote a turning point
Posted on 06/08/2012 9:13:29 AM PDT by Signalman
Tuesday, June 5, 2012, will be remembered as the beginning of the long decline of the public-sector union. It will follow, and parallel, the shrinking of private-sector unions, now down to less than 7 percent of American workers.
The abject failure of the unions to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker the first such failure in U.S. history marks the Icarus moment of government-union power. Wax wings melted, there's nowhere to go but down.
The ultimate significance of Walker's union reforms has been largely misunderstood. At first, the issue was curtailing outrageous union benefits, far beyond those of the ordinary Wisconsin taxpayer. That became a nonissue when the unions quickly realized that trying to defend the indefensible would render them toxic for the real fight to come.
So they made the fight about the "right" to collective bargaining, which the reforms severely curtailed. In a state as historically progressive as Wisconsin in 1959, it was the first to legalize the government-worker union they thought they could win as a matter of ideological fealty.
But as the recall campaign progressed, the Democrats stopped talking about bargaining rights. It was a losing issue. Walker was able to make the case that years of corrupt union-politician back-scratching had been bankrupting the state. And he had just enough time to demonstrate the beneficial effects of overturning that arrangement: a huge budget deficit closed without raising taxes, significant school-district savings from ending cozy insider health-insurance contracts, and a modest growth in jobs.
But the real threat behind all this was that the new law ended automatic government collection of union dues. That was the unexpressed and politically inexpressible issue. Without the thumb of the state tilting the scale by coerced collection, union membership became truly voluntary. Result? Newly freed members rushed for the exits. In less than one year, AFSCME, the second largest public-sector union in Wisconsin, has lost more than 50 percent of its membership.
It was predictable. In Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels instituted by executive order a similar reform seven years ago, government-worker unions have since lost 91 percent of their dues-paying membership.
In Wisconsin, Democratic and union bosses (a redundancy) understood what was at stake if Walker prevailed: not benefits, not "rights," but the very existence of the unions.
So they fought and they lost. Repeatedly. Tuesday was their third and last shot at reversing Walker's reforms.
In April 2011, they ran a candidate for chief justice of the state Supreme Court who was widely expected to strike down the law. She lost.
In July and August 2011, they ran recall elections of state senators, needing three to reclaim Democratic i.e., union control. They failed. (The likely flipping of one Senate seat to the Democrats on Tuesday is insignificant. The Senate is not in session and won't be until after yet another round of elections in November.)
And then, Tuesday, their Waterloo. Walker defeated their gubernatorial candidate by a wider margin than he had two years ago.
The unions' defeat marks a historical inflection point. They set out to make an example of Walker. He succeeded in making an example of them as a classic case of reactionary liberalism. An institution founded to protect its members grew in size, wealth, power and arrogance. A half-century later these unions were exercising essential control of everything from wages to work rules in the running of government something that, in a system of republican governance, is properly the sovereign province of the citizenry.
Why did the unions lose? Because Norma Rae nostalgia is not enough, and it hardly applied to government workers living better than the average taxpayer who supports them.
And because of the rise of a new constitutional conservatism committed to limited government and a more robust civil society of the kind that swept away Democrats in the 2010 midterm shellacking.
Most important, however, because in the end reality prevails. As economist Herb Stein once put it: Something that can't go on, won't. These public-sector unions, acting, as FDR had feared, with an inherent conflict of interest regarding their own duties, were devouring the institution they were supposed to serve, rendering state government as economically unsustainable as the collapsing entitlement states of southern Europe.
It couldn't go on. Now it won't. All that was missing was a political leader willing to risk his career to make it stop. Because, time being infinite, even the inevitable doesn't happen on its own.
That a recall was demanded and went ahead was a ‘turning point’.
I wish I could write half as clearly and half as powerfully as CK. He is one smart dude.
I was thinking the same thing.He probably was dictating it off the top of his head to Dragon software, being that he's paralyzed.He writes like he talks.
Marked for later read
Now he casts himself as a conservative by posing amongst liberals
WI and IN are small fry. It won’t be as easy in CA,IL and NY.
The PEU and the parasites are a majority and won’t give up easily. Getting a couple of Props approved in San Diego and San Jose are not the entire state and was done during primary elections..not general elections where more of the parasites show up to vote RAT.
I am overjoyed we made this little progress,but it is a long way to go to Nov and even further to fiscal responsibility.
I would rather have him on our side than the side of the PEUs!
One of the real challenges for the Tea Party and other state conservative groups is CURRICULUM. At some point, this entire subject has to be concisely and accurately presented in texts, so that we can produce conservative thought in our students. Aristotelian logic should be the champion in the humanities: we’ve sat back and allowed institutions to produce an ideology that is at odds with classic American thought. This is way more important than the tactical battles won.
Scott Walker, American hero.
I suspect that the next shoe to drop in Wisconsin will be the revelation that the public section pension funds are seriously underfunded.
However, the people of California have the opportunity to watch Wisconsin and Indiana recover from a financial crisis similar, obviously on a smaller scale, than Californians are facing right now. As these two states take the smart and conservative route, and the result is increasing prosperity, the people of California can watch and learn. If they're smart they'll swallow their pride and admit they were wrong in time to recover (if that's possible).
If not, they will find themselves in a horrifying collapse with no one to turn to for help. The federal government is approaching the “cliff.” Regardless who sits in the White House there is good reason to doubt that the US government would be able to help California even if Congress and POTUS wanted to.
Perhaps it's time for California's neighboring states to invest in a lot of fencing...
That may be true, but prior recalls were occasioned by Governors who did terrible things that caused their constituents to want them gone early. Gray Davis, for example. Walker was elected and then did exactly what he said he would do. The only thing that had changed was that the unions wanted a do-over on the election that they lost, not that Walker had done anything to turn off the electorate. In such circumstances, a recall is not warranted, as it turns every election into a second election (when Democrats lose). It is therefore not surprising that Walker won, and it is a great thing that this recall abuse was defeated.
Please allow me to reflect on the leadership of posters here at FR:
When all this started in February I pointed out that the real issue was exactly that because it would cripple the unions........
"...the real threat behind all this was that the new law ended automatic government collection of union dues."
At his very core lies a Statist. CK is an arrogant elitist who believes that the "englightened" should rule over the masses.
The sum of his writings indicate a man who does not believe in true Liberty. He has a problem with the Capitalism of Milton Friedman and von Mises. He doesn't respect the creative messiness of capitalism.
Smart though he is, he still can't acknowledge or recognize the utter evil that is most government undertakings. [I have read him for years and that is what I conclude]
You are absolutely correct, sand. In the end people that live on the "right" side of the tracks are always loath to let the "wrong" side residents move to the right side, what ever that is.
A reference or two would help me reassess.
I have read CK for years and his is indeed at times very insightful. However, when it comes to assessing conservatives who are not part of the DC crowd, he goes off irrationally attacking them.
I believe within the past year CK had some writings/videos that had Conservatives on FR up in arms. It was disgusting to witness him circle the wagons around his DC elitist friends. I lost a lot of respect for him. Just put in a google search for CK and "Tea Party" you will likely get some wonderfully appreciative comments from CK (NOT!)
The bottom line for me is that, in the end, I know with certainty that CK is not a friend of Liberty.