One of the Masters of the Villagers, Joe Klein takes a sledge hammer to the public employee unions of Wisconsin in his newest piece of dribble.
Wow, talk about misreading the zeitgeist. Joe Klein has been so immersed in the Third Way centrist babble on public employee unions for so long that he's completely lost the thread.
Revolutions everywhere--in the middle east, in the middle west. But there is a difference: in the middle east, the protesters are marching for democracy; in the middle west, they're protesting against it. I mean, Isn't it, well, a bit ironic that the protesters in Madison, blocking the state senate chamber, are chanting "Freedom, Democracy, Union" while trying to prevent a vote? Isn't it ironic that the Democratic Senators have fled the democratic process? Isn't it interesting that some of those who--rightly--protest the assorted Republican efforts to stymie majority rule in the U.S. Senate are celebrating the Democratic efforts to stymie the same in the Wisconsin Senate?
An election was held in Wisconsin last November. The Republicans won. In a democracy, there are consequences to elections and no one, not even the public employees unions, are exempt from that. There are no guarantees that labor contracts, including contracts governing the most basic rights of unions, can't be renegotiated, or terminated for that matter. We hold elections to decide those basic parameters. And it seems to me that Governor Scott Walker's basic requests are modest ones--asking public employees to contribute more to their pension and health care plans, though still far less than most private sector employees do. He is also trying to limit the unions' abilities to negotiate work rules--and this is crucial when it comes to the more efficient operation of government in a difficult time.
If I didn't know better, I'd think that Joe just dusted off an old column from 1993, changed a few names and just threw it on line. He clearly has not been following the changing debate on these issues over the past few years and certainly hasn't the vaguest clue about what Walker is really doing.
Joe Klein was on MSNBC during the 1 PM PST hour to debate with a union hater and it appeared as if the MSNBC host thought Klein was going to support the unions so they had a twofer railing against the Wisconsin protests. Weird. Suddenly elections matter to idiots like Klein. We had one in 2008 too. A BIG one.
Let's be clear: Whatever fiscal problems Wisconsin is -- or is not -- facing at the moment, they're not caused by labor unions. That's also true for New Jersey, for Ohio and for the other states. There was no sharp rise in collective bargaining in 2006 and 2007, no major reforms of the country's labor laws, no dramatic change in how unions organize. And yet, state budgets collapsed. Revenues plummeted. Taxes had to go up, and spending had to go down, all across the country.
Blame the banks. Blame global capital flows. Blame lax regulation of Wall Street. Blame home buyers, or home sellers. But don't blame the unions. Not for this recession...read on.