Who’s Been Overreaching, Again?

Jen Rubin takes E. J. Dionne to school:

Overreach would be choosing extra-legislative means (flight) to prevent the voters’ elected representatives from working their will. Overreach would be threatening Republican officials in their homes. Overreach would be a flurry of Hitlerian imagery (good for the National Jewish Democratic Council in denouncing the widespread signage, but where is the George Soros-backed Jewish Funds for Justice and the anti-Glenn Beck crowd when you need them?) Overreach would be a massive sick-out, in essence a dishonest strike. (The schools should dock pay for anyone not actually ill who didn’t show up.)

So, yes, Walker is seeking a revamping of the state’s relationship with its public employee unions. It’s about time.

And Professor Bainbridge explains why public-employee unions are so inimical to public finance, and should be universally abolished. Even Franklin Roosevelt was opposed to them, with good reason:

In effect, public sector unionism thus means that representatives of the union will often be on both sides of the collective bargaining table. On the one side, the de jure union leaders. On the other side, the bought and paid for politicians. No wonder public sector union wages and benefits are breaking the back of state budgets. They are bargaining with themselves rather than with an arms’-length opponent.

Basically, they’ve wrecked the California economy, and in Madison, they’ve created Greece with snow, and are on the verge of granting Frances Fox Piven her violent and anti-democratic wish.

[Update a few minutes later]

Who is polarizing America?

I argue in Radical-in-Chief that Obama’s long-term hope is to divide America along class lines (roughly speaking, tax payers versus tax beneficiaries). Obama’s attack on the Supreme Court at his 2010 State of the Union address, his offensive against the Chamber of Commerce, his exhortation to Hispanics to punish their enemies, and several similar moves were all efforts to jump-start a populist movement of the left. Like his socialist organizing mentors, Obama believes that a country polarized along class lines will eventually realign American politics sharply to the left. Yet the entire strategy is based on the need for an activated, populist movement of the left. So far, Obama has failed to create such a movement. His expensive economic agenda has provoked a populist counter-movement of the right instead: Obama’s nightmare.

Now, however, Obama may belatedly be getting his wish. The very success of the Tea Party is calling forth an opposing movement of the left. Obama’s exhortations may have failed to polarize the country along class lines, but his policies have finally provoked the long-sought battle. The once-dormant legions of Obama’s group, Organizing for America, have now been activated. This is the moment they were created for.

In Radical-in-Chief, I describe the “inside/outside” or “good cop/bad cop” strategy favored by Obama and his organizing mentors. The idea is that a seemingly moderate “good cop” politician works on the inside of government, while coordinating his moves with nasty Alinskyite “bad cops” on the outside. Reports that Obama’s own organizers helped put together the Madison protests fit the model. That coordination is necessary to achieve Obama’s real goal: kicking off a national grassroots movement of the left that he can quietly manage, while keeping his distance when necessary.

And Steven Hayward says it may be time to really start brewing some tea, while these thugs are still in the minority.

[Update a few minutes later]

The AP as union mouthpiece:

“Protesters clogged the hallway outside the Senate chamber, beating on drums, holding signs deriding Walker and pleading for lawmakers to kill the bill.”

“Beating on drums”? Beating on drums? These were public-school teachers, right? In any case, they were public employees. Beating on things is what little kids do when they’re not getting their way, or demanding something. Of course, the beating of drums is meant to menace and intimidate too.

America’s liberals must be very proud. Mobbing the legislature and beating on drums! Bear in mind that the Left is the thinking, sophisticated, and humane party in America.

The AP story — and remember that this is supposed to be a news report from a wire service — contains the line, “Elsewhere in the Statehouse, Democrats showed up in the state Assembly chamber wearing orange T-shirts that proclaimed their support for working families.”

“Working families,” huh? What do you call the families with taxpayers who support what Governor Walker and the Republicans are trying to do, and oppose the unions and their thuggish tactics? Non-working families?

It’s who they are. It’s what they do.

[Update late morning]

Here’s more:

Someone wrote me that the “public employees” in Wisconsin reminded her of Chávez and his goons in Venezuela. Actually, they remind me of Cuba. There, the dictatorship sends its loyalists to the homes of those suspected of not being loyalists. They scream, beat on things, denounce, and threaten. The idea is, the “disloyal” Cubans are supposed to quake in their homes, and they do. These tactics are called actos de repudio — “acts of repudiation.” They are a mainstay of the regime.

Sadly, they’re not the only regime of which they are a mainstay. Remember this the next time someone tells you how “moderate” and “centrist” the president is.

[Update a while later]

Is this how a president should act?

Just think–there once was a time (for more than a century, actually), when the president of the United States thought it too imperious to deliver the State of the Union via a speech to a joint session of Congress, since that would smack of telling a co-equal branch of government what to do. Now we have a president not just taking rhetorical sides in a state issue, but actively mobilizing his political organization to affect the outcome(s), even though (to my knowledge) nothing that Gov. Walker or any other belated statehouse cost-cutter is doing has a damned thing to do with federal law.

I have written in the past about how libertarians are pretty lonely in the political scheme of things in terms of constantly being challenged to defend themselves against the “logical conclusion” of their philosophy. But I think it’s time to amend that. We are witnessing the logical conclusion of the Democratic Party’s philosophy, and it is this: Your tax dollars exist to make public sector unions happy.

When this president acts presidential, it’s the exception, not the rule.

[Afternoon update]

The AWOL Democrat state senators have a new hideout. Hey, it’s the Chicago way.

[Update a few minutes later]

A first-hand blogging report from a law professor in Madison. I’m thinking (and hoping) that this generates a huge anti-union backlash, especially for public-employee unions. I think that people have had enough.

22 thoughts on “Who’s Been Overreaching, Again?

  1. Chris Gerrib

    I’m sorry – this whole post reeks of “it’s okay if Republicans do it.”

    If a bunch of cranky people stand outside Congress and yell about “socialized medicine” it’s okay because they’re the TEA Party ™. If teachers do it they’re “union thugs.”

    If Republicans filibuster and to every other legislative trick in the book to delay a vote, that’s okay. If Democrats use a legislative trick, they’re “shirking their duty.”

    If a bunch of TEA Party ™ types come to a rally with guns on their hips or signs that say “we came unarmed this time” that’s just charming, but if Democrats bang on drums they’re “childish Hugo Chavez thugs.”

    If a Republican President says “you’re either with us or against us” as he invades a country, that’s patriotism. If a Democratic President says the state is clearly busting a union (which they are) that’s imperious and out of bounds.

    Sorry, Rand, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  2. McGehee

    Chris, the difference is if you put astroturf in your yard, it doesn’t take root and grow. It just lies there and looks tacky and all your neighbors know it’s not real grass.

    That’s why the 2010 elections went the way they did, and it’s why what’s happening in Madison is embarrassing your side so effectively.

  3. Rand Simberg Post author

    Sorry, Rand, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    Really? The Tea Parties bused people in to protest at Democrat politicians’ homes, and threaten their families? Did that evil Reich-wing media cover that up? Because I never heard about it.

  4. Larry J

    No, it looks like labor unions and Democrats working against the will of the Wisconsin voters, the ones who elected all of those Republicans to the governorship and state legislature. It could get really interesting if a lot of taxpayers go to the state capital to protest against the union protestors.

    As it is, the unions’ greed seems to have no bounds.

  5. Leland

    I guess history majors don’t learn the difference between a Quorum Call and a Fillibuster. It’s a shame education is so lacking in these mid-western states.

  6. Karl Hallowell

    Chris, so how should we treat immature and delusional idiots who are protesting solely to protect a publicly funded revenue stream that undermines the well-being of the state of Wisconsin? You’re simply on the wrong side of the future here.

  7. R7

    Public employee unions are ANTI-DEMOCRATIC, they are an arm of the Permanent USG. Unelected bureaucrats should have no legitimate power over elected officials. It’s time to smash this arm of the Permanent USG. And then, go after the rest of the Permanent USG.

  8. IcePilot

    Scene 1: Union Boss across table from politician,
    Subject of discussion: Pay and Benefits.

    Scene 2: Union Boss across table from politician,
    Subject of discussion: Campaign Contribution.

    The state of education in the state of Wisconsin is such that educators apparently don’t recognize the long term problem. Neither conservatives nor libertarians need be embarrassed in (rhetorically) tarring and feathering the terminally self-interested (& self-destructive). This will end government unions – and good riddance.

  9. Der Schtumpy

    I saw professionally printed signs questioning the “Illegal Republican Takeover” of the state, several different but similarly worded “Is this DEMOCRACY?”, “This ISN’T Democracy”, blah, blah, blah.

    I’ve been looking for 2 days to see just how many union teachers there are in WI. According to their own site it’s ‘almost’ 88,000. But given their ignorance of basic math (the state is broke, but they don’t think they should back off on pay and benefits AT ALL), so I don’t trust that number.

    Anyway, WI has about 3.5 million registered voters, there are 88,000 teachers. If everyone votes, and we know that never happens, the teachers comprise a whopping 2.59% of the voters.

    Again, I call into question their math skills, they don’t think they got out voted in last Novembers elections!!

    Honestly, I’m torn on unions.

    My grandfather was a pre-union truck driver. He fought for, but never joined the Teamsters. (he became management shortly after the union started in KY) There was a need then for the truckers to unionize. I’ve read enough to know some unions were necessary, but modern unions are a joke.

    The WI Teachers need Funny Red Noses and floppy shoes, IMHO.

    When you are in a union, fighting for your existence (their word not mine) it’s a pretty hollow argument when the striking union members have a better standard of living and better working benefits and retirement benefits and a higher paycheck than the average worker in the state!! It’s more than just hollow, it’s offensive.

    If the teachers can’t see that their personal existence at this monetary level, literally dooms the state, and the lives of the CHILDREN they supposedly care SO much about, the the Governor should do like Reagan did PATCO.

    Fire their asses and hire some new people.

    With all the teachers that have been laid off in the last few years, I’m betting the WI Governor could replace them in less than a month.

    And as usual Chris G piles manure by the bucket on this topic.

    Chris,
    just what government entity was shut down by the Tea Party people rallying? What building did they take over? Show me one sign at a Tea Party gathering that likened Obama to Hitler or Saddam?

    (and I mean a sign carried by a Tea Party person, the liberal shills don’t count!)

    I don’t fault the WI Teachers for protesting, but getting the HS kids to go with them, is bad form. If you’ve seen the videos, the kids had NO idea what the hell they were marching for, ‘…uh, LIKE Mr. Johnson asked us if LIKE we wanted to LIKE protest, so we got on a bus, and LIKE here we are!”

    And as usual Chris, you beat all around it, but you over looked the obvious. This isn’t about right or wrong, power, politics, political parties or even voting, it’s about MONEY, plain and simple.

    The teachers want something that isn’t possible. Continuation of money and benefits at a level that the state cannot, nor that the MAJORITY of voters are willing to, pay any longer.

  10. ken anthony

    The piece downplays Piven’s radicalism, noting that her widely criticized call for intentionally creating a political and economic crisis in America’s welfare system was made 45 long years ago.

    I love how the left says, “that was years ago” when the fact is it was also yesterday and today, and consistent for all those years.

    Chris, both sides do it is the stupidest of arguments. Especially when you point to one nut who isn’t even a member of the group being accused with legions being bussed in as equivalent.

    It’s time to fight fire with a fire storm. Fire them all.

  11. Karl Hallowell

    As an aside, if a teacher called in sick and then shows up protesting, that sounds to me like grounds for disciplining, perhaps even firing that teacher.

  12. ken anthony

    A commenter on one of the links, or linked from a link (I’m a bit lost) suggested video of the protests should be compared with those calling in sick and those in both categories be immediately fired. I’m wondering if it’s easier to fire them all? Examples from Reagan, Clinton and Bush suggesting that would be the way to go?

  13. Bill Maron

    “If a bunch of cranky people stand outside Congress and yell about “socialized medicine” it’s okay because they’re the TEA Party ™. If teachers do it they’re “union thugs.”

    Typical misinformation. The TEA party was outside yelling and screaming. The teachers were INSIDE beating drums, yelling and screaming AND trashed the rotunda when they left.

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