22 February 2011

A brief discursive continuation on the topics of cheese and proletarian rage…

The Gov Scott ‘Just a Letter Out of Place’ Walker budget proposal to roll back public sector union benefits and destroy their ability for collective bargaining seems to have people up in… well, not arms, really, but up in a very righteously angry place… in my old hometown. For one thing, I think people have a very legitimate right to be upset at the sheer staggering hypocrisy of our newly-minted governor after having given some rather costly corporate welfare (in the neighbourhood of $140 million) going largely to multinationals with state presence, and more than a little licence to look askance at ‘budget repair’ that really does very little more than patch over the public costs of Gov Walker’s own political agenda. For another thing, it shows the utter intellectual bankruptcy of the ‘Tea Party’ movement that they will approve any deficit expansion which benefits them politically, even though reducing the deficit is supposedly their raison d’etre. Moreover, I do sincerely believe any erosion of collective bargaining rights for labour unions, in whatever sector, bodes ill for other political freedoms often enough to be of legitimate concern (though whether primary- and secondary-school teachers should be in public-sector unions in the first place is a very different question).

However, a major caveat here. I was born in Madison, and lived there for most of my life. So trust me on this one – it just isn’t Cairo or Tunis or Tripoli; and Walker may be a total douchebag but he isn’t a dictator. These kinds of inane, hyperbolic comparisons really don’t do credit to anyone, as they both cheapen the North African regimes’ struggles for basic dignity and political participation and distort the true purpose of these protests. Yet keep in mind also: the people here know exactly what they want and why, and are asking for it in a generally logical and civil manner. There has been no violence, no guns, no race-baiting, no government-overthrow fantasy at these protests (though a highly regrettable overabundance of Star Wars nerds)…

We shall see how things continue to unfold. My sympathies at this point, as if it weren’t already abundantly clear, are solidly with the protesters. I may yet have more; my apologies for ending my most recent blog posts in such a disappointing and tentative manner.

Also, this from Crooked Timber.

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