Wisconsin struggles

Overview of what are the main points of the struggle pitting public employees and union members against Gov. W.

  • The Govornor is using a purported defict crisis to attempt to take away the collective bargaining rights of public employees. Gov. W claims the deficit as around three million while others, for example Laura Dresser at Center on Wisconsin Strategy says (listen to her on Fair’s Coounterspin) that number was arrived at by using the wish budgets of all departments whereas the actual deficit is two million or less. Dean Baker says it may be around 6-700 million given that the deficit was largely a result of falling stock prices which are the bedrock of pension plans and which have recovered somewhat since hitting rock bottom.
  • Thus, extravagant pension plans are not the cause of the deficit, but the fiscal crisis, caused by the unregulated gambling of Wall Street, which has decimated pension plans heavily invested in stocks, is.
  • In the spirit of Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”, wherein a crisis or mock crisis is used as a smoke screen to disguise attempts to privatize government and public institutions, Gov. W. is using a mock crisis to attack unions and to privatize state property.
  • The public employee unions offered to go along with cuts in public spending in order to reduce the Wisconsin deficit but Gov. W. did not agree and instead went on attack against the unions, trying to take away their right to collective bargaining.
  • Gov. W.’s bill also calls for selling off state owned power plants to private interests in a no-bid process. Reminds one of both the selling off of the former USSR’s resources to a criminal oligarchy and of  W.’s behavour in conquered Iraq in which the American viceroy, Paul Bremer stated that one of his top priorities was to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises”.
  • Another particularly nasty piece of work in Gov. W-‘s bill is language that allows for an official appointed by the Gov., and without consent or approval by the legislature, to cut the health benefits to Wisconsin’s low income citizens.
  • The Governor would seem to be doing what he was paid to do by his corporate sponsors and attempting to do  away with public unions who have acted as a counterweight to corporate powers.