Gov.Scott Mubarak, your revolution is waiting | WisCommunity

Gov.Scott Mubarak, your revolution is waiting

Remember, when Scott Walker was running for governor, how he and other Republicans were lamenting that the proposed two-year labor contracts the Doyle administration had bargained with a number of bargaining units should not be "rushed" to the floor of the Legislature for a vote? Because it would take at least -- at least! -- ten days or longer to properly review them? And that this went against the idea of transparency and openness in government?

Well, consistency apparently is the hobgoblin of Walker-esque minds. Because now, after last Friday when he suddenly announced a permanent measure to change more than 50 years of state-labor laws, the Walk-man insists that we got ourselves a budget emergency and that the new Republican majorities in both houses need to rush through public hearings and enact his union-busting plan within FOUR working days.

Why so fast? Well, because, a big lie runs halfway around the state before the truth can get its boots on, that's why.

Walker's move is just the latest conservative use of a "shock doctrine" tactic that author Naomi Klein has also called "Disaster Capitalism." It works like this:

Pick a problem: Terrorism in the world, an international financial crisis, nuclear proliferation, your ingrown toenail, whatever..

Next, ignore real solutions to that problem, but pick an issue from the conserve-o-verse agenda that you'd like to advance.

Third, get your communications staff working on speeches, third-party TV and radio ads from shadowy special interest groups who are you, and news releases. Give your spinmeisters the world-shaking crisis you picked in step one, and the agenda item you chose in step 2. Tell them to marry the two with non sequiturs that sound good..

Voila! Walker is suddenly announcing that the state's structural deficit, which has existed for the better part of a decade, is now a matter of the utmost urgency, that can't wait for even a second to be dealt with, and that we not only have to mount a special session to deal with it, but that we must jam new, sweeping legislation down the throats of the public, at once..

And what's the big solution to the structural deficit? Why, cutting state worker pay and engineering future pay talks so that state workers can never catch up when the economy improves. And for good measure, gutting their bargaining units of almost all their power. Voila! Budget problem (supposedly) fixed, and a major opponent of the governor removed from the battlefield.

But keep in mind that this Darwinian, draconian move upsets 50 years of state labor law, well established and supported by both parties, including Walker's mentor Tommy Thompson. And to overcome unease in the Legislature over such executive overreach, Scott the Boy Wonder has to ram this through fast, before anyone has time to think or actually get moving on alternatives and counter-arguments. Or logic, or a few minutes abusing a pocket calculator.

So, when the Doyle administration spends just about a year negotiating new contracts, and shows the proposed deals to the old (Democratic-controlled) Legislature weeks ahead of a vote, which votes in all of past state history were largely perfunctory and agreeable since legislators accepted how hard administrations of both parties had worked to achieve them, Walker says the Dems are rushing to judgment and that the Republicants need lots more time, months even, to check everything out.

But Walker's own plan to functionally eliminate state collective bargaining? Why, we can do that in four business days, tops! Because, actually, that's the only way we CAN do that. Longer, and people might actually start thinking things through.

And so Walker borrows a page from George W. Bush's own use of "shock doctrine" tactics (e.g., Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and plans to use them so we must act this very instant!). In so doing Walker implements his very own mini-version of the famed German Reichstag fire. He fully intends to seize more power as a result of this budget "disaster" that he and his own party greatly helped to create.

The victims? Oh, just about 200,000 working families that have a head of household who works for either state or local government in Wisconsin.

The winners? Businesses around Wisconsin, who just recently received Walker-driven tax cuts that -- coincidentally -- just about equal the money he's grabbing away from his own employees. Can you say "upward redistribution of wealth," boys and girls?

Yes, yes, those businesses are such winners! When state workers take another (average) 8.4 percent hit against their compensation, on top of a roughly equal amount during the past four years under Doyle, and when they tighten their belts in communities all across Wisconsin and stop buying so much discretionary stuff, and local businesses suffer, and those businesses either move out of Wisconsin or go out of business altogether as a result, what will Scotty do next?

No problemo. Because: One man's disaster is another's Disaster Capitalism.

How many more times Walker can get away with pulling these shock-doctrine tactics (the first was killing high-speed rail) will be interesting to watch. Probably a term's worth. But at some point voters and even businesspeople will start wising up. The guy didn't just WRECK a train, he IS a train wreck. This too, shall pass, after Walker experiences the Wisconsin equivalent of his very own Mubarak moment. The only sad part is that, as always, it's a lot harder to build things up than it is to tear them down.


February 14, 2011 - 3:10pm