Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Move on liberals: the number 99 died in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin recall election of Governor Scott Walker was concocted by liberal Democrats and was to be a liberal’s dream come true.

There wasn’t a charismatic politician on the right, a personal or religious scandal to cloud the issue. Months of debate were conducted about union rights and the management of the state’s financial affairs. Each side had plenty enough money, campaign professionals, and neighborhood volunteers to get their message out, and repeat their message over and over.

Nothing is airtight in politics. Some voters didn’t think a recall election was justified in the first place. However, a strong majority voted to keep Walker as governor and, according to CNN exit polls, a good half of those voting openly supported his legislation to restrain the public payroll and the power of public sector unions.

Walker didn’t just complain about greedy unions. He severely reduced their rights and their financial capacity to advance their interests in the future. Liberals asked voters to side with the unions—to stand as 99 per centers. They declined.

Walker, of course, didn’t settle the issue for all time, for Wisconsin, or for America. However, his re-election does demonstrate that middle-class America is not of one mind on bread-and-butter issues and will not automatically unite with liberals, even when conservatives aren’t messing up their heads with religious and patriotic gimmicks.

Liberal Dean Bakolpoulos in Salon isn’t yet ready to learn anything from what happened:

“If Barack Obama plans to win in November, he needs to unite two factions of the Rust Belt population: The middle-class of public workers and union members and teachers, and the other middle-class, which ranges from self-made entrepreneurs to struggling service industry workers. How does he do it? With an honest message that points to the real villain: An increasingly greedy corporate culture that stops at nothing in its quest to consolidate power and wealth.

“There is, in fact, a 99 percent in this country. But right now, a big chunk of it votes in the interest of the 1 percent.”

Barack Obama has had the good sense to reject this advice. He hasn’t singled out the 1 percent as villains—or their wealth as the salvation of all America’s problems.

To redress the federal government’s structural deficit, he has frozen federal salaries, endorsed in principle the Bowles-Simpson recommendations, and he has offered a “grand bargain” that would accept as much as three times more in federal spending cuts as in new taxes.

Obama and fellow Democrat pragmatists in state governments today didn’t create all the unfunded liabilities of federal and state governments. They needn’t defend past excesses. Liberals in office, like popes, make mistakes and needn’t treat what they have inherited as infallible.

America without strong unions would become an even tougher place to live. However, the middle class will not buy the argument that the ambitions of public unions and their ambitions are always the same.

If pro-union policies by public employers were invariably in the best interests of the middle class and the less so, states like Illinois, for instance, wouldn’t have an unfunded liability of $83-billion in public employee pensions.

Keynes wasn’t a Keynesian every time he saw a tough problem. He would have collected necessary taxes to pay for all operating expenses, including salaries and benefits—and accounted for how future liabilities would be met.

When the interests of the middle class and positive government are aligned, they will vote for “tax and spend” liberals. When liberals believe in what they’re doing in government, they should ask for the money.

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