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Paul Krugman writes: "Last week, in the face of protest demonstrations against Wisconsin's new union-busting governor, Scott Walker - demonstrations that continued through the weekend, with huge crowds on Saturday - Representative Paul Ryan made an unintentionally apt comparison: 'It's like Cairo has moved to Madison.'"

Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)
Portrait, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, 06/15/09. (photo: Fred R. Conrad/NYT)

Wisconsin Power Play

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

21 February 11

Last week, in the face of protest demonstrations against Wisconsin's new union-busting governor, Scott Walker - demonstrations that continued through the weekend, with huge crowds on Saturday - Representative Paul Ryan made an unintentionally apt comparison: "It's like Cairo has moved to Madison."

It wasn't the smartest thing for Mr. Ryan to say, since he probably didn't mean to compare Mr. Walker, a fellow Republican, to Hosni Mubarak. Or maybe he did - after all, quite a few prominent conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, denounced the uprising in Egypt and insist that President Obama should have helped the Mubarak regime suppress it.

In any case, however, Mr. Ryan was more right than he knew. For what's happening in Wisconsin isn't about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker's pretense that he's just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin - and eventually, America - less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that's why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators' side.

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