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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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+34 # John Hill,Jr. 2011-02-21 13:10
Thank you citizens of Wisconsin for
standing for your rights and to your would be State Dictator(Govern or)Mr. Walker. By
your actions you give hope and show the way
for citizens of the other 49 States. We
need to let the Mr. Walkers of this country
know that WE WILL NOT STAND IDLY BY AND LET
THEM DESTROY OUR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS!!!
 
 
+33 # Rhoda Draws 2011-02-21 13:14
Historically, Wisconsin progressives brought us the 40-hour week, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation benefits. Beating the Governor in Wisconsin is crucial, if public-sector unions in other states are to survive this oligarchic assault.
 
 
+21 # fredboy 2011-02-21 13:31
Maybe we should give all the mean-spirited conservative legislators a time out. Vote them out of office.
 
 
+19 # motamanx 2011-02-21 13:50
Deficits can be addressed by raising revenue, plugging tax loopholes, putting people to work, and developing the economy long-term in all the ways the President has discussed. But deficits are not what really matters to conservatives.
Conservatives really want to change the basis of American life, to make America run according to the conservative moral worldview in all areas of life.
 
 
+14 # hms 2011-02-21 14:03
"THIS COULD BE THE START OF SOMETHING BIG" (WE HOPE).
 
 
+3 # WarrenM 2011-02-21 14:04
This situation may be a glimpse into what is coming down the road. I feel bad for the workers of Wisconsin as they will be crushed by the powers that be. Most Americans do not care one way or the other about the outcome in Wisconsin. In the long run things will have to get MUCH worse before people wake up in this country - if they ever will.
 
 
+11 # A. Edward Cullin 2011-02-21 14:23
As you sow, so shall you reap. When you elect a union basher that is exactly what you will get. As you repress the spending power of the workers, you will deepen the recession as there will be fewer people to buy your products. However, the radical right wing refuses to think about this. Eventually the US of A will implode!
 
 
+1 # AML 2011-02-22 20:56
Sowing and reaping was fertilized by the $$ from the Koch brothers, who not only contributed a $million or so to Walker's campaign, but spent another few $million to run attack ads against his Dem opponent. This is why we need to correct the Citizens United Scotus decision.
 
 
+10 # Jawbone Grouch 2011-02-21 14:32
Who KNEW?
The MIDDLE EAST had something in common with the MIDDLE WEST!!!!!!!!

I love it!

I wonder how many other commonalities exist we knew not of?

Sort of like Is there another Earth out there?.
If there is we need to find it....soooon!
 
 
+13 # wfalco 2011-02-21 14:43
The utilization of the deficit scare is just that- a clever ploy to scare the working and middle classes into thinking that the sacrifice must come from THEM.
The working and middle class people of America have sacrificed enough. And whose children are sent overseas to fight and die in wars for resources and empire?
Who will be asked to give up a portion of their necessary pension or social security checks in the name of austerity-alleg edly becasue the economic health of our country depends on it?
And then you have the multi-millionai res and billionaires- who are asked to do what?
 
 
+8 # DPM 2011-02-21 16:06
I am happy to see that people are beginning to see just what is at stake. Spread the word. Sow the seeds of doubt with your conservative friends and then hammer it home. After all, they will be in the same "boat" as the rest of us at the end of the day. The Right "eats it's own".
 
 
+12 # Todd Williams 2011-02-21 16:22
Time for the wealthy Americans to pay their fair share. We are sick of the Repugs trying to balance the budget on the backs of the working class. They want a damn class struggle? Then they WILL get one. This fight is far from over. And that election in November is energizing the working class, the minorities, intelligensia and others to rise up and take back what is ours. We've had enough of rich Repugs running our country. We thought their power was finished when Obama was elected. But they've ignored the will of the people and instead have pursued their own dark agenda. The game is up Repugs! We will NEVER stop fighting. NEVER!!!!
 
 
+6 # Russ 2011-02-21 17:38
All the above makes sense EXCEPT calling these right-wingers "conservatives. " They aren't trying to "conserve" anything; they're trying to rip up the American social contract.

They're radical reactionaries; call them "so-called conservatives," or at least put the word in quotes!
 
 
-6 # George Levinson 2011-02-21 19:31
I deplore the idea of union busting. The governor is absolutely wrong about not allowing the state to collect union dues, although limiting raises to the level of the cost of living increase seems reasonable.

What really needs to happen is that the public sector unions need to pay a fair share for their benefits, more like the 25% typically paid by private sector employees. That should happen in the interest of fairness. Government workers have been "privileged" long enough. Police and Fire should not be exempt from benefit cuts!

The teachers' unions have been deplorable and need to be fixed, not busted. Their behavior during this crisis has been bad. They would rather see the schools closed to protect their crazy benefits. Tenure must end and pay for performance established if the US education system is ever to recover!
 
 
+3 # fredboy 2011-02-22 11:15
Wisconsin is the place the GOP has selected for the "Reagan tipping point," the place where they will try the Reagan-air traffic controller approach: obey, or be fired.

Vicious and selfish, yes, but also a reminder that our unions went soft, partied too much with those who despise unions, and begin to think they were free and clear. As a former member of two unions, I recall that we had to always be vigilante and fight both for and to protect everything. That's the lesson here.

This should fire up every union, and prompt an upheaval of union organizing. But I don't see it--do you?

It's a pretty simple equation: always be vigilante and always fight back, or roll over and take it.
 

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