Wisconsin’s current legislative tension is pretty simple to diagram: Governor Walker is making a major power play. Here’s Nobelist Paul Krugman in the NYTimes:
The bill that has inspired the demonstrations would strip away collective bargaining rights for many of the state’s workers, in effect busting public-employee unions. Tellingly, some workers—namely, those who tend to be Republican-leaning—are exempted from the ban; it’s as if Mr. Walker were flaunting the political nature of his actions.
Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state’s budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there’s not much room for further pay squeezes.
So it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.
This is because unions are the only non-Republican, non-corporations to step up with amounts of cash that can fund significant and effective policy responses—”counterweights to the power of big money,” Krugman terms it. Their absence, he notes, will result in essentially an “oligarchy.”
Yes, right here in the good ol’ US of A, land of one citizen, one vote. Except when it isn’t.