Wednesday, June 06, 2012

From Wisconsin, With Love

That's  how the Republicans who send me e-mails interpret the failed attempt to recall governor Scott Walker  (also known to me as one of the Nazgûls).  To paraphrase those e-mails: 

Voters have declared that they love the idea of killing the unions, of stripping teachers, nurses, fire fighters and police officers of those "exorbitant" middle-class benefits (to quote David Brooks!)

Voters love the Republican messages and come fall, Obama will be history and Romney (also known as R-Money) will govern this country along the lines governor Walker laid out. 

Which are feudal lines.  Perhaps that's why I cannot help seeing governor Walker as one of the Nazgûls and ALEC as the Mordor where Sauron rules, from Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings

There's something medieval about the Republican platform, what with its desire to remove any resistance to the modern equivalents of the feudal overlords:  The Corporations.  Unions are the enemies of corporations (because firms cannot get wages really low with unionized labor), and thus the command to the Nazgûls is to destroy unions.  The easiest place to begin with that is to attack government workers.

But never mind that.  I was going to write about the recall election and why Walker survived it.  Given that all the polls suggested he would survive it the outcome didn't come as any kind of surprise.  What remains is the analysis of what voters may have meant in their choices.

In that context this is an important point:

 A solid majority of Wisconsin voters – 60 percent – said recall elections are appropriate only in cases of “official misconduct,” according to the Edison exit poll. Some 27 percent said recalls are OK for any reason, and 10 percent said they’re never acceptable.

Perhaps the Wisconsin voters voted on the recall elections and not only on who should be the governor?  Worth keeping in mind.

On the other hand:
Exit polling showed 54 percent of Wisconsin voters approved of Walker’s performance on job creation and 52 percent approved of the recent changes to state law limiting the ability of government workers to collectively bargain over pay and benefits. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate, 6.7 percent in April, is below the national average.

Walker's performance on job creation has been pretty miserable.  But whatever.

On the third hand:

3. Public employee unions are not under water in Wisconsin. Slightly more than half in the exit poll - 51 percent - said they have a favorable opinion of unions for government workers, compared with 45 percent who viewed them unfavorably. That's even though 52 percent said they approved of Walker's sharp cutback of collective bargaining rights.

I'm running out of hands here* and am nowhere nearer to learning what the majority of Wisconsin voters  had in mind.

Neither can I tell if the voters understand all the consequences of that "sharp cutback of collective bargaining rights."  Those are not just potential tax-breaks for the voters but also reduce the lifetime incomes of government workers.  When earnings for a particular job are slashed fewer people will apply for that job and those who do apply will be, on average, less qualified.   Something to think about, for the future of Wisconsin schools, say.
* Walker was certainly also helped by the humongous amounts of money he got from his rich friends in the Republican Party, including those who explicitly stated they want to kill unions.