Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wisconsin, isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad – specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.
— Paul Krugman, The NY Times, Feb. 25
Krugman cited Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine in suggesting that the endgame of Scott Walker and the other Republican governors is the same as the Bush administration’s in Iraq after the U.S. invasion — as Paul Bremer put it, to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises.” The idea is to use a crisis — in Wisconsin’s case, the budget crisis created when Walker and Republican lawmakers cut taxes for the wealthy — as an excuse to make laws that would help Republicans realize, in Krugman’s words, “their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.”
Republicans want us to get used to such a society. The so-called Budget Repair Bill in Wisconsin’s isn’t only about breaking unions — a deplorable enough goal — but is also designed to make drastic cuts in health coverage for the poor and to open the door to a Texas-style sell-off of state-owned power plants to private interests. (Rortybomb — love that tag! — first called attention to the latter scheme in a Feb. 21 post, using the same passage from the bill that Krugman cited.)
The Republicans’ worker-against-worker strategy is a risky game. The other night on TV, a group of pissed off firemen interviewed in Elizabeth, NJ, slammed Gov. Chris Christie for blindsiding them with his all-out war on unions, which is premised on the lie that working people are to blame for the state’s budget shortfall. It might finally be dawning on America that the GOP’s nationwide shock and awe-style assault on unions is to distract us from the fact that the country’s economic collapse was caused by the same people who fund the party’s anti-union political campaigns.
Barack Obama is hiding in the White House, banking on the hope he’ll be re-elected if he ignores Walker’s power grab in Wisconsin and other aspects of the GOP’s coordinated effort to destroy workers’ rights. Not surprisingly, corporate-owned media outlets are, for the most part, also ignoring the deeper purpose of this effort. But workers in Wisconsin aren’t ignoring it, and the situation will get ugly if the general public catches on. Maybe not on an Iraq scale, but ugly enough to make the rich and powerful quit dreaming we’ll get used to the feudal system they’re trying to impose.
Footnote: Hey Bill Keller, how come we have to read about the Budget Repair Bill in Krugman’s opinion column? Why wasn’t there a news story on the full import of the bill? Why is it that, at your paper and most others, the right hand never seems to know what the left is doing?