Saturday, February 26, 2011


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Mark Steyn on America
Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Democrat palace guard of America's dying monodailies are doing a grand job in reporting the current stand-off in Wisconsin. A headline in The New York Times sums up the media's bizarre enthusiasm for sacrificing what remains of their reputations in order to protect the cause:

Billionaire Brothers' Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute

The dogged John Hinderaker of Powerline is endeavoring to get some answers from the shy and retiring Eric Lipton as to the basis for certain aspects of his story. [UPDATE: New York Times "fact"-checking in action.] But I find the headline alone so perverse you wonder how, even at the Times, it could have wafted up through six layers of editors without someone saying, "Oh, come on..." What's happening in Wisconsin is all about money: budgets, shortfalls, obligations, perks, pensions, privileges - and the burdens of the beleaguered productive class that pays for it. In a story awash with money, the Koch brothers are the least of it. They're certainly billionaires, and that's a lot of dough. Of it, what they inject into the political process is little more than a rounding error. As David Harsanyi puts it:

The libertarian Kochs are super rich and gave less than $2 million to Republicans in the last election cycle, which mathematically speaking amounts to nothing. In fact, Timothy Carney of the Washington Examiner dispatched Krugman's claim that unions were a "counterweight to the political power of big money" by pointing out that "every one of the top ten industries contributing to the 2010 elections gave more money to Democrats."

If some public union rollbacks are a harbinger of rebirth of the robber barons, why is it that the Service Employees International Union boss — who represents a sliver of the American workforce — has been the most frequent guest at the White House after he handed Barack Obama $28 million and used tens of million more to campaign for him and his policies?

So Big Business and Big Unions both favor Big Government - and for the same reason: it drives out their competition. Why isn't SEIU honcho Mary Kay Henry (born in that monument to union muscle, Detroit) as famous as the sinister Koch siblings? Ms Henry is a fascinating figure: A lesbian advisor to the Conference of Catholic Bishops whose partner is a bigshot with the Teamsters, she is an advocate for "health care" for "working families" and for same-sex marriage, and on both those issues the President's views seem to be swinging ever more into happy alignment with her money. [EMPHASIS ADDED] Wouldn't that be worth an in-depth analysis from the Eric Liptons of the world? Instead the Koch brothers, waging their lonely battle for small government, are being lined up as this decade's Halliburton.

I doubt it will work. The media's perverse priorities might be just about tenable if they weren't also making themselves look ever more ridiculous by their willingness to airbrush the truth about the ugly union bruisers out on the streets of Madison.

The Kochs' money is irrelevant to the future of Wisconsin. The unions' money, on the other hand, is an existential crisis for the state. Last year, The Times of London reported:

The President of Greece warned last night that his country stood on the brink of the abyss after three people were killed when an anti-government mob set fire to the Athens bank where they worked.

The Times managed to get the salient feature of the story entirely wrong. They were not an “anti-government” mob, but a government mob, a mob of "public servants" objecting to austerity measures that would end, for example, the tradition of 14 monthly paychecks per annum. You read that right: the Greek public sector cannot be bound by anything so humdrum as temporal reality. So, when it was mooted that the “workers” might henceforth receive a mere 12 monthly paychecks per annum, they rioted. Their hapless victims - a man and two women - were a trio of clerks trapped in a bank when the mob set it alight and then obstructed emergency crews attempting to rescue them.

You don’t have to go to Athens to find "public servants" happy to take it out on the public. In Madison, politicized doctors provide fake sick notes for politicized teachers to skip class. In New York's Christmas snowstorm, Sanitation Department plough drivers are unable to clear the streets, with fatal consequences for some residents. On the other hand, they did manage to clear the snow from outside the Staten Island home of Sanitation Dept head honcho John Doherty, while leaving all surrounding streets pristinely clogged. Three hundred Sanitation Department workers have salaries of over $100,000 per year. In retirement, you get a pension of 66 grand per annum plus excellent health benefits, all inflation proofed.

That's what "collective bargaining" is about: It enables unions rather than citizens to set the price of government. It is, thus, a direct assault on republican democracy, and it needs to be destroyed. Unlovely as they are, the Greek rioters and the snarling thugs of Madison are the logical end point of the advanced social democratic state: not an oppressed underclass, but a spoiled overclass, rioting in defense of its privileges and insisting on more subsidy, more benefits, more featherbedding, more government.

Big Unions fund Big Government. The union slices off two per cent of the workers’ pay and sluices it to the Democratic Party, which uses it to grow government, which also grows unions, which thereby grows the number of two-per-cent contributions, which thereby grows the Democratic Party, which thereby grows government… Repeat until bankruptcy. Or bailout.

In his pithiest maxim, John Maynard Keynes, the most influential economist of the 20th century social-democratic state and the patron saint of “stimulus”, offered a characteristically offhand dismissal of any obligation to the future: “In the long run we are all dead.” The Greek and Wisconsin bullies are Keynesians to a man: The mob is demanding the right to carry on suspending reality until they’re all dead. After that, who cares?

If the new class war is between “public servants” and the rest of us, some countries no longer have enough of “the rest of us” even to put up a fight. That's why you can't wait to fight in the last ditch. The longer you wait to stand up against the "public service" unions, the less your chance of winning.

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