Wausau, Wis. is my hometown, and I am a proud University of Wisconsin graduate. I take umbrage at Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget repair” proposal for many reasons, these three in particular:
First, some of this budget crisis is a product of the governor’s millions in corporate tax breaks. At best, this is a na?ve attempt to implement the thoroughly debunked theory of “trickle-down” economics. At worst, this is class warfare, where the working class is forced to subsidize the rich.
Second, consumer spending grows the economy. If you take away collective bargaining, you take away the ability for state workers to have a living wage. No living wage means less consumer spending and economic decay. What is politically popular with the right today is economically counterproductive.
Third, democracy does not end after election day. It must carry through as elected officials govern. If you like democracy, this is not easy, because it entails conflict and the free exchange of ideas. The unions have conceded that cuts need to be made, save the loss of collective bargaining rights. In response, the governor has refused to engage in a dialogue. This is not democracy; this is a tyranny of the majority, which is easy when you have the votes in the Legislature like Walker does.
If the governor continues to avoid the challenging path of democratic governance and instead takes the easy path of tyranny, those opposed must hold their ground. The rest of the country is watching, and if the great progressive state of Wisconsin falls, other states will follow.
Casey A. Klofstad
B.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison (1995)
Assistant Professor, Political Science
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL