Joke Line is not a conservative but he likes to position himself as close to the middle as possible. This means that his primary role in life is what many refer to as “punching hippies.” If you think the invasion of Iraq is ill-advised and unjustified, Joke Line is happy to call you names. And if you think the governor of Wisconsin is selectively picking on the public employees who didn’t endorse his candidacy, then he’s here to tell you about how much New York City janitors used to make in the early 1980’s for mopping the cafeteria once a week. He calls Governor Walker’s proposal “modest” and scolds Democrats for opposing Democracy and the natural consequence of elections. But let me focus on just one point of Klein’s:
Public employees unions are an interesting hybrid. Industrial unions are organized against the might and greed of ownership. Public employees unions are organized against the might and greed…of the public?
That kind of sounds right, but it misses the point. Obviously the public wants to pay the least amount possible for the best quality services. If your position is that you are going to cut taxes always, no matter how much they have already been cut (i.e., you are a Republican), and your kind makes up more than 40% of elected officials at pretty much all times, then it’s clear that the people on your payroll are going to be under constant pressure to take less money and benefits. This is exactly how the situation stood prior to rise of public unions (and that was before the GOP morphed into a Read-My-Lips-No-New-Taxes party). Politicians, on the state level at least, have to balance their budgets, and they don’t like to increase people’s tax burden. That’s why they want to build a billion casinos and make cigarettes cost $12 a pack. They’ll do anything to avoid raising people’s income taxes and that means they must either slash services, come up with ingenious ways to pick on unpopular people and behaviors, or slash the pay of government workers.
It’s a different kind of downward pressure on wages and benefits than is imposed by the global marketplace, but it’s no less effective. Now, sometimes, it is necessary to renegotiate a contract that turned out to be too generous, or which is inappropriate at a time of budgetary hardship, but that involves negotiation. Gov. Walker wants to destroy the public unions’ ability to negotiate. He leaves the police and firefighters alone both because they are more popular than teachers and social workers, and because they endorsed his candidacy.
Joke Line lives up to his reputation though. You gotta give him that.