During the recent kerfuffle in Wisconsin, tech/nerd/intelligentsia blog Boing Boing, and in particular Science Editor Maggie Koerth-Baker, have devolved into the worst stereotypes of online ‘journalism’. As a longtime Boing Boing fan, it’s been rough to watch. Her headline for last night’s vote was especially hyperbolic: Breaking news: Wisconsin GOP passed controversial legislation using backdoor maneuver.
Sigh. To recap, Senate Republicans rejiggered the bill to split out the parts that required a quorum to vote from those that didn’t. The ones that didn’t were the limitations of collective bargaining for benefits, and limits on Union dues being used for political purposes. Since when does following the procedural rules of your jurisdiction equal “backdoor” tyranny? (Also, Backdoor Tyranny would be a sweet name for an all-gay hardcore band, or maybe a protest song they could write about gay marriage restrictions.) She goes on to quote Dave Weigel at Slate, who calls the actions “incoherent”:
First, Gov. Scott Walker’s argument for not putting the collective bargaining and union dues/formation reforms on the negotiating table has been, since the beginning, that they were necessary for letting local governments balance their budgets. They are, technically, not “fiscal components” — they just deal with huge sums of money.
So are Dave and Maggie saying that they don’t understand the difference between spending and saving? Requiring broad approval to raise new revenue, and needing lesser majorities for changes in bargaining rules are hardly the same thing. Dave goes on:
This is a desperation move. It’s happening, say Democrats, before they read the new bill. Obviously, had Democrats not fled the state, the un-changed legislation would have passed last month.
Really Dave? Republicans have the political and popular majorities to pass whatever bills they like. But staying in the capital and doing their taxpayer-funded jobs is somehow desperate. What adjective would you use for the democrats who fled the state, to be hounded down by citizens with video cameras? That’s what desperation looks like.
The protests in Wisconsin are just a special interest temper tantrum. Oh, and anytime anyone calls collective bargaining privileges a “human right”, remember that you’re talking to an idiot. As Josh Barro points out:
Only 26 states have laws that grant collective-bargaining privileges to substantially all public employees. Twelve have laws that give collective bargaining to some workers, and twelve have no statewide collective-bargaining law at all, though some municipalities may grant bargaining rights in those states.
The balance of power between unions and their public paymasters and servants is a tricky one, dependent on local conditions. Wisconsin can’t afford to let unions wield power and money totally out of scale with the public services they render. I don’t see the controversy, I see a bunch of adults acting like children, shirking their jobs, and throwing a fit.