Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pyrrhus Of Wisconsin

In response to congratulations for winning a costly victory over the Romans, King Pyrrhus of Epirus is reported to have said: "One more such victory will undo me!"

Scott Walker clearly has never studied up on Pyrrhic victories. There's been no sign so far that he has any inkling that winning his crusade against worker rights could end up being his undoing. Maybe he's right. Maybe it'll work out just fine for him in the end. Maybe it'll just be the state of Wisconsin that is undone.

It's easy to see how Scott Walker wins by busting unions. It's equally easy to see how the Republican Party wins. It's getting harder by the day to see how Wisconsin comes out of this a winner.

If Walker gets his way, the Koch brothers will be happy. They'll get a handsome return on their investment. They've lined up their dominoes and are planning on Wisconsin being the first to fall. Whether or not Walker's union-busting bill becomes law, his campaign makes him a hard-right hero and elevates him to the national stage. Puts him on the short list of vice presidential hopefuls. He can probably have his own show on Fox News if he wants.

The future doesn't look as bright for the state of Wisconsin. We'll have a demoralized and resentful state workforce. We'll have a hopelessly divided citizenry. We'll have a mostly-dysfunctional legislature grow even more paralyzed. Recall elections against those who vote for the bill, and recall elections for those who vote against it.

And then when the other shoe drops and the rest of Walker's budget plans are finally unveiled, local government officials will be informed of drastic cutbacks in state aid and will be thrust into the position of having to resort to the same treatment of local workers that state workers already are being subjected to under Walker. Although they won't be the ones who stripped them of their rights in the first place, they will be the ones who will have to cut their pay and take away some of their benefits and then watch them like hawks and bully them into submission when they become demoralized and resentful.

Every local official will in effect be wearing a Scott Walker mask. They will become the face of the discord and chaos and ill will that will visit their communities. Every school board member. Every superintendent. Every mayor and city alder. Every county executive and supervisor. Every village president and trustee. Every town official. Years spent cultivating good labor relations will be laid to waste.

The poor will get poorer, with deep cuts to low-income assistance programs like BadgerCare and Medicaid. The rich will get richer, with corporate tax breaks and all manner of other favors showered on the biggest campaign donors. The middle class will continue to gradually disappear. Public schools will get worse. So will many vital public services. Some will disappear altogether.

Maybe Scott Walker will win. But it will be the most Pyrrhic of victories for the people of Wisconsin.


Unknown said...

Thanks Mike for the history lesson and the warning about the cost of this particular victory. Imagine how hollow this victory will be for the children of those who support this type of behavior. An increasingly brutal and oppressive oligarchy.

Anonymous said...

The whippings will continue until morale improves.

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