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February 25, 2011

The Will of the People

Joe Charlebois

In Madison, Wisconsin, the people who were looking to overthrow the establishment have succeeded. The uprising and final blow that was levied upon the establishment was dealt, not in February, but on the first Tuesday of November 2010.


This change in power did not come from manufactured protests, a violent overthrow of the government, or coup d’état by insiders, but by the will of the people through their use of the ballot box.


Republican Gov. Scott Walker was elected by a majority of the citizens from the great State of Wisconsin. The voters also turned out incumbents U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D) and Rep. Steven Kagen (D., WI 8) as well as the Democrat candidate for retiring Rep. David Obey’s (D., WI 7) House seat, Julie Lassa. Instead the voters chose to have Sen. Ron Johnson (R) and Rep. Reid Ribble (R., WI-8) and Sean Duffy (R., WI-7) represent them in Washington.


Just as the rest of the nation saw a historic swing in power, so did Wisconsin. This is the same state which voted for President Barack Obama overwhelmingly, giving him over a 56% of the statewide vote. This election turned on the acceptance and realization that the state could no longer tend to all of society’s needs. This was their attempt at reigning in the behemoth that has become the ever growing public sector. State governments across America are stuck in a position of an automated and continued growth in the public sector at a time when the private sector is losing ground and can’t afford to pay the bill.


Governor Walker, just like other governors across the land, is now facing the stark reality that there is no way to meet the obligation of a balanced budget without addressing how government employees are paid and benefits granted.


Gov. Chris Christie (R., NJ) has been the fighting a similar battle for over a year. When he took office the State of New Jersey was projecting a $2.2 billion shortfall in the 2010 fiscal year budget. He has made the tough choices and has survived the many assaults from the same union concerns that now face Mr. Walker.


For most of the nation, the housing crisis has led to a shrinking tax base. The loss in revenue comes from a dwindling economy, and, in particular, due to a loss in the number of homeowners paying real estate taxes – due to foreclosure. In addition there are those paying less in property taxes as assessments have dropped due to the precipitous decline in home values over the past three years.


The battle in Madison is not one for the “working man;” it is one of maintaining the status quo. The establishment (government employee unions) is – in essence – attempting to maintain its stranglehold on millions of dollars. In Wisconsin, teachers are not only forced to join a union, but also must pay dues to that same union in what would be labeled “protection money” in a less civilized society. The union bosses, unlike a majority of their union paying members, could care less about “the children.” They are just like organized crime bosses; their only focus is to protect the stream of money coming into the coffers every paycheck.


In Wisconsin, the main teachers’ union – and the National Education Associate (NEA) affiliate – the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) boasts 92,000 members. This is the lifeblood of not only the union bosses but of Democrat politicians. The Democratic Party is the chief beneficiary of WEAC’s political actions as it receives nearly 100% of the political benefit that the dues buy.


The reason the union establishment buses in protestors every day – courtesy of AFSCME – is an attempt to intimidate the governor, and the remaining members of the legislature, into bending to their will. As with Governor Christie, it seems that Wisconsin’s Governor Walker won’t give in to the government employee unions and will wait patiently until the “fugitive” Democrat legislators return from their vacation in sunny south Chicago to vote on the budget.


The will of the people has been demonstrated. While the vocal opponents of this attempt to balance the budget, and actions to reform the state’s bargaining with employees, trash the State House, the rest of Wisconsin is cheering the governor.


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