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Post Partisan
Posted at 04:59 PM ET, 06/04/2012

PostScript: Will’s ‘pan’ of the Wisconsin recall

Labeling it “Peter Pan progressivism,” George Will ridicules attempts to have a do-over election in Wisconsin because liberals are furious with first-term Gov. Scott Walker (R). Walker got a law passed that unilaterally sets public-sector employee benefits and curtails the rights of the unions to negotiate.

No one in our comments playground is alleging the recall election is illegal. The question at hand seems to be whether it is fair — and that’s a matter of deep contention.

Will says the only adult reason to recall a pol is if he has done something illegal — certainly not because you don’t like the results of the last election. That, Will says, is refusing to grow up, a la Pan.

Commenters, though, wanted to argue about Will’s threshold for a recall. Is there something about this election that would change the rules?

First, Ox57 confirms with a quote from Will that the columnist isn’t being purely partisan here, as some comments insinuated, since he didn’t back the recall of California Gov. Gray Davis (D) way back when:

I disagree with Will, but he is being consistent on at least this one point. He was against the recall of Davis:
“California is not a Circuit City store. A democracy with periodic elections should not have, regarding elected officials, a liberal exchange policy--any time, for any reason — for voters experiencing `buyer’s remorse.’ Californians deserve to live with the choice they made when they rehired him for four more years just four months ago.”

Okay, so Will’s threshold is nonpartisan. But is it fair to recall Walker because voters (might) dislike his policies? Cstahnke says yes, because Walker’s policies aren’t about fiscal prudence so much as union-busting for its own sake:

When you make a bargain with workers you have to stick to it or negotiate with them. What [Walker has done] is perfectly ok by me if and only if those workers had the right to strike. Since they don’t, it is absolutely dishonest to then turn around and ram something down their throats that disrupts society. This whole affair was unnecessary, disruptive and was planned and undertaken by national considerations of further breaking unions and had relatively little to do with Wisconsin and its health as a state government and a society.

Baldinho agrees, and has a Groundskeeper Willie icon, so please read this comment with a Scots accent:

You don’t want to pay state workers all those creampuff benefits? Take them away at the negotiating table or force the issue through work stoppages. Banning the union is a raw partisan move.

Every_man12345 argues that Walker is merely taking away an unfair advantage that public-sector unions have, and have used, before:

The model for negotiating terms does not work in the public sector. The [elected officials] charged with the negotiating for the employer (tax paying public), are beholden to the union employees for votes and political contributions.

Ericcallenking echoes that sentiment, saying that the existence of government-worker unions sets up a conflict between what is in the best interests of the public and what is in the best interest of the public workers — so things can get worse for everyone when public-sector unions have too much power. Nobody wants teachers who are in it for the money:

If you are going to be unsparingly critical of the corruption of wall street bankers and the financial system, in the interest of impartiality you have to be willing to criticize the unions when they act in ways that could be considered corrupt and self interested. The best that could be said is that at least the unions aren’t as bad as the plutocrats in the financial sector. I don’t know what the solution is but it is not for public employees to make out while private sector employees are struggling.

Spectator1 sets up an interesting parallel between calling for a do-over election and calling for a do-over union contract.

[According to Walker,] it’s only right to weasel out of contracts with employees but not with vendors and private businesses. It’s this kind of inconsistency that requires public employees to have unions.

Hm. Maybe governors need a union, too.

By Rachel Manteuffel  |  04:59 PM ET, 06/04/2012

 
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