Now compare that with how Wisconsin's new chief executive handled the situation: Impose an across-the-board pay cut and tell employees neither they nor their representative will ever again have a say in how things will be run or get a pay raise in excess of inflation. A great way to start things off with the staff, don't you think? Remember that the next time you hear some Republican bellyaching at the Rotary lunch about why government should be run more like a business.
Regular readers of this column are no doubt familiar with my favorite gambit, which is to spy the common thread in several of the day's seemingly disparate events - the "it's really all one story" ploy. Using this approach, the political badgering in the Badger State is no different from the budget crises in Ohio, New York and California and the looming shutdown of the federal government in Washington. All of them are manifestations of the meta-reality of a country that for years had been living beyond its means. Now, even three years after reality came crashing down, we have only just begun to figure out how to bring about the reduction in living standards that will be necessary to create a sustainable balance. Will the pain come in the form of prolonged high unemployment? Or wage and salary cuts? Or reduction in the value of homes and financial assets? Or loss of ownership of American companies? Or price inflation? Or higher taxes? Or reductions in government services and benefits?