Wisconsin Battle About Power, Not Budget

Gov. pushing oligarchy as unions seek democracy: Paul Krugman
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2011 12:27 PM CST
Paul Krugman: Wisconsin Union Battle About Power, Not Budget
Protesters gather down State Street in Madison, Wis. after a a rally outside the Wisconsin State Capitol on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011.   (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Steve Apps)

Wisconsin’s battle over union rights shares a key element with the protests in Egypt: In the end, it’s all about power, writes Paul Krugman for the New York Times. Gov. Scott Walker’s team is trying to make his state, and eventually the entire country, "less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy”—one where power is in the hands of a rich few, those who can easily buy power through lobbyists and political donations.

To maintain a democracy, we need “institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these,” Krugman notes. “They’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans.” Walker's bill, however, would in effect bust them. How ironic: "Superwealthy players" got us into this budget mess by pushing for financial deregulation, "thereby set the stage for the economic crisis," and "now the political right is trying to exploit that very crisis, using it to remove one of the few remaining checks on oligarchic influence.” (Read more Paul Krugman stories.)

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