The Corner

Madison Syndrome

As great a thing as I think the Wisconsin vote is for the taxpayers of the state, I have to admit I’m a little bummed right now. Why? For one thing I worry that something will happen in advance of the assembly vote tomorrow, or between the assembly vote and the signing, or in the courts in the months and years ahead.

But more generally, I’m bummed because my Facebook wall, my Twitter etc. are at this moment a testament to how thoroughly Big Labor logic has won the battle for the hearts and minds, not just of liberals, but of “moderates” too. To hear all the talk of the “rights” — even “civil rights”(!) — that have been stripped from public sector workers in this bill by the “far right wing” is to see Stockholm Syndrome on a massive scale. Call it Madison Syndrome — the completely irrational belief among a large segment of this republic that their interests lie with public sector unions, whose very existence is predicated on decreasing the efficiency with which government services are provided by maximizing labor costs. And who do this by capturing the same elected officials who sign their paychecks. I’ve been shocked by how little people understand about the status quo ante in Wisconsin, and about the nature of (compulsory!) collective bargaining in general.

The fact is that no individual human being lost a single right in Wisconsin tonight. Some gained the right to decide if they wanted to be represented by a group which had previously had the legal authority to take money from them in the form of dues whether they wanted to participate in that group or not.

But you wouldn’t know that to look at Madison. You wouldn’t know it to read the news either. You’d think that Scott Walker and the state’s elected Republicans — men and women who have day jobs, and who I’m sure could do with fewer death threats in their lives — are heartless monsters.

Consider this Reuters headline (via AllahPundit), that has since been changed:

How can we ever win this fight when the first instinct of the headline writer of one of the world’s largest media outlets — on one of the biggest stories of the year — is to print an ignorant lie?

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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