The Corner

Wisconsin State Employees Should Have Some Koch and Smile

When the history books record l’affaire Wisconsin, public-employee unions will have plenty of villains. They will remember Republican governor Scott Walker, who proposed scaling back their ability to collectively bargain. They will revile Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, who cut off debate and “rushed” the bill to a vote after 61 hours of debate on the Assembly floor. But for the Left, the most enduring villain might be the billionaire Koch brothers.

When frequently vile Buffalobeast.com blogger Ian Murphy prank-called Walker, he pretended to be David Koch — thinking that would be the most embarrassing call Walker could take. (Or perhaps Murphy simply hadn’t perfected a Kim Jong-il impersonation yet. “Hey Scott, it’s your boy Kim!”)

The vitriol from protesting Wisconsin workers towards the Kochs emerged quickly and intensely. Signs ranging between lame and vulgar (often both) dot the public-union marches.

But what the protesters don’t realize is that they actually have a reason to root for the Koch brothers.

According to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB), the Wisconsin Retirement System owns $5.5 million in Georgia Pacific corporate bonds. (Georgia Pacific is owned by Koch Industries.) This is the retirement system in which the overwhelming majority of state and local employees participate. These are the pension benefits that public employees are trying so hard to protect.

So here’s the challenge: Explain to a Wisconsin state worker that they are the ones helping fund the Koch brothers. Then sit back and watch the fun.

Granted, $5.5 million out of a $18.5 billion fixed-income bond fund isn’t a whole lot. (The state also holds about $5 million worth of Colgate bonds, meaning it is in the pocket of Big Toothpaste.) But one imagines the public unions’ vitriol will soften a little bit when they realize their retirement payout is incumbent on the success of the Kochs. They’re all part of the same money-making ecosystem, despite many state employees believing all their retirement funds are invested exclusively in dreams and rainbows.

So in the end, public unions should recognize that the real Koch will do them a lot more good than the fake one ever did.

— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More

‘Silenced’

Someone tweeted this cartoon today, which apparently is intended to depict me. A few thoughts: I love the caricature. It’s really good. I may steal the second panel and use it for advertising. I hear this line of criticism fairly often from people who are not very bright or well-informed; in truth, I ... Read More