- Last Updated: 11:42 PM, June 2, 2012
- Posted: 9:55 PM, June 2, 2012
Wisconsin, the first to let government employees unionize, was an incubator of progressivism and gave birth (in 1932 in Madison) to its emblematic institution, the government employees union — government organized as a special interest to lobby itself to expand itself.
But Wisconsin progressivism is in a dark Peter Pan phase; it is childish without being winsome.
On Tuesday, voters will judge the attempt by a populism of the privileged — white-collar labor unions whose members live comfortably above the American median — to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
For 16 months, Wisconsin, normally a paragon of Midwestern neighborliness, has been riven by furious attempts to punish Walker for keeping his campaign promise to change the state’s unsustainable fiscal trajectory.
In 2010, government employees unions campaigned against Walker’s “5 and 12” plan. It requires government employees to contribute 5.8% of their pay to their pension plans. (Most were paying less than 1%. Most private-sector workers have no pensions; those who do pay, on average, much more than 5.8%.) Walker’s reform requires government employees to pay 12.6% of their health care premiums (up from 6% but still less than the 21% private-sector average). Defeated in 2010, the unions now are demanding, as frustrated children do after losing a game, “Let’s start over!”
The emblem displayed at some anti-Walker centers is an outline of Wisconsin rendered as a clenched fist, with a red star on the heel of the hand. Walker’s disproportionately middle-aged adversaries know the red star symbolized murderous totalitarianism, yet they flaunt it as a progressive ornament. Why? Because it satisfies the sandbox socialists’ childish pleasure in naughtiness. Also, many backward-looking baby boomers want to recapture their youthful fun of waving clenched fists in the face of privilege. Now, embarrassingly, they are privileged.Follow @NYPostOpinion