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The consequences of a governor's ideological, counterproductive agenda

January 17, 2012 - Mike Maneval
On Tuesday, pro-labor groups filed petitions to seek a form of recall election against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, the Chicago Tribune and Associated Press reported, with what appears to be enough signatures to bring the decision before Wisconsin voters as early as June or July. The effort was prompted, the Associated Press notes, by Walker's attempts to weaken unions and collective bargaining for public-sector workers. In preparing for the ballot initiative, Walker argues his policies will lead to prosperity in the "long run" and his supporters are mailing pamphlets that say his policies are working, the Associated Press reports.

Under Walker's leadership and policies, Wisconsin created less than 5,000 non-farm jobs between November 2010 and November 2011. In comparison, Pennsylvania created about 51,000. Some may argue using our state is unfair, as we're experiencing a resources boom - a resources boom that creates opportunities for sand production and other industrial activities in Wisconsin and other Great Lakes states. But no matter, because New York state, under a Marcellus Shale moratorium, created 83,000 jobs in the same timeframe. New Jersey created 30,000, while Virginia and Maryland created 17,000 and 19,000, respectively, all according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And just to give a randomly chosen snapshot outside our Mid-Atlantic Seaboard, Washington state created 60,000 jobs while Walker was presiding over an anti-labor initiative and the creation of less than 5,000 jobs.

Scott Walker's agenda is motivated by a worldview perhaps best espoused by what the Los Angeles Times calls a frequent refrain of his: "Collective bargaining in the public sector is not a right, it is an expensive entitlement."

The idea that a process, legal for decades, that helps working Americans secure healthy compensation rates is an "entitlement" and not part of payment for the production of services or goods is peculiar. In invites speculation as to whether Walker would describe a CEO's golden-aparachute stock options as an "expensive entitlement" or as an honestly-earned paycheck.

It invites contemplation on whether Walker's worldview allows for a majority of the labor performed in this country by the majority of citizens to count as "earning" a living, or whether that distinction need be reserved for an ever-shrinking category of administrative and financial careers. If the ability of teachers and prison guards to assemble to negotiate and pressure their employer for competitive wages and benefits ample enough to allow these working and consumers discretionary income is an "entitlement" like social safety net programs, such as Medicare or Social Security, what does that say about the value of the effort to render the services of teaching or securing people who threaten others' safety?

It's an ideological and counterproductive worldview, as seen by Wisconsin's paltry job creation numbers during Walker's tenure, and the tide of Badger State voters seeking an early opportunity to replace him and his failing governance.


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