Saturday, August 13, 2011

Worldview Blues

Professor Reynolds comes to the same conclusion I've had for a long time:

Boy, the lefties in Wisconsin have really gone crazy. Alas, I fear we’ll see similar crackups elsewhere. It’s not just the loss of power, it’s the squashing of a worldview.

Reynolds is commenting on this post with video from Ann Althouse, the University of Wisconsin law professor who has been invaluable in documenting the events that have been happening in Madison. In the video, Althouse is accosted by a man who tries to stop her from shooting video of the protestors and hits her in the hand. She also gets a good long harangue from a guy who's not enamored of Althouse's presence on the scene.

There's been a lot at stake in Wisconsin, but at bottom I think the worldview is crucial to understanding how things have played out. The public sector has been in the saddle, especially in Madison, for a long time. While the Madison area has plenty of private industries, including such recognizable names as American Family Insurance, American Girl, Rayovac and Oscar Mayer, it's very much a public sector town. The state government and the university both wield enormous influence in the community and, more importantly, wield a lot of power. It's worth remembering that public sector unionism began in Wisconsin in late 1950s. It's also worth remembering that the public sector unions have developed a lot of lucrative enterprises, especially the WEA Trust, a lucrative insurance concern tied to the teacher's unions.

If you were part of this nexus and had ordered your life around the assumption that the public sector and its unions were correct, and you had tied your livelihood to the unions and the promises it had made to you concerning your future, you'd certainly be furious that someone would come along and disturb any of it. Scott Walker has done something more bring about reform; he's challenged the assumptions and the internal logic that has guided the lives of many, many people. And the manner in which Walker has done these things has been especially tough for the unions to swallow. It would be one thing if he had come on like an avenging angel, shouting imprecations and waving his fist at the podium, but that's not what he has done. He's remained calm, has shown little anger and stayed on task. He's got the mannerisms of a middle manager and that's especially tough to swallow.

All of us build a life based on certain assumptions we pick up along the way. When it turns out these assumptions don't hold up, which happens to nearly everyone at some point, it's a very difficult thing to reconcile. We've been building the public sector without much interruption for 80 years, more than a lifetime for most people. It's coming to end now and there's really no easy way to wind things down. That's why what has been happening in Wisconsin matters -- it's a preview of a much larger change that is imminent.


Night Writer said...

They are also the first to rail against "theocracy" while demanding their One True Faith not be questioned.

They are like vampires, fleeing the dawn and being cornered in a crypt. Hissing at the rabble that have pursued them, they draw themselves up in as fierce a manner as can be mustered to demand imperiously that no one touch that window shade.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

"Let the sun shine, let the sun shine in, the sun shine in!!"

Gramps Toolshed said...

It was quite the battle in Wisconsin, but in the end, it ended up with very little serious conflict, and a generally happy ending. I don't think it will go quite as easily in some other parts of America.