In today's NYT, Paul Krugman does an excellent job of detailing the power game going on between the unions and the Wisconsin governor:
Indeed, Krugman gets this part right.
As for the oligarchs involved, it's the Koch brothers. Mother Jones reports:
It's not entirely clear how the defeat of unions helps the Kochs, but it certainly looks like a benefit for the Koch Organization, and their far ranging operations, rather than a libertarian principled move. A libertarian move would be more focused on ending government involvement in education, not simply taking away the union cards of public school teachers. So Krugman is correct when he points out the power grab here, but then Krugman incredibly puts on his union t-shirt and calls for the unions to grab the power:
The problem with Krugman's thinking here is that he sees the power center as something that must continue to exist and he wants the unions to control it instead of the Kochs. It's a scary thought when oligarchs, the Kochs or others, get to control a power center, but it is just as scary for unions to control the power. In both cases, they will operate in their narrow self-interest and not ours.
The most logical
move to neutralize these power seekers is to eliminate the power
center themselves. In the case of education, education should be
left in the hands of the free market, with no government role at
all (not even vouchers). Calling for one power group to take control
versus another is still a case of choosing a dictator, rather than
freedom. The free market option would eliminate the dictator and
allow education to flourish the way the cell phone and personal
computer industries do today, with aggressive competition, falling
prices and a thousand more options than could ever develop out of
a bureaucracy. Krugman is right in fearing a power grab by the Kochs,
but he should also fear a power grab by the unions. The Kochs are
framing their battle as a battle about unions and not about liberty
and that is a tragedy.
February 22, 2011
©2011 Economic Policy Journal