Saturday's NY Times featured the following headline and (excerpted) article:
Wisconsin leads way as workers fight state cuts.
The unrest in Wisconsin this week over Gov. Scott Walker's plan to cut the bargaining rights and benefits of public workers is spreading to other states....The images from Wisconsin -- with its protests, shutdown of some public services, and missing Democratic senators, who fled the state to block a vote -- evoked the Middle East more than the Midwest. The parallels raise the inevitable question: is Wisconsin the Tunisia of collective bargaining rights?
This is typical Times, trying to put the unions on the side of righteousness. But that comparison is simply silly. Governor Scott Walker is not another Ben Ali. He did not come to power in a coup d'etat. He did not get elected by being the only candidate running. He does not jail opposition journalists. Interpol has not issued a warrant for his arrest. And if Walker flees Wisconsin because of this "popular" uprising, it is a safe bet that he will not take 1.5 tons of gold from Wisconsin's treasury and settle in Saudi Arabia.
The far better parallel to the Wisconsin protest would be the May 2010 protests in Greece, where public sector employees rioted for several days when it became apparent that their cushy jobs and benefits might be on the table because of the Greek debt crisis.
Governor Scott Walker -- perhaps we should just call him Ali for short -- had the temerity to suggest that public sector employees in Wisconsin contribute 5% toward their pensions and that they double the share of their health premiums they pay, to 12%, which is still only half of what the average private sector employee pays. So the unions, outraged at the thought that any of their benefits might be cut, have organized a mass sit-in at the Statehouse.
The unions certainly have the right to protest. But overall voter sympathy for public sector employees has dried up. Walker was elected this past November with a mandate to get the Wisconsin deficit down from its current $3.6 billion. And much of that deficit is due to the benefits that the unions have arranged for their members. It's understandable that their members want to preserve those benefits, which are far better than workers in the private sector get. But in a democracy the majority gets its way, and the majority voted for Walker.
It couldn't be clearer that this is Greece II, rather than Son of Tunisia. But since the Times is Tass II, they will spin whatever misleading analogies they can.