Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

1. Thanks so much to KATE for energizing a thread that surpasses in quantity and quality even those that we had in the good ol’ NLT days. The facts are lonely, sinking single moms and repulsively unmanly men. The causes remain a bone of contention. I’m not blaming the welfare state all that much, but some. I’m also blaming the illusions of individual liberation, as Carl does. But men are also feeling themselves superfluous. They don’t know what they need to be doing. Women could easily be doing a better job of letting them know. (The last couple of sentences are a reflection on the HBO series GIRLS, which I will say a lot about as soon as the season is over.)

2. So of course I’m glad SCOTT WALKER prevailed. His margin was exactly what the polls were predicting. The recall is the product of those evildoing progressives whose home base was Wisconsin for a long time. Walker was elected on the premise that he’d do the job he’s done. How can you get recalled for THAT?

3. The Democrats gambled and lost on exaggerating beyond belief what he’s done. Basically, all Walker did was to rein in PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS to cut public employee benfits to a more sustainable level.

4. Public employee unions are the least defensible unions, of course. The bargaining is not tied to productivity but basically about generating a bill that both sides pass on to the taxpayers. As our friend Ross Douthat has pointed out, that fact could be ignored in a time of prosperity that produces surplus. But not now.

5. I’m not about interpreting the outcome as a big blow against unions and collective bargaining as such. It’s more a significant blow for fiscal responsibility than one for a new birth of liberty. Our friend Jay Cost has reminded us of the historic role of craft and industrial unions in bringing so many working men and women into the middle class. So the rigors of the global marketplace, tough democgraphic realities, and so forth may make unions as such unsustainable these days, but that’s not a fact that should be celebrated without reservation.

6. We’ve talked a lot on pomocon about the increasingly contingency and vulnerability of members of the middle middle and lower middle class. The fading of unions is one reason among many.

7. Both Marxists (getting all psyched up for revolution) and libertarians agree that the defense of unions these days is reactionary. I agree with Yuval that Democrats in general have become all defensive and reactionary, as they were in Wisconsin. And the anger of old-fashioned magazines (which I can’t help but like a little) such as THE NATION and THE PROGRESSIVE isn’t really progressive. But we should think of the post-union world as a necessity not without its costs and one to be approached with prudence and even charity. So the Republicans have to be careful not to interpret the Wisconsin victory as a license to overreach when it comes to collective bargaining in general.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles