Governor Scott Walker: Koch Whore vs Shock Doctrine

February 25, 2011
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Two views of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin have appeared in the news lately – you decide which is more illuminating.  The blog Buffalo  Beast, did a beastly thing, impersonating Billionaire David Koch making a call to Governor Walker. David Koch is   behind Americans for Prosperity lobby group that have been financing Walker’s cuts and anti-union campaign in Wisconsin.  During the course of the conversation between “David Koch” and Governor Walker, the idea of having David’s people inject some troublemakers into the Madison crowds is discussed but rejected by Governor Walker because it might backfire or  get out of hand. Governor Walker goes on to continue the briefing on breaking the unions:

“Koch”: Well, good; good. Good catching up with ya’.

Walker: This is an exciting time [blah, blah, blah, Super Bowl reference followed by an odd story of pulling out a picture of Ronald Reagan and explaining to his staff the plan to crush the union the same way Reagan fired the air traffic controllers]…that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall because the Communists then knew Reagan wasn’t a pushover. [Blah, blah, blah. He’s exactly like Reagan. Won’t shut up about how awesome he is.]

“Koch”: [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.

Walker: All right, that would be outstanding. [*** Ethical violation much? ***] Thanks for all the support…it’s all about getting our freedoms back…

“Koch”: Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well. [Laughs]

Walker: [Blah] Thanks a million!
Note: this is an exact copy of the conversation as shown on the Beast site including [Beastly edits and comments].

What emerges from this conversation is that Governor Walker’s highest priority is not really balancing the budget but busting the state unions.

The second view of Governor Walker  and his mission is from the NYTimes Paul Krugman – he calls it the Shock Doctrine.:

Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,”  argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.

In recent weeks, Madison has been the scene of large demonstrations against the governor’s budget bill, which would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state’s fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions — an offer the governor has rejected.

What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside….there’s this: “Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).”

What’s that about? The state of Wisconsin owns a number of plants supplying heating, cooling, and electricity to state-run facilities (like the University of Wisconsin). The language in the budget bill would, in effect, let the governor privatize any or all of these facilities at whim. Not only that, he could sell them, without taking bids, to anyone he chooses. And note that any such sale would, by definition, be “considered to be in the public interest.”

If this sounds to you like a perfect setup for cronyism and profiteering — remember those missing billions in Iraq? — you’re not alone. Indeed, there are enough suspicious minds out there that Koch Industries, owned by the billionaire brothers who are playing such a large role in Mr. Walker’s anti-union push, felt compelled to issue a denial that it’s interested in purchasing any of those power plants. Are you reassured?

But don’t expect either Mr. Walker or the rest of his party to change those goals. Union-busting and privatization remain G.O.P. priorities, and the party will continue its efforts to smuggle those priorities through in the name of balanced budgets.

 

In this view Governor Walker is an exploiter of the tough times – manipulating the agenda to achieve his doctinaire ends, And perhaps aided and abated by outdide players like the Koch brothers who havetheir own agenda.

Summary

From these two viewpoints. it emerges that Governor Scott Walker is not dedicated to creating jobs or balancing the state  budget; but to busting government unions. It appear Governor Walker  sees busting the government unions as an opportunity fora  Reagan-like rise to political credence and power. His agenda  certainly has an element of the Shock Doctrine in play – during times of high political and economic distress – move an agenda a)that may not be of the highest priority but b)can be portrayed at the very least as an effort to tame the greater distress and c)may ingratiate you to the behind the scenes  power players which in the the twenty-first century are the SuperWealhty. After all the Supreme Court of the US has decreed that money talks and influences policy; and so  through their political action groups the Super Wealthy should have no limit on how much talking money they bring to the political bargaining market.

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