aryanhwy: (Default)
What's going on in WI right now is pretty remarkable. I'm glad that I've got a good number of friends who still live in the State, or who are closer to people who live there than I, and who post regular updates from a variety of sources on FB.

I've been following things as best I can since the first article the NYTimes. Last night, reading a number of different articles, and talking about it with Joel, I realized that for the first time in my life, I'm finally becoming politically exercised about things. This particular issue isn't the first. The very stupid, stupid, stupid proposal of a Republican member of the house (I think) to allow the general public to vote on which proposals the NSF should fund was another. But these last few months are the first time where I've begun to feel a need to be engaged in politics by more than just general dissatisfaction and distaste for the whole things.

Some background: I was raised in a republican household, and these are the values that I was valued and respected, and so this is the party I voted with when I turned 18. And then over the course of the Bush administrations, I realized that what I'd be raised to think "republican" meant wasn't what actually the vast majority of people, republicans and non, thought it meant. I ended up not voting in the 2004 election because I simply couldn't in good conscience vote for the republican candidate, and I also simply in good conscience couldn't vote Democratic. I then spent the next few years trying to articulate what it was that I in fact believe in, and then trying to find out what party this fit with. I can sum up my basic views in two phrases: Fiscal conservative, social liberal. I want to be left alone to live my life as I please, to be considered responsible enough to provide for my future (e.g., retirement. Enforced contribution to Social Security has always really bothered me), to not have anyone telling me how my relationships should be or how to raise my kids. Which puts me in the Libertarian camp as best as I can see. In 2008, I went with my principles and voted Libertarian, even though my decision to do so was loaded with some amount of guilt: Fairly soon after I figured out that Libertarianism is where my leanings lay, I realized that one of the problems with Libertarianism is that it's not universalizable. Given human nature, the principles that I stand for, and the freedom that I would like to have in my life, simply isn't reasonable. There are too many people that can't be trusted to, or aren't able to, plan for their future, to contribute to retirement plans, etc. So, my political views unfortunately fall afoul of Kant's maxim of universalizability. Which is, extremely frustrating, because it means it's almost impossible for me to vote in a sincere fashion.

With the discussions of health care in the US over the last year, I've realized something else, which is not only that my political views are not universalizable, but also that they are in fact, relatively selfish. Or maybe self-centered is a less damning, and just as accurate, way of putting it. Even so, this realization was not enough to push me towards the democratic camp.

Well, the events of the last week are getting me pretty darned near close. I've been saving some of the links I've read recently, and some of my discussions of Joel, and I've got some to say about all of it:

This editorial from yesterday I found distressingly partisan---the arguments in it are not going to convince anyone who isn't already on their side. However, some of the facts that they cite do come from non-partisan sources, and those are facts that I want to see made more widely available:
in fact, that the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently released a memo detailing how the state will end the 2009-2011 budget biennium with a budget surplus.

In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state’s budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.

To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January.

This report fro the Fiscal Bureau is available online here.

This article, from Feb. 15, is somewhat more nonpartisan, and it ended with something that really hit home for me, especially given all of the government protests going on in Africa and the Middle East right now:
"American conservatives often profess admiration for foreign workers' bravery in protesting and undermining authoritarian regimes. Letting workers exercise their rights at home, however, threatens to undermine some of our own regimes (the Republican ones particularly), and shouldn't be permitted.

As Joel pointed out, by undermining the state workers' rights to collectively bargain about anything other than actual wages, the state is essentially taking away these workers' right to stand up for themselves. And suddenly, this becomes exactly in line with the principles that I hold: The right to run one's own life. This right is something that is under threat for the state workers of WI, and if this right is something that the Democratics will support while the Republicans will not, well, then I guess I might actually be possibly maybe vaguely if you push me hard enough persuadable to cast my allegiance with them. (You can see how hard it is for me, still, to even consider identifying myself as a Democratic. Sorry, all my Democratic friends.) Another thing that Joel commented on is that many Republicans complain against the government running people's lives, but what they are doing is effectively replacing the government with corporations, so corporations end up running people's lives. And this is a much worse situation, because the corporations are much less accountable for their actions -- they can't be voted out of office like the government can.

Today's NYTimes article described the protests at the capital; a friend on FB posted a link about Starve the Beast fiscal policies, an economic policy which is widely decried by economists as not actually working. Democratic senators left the state to prevent the senate from having a quorum (they are one short). Despite the fact that their jurisdiction only goes to state borders, the state patrol has been sent to bring back at least one Democratic senator. You know, the fact that things have reached this point says something rather scary about the whole "democratic process". Say---any of the WI people on my flist know whether Wisconsin has any processes for recalling governors? Joel didn't know, he just knew that it's rare and not many states have it.

The state patrol thing reminds me of something in the first NYTimes article that really irked me, namely the governor's comment that the state patrol was on hand to take over any duties of recalcitrant government workers.

So, how many of you would like your university courses being taught by a member of the state patrol?


Watching all this unfold is intriguing and depressing and a bit scary and again yet more depressing.


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