Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wisconsin Mobs: Thugs in Union Cause

"Rampaging crowds invading the Capitol, overwhelming police, kicking in doors and climbing through windows. Bomb threats and rounds of ammunition discovered at the State Capitol. Is this Nazi brownshirts at work, busting up a meeting of political opponents in 1933 Germany?  No, it's what has passed for democratic opposition in Wisconsin over the last six weeks,” wrote columnist Katherine Kersten. Protestors shouted, “This is what democracy looks like!” Though the union supporters claimed to be defending the noble cause of democracy, they were in fact subverting it. And the Democratic members of the Wisconsin Assembly ran away from democracy to hide in Illinois, choosing to obstruct democracy rather than participate in it.

Law enforcement agencies reported “numerous threats against elected officials," such as: “We will hunt you down. We will slit your throats. We will drink your blood. I will have your decapitated head on a pike in the Madison town square. This is your last warning.”

I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it's a matter of public records. We have all planned to assult [sic] you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head.”

A note pushed under the office door of Sen. Glenn Grothman read: “The ONLY GOOD Republican is a DEAD Republican.”

Within an hour and a half of the vote [approving Gov. Scott Walker's budget], the protestors had seized the building's lower floor,” reported WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. “Police gave up guarding the building's entrances and retreated to the third floor.”

To read Katherine Kersten's full column, click here.

Why didn't the major news media report the threats and intimidation instead of portraying the Madison protests as peaceful demonstrations? And why didn't the Democratic cowards hiding out in Illinois denounce the thuggish tactics and tell their supporters to discontinue them?

What will happen the next time? And there will be next times. States such as New Jersey, Illinois, California and others are in worse shape than Wisconsin, and the federal government's far greater profligacy will ultimately require even greater hardships and austerity. Has Wisconsin set the pattern for the future?—one in which civil discourse is replaced by mob rule and intimidation?

When Greece was forced to take austerity measures to save the country from bankruptcy, violence erupted which the police were unable to prevent or control. In January 2011 “several hundred youths hurled projectiles, firecrackers and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas....Protestors set up roadblocks, attacked shops and set small fires.”

On May 6, 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported, “Tens of thousands of protestors marched through Athens in the largest and most violent protests.... Angry youths rampaged through the center of Athens, torching several businesses and vehicles and smashing shop windows. Protestors and police clashed in front of parliament and fought running street battles around the city....[P]rotestors smashed the front window of Marfin Bank in central Athens and hurled Molotov cocktails inside. The three victims died from asphyxiation and smoke inhalation. Four others were seriously injured.” Fires were set in eight office buildings and banks.

As I write this I have in front of me a newspaper picture of Costis Hatzidakis, the former development minister of Greece, blood streaming down the side of his face from a cut above and to the side of his eye, and he is bleeding from his nose, too. He is being led away by a bodyguard who was unable to protect him from the mob of protestors. How near are we to such violence when menacing mobs surround Wisconsin Republican legislators homes and cars, or the legislators as they walk to work, and are swearing, screaming, jeering and spitting on them ? Or when police had to smuggle elected GOP officials through a tunnel from the Wisconsin Capitol to avoid confrontation with the mob and load them onto a bus under police guard? The howling mob then swarmed the bus, pounded on it and pursued it.

Mob violence broke out in France when the government proposed raising the retirement age for social security benefits, a measure also proposed for the U.S. by Obama's debt commission. Violence broke out in Britain when the government decided students would have to pay for their college education. But these were modest compared to the violence and magnitude of the fiscal problems of Greece, which may yet default on its payments under the bailout it received from the European Central Bank.

The U.S. faces far larger problems of fiscal austerity than any of those countries. What will be the reaction when the U.S. comes to grips with the looming problems of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—or the consequences of doing nothing about them? Obama's proposed budget deficit of $1.6 trillion essentially ignores the recommendations of his own debt commission (Bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and Allan Simpson. That commission called for $828 billion in cuts over 5 years.  Instead, Obama advocates even greater spending.

The U.S. House is unwilling to come up with even $100 billion in cuts demanded by Republicans members. There remains a gap of $51 billion from what the Democratic House members are agreeing to. But the numbers they are quibbling about are minuscule compared to what is required to avert bankruptcy. Senator Rand Paul has advocated a $500 billion cut in the budget, noting that even that amount wouldn't cover even one-third of the Obama budget deficit for the year.

On March 7, 2011 Bowles and Simpson appeared before the Senate Budget Committee to call for a serious response to what they called “the most predictable economic crisis in history.” Bowles told the committee, "If we just take the ostrich theory in this room, then we'll be spending $1 trillion a year in interest cost alone by the year 2020.... It's crazy."

We won't be spending $1 trillion in interest costs in the year 2020 because we don't have that much time. There will be a fiscal and monetary train wreck long before then. As I have pointed out in previous postings on this blog, the dollar will be lose its position as the world's reserve currency. The U.S. will no longer be able to fund its profligate spending by simply printing more money, and an impoverished populace will face a lower standard of living. What then will be the reaction of the mobs?

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