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Scott Walker Is No More Anti-Union than FDR

[FDR] once declared: "The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." There is something obscene about collective bargaining rights for government employees whose appetites are unrestrained by market discipline. When private-sector employees demand more in compensation than they generate in value, their companies go out of business. But when government employees do the same, they burden citizens with higher taxes and debt, which is one reason why Wisconsin — like nearly every other state — is saddled with unsustainable state worker-related legacy and other costs. This is why no president's administration — Democratic or Republican — has ever advocated such rights for federal workers.

But Walker is like FDR not just in his antipathy to public-sector unions, but his support for mandatory private-sector unionism. He has pledged not to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state (like its neighbor Indiana). This is a big mistake: It will undercut Wisconsin's competitiveness and make it harder to restore robust economic growth.

That, however, is not the only way in which Walker reflects an FDR-like understanding of the economy. Contributing to his political vulnerability is his previous campaign pledge to "create" 250,000 jobs — as if that's something that politicians can control. So far, he's added only 15,000. And last month, the Badger State lost jobs, giving it the worst job creation record in the country.

Walker is blaming political uncertainty, but what's his cure? Not wholesale tax reform (although property taxes have declined slightly on his watch) or regulatory overhaul. Instead, he announced this week that he'll pump $100 million into rejuvenating the depressed parts of Milwaukee. His opponents are condemning this as a vote-grubbing gimmick. But that makes no sense, given that Milwaukee is a heavily Democratic area. The more likely reason is that Walker seriously believes that he can buy growth and jobs through such "investments."

In short, Walker won't end forced private-sector unionism, lighten Wisconsin's hefty tax burden, or abandon government spending to stimulate economic growth. All this would have made him a Democrat in FDR's time. That modern-day progressives are branding him as a right-wing radical says far more about them than him.

No country or state has ever solved its economic problems by going deeper in debt, raising taxes and/or shifting more power to unions. It never works. It's why most of Europe is unravelling and why Japan has had 20 years of stagnation. And it won't work work in WI. Sorry, guys. And Walker, well, what a disappointment.


P.S. If you want to know the secret to prosperity and growth, take a look at what Canada has been doing:
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