There will be peace in the Valley. But anger in Wisconsin

Brian S. Hall:

It is no coincidence that the night President Obama sat down for a lovely dinner with a dozen of America’s richest executives in Silicon Valley this week, that protests in Wisconsin over budget cuts and union worker rights reached a fever pitch. Though the President paid lip service to the protesters, a well-heeled, well-funded voting bloc he will no doubt rely on heavily for the 2012 presidential race, he understood what mattered most — to him and America.

  • Technology
  • Innovation
  • Globalization
  • Education — as offered by highly competitive colleges and universities that have little to no monopoly power
  • Entrepreneurialism – unshackled from government regulations, free from unionized labor and unfettered by legacy depictions of work and economy and business

Politics may force President Obama to become more actively, more visibly involved in the events of Wisconsin, where public worker unions, essentially America’s last remaining unions, fight for de facto guarantees of job security, lifetime healthcare, lifetime benefits, sanctioned limits on hours worked and on responsibilities blurred. But the President is acutely aware that, as protests in Egypt offered a glimpse into the future, protests in Madison, Wisconsinwere a reminder of America’s past.
This is Tea Party Redux. The Union Strikes Back. Yet just as with the angry tea party protests from two years ago, the song remains the same. Large swaths of Americans, having been party to an unspoken agreement that they would have a guaranteed middle class life, filled with highly targeted government benefits — which they repeatedy insisted they “earned” and which they knew could not survive should they be spread throughout the wider population — so too is it with the government worker unions. Unlike the entirety of the US population, they have a unique sanctuary within the American economy. Just like those in the Tea Party voiced their angry over policies that diminished their unique standing, in America and the world, so too do the protests in Wisconsin reflect anger and fear over exactly the same concerns. Both groups, of course, argued, believed perhaps, that what was good for them was good for workers, good for the middle class, good for America.