There is a classic Bob Newhart skit about a man visiting the home of a friend who has a large and vicious dog. After being intermittently dragged around the room and pinned to the furniture by the beast, Newhart’s character manages to mollify it with handfuls of gumdrops out of a bowl. This works fine until he realizes he’s running low on gumdrops and his host nonchalantly advises him that if you stop feeding the dog “he doesn’t understand.”
If there is a better analog to the current entitlement-withdrawal syndrome we are witnessing in Wisconsin and elsewhere — both in terms of the brute stupidity of its participants and the growing horror with which it’s being observed — I am at a loss to find it.
In a period of less than a week union thugs have made their displeasure with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Fox News, Glenn Beck, FreedomWorks, various Tea Party representatives, and pretty much anyone else who can’t sing “Joe Hill” from memory manifest by making sure the expression “when push comes to shove” is anything but figurative.
Consider this calorically challenged defender of the working man — who probably can’t see his belt, much less tighten it — heroically blind-siding a Tea Party activist then waddling off at high speed (relatively speaking):
One of the more egregious incidents (though it’s a highly competitive field) was the assault on FreedomWorks’ Tabitha Hale — who as anyone will tell you is indistinguishable from Hulk Hogan — by one such irrigator of hydrants, who was obviously put out that someone would be filming him at a public event, or perhaps taken aback by the realization that modern mobile phones can actually do that. In any case, if the eloquence of his remarks wasn’t sufficient to guarantee him immortality Mr. Sluggo can rest assured that whacking the smallest, least confrontational human within his reach will.
In the midst of all this, the speed with which the unions have been able to embrace their inner Cujo has been matched only by the rapid evaporation of crocodile tears in the mainstream media over the lack of civil discourse. Anyone surprised by either of these developments should eschew all games of chance right now.
I appreciate it might seem unnecessarily provocative to compare union thugs to dogs — especially to those in the moderate attack dog community — so let me offer a “scratch behind the ears” qualification. These aren’t just any dogs, they’re the ones out of “Animal Farm”. These are the pack animals that are inevitably dispatched when socialists run out of other people’s money, and those other people finally notice.
Hayek had it about right when he wrote:
Once government has embarked upon planning for the sake of justice, it cannot refuse responsibility for anybody’s fate or position.
These difficulties need not lead to open clashes so long as socialism is merely the aspiration of a limited and fairly homogeneous group. They come to the surface only when a socialist policy is actually attempted with the support of the many different groups which together compose the majority of a people. Then it soon becomes the one burning question which of the different sets of ideals shall be imposed upon all by making the whole resources of the country serve it. [Emphasis mine]
— The Road to Serfdom (F. A. Hayek and Bruce Caldwell)
Thus we have the public service unions — and teachers unions in particular — acting as perfect microcosms of the socialist dynamic. As beneficiaries of a redistributive scheme long on slogans and short on basic arithmetic they have a dizzying array of explanations as to why two plus two does in fact equal five. When THE PLAN fails — and it always fails, for the same kinds of fixed and immutable reasons that planes fall out the sky when they lose power — the planners must find a scapegoat.
Thus, the issue for them is not that governments, out of basic survival instinct, are being dragged kicking and screaming into fiscal responsibility — and that one casualty will be the unsustainable lifestyle to which public sector unions would like to become accustomed. The real reason is oppression and union-busting … and by the way 2+2 = 5. Therefore the pit-poodles must be dispatched to battle the oppressors. Older, smaller, weaker oppressors are definitely preferable.
Accordingly, Tabitha Hale and the growing throng of others who have been on the receiving end of that particular brand of attention unions reserve for anyone bright enough to understand the First Amendment, and unwise enough to actually apply it, should accordingly take solace that it isn’t personal.
We’re just out of gumdrops and they don’t understand.
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