Paul Krugman’s New York Times column for Friday, “Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.,” used for both headline and text fodder a book of far-left paranoid propaganda by Naomi Klein to push Krugman’s pet idea: That Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker is trying to make a “power grab” in order “to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy.”
Here’s a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn’t Cairo after all. Maybe it’s Baghdad -- specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.
The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine,” which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.
Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.
Krugman then delivered his simplistic assault on Walker’s motives:
What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab -- an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy.
Liberal New Republic writer Jonathan Chait found Klein's 2007 book "The Shock Doctrine" embarrassing, quoting segments in which Klein claimed the 1999 U.S. intervention to stop the massacres in Kosovo was in fact launched to spread Milton Friedman-style capitalism and privatization to the former Yugoslavia, and that President Bush went to war in Iraq merely to crack open its closed economy.
If quoting Klein makes Krugman severely misguided, this next tidbit is misleading:
The good news from Wisconsin is that the upsurge of public outrage -- aided by the maneuvering of Democrats in the State Senate, who absented themselves to deny Republicans a quorum -- has slowed the bum’s rush. If Mr. Walker’s plan was to push his bill through before anyone had a chance to realize his true goals, that plan has been foiled. And events in Wisconsin may have given pause to other Republican governors, who seem to be backing off similar moves.
What “public outrage” (besides shouting union members and leftist students) is Krugman referring to? A new survey of likely Wisconsin voters show they favor by 71%-22% Walker’s proposals to make public-sector unions pay more of their share of health and pension benefits.