Assaulting the Wisconsin Idea – Allen Ruff on The Real News Network

[If you tax the 9 billionaires who live in Wisconsin, using the estate tax at the rate it was in 2001, you can recoup in excess of what the state budget deficit is projected to be.]

The Real News Network

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. The battle to shift the burden of the crisis on the public sector workers unfolds across the country, with Wisconsin still being at the forefront of that war. Now joining us from Madison, Wisconsin, to talk about why Wisconsin is Allen Ruff. Allen is a historian, a freelance journalist, and a longtime social activist in Madison. Thanks for joining us again, Allen.

ALLEN RUFF, HISTORIAN, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Paul. It’s good to be back.JAY: The question is: why Wisconsin? The Republicans in Wisconsin have really dug in here in a way that’s polarized the situation to the maximum. Why are they doing it, just in terms of their short-term electoral fortunes, if they thought this was going to help them? It doesn’t look like it’s going to.RUFF: I think they’re informed by an understanding that many of us have that if they can break Wisconsin, if they can break collective bargaining in Wisconsin, if they can get away with assaulting all social sectors in Wisconsin, then they’ll open the door for who knows what in the rest of the country. Folks have to understand that there’s something here in Wisconsin known as the Wisconsin Idea that’s a hundred years old. Wisconsin led the country in a whole range of political and social reform legislation dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, culminating in a raft of legislation that was passed in 1911 and in 1912, often referred to as [inaudible] progressivism.JAY: What are some of the examples of that legislation?RUFF: At a social-economic level, Wisconsin had the first workers compensation through legislation in the country. It eventually became the model for the New Deal–child labor laws, . . . click here to read the rest of the interview or see the video.

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