Indeed. The protesters in Egypt, many of them young and unemployed, finally found the courage to defy a brutal regime and demand freedom and democracy. No national unions supporting them, no President of the United States and his political machine.
The Madison protesters, on the other hand, are well‐paid government employees skipping work and turning out to oppose a budget reform bill that would require them to pay about 5.8% toward their pension (about the private sector national average) and about 12% of their health care benefits (about half the private sector national average) and restrict the collective bargaining powers of government‐employee unions.
But the Madison protesters could still look abroad, to a historic and inspiring city, for a protest much like their own. In Athens, Greece, once the cradle of democracy, we have recently witnessed repeated protests in the streets against austerity measures designed to stave off national bankruptcy. George Will mocked “what the media described as ‘anti‐government mobs.’ Anti‐government mobs composed almost entirely of government employees going berserk about threats to their entitlements!” A year ago, the Greek deficit was estimated at 12.7 percent of GDP, the national debt approaching 120 percent. Banks stop lending to countries at points like that, and even the spendthrift Greek government was forced to try to trim spending. The Greek journalist Takis Michas told a Washington audience last summer that the Greek political economy