“What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin—and eventually, America—less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy.” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was more theatrical than most in denouncing Act 10, the set of public-sector reforms signed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) on March 11, 2011.

The spirit of Krugman’s denunciation, however, has been echoed by a broad coalition of labor activists, students, left-leaning political commentators, and Democratic politicians. Words such as radical, extreme, and even un-American have been used to describe Act 10.

The law itself has two major components. First, it requires public-sector workers to make larger contributions to their pensions and health benefits, effectively reducing their compensation. Second, Act 10 limits the power of public-sector unions by restricting collective bargaining for most workers and making dues collection more difficult.

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