Dispatches from the War against public sector unions (Part 1)

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Charles Krauthammer writes in his column “The Rubicon of Wisconsin” that “principled Republicans are tackling our fiscal crisis.”

“The magnificent turmoil now gripping statehouses in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and others marks an epic political moment. The nation faces a fiscal crisis of historic proportions and, remarkably, our muddled, gridlocked, allegedly broken politics has yielded a singular clarity…

Democrats [are] desperately defending the status quo; Republicans [are] charging the barricades.”

Krauthammer writes:

“[Wisconsin’s] financial straits – a $3.6 billion budget shortfall over the next two years – did not come out of nowhere. They came largely from a half-century power imbalance between the unions and the politicians with whom they collectively bargain.

In the private sector, the capitalist knows that when he negotiates with the union, if he gives away the store, he loses his shirt. In the public sector, the politicians who approve any deal have none of their own money at stake. On the contrary, the more favorably they dispose of union demands, the more likely they are to be the beneficiary of union largesse in the next election. It’s the perfect cozy setup.”

It’s a perverse incentive, Krauthammer writes, “that benefit[s] both negotiating parties at the expense of the taxpayer.”

Paul Jacob also summarizes this struggle nicely in his column “Bargained into a collective corner“:

“It’s not just Wisconsin. Or California. (Or Ohio. Or Illinois.)

State and local governments around the country are running out of money, have run out of money. Cuts are necessary, since raising taxes during an economic downturn is something akin to suicide. The natural place to look for cuts is bloat, where states have overspent.

And where is that, besides ‘everywhere’?

Well, spending bulged in the public employee payrolls. Not only do public employees tend to receive higher wages than comparable workers in the private sector, their benefit packages (lavish pensions, early retirement, lifetime medical care) have ballooned past rationality and appear, now, as unpayable.

Shock of shocks: Politicians promised more than taxpayers could deliver.”

Toward the end of the article, he writes that “people become crazed” when they’re insulated from the “rigors of competition.”

“The full lesson is not merely that unions can’t be trusted with politicians, or politicians can’t be trusted with unions.

None of us can be trusted without limits. First and foremost, we need citizen-imposed limits on government.”

In a column titled “Unions’ collective disregard for taxpayers,” possible presidential candidate Herman Cain writes:

“[T]he desire of the unions to continue to make unsustainable demands on local, state and federal government, irrespective of the devastating financial impacts, is totally illogical, not to mention being a collective disregard for the nearly 90 percent of the workers and taxpayers who pay them.”

Cain explains that for years, government employee unions used forced union dues to elect Democrats, who in turn have said “thank you by passing union-favored legislation for the benefit of the unions and re-election of their Democratic friends.” Democrats couldn’t raise taxes high enough or fast enough which led to deficits. And, Cain writes,

“Little by little, this political favoritism has made the disparity between total compensation for public-sector employees and private-sector employees bigger and bigger – and unsustainable.”

If it seems that everyone is writing the same thing, well, they are. And it needs to be said over and over again until the misinformation coming from government employee unions, Democrats, and the old media is drowned out.

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