I keep hearing the narrative that somehow, as though it were written in stone, collective bargaining is a right for public sector unions. I would disagree entirely: collective bargaining is a privilege, not a right, for public sector unions. And you know what? About 50 years ago, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. agreed with me. The union’s Executive Council in 1959 said: “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress — a right available to every citizen.”
And it is a privilege that has been badly abused for years; U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics show that public sector employees, many of them unionized, make nearly $40 an hour in combined wages and benefits versus roughly $27.50 for those in the private sector.
So I applaud what Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin, but I actually feel he didn’t go far enough. All his Budget Repair Bill is doing is addressing the public sector unions’ right to collectively bargain over pensions and health care. I think it would have been nice to address the right to collectively bargain for wages, and here’s why: at the end of the day, the public sector unions are not collectively bargaining for a greater share of earnings, as do the private sector unions. They are bargaining to get a bigger slice of the pie of tax dollars, which the government has taken from the American taxpayer.
Now to be clear: paying a certain amount of taxes is a part of being involved in an organized civilization. If you want to make sure you have roads and national defense, you’re going to have to pay taxes. But that being said, taxes are removed through a threat of force from the taxpayers by the government (yes, I mean force. Try not paying property or income taxes and see what happens). So the government is run off of money earned in the private sector. Government does not create jobs; when there are reports of more jobs, but they’re all government jobs, the government is not creating anything: it is merely funding even more government jobs off the backs of the private sector. Which compounds the problem because by taking capital from the private sector to create government jobs, you’re not creating jobs that create more capital, as private sector jobs do.
So, public sector unions, unlike their private sector union counterparts, are not creating more capital. Do they provide services for the public good? Absolutely. Are they creating capital? Absolutely not.
So here you have public sector unions negotiating for more pay in tough times, soaking more from the already overburdened American taxpayer. I keep hearing this drivel of, “Well if Walker is expecting the unions to make sacrifices, is he going to ask others to make sacrifices by increasing taxes?” Memo to those saying that (Mika Brzezinski, I’m thinking of you): The American taxpayer has been gouged for years, and years, and years, by higher taxes, and I’m not talking just income taxes. I’m talking the hidden taxes on gas, food, etc. Yeah, add up all your taxes sometime and you’ll realize you’re probably paying well over 50%, sometimes 60% or more of your wages, in taxes. So you’ve kind of already done your part.
I’m at the point where I feel like the public sector unions, and their partners in crime, their allied elected officials, are like vampires on the American public, sucking the very blood out of them. Worse, they are dumb vampires.
Smart vampires suck just enough blood out to satiate themselves and then leave the victim alive so they can hit them again for a quick infusion down the road. The public sector unions and elected officials haven’t quite learned that lesson and keep sucking the blood out of the American people. At some point, there ain’t going to be any more blood to suck, and then everyone is dead.
And a word on the unions allied officials. These officials, standing between the taxpayer and the public sector unions, are supposed to serve the American taxpayer. It’s a little something called a government of “We the People,” with power originating from the people. But in fact the elected officials are serving the public sector unions because the unions collect millions off the forced-dues from government employees and then reward the officials, their “bosses,” by funding their reelection campaigns. This is precisely backward from how this country was meant to work. It was originally meant to work like this: power originates from the American people, is given to elected officials, who then manage the bureaucrats and federal employees, on behalf of the people, i.e. taxpayers.
Now we have this bizarre scenario where the public sector unions have the power to dictate to the elected officials, who then dictate to the American people. The only way any of that last scenario makes sense is if you detach yourself from reality and enter a land of unicorns and pixie dust.
Now I know for most, none of this is a revelation at all. But it does defy logic: ultimately what we’re doing by increasing benefits and pay for public sector unions is removing capital from the private sector (i.e. us) via taxes and crushing our economy in a time when we actually need the private sector to create more jobs.
What Scott Walker, and many others are doing is appealing to common sense, especially in tough economic times. I have no problem at all with public sector unions making the equivalent wages and benefits that their private sector counterparts do. Of course that means a shaving down by about 30% on the combined wages and benefits of the public sector unions, but it has to be done. And I applaud those officials who are willing to step up to the plate and do it. The American people are applauding and cheering you on.
[Crossposted on BigGovernment.com]