23 January 2010


For the first time in history public sector union membership exceeds private sector union membership. As private sector employment continues to decline public sector employment is increasing. This is a dismal indicator of where our economy is headed. The old industrial sector unions understood that a thriving private sector was necessary for their own prosperity. Even though aligned with the Democratic party the members tended to vote independently.

Today public employee unions like SEIU, AFSCME, and teacher unions are all prospering at public expense. They all have a vested interest in public spending and taxation, and exert a controlling interest on the Democratic party. The “stimulus,” rather than going for infrastructure, roads, and bridges, which would stimulate private employment, and provide jobs for the people who are actually unemployed, largely went to states and programs favored by these groups.

They now provide the funds and shock troops for liberal Democrats in elections and bogus counter-tea party rallies and have a clear interest in expanded government. This occurs not just at the federal level but in states and localities as well. For example, in suburbs teachers unions, apart from screwing up education and resisting reform, regularly dominate school budget votes that constantly increase taxes because few others bother to vote and opponents aren’t organized. California is going broke with absurdly high pension obligations. It is possible for a prison guard to retire at 50 and receive a pension equivalent to 90% of their last salary. New York is not far behind.

These unsustainable benefits were granted in part because of influence in state legislatures, and because public employment allegedly pays less than private employment. This is no longer true so we have the preposterous situation of people making less being taxed to maintain people making more than they are. Furthermore government priorities are warped from what would otherwise be in the public interest by this insidious influence.

Unless the grip of these unions is broken the cost of government will become increasingly onerous and its expansion will be unchecked. Thus one of the first priorities of true reformers must be to break these unions, for that is where much of the pressure on government expenditures is coming from.

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