21 January 2010

'Public Service Unions Are Bleeding This Country Dry'

The central battle in our time is over political primacy. It is a competition between the public sector and the private sector over who defines the work and the institutions that make a nation thrive and grow.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy planted the seeds that grew the modern Democratic Party. That year, JFK signed executive order 10988 allowing the unionization of the federal work force. This changed everything in the American political system. Kennedy's order swung open the door for the inexorable rise of a unionized public work force in many states and cities.

This in turn led to the fantastic growth in membership of the public employee unions—The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the teachers' National Education Association.

They broke the public's bank. More than that, they entrenched a system of taking money from members' dues and spending it on political campaigns. Over time, this transformed the Democratic Party into a public-sector dependency.
I strongly dislike unions. They stand in the way of free trade, choice in education, and myriad other good, liberty-oriented, market-based reforms that could improve the quality of life of everyone in the world.

I do not read the history of labor unions the same way that some people do. I do not think they ever served a useful role.

Many conservatives look at American history and, based on the what they were taught about the "robber barons" by their unionized high school teacher, think that they (unions) were an important push-back against the "exploitative" kings of capitalism.

Here's what they really did: They waged often violent battles to keep other workers (ofttimes new immigrants) out of and away from doing their jobs for cheaper or better and forced their wages up, which in turn raised the costs of everything produced from, for example, steel.

Teachers' unions are to blame for the poor state of American education. Public unions are to blame for the spiraling-out-of-control budgets in states from California to New York.

And because they contribute so much to Democrat Party campaigns, they get special exceptions to rules all the rest of us have to follow.

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