In the darkness the trees are full of starlight (henwy) wrote,
In the darkness the trees are full of starlight

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Public Unions: Frankenstein's monster

It's no surprise given current events that I've been thinking about and commenting about unions lately. For those of you who don't follow the news regularly, there's a bruhaha happening up in cheesehead country where the Wisconsin state senate was supposed to debate and vote on a bill proposed by the new governor which would have required state employees to begin paying into their health insurance and also contribute more to their own pensions. The bill also would have made changes to the basic structure of unions such as requiring a yearly vote by all union members to reaffirm that they want the union, make it so that the collection of dues was no longer automatic, and limit unions to being able to negotiating for pay raises. Because the democrats knew they didn't have the votes to stop the proposal from becoming law, they decided to flee the state in order to prevent a vote. The Wisconsin constitution requires that a quorum of senators be present to pass any budget issue, meaning that a set number have to be in attendance no matter how skewed the support or opposition for a bill might be. Personally, I'm finding the entire situation amusing in an ironic sense because of all the various parallels that I'm seeing between this current incident and the debate over Obama care from a year ago. Consider:

  • Obama argues that elections have consequences and since the voters put him and large majorities in charge, they should have the right to pass their health care vision.

    Compare that to the situation now where Wisconsin has voted in a large majority of republicans at the state level who are also making the argument that elections have consequences and that they should have the right to implement their ideas

  • Democrats argue the use of the filibuster is anti-democratic, allowing a minority to frustrate the will of the majority.

    Compare that to the fact that the democratic state senators of Wisconsin actually ran away, fleeing the state to avoid doing their elected duties and prevent a vote. Can you imagine what the dems would have said if the US congress also had a quorom rule and all the republicans had fled the capital during the health care vote?

  • Democrats claim that the governor who proposed the new bill manufactured the budget crisis to make it more likely he could sell his idea to the people.

    Compare that to Obama's people who said that you should never let a crisis go to waste and knowingly pushed Obama care during the recession/financial collapse believing that people would support anything during the downturn.

There are others but it's been sort of a trip to see it even in broad strokes. The best part is that the end of this might also end up as another procedural 'trick' just like the passage of Obama care. the quorum rule is only in effect if it consists of budgetary matters. The republicans in the state senate could pass all the union rules right now on their own if they just split the issue into two separate bills. In effect, the one that could easily pass right now is the one that the unions and democrats hate more and the part that they can blame they might be willing to accept as a compromise. If this plays out just like health care, we'll end up seeing the dems shooting themselves in the foot and having to eat their own poison pill.

All of that being said, it's just fundamental in my opinion that public unions are a bad and necessarily corrupt idea. I might not support or like private unions, but I can see how they service a purpose and a point of balance. Imagine if private unions were able to negotiate and decide who becomes CEO of the company however. If a union had the ability to dictate who runs the company, we could see how that would be a major problem. In effect, that's what public unions do in fact do with their political activities. They put the very people in place who decide upon their salaries and benefits with the problem that while those individuals decide the compensation, they're not the ones who pay it. Instead the taxpayers as a whole are responsible. There can be absolutely no accountability under that sort of system, only wholesale bribery and corruption. At least for private companies, they are in fact responsible for what they pay their employees which gives them an incentive to deal with the best interests of the company in mind. No such incentive exists if you don't end up having to pay the bill in the end. It was a bad and poorly thought out idea from the beginning and you can only hope that it's not too late to kill the monster before it becomes truly unstoppable.
Tags: news, politics, unions

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