Wisconsin’s Public Union Problem

With the successful push in Wisconsin to end collective bargaining with the public sector unions, unions and their Democrat allies have filed for numerous state-level recall elections. While this is inherently better exercise in democracy than the approximately $350,000 in damage and clean-up costs caused by their protests, not to mention the $7.4 Million in law enforcement costs to police them up, the initial premise is wrong and seeks to put them right back into the fiscal mess the governor and the Republican members of the legislature were trying to get them out of.

The first thing to look at is that they are terming collective bargaining as a right. This is simply not the case. In order for something to qualify as a “right,” it must pass a two-pronged litmus test: It must be inherent, and it must not place an undue burden on your fellow man. Speaking freely about the government is a right. Forcing people to listen is not. Owning tools to protect one’s life and property is a right. Banning your neighbor from owning those items simply because you do not like them is not. Forming a voluntary organization is a right. Forcing people to join it is not.

Collective bargaining is not a right. If people choose to join together in order to bargain for a better deal, then that is fine, but that right ends when they can elect the very people that they will end up sitting across the table from, while dealing with money that does not belong to either. Such is the problem with public unions. The entire process is an unethical exercise of power, and it is done in an environment with no fiscal discipline.

When people form a union with a company in the private sector, they deal with their employers and are essentially in a closed system where their success or failure will only harm themselves. In the public sector, there is no such danger. The success or failure of the system is dependent on whether or not they can elect the people that will perpetuate their jobs, and on whether those politicians will be able to milk the taxpayer for enough money to cover it. It is an inherently flawed system that has no basis on a worker’s productivity, and one of the reasons why so many states are broke.

The ethics of the process aside, much can be learned from who it is these people (both unions and the politicians) are. From The Foundry over at Heritage:

“Numerous signs proclaimed “Tax the rich,” and protesters frequently cited that mantra as the solution to budget problems.”

“Few protesters we spoke to knew Wisconsin has a deficit of $137 million — a deficit projected to increase to $3.6 billion in the next two years. Fewer still seemed to realize just how generous public worker benefits in Wisconsin are — far more generous than the national average.”

“Dispute also existed as to whether union membership is currently optional for public workers in Wisconsin (it’s not), even though most protesters seemed to think it should be optional.”

Basically, there were a bunch of people who were ignorant of what is going on (i.e. their golden goose was being sucked dry), while engaging in class warfare arguments. You can see in the below video their mindset and beliefs.

Keep in mind, this is the same debate in which 14 Senate Democrats fled the state and hid out in Illinois.

As we are seeing with these recall elections, the public sector unions are buying votes, spending their money on Democrat politicians that will give them a better deal with the taxpayer footing the bill. We can take solace in the fact that the voters in Wisconsin will have to live in the world they create without dragging the rest of us down with them.

(Crossposted at Federalism Online)

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