The protests in Wisconsin against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal that would require public-sector workers to pay more for benefits and pensions, though they’ll still be better off than private-sector workers, and reforms that would limit collective bargaining by public-sector unions are still receiving an incredible amount of attention.
In case you haven’t seen it, here is video a speech Gov. Walker gave last night explaining the reasons for the proposal. You can read the transcript here:
Walker, who has been falsely accused of favoring certain public-sector unions, has warned that unless the measures are passed to help ensure that the $3 billion budget deficit over the next two years can be cut, 6,000 public workers could lose their jobs.
The need to reign in the abuse of taxpayers that have been caused by these unions has spread to other states. The most notable is in Indiana, where House Democrats have, like Senate Democrats in Wisconsin, have crossed statelines to prevent a vote from taking place on a bill that would prevent unions from negotiating labor contracts that would require non-union members to pay fees. These Indiana Democrats have said that they will not return until the bill is shelved. And unfortunately, Gov. Mitch Daniels - a potential Republican presidential candidate - seems all to willing to comply.
These tactics, which Ed Morrissey rightly calls a “threat to democracy,” are being encouraged by prominent Democrats at the national level. And that has prompted a very legitimate point from The Weekly Standard, and it’s a point that Republican should begin driving home - if that haven’t already:
[I]f it’s so “reckless” to shutdown the government, why have Wisconsin legislators, the President and the DNC all supported the government shutdown in Wisconsin? Not only that, they have shutdown the government by fleeing the state and breaking the law, not to mention the illegal union strikes shutting down schools and national Democrats helping to organize the angry mob descending on Madison.
With all the talk about a government shutdown at a national level due to disagreements over the budget, this is something that should be thrown in the faces of Democrats.
Before all these protests started, Will Wilkinson wrote an excellent post over at The Economist’s Democracy in America about public-sector unions (emphasis mine):
[Public-sector unions] aren’t bargaining against capitalists for a fair cut of the cooperative surplus. They’re bargaining against everybody who pays taxes and/or benefits from government spending. The question of distribution in democratic politics isn’t about splitting up jointly-produced profits. It’s about interest groups fighting to grab a bigger share of government revenue while sticking competing groups with the tax bill. Because of the sheer size and relatively uniform interests of the group, public employees constitute a politically powerful bloc with or without unions. As the percentage of the labour force employed by the government rises, the heft of this group only increases. Public-employee unions simply consolidate an already impressive concentration of political bargaining power.
We’re not talking about the proletarit rising up against the bourgeoisie in Wisconsin. This is a war against taxpayers, who are forced to pay for the benefits that these unions desire as the workout agreements with public officials - many of whom are unelected or otherwise unaccountable to voters.
No one is saying that workers don’t have a right to organize. However, we are saying that when we’re dealing with the public-sector (ie. taxpayer funded jobs), governments have a vested interested in ensuring that taxpayers are protected. That’s the reason Walker has put forth, and it’s sound. Comparing him to a dictator only shows that you don’t have an argument worth a damn.