David Brooks has a column out today that explains why public unions are a bit of a problem.
Private sector unions push against the interests of shareholders and management; public sector unions push against the interests of taxpayers. Private sector union members know that their employers could go out of business, so they have an incentive to mitigate their demands; public sector union members work for state monopolies and have no such interest.
Private sector unions confront managers who have an incentive to push back against their demands. Public sector unions face managers who have an incentive to give into them for the sake of their own survival. Most important, public sector unions help choose those they negotiate with. Through gigantic campaign contributions and overall clout, they have enormous influence over who gets elected to bargain with them, especially in state and local races.
The people who actually fund all government are getting fed up with news stories of bloated retirements and practically free health insurance and pension plans for those in government. When I was young (yes, showing my age) government jobs were great only because of the bennies. They didn’t also have high salaries!
But the numbers have skewed over the years. Now average wages are higher, average benefits are higher and they get a holiday every other week. At the same time, in the private sector wages have frozen or dropped, people have been laid off, businesses are going under and those that aren’t are weary of the burden.
I was appalled at the doctors in Wisconsin giving out health excuses to protesters and am thankful a doctor has written in about this disgrace.
At the same time – I can’t help but remember that government service in many ways is government service FOR us. Not the bad teachers or the nut job at the DMV with a power play, but those who put themselves in harms way FOR those of us not in government.
Whether you take the job for the benefits, the adventure, the experience, just because you’re good at it or whatever, there are jobs out there that need to be done that people do risk their lives for while working for me the taxpayer. Sorry Wisconsin teachers – not you.