Friday, February 25, 2011

Wisconsin? Ohio? Simple!

Goaded by gentle readers, we at last opine on the epic confrontation between sense and nonsense in Madison and other Midwestern state capitals where governors and legislatures dare to threaten the client-patron relationship between labor unions and the party of LBJ.

We have little need to offer anything of substance, as the issues are so clear and have been so widely discussed by conservative media pundits. But offer we will, at least in telegraphic style.

Item: the class-conflict model of economics has been so widely and deeply refuted that it is comical to see it used by so-called serious-minded people. Unions are needed to offset corporate influence on economics and politics? Really! We thought that the 1980s were enough to show that businesses and their employees share common interests.

Item: The notion of collective bargaining for government employees has always been ludicrous. Employees are also voters, and elected officials want their votes. So they give them what they want. The unions effectively sit on both sides of the table. The rest of the voters are the ones not represented in the negotiations. This not only further undermines the class-conflict model noted above, it evacuates the notion of conflict in the entire relationship.

Item: Wisconsin and other states are merely moving to a situation that is still rather less stringent against government-employee unions than what is presently the case for federal workers, who can bargain collectively neither for wages nor for benefits but only for work rules. How oppressive! Wisconsin state employees will have more collective bargaining rights than federal workers! Awful!

Item: Son of SWNID happens to be an employee of the Great State of Wisconsin. Possessing a BA with nearly a math major, he is able to calculate what other organized state employees seem to ignore: increased heath insurance costs minus union dues equals approximately zero. Which illustrates what this is all about: state employee unions keeping their hands on the payments made to them directly as dues and indirectly as health insurance providers.

Conclusion: the doomsday rhetoric of pro-union forces is laughable. The fact that some seem to listen is pathetic.

Exhortation: Workers of the world, throw off the chains of patronage! Your skills, not your collective voices, are your best and only assurance of economic prosperity and job security.

4 comments:

Christian said...

Would you mind finishing your thought (and sentence) in paragraph four?

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Sorry: had to go on our union-mandated break when we wrote that paragraph. Now fixed.

Tom_KY said...

If you provide value for your employer, then you don't need a union - you will always have alternatives. I worked for Kroger in high school and saw that unions were functioning, purely to get dues from those who were willing to pay to not have to work hard.

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting take on the subject:

"In normal circumstances, the tendency is going to be for the government to pay its workers a bit more than would be the case if the public were paying closer attention, because special interests are always more focused on matters that affect them directly than average voters with many disparate priorities.

As a result, when the public at large suddenly starts to scrutinize the deal any special interest has secured for itself – public employee unions included – it's quite normal for there to be a sizeable backlash as voters begin to comprehend a status quo on which they never knowingly signed off. In this sense, public employee unions benefit from the ignorance of voters during boom times, and suffer more than most from backlashes in bad times."

Now, if we can keep the focus on other activities that hurt the collective good...

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Andrew Sullivan illustrates yet again the old proverb about what the blind pig occasionally finds.