January 19, 2012

I’ve broached this topic in the past, but no one listens to The Great White Shank. In that same vein, Liz Peek’s column in the Financial Times is worth (pardon the pun) more than “a peek”.

Forget the stupid “1% vs. 99%” sloganeering of the Occupy Wall Street clowns, the real divide in this country is between the public sector unions and the states, municipalities, and the taxpayers across the country who have to pay for outrages like this (hat tip: Free Republic). And if you think the PSUs are going to give up one inch of the ground they have gained without protest (both non-violent and violent) you’re dreaming. For, as Peek writes:

Progress like that is taking place elsewhere, but not always so civilly. Governor [Scott] Walker’s efforts to rein in unsustainable public employee costs in Wisconsin (and to reduce a sizeable budget deficit) became the rallying point for terrified union leaders who see their only growth opportunity – public employees – under attack. Though Walker proposed terms that were still more generous than the national averages, his attempts to limit collective-bargaining rights (like 24 other states) aroused labor’s fury. Union leaders struck back, rallying workers from across the country to their cause; they are now trying to force the governor from office.

Another battle pitching organized labor vs. the public interest is the effort to join our competitors in expanding trade deals with other countries. President Obama finally signed trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama which had languished in Congress for years, held up by unions. Even the labor-friendly Obama administration had targeted such pacts as essential to boosting exports and jobs.

These confrontations have left Big Labor bruised but unbowed, and eager to turn public anger elsewhere. They have nurtured and funded the Occupy Wall Street protests for just that reason, ginning up resentment against the “one percent” and especially against banks and bankers. Better to raise taxes on the wealthy than to cut government payrolls. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has over one million members and much to lose from widespread government reform efforts, has been especially eager to support the protests. Stephen Lerner, a highly regarded union organizer and former SEIU official, spoke to students at Pace University last March about his plan to “destabilize” the country through civil disobedience, strikes and large-scale protests. Acknowledging that labor was under pressure and needed to stay out of the spotlight, he insisted that students and community groups take the lead. Welcome to OWS.

Look, I have no problem paying police, firefighters, and state HHS organizations what they earn (not necessarily what they collectively bargained); at least here in Arizona the majority of them do a great job. But others (and most especially, the teachers unions and the bureaucrats) know how to game the system and have been doing it and looting the taxpayers for years.

As long as the states, municipalities, and, of course, the federal government have had the ability to raise taxes on virtually every kind of thing you can imagine, the PSUs have been innculated by the scams they are. But the problem with liberalism in any and all of its forms is that sooner or later you start running out of things to tax, and when that happens (or the economy starts to slow) the greed, graft, corruption, and cronyism necessary to keep the PSU boat afloat starts to take on water.

And greed is at the very core of the PSUs: they love to howl and protest about how police, firefighters and education (after all, children are our future, you know…) will all suffer if even $1 of spending is cut from anywhere, but the only thing they’re really concerned about are their already-grotesque fat-cat compensation packages. It’s all about more money and more benefits, to hell with the fiscal health of the states and municipalities that employ them. With the PSUs it’s all about THEM.

The good news is, as Peek mentions in her column, the tide is turning, primarily because there is no more money. The federal government is some $15 trillion in debt. States like New York, California, and Illinois are like the European Union, on the brink of fiscal disaster. And you can bet you’ll see more of this in 2012 as whole cities (Detroit is a sure thing) declare bankruptcy or make draconian (and I mean true draconian) cuts in services. Of course, you can bet that Democrats from the Atlantic to the Pacific will try and find new avenues of revenue – gas taxes, plastic shopping bags, sales tax increases, etc., but the facts are that the cupboards are almost bare, and facts, as they say, are stubborn things.

My prediction is you’re going to see a sometimes violent pushback from the PSUs this coming year. They’re desperate, they know their time in the sun is running out, and, tough words and threats aside, they’re scared. And they oughta be.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:07 | Comments Off on The Real Divide
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