The Public vs. Private Sector Civil War


The inevitable battle between the runaway public sector and the private sector that funds it has begun. What started recently in Wisconsin will continue to spread across the country as the unworkable fiscal mathematics that are so many state budgets finally degenerate into social unrest between the payers and the payees. More specifically, the instigators of this mess, the public sector union managements and their progressive political operatives, will struggle against their most existential threat to date. It will not be pretty.

The true nature of the issue is revealed by AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka’s bellowing about this being about the right to have collective bargaining. Not the defense of the services provided by state and local unionized workers. Not a justification for their wages that average twice that of their private sector counterparts. Not a case for maintaining medical and pension benefits that are so outside the mainstream as to be an embarrassment of riches in today’s troubled economic times.

No, Trumka’s pulling out all the stops to defend the existence of his own job.

Without conceding that workers should have the right to not join a union, Trumka’s claims amount to little more than a defense of The Machine that requires political force and financial extortion to perpetuate itself. All the while, absolutely no benefit accrues to the financiers of the situation. Indeed, only harm accrues instead.

Recent commentary by President Obama on the matter borders on the surreal:

“On the other hand, some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where, you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions. And I think it’s very important for us to understand that, public employees, they’re our neighbors. They’re our friends. These are folks who are teachers, and they’re firefighters, and they’re social workers and they’re police officers. You know, they make a lot of sacrifices and make a big contribution and I think it’s important not to vilify them, or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.”

I’d agree, let’s not vilify the individuals who hold all of these important positions — there’s no issue there. The issue is with the management and organizational structure under which they operate. Namely, the one that is bankrupting the country.

Consider Obama’s description of these employees as our “neighbors” and “friends”. He only wants that implicit call for sympathy to go in one direction. For if these workers are our friends and neighbors, and we should treat them with kindness and respect, then the reverse is also true: they should treat us (the payers) with the same. But a numerical minority using political force to promote class warfare and maintain an untenable financial situation is not treating the private sector with kindness and respect. It is the very “assault” that Obama suggests is now going on against the unions.

What Obama perceives as an assault is actually the victim fighting back in self-defense during a mugging.

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