Public Unions and The Socialist Utopia
Robert Tracinski points out very succinctly that the Unions' current fight is one for their own survival.
The Democratic lawmakers who have gone on the lam in Wisconsin and Indiana-and who knows where else next-are exhibiting a literal fight-or-flight response, the reaction of an animal facing a threat to its very existence.
Why? Because it is a threat to their existence. The battle of Wisconsin is about the viability of the Democratic Party, and more: it is about the viability of the basic social ideal of the left.--
For those unfamiliar with Wisconsin, it's a mostly conservative state, with the notable exception of Madison, the capital. Madison is ultra-liberal. Ultra-liberal to the point that San Franciscans think Madison is liberal.
Madison is an ideal vehicle for lefty idealism. Most of the rest of the state is very conservative, traditional, and responsible. This results in a state government that is supported by producers, and traditional-minded producers don't want to get involved in government, which is viewed as the province of those who don't work. Jokes about government workers are still pretty well acknowledged by traditionalists there.
In short, public employment is an idealized socialist economy in miniature, including its political aspect: the grateful recipients of government largesse provide money and organizational support to re-elect the politicians who shower them with all of these benefits.
Tracinski is dead on here. Wisconsin has a very conservative minded populace that has been propping up this leftist scam for decades just due to their own distaste from it. Respectable, hard working people don't get into politics... at least until the Tea Party came along. (Though back in the 90s, there were a few that got out for Perot.)
Now the left is panicking as these experiments in American socialism implode.
On the national level, it has become clear that the old-age welfare state of Social Security and Medicare is driving the federal government into permanent trillion-dollar deficits and a ruinous debt load. Even President Obama acknowledged, in his State of the Union address, that these programs are the real drivers of runaway debt-just before he refused to consider any changes to them. You see how hard it is for the Democrats to give up on their utopias.
On the state level, public employment promises the full socialist ideal to a small minority-paid for with tax money looted from a larger, productive private economy. But the socialist utopia of public employment has crossed the Thatcher Line: the point at which, as the Iron Lady used to warn, you run out of other people's money.
The current crisis exposes more than just the financial unsustainability of these programs. It exposes their moral unsustainability. It exposes the fact that the generosity of these welfare-state enclaves can only be sustained by forcing everyone else to perform forced labor to pay for the benefits of a privileged few.--
Those hardworking traditionalists and conservatives throughout the state are the ones being told that they must pay for the Unions, and that the guy working in the cheese factory at $10/hr or making trucks for Oshkosh at $15/hr is the evil oppressor of the teachers union that makes $110K/year and only works 9 months.
The public sector unions are the aristocracy demanding that the peasants keep feeding their insatiable appetite. Take that guy on the end and give him a sign demanding the other three pay him more and that it's so unfair, and that the other three, who actually work, really want to go back to child labor in sweatshops.
Union are and always have been a tool to pit one group of workers against another group of workers. They help no one but the union bosses and goons.
Now even the Democrats are turning against them, though unions are huge financial contributors to political campaigns, and almost exclusively to democrats.