Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ban Public Sector Unions From Making Political Contributions

Imagine that you could "contribute" money to your employer, in return for benefits well beond the amount you pay them. It sounds like a good deal, until the company goes bankrupt. That's what would happen in the free market, but when the employer is a local, state, or the federal government, they raise taxes to cover the cost. This is the situation when public sector unions are allowed to contribute money to political campaigns.

In NY State, public sector unions hold vast power over the political process, and the state is going bankrupt. All of the politicians who appoint the people to negotiate with the unions are recipients of union money, and "support" in their elections. Does anyone else see anything fishy about this?

Citizens have the right to lobby the government, for any reason. Businesses, unions, and just about any group of citizens are allowed to contribute to, and lobby government officials for any cause. The problem is that whereas a union nornaly is in negotiation with a private company over wages and benefits, public sector unions are in negotiation with government officials.

Their involvement in politics is unethical. It's one thing for a business, an environmental, group, or a private sector union to lobby for beneficial regulation. It's different when the people you are lobbying are your bosses, and you hold political power over them.

There are many facets to this issue, of course. The title of this piece is one of many ways to control wasteful spending by our governments. I'll be exploring the merits, and problems of this position in future posts. I'll leave you with two excerpts from George Will's latest column:

After 1962, when New York City signed the nation's first collective bargaining contract with teachers, teachers began changing from members of a respected profession into just another muscular faction fighting for more government money. Between 1975 and 1980 there were a thousand strikes involving a million teachers whose salaries rose as students' scores on standardized tests declined...

...In 1976, for the first time in its 119-year history, the National Education Association, the teachers union, endorsed a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, who repaid it by creating the Education Department, a monument to the premise that money and government programs matter most. At the NEA's behest, the nation has expanded the number of teachers much faster than the number of students has grown. Hiring more, rather than more competent, teachers meant more dues-paying union members.

Indeed, public sector unions are the only "growth" that unions can claim, recently. NYS JUDGES are thinking of starting a union, for cryin' out loud!

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