Government, Unions and Common Sense- Finally?

 I’ve said it many times.  I am not a fan of Obama.  I think he is the worst American President in history so far- so much so that he makes Jimmy Carter look good, and almost makes Bill Clinton look great.  That is not meant as praise for either Carter or Clinton- they were both abysmal, and they both did tremendous amounts of damage.  My comparison is meant to illustrate just how much worse Obama is when compared to either Carter or Clinton.   I am also not a fan of forced unionism.  My disdain for unions is not  primarily a conservative or a Republican thing.  I am both a conservative and a Republican, for a host of good reasons, but my opposition to forced unionism comes from what I witnessed first hand growing up. 

I know that every story has two sides.  I also know that there were myriad factors that went into the death of manufacturing in the Rust Belt- foreign competition, poor management practices, the cost of materials, the oil crisis, and even environmental issues.  But the most visible and direct contribution to the failure of heavy manufacturing in Ohio can be traced back to fear of union violence and actual incidents of union violence that took place.

I don’t have a problem with a person’s choice to organize with others of like mind.   There is strength in numbers and there are times when it is both necessary and commendable to stand up for basic human decency.  There was a time when unions had a good purpose- to ensure that workers had decent working conditions and fair wages.  Had employers seen their employees as assets that need to be maintained and grown rather than as being expendable or disposable, there would never had been a need for workers to organize to begin with.  Ultimately the root cause of union abuse goes back to poor management practices.  Every action has a reaction.  The reaction to poor working conditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries evolved throughout the second half of the 20th century and became a monster- especially in states such as Ohio that allow forced unionism. 

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Acton, 1887)

For those who don’t know how forced unionism works, basically what happens is that a shop or a government agency, etc. holds an election and votes to see if a majority of people in that workplace want to be a part of a union or not.  Even those who voted against the union must either join or pay the union a fee (up to the cost of full union dues) for “collective bargaining services.”  So even those who are ideologically or morally opposed to what the union stands for, and who are opposed to who the union contributes financially toward are forced to support it- even if they don’t technically join.

I have argued for years that forced unionism violates the 13th Amendment (no involuntary servitude) by forcing people to pay into an organization as a condition of employment.  In many cases workers’ 1st Amendment rights are violated as well, as many (though not all) unions contribute to organizations and causes that many are morally opposed to.  For instance, a union’s support of “pro-choice” (I think pro-death is more accurate, but I digress) candidates (the Democratic party in general…) and contributions to far-left organizations such as NARAL or GLAAD may be seen as being morally wrong by Catholics and most other Christians.  Yet a large part of their union dues are being funneled into dark places that have little or nothing to do with “collective bargaining” and into causes they would never voluntarily contribute to.

Another side of union corruption and graft is in the wrongful manipulation and exploitation of employers, especially in the public sector, when the employer is a branch of government.  Everyone has heard the legends of grandiose pay plans, three people paid to do one job inefficiently, health insurance benefits that rival those of Congress, and paid leaves and vacations that would make a sane person wonder if any work ever gets done. 

I am all for an honest wage for honest work.  I am all for people being able to get the health care they need- without having to do what I do, which is decide from week to week if I can have groceries or scripts, and skimping or just plain going without certain things because I can’t afford them.  The problem I have is that people like me are (involuntarily) forced to pay not just for government waste and redundancy in human resources, but for the entire welfare state too- and as a result, people like me go without things like scripts, or food, or underwear that don’t look like the dogs played tug-of-war with them, that they need- so that some people can get their food, scripts, glasses, cell phones, fancy designer sneakers, and medical devices (including pecker pumps??) for free.

The bottom line here is a simple economics lesson.  You can’t pay someone more than they’re worth.  In order to pay an employee $5, you need to get at least $5 worth of work out of that employee.  That sounds obvious, but in reality it doesn’t always happen, especially when there is no accountability and no structure in place to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent responsibly.   Part of the problem in the public sector is that many (though by no means all) jobs are grossly overpaid.  The taxpayer is being overcharged for the benefit or the service offered, and in the grand scheme of things, as in the private sector, this cannot be sustained. 

I have often wondered why there is such opposition to Right-to-Work, in which an individual chooses for him or herself whether he or she wants to belong to or pay into a union.  If unions are so great, then why is there so much legislation and so many loopholes in the law to shelter them?  If everyone wanted to be in the union, then why would anyone be required to join or to pay into them?

Elected officials and others within the government bureaucracy have forgotten that it is the private sector who picks up their tab.  The private sector is tapped out.  Those of us who keep the private sector running are tapped out.  Business fails to be competitive in part because so much is exacted out of business from government in the forms of excessive regulation and taxation. 

As much as the lunatic fringe in NE Ohio is screaming, I am convinced that our new Governor has struck a nerve.  Say what one will about Kasich- he can be rude and crass, and he’s definitely not “warm and fuzzy”- but finally, about 40 years late  (late is better than never!) we have someone in public office willing to address the obvious, and who is not owned by the unions.   The main question I have at this late hour is whether or not Ohio’s manufacturing cities are too far gone to save.  I watched my hometown shrink in size by more than half over the span of a decade as I was growing up.  I drive past the ghosts of what were once world-renowned manufacturing companies every time I go back home.   The images- and the ruined lives- haunt me.

There has to be some common sense injected into government.  Taming the public service unions is the first step. 

What the media and the common person have lost sight of is that nothing is free.  Taxpayers- people like me- are paying for the salaries, perks and benefits of government workers.  Government is not an entity and means in and of itself.  It needs the private sector to survive, and the private sector has been sucked dry.  Anyone who doesn’t believe that, I can take you on a nice little tour of the industrial ruins of Marion that might change your mind. It may not be popular with some, but the beast that government on all levels has become must be restrained.

This was once part of the Marion Power Shovel assembly line, etc.  It extended for almost five miles down the west end of town, and one can still see most of the ruins of it today.  Someday, before even more of it decays and is hauled away, I need to take a walking tour and take some close up pics.  It really was quite an amazing thing at one time.

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