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The Democrats' dubious alliance with public sector unions

If present trends continue, Democrats are headed for a big defeat in November, though the precise size of the landslide remains to be determined. And as bad as losing could be for them, Democrats could find that it is only the beginning of their troubles. The reason: the Democratic Party's increasingly dependent relationship with increasingly unpopular public sector unions.

Public sector unions are not just the base of the party -- they're the base of the base. As the 2010 campaign has ground on, other supporters and donors, notably Wall Street, have abandoned Democratic candidates. But unions representing teachers and state and local employees have doubled down. According to the Wall Street Journal, the National Education Association, the largest U.S. teachers union, spent more than $3.4 million on ad buys and direct-mail campaigns for the key electioneering period from Sept. 1 to Oct. 14. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spent $2.1 million in that period. Union members and their families are key to the Democratic "ground game" for Nov. 2.

But in an era of increasing discontent over taxes, government spending and the perks of government employees, these are not necessarily the allies you want to have. A party that depends on the public employees to get elected will have trouble reaching out to the wider electorate -- i.e., the people who pay the taxes that support public employee salaries and pensions.

In politics, you never want to find yourself beholden to a minority whose core interests often clash with the interests of voters. Yet that is exactly where Democrats at all levels of government could find themselves after Nov. 2.

This dilemma could be particularly acute for three of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates who appear likeliest to emerge victorious: Jerry Brown in California, Andrew Cuomo in New York and Martin O'Malley in Maryland. Each would take office in a state burdened by huge public-sector health benefits and pension liabilities. Yet tackling that problem would inevitably put each man at odds with his state's unions -- the very people who helped him get elected.
How they handle that dilemma will affect not only their political futures, but that of the Democratic Party as a whole.

By Charles Lane  | October 18, 2010; 5:04 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Comments

Mr. Lane; all,

Mr Lane: you are 100% correct.

to all: over the weekend i did another race by race count for the Senate & the HoR.

the results of that analysis follows:
1. HoR: 85-95 seat net loss for the Democrats
(at the rate that the "party regulars" are either telling pollsters that they are leaving the Dems to become Independents, it may be as much as 115 seats.)
&
2. Senate: 11 seat net loss for the donkey party.

furthermore, with this few days left until 11-02-10, i can see nothing that anyone (especially BHO) can say/do/promise that will even slow the GOP/Tea Party tidal wave that is about to sink Princess Pelosi/the democrats & which may also destroy the democrats as a viable major party for a generation.

sincerely yours, RetiredMP46

Posted by: retiredMP46 | October 18, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

People understand that teachers are not teaching their students in the ways that are necessary for the students to become productive members of society in the future. The teachers unions blame every one but themselves and demand job protection for those that are failing to do what they are paid for. Until the unions step forward and accept some of the responsibility for these failures the public will look at them with disdain.

Public employees, across the board, are going to have to realize that the days of big pay raises and pension and benefit increases have ended and they must suffer alongside the rest of us!

Posted by: mwhoke | October 18, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

RetiredMP46, I so hope you are correct. Until we get rid of the union mess, progressives and communists, America will never survive. First thing for the new congress is to get rid of executive privilege. Obama has not earned it.

Posted by: annnort | October 18, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

", the people who pay the taxes that support public employee salaries and pensions."

Are you saying that public employees don't pay federal, state and FICA taxes?

Posted by: edlharris | October 18, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

I am constantly amazed by the popularity of lowering other people's pay and benefits. Whether it is a banker, a Wall Street executive, a beloved basketball player or a coworker; Americans love cutting other peoples salary.

Whether it results in a cheaper seat or just more cash in the pocket of the team owner Americans believe everyone else makes too much money.

But the reality is that salaries have been stagnant and falling for a large proportion of working and middle class Americans and there is no end in sight.

This driving an income inequality which is adding a tremendous amount of instability to our country both economically and politically.

The truth is that labour is fungible. If public sector workers make less money, the best public sector workers will give up the security of public sector work for private sector work. In an economy with what appears to be nearly permanent under employment this will directly lower the wages of private sector employees.

But there are even graver risks to this kind of action. At first this may seem like a money saver. But, most of the money to be saved is in reducing pension benefits. What happens when those that are essential to the government at the peak of their careers have less incentive stay for their retirement.

What happens twenty years from now when the most irreplaceable workers say, double, triple, quadrupole my salary or I will take my services into the private sector. What then?

But even the lower level workers who won't have anywhere to go pose a threat. In government an inspector who makes sixty thousand dollars could make a decision that means billions of dollars to a company. As the income gap ever widens it becomes cheaper and cheaper to wow a government worker with riches to the government worker but chump change to even the moderately wealthy.

For workers in states like California or New York retirement already often means leaving everything of their former lives behind, their friends, their communities, their churches . . . everything. Add to that the feeling of betrayal that comes with having their pensions cut, while are continually being cut for the wealthy.

Americans are not magically immune to corruption. Creating a large government workforce with nothing to lose may cost us far more than we can imagine.

Posted by: RobertLeeHotchkisss | October 19, 2010 1:53 AM | Report abuse

What most people miss from this argument is that what is being advocated is pension cuts. These are cuts in compensation that will be phased in over decades.

There is some argument as to whether public employees are payed more private sector employees. Even if they are it is only by a small amount and it is uneven. Poorer state employees do better relative to the private sector than the better of public employees.

Those who are arguing for pension cuts are making the argument that private sector pay will not appreciatively increase for a generation.

No one believes that incomes for the top earners will stop increasing. This means that for the average American their buying power is going to decrease over the next generation.

In the current political climate any savings to the government is immediately given out in tax cuts which can never be undone.

When Jerry Brown ran a surplus prop 13 was passed and followed by constant tax cuts which put California on the brink of bankruptcy. When Clinton balanced the budget Bush gave all the money and much much more away on tax cuts.

If states are able to balance the budgets on pay cuts the money will immediately be spent on tax cuts before the savings materialize.

Mark Lane believes that your children will be worse off financially than you will be, but his biggest concern is that those who will be doing better than ever contribute even less to the society which showers them with such riches.

Posted by: RobertLeeHotchkisss | October 19, 2010 3:30 AM | Report abuse

Once public sector workers were considered "public servants" now they put their financial self-interests ahead of those who pay their salary.

Sure most teachers do a good job of educating our children but if they bankrupt the government with their gold plated retirement and health care, on balance are they really serving our children?

Public sector employees must accept post retirement health and retirement benefits in line with the private sector (ie self-funded 401k and post retirement health care with a modest employer match). Otherwise they will face the wrath of the voter.

Posted by: ELF2 | October 19, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Have you ever heard of Federal government bailouts?

Posted by: rteske | October 19, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

You can't spell COMMUNISM without UNIONISM!

Posted by: vince33x | October 19, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Put SEIU-ACORN-NEA together and one wonders if all those union people really believe the tripe that the socialist Dems put out. If so,it is sad and the more these people get public funds, the worse those states, localities will be. Free enterprise still reigns here in America. Bama and the Dems seem to think that change means less freedom ,less choice, less private sector jobs, less security on both domestic-international areas. Is this what all union members believe too??? I pray not.

Posted by: phillyfanatic | October 19, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

France is trying to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, and there are riots in the streets. Months ago, Greece cut public sector pay/benefits to offset part of their horrendous deficits; public employees rioted in the streets. And I mean RIOTS; the real deal. Just wait until we start cutting our public sector union employees here. I'm not sure we'll have actual riots, but there will certainly be mass hysteria and name-calling on a scale we're not used to. There was a need for unions in the 1930s; unions are now FAR FAR too powerful and NOBODY that works in a govt job should be allowed to unionize.

Posted by: JohnR22 | October 19, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Public employee unions are excellent at funneling tax payer dollars into the bank accounts of liberal politicians and causes. Believe me, I live in California where the public employee unions own this state.

Posted by: deerjerkydave | October 19, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Looters are those people who are rewarded far above what their abilities or work warrant. Most union members are looters, sorry. The same work doesn't pay as much in an open labor market.
Here's how it works out at the big companies:
UAW workers had average pay and benefits of $130,000/year when the crunch hit.
Toyota's non-union workers were being paid $80,0000 in salaries and benefits in the open market.
About $80,000/year is what the work is worth. The rest is loot.

Posted by: GregBuls1 | October 19, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

There is a simple solution. Legions of government workers are retiring with pensions that leave the rest of us flummoxed. How did this happen? How can it possibly be right that our towns and states cannot keep its parks, roads and schools up to date while two bit government workers walk away with all the loot enjoying generous, early, cola boosted retiriements? Some sort of clawback on these benefits is essential. The rulers of Bell in CA may have been a little bit too greedy but not by much compared to the rest. Shall we prosecute them all, or find a way to make it right?

There is an elegant solution. We need an excise tax that evens the playing field. The infinite cleverness of finely crafted and targeted taxation developed by the Democrats should be used against the ruling class.

Posted by: EscondidoSurfer | October 19, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

There is a simple solution. Legions of government workers are retiring with pensions that leave the rest of us flummoxed. How did this happen? How can it possibly be right that our towns and states cannot keep its parks, roads and schools up to date while two bit government workers walk away with all the loot enjoying generous, early, cola boosted retiriements? Some sort of clawback on these benefits is essential. The rulers of Bell in CA may have been a little bit too greedy but not by much compared to the rest. Shall we prosecute them all, or find a way to make it right?

My suggestion is an excise tax that evens the playing field. The infinite cleverness of finely crafted and targeted taxation developed by the Democrats should be used against the ruling class.

Posted by: EscondidoSurfer | October 19, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

RobertLeeHotchkisss :

Let's examine some of your unstated assumptions:

1. Costs of labor going down are bad: "this will directly lower the wages of private sector employees."

2. Government workers in place are irreplaceable: "What happens when those that are essential to the government at the peak of their careers have less incentive stay for their retirement."

3. Paying government officials possessing great authority prevents fraud and embezzling behavior: "But even the lower level workers who won't have anywhere to go pose a threat. In government an inspector who makes sixty thousand dollars could make a decision that means billions of dollars to a company. As the income gap ever widens it becomes cheaper and cheaper to wow a government worker with riches to the government worker but chump change to even the moderately wealthy."

Now let's address them simply, because complexity is not required.

1. If the cost of labor goes down, the wages for that worker are hurt. That means my bankruptcy clientele increases, but it also means that the business's customers can better afford the product. Artificially high labor costs through minimum wage, prevailing wage, union-mandated contracts, hurt customers and taxpayers, the supposed beneficiaries. Cheaper labor is good. More jobs. More business. More work. A worker without overtime or a job is worse off than a worker with overtime but lower wage rate. Unemployment insurance does not last forever.

2. No government worker is irreplaceable. Selectivity may be required, but nothing worthwhile is without effort. Irreplaceability is short hand for laziness or dedication to the current fool.

3. The best way to prevent fraud is to diffuse authority to a legislative body, put term limits in place, and limit the authority of that body. Dictatorial powers are corrupting whether to a king, a president, or the bureaucrat at minimum wage.

Posted by: jheck20 | October 19, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

"The Democrats' dubious alliance with public sector unions"

"Dubious" aliance? The unions, DSA, CPA (Communist Party of America), and such *are* the Democratic Party, and have been for at least 70 years now, for crying out loud. How are you going to separate milk from milk?

Posted by: SECREV | October 19, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm just now reading the book "Plunder" about how public employee unions loot the public.

As to the person who said Americans like to cut people's salaries.

I think we mainly like to cut the salaries and benefits of those who engage in looting- corporate execs and public employee unions are the two biggest examples.

Posted by: bot_feeder | October 19, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

What really needs to happen is that unions need to be banned for government employees at all levels. The reason is simple - union support in terms of votes and money can buy a win for a politician with union support. That politician then is in a position to "deliver" favorable contracts and benefits to the union who supported him or her. This puts the politician in a conflict of interest position in between all of the constituents the politician is supposed to serve and the unions who "pay" for his re-election.

If we did this and eliminated tenure for teachers so that the small minority of incompetent teachers could quickly be fired we would do more to correct what is wrong with our country and almost anything else.

Posted by: Berndh | October 19, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article. Finally someone at WPO is noticing that the Democratic Party's base support comes from groups such as public sector unions and trial lawyers whose enormous power and lack of accountability has caused incalcuable damage to the economy. It should be noted that prior to JFK public unions did not have collective bargaining rights in the US. The prevailing theory at that time was that binding public service collective bargaining was unconstitutional because the union would usurp the power of the legislature to levy taxes to support their contract demands. The wooly headed Democrats sent us down this path and it is bankrupting our country. Another gift from our farsighted Progressive Party.

Posted by: jkk1943 | October 19, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane:

1. With whom would you prefer a political party to be aligned: public employee unions comprised of millions of hardworking Americans, many of whom could earn more in the private sector but who want to serve the public good, or corporations that exist for the sole purpose of generating profits (not that there is anything wrong with that)? I'll take the public employee unions in a NY minute.

2. The key is for the politician's that get the support of those unions to be able to push back against those unions when to do so is in the larger public interest. This may be hard but it shouldn't be that hard -- especially now, as you point out, when the risk for backlash (whether reasonable or not) is real.

Posted by: leglaw | October 19, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Rahm Emanual said it best and said what ALL Democrats need to learn to do: "F*#$ the Unions!" Democrats need to repeat that to themselves a thousand times over until they understand. First the steel industry, then the maritime industry, then the public schools, then the auto industry, and now the government overall. Everything the Unions touch turns to crap and decays.

Posted by: ga722 | October 19, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Another good reason NOT to vote for Jerry Brown.

Posted by: expatriot | October 19, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Here in California, there is ample evidence to back up your point. Even Democratic Party leaders freely acknowledge the relationship.

Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown
http://soquelbythecreek.blogspot.com/2010/03/even-liberal-democrat-willie-brown-sees.html

Current California Treasurer, former Attorney General Bill Lockyer
http://soquelbythecreek.blogspot.com/2010/02/california-treasurer-lockyer-scolds.html

The public-sector unions are scared to death of losing their control over California's Democratic politicians. Look at who is funding California Proposition 27, designed to ultimately entrench Democratic Party power.
http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_27,_Elimination_of_Citizen_Redistricting_Commission_(2010)#Donations_from_Unions

Don't get me wrong. California's state employees are generally a hard working, dedicated bunch. Unfortunately the California Legislature granted overly-generous pension benefits in 2000 during the Dot-Com bubble with SB 400. It seemed like a great idea at the time as we were all going to become rich selling dogfood over the Internet. The rest of world has adjusted to reality. California government must also.
http://calpensions.com/2010/07/27/sb400-pension-boost-uncanny-forecast-unheeded/

Posted by: SoquelCreek | October 19, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I am glad you are now aware of the resentment toward Public sector unions. I am all for the individual getting a good wage and benefits, but with the state of the economy, hard to afford public sector wages, benefits, and pensions...especially when I have to pay for it and I am on a fixed income.

AND PLEASE, do not marginalize me by my opinion. I do own a gun but I don't embrace it..I am religious, but I am tolerante of other religions...I am not racist...I just happen to disagree with Obama's agenda.

Posted by: debmat511 | October 19, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Does it seem wrong to anyone else that these people donate and campaign for the exact people who negotiate with them.
Look at small towns all over the country and see how many current and former policemen and firemen run for city and county council.
Here in Anchorage the man at the head of One of the largest public Unions looks across the table at....his Dad. Senator Begich as mayor negotiated such insane contracts that we are now looking at Raising property taxes or as the father suggested raise the cigarette tax so that we do not have to leave unfilled vacancies in our Police Department and the closure of two fire stations. While the Union workers get yearly cost of living raises the Dept heads took a 5% pay cut (they did receive 2% back this year to the howls of the Unions). Something needs done about this at all levels of Government and you know that the Democrats are not going to bite the hands that feed them.

Posted by: apexmerch | October 19, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Government employees' unions engaging in political action strike me as being totally analogous to the (rightly prohibited) electioneering by members of the armed forces.
Perhaps the Hatch Act could be expanded to include civil servants (and the unions they contribute to)?

Posted by: OttoDog | October 19, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

The massive amounts of unfunded liability will eventually lead many States to Bankruptcy if they remain unchanged. Some employee contribution to their own health care and retirement is not an outrageous sacrifice for an employee to make.
Will the Feds consider a State to Big To Fail and require the rest of the Union to come to the aid of States that have and continue to make poor decisions based on who is contributing to the campaign?
Jefferson would roll in his grave.

Posted by: apexmerch | October 19, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Democrats are undeniably the party of big government. And the public employee unions hold government hostage for pay increases, increased benefits, etc. The two are basically a corrupt partnership that feeds the power base of the other. The unions fund the Democrats in exchange for power, pay increases, privileges, etc. And in turn, the unions pay to re-elect Democrats so that they can keep the gravy train going. Why do we put up with this nonsense? Why do teachers need a union anyway? Who are they protecting themselves from? The government officials that they are funding? The teachers unions protect bad teachers and stifle education reform.

Posted by: JohnDavis1 | October 19, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Democrats are undeniably the party of big government. And the public employee unions hold government hostage for pay increases, increased benefits, etc. The two are basically a corrupt partnership that feeds the power base of the other. The unions fund the Democrats in exchange for power, pay increases, privileges, etc. And in turn, the unions pay to re-elect Democrats so that they can keep the gravy train going. Why do we put up with this nonsense? Why do teachers need a union anyway? Who are they protecting themselves from? The government officials that they are funding? The teachers unions protect bad teachers and stifle education reform.

Posted by: JohnDavis1 | October 19, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

The solution to the unfunded pension problem is real easy. Declare the programs insolvent and re-structure the entire system just as you would with a company that has gone through bankruptcy.

This is precisely what happened to me when my former employer's parent company went bankrupt. My shares in my company stock went to ZERO, and I am now on my way to collecting 1/3 of the pension I was scehduled to recieve prior to the bankruptcy.

These bloated State governments must learn a lesson. Why are we giving them golden parachutes? They need to re-structure, reset and move on.

Posted by: runner121 | October 19, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Public employee unions should not be allowed to campaign, endorse, donate to political campaigns. Its a slap in the face to Taxpayers.

Posted by: ohioan | October 19, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Save this column. In the election post-mortem, pundits will be running to see who said this first.

Posted by: Delongl | October 20, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Union contracts are negotiated between workers and management, not by unions alone.

Bad teachers are not defended by unions, they are not even attacked to begin with. Bad teachers are allowed to stay in the classroom because the administrators don't do their jobs. Administrators work at the will of the local board of education.

Unions don't buy the support of Democrats anymore than wealthy individuals and corporations buy the support of Republicans. If you want to talk campaign finance reform, get rid of both, not one or the other.

Unions have worked to bring better right and better wages to workers. If you think these are bad things and that everyone should work harder for less with no rights, you are just as wrong as people that say that union workers should do no work and get paid lots.

Changing pension agreements because they were made in bad faith or made at a time when future expectations were all glowy and wonderful is wrong. A contract is a contract. If you don't like it, go back to the first line. Management agrees to the contract that they negotiate with the union.

The party of the people is the one that cares about the people. I am sick of watching corporations gain more rights than the citizens of this country. If you want to fix the problem: get rid of the free trade that drives the value of the dollar into the toilet, buy products that are made in America by Americans, stop allowing companies to send jobs overseas so that people can be paid even less.

Any questions? Please explain how I am wrong and stupid.

Posted by: mrmollet | October 20, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

If all the union naysayers here had an opportunity to get what a union worker gets as part of his CBA, they'd be flocking to a union like moths to a light bulb...because they finally have seen the light.
Without a CBA, you're on your own.
Late today? Fired.
Took a week off sick? Fired. (That's if you get sick pay)
Ticked off the boss? Fired.
Want a pay raise? Too bad. (Ask too often - fired)
Pension? ROFLOL.
Many talk dreamily about the "Good Old Days"...when more people were in unions and had rights and security thanks to a union.
You can thank the unions for the spillover of what they've fought for: 8 hr days, overtime, holidays, vacation, etc.
Check out all the countries with high union membership - Sweden - 82%,
Canada - 30% (http://youth.ofl.ca/index.php/myths/)
Germany 26%. Terrible places.
France? 9%.
I guess you'd rather live in a no union country and get their wages and rights - like beloved CHINA, or perhaps VIETNAM.
Good luck!

Posted by: artie76 | October 20, 2010 6:13 AM | Report abuse

RE: ", the people who pay the taxes that support public employee salaries and pensions."

Are you saying that public employees don't pay federal, state and FICA taxes?

Posted by: edlharris

Jeez Ed do I really have to explain to you that public employee income tax receipts just mean that they are draining the productive economy a little bit less than if they didn't pay taxes.

If you pay your kids at $10 allowance and then charge $2 rent - they are still draining $8 from you aren't they?

Posted by: Trainman95630 | October 20, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

"the National Education Association, the largest U.S. teachers union, spent more than $3.4 million on ad buys and direct-mail campaigns for the key electioneering period from Sept. 1 to Oct. 14. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spent $2.1 million in that period."

Taxpayers pay teacher's salaries. Teachers pay the unions their dues and the unions launch an all out monied attack for ONE political party.

This is not right. There is no reason for public sector employees to belong to a union.

There is no reason our tax money should go to pay union dues at all.

Posted by: fallenstar2005 | October 20, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I agree with your post Mr. Lane. However, I am a little suspicious about where it came from.

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2010/10/08/kausismo-or-death-dems-face-tough-choices-past-2010/

As you can see the *exact* same argument was made here 10 days ago. I might have missed it, but it seems your post needs a reference to the above article.

Posted by: jlibson | October 20, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

As someone who is receiving a military pension, social security, and a NY state teachers pension I understand that public pensions are under assault and rightly they should be. I am not receiving full pensions from any of them but all added together make for a comfortable retirement. Yes, public pensions are a problem, a large part of which are the early retirement ages, and huge pension benefits in many states and the federal government. Salaries and benefits being given come from politicians with whom a large part of their campaign funding is coming from these unions. They in turn then vote to increase the benefits and salaries of the union personnel. It is not only unethical but borders on being fraud. Pensions and benefits should be tied to some factor comparing them to private salaries and benefits. I have lived in locations where the highest salaries went to educational personnel, doctors, lawyers, and dentists. Something wrong there. Teachers are not bad people and most try to do a good job.

Posted by: frankie21 | October 20, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Union contracts are negotiated between workers and management, not by unions alone.

Bad teachers are not defended by unions, they are not even attacked to begin with. Bad teachers are allowed to stay in the classroom because the administrators don't do their jobs. Administrators work at the will of the local board of education.

Unions don't buy the support of Democrats anymore than wealthy individuals and corporations buy the support of Republicans. If you want to talk campaign finance reform, get rid of both, not one or the other.

Unions have worked to bring better right and better wages to workers. If you think these are bad things and that everyone should work harder for less with no rights, you are just as wrong as people that say that union workers should do no work and get paid lots.

Changing pension agreements because they were made in bad faith or made at a time when future expectations were all glowy and wonderful is wrong. A contract is a contract. If you don't like it, go back to the first line. Management agrees to the contract that they negotiate with the union.
The party of the people is the one that cares about the people. I am sick of watching corporations gain more rights than the citizens of this country. If you want to fix the problem: get rid of the free trade that drives the value of the dollar into the toilet, buy products that are made in America by Americans, stop allowing companies to send jobs overseas so that people can be paid even less.
Any questions? Please explain how I am wrong and stupid.

Posted by: mrmollet | October 20, 2010 1:11 AM

OK Mr. Mollet I will give it try. Let's look at New Jersey for example. The state has a $125 BILLION dollar pension obligation and $34 BILLION is unfunded (source: Pew Report from Feb 2010). The unfunded sum equals $4000 for every man, woman and child in the state.

Secondly, the state's workers have benefits that are 41% more generous than the average Fortune 500 employee and these costs are growing 16% per year (source David Brooks - this week's column).

Third, New Jersey carries the highest tax burden in the country at 11.8% of income vs a national average of 9.7%. I hypothesize that these taxes can't go much higher.

So, in summary, NJ state workers have pensions and benefits that are 1) much better than corporate America; 2) these costs are growing much faster than the state economy; and 3) NJ residents already have a tax burden nearly 20% higher than average.

My solution would be to bring these costs down - they do nothing for the taxpayers - and to make NJ more business friendly. What is your solution? Would you propose to raise taxes even higher? Or cut all spending EXCEPT comp and benefits to state workers? Or do you expect Barack and Ben to print more money?

Please give me a solution, not some santimonious rhetoric about sacred contracts. The GM bondholders found out how sacred those contracts were.

Posted by: JohnBoy3 | October 20, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Frankie21 skips over the early retirement benefits afforded to us veterans - it's a public pension, too.
20 and out at 50%.
(It's actually much more complicated:http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/generalpay/a/retirementpay.htm)
But,it's basically:
Enlist at 20, retire at 40.
Cops, firemen - in at 21, out at 41.
Nice.
The rest of those union "socialists" have to stay until 60, 62, or 65 for 50%

I think a better remedy would be to tie private pay to public pay.
Otherwise, you're just trying to reduce the higher pay to the lower pay and that is a losing proposition for everyone.
The incentive is to reduce pay so the company/gov't can win by paying you less? Duh.
If you want that, move out of the country and head west.
France will take you if you're willing to retire at 62.

Posted by: artie76 | October 23, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I see a lot of libertarian and corporatist ideas being shared here. I have a couple of questions for the folks pushing the anti-Unions, and anti-government rhetoric.

If there were no unions what would stop the multinational too big to fail corporations from monopolizing all industries and then forcing labor to work for nearly nothing?

Also, if there were no government what would stop wealthy private owners from creating oligarchies,monarchies,or dictatorships?

Aren't Unions and Democratic Governments born when societies advance out of and away from older and less advanced pyramid versions of society? Are they not healthy counterweights to the potentially harmful effects of consolidated power by a few; and do they not help allow for broader prosperity?

Can anyone share an example of a society that has a large and healthy middle class while practicing the Anarcho-Capitalist or libertarian governance being promoted by so many these days?

One last question. How is it that some people can blame and villainize union workers and government employees for getting paid too much and say that they are taking from everyone else in society without giving back, yet at the same time you pat the rich on the back and say job well done? Take a moment to consider the ever-growing divide between the salaries at the top vs. the pay at the bottom...consider how reliant their wealth is on the productivity of the workers.

Posted by: Anarco-Capitalistarecrazy | October 23, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

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