Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Uncivil Unions

Every time there's a ballot measure here in Cali limiting the power of government or restricting state spending up for a vote there appear out of nowhere thousands of TV ads featuring actors claiming to be firemen, teachers and nurses expressing their OUTRAGE! that the SPECIAL INTERESTS want to hurt California's firevictims/patients/children by proposing this immoral attack on human decency! It turns out that these helpless victims of inhumanity have enough money to saturate the most expensive media markets in the country for months. A wall can't get painted on HGTV without a tearful nurse interrupting to plead, beg, beseech the voters to stop the ravening Special Interests from throwing terminal cancer patients out onto the streets untreated. An episode of 'Modern Marvels' can't play on the History Channel without a manly but oh-so-upset fireman imploring us to make sure that when the orphanage burns down someone will be there to save the helpless little tykes from being parboiled by the flaming insulation. Teachers invade the local news painting a picture of classrooms more densely packed than a Javanese opium den filled with mouth-breathing illiterates thirsting for knowledge.
Where are these guys getting the hundreds of millions that they use to saturate the airwaves with heart-rending sob-stories pushing every liberal cause imaginable? Huey Long had a tradition, when he was governor of Louisiana in the 1930s, called the 'deduct box'. If you were a state employee you had to pony up a part of your salary to a slush fund that Huey and the boys used for whatever nefarious purposes they decided were in the best interests of the people of Louisiana. The Public Employee Unions have their own version of the Deduct Box. You have to be in a union to work at most State jobs and that means you have to pay dues. Because most of the loyal union members just look on the impost as yet another of the endless bites from their checks and have never been to a union meeting or taken any part in any union activity this money is just a slush fund in the hands of the 'activists' who abandoned their hated careers in the stultifying bureaucracy and wormed their way into the arcane depths of the union's inner circles.
These people are without exception leftists of various degrees of fervor. It cant be said that they haven't looked out for their charges, either. They've made it almost impossible to fire any public employee who has not been convicted of a violent felony. They've gotten pay scales that have completely outstripped anything in the private sector for the same work; not to mention that you can be disciplined or even fired in the private sector for bad performance or malfeasance or your company can cut back or even go out of business. They've gone on the air or hired effective lobbyists to hector the members of the legislature to give ever larger budget increases to the metastasizing offices filled with state employees busily doing God Knows What. They fight every budget cut, or , since budgets never seem to actually get cut, they oppose the cuts in the rate of increase that are occasionally suggested by hopeless reactionaries. They push for higher and higher taxes on 'those who can most afford it'. They always support The Democratic Party. Public employee unions like SEIU and The National Education Assn. are mainstays of the Party, both in contributions and volunteers. They sit at the table and expect to be listened to.
Where they have done their best work is in the realm of pensions. Most state employees can retire in their fifties to a pension that would make anyone in the private sector green with envy. This pension is indexed for inflation and in ten years or so, even in a low inflation environment, will equal the take-home pay that the person earned while they were working. The pensions are paid by CALPERS (CALifornia Public Employee Retirement System) which is the largest single investment entity in the world, controlling hundreds of billions of dollars. So far, so good!
But what happens to CALPERS in a high inflation environment? Much of CALPERS' investments are in bonds, which don't adjust for inflation. Inflation makes investments in the stock market much less profitable. The high-tax anti-business environment coming soon at the hands of the Dems and their union allies will make keeping these pension promises impossible. All paper investments are only a reflection of the health of the general economy and that health is declining rapidly. States like California and New York can only staunch the flood of red ink with massive cuts in state spending. The example of Michigan has shown that further increases in tax rates will lead to lower revenues. The power of the unions prevents any real cuts. The system is headed for a crack-up and the special interests who run it are committed to things staying the same as they have always been. They are the ultimate reactionaries. The unions and the receivers of transfer payments, represented by socialist vulture groups like the AARP, have enough muscle to fight any reform or cut proposed by politicians looking a few years down the road or even staring into the maw of state bankruptcy this year. With a new government which appears to be certain to be completely dominated by Democrats on the federal, state and local levels the hope for any change or reform of anything is zero. It will be full speed ahead to an Argentinian meltdown of the economy and the currency. In a poverty-stricken, sterile society these people who 'had it made' will be broke and betrayed. They will deserve it.

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