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March 2nd, 2011

Bust the Union, Lose the Next Election, Save the Country

By Rob Gettemy

At this time last year as I looked at the elections of 2010, I was convinced of two things.  First, most of the problems our country faced found their root causes in some previous government action.  Take healthcare for instance.  How different would our system be had the government never frozen wages in World War II causing employers to provide health insurance as a means to compete for employees?  There would have never been the separation of the user of the services from the payer of the services.  That separation is the root cause of why health care costs rise so much faster than inflation.

Second, the only way we were going to solve the seemingly intractable problems our country faced was to elect candidates who truly didn’t care whether they were re-elected or not.  2010 was a unique year, a year where perhaps a couple dozen first-time politicians would be elected to the House of Representatives and a few to the Senate who were not overwhelmed by the trappings of the office, and didn’t care what party they belonged to.  They simply cared about stopping the insidious nature of government.  I believed then and I believe now that a couple dozen people who are willing to “burn the place down” to stop the growth of government are the only hope.  (Disclaimer for those of you who can’t handle tough rhetoric, I do not mean literally create a fire and burn the place down.)

Big government has been like a slow moving cancer.  It has been treated by even so called “conservative politicians” like a manageable disease, instead of the deadly disease it is.  We have seen symptoms pop up over the years, but each one looked at by itself could be managed or perhaps rationalized.  But, what they didn’t realize is that the very foundation of the country was being eaten away little by little.

While the jury is still out on the new United States Congress, perhaps we’ve elected enough people willing to “burn the place down” in state capitals across the nation to make a difference.  There is a ton of pressure on Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin to accept compromise.  Many rightfully point out that the union is ready to concede on the two “current” financial issues he is seeking.  These include a very modest contribution to their own pensions and to their own health insurance.  Most of the press is saying Walker got what he wanted, but he is not willing to give in because he wants to bust the union.

It appears on the surface that if Walker accepted the union’s current offer, most would say he did a good job by driving a hard bargain and then compromising.  It would probably guarantee his re-election.  But Walker is a true public servant.  He is not stopping at what is politically expedient, instead he is willing to lose the next election in order to cure the disease.  Walker understands that if collective bargaining for items that effect future costs for governments at all levels is not stopped, the problem will not be solved, just postponed because collective bargaining is the root cause.

Even one of the Godfathers of big government, Franklin Roosevelt, understood the dangers of public sector unions.  Roosevelt said, “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.”  Roosevelt understood that while unions might have their place, there is extreme danger in public sector unions.

Unfortunately, the problem with public sector unions requires a little deeper analysis than the press and most politicians wish to undertake.  There are many problems with public unions.  Here are just four of them.

  • Unlike the private sector, union members elect their bosses.  They provide campaign contributions and organization to those bosses.  Those same bosses are not spending their own money when they pay the union workers.  Instead, they are spending money that they confiscate from the populace.  So, the very nature of unions keeping management in line and management keeping unions in line simply does not exist in the public sector.
  • For years, the public sector unions have gained richer and richer deferred compensation programs.  This benefits the politicians in the short-term because they make big promises that do not come due during their tenure in office.
  • It virtually guarantees low productivity because all workers are treated the same regardless of the quality of their work.  It is almost impossible to fire a public employee for simply not being competent.  As a result, they need more and more public employees to do the job.  This is unfair to the tax payers and the many, many outstanding public employees that do good work.
  • Because of deferred benefits promised, and the extremely young age at which retired workers can access those benefits, we are approaching a point where municipalities and other governmental organizations pay more to people who don’t work (retirees) than they paid them when they did work.

The model is broke and unsustainable.

So, while the press tells the world that Scott Walker is an extreme right winger, the reality is he is no more conservative on this issue than Franklin Roosevelt was.  As supporters of Republican politicians, we need to be the steel in their spines.  We need to let them know their legacy depends on their actions on this issue, this year.  We need them to want to really make a difference in the future of the country instead of worrying about their next election.  Our country needs them to bust public sector unions.

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About the Author

Rob Gettemy
Rob Gettemy is the founder and owner of 1 Million for Jesus Christ, a Christian apparel company. In addition, Rob teaches entrepreneurship at the University of Iowa and was a candidate for US House, Iowa District 2 in the 2010 Republican primary. Rob attended the 912 rally in Washington DC in 2009 and also attended the 8-28 event in 2010. Rob has been an outspoken critic of liberal policies his entire adult life.

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