Today's Wall Street Journal offers an analysis of the fight in Wisconsin over the governor's attempts to restrict public sector union negotiating power. 

They note that historically, “even left-of-center politicians resisted collective bargaining for public unions…. Why? Because unlike in the private economy, a public union has a natural monopoly over government services... This monopoly power, in turn, gives public unions inordinate sway over elected officials. The money they collect from member dues helps to elect politicians who are then supposed to represent the taxpayers during the next round of collective bargaining. In effect union representatives sit on both sides of the bargaining table, with no one sitting in for taxpayers.”



03/08/2011 07:04

While I used to regard highly anything on the front page of the WSJ, I've always been suspicious of anything they put on the opinion page. This piece implies that the cycle of dollars from state to union to politician is a necessarily unique feature of unions. They did not mention, nor do they consistently speak against, other political money cycles, in particular the nation to defense contractor to politician cycle. What could be more cynical than planting defense sub-sub-contractor work in every congressional district? The WSJ is always putatively supporting 'markets', which work by people acting in their perceived self interest. Well, that's what the unions are doing.

I urge focus: economic changes like globalization are inexorable and irreversible. Globalization may not directly affect public workers, but it does affect the taxpayers they work for. The public sector unions need to prepare for the future, not strive to preserve the unsustainable past.

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