It's been a hot topic this past year as newly elected Republican governors try to balance their state's books by reining in the unsustainable fringe benefits and pensions of the government workers that were negotiated by the formerly Democratic run administrations. Wisconsin, Indiana, New Jersey, Virginia, and Ohio are just a few of the states that are trying to bring back some fiscal sanity to their state budgets.
French political thinker, Alexis de Tocqueville once warned our fledgling American republic that, “A democracy can endure up to the point when politicians realize they can bribe people with their own money”. Those prescient words can be seen today as the explosion of the federal work force has mushroomed over the past couple of decades and has accelerated greatly since Obama took office (in fact, he has appointed over 40 unelected czars to be advisers to his administration, many earning big six-figure salaries). Most government workers, in trying to protect and enhance their jobs, generally vote for the politicians who have been giving the public sector workers generous salaries and fringe benefits in hopes of getting their votes on election day. Some of the most Democratic areas of the country are around Wash. D.C. and the various state capitols. That tactic seems to have been working for the Democrats up until now, but now with the Obama recession, many citizens are getting fed up with the “sweetheart” deals between the politicians and the unions and are voting for fringe benefit and pension reform, much to the chagrin of both the Democratic politicians and their lackey's in the public sector, the unions.
In New York State, these unconscionable labor deals have come to light by showing how many of the public sector employees have “gamed” the system by retiring early on a “disability” pension, which in some cases are larger than a regular pension and in some cases the proceeds are tax-free. It has been reported that train conductors, for example, have been retiring at the rate of 90% going on disability pensions. Who would've thought that being a train conductor would be such a dangerous job that 90% of the retirees go out on a disability pension? The same is true for policemen, firemen, sanitation workers, and transit workers. The out-of-control pensions and fringe benefits are bankrupting NYC and other cities and states across the country. The union big-shots are fighting the new Republican governors tooth-and-nail, and just a few weeks ago they were able to beat back some reforms in the State of Ohio by spending upwards of $30 million to stop the reforms that were put into place to bring back fiscal sanity to the state and municipal authorities. It looks like the public sector unions are going to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs by fighting those sensible reforms.
As more and more taxpayers get fed up with these budget busting collective bargaining agreements, more and more states will be trying to put into place reforms that will enable those governmental entities to survive.
Remember what Alexis de Tocqueville said, “A democracy can endure up to the point when politicians realize they can bribe people with their own money”. The time has come for us citizens to say “enough is enough”, and that we won't take it anymore.
Conservative commentary by Chuck Lehmann