August 21, 2008

Blinders-on Economics

Justin Katz

Richard Forbes, of Warwick, offers an argument we've heard before:

I continually see negative commentaries about unions. Many people express resentment that union members (especially state worker and teacher unions) have excessive perks that the general population cannot obtain.

Their anger is directed toward the wrong place. In the past, unionization raised the bar for all of us. It was union organization that set the standard of an expectation of health insurance, paid time off, sick days, vacation days, limited work hours, etc. Unions created a standard of living that didn't exist before Franklin D. Roosevelt. ...

We should all be demanding that our standards be maintained, as the unions are trying to do, rather than blaming the last bastion of the American Dream.

What we never seem to hear is an admission from such idealists is that there are economic forces, rooted in human nature, for which we must account. Blinders on, they insist that market realities are arbitrary and ultimately manipulable.

Mr. Forbes should stop to consider that private-sector unions are fading because the bar has been raised beyond companies' ability to clear it and remain in business. He should also question whether the economic policies that he prefers are partly responsible for the government debt that he laments.

When one denies reality, the results are often the opposite of those intended — except, in the short term, when it comes to a limited group that is bolstered to keep the dream alive despite all wisdom.

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Even FDR did not feel that public employees should be allowed to unionize. He foresaw the inherent danger involved in the cozy relationship between union and politician. He was right and RI proves his point.

Posted by: Frank at August 21, 2008 12:11 PM

In the end, the blame is ours. Union members have every right to ask for whatever they want. Their requests would only be tempered by economic reality if politicians would stand up for the greater good of all people.

Its our fault for electing the bums.

There has never been a greater opportunity to just replace everyone.

Posted by: George at August 21, 2008 3:05 PM

Yeah, George, I guess "we" are to blame, except one in six of us works for a town or state government (with probably a much higher percentage of those who are active and/or vote). Some additional number are related or otherwise close to somebody who is.

Posted by: Justin Katz at August 21, 2008 9:37 PM

Justin, in "we" there is -

-we who vote for the wrong people
-we who don't vote
-we who don't get out and work for, or work hard enough for candidates who will make a difference
-we who don't research the issues and vote like lemmings.
...the list goes on.

I know there isn't much of "you" in that we, and I'd say not much of "me" either. But if "we've" got them out numbered 6 to 1 and we still can't change the way things are. I still say its the fault of the collective "we".

Posted by: George at August 21, 2008 9:57 PM

Everybody complains, but few have the guts to vote an incumbent out.
The North Providence and West Warwick incumbents all need to be voted out badly, but the townies won't do it. I've lived in NP for 17 years, and I'm still considered an outside agitator. Can't think of the last time I voted for an incumbent legislator.

Posted by: rhody at August 22, 2008 12:42 AM
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