May 26, 2010

Repeating Public-Sector History

Justin Katz

It seems humanity is fated to always reconvincing itself that it's got the problems all figured out and can henceforth hand broad control to government entities. Ed Achorn makes a contrary suggestion:

Britain confronts what has historically been the great threat to representative republics. A majority of voters, whipped on by self-interested politicians, eventually figure out how to game the system to steal from a minority of productive taxpayers. As an avaricious government expands, the pummeled taxpayers have less incentive to produce and the economy struggles, with massive public debt ensuing. When the money runs out, social upheaval follows, with the imposition of dictatorship.

You can read about it in the ancient historians.

Or you can look at Central Falls, where the citizens have lost their power, through their elected representatives, to make their own decisions. A receiver will decide for them.

It may seem a little off to present a bankruptcy-style receiver as a "dictator," but such consolidations of power, following upon a representative form of government, necessarily look like a benign, good idea at the beginning. True, there are checks and balances in the case of a municipal ruler, but the point of Achorn's column is that Central Falls is a warning of things come at higher levels of government.

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It doesn't have to be a majority. As long as a self-interested minority is sufficiently organized and motivated (public unions have this advantage built in to their organization by their very nature) they can easily hijack the electoral process through propaganda campaigns and the ignorance of the majority, or simply by probability. If 10-20% of the voters in a local election are either public union teachers or married to public union teachers, for example, it will be a huge hurdle just to break even in canceling out that voting block and then overcoming it.

Posted by: Dan at May 26, 2010 2:26 PM

Dan, you're completely correct. And people like Mayor Scott Avedisian in Warwick have figured out that template, mastered it, and used it to their advantage.

Posted by: Rasputin at May 26, 2010 4:46 PM

Non union people should organize "election only unions" and charge dues and elect officials and go to meetings and walk a picket line when necessary and dig deep and write a check or two for their candidates and put a little work into countering the 20% Dan refers to. Or, they can read Ed Achorn's never ending attacks on public sector unions and feel victimized and do nothing as usual.

Freedom isn't free.

Posted by: michael at May 26, 2010 5:22 PM

The old "unions are just a bunch of ordinary people organized" argument.

Sounds fine by me, michael. Provided of course that our taxpayer group receives the same federally granted monopoly powers, federal funding, and federal job protections that public sector unions do. I will gladly represent the taxpayers collectively provided that nobody else can represent any of them under federal law.

Posted by: Dan at May 26, 2010 6:18 PM

Sounds like you have your work cut out for you Dan, just like the people who started my union did.

Posted by: michael at May 26, 2010 7:05 PM

The short term answer is for voters who work in the real world (private sector) and/or retirees on fixed income is to look at the candidates that the unions are endorsing, and then vote for their opponent.

The Democrat Party has become the party of public sector trough feeders -- public sector employees and welfare recipients -- and therefore the party working against the rest of us.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at May 26, 2010 7:14 PM

I like Michaels idea of the "election only unions", exceot that is what I think political parties are. To be effective, you would have to ignore both parties.

Ragin Rhode Islander believes "The Democrat Party has become the party of public sector trough feeders". I think it is whoever is in power. After Reagan's election I was handed a copy of the "Plum Book". This was a plum colored book about the size of a small telephone book, it listed all federal jobs who serve at "the pleasure of the President". I didn't see anything that interested me. I sometimes think I should have looked harder.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at May 26, 2010 7:28 PM

I read a thing in the Providence Phoenix the other day, I forget exactly what, bit I do recall the article starting out describing the political power given to somebody or other because of "labor unions and other progressives."

It is amazing how labor unions are now automatically correlated with progressives. I'm not a progressive, at Least I don't think I am.I'm not even sure what a progressive is. And Dan, I am just an "ordinary person organized." I don't agree with everything labor as a whole stands for, just as I don't believe in everything the USA stands for, but its what I have and its working, for the most part.

All this is assuming anybody cares even a little what I think, I just had a minute and this post caught my eye.

Posted by: michael at May 26, 2010 8:10 PM

One has to summarize that Dan and Justin and the likes of them don't like America - don't like our system, and might just prefer if Central Falls or other failing towns were handed over the Wackenhut of other privatization corporations.

Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I searched the post low and high for an actual solution, and didn't find one.

Complaining about everything is a very easy thing to do - in fact, it is the preferred method of losers. However, those of us who actually accomplish things in this lifetime know that things are much more difficult when you ACTUALLY HAVE TO DO THEM.

A point, perhaps, which is lost on many in the current audience here...still, it's worth putting out there in case there are one or two real "doers" out there in right wing world.

Posted by: Stuart at May 27, 2010 11:29 AM

"Complaining about everything is a very easy thing to do - in fact, it is the preferred method of losers."

You mean like you do on here every single day, Stuart, complaining about conservatives and libertarians on their own blog?

People on RIFuture have told me that I have changed the way they think about some issues or that they like what I have brought to the dialog over there. That is clearly not the case here. Why do you even bother anymore? All you do is annoy us, and I would not say the same about a number of other people of your political persuasion who comment here.

Posted by: Dan at May 27, 2010 1:04 PM

>>It is amazing how labor unions are now automatically correlated with progressives. I'm not a progressive, at Least I don't think I am.I'm not even sure what a progressive is.

Unions are correlated with "progressives" because that is what union leadership is, e.g., Andy Stern of SEIU or in RI Bob Walsh / Pat Crowley of NEARI (also take a look at the NEA's resolutions of various social matters).

As far as what progressives are, it is a code-word for collectivists / anti-Americanism.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at May 27, 2010 4:00 PM

"As far as what progressives are, it is a code-word for collectivists / anti-Americanism"

It is a code word for Communism, insanity, insolvency and economic illieteracy.
It has been tried and failed in Albania, zimbabwe and everywhere in between.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at May 27, 2010 6:56 PM

>>The Democrat Party has become the party of public sector trough feeders -- public sector employees

But, Wait......Dan is a public sector employee! So is Michael and probably many others here.

I'm sure Dan constantly lobbies his bosses to pay him less in salary and benefits for the good of the country!

The ridiculous idea that people who work for the public sector are all communists, progressives, ultra-liberals or socialists could only come from the "non-thinking tanks" of right wing hypocrites.

They are always looking for scapegoats, usually some combination of people with skin that is not white, religion that is not Christian or who don't pray at the altar of Mega-Corporations. It seems they liked the era of Kings and Serfs, perhaps considering themselves Knights who will do the Kings bidding (and killing) in exchange for their vaulted positions in the New Society.

We've seen, under Bush and Cheney, what this New World of Neo-Cons looks like and most Americans didn't like it. Still, there are probably 30% of my fellow countrymen who are treasonous, selfish or stupid enough to still think the Bush/Cheney way was the proper direction for our society.

Count me out.

If you really want a villain, look in the mirror, the boardrooms and at much of Wall Street...and the sad idea that money can be made in truckloads by doing absolutely nothing except stealing it from others.

Posted by: Stuart at May 28, 2010 10:43 AM

That was pretty good, Stuart, but I still think you need a little real life exposure to the poor and homeless. Trust me, it isn't what it seems, or is portrayed on TV.

Not being exposed to the boardrooms and Wall Street firsthand I remain skeptical that they are the villains, but I am inclined to agree with your assessment to some degree, just from a common sense, uneducated look at things.

I've managed to alienate myself from the liberals, conservatives, progressives, Democrats, Republicans and libertarians by writing what I believe, often with little pre-conceived idea what I'm writing until it's done. I thought for a while I might call myself an isolationist but then remembered somewhere in history before WWI that not turning out so well.

I guess I'm like most of us, a mutt. But at least I speak my mind, and honestly believe what I say, or write.

Posted by: michael at May 28, 2010 4:03 PM
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