August 5, 2009

"If You Could Wave a Magic Wand, What is the One Thing You Would Do?"

Monique Chartier

... to improve the state. This is what WPRO's Dan Yorke asked Justin, his in-studio guest for a second hour.

Justin responded that, for him, the elimination [Edit: Will corrects me under comments] of unions public unions would have top priority.

I would point out that unions public unions are one of many special interests in this state, albeit a powerful one, and that their wishes are implemented by the real power in this state, the leadership of the House of the General Assembly. Accordingly, given the wand, I would dissipate the power that is vested in that group more appropriately and more typically throughout the legislative and executive branches.

What would you do?

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If I may make a clarification. It wasn't generically "unions," is was the dominance of the "public sector unions."

Other than driving up costs for those who are not members of the union, and reducing incentive for individual merit to determine wages, there is nothing inherently wrong with private sector unions. They really aren't the problem in Rhode Island, because they've largely negotiated themselves out of relevance, since many of those jobs have already left the state -- which is why they've migrated to the public sector.

In private industry, if they ask for too much money, and drive up costs too high, the jobs vanish, so there is something of a check and balance.

In regard to public sector unions, not only is the check and balance missing, but it almost encourages the endemic corruption that we have here, esp. as it relates to the public sector unions and the officials they control in the General Assembly.

Posted by: Will at August 5, 2009 5:01 PM

Monique and Justin, I agree with you both. My top two wishes are

1. Right-to-Work, enabling people to become employees without having to join a union or pay union dues, and enabling employers to hire non-union employees alongside union members. It wouldn't outlaw unions but it would force unions to become competitive with the private workforce. If the union, as a professional guild, could offer the employer a better deal in terms of overall cost or higher quality work, they would get preference as a matter of rational economic choice. If not, then they wouldn't.

2. The power the General Assembly has to micromanage the affairs of municipalities and citizens of this state is outrageous. With expanded power comes corruption, because people need the government's permission to do normal things in ordinary life. If we reduce the power of the General Assembly and restore freedom to our citizens, we reduce the opportunity to engage in corruption. Corruption is not just cash in plain envelopes - it is also cash and in-kind campaign contributions.

Posted by: BobN at August 5, 2009 6:02 PM

What would I do?

Put every seat in the General Assembly in a hotly contested race every election cycle.

Posted by: brassband at August 5, 2009 6:40 PM

My wish would be to be see leaders, both in elected positions and in the private sector, who are concerned with the common good, not just promoting their law practices, building their campaign war chests, or using their status to get that swank table at the Capital Grille.
And for the people who are told they're irrevelant by "leaders", radio talkers, and those who love to exercise their naked political power, to rise up, realize they have value, and fight the power (the General Assembly leadership is a good place to start).

Posted by: rhody at August 5, 2009 6:56 PM

Eliminate any need for a children's hospital however good it may be.

Posted by: Phil at August 5, 2009 8:41 PM

Well, for one, that the zipper on Pat Crowley's duck costume would permanently jam shut while he was so attired. ; -)

And on a more serious note, right to work is a good one. I did a little analysis once, and the results indicated that it would mean THOUSANDS of jobs in RI.

Also, that the reigning culture of Rhode Island would become one not stuck in a 1930's mindset of industrial class warfare, but one which embraced free market capitalism and the American Dream (with appropriate punishment for the human failings of fraud and theft).

Finally, that the teachers unions would be banished from RI (as a prerequisite step) to Rhode Island's public education system becoming not just world-class (instead of its present barely better than third-world status), but indeed the model for the rest of the world.

These, in turn, would bring actual and sustainable prosperity for the "working families" of Rhode Island.

Alas, the Lilliputian "ethiced" and "intellected" Democrats in the General Assembly will never permit it, lest they offend their union bosses and poverty pimp enablers.

Posted by: Tom W at August 5, 2009 9:02 PM

And as Monique knows, I rarely ever correct anyone, especially her. ;)

Posted by: Will at August 5, 2009 9:50 PM

I'd banish Steven Brown and Shana Kurland to the Kerguelen Islands.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 6, 2009 8:08 AM

Radically reform the General Assembly.

I think the bicameral legislature makes no sense. When I ask people why we have it, they always point to the US Congress. But there are two different types of representation there. And as I suggested before, where each city/town would get one Senator has been found to be unconstitutional, then I would move to a unicameral system. We have 39 cities and towns, so I would allow two each, for a General Assembly of 78. Then do the districts like they do now, all equally represented. Make it a full-time Assembly and don't permit them to work for anyone but themselves.

The two houses make no sense to me. Viva la Nebraska!

And if I can have just a couple other little ones:
1. Voter initiative
2. Governor's line item veto

Posted by: Patrick at August 6, 2009 9:22 AM

Wait a mimute, so now the public employee unions have lost their power, the General Assembly seats are contested each election; our elected officials have become answeable; the populous is no longer lethargic and have realized their power; and Steve Brown is banished??

I wish for a Coke.

Posted by: jp at August 6, 2009 9:48 AM

A Coke?

Why not a Del's?

Posted by: brassband at August 6, 2009 2:47 PM

A single payer system.

Posted by: OldtimeLefty at August 9, 2009 12:15 AM
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