(Warner Todd Huston) – The Chicago Tribune printed a letter to the editor that perfectly describes the disconnect that state workers have between their pensions and the political process. These state workers stare wide-eyed in faux innocence pretending that they themselves, as individuals, are wholly innocent of the mess that is our state pensions are currently in.
But the truth is, the financial ruins that our states are in ARE the fault of state workers. It is their fault directly and without question. Their protestations of innocence is a lie. Sadly, it is a lie they tell themselves and they believe it.
Here is what former state employee Earl Shumaker of Sycamore, Illinois wrote to the Chicago Trib:
As a longtime reader of the Tribune, I was disappointed that your editorial left out some critical information pertaining to the public pensions.
Please don’t blame the Illinois workers for this problem. The problem lies directly with past and present politicians of both parties.
Of course, the employees should be blamed for the pension problems, at least in part. You see, these pension troubles are caused by their employee unions just as much as they are caused by the politicians in the state capitol.
In fact, the politicians and the unions are simply different sides of the same coin. Every year the public employees unions spend millions of their member’s dues money on donations to politicians. In 2008, for instance, unions wasted $223,533,78 on donations to politicians and political causes. These politicians then turn around and enlarge benefits and give state employees pensions that far exceed that of private industries. In return, the public employees unions give even more money to these same pliant politicians.
Granted that the politicians make matters worse by raiding the pension funds for their welfare programs and other favorite and equally unnecessary government programs, and that isn’t the fault of unions and public employees. So, unions and the employees aren’t solely responsible for this sorry state of affairs, to be sure. But Mr. Shumaker is completely wrong to say that he as a state employee is utterly blameless for the mess our pensions and state budgets are in.
Can we blame the employees for what their unions do? As the Obamaites love to say, yes we can. The unions only do what they do because the employees let them do it.
Of course, there should be no such thing as a public employees union in the first place. This pension mess is a perfect example of why that is true. What is a union for, after all, if not to “get” as much for an employee as possible quite despite what the employee is worth or whether or not the “getting” is fiscally responsible.
In the private sector the ultimate break on unions is the health of the business. If the business goes under because of union excess, then everyone loses. Therefore, at least some stop on unions exists in private businesses. But in government there is no stop to union excess at all. Government is obligated to continue spreading money around regardless if it is fiscally responsible or not. Therefore, there is nothing to stop these unions for “getting” more and more every year.
Unions are antithetical to good government and they should be wholly eliminated from government.
Unfortunately, Mr. Shumaker and his fellow union members and state employees are ignorant of the fault they deserve to be assessed. But their ignorance of their own culpability does not absolve them of fault. This isn’t just true in Illinois. It’s a fact all across the country.
(Mr. Huston writes The Union Label blog)