The Growing Public Sector

For years now — and especially under the Obama administration — pubilc sector jobs have been increasing dramatically. Many of these jobs are also union positions, which adds problems and complexities regarding wages, hours, and ability to fire employees. As the public sector grows, the strain on the private sector to maintain and pay for it does as well.

Ross Kaminsky at the American Specator takes a look at the “Fourth Rail” of Americanm politics: government jobs and unions.

Supporters of unions have long argued, and with good reason, that in the early days of industrializing America, unions helped eliminate child labor and forced companies to create safer working conditions for employees. Do workers at the DMV, IRS, or your town’s Public Transit Board (or their children) have substantial risk of working 16 hour days in dark, dangerous environments? It’s hard to imagine the founders of the AFL thinking that unions would devolve into organizations whose primary goal is to make it impossible to fire bad workers, to argue for an ever-increasing number of vacation days, and to eliminate secret ballots which are not just a staple of union election history but also a fundamental underpinning of liberty. The purpose of public sector unions is now simple: Maximize the unions’ income and political power by working against every possible increase in government efficiency. And they’ve been wildly successful.

It does not make sense that public sector salary and benefits exceed that  of the private sector, especially in an economic recession. It does not make sense that union contracts secure outrageous benefits and protect incompetent workers from being fired. Unions are not concerned about the increased strain on the American economy an labor force — all hey are interested now is mor political power.

It remains the standard tactic of liberals, government workers, and other leeches off your earnings to demonize anyone who wants to reduce the cost and intrusiveness of government by saying that teachers and policemen will lose their jobs. A few responses are in order: First, both education and law enforcement organizations could reduce bureaucratic bloat if they were forced to cut their budgets. Second, why should it be unacceptable for a teacher or cop to lose his or her job? There is no evidence that hiring more teachers has improved educational outcomes. Indeed some of the most expensive school systems in the nation (on a per-student basis), such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., produce spectacularly bad academic results. Similarly, it can’t be that each additional policeman adds proportionately to our safety…but they add disproportionately to our costs. When times are this tough, America can’t afford to have sacred cows.


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