Crossing over the state line, I came across a curious essay by often-acerbic Fall River Herald columnist Marc Munroe Dion. To some extent, I’m sure, his iconoclasm is just keeping him from fitting into standard political categories, but I can’t help but think that he’s a little confused.
Dion complains about the growing disparity between the plush deals of government workers and the hardships of those paying the bill. He even asks a question that’s been on my conservative, small-government mind lately when he ends his column, “When can we call this looting?” But Dion also insists:
It isn’t so much that city employees are getting too much, as it is that the rest of us are getting too little.
I don’t want to see police officers NOT have a union. I want to see YOU have a union, too.
I want the average working person to have health care and a pension. I want you to retire at 55. It’s too late for me. I’m 59, and still showing up every day.
A city can’t prosper if the financial gap between citizens and city employees keeps widening.
You’ve got government employees’ continuing to get privileged status — such as retiring at age 55 — and Dion recognizes it isn’t affordable and that the cost is creating a dead end for economic advancement. So, to whom, I wonder, does he think private-sector unions would be able to pass a similar bill? The mystical, mythical Rich? To the extent that they exist as an identifiable class in a city’s economy, they’ll just move their operations elsewhere or close up shop and go to work for somebody else.
The bottom line is that unions function for government employees because government can force people to pay. The private businesses with which private-sector unions must work can’t do that.
The only solution is to back government up so it’s affordable and not obtrusive with regulations in order to give the private sector as long as it needs to find a local angle. The ensuing growth will increase the leverage of private-sector workers and the margin for public-sector workers, too.