I am torn by the protests in Wisconsin. On the one hand, I am happy to see people coming out in protest and saying no to government power. On the other hand, the reason they are coming out upsets me. You see, I've been unemployed for over two years now. I've run out of "benefits" and I am now completely dependent on the charity of others for my survival. I wish I had a job. The people protesting work in the public sector. It has been my taxes and the taxes of others like me who work in the private sector that have paid for their jobs. Now they believe they should be able to keep their full pay and benefits even though the private sector is shrinking and the money from it is harder to come by?
Of course, many are probably going to accuse me of being anti-union for writing this. Actually, I support the right for people to get together and collectively bargain. I support their right to associate with whoever they want for whatever peaceful purpose they want. If these people were out there protesting against some private sector corporation they were working for, I'd be behind them. But there seems to be a disconnect here. The people in the public sector aren't working for giant corporations, they are working for the property owners of that state. Taxes are what pay for their salaries, their benefits and their retirement funds, and when people are unemployed taxes become a great burden to them.
I believe that taxes are theft or extortion. At the very least, they are coercive. I believe that the only legitimate government would be one that was funded on a voluntary basis. I think that the markets should determine the salaries of people. It worked for a long time in this nation. Yet many people seem happy to pay their taxes and simply give their money away. Of course, they expect a certain level of service for that money and I think that more and more ordinary people are beginning to believe they aren't getting the level of service they deserve. Still, there's nothing they can do about it. They can't refuse to pay their taxes or they risk arrest, imprisonment, and perhaps the loss of their property. That, and there's no competition they can turn to that can provide the services government currently monopolizes.
I also have a hard time supporting Governor Walker. I have a hard time supporting almost any politician. He's just a control freak like so many of them. While I understand that he's trying to save his state money, he's taking aim at the wrong people. It seems as if he's trying to divide the people. He's trying to make this a Democrat/Republican thing when it should be, like so many other things, a freedom/tyranny thing. Perhaps he should look at corruption in government and trimming administrative costs before he goes after the folks on the ground just trying to make an honest living.
I believe in the right for individuals to associate with whoever they please. That is what unions are about, people associating with each other and using their numbers to pressure someone else to succumb to their demands. Yet I also believe in the right of the individual to choose not to associate with whoever he wants. I also believe that people should have the right to decide who they want to do business with and who they don't want to do business with. In the case of public servants, that right has been curtailed. One does not have much choice if he has to do business with schools, or the police, or the DMV, or any number of other government agencies.
No, I don't think any laws should be passed curtailing the rights of people to bargain collectively. At the same time, I don't think any restrictions should be created as to who should be able to work in the public sector. I don't think one who decides to work for a city or state agency should be forced to join a union. If I decide I want to work for the state at a reduced rate of pay, and I don't want to pay union dues, and I don't want any of the union benefits, why shouldn't I be able to contract with the state to do so? And why shouldn't the state be able to hire me? I'd save the taxpayers money and I might even do a better job and provide better services than union workers. After all, it would be more likely I'd be held accountable if I messed up since I wouldn't have the union there to protect me.
If I was to do such a thing, however, I don't imagine the union people would take it very kindly. I have the feeling I'd face threats. I might even be physically assaulted by some unidentifiable person some dark night. I might be putting my family in danger. I know people don't like to think that others would resort to violence like that, but people get quite upset when their privileges are challenged. They would use the excuse that by one such as myself fairly competing with them, that's a threat to their security. Well, it probably wouldn't happen anyway because I don't know anyone in the system that can get me a job.
I does my heart good to see the American people finally fed up with the system. It is kind of strange, however, to think that it's the people inside the system who are protesting the system. I would have thought that people in the private sector would be out on the streets demanding an end to the costliness of the public sector. I would have thought they'd be demanding more freedom for themselves and their brethren so that we could get back to work producing things again. Perhaps that won't be necessary. Perhaps those inside the system will manage to topple it without any help from those outside it.
For the record, I have been what most would likely consider a blue collar worker all my life. I started working at a very young age. I've worked as a caddy, in fast food restaurants, as a truck driver to deliver auto parts, as a vending route man, as a handyman, as a volunteer fireman, in pizza restaurants, as a pizza delivery man, as a game room attendant, as a grocery store clerk and cashier, as a professional resume writer and consultant, as an electronics and electromechanical technician, and as a service department manager. I've owned my own small business. I've worked in a union shop where I felt I'd be better off without the union and I've worked in non union shops where I felt a union could do a lot of good.
I am not one who favors busting unions, and I can definitely relate to the laborer who feels he's not getting paid what he's worth, but I find it very difficult to support unions in the public sector due to the coercive nature of government. I also cannot support Governor Walker's action again due to the coercive nature of government. Watching what's going on in Wisconsin for me is like watching two prize fighters I dislike going at it in a ring. I just want to see them beat each other up. We do need protests, but those protests should involve the demand for more freedom and less taxation and regulation. It should involve demanding choice other than the monopolized services government offers. Perhaps if some of those "public servants" who are worried about losing their union privileges were to start up their own organizations that would compete with the government organizations in offering those same services the public demands, maybe that would be a step in the right direction.
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