The shrinking public sector....

Reader comment on: Teachers, Cops and Firefighters

Submitted by Fast Eddie (United States), Jun 13, 2012 10:03

Fut of Cap's analysis is good but I think you could have gone even deeper into the issue to reveal Obama's fundamental ignorance on this issue. He does not seem to understand that there are really just two factors that are killing states' financial statue, namely, Medicare cost that are rising very rapidly because of federal mandates and the cost of state employee salaries and retirement benefits. States are caught in a fiscal squeeze because they cannot legally avoid paying Medicare expenses and they have obligated themselves to enormous expenditures on public employees as a result of pressure from public employee unions who can, and often do, determine who gets elected to state and local offices, the very electees who then are in a position to determine pay and benefits for those unions' members.

The result has been shrinking state expenditures on everything except Medicare and public employees and, because employee unions almost always reject any reductions in pay and benefits as a way to help balance state expenditures, the unions virtually guarantee that the only way the states can get their costs remotely under control is to reduce the number of public employees, which is exactly what has been happening and will continue to happen irrespective of who is president in 2013.

There appears little chance, at least in the short term, that these unions are going to change their attitudes because the union leaders know that such changes will assure that they will be voted out of power and lose their own very cushy salaries and benefits paid by union dues. The only viable solution is what Gov Walker did in Wisconsin, namely, stop the automatic collection of union dues and watch the membership numbers plummit, as they did in his state. This sends a warning to unions that, unless they are willing to negotiate in good faith and reduce the river of public money flowing to their members, they may find themselves shrinking to irrelevance.

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