The View From 1776
Monday, May 12, 2008
Malformed progeny of the Socialist International are intent upon bastardizing civilization.
The generation who fought the War of Independence and wrote the Constitution understood that all political and economic power resided in the citizenry as individuals and that the people were, with great care and caution, granting certain limited and defined powers to the Federal government.
Liberal-progressives turn the Constitution upon its head and insist that all power resides in the hands of intellectual planners in Washington, DC, who may from time to time deign to parcel out some amounts of their presumably unlimited power to local governments and even occasionally to individual citizens.
A Wall Street Journal editorial shines sunlight upon the shadowy efforts of Congressional liberal-progressives to corrode further the original Constitutional structure guaranteed by the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
The abomination addressed by the Journal editorial is that members of the Democrat-Socialist Party and other liberal-progressives aim to force all cities and towns with more than 5,000 population to hand over their finances to union headquarters. The mechanism is a pending legislative enactment to compel all of these towns and cities to unionize their police forces and firemen.
In Stamford, Connecticut, where I live, police, fireman, and teachers unions, which constitute more than 70% of the budget, are driving property taxes upward at rates of 8% to 10% per annum.
Emblematic of the malevolent influence of these unions is the daily spectacle of uniformed policemen, at $70 per hour, doing an indifferent job of directing traffic around roadside work crews. Such work could and should be done at no more than $10 per hour by lower-income people eager for such work. Moreover, those roadside policemen are technically working overtime, and worse, that overtime is included as part of their base income for retirement pay.
It’s no accident that ordinary police patrolmen rank ahead of elected officials and administrators in every year’s list of top-paid municipal employees. And it’s no accident that life-long Stamford residents are being forced by sky-rocketing taxes to leave the city.
As the Journal reports, 16 states already have considered, and rejected, legislation to compel unionization of police and firemen.
In this confrontation we see the essential nature of liberal-socialism:
the certainty that individuals and local political bodies lack the intellectual equipment to know what is best for them; the certainty that liberal-progressives do know what is best for everybody; and the certainty that liberal-progressives ought to have an exclusive franchise to impose their intellectual planning upon everyone else.
In socialist theory, labor unions represent the iconic “workers of the world” who are the vanguard of the revolution to destroy capitalism. One must admit that the unions have done a good job in that regard, our steel mills and automobile plants being prime examples.
And why were the auto manufacturers and steel makers overwhelmed?
First because union work rules prevented the most efficient use of labor. Second, because union feather-bedding demanded excessive numbers of highly-paid workers. Third, because unions went on strike and sabotaged ongoing production with deliberate slow-downs and physical damage to machinery and production to forestall business investment in newer and more labor-efficient production methods. Add to this the use of monopolistic power, backed by the New Deal and subsequent liberal-progressive administrations, to lever up unionized wages and benefits at the expense of non-unionized workers.
The Japanese, employing continuous casting methods for steel making, were able to deliver across the Pacific lower priced and higher quality steel to work sites in the United States than American steel makers could manage from plants only a few hundred miles away.
In the accelerating eclipse today of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler by Toyota and other foreign auto makers we see the effect of union-imposed, bloated wage and benefit costs. Foreign auto makers’ plants in the United States are non-union, and company officials have informed state governments that they will shut down and leave if they are legally compelled to unionize.
No doubt our labor unions would be delighted to see that happen. Not they, but the majority of citizens, who are non-union, would bear the costs of diminished consumer choices and loss of jobs.
Finally, lest we forget, liberal-progressive politicians are unconcerned by the destructive impact of these results, because unions, along with the extortionate tort bar, are their largest source of campaign contributions and their shock troops to get socialist voters to the polls.