There’s More Missing from the Collective Bargaining Debate for Government Workers than Democrat Legislatorsby Stephen Littau
In all the coverage I’ve read, listened to, and watched concerning the public sector unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere, there is one term that is usually very much present in the political debate that seems to be conspicuously absent: special interests.
Special interests, we are so often told, have a very corrupting influence on our system of government. Special interest groups send lobbyists to Washington and the state capitals to influence legislation (usually via the tax code) in such a way that if the special interests were not part of the system, elected officials would be more inclined to represent “the people.” People from both the Left and the Right make this argument (though it seems to be made more by those on the Left) and hold up examples of the groups which are opposed to their policies as special interests; special interest groups they agree with are almost never described as such.
So far as I have noticed, proponents of either side in neither government nor in the MSM has called these public sector unions by this term. Why not?
Surely these unions qualify as special interest groups as they pour millions of dollars into the coffers of (mostly) Democrat campaigns? Can anyone argue that these unions, whether one thinks for good or ill*, don’t have a very strong influence on these politicians? Why else would Democrat legislators go AWOL if they were not scared to death of losing their power due to unhappy union leaders? This is not how legislators normally behave. Under normal circumstances, those who disagree with a bill cast their votes against the bill even when they know that they are going to be on the losing end. Under normal circumstances, the losing side doesn’t take their ball and go home.
Why shouldn’t the Democrats be condemned for caving to special interest groups as would be the case if it were Republican legislators who left their state in fear of losing support from their special interest groups?
The truth of the matter is there will always be special interest groups that will try to influence public policy as long as there is a republic. And why shouldn’t there be? Anyone who runs a business that is subject to government regulation would be very foolish not to try to participate in the system (if not, those who would regulate their business would be at an advantage). The only way to reduce the power of these special interests would be for the state and federal governments to restrict their law making and regulations to the confines of their constitutions.
But for the sake of clarity and honesty, let’s not pretend that unions are anything other than what they are: powerful special interest groups that are no more saintly than any other special interest group.
*I strongly believe for ill. I don’t believe government workers should even be legally allowed to organize as they work for taxpayers rather than private business. If government workers want more favorable benefits and salaries, they should limit their votes the ballot box like the rest of us.