Tomorrow Wisconsinites will head to the polls in a rare feature of their state’s politics: a recall election of Governor Scott Walker. Governor Walker, a conservative Republican, has commanded the attention of national headlines over the past year due to his courageous stand for the taxpayers of his state. In one of the most daring displays of political courage in modern times, Governor Walker stood down the staple of liberal politics: public employee unions. Public employee unions are the absolute embodiment of Alexis De Tocqueville’s warning of the tendency of democracies to become entangled in special interests. That’s because these unions have, effectively, hijacked the legislatures of several states and made deep in-roads in DC, all at the cost of the citizenry.
It should be obvious how dangerous public employee unions are to the concepts of limited government and liberty. To allow government employees to vote goodies for themselves from the public treasury is the beginning of the fiscal end. To begin with, union dues are often mandated by law, as they were in Wisconsin pre-Walker’s reforms, and are taken out of salaries paid for by taxpayers. Under such a scenario, taxpayers are, in the truest sense, paying the unions to campaign for even more of their hard earned cash. This vicious cycle eviscerates the private sector by growing the increasingly-parasitical public payroll. It’s really no wonder why states like Wisconsin ranked at or near the bottom of “best states to do business” before Scott Walker arrived.
Governor Walker’s reform put the general interest ahead of the special interest, by breaking the stranglehold of public employee unions over public policy. The result has been the first property tax relief experienced by Wisconsin families since 1998, an improvement in the job outlook for all Wisconsinites and a bottom-line savings to the taxpayers of over $1 billion a year. This sort of common sense reform is what is needed not only in Wisconsin, but in all governments (state and Federal) that are suffering from a Greek-style crisis brought on by the entitlement spending. The reforms that Governor Walker implemented weren’t unreasonable; they included a provision that public workers pay 12.6% of their health insurance premiums and 5.8% of their pension plans, standards that are still lavish compared to those of us employed in the private sector.
The fact is Governor Walker is hated by the unions and the left because he exposed their agenda of getting rich off everyone else. The heads of these public employee unions, and their lobbyists, lawyers and staffers have made handsome sums defending these taxpayer-funded windfalls. Additionally, public employees in states like Wisconsin made, in many cases, over $20,000 more (once benefits and perks are taken into consideration) than the very taxpayers paying for their packages. The egregious wrongness of this opulence has turned the tide against collective bargaining in places like the Badger State, and is a hopeful sign that democratic republics can pull back from the cliff of financial ruin.
Tomorrow will tell the tale, but I’m guardedly optimistic that a victory by Governor Walker will knock collective bargaining back on its heels. It’s high time that government starts serving the people who pay for it, instead of treating taxpayers like servants to the servile state.