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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Right-to-Work and the economy

Breitbart had this link up yesterday, "Big Labor Bosses Demonstrate Why Right-to-Work is Necessary." Can I just say YES!  The union powers that be sure like to 'shame' everyone else into either joining them or giving union workers more 'rights' or 'benefits' than the average working person. Right-to-work can and will go a long way to reducing deficits on local and state levels (federal, if we ever achieve that level of cooperation) and reducing the disparity between union and non-union workers. No one should feel forced to join a union, or obligated. If they choose to, that's fine. I remain strongly opposed to public sector unions.

Speaking of reducing deficits, The Economic Collapse Blog has an awesome article up. You can always count on this blog for accurate and well-explained economic information. Unlike the news media.

But back to unions. This article below is my response to the Wisconsin battle as it was happening, as published in my private blog on March 4, 2011.
Collective Bargaining Rights versus Solvency?
warning: full of rhetorical and philisophical questions. I'm trying to make sense of the current political atmostphere.
How is this even a question? I'm confused. For all the tizzy that Wisconsin and Indiana lawmakers (whining in Illinois, a state in even more financial trouble than theirs) are in about giving up collective bargaining 'rights,' you'd think it was actually in the Constitution. But it's not! They didn't even exist more than 50 years ago. Most states never have allowed collective bargaining, and those are the states that are fiscally solvent. Why do some states allow them? My own understanding is that unions lend their weight and donations to political causes (is that legal?), which means that blue states want collective bargaining. What I can't figure out is why collective bargaining was ever allowed in the first place: it seems to weight the vote of certain citizens above that of other citizens. How is that constitutional? And in the case of public sector unions, it is the average citizen who is paying for other citizens to have benefits and salaries and work hours on average far better than their own! That smacks of unsustainability to me. And injustice. No wonder so the citizens of these states have voted in new leadership.

I wonder if Illinois would be attempting this discussion too, supposing that Quinn, who narrowly 'won,' hadn't cheated the military out of their votes (he sent them ballots way too late, with no penalty), and hadn't allowed convicted felons now in prison to vote. Which is against the law, in case you didn't know. But did anyone call him on it? Not a chance. Chicago and Chicagoans run the state. Chicago is too true-blue to consider blowing whistles. It surprises me to some extent that everyone outside of Chicago hasn't fled the state to avoid the ridiculous laws and taxes here. Everyone knows Chicago politics and politicians are corrupt. It's a given. What's sad is that it's accepted and even expected.

In Chicago, there are so many unions with so many rules that many companies have fled the city or the state. For just one example, many large conferences no longer convene in Chicago because of the prohibitive cost of putting up a conference in McCormick Place. Companies are required to have a certain Chicago union unload and load their trucks, rather than members of their own companies, which would cost half as much. It seems like there are unions with great salaries and benefits in every aspect of city life: education, transportation, construction, trash collection, fire, police, nurses, health... On the other hand, all city workers are required to live within city limits so as to not avoid the taxes.

There are so many public services and entitlement programs here. To support them, the sales tax here in Chicago is 10.25% (7.25% or so for the rest of Illinois), with 2.25% on grocery items. That is why we did NOT buy our minivan here - let's say we pay $20,000 for a van, the tax on it would be an additional $2,050. The state income tax was just raised 66% for the middle class. The price per gallon of gasoline is nearly 50 cents higher in the city than out of it because of whatever taxes are slapped on it. The property tax ranges from 6 to 16% in Chicago. Can you imagine? Suppose your mortgage was a mere $120k, and your property tax was 10%. That's 12,000 a year on top of your mortgage, or an entire $1,000 each month just for property taxes. To start up a business, it costs some thousands in fees, while in Indiana across the border it's about $200 (and less red tape) if I remember correctly. How has this sort of tax burden lasted this long? Good question. Very, very good question.

Trivia for the day: doctors are not allowed to unionize. You can imagine why, I hope. Doctors would be jeapordizing lives if they went on strike. But it occurs to me, how is that different for nurses, police, fire, or even educators? If human lives and quality of life are what we value, why do we allow educators to walk out on their students? For police to leave dangerous neighborhoods unguarded and unwatched? Do unions really need to exist anymore? The days of the monopoly barons are over. Do unions really exist solely for the greed and selfishness of their constituents, seeking better pay and hours than their non-union peers? Even stranger, I know in some places (like Wisconsin teachers' union) the unions force every member of the profession to join, which sounds illegal to me. No one should be forced to have to pay dues to support a union which may not support the members' policital or societal views.

My solution (not going to happen, dream on): dissolve all unions and combine overlapping entitlement programs. The states and local governments no longer break the bank. Income taxes probably go down. No citizen pays dues to a union. Everyone receives merit based pay. If one does bad work, one doesn't get work (think of bad teachers being fired or put on probation to get more training!). Most companies would still offer health insurance and retirement plans and hopefully people would exercise financial responsibility by saving towards their own retirements. Business would thrive. More jobs would be created. Our economy recovers! Taxes pour in to the federal government because more people are working and more businesses have more money. Federal deficit goes down! Win, win, win!

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