The Wisconsin Question - Who Reigns Supreme: The Voters Or The Unions?

WSJ columnist John Fund asks the most important question about the budget battle going on in Wisconsin: Who's in charge of our political system – Voters or unions?

To hear the unions tell it, the rest of us should shut the hell up and fork over our hard earned dollars to fund their unsustainable pensions and benefits.

Myron Lieberman, a former Minnesota public school teacher who became a contract negotiator for the American Federation of Teachers, says that since the 1960s collective bargaining has so "greatly increased the political influence of unions" that they block the sorts of necessary change that other elements of society have had to accept.

The labor laws that Wisconsin unions are so bitterly defending were popular during an era of industrialization and centralization. But the labor organizations they protect have become much less popular, as the declining membership of many private-sector unions attests. Moreover, it's become abundantly clear that too many government workers enjoy wages, benefits and pensions that are out of line with the rest of the economy.

Again, it's the unions demanding the rest of us give more when there is nothing more to give. The voters are not an bottomless ATM machine for the legislature to tap whenever they need more money to reward their union cronies.

Fund's piece is telling if for no other reason than it's generated more than 700 comments (when this was written), a very large majority of which are not supporting the public sector unions. If nothing else they delve deeper into the confrontation taking place in Madison, tearing apart one union claim after another and showing them for the prevarications they are.

Probably one of the more cogent observations made compares private sector unions with public sector unions, showing how private sector unions know they can only push so far before they cripple the very companies they work for, forcing them to shut down or relocate because they can no longer compete. Public sector unions have no such self-limiting mechanism because there is no competition, no immediate consequences if costs are too high...until now.

The voters of Wisconsin elected Scott Walker to trim the bloated budget because they have grown tired of the profligate spending by the state and aren't willing or able to give another penny to the state to fund something that does nothing more than take ever increasing amounts of their hard earned money from them. The Democrats and their union masters..err..sponsors...ehh...contributors don't see it that way and figure they can safely ignore the will of the people as they have for decades.

They're wrong.