Public Sector Unions and the Oppressed

I think public sector unions shouldn’t exist.

It’s not because I think public sector workers are “overpaid” (however you calculate that); some public workers make less than they should, and some make more. As a group (federal, state and local), I believe their compensation (once you consider benefits, job security and pensions) is generally comparable to that of white-collar private sector workers.

I do think that public sector unions do a pretty good job of doing what they’re designed to do: that is, they protect the interests of all of the government workers.

The thing is, government doesn’t exist to benefit the workers. Government exists to improve society (within the framework of democratic constitutionalism, of course). More specifically, governmental programs and the safety net should be designed to benefit the very least in society.

The protesters who are chanting in solidarity with the governmental workers make me sick. Solidarity doesn’t mean that you rally with (highly visible) middle-class people who happen to work for the government and you can identify with because they look like you or share your values.

Protesters should be rallying against a health care system that privileges those who are employed in by the government or by large firms; they should be rallying against the removal of vouchers that allowed kids to escape from the worst of the Washington DC schools; they should be rallying against cuts in programs that are targeted at services at the poor, as opposed to cuts in pensions. If you know anyone who is at, or close to, the poverty line, then you understand how different their lot is than a middle-manager in a government position.

I mention all these programs to show that support for governmental unions is zero-sum with the cause of justice for the oppressed. Public (and also private) sector unions oppose attempts to remove gold-plated privileges for their health care necessary to finance health care for the uninsured; public sector unions oppose options that would allow children to escape from the very worst inner-city schools; public sector unions force all cuts to governmental programs to be targeted at programs, rather than the benefits of the workers themselves.

This is not to say that removing public sector unions would necessarily ensure that government works for the oppressed-it could just as easily be captured by the wealthy. But removing public sector unions could at least give managers the flexibility to ensure that government programs really are targeted at the oppressed.


About irreparabiletempus

God have mercy on me, a sinner.
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4 Responses to Public Sector Unions and the Oppressed

  1. bobozou says:

    i empathize with those stuck in the cycle of poverty…

    and i empathize for those in the middle class who are getting squeezed by cuts in pensions, wages, etc…

    i dont empathize with those who spend millions to buy politicians so that they can pay less taxes, when the country is effectively broke, and inflation in basic essential goods is skyrocketing…

    to say that people should rally only for the impoverished or the middle-class is a very false choice, imo

  2. I still think the American middle class is (materially) among the luckiest classes of people ever to exist. So I don’t feel much sympathy for rallying for them when so many are truly suffering. But yes, I’d rather rally for them than for the really rich.

  3. bobozou says:

    fair enough 🙂

    but in that case, even the US lower-class would be probably be part of the ‘luckier’ half of world population 😮

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