Bill Frezza: Post Wisconsin Recall, Let the Cleanup Begin

An excellent piece by Bill Frezza appears today in Forbes. Frezza, among other things, notes that the main beneficiaries of last night’s result will be the taxpayers who for decades have been forced to provide lavish pensions and other benefits for what has become America’s royal class” Public employee unions. Last night’s election, Frezza argues, represented a necessary turning point. Had the election gone the other way, sooner or later we would have gone the way of Greece and inevitable bankruptcy as the baby boom generation overwhelms the system.

Thankfully, though, sanity prevailed and (hopefully) public employees will no longer feel entitled to an extravagant, risk-free lifestyle funded by those who work in the private sector who are forced to devote an ever increasing proportion of their paychecks so that the pampered PEUs can live in luxury. That’s why the PEUs were so horrified by Walker’s necessary actions. Now PEUs have been put on notice that they will be responsible for their own pensions and benefits just like everyone else, and can no longer force others to assume life’s risks on their behalf. Further, the Democrat Party can no longer count on the corrupt bargain between themselves and the PEUs who fund them.

Public sector unions have reached their high water mark. Let the cleanup begin as the red ink recedes.

Despite a last-minute smear campaign accusing Scott Walker of fathering an illegitimate love child, the governor’s recall election victory sends a clear message that should resonate around the nation: The fiscal cancer devouring state budgets has a cure, and he has found it. The costly defeat for the entrenched union interests that tried to oust Walker in retribution for challenging their power was marked by President Obama’s refusal to lend his weight to the campaign for fear of being stained by defeat. We’ll see how well this strategy of opportunistic detachment serves in the fall as Obama reaches out to unions for support.

This fight is not without precedent. Progressive patron saint Franklin Delano Roosevelt—who more than any other president set our country on a course away from the founding principles of limited government—knew that public sector unions would be the death of the social welfare state he worked so hard to create. Hence, he consistently opposed allowing government employees to unionize. Today, Greece sets the example of what happens when public sector unions gain the upper hand.

In 1959 Wisconsin became the first state to allow collective bargaining by government employees. The projected cost of supporting Baby Boomer union retirees now threatens to bankrupt the state, as it does many others. Scott Walker ran for office promising change. The fiscal medicine he is administering may be bitter, but it looks like it is starting to work.  The state budget has been balanced.  The unemployment rate has been dropping and is now below the national average. Property taxes are down. Fraudulent sick leave policies—which allowed employees to call in sick and then work the next shift for overtime pay—have been ended. The government has stopped forcibly collecting union dues from workers’ paychecks.

Best of all, the myth that union bosses represent their members’ interests has been exposed as a lie. Now that union dues are voluntary, tens of thousands of union members have stopped paying them.  Membership in the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) has dropped by half. Membership in the state’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is down by over a third. Given unions’ influential role in most elections, the national implications of this trend are staggering.

To be sure, this fight’s not over, and the temptation to ignore fiscal and demographic reality is still high in some areas (see California and Illinois, for example). But there can be no doubt that last night’s victory is the first time the issue of “public employee royalty” has been put before voters, and the result was most encouraging. This is not “the end of democracy”, as the whining moron in the video below hilariously laments, but rather the beginning of the end of the PEU aristocracy. Read Frezza’s entire piece here.

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