Bill Murchison
Government unions, what else? -- trying in Wisconsin to give their Republican governor, Scott Walker, the bum's rush from office. There's a fitness, a propriety, in the match-up of reformer (Walker) and encrusted power machine (the Wisconsin public employee unions).

I've two reasons for saying so. By the way, I write shortly in advance of the vote on retaining Walker in office -- midway through his term -- or heaving him out the window -- obedient to the unions' summons to punish the guy for muddying their landscaped terrain.

Reason 1: In spite of what surely must be the moral excellence of numerous public employee union members in Wisconsin, the state no longer can afford the unions at present pay scales. When Walker became governor after the 2010 elections, he found the state facing a short-term deficit of $137 billion, with a $3.6 billion gap to be closed by 2013. Which couldn't have been the unions' fault entirely. However, the taxpayers were funding 94.2 percent of state workers' pension costs and 88.4 percent of their health care premiums, and government wages were high in relation to private sector pay -- the consequence of collective bargaining.

At Walker's behest, the Wisconsin's newly Republicanized legislature took away collective bargaining privileges for state workers (save, for political reasons, policemen and firemen) and stopped mandatory dues collection.

Mandatory dues collection? Hold it right there. The state deducted dues from state workers' paychecks and gave the proceeds to the relevant unions? Would we not call this taxation without representation, never mind union protestations that it was all for the workers' good? Among the marks of moral collapse is extortion for purposes contrived by the extortionist. Since mandatory deductions ceased in Wisconsin, public employee union membership has fallen by about two-thirds. This is proof of what happens when the gun at the robbery victim's temple falls suddenly to the floor.

Reason 2 -- and the bigger of the two reasons for viewing the Wisconsin showdown as meet, right and badly overdue: worker power fortified by lawmaker power in government overwhelms. What is government, to begin with, but a power machine? It's legitimate in terms of certain basic functions, but you'd better keep your eye on something that never stops growing.


Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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