Ideally, politicians are supposed to act in the public interest, prevent wasteful spending, provide the most efficient public services, and keep taxes low. Yet that's often not the case. Too many politicians know the cost of overpaying union workers is spread among many taxpayers who are unlikely to notice the additional burden. Most taxpayers don’t pay attention when politicians give government workers another ten percent pay hike or increase pension benefits (particular since that bill that will be passed on to future taxpayers). But the unions certainly notice and are very, very grateful to politicians generous with taxpayer money.
And generous they are. When the additional benefits are taken into account, the average public employee in Wisconsin makes about ten percent more than a similar private sector worker. Policymakers have been so generous that, across the country, public employee pension funds are underfunded by a staggering $3 trillion. For years, politicians have been promising more and more generous benefits and not worrying about how the next generation of taxpayers will cover those costs.
Any good Mom could tell you that this process is inherently unfair: It's Johnny and Janey making a deal to divide up Jimmy's Halloween candy, while Jimmy isn't even in the room.
But it gets worse. These politicians also agree to collect dues for the government worker unions, knowing that doing so increases union power, and that those unions will give a portion of those dues back to support those politicians’ re-election campaigns. So it's not only the taxpayers who are left out of the equation, but even rank-and-file workers whose dues are forcibly taken and passed on to politicians who they may not even support.
Union bosses spend a lot of money (again, collected by the politicians that they help elected) to convince the public that they are representing the little guy. But when it comes to government-worker unions, that's a myth. These unions are the politically powerful, and they collude with the elected officials to fleece the true little guy: the taxpayers who have to pay the bill.
Wisconsin is starting to correct this inherently unfair relationship. The rest of the country should follow its lead.
Bernie Sanders and Robert Reich Are Confused by Economics. And Government. And Reality | Seton Motley