Pat Buchanan

The curtailment of collective bargaining is the issue on which Walker appeared to be on the weakest ground, as school kids are taught that collective bargaining is a sacrosanct right.

Yet here, too, the governor has a compelling argument.

When union leaders put piles of cash into political campaigns, and union bosses then sit down to bargain with the people they have just put into office, who represents the public?

Is there not an inherent conflict of interest when unions literally purchase with campaign contributions the election of officials with whom they are to negotiate the new contracts for their members?

There are other reasons public-employee unions are losing public support. The pay and benefits of federal employees are twice that of the average private-sector worker, while the pay and benefits of state employees are half again as high. And government workers enjoy a job security few private-sector workers ever know.

Unionized government workers are seen by almost no one as victims. Yet their numbers are huge.

Where there were twice as many Americans working in manufacturing as in government in 1960, today the reverse is true. We have 22 million workers in government and 11 million in manufacturing.

This is an immense and costly army for taxpayers to sustain.

Even Democrats, though they howl that we must milk the rich more, are starting to concede that the government sector, now at a peacetime record 37 percent of the gross domestic product, must be pared back.

The salad days of the government employee are coming to an end, as they have already in Greece, Italy and Spain.

As Europe went farther down that "road to socialism" than did we, the pain there will be greater. But it is coming here, too.

Already, states and cities have begun cutting their labor force. And the states that were most indulgent in providing pay and benefits their taxpayers could not afford are the states being hit hardest, like Barack Obama's Illinois and Jerry Brown's California.

The anger and accusations of union leaders, directed at Gov. Walker, testify to their shocked awareness of the new political realities.

And Obama's conspicuous absence from the battlefield -- he sent a tweet and did a flyover -- testifies to his recognition that while government unions may be his loyal political allies, they are also an albatross hanging around his neck this November.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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