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As Unions Go, So Go the Democrats

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

With all due respect to Pat Buchanan, what no one seems to be discussing in all of this "auto bailout" morass is the fact that what the unions are to the auto industry, the Democrats are to the country.  GM’s, Ford’s and Chrysler’s problems are just a microcosmic version of what the entire country is facing.  This is another case of Republican leadership failing to take the message to the people.   Yes, yes, it’s all over the news that President Bush and Republicans in Congress oppose the auto bailout, just as they (initially) opposed the financial industry bailout.  What we’re not hearing is why.   Yet again, Republicans are positioning themselves to be the “bad guys”;  to take the fall for opposing help to some of America’s stalwart manufacturers, instead of taking the opportunity to show the public the larger picture.  And that is this:  The United States is every bit as much at risk if operated under the same disastrous liberal policies that have brought the American auto makers to the brink of collapse. 


Originally, unions were established to provide a voice for employees who, as a group, could have influence and impact that, individually, none could.  But that ceased to be the case long ago.  Now, unions are powerful instruments of bullying and extortion; organizations whose violent tactics and threats are shrugged off and taken for granted as a cost of doing business.  Their mantra has been a constant harangue of "the owners and producers make too much money" and "we've got to soak them for everything we can get" for decades now.  (And one could argue that workers themselves know this.  Union membership is down from a high of 37% in 1960 to just over 12% last year.  That’s one reason why union leaders and Democrats are pushing for the elimination of secret ballots in union elections – so that union bosses can use the kinds of tactics for which they are infamous to pressure reluctant employees to vote for them.  After all, why use choice when you can use force?)

Many have warned that cushy benefits (GM's $17 mil a year for VIAGRA?) and lavish pensions would cripple the car companies.  And now, they have.  And what is the answer?  Have the federal government bail us out, so that we can continue to spend more than we take in.  Unions lie to their members, assuring them that they will be “taken care of.”  Meanwhile, the very companies upon whom the workers depend for their livelihoods teeter on the abyss.  And when union demands kill the golden goose, where will the workers work?


And so it is for the Democratic Party.  They used to be the party of "the little guy."  Now they are the party of the elite, the wealthiest and/or most powerful groups on earth: the Pravda media, Hollywood, academia, and union bosses.

Just as with the union leadership, Democrats have become a group that does nothing but demonize the most productive members of society - entrepreneurs, innovators, business owners and managers – people upon whom the prosperity and security of this nation depends; individuals whose companies employ the very people Democrats purport to “care” about (and without whose assets the Democrats would have nothing to redistribute).

And, like unions, Democrats hide behind their tattered and long-outdated status as defenders of the disenfranchised to extort more and more money from hardworking Americans who have made sensible, self-sacrificing choices, in order to throw hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars into failed or failing social programs that not only do not alleviate the problems they are intended to solve, but make them worse, by financially rewarding the poor choices that caused them.

And, as was the case with the investment banks holding billions in worthless securities, and the auto companies now facing bankruptcy, our government has been warned that its expenditures are outstripping its income in ways that portend catastrophe.  Just this past summer – well before the financial markets went haywire, a report issued by the United States’ Acting Comptroller General warned that the government is on “an unsustainable long-term fiscal path.”  (For those unfamiliar with the lingo, this is stereotypical accountancy understatement.  A good translation would be, “YOU’RE HEADING FOR COLLAPSE, YOU IDIOTS!”) 


In short, liberals’ favorite “business model” is failing.  Democrats in Congress ignored the warnings about the inflated real estate markets and lending institutions overly dependent upon them.  And then we saw the system collapse.  Automakers ignored the perils of rising gas prices, shrinking demand for the cars they produced, and the insatiable demands of oppressive union contracts.  And now they are broke.

Our government has been warned that we cannot continue to spend – and promise to spend – more than we are taking in.   And yet Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid blather on about the billions in new programs they plan to propose under the new Democratic administration.  On “60 Minutes” this week, our incoming President made the statement that we cannot worry about debt while we are taking care of the economy.  This is like saying we cannot worry about the water while we are taking care of the flood.

What’s left of the Republican leadership – as well as the next generation of conservative leaders – should be taking this opportunity to tell the truth to the American people.  I do not pretend that this is an easy message; it is difficult to tell people that they cannot have everything they want, and that there are limits even to what is seemingly the most inexhaustible source.  There was a time when people thought that multinational corporations could not be soaked dry, or that entire industries could not collapse.  Now we know differently.   It is time we take the same critical eye to our government.  This is a message that MUST be told, Americans WILL understand it, and it is certain that the Democrats won’t say it.  We have seen, firsthand, what happens when we ignore the warnings of fiscal irresponsibility in business and in industry.  Everything has a breaking point.  Even the United States government. 


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