Big Government Employee Unions vs. Taxpayers – What's the Correct Balance?

In The Wall Street Journal this week, the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty writes an important article on government employee unions vs. the taxpayers that views the issue from a moral perspective.  He also offers some principles on how to balance the needs of unions and taxpayers.  Let’s talk more about this now …

As Governor Pawlenty points out, Federal employees on average earn nearly $125,000 in pay and benefits which is about twice the amount of employees in the private sector.  As he indicates, the public employee union members on average earn more, get higher benefits, and have greater job security than their counterparts in private enterprise.  If this is not enough, as the power and coffers of unions grow, public employee unions tend to contribute more and more money to the various liberal politicians that increase government employee union members’ pay and benefits.  In the mid-term elections, unions gave about $91M to liberal politicians.

The irony in all this can be seen, if we view it from a moral perspective.  Unions originated to protect working laborers and their families from economic exploitation.  Today, in sharp contrast, working families need to be protected from high taxes and the excesses of big government, specifically, high spending, high deficits, and high debt, that threaten our long term economic security.  Government union members have gained much.  Now, it’s time to think about the working families that foot the bill, the taxpayers.

What’s the correct balance?  Tim Pawlenty offers three principles to consider.  First, get the government union members’ pay and benefits in line with the private sector.  Why should they be paid double pay and benefits on average?  Second, big government needs to utilize standard accounting methods to accurately understand unfunded liabilities.  Third, big government needs to drop defined-benefit retirement plans for the more realistic defined-contribution plans that industry uses.

Otherwise, we might see many States effectively go bankrupt under the weight of retirement plans that promise more than they can reasonably deliver.

America needs to get its economic house in order.  America needs to realistically and fairly deal with government employee unions.

Choosing the Good Life Blog by Gerard Francis Lameiro, Ph.D.

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