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Neither unions nor Democrats are solely to blame for financial woes

Please, if you failed to read Dr. Mark Hendrickson’s article of the week past, go back and read it. Dr. Hendrickson has a few themes which I would like to discuss.

1. The nation is in a financial crisis because public unions have held government and the people hostage to lavish pay and benefits packages.

2. These lavish packages were made possible by the mandatory appropriation of union members’ dues, which then go to Democrats who turn around and grant huge remunerations to the favored unions.

3. Governor Walker’s public battle to strip the unions of their bargaining power is the battle which must be won if we are to avoid economic and political collapse.

Unlike almost all of his quotidian conservative colleagues, Dr. Hendrickson did not denigrate the teaching profession, which might have had something to do with his being sort of a teacher. However, a good crisis needs a great scapegoat so Dr. Hendrickson merely transferred his hatred from teacher to collective teacher.

None of us can doubt the nation’s finances are not what we would like. The difficulty with Dr. Hendrickson’s surface assessment is the fact that it is a bald-faced lie. If there is a “crisis,” it was not generated overnight and it was not produced by Democrats alone.

The meat of Dr. Hendrickson’s tome is the idea that public unions bribe Democrats with huge amounts of money who turn around and give enormous pay and benefit packages to the union members.

You will notice that he provides no data whatsoever to justify this accusation. I suppose the conundrum for the good professor might be in facing the truth: that the alleged overly generous packages were granted by whatever party happened to be in power. Curiously, the state where the battle now proceeds is the best example of this political seesaw.

Wisconsin is a state where Democrats are in one minute and Republicans the next. (Democrats took over the state legislature, senate and governorship in 2008 for the first time in 20 years and lost it all in 2010.)

And you don’t have to concentrate on only Wisconsin to find the culpability of both parties in making unfunded promises to public employees. My native state of Connecticut had a Republican governor with real power from 1995-2011, yet that state faces the same difficulties with unfunded pension promises and budget shortfalls.

Dr. Hendrickson goes on to assure us this is not “union busting.” He proposes that teachers may voluntarily contribute to these public employee unions ... after essentially all of their ability to bargain for anything is stripped away. This is very much akin to being able to buy a car but not the gasoline: to what purpose?

Now here is the rub and something most conservatives can understand. Dr. Hendrickson is not a stupid man. Further as an academician and with the title Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy — Greek meaning: “lover of wisdom”) he ought to care about processes which lead to conclusions.

Instead he apparently thinks the people who want to believe this drivel can be fed any manure, any outlandish unproven assertion and they won’t even ask the question: Well, hold on.

If we are in a crisis and this crisis was caused by overly generous pay and benefit packages to public employees, and those packages are a result of union gifts to Democrats who turn around and give out big pay packages, then logically we should not find such things where Republicans have or have had significant political power.

To steal from a recent New York Times article: It isn’t that public employees are so grossly overpaid because in every major study conducted over the past several years they are either modestly overpaid or modestly underpaid. It is how they are paid.

Politicians negotiate delayed compensation because they wish to spend their budgets on sexier populist items. We elect these politicians because we want it all our own way ... great schools, great teachers, great fire and police protection and ... low taxes.

Dr. Hendrickson is doing a Newt on us. He’s a smart guy who thinks we’re all stupid. Don’t fall for it.

Timothy J. Parker

Peachtree City, Ga.



Mike King's picture

"The meat of Dr. Hendrickson’s tome is the idea that public unions bribe Democrats with huge amounts of money who turn around and give enormous pay and benefit packages to the union members."

Mr Parker are you in denial that better than 90% of union contributions go to Democrats?

That said, you are correct in that unions are not the sole culprit for the financial crisis (yes it is real) , but the responsibility lies with all Americans who have tolerated mediocre governance for far too long. Simply stated, unions are merely the culprit du jour.

This mess has been brewing for decades, and federal, state and local governments have kicked the can further down the road only to find that that can requires heavy equipment now to move it. The problem is certainly not insurmountable, but will require the sacrifice of all of us to remedy.

Who, other than a politician, would argue against a ten or even a fifteen percent reduction in the budgets of the three layers of government across the board? Add to that a one to five percent increase in individual income tax solely for debt reduction, and within ten years our grandkids likely will be able to enter this world debt free.

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