“The Road to Fiefdom”

In a post titled “The Road to Fiefdom,” Paul Musgrave (referring to this article at City Journal) has broadened some specific observations regarding NY City politics into the national scope. As such, I’d venture that his remarks can be just as aptly applied to our own little Blue State.

The article focuses largely on the influence within Blue metro regions of public-sector employees, and the unions to which they belong. Strikingly, this power is no longer concentrated within the unions; many former public employees have now become elected offficials . . .

The growing, or at least persistent, power of municipal governments has the effect of turning naturally Blue cities even more azure. Most private-sector employees in New York City backed Mike Bloomberg; most public employees voted for Democrat Mark Green. Bloomberg’s anti-tax, anti-spending campaign was a direct threat to the jobs of many city workers, who feared having to find new ways of earning their living. Because their jobs are on the line in every election, government workers are especially mobilized in politics: Although they account for only a third of the workforce in New York, Malanga notes, public sector employees represented 37 percent of the electorate in 2001.

Not only local politics but national politics are affected by this shift in composition. Because government workers are reliably Democratic, and because Democrats need to maintain their metro base even as they woo suburban voters with promises of middle-class subsidies, the municipal and government workers’ unions are big players in the national Democratic movement. This is a predictable, if unconscious, response to the unions’ power at the local level. The natural result of overregulation and business-hostile bureaucracy is economic weakening within cities as firms flee to the suburbs and friendlier areas. The unions have turned their cities and school systems into private fiefs. Now, to preserve their power and their members’ paychecks, then, public sector unions have to try to extend their reach beyond municipal boundaries.

For generations, the Democratic party was the party of private-sector unions. Now that the trades union movement in the States has been broken, the donkey has a new rider. If Republicans want to ensure better government and preserve their political predominance, weakening these public sector unions has to be high on our agenda. (via Instapundit)

It is safe to say that these observations seem especially pertinent to Rhode Island.

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19 years ago

Also, what’s left of the private sector labor movement is dominated by the health care industry. Government pays a bigger and bigger share of health care costs, and, in reality, it is the government that negotiates with health care unions in the nursing home industry, which has some of the worst jobs in the world (how would you like to spend your days wiping the arses of incontinent raving Alzheimer’s patients?). Medicaid is now a bigger part of state budgets than education. Long term care accounts of 2/3 of Medicaid spending. If 1199 threatens a strike, thousands of frail elderly in nursing homes are going to suffer. The only thing to do is settle. Result is Medicaid has to cut benefits to children. States have to raise taxes or cut other spending on other public services. MSM does not cover this at all.

The View From 1776
19 years ago

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