Block on the Labor-Social Welfare Crackup
Moderate Party founder Ken Block has been circulating an interesting letter:
I have been waiting for someone to call out Bob Walsh on his comments in the September, 22, 2011 Providence Journal article “Business Coalition Backs R.I. Pension Reform.”
Since no one else has yet taken Mr. Walsh to task, I will now do so.
The article describes how Crossroads RI and Family Services of RI – two prominent providers of social services to the needy – have joined a coalition whose mission is to advocate for thorough pension reform in the upcoming special legislative session in October.
The NEA chief has this to say about about Crossroads’ joining the coalition: “They should think long and hard about who is the bigger supporter of social services – the unions or the Chamber of Commerce. Labor is their ally, not the business community.”
Mr. Walsh’s error in logic is that Crossroads is choosing between ‘Labor’ and ‘Business’. I am fairly certain that Crossroads is looking at the issue as to how the organization can best assure that their funding stream from the State is maintained into the future.
Rhode Island’s pension crisis threatens everything that the State government touches. If Rhode Island’s pension problems are not fixed, an ever growing chunk of tax revenues will go solely to keeping the pension system afloat – to the detriment of funding schools, building roads and yes, funding worthy organizations such as Crossroads RI and Family Services of RI.
It is time for Labor’s union bosses to meaningfully engage in helping to resolve Rhode Island’s pension problem – a problem that these bosses have helped to create. Red herrings like selling off Twin River or trying to frame the pension issue as ‘Labor’ versus ‘Business’ are attempts to distract an easily distractible public from a simple truth: If we do not fix the pension problem, every aspect of Rhode Island’s economy and society will be massively and permanently harmed.
Pension reform is not an us versus them issue. Successful pension reform means a stable and guaranteed pool of retirement monies for pensioners and a kick start to rebuilding Rhode Island’s ailing economy. Failed or incomplete pension reform will keep Rhode Island on our downward spiral into the economic abyss.
Perhaps recent cuts to social-service spending at the state level helped advocates for the less fortunate to see the writing that others of us have long seen on the wall. If businesses cannot operate and productive residents continue to leave, there will be no tax revenue to divvy up against the various groups that survive on government revenue. It may be easier for the government-dependent to pretend that they can survive without a thriving economy, but they can’t, and ultimately, they’ll have to fight over what the government is able to confiscate from the shrinking pool.
The shared interest of public-sector labor and the needy isn’t much deeper than a mutual interest in having the government redistribute money, and the pension crisis threatens to absorb more of it than social services groups can afford. What’s particularly interesting, though, is that the alliances that have formed like fingers around Rhode Island’s throat have created another division: between the members of various groups and their government-class leaders.
The deeper alliance, that is, is between the labor leaders, like Mr.Walsh, and the professional advocates who usually speak for the poor. They represent the core of the left-wing movement, and although a few groups might splinter off, the members who actually suffer by the difficulties of bad governance will have to replace their own leaders before a new paradigm becomes possible.
Mr. Walsh should take note of that fact. Eventually, the teachers who ultimately give him his power will figure out that his interests aren’t the same as theirs, much less of the state in which they live and work.