When liberals bring up the topics of corruption and greed it's usually to castigate corporations, banks, "Wall Street" and the like. Private concerns are always targeted. Off limits is corruption in the public sector (unless Republicans are involved), or, perish the thought, corruption involving unions. The left certainly showed no concern over the fact that Andy Stern, the former head of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), was the White House's most frequent guest last year with 22 visits. Imagine the outrage if the CEO of Halliburton had visited the Bush White House 22 times in one year.
A prevelant circumstance today for many state and local governments is that contracts are negotiated by (overwhelmingly Democratic) politicians whose campaigns have been heavily funded by unions. Needless to say it's in these officials best interests to provide generous benefits to their donors at their constituents expense. In a WSJ op-ed (5/21), Mortimer Zuckerman examines the pernicious effects of government corrupted by union payoffs.
What we suffer is a ruinously expensive collaboration between elected officials and unionized state and local workers, purchased with taxpayer money.
Zuckerman writes that this collaboration is bankrupting state and local governments, most notably in California, New York and New Jersey. It's also driving private firms from those states and causing disproportionately high unemployment.
It is galling for private-sector workers to see so many public-sector workers thriving because of the power their unions exercise. Take California. Investigative journalist Steve Malanga points out in the City Journal that California's schoolteachers are the nation's highest paid; its prison guards can make six-figure salaries; many state workers retire at 55 with pensions that are higher than the base pay they got most of their working lives.
All this when California endures an unemployment rate steeper than the nation's. It will get worse. There's an exodus of firms that want to escape California's high taxes, stifling regulations, and recurring budget crises.
...City government was developed to serve its citizens. Today the citizenry is working in large part to serve the government.
Zuckerman points out that more than one third of the "stimulus" package was directed toward support of public service employees. Mr. Stern's visits bearing fruit.
Update - 5/24
A letter to the editor in today's WSJ:
Ms. (Randi) Weingarten is president of the AFT and most of its members are government employees with tenure and job security. They have an employer-provided pension plan. They have employer-provided benefits. They get several vacations and summers off.
My wife and I are both self-employed. We are not members of a union. We have no tenure and no job security. We have no employer-provided pension plan. We have no employer-provided benefits. We can't afford to turn down whatever work we may find in order to take a vacation.
I'm not belittling teachers or the work they do. But it is a bit difficult for me to watch folks who are much better off than I am asking for $23 billion more than they already have, especially when that money comes from my (rising) taxes.
Robert Allan Schwartz