The Plan to Blame Unions For EverythingS

Why is our economy in the predicament that it's in today? High unemployment, sluggish growth...who's to blame? The unions, of course. The unions are the enemies of the working man. The working class must destroy unions for their own good.

Unions are the perfect scapegoat: an organization that benefits a relatively small number of actual members, which a mass of disgruntled outsiders can be easily convinced to blame for their own problems. (Immigrants are another good scapegoat!) Like the push to convince the public that our national debt is the fault of a few politicians' pet earmarks—expenditures that grab attention easily, but that make up a laughably small portion of the spending we actually need to cut—blaming unions for unemployment is a brilliant stroke of political jujitsu, because it appeals to the very people that would naturally be allies of organized labor: the working class. The New York Times today details the plans from (mostly Republican) governors across the nation to enact new laws that would kneecap public and even private sector unions, targeting both unions' bank accounts and their basic legal rights. For example:

Of all the new governors, John Kasich, Republican of Ohio, appears to be planning the most comprehensive assault against unions. He is proposing to take away the right of 14,000 state-financed child care and home care workers to unionize. He also wants to ban strikes by teachers, much the way some states bar strikes by the police and firefighters.

"If they want to strike, they should be fired," Mr. Kasich said in a speech. "They've got good jobs, they've got high pay, they get good benefits, a great retirement. What are they striking for?"

The funny thing is that the issues that teachers would be striking over would presumably be the ones that Kasich thinks makes their jobs so great: their eroding pay, benefits, and retirement. Except for politicians, who is served by firing a state's teachers en masse like so many Reagan-era air traffic controllers? It's the worst type of political bluster.

Public employees have jobs like everyone else. The right of workers to unionize should be a fundamental one. No one is claiming that unions are perfect; but if we're going to start destroying imperfect things, the statehouse would be a more beneficial place to start than the union hall. It's one thing to discourage firefighters from striking—something that could immediately lead to people's deaths. It's quite another to threaten to fire every teacher in Ohio because they used the means available to them to ask for better working conditions. It's not like they can depend on the good will of John Kasich to not screw them.

Want a perfect demonstration of how this anti-union stance gets packaged into talking points for public dissemination? Look no farther than William McGurn's op-ed in the WSJ today, in which he lays out the argument that public sector unions are responsible for the coming "class war." (In the same way that black people are responsible for playing the "race card," I guess.) Therefore it's up to their private sector union counterparts to undermine them! Dividing and conquering is easy:

By contrast, government unions use their political clout to elect those who set their pay: the politicians. In exchange, these unions are rewarded with contracts whose pension and health-care provisions now threaten many municipalities and states with bankruptcy. In response to the crisis, government unions demand more and higher taxes. Which of course makes people who have money less inclined to look to those states to make the investments that create jobs for, say, iron workers, electricians and construction workers.

Some of these folks are beginning to notice.

Hmm. So: municipalities and states that entered into pension and benefit agreements with their employees, and then, through horrifically poor financial planning combined with the overall collapse of the global economy due to Wall Street's insatiable appetite for handing out subprime loans, found themselves unable to honor those agreements. This means that public sector unions themselves—not the elected officials who fucked up the states' finances—are bad. Therefore, private sector union workers who are natural allies of public sector unions should turn against them, until they are destroyed. This will benefit you, common working man. We promise!

[Photo: AP]