Monday, February 28, 2011

An arrogant AFSCME member walks into a bar...

A Facebook "friend" posted the following today, which I believe she quoted from somewhere else:
"A unionized public employee, a teabagger, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the teabagger and says, "Look out for that union guy -- he wants a piece of your cookie."
Cute, huh?

Thing is... as I pointed out to her, the "CEO" in this stupid narrative is the American taxpayer, and the unionized public employee already has all the cookies!

It's at times like these that I wonder why I'm friends with some people at all.

As a libertarian, life can be pretty miserable from time to time. There just aren't enough of us... So if I want people who are remotely sane on foreign policy or issues like the drug war (occasionally) and decent treatment of my gay friends, I have to hang out with/interact with mostly "liberals". If I want to interact with people who aren't utterly retarded on economics, I have to interact with mostly "conservatives".

The problem is, trying to explain basic principles of liberty & economics to most liberals is positively rage-inducing, while trying to explain to most conservatives that the Muslims & the gays aren't going to rape them in their sleep while facing Mecca - or more recently that the Chinese aren't going to land their version of a Marine Corps at Monterrey Beach - is equally mind-numbing.

But honestly... How utterly confused and reality-warped do you have to be to think that the "joke" told above reflects some valid insight about the current issues?

For godsake... We're talking about the operations of government!

This means: There is no "CEO". There is no voluntary private investment. There is no "Board of Directors". There is no common stock, no IPO, no contracts of any kind made with the people funding the operation.

There are taxpayers.

Taxpayers have no choice but to pay the salaries of public employees. Well, no... The do have a choice. Their choices are:
  1. Pay up at whatever rates are demanded of them - and either tolerate it, or wait 2-4 years and hopefully elect some new jerk who will demand less.
  2. Don't pay up, and get hounded by the IRS and eventually get thrown in jail... and it should always be noted that if a person refuses to go to jail, or refuses to cooperate with an arrest made by the police - they die.
Awesome choices right? 

Pay up as demanded - or (in the end) get kidnapped & placed behind bars or get shot by a cop in the act of resisting said kidnapping.

Government is funded by force, and it operates by force.

For some reason, statists of all stripes seem incapable of understanding this basic fact, or at least, incapable of recognizing the appropriate conclusions that one could draw from it. For example - public sector unions aren't bargaining with "CEO"s, they're bargaining with politicians. Politicians have more incentive in the vast majority of cases to give in their demands, no matter how unreasonable or burdensome, than they do rejecting them - and taxpayers, in many cases, have little to no choice but to acquiesce.

As I said in my video a month ago, if the Police go on strike and you need help immediately... 911 is down... Who are you going to call??

Many public sector workers operate as the employees and leaders of a monopoly. 

There are no legal alternatives to police services, so there's no place to turn when a public sector union goes on strike. Even in the cases (like schools) where there are a few legally allowed alternatives, public spending has so thoroughly crowded out any form of private investment & reduces jobs [pdf] that it might as well be a full-on monopoly in most cities.

So take a second and grasp the basic point here: If you're a normal taxpayer in most states, public sector workers own your ass.

And the rest of the facts bear this out as directly & obviously as it's possible to get in economics... 

This last point has led to "rubber rooms" in some states for teachers deemed unfit for interacting with children - but who the districts are not legally allowed to let go thanks to union agreements. These "teachers" continue to get paid full salaries & benefits while doing literally nothing in service of the public. Even worse, it's led to an endless number of cases where corrupt, violent and otherwise unfit police officers continue to collect paychecks and carry guns & badges - even after they unlawfully kill innocent people.

Thanks, public sector unions!

It is entirely infuriating that so many liberals/progressives/Democrats, etc., keep trying to pretend that these people are somehow the "underdog" fighting against rich tycoons 

Newsflash, friends: They aren't. 

They're fighting against ordinary taxpayers who have almost all taken massive pay cuts, and seen their 401k and other retirement plans go right down the drain in the last 3-4 years. Unlike many public sector pensions, there are no magic guarantees to be paid out a fixed amount each year in pension benefits for private workers regardless of how their investments do. When their investments tank, that money goes away... and that is precisely as it should be! Guaranteeing a defined benefit payment 30 years down the road with no knowledge of the success or failure of your investment strategy is pure insanity.

The only reason the public sector gets away with that crap is because they can be relatively certain that 30 years down the road, the government will still be in the business of forcibly parting productive people with some portion of their paychecks.

And I've heard a lot of astoundingly idiotic arguments lately along the lines of: "Well yeah, working in the private sector sucks, why do you want to drag public employees down to that level??"

Again... Putting aside that such statements have invariably come from people who will, in other parts of the same discussion no less, deny that public workers are better off than private counterparts... This ignores the most obvious reality that public sector workers are paid from taxes (both current & future) which come from people who do work in the private sector.

This really isn't brain surgery...

Not only that, but the massive explosion in government spending & employment over the past 10 years especially is a huge contributing factor to why people in the private sector are struggling so much now, as the growth of government invariably hurts prosperity by taking money out of people's potential savings and investments, and directing it towards state-selected consumption.

And yet... a sizable subset of Americans are going to read the joke above and think it's a good point.

But it isn't. It's remarkably arrogant, shortsighted & stupid. As shortsighted & stupid as this:
"To those who oppose us in the private sector I say keep your noses out of our fight. You entered the union-less, greedy, power hungry world of the private sector of your own accord, you where all willing to stab each other in the back for promotions and money. now things have gone sour well that is your fight with your bosses we are fighting ours. Grow a set of balls and fight or shut up."
That's from the group, "Public Sector Workers Against Pay Cuts" on Facebook.

Keep our noses out of "their" fight? Hey jagweeds, it's the private sector worker who's paying your salaries! In spite of what the utter moron Rick Ungar wrote the other day, the taxpayer bears the burden for all public expenses. This is civics 101.

It's not just taxes today, either... Because so much of government expenditures are unfunded, it's not only the current taxpayer on the hook, but all future taxpayers as well! And, for that matter, it's not just direct taxes that cover these obligations, but - because of the ineptitude of the government and its/the Federal Reserve's power to print money - it's also inflation.

A few points from Thomas Jefferson:
""[With the decline of society] begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia [war of all against all], which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:40"
...and of course:
"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."
As I said a couple weeks back, the protests in Wisconsin aren't some worker's revolt against unfair wages or against a tyrannical government - they're the cries of greedy infants who demand more and more, in spite of the fact that they already have better pay & benefits than anyone else in the country as a whole.

They have spent about 30 years building up this myth of the public sector worker as the under-appreciated, underpaid, noble "servant". But let's try being honest, shall we? Whatever their wages were in the 1950s & 60s, they are the masters now.

The taxpayer in America is on the hook for tens, if not hundreds of trillions (that's 1,000,000,000,000s!!) of dollars in promises that state & Federal governments simply aren't capable of keeping. 

Oh, Jim Borgman... Isn't it great
to see how much better off
we are now since you gave us
that fine warning?
People like my friend don't want to bother addressing this reality though. Who cares about the looming public employee pension crisis which is going to bankrupt a few dozen states at least? Who cares that the National Debt is almost on par with our annual GDP (Debt as of this post: $14.193 Trillion/US GDP as of this post: $14.256 Trillion = 99.56%)? Who cares that in a couple years interest payments alone on that debt won't be manageable at all?

Who cares about any of this stuff as long as the blind partisan idiocy can play itself out in the prescribed way?

Unions are good all the time, public workers deserve more & bigger salaries regardless of the taxpayers' ability to afford it, much less the workers actual purpose/utility, and greedy people are taxpayers who might want to keep more of their own money - whereas "non-greedy" people are in government, who want to take other people's money from them and spend it on the things they want instead.

And in lieu of any facts or coherently stated arguments, instead of any sound reasoning at all in fact... for some people - a bad joke, apparently, is enough.

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