Posted by: mutantpoodle | February 23, 2011

Oh, jeebus

Here is Wil Wilkinson (via Sullivan):

…we must go out of our way to acknowledge and guard against the abuses of fiscal democracy.

It is in the context of these concerns that we must consider the function of public-sector unions. If they do anything at all, it is to protect their members’ claims on future government revenue from democratic discretion—to limit the power of the elected representatives of the democratic public to set the terms on which union-members will receive transfers from taxpayers. That these transfers come to workers in the form of compensation for services rendered the government seems to confuse a lot people. This is, I think, why people on both sides of the debate are distracted by the question of whether government workers are or are not “overpaid”. To my mind, the real question is whether government workers should be granted special legal powers that (a) are unavailable to other groups whose welfare also turns on transfers from the treasury, or on the size of compulsory transfers from their bank accounts to the treasury, and (b) limit democratic sovereignty over the distribution of the burdens and benefits of the system of public finance.

There are thousands of interest groups that have de facto “powers…unavailable to other groups whose welfare also turns on transfers from the treasury.” Halliburton, Boeing, Rockwell, General Electric, the Koch Brothers….do I need to continue?

If you want to argue that public unions distort the way elected democracies dole out money, then you need to address the much larger way in which large corporate interests and very rich people distort that process for their own ends.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Amussen, Ryan Mann. Ryan Mann said: RT @JohnAmussen: RT @MutantPoodle: People forget that the big distortions in government aren't caused by unions. […]

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