Unions and state governments

Some random thoughts as we watch the battles play out between public unions and government officials…

  • Why do so many people look upon policemen, firemen, and public school teachers as sacrosanct? To use the latter example, public schools are an incredibly inefficient use of resources. If someone says “we can’t put a price on a good eduction,” to that I say yes, we can. We have to. We do it with everything in our lives because scarcity is a fact of life.
  • Teachers sometimes tell us that they have a masters degree, as if that’s a reason why they should be paid at above-market rates. From an economic standpoint, you are worth what someone is willing to pay you. In a free market, most teachers would be making less money. Why? Because there is always the option to learn at home, to form cooperative education groups with other parents, to use digital learning methods, etc. Teachers would have to compete like everyone else. That’s a world teachers want to avoid, thus the desire to maintain coercive collective bargaining laws.
  • In the end, the unions are going to lose (and it can’t come soon enough). Maybe not this year, but the fact is that state deficits are out of control. The pensions that past politicians agreed to (because promises of future payouts were easy to make way back when) are unaffordable. Unions can recall hard-headed governors, but states are still going to default on much of these debts. That’s economic reality.
  • Does anyone else find it annoying that public workers think that private workers owe them an above-average living? Many of us in the private sector have seen declining living standards over the past 10 years.
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