Thursday, June 7, 2012

Public employee pension reform is coming--lead or lose

A clue to Wisconsin Tea Party Governor Walker's defeat of the public employee union effort to unseat him may be found in the overwhelming passage of a public employee pension reform measure yesterday in the liberal Silicon Valley heart of the liberal SF Bay Area in liberal California.

And it was no small burg--it was San Jose, with a population of about a million. This city will vote to re-elect President Obama by a substantial majority this November. The measure wasn't promoted by a tidal wave of billionaires' attack ads like the campaign that support Walker. But just as in Wisconsin, public employee unions marshaled all their forces and get out the vote manpower in their effort to defeat this measure.

So here we can see what happens today even without the advantages of the Republican Ministry of Propaganda. And what happened was that an aggressive public employee pension reform measure passed in a landslide.

If this is what happened in the biggest Silicon Valley city, it's a bellwether for the country--even in Democratic redoubts.

This creates a dilemma for both the public employee unions and the Democratic Party. The latter's chief funding support is the former. You can talk about Hollywood money all you want, but a few millionaire actors' generosity amounts to a garden hose against the forest fire of billionaires' money fueling the Ministry of Propaganda's assaults.

So as long as the public unions demand that the Democratic Party support their efforts to hang onto every last cent they've got, they damage both their cause and that of the Democratic Party; and as long as the Democratic Party complies with the unions' demands for unquestioning support, independents will feel the Democratic Party is against independents and even many Democrats will feel depressed about this issue--hard to get their passion up for it.

The public employee unions need to bend and quit harming the only major party that isn't out to completely destroy them. The Democratic Party needs to tell the public employee unions it's time for damage control, not taking a knife to a gunfights.

No one likes taking bitter medicine. This leads to denialism...and then to defeat.

The public employee unions should work at restoring the old social contract between public employee unions and their employers--us: less money, more security compared to their private sector counterparts. Most people see that as fair. Democrats could get behind such an effort. And it would thwart Republican efforts to portray public employees as greedy cheaters (except for the police, prison guard and firemen's unions that are all heavily Republican, though the public is very unhappy with their gaming the system as well).

Right now public employees are being laid off all over the country. This is to some extent the consequence of their quest for private sector compensation--they've emptied state coffers and lost the respect of the public at large. And they've unintentionally substantiated the Republicans' effort to portray all government as all bad all the time (despite their being the government in a majority of America's territory).

Dudes, take the medicine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Can't tell you how pleased I am with this article... wasn't sure you still had it in ya... you know, the principles of centrism, however strategically and pragmatically motivated they may appear.

Some of my faith has been restored in the venerable Ehkzu Artzu.

Thank God for dedicated public servants... thank the Devil when that honorable service morphs into corrupt and avaricious entitlement.

For far too long ridiculously corrupt public employee pension plans have been negotiated and ratified by ridiculously corrupt lifelong public employees who themselves enjoy ridiculously corrupt public employee pension plans. I think they call that 'circular corruption'.

It is only a matter of time before that house of cards comes down. The next step is for the various states to declare bankruptcy, void those nutty contracts, including police and fire, and move forward with reasonable and common sense fiscal policies.