Let me start off by saying I really don’t blame the public employee union members. I have friends that are in public employee unions. (The union bosses are another story.) Come on, where else can these people go and get the great pay and benefits provided by the taxpayers? I suppose they’re just fighting for what they believe is theirs. That’s what the union bosses tell them. That’s what too many politicians tell them. Who wouldn’t want those great benefits? But there’s a big problem – states and municipalities are broke. The well has run dry. They’re bleeding the taxpayers who foot the bill to death. Those who work in the private sector are waking up and realizing just how monumentally unfair it is to have a privileged class of workers whose benefits far exceed anything most of us can ever expect.
We’re lucky to live in a place that’s at least partially free. Sure, the union bosses will continue to funnel money to Democrats who will do whatever it takes to protect the status quo. Just look at Wisconsin, where Democrats went so far as to flee the state to hold up a vote on union benefits. But we also have a new breed of politician – those who speak the truth and stand up to the unions. It’s really quit refreshing and promising. For the Chinese it’s a different story. They live under the rule of the Communist Party, and the privileged class knows where its bread is buttered.
“Accepting Authoritarianism,” a new book by California State-Long Beach professor Teresa Wright, explains how China‘s prospering capitalist class has paradoxically become the strongest bulwark for the communist state. In general, reform is not appealing to Chinese business leaders because they have been co-opted by the Communist Party. No one gets rich without the tacit approval – if not the very visible helping hand – of the authoritarian government. The state controls resources, property, labor, permits and everything else needed to operate a business, so businessmen have to play ball with Beijing. Contrary to propaganda about the Middle Kingdom being a new laissez-faire Wild West where entrepreneurial gunslingers shoot it out in a competitive marketplace, the bureaucracy picks winners and losers in this centrally controlled economy.
How many of the privileged public employees would accept authoritarianism right now to preserve the status quo? I’ll bet it’s a lot more than you’d think. I would caution them to watch what they wish for. Unions are useful to communists looking to gain power, but it’s all downhill from there.
The biggest irony in all of this is how those of us who are against higher taxation to pay for these unfair benefits are accused of being selfish. I would argue that there’s nothing wrong with looking out for one’s own self interest, so long as one isn’t infringing on the interests of another.
Cross posted from The Lonely Conservative