In the wake of the still-not-quite-settled dustup with the public-sector unions in Wisconsin, we are learning that the rules are changing in regards to what is and is not acceptable in political disputes. And we should take very, very careful note of them.
The most important, I think, is the adoption of the principle “the personal is political.” The division between politics and other aspects of one’s life is no longer recognized, and people and groups who dare to get involved on the “wrong” side of a political dispute find that they will be punished for their advocacy.
It seems to have started in California, with the Proposition 8 on gay marriage situation. Those who donated towards opposing gay marriage found themselves targeted, their home addresses and work places publicized, and their businesses boycotted.
Wisconsin took it a step farther, with some of the more prominent public-sector unions targeting businesses that had donated to the governor with letters. The letters informed the businesses that they had a choice: they could publicly declare their support for the unions against the governor, or face a boycott.
And here in New Hampshire, the teacher’s union (NEA-NH) recently took exception to an Op-Ed piece written by Steve, Duprey, a Republican National Committeeman that recommended an end to teacher tenure, as well as an end to collective bargaining by public sector employees.
OK, so that’s the new standard. It’s here, we gotta deal with it. So, what are our options?
The first one — just ignore it — is not feasible. This is a very potent tactic, and it needs to be addressed.
The second one is to cave to it. If the pressure gets too high, if the price of participating in the public process is the loss of one’s livelihood, that’s a hell of a burden. On an individual basis, one cannot blame someone who has to make that choice, and chooses their own economic well-being. Our Founding Fathers pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor,” but that is not something we can demand of every single citizen. There are those who will put their own political beliefs secondary to their family’s needs — and that is something that we have to accept.
That leaves one choice: to fight back.
The first option that comes to mind is to counter-boycott. Imagine if some targeted company were to put up signs that says “we are currently being boycotted by the National Education Association of New Hampshire. In cooperation of that move, we refuse service to any and all public school teachers.” And if other businesses were to post similar signs, saying they are supporting the boycotted business by also denying service to teachers.
The next is to not play their game, but recognize the declaration of war, and fight back. But not on their grounds — that is to give them too great an advantage. No, we need to fight them on our own turf, on places and in ways where we hold the advantage.
In Wisconsin, like in New Hampshire, the Republicans hold sway thanks to the 2010 elections. (Although we still have a Democratic governor).All it would take would be a simple law decertifying any public sector unions that are deemed to have gone too far in their zealous advocacy.
This is the fundamental flaw with public sector unions. The unions have developed a symbiotic relationship with the Democrats — the unions give tons of money taken from their members to the Democrats, the Democrats in turn give the unions tons of money from the taxpayers.
This is where the model breaks down. In the private sector, matters are hashed out between the unions (representing the workers) and management (representing the owners). Both sides have to keep the best interests of whom they represent in mind at all times, because they are answerable to them.
But in the public sector, it’s a bit more complicated. The workers are also owners — but a very small minority. However, through their unions, they have a hugely disproportionate say in hiring the “managers” — the politicians. And they can then insulate the politicians from the logical consequences of giving away too much of the owners’ money. It’s a vicious cycle — the politicians give the public’s money to the union members, who funnel it back to their unions, who then use it to buy more politicians.
But that model goes all pear-shaped when the Democrats (pretty much a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Labor) loses power. Suddenly, the unions are left dealing with new “management” that they not only didn’t hire, but put everything they had into keeping them from being hired. It is no wonder that the new management starts looking at ways to cut costs and preserve the owners’ money — and if that means undoing the work of previous management, so be it.
And if the unions decide they want to play rough — such as these boycotts and gross attempts to intimidate their opponents, like they’re doing in Wisconsin with death threats and mobbing their buses and accosting Republicans whenever they venture out in public, even if it’s just to get a bite to eat —then it’s time for the Republicans to hit back.
There were a lot of illegal actions taken during the Wisconsin siege. The unions were behind that, organizing and planning and encouraging it. Bring on the criminal investigations.
And there is no legal “right” for the public unions to be certified — it was granted by law. And that law can be repealed at any time.
And now seems like a very good time.
At that point, the unions have two choices: they can open negotiations, preserving their certification in exchange for other concessions and pledges. Or they can double down on their threats.
Personally, I’m really pissed off at the unions over how they’ve conducted themselves recently — which is a step up from my prior “generally pissed off” attitude. So I’m hoping they fight back.
‘Cuz this is a fight they won’t win. And I’d really like to see them lose hard.