Getting tired of the blowhards who say “I’m not against unions, just public sector unions”

I’m left first and libertarian second. Why? Quite simply, I consider that combination of priorities to be an under-served market. The opposite set of priorities has enough spokescritters and doesn’t need the addition of my voice to their choir.

I’m also, nominally, an American. In my country the word “libertarian” has been distorted to mean “laissez-faire capitalist,” so maybe instead of saying I’m “a libertarian second” above, I should just call myself an antilibertarian. My reasons for identifying with the older, more authentic idea of what libertarianism is, are rooted not in anti-statism, but in anti-authoritarianism, which is a completely different set of emphases.

With the exception of anarcho-syndicalists, I am very skeptical of people who claim to be simultaneously for (or even not against) the unions and against the public sector. Disingenuous at best. Doesn’t pass the smell test.

I am not bothered by the fact that a democratic electorate offers better job security and bennies to its employees than does their country’s business community, which will not waste any opportunity to lean on the contingent workforce, or better yet, desperately cheap labor in/from the developing world. The public policies of a democracy reflect the people’s values, so of course the public sector ends up being the people’s idea of an “exemplary employer.” I just know someone is now waiting in the wings to roll out the “republic not democracy” canard. There’s a Bircher or two in every issues discussion, it seems. Just stuff it, already.

The current situation is that the private labor market has more or less completely decimated the tacit social contract of post-war America, that gainful employment should be the norm, and the public sector has managed to dodge that bullet, largely, I think, because the voters (due to their basic decency and humanity) don’t want to play the role of managerial hatchet-person. The question isn’t why public employees are over-paid, but why private employees are under-paid.

At the risk of being called a fan of post-war America, please allow me to point out that I’m only pointing out that it had at least (perhaps at most!) one thing right. Think “mend it don’t end it.” Make gainful employment as social norm inclusive for minorities and women, rather than dismissing job security itself as a racist and sexist institution.

That’s all for now.

About n8chz

पृथ्वी की उच्च किराया जिले में उद्यमिता कौशल अभाव
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3 Responses to Getting tired of the blowhards who say “I’m not against unions, just public sector unions”

  1. Lindsay says:

    The question isn’t why public employees are over-paid, but why private employees are under-paid.

    Word. Although, as the daughter of a public-sector employee, I would point out that, compared to people doing the same job, with the same level of education, public employees actually make a little less. My dad could’ve made more money at a private engineering firm, but the government offered better benefits and job security. It’s a tradeoff.

    But that’s irrelevant to the point of your post, which I totally agree with. I have noticed sort of an attitude of, “things are shitty for us here in the private sector, so they ought to be shitty for you in the public sector, too!” rather than “let’s make things less shitty for everyone.”

    When you don’t think “less shitty” is an option anymore, your democratic impulses might well lead you to want to spread the shittiness around some. So I don’t blame the people making this argument (unless, of course, they are politicians or business leaders) so much as I blame whoever it is who convinced them “less shitty” is not an option.

    • n8chz says:

      I’ve heard that professional status jobs tend to pay less in the public sector. This, too, may be a reflection of social norms. Perhaps public opinion wants less distance between the bottom and the top, and even between the bottom and the middle, while the invisible hand (or what we’ve been convinced is the invisible hand?) has a different opinion.

      As for who convinced the masses that “less shitty” is not an option, I don’t know, but how they did it is apparent. Mainly it requires relentless repetition (hence truth) of a handful of memes:

      * Labor is expensive. “The company (or government agency) has made deep cuts in every area except staffing, and that barely put a dent in our solvency issues.” Or, what this mayorship/governorship/presidency needs is someone with a business background—someone who knows the extreme daunting difficulty of making payroll!

      * Economic security is for the weak. “Do we want to be a security society or an opportunity society?” Do we want to be like the fucking French?? Parable of the talents: God hates the risk-averse, and so should you.

      * Channeling Orwell, “public sector bad, private sector good!” “Government corruption” is one word. Never, ever using “corruption” without that particular adjective is part of “message discipline,” etc.

  2. Steven says:

    Brilliant writing and reasoning. I’m impressed…

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