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Government Unions Harm Upward Mobility

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7/28/2016 3:31:03 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
We all want to help society"s most disadvantaged. Yet there"s a persistent myth in America that today"s labor unions just fight for the little guy, the lunch pail-toting everyman. However true that may have been a generation ago, today"s face of organized labor is drastically different.

Unions of yesteryear were predominantly in the private sector. But since 2009, government union membership surpassed private membership, and their membership looks very different from when it comprised Joe Sixpack and his pals. Government unions, on average, represent skilled, white-collar workers who enjoy generous benefits, sans accountability, courtesy of the hardworking taxpayer.

This has profound implications for the upward mobility and fiscal solvency of future generations. It also presents troubling challenges to democracy and sovereignty at all levels of government.

Today"s government sector workers are generally materially better off and have higher levels of formal education than private sector union members of years past. For example, in 1960, more than 35 percent of all union members had not finished high school and only 2 percent had college degrees. Flash forward to 2013, when 53.6 percent of public sector workers had a bachelor"s, advanced, or professional degree, compared to 34.9 percent of private sector workers, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Blue-collar union guys? Among government employees, think again. A larger share of government workers are employed in "management, professional, and related occupations," some 56.2 percent in 2013. Compare that to just 37.8 percent of private sector workers, CRS also reports. And even at the same education levels, the Congressional Budget Office found that government workers at high school, bachelor and master"s degree levels have higher compensation packages than private sector workers.

More talented workers deserve better pay and perks, certainly. But the problem is that government unions wield power over elected officials and the public through collective bargaining and the threat of strikes. This can cripple government services, from schools to transportation to garbage collection. Such a setup ensures that staffing decisions are based on tenure and connections rather than merit, discouraging innovative, aspiring young public servants and, sadly, too often protecting ineffective teachers at the expense of students from the most disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.
If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand. - Friedman

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. -Friedman

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. - Friedman

Society will never be free until the last Democrat is strangled with the entrails of the last Communist.