Thursday, January 21, 2010

Public sector unions & budget crises...a homework assignment

Your faithful, if undisciplined reporter was busy today addressing a variety of petty personal interests, including a gala luncheon at a well known Old Port establishment that floats.  If you need more than one guess as to which place I'm talking about, you probably don't know where Portland is.

Before I left for my "errands," I read a column on "Opinion Journal" from the Wall Street Journal on line presence.  In it, Daniel Henninger details the origins of public sector employee union dominance in government as we know it in this era.  It's entitled "The Fall of the House of Kennedy."

The surprising point to me was this:

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy planted the seeds that grew the modern Democratic Party. That year, JFK signed executive order 10988 allowing the unionization of the federal work force. This changed everything in the American political system. Kennedy's order swung open the door for the inexorable rise of a unionized public work force in many states and cities.

In 1962, depending on the month, I was either a junior or senior in college, and believe me, I didn't even know the word "politics" existed, let alone have any interest in the subject.  I was only beginning to awaken a year later, when a month or so after I met my first wife, we were watching the news of JFK's assassination.

So the fact above caught me entirely by surprise, especially in view of frequent citations in recent years about how JFK was a tax cutter, in diametric opposition to contemporary Democrats.

No matter; I'd like you to read the column.  I hope you will find it as illuminating as I did.

And it will serve as background material for posts in the coming weeks that address budget dilemmas at the state and local level, and how the public sector unions have played into them.  We'll hear from all quarters that costs "are beyond our control," which translates to "unions have us backed into a corner, and we backed into it willingly."

Stay tuned.  And after you read the column, why not post a comment. Doing so will help you build the audience you deserve.


  1. I'm sending a copy of this article to all of the Brunswick School Board members with a short message.

    Let's see if they have the cohonies to stand up for the taxpayers of Brunswick.

  2. Firing Air Traffic Controllers created a temporary inconvenience. Firing other sorts of public employees would be no problem were it called for either for budgetary or performance reasons.

    And the Teachers Unions are an especially troubling case because they go beyond work rules and compensation arrangements to actually defining the end product and service to be performed.

    Baldy just last night announced yet another education initiative which puts the teachers union in Maine right at center stage in defining curriculum. More power in Augusta over the schools in concert with the teachers unions can not be good for Maine.

    You can bet all that you have and will ever have that the China, India and Asia will not hand over their education systems to unions. If unions are allowed to continue to call the shots, America's young people will be passed by the peers in other growing economies.