-By Warner Todd Huston
A few weeks ago I wrote that unions have driven every state budget into a hole from which it isn’t likely the states can easily dig themselves out. I did not at that time reference the Pew report on the pensions mess and I want to revisit it here.
On April 5, I said, “The worst mess that states are in is because government unions have been handed luxurious and unsustainable pensions and healthcare plans by those very Democrat politicians that unions have paid off to do so. Again all at the expense of the suffering taxpayers.” The Pew report shores this up thoroughly. In fact, the Pew report from early April 2010 even understates the problem, not because of any bias but because the stats that they used were taken from stats assembled in 2008 because that was the last year where full records had been compiled. Further, we must remember that these stats also came before the market crash ushered in during the age of Obama.
As LaborUnionReport.com notes, “For example, we know that New Jersey’s pension is now underfunded by $54 billion dollars, as opposed to the $34.4 billion when Pew published its report.” (For more data click here)
All this has occurred because government unions have given millions to Democrats so that Democrats can write union-friendly laws and give union members outsized and unearned benefits with payscales higher than anyone’s in the private sector. Then, when Democrats follow through with their union payoffs, unions give even more to the politicians for even more favors. It is a never-ending circle of favors and payoffs to each other in an incestuous system of which the voters have no influence.
As Pew said, “Far too many states are not responsibly managing the bill for their employees’ retirement.” That is an understatement.
Jeff Dunetz said it well drilling the argument down to Wisconsin: “Unions have been claiming that Wisconsin was trying to break the unions. What this pension data shows is that it is the Unions who will be breaking the states.” His point works in every state.
This is a destructive, anti-American cycle that needs to be stopped. Remember, government unions never existed until about 1958. So they have not always been around. In fact, even the left’s patron saint, FDR, was wholly against government unions.
Government unions have been a destructive and failed experiment. They need now to be eliminated.