What I Fear March 14, 2011

The poll shows that, while Americans do not greatly love labor unions overall, they seem to want to defend the collective bargaining rights of the public sector.  What is frightening about this is that the public is very cynical nowadays about the officials it elects, but may be very friendly to government workers and bureaucrats that it does not elect.  This is a frightening trend for those who like electoral democracy; I confess I have been worried about this trend for some time.

Related: Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector Unions” by Michael Cooper at NYTimes.com

PeterAttwood 03/14/2011

It actually makes sense even if you like electoral democracy, but it reminds us that electoral democracy is not sufficient with farcical elections, like the two parties set up by the Brazilian military dictatorship in 1968 – the parties of Yes and Yes Sir.
Our elected officials give us a facade of constitutional and representative government, but it doesn’t matter much who you vote for.  You still get a corporatist, out of control imperial government which “the master of the purse is the master of the politician.”  Like the late Soviet Union, the regime is not only almost totally unresponsive to ordinary people; it is incapable of coherent responses to any real problems, which are many and growing.
When we consider public employees, we must first distinguish two classes that you conflate: rule-makers and ministerial civil servants.  Bureaucratic rule-makers are held in no high esteem as far as I’ve noticed.  They’re the ones who fashion regulations, and being for the most part captive regulators, they are generally even less responsive to genuine human needs and the popular will than legislators, and they are generally held in no higher esteem.  Who cherishes Robert Morgan, the director of CDE’s “Focused Monitoring,” whose job is to whitewash the transgressions of school districts?  And these people are not union members.
Members of public employees are generally real civil servants.  They don’t make policy, but in applying it, they are very apt to bend the rules and overlook things in order to get it done for the public.  In short, they are the human element of govrenment, the people that actually work with members of the public day-to-day in order to construe the rules to their benefit.
So besides siding with people most like themselves against the robber class that is grabbing and wrecking everything for everyone, people are responding to the only aspect of government that is responsive to them instead of those using government to rob the rest of us.  And people are wising up to see that if they don’t speak up when they come for public employees, there will be that fewer left to speak up for us when they come for us.

Menikov 03/15/2011

Excellent point. That trend, combined with the tendency to game the electoral system by having folks vote illegally in close elections, may force us once again to confront Ben Franklin’s answer to the question about what type of system he and others had founded: A Republic, if you can keep it.

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