Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

24 October 2010

Government Employees Union is Lord of Campaign Spenders and Master Thief

The ultra special interest group in elections would be that which has the most to gain from Big Government.  The Lord of all the independent election campaign spenders is the government employees union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, union.  This union now has 1.6 million members and that membership has grown by 25% in the last decade, making it a very powerful union.

In comparison, the total number of non-farm workers in the U.S. grew by 5.0% from September 2000 to September 2010 and that number includes the large increase in government workers.  The U.S. population grew by about 6.5% in the last decade.  The AFSCME union grew by leaps and bounds because state and local government spending from 2000 to 2008 soared upward by 55% and federal government spending skyrocketed by 66.7%!  AFSCME grew rich on this huge transfer of wealth from the private sector to the government sector.  This bloodsucking of the private sector resulted in a decade of little job growth and little increase in the standard of living for other Americans.

The 22 October 2010 Wall Street Journal reported that AFSCME has spent or is spending $87.5 million on the Democrats to continue the transfer of wealth from the private sector to the government sector.  In comparison, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the 2nd biggest spender, is spending $75 million and the American Crossroads and Crossroads GOP is spending $65 million.  The Service Employees International Union, SEIU, which spend so heavily to get Obama elected and whose members pension fund is critically underfunded, is spending $44 million.  The next biggest campaign spender is another government sector employees union, the National Education Association, which is spending $40 million to keep the government spending spigots fully open.  It is clear that the unions are expecting to be paid back for their efforts with bundles and bundles of taxpayer money.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads are simply trying to reduce the damage to the American People caused by the huge confiscation of private wealth by the governments and politicians who lust for power.

In the private sector, unions have come to represent a smaller and smaller fraction of those employed, with union members being more than 30% of workers in 1965, but only about 8% now.  In comparison, about 40% of state and local government workers are union members now.  That percentage has been fairly constant since the early 1980s, though there has been a recent Socialist Recession increase.  Those government employees in unions, when compared to state or local governments with no unions, are receiving 31% more pay and 68% more in benefits.  The states with the greatest incidence of unionized government workers are states with higher pay generally, so one has to correct for that.  The result is that they are paid 10% more with that correction, but such a correction to the huge benefit packages still leaves a large windfall to the unionized government worker.  The recent increase in union workers has been most noticeable on the West Coast, where 16.7% of workers in California are now union.  This is part of the reason why the local and state governments of California are in such financial straits.  It is also contributing to the anti-business climate of California and causing many businesses to leave the state or build new facilities outside the state.

Governments controlled by the Democrats are kind and generous to the unions.  But, the Tea Party movement has the Republicans much less inclined to be so generous.  On principle, they are in favor of smaller, limited governments.  They have become very aware that the growth of government has resulted in a loss of their freedoms and deprived them of personal choices.  The Tea Party is putting the screws to those long-tenured Republican politicians who have favored the growth of government.  The Tea Party people are aware that the transfer of wealth from the private sector to the government sector is hurting the economy and putting our children and grandchildren into unbelievable debt.  AFSCME is the opposition and is spending a hefty fraction of its members $390 per year dues to counter the Tea Party and the Constitution itself, which calls for a very limited federal government.

The Socialist Recession we are still staggering in for the third year, has caused a large reduction in state and local government income.  Many of these governments increased taxes on the People who were themselves staggering due to the Socialist Recession.  At least $160 billion of the $787 billion Stimulus Package was given to state and local governments so that AFSCME workers would not suffer from the recession as those of us in the private sector have.  The increased taxes and the federal Stimulus largesse allowed the states to have only a small reduction of employees, while local governments actually had a net increase in workers during the recession.  The Republicans must counter this privileged government worker nonsense as they gain strength in this election in Congress and in the states.  Republican Gov. Chris Christie has proposed that public employee unions in New Jersey be limited in the use of member dues for political purposes.  The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation wants to make government employee unions voluntary organizations, which is a viewpoint with which I agree and to which I have contributed.

The AFSCME union has a great desire to grow, which means it is invested in the growth of governments at the local, state, and federal levels.  It has another pressing reason to control the politicians: the defined benefits retirement plans for many state and local government employees in the union are unsound.  Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Hawaii have defined benefit legal contracts which they will not be able to meet by the end of the decade according to Prof. Joshua Rauh of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Prof. Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  Illinois is in the worst shape, perhaps due to the legacy of the Chicago politicians such as Obama.  Assuming that the Illinois pension fund has an surprising 8% rate of return and the state makes the contributions planned, the pension fund runs out of money in 2018.  After that, the state must raise taxes by $14 billion a year.  The other states in the list will not last through 2020.  By 2030, 31 states may be unable to meet their defined benefit pensions requirements.  They will be going to the federal government with hat in hand to come up with the money to meet these requirements.  The resulting bailouts will match or exceed the bailouts of this Socialist Recession.

I recently discussed the defined benefit multiemployer pension failures of the private sector labor unions in a post called Union Pension Fund Swindles, Their Democrat Henchmen, and the Beknighted Taxpayer.
These private sector unions with very underfunded pension plans have been hoping to get the federal government and the Democrats to bail them out also.  Again the scale of the bailout is comparable to that of the bailouts in this Socialist Recession.

The legacy of the Democrat, and of some long-tenured Republican, politicians has been unfunded liabilities that are likely to total many times the staggering sums we recently paid in this Socialist Recession.  It is now clear that we still have huge payouts to make for Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac as well.  The payouts for their unmet obligations may be $300 billion.  The management of American government has been horribly mishandled and we will be paying the consequences with a lowered standard of living for a very long time.  It would have been so much wiser if we had lived by the principle that governments should be limited in power and that the People were capable of choosing their own individual values and managing their own lives.  The Nanny State has proven to be a thief operating on a scale to beggar us all.

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