Sunday, February 14, 2010

Taxpayer or worker?

Most people here in the US are taxpayers AND workers. Who would have thought there could be a conflict? Yet, when it comes to public employee labor unions, many people have come to see only the taxpayer perspective, i.e. they're trying to take more of my money. The other side of the story, i.e. I and my fellow workers need to be paid fairly for the work we do, is often lost. Of course, more of us are taxpayers than are public sector employees, so more of us will be taxed to pay for public employee salary and benefit upgrades than will benefit directly from them. So the logic of supporting only what benefits me and my family works against support for public employee unions. One doesn't have to extend one's horizon too far to realize that when labor unions are weakened, all workers suffer. But that point is, or can seem to be, a little less immediate. Plus people in the US have a long-standing and deep distrust of government (even as they accept Medicare and Social Security), and labor unions evoke shades of socialism, if not the dreaded "C" word. The result is that many people have a visceral feeling that government is there to take their money and regulate their lives, while corporations, which do exactly that, get a free pass.

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