Parasitic Public Employee Unions and the Pols Who Love Them

Whenever A and B put their heads together and decide what A, B and C must do for D, there is never any pressure on A and B. They consent to it and like it . . . The pressure all comes on C. Now, who is C? He is always the man who, if let alone, would make a reasonable use of his liberty without abusing it. He would not constitute any social problem at all and would not need any regulation. He is the Forgotten Man again, and as soon as he is brought from his obscurity you see that he is just that one amongst us who is what we all ought to be.”

—William Graham Sumner, The Forgotten Man, 1876

Now that the media have given themselves over to full-blown Ahabism™ in their effort to slaughter Donald Trump with the Russia harpoon, they have finally confirmed they’re not only biased but also unserious. It would be entirely reasonable to stop taking them seriously altogether, were it not for the power they still wield. The media must be countered, and I am grateful to every true journalist and analyst—in these pages and elsewhere—who would take on that task. 

And yet, as essential as these fights are, my recent reading of Winston Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples revealed a surprising truth about them: The daily scrum of partisan wrangling, so necessary in the moment, ends up largely forgotten by history.

Detailed histories hit the high points, but the rest is washed away by the tides of time. What remains are two things: the big events and politico-philosophical principles. Those endure—they are discussed and debated, and they influence the course of human lives—for centuries. As important as it is to counter the latest mendacity of our adversaries in the media and elsewhere, it is equally important to focus on discussions of perennial principles. Thus, I’d like to divert from the scrum and briefly hit the topic of parasitic public employee unions and the fundamental principle that their very operational model violates on a daily basis.

When I say “parasitic,” it is not hyperbole or clickbait terminology. I mean it literally, and unlike the misuse to which Millennials so often subject the word, “literally” is literally the correct term here. In a 2011 video, I laid out that parasitic relationship (with an accompanying diagram at 1:30):

On Thursday morning, I watched a John Stossel video on the subject of public employee unions. The entire video is well worth your time, but I was specifically pleased to see (at 6:35) they included a similar flow diagram depicting the parasitism of public employees and allied politicians upon the taxpayer:

In what I can only assume is parallel reasoning (I doubt they watched my video), they have correctly identified the venal relationship that public employees enjoy with government. Public workers’ wages and benefits grow ever-larger because they can get the government to exert force upon you to make you give them more and more. And so that’s exactly what they do. The politicians take your money by force and give it to public employees. The public employee unions launder some of that money for the politicians and then send it to them at campaign time. It is a racket, and it grows in size and strength every year for a simple reason: you are not at the negotiating table.

Recently, I realized there is another player in this perverse play: those who want to feel good about themselves by causing your money to be given to others. Let’s call them “The Enablers.” One could also call them “feel-gooders,” in that they—as compared to do-gooders such as those who give to charity—appear to be primarily motivated by the desire to burnish their self-image at others’ expense. Enabler (A) and Politician (B) get together and decide what Taxpayer (C) will do for Recipient (D) . . . in this case, the public employee. Then, A, B, and D get together and repeat the same cycle over and over, each time getting more and more of what they want.

D gets money and perks.

B gets votes and campaign cash.  

A gets to virtue-signal on social media . . . not only asserting their superior compassion, but calling you names when you object (racist . . . greedy  . . . hates the poor) in an effort to elevate their virtuous standing even more, by way of comparison with your obvious monstrousness.

This is the Matrix, and the taxpayer is the (usually unwitting) power source for this hideous machine. You will very likely be working until you are in your 70s to pay for public employees to retire in their 50s. At very least, you will suffer greater levels of confiscation of your property than you would in a system that actually respected your rights. Your children will have to work even harder to pay for the debts that public employee pension plans impose upon them. And their children will suffer the consequences when the whole thing goes belly-up. And nothing will be done to stop any of this until we wake up, recognize that fundamental rights are being directly violated by this parasitism, and do something about it. 

They will fight you. They will say you’re cruel and greedy. But they are the ones who have yoked you to their to their interests—to their greed. Do not fear their slings and arrows. Stop arguing on the consequentialist margins and go straight for the moral jugular. The ethical facts are 100 percent on your side. Explain the actual principles at work here, and let that be the red pill that you give to others.

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About Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients. Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including AnyStreet.org (now a part of Western Free Press) and Liberatchik.com. He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to WesternFreePress.com.

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17 responses to “Parasitic Public Employee Unions and the Pols Who Love Them

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  • Sooner Supreme Court applies First Amendment to kill compulsory payments to public employee unions, the sooner things will come good in the country.

    • It’s disturbing when we really sit back and contemplate just how many things our government does and requires that are fundamental violations of rights. We’re one of the freest countries on Earth, and yet some of the violations are so fundamental!

  • Sometime between now and the end of DJT’s second term, I hope Federal Labor unions are banned. They are funnels for cash from taxpayers to Democrats. Period. I hope President Trump gets his ducks in a row, have a hearing or publish a scathing report and then do it. They will fight and it will go to court… but it’s a fight worth fighting…. as soon as we get a couple more good SCOTUS picks on the bench.

    • If unions contributed to the Republicans, that would be alright? Why not go after the secretive lobby operation ALEC?

  • Many years ago, that notorious right wing crank Franklin D, Roosevelt warned about the dangers of public service employees unionizing. He correctly saw it as an unholy alliance wherein the unions can throw their support behind a candidate to get them elected, and the sit across the table from that candidate to negotiate wages and benefits. Clearly not an arms length transaction.

    • Yup. I touch on that briefly in the video in the article. Thanks for expanding it.

  • “These unions reacted to proposals (to reduce their pay increases) with rage, violence, and death threats….”
    Yes, that’s the Left. And always has been.

    • I have not had the resources to do it (yet), but I would love to do a survey of politically motivated violence in America. I bet for every 1 act of such violence from the right, there have been 1,000 from the left. From the violence of today to the bombings of the 60s to all the presidential assassination attempts . . . if you throw in the KKK (“the terrorist wing of the Democratic Party”), you get even more.

  • Let the unions represent and negotiate on behalf of only their members. If the other so called “free rider” employees perceive that they’re getting hosed, they’ll gladly join. That is, of course, only if the benefits of membership are worth the price of admission (dues). Compete and convince me it is worth it. I’ll bet it would shrivel and die of starvation and neglect. Only compulsory membership keeps it alive.

    • This is part of the reason why private sector unions are shriveling and dying . . . and why the left and the union movement began focusing on public employees.

  • Exactly why I was pulling for Scott Walker in 2016 — start putting nails into this symbiotic coffin full of ticks.

    A similar scam has been going on with higher education, government artificially inflating demand to drive up tuition and fees, giving easy access to money with a back-swell of useless courses to fill the demand no longer driven by market forces to produce useless degrees for people who can’t find jobs.

    • Walker did amazing things. One group that is really hammering back against the unions is the Freedom Foundation, based in Washington state.

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