"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WSJ on the Public/Private Employee Union Distinction

I have written earlier on the public/private employee union distinction in the context of the Wisconsin stalemate.  Today's Wall Street Journal makes an important additional point, namely, that public employee unions, because they require high tax burdens on private employers, tend to have a negative impact on private employee unions, particularly in the manufacturing sector.   Private employers, face with crushing tax burdens, will either not hire new employees, or will shift operations overseas where they can tradeoff lower productivity for lower tax, regulatory and payroll costs.   Thus the existence of public employee unions "squeezes out" private employee unions:
Current AFL-CIO chief Rich Trumka has tried to portray Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's reforms as an attack on all unions, but they clearly are not. If anything, by reining in public union power, Mr. Walker is trying to protect private workers of all stripes from the tax increases that will eventually have to finance larger government. Regarding public finances, the interests of public union workers and those of private union taxpayers are in direct conflict. Mr. Walker is the better friend of the union manufacturing worker in Oshkosh than is Mr. Trumka.
The chart accompanying the article portrays the sad state of affairs:

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