Tom Hurst writes on liberty, free markets, private property rights, government and the Constitution from Nevada, USA
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Government Union Propaganda

By Tom Hurst, 12 May 2008

I'd like to introduce you to the nation's largest union for "public service workers" (a euphemism for "government workers"), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). No, not because its 1.4 million ostensibly working members and 250,000 retired parasites impact our lives in a good way, but because they do nothing yet demand that we pay their inflated salaries and pensions from the day we start work until the day we die. What's their version of this tale? As they proudly say, their members are "tireless in [their] efforts to elect pro-worker candidates and shape public budgets to protect public workers and vital government services." Of course, this is pure propaganda because 1) the workers they are wanting candidates to protect are not you or I, but instead, government workers paid with (stolen) tax dollars, 2) the only budget shaping they are focused on is to increase their salaries and pensions, and 3) the government services they ostensibly provide are far from vital. Socialists all, even their union motto, "We Make America Happen", promotes the almighty state. It's their delusional proclamation that everything would come to a grinding halt if they were not there to help us along every minute of every day. Of course, the opposite is the true reality in that they could all disappear an no one would even notice - except that we would all be richer and happier. In any case, let's take a closer look - citing lots of their own published words - at the great evil they do for the sake of enriching themselves at our expense.

My first observation on their self-stated prime mission would be that we the people should be shaping government budgets and determining what services are offered at what level, not those who benefit from our forced remittances (taxes). This is evidently not the view of AFSCME member Raymond Summers, who states on their website, "I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, but I am a proud city employee. I support candidates who are on our side. And after they win, I make sure they vote for legislation that supports public services." Evidently, Mr. super statist really wants us to spend our money - on his salary and benefits, of course - and he means to vote for politicians who will do his evil bidding. Of course, his union backs him by spending wholly one third of its income on lobbying to gain the favors of government officials. Now, while in an ideal America Mr. Summers would be profoundly ashamed, not proud, of what he and his union does, the unfortunate reality is that government employees are all about taking from us and giving to themselves. In fact, as of 2006 the average Federal worker's salary and benefit package was $107,000 per year, nearly three times the average of the private sector; and County workers' wages were not far behind with the average being on the order of $90,000 per year. Well, for those of you still too naive to accept that government employees care naught for us, a Nobel Prize winning political-economic concept called "public choice theory" tells us that government employees, no matter how they are portrayed or think of themselves, have the same motivations as everyone else and are decidedly not here to unselfishly serve the public. What they all want at any cost are raises, promotions, more power, more supervisees, larger budgets, less responsibility and less work to do. Couple that with their egomaniacal desire to control every aspect of our lives and one has a witch's brew from statist hell. And also the primary reason why our Founders believed in a government as small and impotent as possible. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson had it dead right when in 1795 he said, "Our public economy is such as to offer drudgery and subsistence only to those entrusted with its administration - a wise and necessary precaution against the degeneracy of the public servants."

As for the supposedly "vital government services" these people ostensibly provide, I can assure you that no one I know would even care if virtually all government workers just disappeared tomorrow. Truly, when one really thinks about it, the average person consumes very few (if any) government services - and in an ideal world any true needs would no doubt be provided for far better and far cheaper by the private sector, i.e. by a free market based on voluntary contracts, not taxes stolen by force from citizens. Indeed, the most significant interaction most people have with government - and this is a big clue to the very essence of the state - is the extortion of paying their taxes. And considering how much government takes (over 50% of most American's gross pay) and what it spends that stolen booty on (government employees), that is decidedly a very bad interaction for most people. Unfortunately, since government takes great pains to make sure that most of those taxes are hidden in the costs of goods and services and in "inflation", I'm guessing that most people don't even think to imagine how much better their lives would be if they would forgo most government in exchange for what would essentially be a doubling of their income. After all, in truth nearly every function of nearly every government agency is quintessentially wasteful, incompetent, unjust, corrupt and/or unconstitutional.

Most basically, as one would expect, government workers really, really like big government budgets that are paid for with high taxes, for the end result is lots of loot to spread among its employees. "In Washington DC, statehouses, and city halls across the county, AFSCME members are fighting for the budgets and resources necessary to provide high quality public services. We fight against unfair and irresponsible tax cuts that benefit the wealthy few at the expense of working families. We are constantly on the alert for wasteful contracts, special-interest tax breaks and corporate subsidies that weaken government's ability to provide quality public education, access to health care, decent transportation systems, and safe and healthy families and communities. We are taxpayers, too, so we work to improve the public's understanding that there is a cost to public services that requires everyone to pay their fair share." Well, that about says it all, doesn't it? They fight for ever higher taxes to pay their grand and continuously increasing salaries and pensions, never mind that we are impoverished. They supposedly provide "high quality public services", never mind that the services are not only decidedly not of high quality, but that we would all be far better off without them. They oppose "irresponsible" tax cuts, never mind that basic economics says there is no such thing. In short, they expect government - themselves, specifically - to provide us with absolutely everything we want or need, from cradle to grave. And they will use propaganda to make sure that we - evidently pliable idiots in their view - "understand" their happy message of big government for all. In the end, under the guise of everyone paying their socialist "fair share", we will pay for it in spades. Really, it should make even the government-is-good crowd angry that these socialists steal money that we earn and then claim to spend it on "quality" government services when the extremely obvious reality is that government schools are horrible, government health care is even worse, government buses are dirty and inefficient, and jack-booted government police harass us far more than they protect and serve us. I ask you, since all of these government run things have been so very bad since their inception and are getting worse by the day, does it really make sense to expect more government employees and ever higher government salaries to make them better? I think not. Finally, let's not forget their ideal of "safe and healthy families and communities". Designed to sound nice and discourage attacks from the right, it's really just another AFSCME-speak euphemism spewed from their tiny socialist minds. And what that phrase really means should send chills down the spine of anyone who loves liberty.

And the story continues. In addition to an obvious inability to understand that taxation is essentially stealing, these government union morons also have essentially zero understanding of basic economics and a misplaced disdain for the free market: "Increasing union density in the United States would mean that all workers have increased power in the workplace and in the political arena, and that means higher wages, better benefits and less privatization." What they miss here is that unions extort higher wages and better benefits courtesy only of numerous pro-union federal laws, not because union workers become more productive. Contrasting that, in the non-union private sector (nominally a free market), employees can demand increased wages only when they become more productive and efficient. And that is only just. Indeed, increasingly productive workers operating in a free market are the only thing that can truly increase our purchasing power and wealth - and this mix is never, ever found in government circles. So, the total fiasco that we today call government tells us quite certainly that in order to be prosperous we should seek total privatization and the elimination of government-empowered unions, not "increased union density" and "less privatization" as the AFSCME desires.

So, yes, privatization of government services is obviously Satan in their eyes: "Driven by wrong-minded public officials and corporate greed, contracts for public services are doled out without regard to cost effectiveness or quality. Time and time again, the public pays more and gets lower quality of services while public workers are laid off..." Well, history is not on their side here, as it has confirmed time and again that to the degree government does things we as both individuals and a society become less prosperous, and to the degree that the free market does things we become more prosperous. Nevertheless, these statist propagandists whine, "Keep our doors open. Support State services." Of course, anyone with common sense and some knowledge of history and economics would not support state "services", and the best thing that could happen is that government's doors would shut permanently. That would be a tough pill for these union parasites to swallow, no doubt, because they're just too used to getting too much money for too little work - work that is for the most part unnecessary. But every government parasite fired means more money in our pockets, so I say, let the layoffs begin in earnest! It would mean their getting a real job in the productive sector of the economy, but that's what nearly everyone else has to do to survive and prosper in America.

Not satisfied with fleecing us daily and thus stealing our future as they drone through their useless, do-nothing government jobs, they also demand that we pay for their retirement. And for a government employee, retirement is truly golden, for most of these parasites will continue to collect the vast majority of their inflated salaries and health care benefits from the day they stop working until the day they die. If they were private sector workers I might congratulate them for making such a fantastic deal, but there is no virtue in stealing one's pension from taxpayers as these government lackeys do. And they do their very best "to ensure that states maintain their pension plan and don't try and push employees into a risky defined-contribution plan." Heaven forbid that they might have to save and invest their own money, and draw their retirement - whatever amount it comes to - from such "risky" accounts like virtually everyone in the private (productive) sector. No, being the anointed ones they must have so-called defined-benefit plans that will pay grandly forever courtesy of taxpayers, no matter the investment climate. Indeed, it has long been my considered opinion that the literally trillions of dollars of unfunded pension liabilities to be paid with future taxes will bankrupt the states. So, in the end, the very state these parasites worship will destroy the future of proper citizens in a futile attempt to make their ex-employee's retirements whole. Of course, it always helps to rig the system to insure that one always comes out on top, and for these wastrels that means "...making sure that AFSCME members are on retirement boards". It must be nice to have one's friends determine one's retirement pay. Can you say, "conflict of interest"?

"There is nothing more important than staying safe on the job. Our lives depend on it." Ooooh, I'm so scared when I go to work in my unsafe private sector workplace. Don't get me wrong here by thinking that I'm advocating unsafe work places - I'm not - but their claiming that their "lives depend on it" is simply an extreme statement meant to sensationalize the mundane. So, just more propaganda. And generally the "job safety rights" they claim are just another unnecessary expense we bear to keep these parasites working at doing nothing; anyone who's had to sit through one of those moronic government "safety" meetings knows exactly what I'm talking about. Of course, the important aspect of this discussion is that there is nothing in the Constitution about "job safety rights". In the interest of protecting everyone's true rights to life, liberty and property, I would observe that most companies want hard-working, happy employees, so create a safe workplace on their own. And I would also suggest that employees who do not like working at the sawmill with the wildly gyrating exposed blades go down the street and get a job at the mill that keeps the blades safely covered. Not only is this approach just common sense, but it protects the true rights of both employers and employees - the employer's right to set work conditions and offer a job or not, and the employees right to take a job or not. Simply stated, safe workplaces evolve naturally and decidedly do not require the AFSCME to fight for them.

As good little socialists, the AFSCME also supports guaranteed health care for everyone, paid for, they say, by taxing the rich and forcing all employers to pay for their employee's insurance. Indeed, they call health care "a basic human right that must be recognized and fulfilled". Never mind that the "right" to enslave others to provide health care for one is no valid Constitutional or human right at all. Of course, they are all for government control in this and many other issues because... well, they are government. And they are certain that they know best how to take care of us - using our money, of course. I would simply suggest that responsible individuals should pay for their own insurance - but not at today's prices. Observing that there is nothing intrinsically costly in real terms about producing pills, getting a physical or staying in a hospital, and since free markets by their nature work to provide quality goods that people want and need at prices that they can afford, it would appear that government interference in the free market in health care is obviously the main cause of today's ridiculously high prices. The obvious solution is to remove government from the equation. Do that and I can assure you that prices would quickly fall in line with what most people could afford to pay.

Finally, their view on the repeal of the death (estate) tax shows that their greed and lust for our money just goes on and on, even after we die. After whining that repealing it would only benefit a wealthy minority (untrue, but that's another story), they get to the heart of the matter: "The tax revenue loss would... force even more cuts to programs that help fund the jobs of hundreds of thousands of AFSCME members." Of course, their propaganda conveniently leaves out the facts that 1) any tax is just another name for stealing money from the one who earned it, 2) tax cuts universally make everyone wealthier (through investment) because government itself produces nothing with the money it steals, 3) the programs they want to fund are totally useless or even harmful to most people, and 4) even their members would be better off overall if they had real private sector jobs that actually produced wealth. Sadly, their ultimate goal is to preserve their useless jobs at any cost.

So, what are some solutions to the problems of big government and the propaganda spewing, self-serving government employee unions? This may seem radical, but as long as government steals from citizens to pay it's employees, on the basis of conflict of interest I believe a good argument could be made that government employees should not be allowed to vote. After all, what they are really voting for - as evidenced by their union's statements above - are their own pay increases, just like the welfare parasites do. To show the absurdity of letting them vote for politicians who will do their bidding, I ask, wouldn't you like the opportunity to vote to increase your own pay? Realistically, few in that situation could resist the temptation to enrich and empower themselves - just like our hired servants (government employees) who seem to have mistakenly gotten the idea that they now run the household! Actually, the ultimate solution would also be considered extremely radical to most these days: a return to the small, Constitutional government our Founders envisioned. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done with folks like the AFSCME pulling the strings behind the scenes. Nevertheless, I can suggest an easy way to educate others - or at least make oneself feel better - about rampant big government and the government union propaganda and euphemisms we suffer every day. Every time one would normally use the word "public" as a statist euphemism, just replace it with the correct word, "government". Bravely use the terms government schools, government buses, government workers, government parks, government housing, government land, etc., because they are, unfortunately, our sad reality that we musn't forget. A world of big government filled with little tin gods helping us live and plan our daily lives, while at the same time stealing from us! As I often remark, the Founders must be spinning in their graves.

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Tom Hurst - Defender of liberty, free markets, private property rights, and the Constitution