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by Darrell Castle
Constitution Party National Committee Vice-Chairman
What do the people rioting in the Middle East and the people protesting reductions in public-sector union bargaining rights have in common?
Not much, but the driving force behind each of them is similar, and that driving force is economic hardship.
What we are likely seeing is the crumbling of a world economic order that has existed for decades if not for centuries. In the Middle East the order is one of military style-dictators or royal monarchs at the top, often installed and/or maintained by foreign powers. In the West, the order is one of an unsustainable welfare and public employment system.
One interesting difference is that the protesters in the Middle East really are freedom fighters in that they are fighting to overthrow dictators and a way of life that has oppressed them for decades. In other words, they are seeking to tear down an unsustainable and unjust economic order.
In Wisconsin and other American states, the public-sector unions are seeking to force the government that employs them to restore and maintain union bargaining rights and pay levels. In other words they are seeking to maintain an unsustainable and unjust economic order.
Government employees form unions in order to bargain collectively with government representatives. These unions of government employees are called public-sector unions. The system that allows public-sector unions to organize and bargain collectively is unjust because the public unions exist at the expense of taxpayers who have little or no say in their hiring, firing, or contract negotiating.
The public-sector unions are not the equivalent of private-sector unions at a factory or other place of employment who bargain collectively for better pay and working conditions. Those private employees have no ability or interest in lobbying their employers to constantly increase taxes for their benefit. The system that allows public-sector unions to form and exist is unsustainable because virtually every state is now technically bankrupt, as is the federal government.
In the new budget proposed by President Obama on February 14, 2011, the federal government alone will spend 25.9 percent of America’s GDP or about 26 cents of every GDP dollar. That is a crushing burden of taxation on the American public which cannot be sustained. Even the relatively modest cuts proposed in Wisconsin are unacceptable to the public unions because their members don’t seem to grasp the fact that the old order is ending one way or the other. The modest cuts are designed to keep the system afloat for a short time and possibly push it ahead to the next administration, but it is going to take drastic changes in the entire system to prevent the catastrophic chaos that appears to be in our future.
The reasoning behind the demands of public-sector unions is failed logic because by definition they are part of the government to which they object. They are, in reality, toadies of the ruling elite. This is not some poor group of under-paid, over-worked union employees in a cotton mill or factory chicken farm that is simply demanding a living wage. If those in public-sector unions object to government trying to sustain itself without destroying the taxpayers then let them join the private sector where bargaining rights are more solid.
Behind the crises in the Middle East and the crisis in Wisconsin lie the policies of the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve policy that it calls “quantitative easing” is causing the exploding prices of food and other commodities around the world. Flooding the world with dollars, as the Federal Reserve has done, lowers the dollar’s value relative to food and other commodities. When people live on a few dollars a day, if that, a 60 percent increase in the price of food is enough to send them into starvation. This increase in food prices is the driving force behind the Middle East revolution; therefore the Federal Reserve is responsible for it.
How then can the crisis in Wisconsin and the crises in the Middle East be diffused before they spread and take more lives? Unfortunately for the public-sector unions, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has made it clear that bailouts are for banks, not people, and certainly not states. However, Middle Eastern governments have responded by giving money to what they call lower and middle class people. Saudi Arabia gave $37 billion to the Shiite minority and released some political prisoners.
Middle Eastern people are sacrificing themselves to end an economic and political order that has oppressed them for decades. The public-sector unions are demonstrating in order to maintain an unsustainable economic system so that they might continue their way of life at taxpayer expense. That is the difference.