As I write this, the results are being tallied in the recall election in Wisconsin. The governor, Scott Walker, is on the hot seat because he dared to take on the public sector unions. I wrote about this situation last year and the libertarian position on unions.
As a libertarian, I am not a big fan of Scott Walker. He is not a libertarian. However, this recall election has been symbolic. A politician dared to take on the unions and they are trying to make him pay the price. This is a symbolic issue of the unions vs. the average working American. While Walker is not an average working American, his position on this issue is symbolic in the defense of the average working American.
The good news for libertarians (and maybe conservatives) is that unions are dying. The free market (at least what is left of it) is destroying the unions.
In the case of Wisconsin, it is really government vs. the people. I don’t think most government workers are bad people. I’m sure most of them are just trying to make a decent living to support themselves and their families like most other Americans do. The problem is two-fold here.
First, government in general is quite inefficient. The more government workers you have, particularly with generous benefits, the less efficient it is. It means that resources are being misallocated. It means that production suffers and that nearly everyone’s standard of living is worse off because of it.
The second problem is the one that the average American is starting to understand, particularly in this economy. These government workers with their nice salaries and nice benefits are being subsidized at the expense of the average taxpayer. These government workers are not being paid a market wage. They are being paid a government wage, determined by politicians. Americans are struggling to find work and those who do have work are finding little in the way of pay increases. Meanwhile, government workers are making out really well and leaving budgets in the red while they are at it.
The Occupy Wall Street groups like to talk about the top 1%. But the conflict is not really between rich and poor. It is about government privilege vs. the non-privileged. While class warfare is still prevalent, the majority of Americans probably don’t care if Mark Zuckerberg gets rich. The reason is because it was done in the marketplace, without coercing others to use his product. The government unions cause conflict because they are obtaining their money by using the threat of government force to extract money from the taxpayers.
As it looks like Scott Walker will win this latest election, it symbolizes a loss for the government unions. I’m sure they were out in full force to vote. The silent majority really is speaking here.
This should prove that it is not political suicide to fight unions and government workers. The reason most Republicans don’t do it is because they have no interest in doing it. They will talk a good game, but they usually do what is necessary to hand out favors to their own special interests once they are in office. They see nothing to gain in fighting a hot political battle when they don’t really have any serious principles.
In conclusion, while Scott Walker is no libertarian, I think libertarians should be happy with the results in Wisconsin. It is possible to beat back the beast of big government.