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Tuesday’s votes clarify matters

THE Democratic Party has spent decades catering to organized labor and public employees to get votes, and for a long time, this has been a comfortable arrangement.

It's become an article of faith — an integral part of what it means to be a Democrat.

When West Virginia Democrats win — this is their 80th year in control of the Legislature — they dispense the favors West Virginia labor wants.

Forced union membership, for example.

Twenty-three states let individuals decide for themselves whether they want to support a union monetarily. It's called freedom of association.

In West Virginia, legislators decide. This state requires private-sector workers to pay dues if a majority of their co-workers vote for union representation.

This makes about as much sense as forcing people to pay dues to a Vegans club if the majority of the people in their neighborhood want to be Vegans.

But that's what West Virginia does, and it's very effective at job prevention.

Inflated prevailing wages rates that drive up the costs of publicly funded projects are another perk.

Labor wants more money.

Democrats acquiesce.

The public pays.

It works the same way with public employees.

Unions wanted people to be able to retire at 55 with full pensions and full health coverage.

Democrats obliged.

The public pays.

Situation normal, etc. It's gone on for decades.

Things are much the same on the national level, and congressional Democrats apparently see no reason for change.

So accustomed have they become to dispensing favors to their political allies — labor, public employees, plaintiffs lawyers — that they missed the warning signs that something was amiss.

There was that slow, steady leak of American manufacturing, of course — the auto industry, the steel industry, the garment industry — and the resulting job loss and outmigration from the Rust Belt.

But nothing alarming, really.

n Until Tuesday, when Wisconsin voters rejected labor's attempt to boot Republican Gov. Scott Walker out office by a larger margin than they had elected him in the first place.

His sin? Wisconsin stopped collecting union dues from public employees' paychecks.

Membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees dropped by 45 percent.

n Until Tuesday, when voters in San Diego and San Jose, Calif., approved measures to cut public employee pensions.

San Jose's pension payments have almost tripled in 10 years, jumping from $73 million to $245 million.

West Virginians face a similar situation.

The Legislature has stuck city taxpayers with an almost $1 billion bill just for municipal pension plans.

All of a sudden, the sacred alliance with organized labor looks like a liability.

On the national level, the Obama administration has morphed the national debt to $16 trillion. The public is furious.

This is the same public that is  cutting budgets at the household, local and state level.

Yet the administration and congressional Democrats continue to take the position that what the nation needs to do to get out of this jam is more revenue.

The budget stalemate, serious people assert, should be resolved in part by having people pay higher taxes.

But not until after the election,.

Before Tuesday, people actually viewed that as a defensible position.

Since Tuesday, a new insight:

Perhaps that's not what Americans want.

Many people cannot get jobs, cannot retire at 55, collect only reduced pension benefits, have no employer health benefits in retirement, and are tired of paying inflated prices for the roads and bridges they want.

Furthermore, Americans are tired of being patsies for politicians who see them only as sources of income to redistribute.

The belief that voters who are forcing cutbacks at the local and state level don't want cutbacks at the national level is a delusion.

Maurice is editorial page

editor of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-4802 or


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