Most Agreed Note – To Governor Scott Walker on Unions
|March 15, 2011||Posted by sarahayars under Most Agreed, Politics/Gov't|
The Most Agreed note on Fastnote for the past 30 days is, not surprisingly, one to Governor Scott Walker. Despite what I said on Sunday, I’ve decided to just go with the notes for a while, at least as long as there’s so many notes on a particular topic that I have to go beyond the first page of Most Agreed notes to find anything else. (It’s somewhere between the fourth or the sixth page now, depending on my criteria.)
The Most Agreed note for the past 30 days reads:
To: Governor Scott Walker – Unions — Good And Bad
There was a time in the history of our country where unions served a useful purpose. Today, the US has less than 5 % of the world’s population but 75 % of the world’s lawyers. Who needs unions anymore?
29 people agree with this note, seven disagree, 1 voted it “Funny”, and 10 voted it “Well Said.” I don’t think anyone would dispute that unions have been useful and that they have a vital place in history. Though I am not all that well versed in the history of unions, I think of the industrial revolution and the terrible working conditions faced by skilled and especially unskilled workers and I’m glad that we’ve come a long way since then.
I don’t necessarily think we should be in a “post-union” world, or that lawyers alone should replace the role of the union – after all, the union is generally designed to serve people who couldn’t afford lawyers, and I think it’s likely that a rather large percentage of the lawyers in the US are employed by corporations anyway – woe to anyone who challenge such corporations! – but as the note writer suggests in this note, there is perhaps a time when unions have outlived their usefulness.
Anecdotally, I know several people who have been very frustrated by their unions – they loyally paid dues for their whole career, and when they needed support, it was poor, given grudgingly, and didn’t end up being very helpful at all. I think that’s the most dangerous aspect and one of the things that has been suggested in several of the notes on Fastnote, to Governor Walker and to Wisconsin Public Unions is that the Union isn’t even working for it’s members anymore, but for purposes of it’s own that aren’t strictly to benefit the members. I find it equally suspect if people working in a field or for the government don’t have a choice but to join the union and pay whatever fees required, regardless of whether or not they want to do so. I find any lack of choice in the matter very disturbing.
Apart from that though, there is a point where, in any capitalist country, market forces have to be allowed to run their course. Minimum wage laws remain in place, unions or no unions, and with unemployment and government debt as high as they are, there simply has to be a point where those realities come into play when setting wages, and making hiring and firing choices. Our country is dealing, sometimes quite painfully, with these realities and no group should be exempt from them. Having a stranglehold on the government so the government is forced deeper into debt – a debt future generations will have to repay – is unacceptable. I can completely understand the union members not liking the reality, and I remain unsure that Governor Walker has handled this in the most appropriate manner – as I said before – we’ll all be watching to see how this plays out. I don’t know at what point Unions become unnecessary, and I’m not sure that’s where we are, but a line has to be drawn somewhere, and it’s no surprise that there are a lot of reactions – positive and negative – to Governor Walker’s push to move that line.
But on a simply practical level, I think that we all need to deal with the economic realities around us right now, and I don’t think the taxpayer should be footing the bill of allowing anyone, union members or otherwise, to somehow be above the fluctuations of the market.
Have I missed something you think is important? Am I oversimplifying? What are your reasons for keeping or ditching the unions? Write a comment on Fastnote or email me and let me know what you think.
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