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A Simple Solution

I don't know why someone hasn't hit on this before.

With 45 of America's 50 states unable to meet their budgetary requirements for the coming year, a few - Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, and Indiana (for a while, at least) - have undertaken bold initiatives to redress the problem.

But what they propose has created another problem, one that the President, speaking to the nation's governors, warned would be a violation of "workers' rights," and that Rep. Charles Rangel, speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus, equated with slavery.

The Republican governors of four states simply want to curb the collective bargaining powers of the public service unions.

Horrors! Civil rights! Slavery!

Yeah, OK. Collective bargaining is not a workers' right. It is a perk wrested from hapless employers who, given the circumstances, can do no other. In the face of union threats to stop working, employers realize they're better off giving in to the demands of collective bargaining and just, you know, raising their prices to meet the increased pressure on their budgets.

In the public sector "raising prices" means "raising taxes," and in today's climate, that will outrage the loyal customers, who are also concerned stockholders - the voters - and prompt them to secure new management. So "raising prices" to meet the calcified and ever-increasing demands of collective bargaining is not, at present, an option.


Perhaps state government could learn a lesson from the private sector: If you can't afford your employees, get new employees! And if you can't find them in the local community, ship the jobs overseas! Think how much money that would save the taxpayers. State governments could drastically reduce their costs simply by eliminating all their US jobs and shipping them overseas, to developing countries. The world would love us for it.

Now I know that it's a little hard to inspect chicken farms and teach children and fix potholes from over there in, say, India, or down in Mexico. But surely that's just a problem of technology? I mean, come on, governors! Get creative!

This is such a brilliant but simple idea, I'm surprised no one ever thought of it before.

However, if this proves, shall we say, unworkable, the other alternative would be for all parties to realize that what circumstances give, circumstances can also take away, and for those parties adversely affected by present circumstances to bide their time for better circumstances in the days ahead. Union pressure secures collective bargaining when conditions are in the union's favor to do so. But those conditions, when they change - as in the present economic environment - can return the leverage to employers, who do what they must to keep the corporation afloat.

All this talk of "rights" and "slavery" is just a dodge for not wanting to deal with this situation like adults - reasonably, dispassionately, and with a view to considering the needs of others as well as of oneself.

Additional related texts: Acts 5.4 (right of owners to dispose of their proceeds as they see fit); Matthew 20.1-16; Philippians 2.1-4

A conversation starter: "Is collective bargaining a workers' right? If so, where did that right come from, and why don't all workers enjoy it?"

T. M. Moore

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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