by Frank Hill, Telemachus
Add ‘government unions’ to the long list of seemingly incomprehensible oxymorons like ‘thoughtful conservative’; ‘conservative democrat’ and ‘honest politician’.
'Oxymoron' comes from the Greek (natch!) words 'oxus' meaning 'sharp' and 'moros' meaning 'dull'.
What the heck? 'Sharp-Dull'? How did we get from there to what it means today?
'Oxy-moron' sounds more like 'pimple medicine for the dimwitted' to be honest about it.
But it simply means two phrases that don't belong together, such as 'sharp/dull'...and the users of which are oblivious to the inherent contradictions in meanings and terms.
‘Government’ already connotes the sense of some governing ‘union’ over our daily lives, doesn’t it? ‘Unions’ are defined as groups of people who unite to get better deals (i.e. more money and more benefits) for their members at the expense of other parties, aren't they?
Do we really want government service sector ‘unions’ inside of our ‘National Union’ dictating to us what they want 'us' to do for 'them'? Isn’t it supposed to be ‘us’ telling ‘them’ what we want them to do for us as our ‘public servants’?
Isn’t the notion of government unions sort of a dangerous concept when you drill down on it? FDR wrote extensively about the implicit contradiction of ‘unions’ working as 'public servants' in the federal government. They are inherently incompatible concepts. And he was a big government guy, wasn’t he?
Let’s think back on what Thomas Jefferson or James Madison might have thought about a concentration of power in an entity such as the government unions represented by the SEIU right now that you see fighting so vociferously in Madison, Wisconsin.
Jefferson was adamantly opposed to a ‘concentration of power’ in any form of government and in any division of labor, be it the legislative, executive or judicial branches of government.
“All the powers of government, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating of these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands and not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one . . ‘
Close to half of our very own Declaration of Independence is dedicated to a recitation of the grievances against the ‘concentration of power’ in the hands of King George which allowed him to have dominion over the free expression of rights and liberties of the colonists in America.
James Madison himself pointed out the fallacy of self-government by faulty human beings in the great Federalist Paper #51 written in 1788, as true then as it is today and was in the days of the Greeks and the Romans before us:
In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this:
You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is no doubt the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
Was Mr. Madison watching a Time Tunnel CNN back in his day?
We are of the very strong opinion that it is an honor to be a public servant, whether it is as an elected official, congressional staffer or in the military or as a public employee working to support the people of this nation through government service ranging from computer science to research to being a great teacher.
The fact that public servants get paid regularly 99.999999% of the time without interruption or fail is the trade-off they (we) make instead of trying to get wealthy in the private sector. I worked in the public sector for 12 years and never once worried about not getting a full paycheck on time or my benefits covered during 3 recessions. You don't get that sort of security in the private sector....look around and see millions of private sector people unemployed and losing their homes.
The psychic, moral and goodwill benefits of helping your fellow citizens usually out-weighs the differential in pay and benefits for most public servants. Or at least it should.
If government employees can join together and ‘demand’ higher pay and benefits and threaten to shut down our government by ‘sickouts’, which are just another form of strikes, isn’t that a dangerous usurpation of authority from the people who pay for government through their taxes paid each year?
We thought the supreme power in our representative democracy was supposed to be ‘the people’ of this land which we guess has to include as a high priority the providers of the funds (taxes) to be used to pay for government services (and government jobs) in the first place.
Having ‘government unions’ dictate the terms of their employment seems to be a case of ‘the tail wagging the dog’ to be honest about it.
We think the concept of a concentration of power in so-called ‘government unions’ is an oxymoron the Founders would have taken great pains to avoid…if they had had the ability to conceive of them back then.
We can't have a civil government that dictates to us, the people, or else we will cease having a free representative democracy. Jefferson and Madison saw that clear as day 235 years ago.
(Editor's Note: Frank Hill's resumé includes working as chief of staff for Senator Elizabeth Dole and Congressman Alex McMillan, serving on the House Budget Committee and serving on the Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. He takes on politics from a fiercely independent perspective at the blog Telemachus).
Related discussion: Memeorandum, here.