Power of Government Employees

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Our system of government relies on the people having control of the government. That’s right there in the founding Declaration of Independence. Goverments exist solely to protect the rights of the individual, and nothing more or less.

One of the ways our governments can grow in power is if the politicians somehow gain power over the people. That is, if politicians could obtain power without the consent of the people, or otherwise inflict upon the people things they do not want inflicted upon them. We have protections in our state and federal constitution against this sort of thing, and they are not a few.

Another way is to concentrate power in the hands of bureaucrats. We are seeing some examples of this as executive bureaucrats are able to not only enforce the law, but write the law and judge the law. If we were to give too much power to some regulators, there is the very real possibility they could deprive us of every available manner of redress. They could also render the politicians we elect powerless to change the system. We are suffering under the debilitating effects of this today.

There is another way we can lose control of our government. This scenario is slightly more complicated than the previous two. In this scenario, the government hires people to work for them. These people then use their money to buy politicians and elections. Then these politicians then turn around and manipulate the system in favor of these government employees. This vicious cycle continues until the majority of the voter base is either employed by the state and part of this corrupt cycle, or complacent enough to allow it to continue unchecked.

Unionization is not the problem. However, corrupt unions can exacerbate the problem. If a union boss were to collect union dues from the government employees and then turn around and direct that money to buy the loyalty of the political class, then the cycle would be complete regardless of what the union members who work for the government have to say.

I believe we are suffering from this problem more so than the second or even the first. In particular, there are government employee unions who are dragging along the union membership against their will.

A lot can be done, even without banning government unions outright. The problem with unions isn’t that they are illegal. It is the natural right of every human to organize however they wish and to spend their own money on what they want. The problem, however, is state-enforced unions. That is. making it a requirement to join a union in order to work for the state. The potential for corruption is too high to risk allowing a corrupt union boss from manipulating our government in this way.

Outside of reforming how we treat government unions, we can also consider some remedies that should work regardless of the unions.

For starters, consider banning the contribution of public employees to political campaigns out of conflict of interest. A public employee working closely with a politician has too much power over the people of the state. Allowing them to exploit this fact is opposite the principle of equality and fairness.

We can also force the state to pay the state employees with outright cash. This way, whatever they earn is obvious to all. There is no hiding their income in insurance and pension plans. The true cost of employees, and their true income, will be readily apparent.

We should also prevent the pension programs from being funded directly by the taxpayers. If a pension program is administered on behalf of the public employees, it should be treated exactly as a pension plan for a corporate executive or a line worker at Boeing. If the pension plan runs out of money, then you must blame the administrators. You cannot create an untenable pension plan and expect the taxpayers to make up the difference, any more than you could expect the taxpayers to underwrite an executives or line workers pension plans.

In reality, it’s silly to expect legislators to manage any kind of fund with any type of sincerity. Legislators are far too apt to withdraw from the accounts to fund their pet projects and expect the taxpayers to make up the difference. This is why the Social Security plan is already bankrupt. Congressmen have repeatedly cleaned out the accumulated funds and spent them recklessly, and now the congress expects the taxpayers to pay back for their malfeasance.

We can, and should, pass a constitutional amendment that prevents congress or our state legislature from administering any plan. Let them write their budgets with the real cost of these programs provided, and let some private corporation or set of corporations administer the funds as they see fit.

Of all the things that worry me, allowing people to gain power over each other is at the top of the list. I don’t mind CEOs that accumulate vast fortunes. Ultimately, they are going to have to negotiate with someone somewhere out of common interest to get what they want. They gain no advantage from abusing their power. But government officials, from the elected politician to the bureaucratic regulators to the common government employees see their interests met when the people suffer. They can, and frequently do, and will forever, abuse their power to exploit the people simply because they have that power.

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