Gov. Mitch Daniels was on Fox News Sunday yesterday, and, in the course of explaining why public-sector unions should be abolished, succinctly spelled out the problem with them:
"I think the message is that, first of all, voters are seeing the fundamental unfairness of government becoming its own special interest group, sitting on both sides of the table," he said.
[. . .]
Daniels said private-sector unions, while in decline in America, remain "necessary." But he suggested the public-sector unions have hobbled governments by gobbling up taxpayer resources with generous benefits and salaries and "bulletproof" job protections.
Even calling contract negotiations "collective bargaining" in the public sector is misleading. When, as Daniels says, government employees are "on both sides of the table," there is one group's interests that are seldom considered -- the "owners" of the enterprise, i.e. taxpayers. We want and deserve value for our money, the sense that whatever they agree to is necessary and that it is being provided in the most efficient way possible. But one side in the negotiations just wants all it can get. The other side, lacking a profit motive to resist extravagant demands, usually just wants to get through the ordeal with as little distruption as possible, so they cave to demands that private-sector managers would reject as extravagant.