“Uniquely Dysfunctional” is an apt description of the relationship between public unions and the corrupt politicians in bed with those unions. The term comes from Fred Siegel, a historian at the Manhattan Institute.

I found the term in Public Workers Face Outrage as Budget Crises Grow.

Ever since Marie Corfield’s confrontation with Gov. Chris Christie this fall over the state’s education cuts became a YouTube classic, she has received a stream of vituperative e-mails and Facebook postings.

“People I don’t even know are calling me horrible names,” said Ms. Corfield, an art teacher who had pleaded the case of struggling teachers. “The mantra is that the problem is the unions, the unions, the unions.”

It is an angry conversation. And a growing cadre of political leaders and municipal finance experts argue that much of the edifice of municipal and state finance is jury-rigged and, without new revenue, perhaps unsustainable. Too many political leaders, they argue, acted too irresponsibly, failing to either raise taxes or cut spending.

Fred Siegel, a historian at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute, has written of the “New Tammany Hall,” which he describes as the incestuous alliance between public officials and labor.

“Public unions have had no natural adversary; they give politicians political support and get good contracts back,” Mr. Siegel said. “It’s uniquely dysfunctional.”

In California, pension costs now crowd out spending for parks, public schools and state universities; in Illinois, spiraling pension costs threaten the state with insolvency.

And taxpayer resentment simmers.

A white-haired retired undercover police officer, whose wrap-around shades match his black Harley-Davidson jacket, pauses outside the Washington Township municipal building to consider the many targets. He did not want to give his name.

“Christie has all the good intentions in the world but has he hit the right people?” he says. “I understand pulling in belts, but you talking about janitors and cops, or the free-loading freeholder?”

Among the freeloading freeloaders are the cowards like the retired undercover police officer refusing to give their name to the New York Times. I would like to see that person’s name and their pension payment posted in the article.

One would think that New Jersey teachers might have the ability to learn. However, judging from repeated powder puff softball questions by teachers that governor Chris Christie can hit out of the ballpark, I have to wonder.

Marie Corfield got what she deserved. Check it out in case you think otherwise.

Governor Chris Christie was straight, direct, and correct in his response to a union teacher in New Jersey who complains about teacher layoffs. Clearly the teacher’s union is to blame.

Moreover, it is the same in every state. How teachers cannot see this is a wonder to behold.

For all I know, Marie Corfield is a hard working teacher. However, I can make a case we do not need to teach art at all, and on that basis she should be fired tomorrow.

However, the merits of teaching art is not the point. The point is her amazing sense of entitlement as to what her job is worth as a teacher in general. The same applies even more so to police and fire workers whose pensions are generally larger.

Bankruptcy Solution

One possible solution to this madness in my opinion is bankruptcy. In bankruptcy, the teachers and fire fighters and police can see just what a judge thinks they are worth. My point being, you cannot pay money that is not there.

In many case, city finances are so far gone that bankruptcy is the only option

Amazing Sense of Entitlement

Taxpayers are angry and for good reason. Many do not have the “problem” Marie Corfield bitches about because their problem is worse, no job at all.

While Corfield whines about having to pay $750 dollars a year for family health, dental, and eye-care (for life), most pay far more for far less. Many have no benefits at all.

Where this insane sense of entitlement come? The only possible answer is the union itself. Private workers certainly do not have the same sense of “taxpayers owe me” entitlement that public union members have. That entitlement comes from being part of a union “mob”.

These public union-politician “dysfunctional relationships” are fraudulent precisely because there is “no natural adversary”, no one looking out for taxpayer interests.

Short and Long-Term Solutions

The long-term solution is the end of collective bargaining for public unions, and indeed the total abolishment of public unions in general.

Unfortunately that does not rectify the ill-gotten gains of public union workers, notably police and fire workers who often retire at age 55 with 80-90% of salary and take another job in the meantime.

The short-term solution to this mess is to tax all public union pension benefits before the age of 62 at 90% , and after the age of 62, tax public union pensions in excess of a certain amount at a very high rate.

I propose these taxes be collected upfront, taken out of retirement checks and the money collected be fed back into public union pension plans to make them solvent. The beauty of my proposal is it could win support of many public union workers who do not have excessive benefits and who might be totally screwed in bankruptcy.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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