Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The life you want will never be earned


BW: You say public sector unions are bankrupting the country. Are you prepared to go to war with the labor movement?

[American Enterprise Institute President] Arthur C. Brooks: All you have to do is look at the unfunded pension liabilities and the disparity of benefits that accrue to public sector employees compared to the private sector. The disparity is so large and so unfair, a day of reckoning is coming.

"Unfairness" is a brilliant way of characterizing "the disparity of benefits that accrue to public sector employees compared to the private sector," especially when the point you want to make about "benefits" is that no one should expect to have them; benefits are something you earn by appealing to employers, who decide on their own terms, as vehicles of profit, what you "deserve." Benefits, in other words, are standardized on the basis of institutional, not human, expectations; which is just another way of saying they favor the form of increased profit for executives and investors.

The trend we observe worldwide is that those institutions that control wealth and compete on the basis of profit have decided that what "you deserve" is just as little as you will accept without becoming disruptive alongside your peers. But because this threshold is variable, not fixed, think tanks like AEI devote lots of resources to shaping the attitudes of the general public on these issues; namely, that people whose compensation stems from their power vis-a-vis employers must be brought to the same degree of dependence and insecurity as everyone else, rather than seen as role models to be followed.

1 comment:

Ben There said...

It's pretty funny to hear an AEI think-tanker like Arthur C. Brooks talking about disparity and unfairness. The point he unwittingly makes (as you point out) is that non-union private sector jobs really suck in comparison to unionized jobs.

(Point taken Arthur...More unionized jobs please!)