MSW Responds to Garnett

by Michael Sean Winters

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My friend Rick Garnett has taken issue with my verdict on the Ohio election in a posting at his blog "Mirror of Justice."

Certainly, I do not endorse every provision of every contract that has ever been negotiated between public employee unions and local and state government authorities. Nor do I always support the political positions taken by these unions. But, I do know that oftentimes, politicians would convince union members to forego an increase in wages in exchange for better pensions or better benefits. For the politicians, this had the effect of keeping the current pols from having to raise taxes to pay for higher wages and pushing the long-term expense of such agreements on to future politicians. There may be a need to re-visit those arrangements, but such changes should be negotiated at the bargaining table, just as the original agreements were. That is why I supported the effort to overturn the Ohio law.

Clearly, too, I am more inclined to see unions as a boost, and Garnett is more likely to see them as a bane, in our nation's political life. Unions serve as a check on the monied interest, whose power is, in a free society, always going to be dominant. I also see unions as a key part of the social fabric, embodying the kind of intermediate social organizations called for by the Catholic social principle of subsidiarity. Does that mean that unions should get carte blanche? Of course not. But, given the choice between rasising taxes on rich folk and cutting benefits for teachers and firefighters and policement and sanitation workers, I will vote for raising taxes on the rich every day of the week.

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