Column: And the rot rolls on

By Joe Rowley (Own work)

By Joe Rowley (Own work)

"Creation comes before distribution - or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary." - Ayn Rand, "The Fountainhead," 1943.

For anyone truly interested in observing a concrete instance of ideas in action - of politics as an extension of ethics - Wisconsin's current crisis of debt, budget cuts and union manipulation is a classic example of it.

"More than 10,000 union public employees and supporters packed the Capital Square and the inside of the statehouse on Tuesday to protest Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan to strip many bargaining rights from state and local government workers." ("Thousands of Wisconsin union workers protest budget plan," Reuters, Feb. 15th.)

At the root of Gov. Walker's attempts to scale back the unions is the yawning $3.6 billion deficit for Wisconsin state spending over the next two years.

And the unions are having a stroke. As of this writing, tens of thousands more protestors are stuffing Madison's squares and chairs full up, the whole lot of them braying and bleating about Gov. Walker's "union-busting" proposals.

But two cold realities underlie this entire circus, which cannot be ignored or evaded by repetitious chants or the Wisconsin Democrats fleeing the state: (1) The state is going broke, and (2) Excessive union compensation plans are the major cause of it. Consider:

"Weekly earnings are $917 for the typical union worker employed by state government in the U.S. That compares with $703 for the comparable wage-and-salary worker in the private sector." ("Wisconsin: Ground zero in battle over clout of labor unions in U.S.," Christian Science Monitor, Feb 19th.)

And bennies? "Union compensation is higher for government workers than for non-government workers ... The cost of hourly benefits averaged $13.85 per hour in the public sector in the third quarter of 2010 ... By contrast, private sector benefits averaged $8.20 per hour."

Nice. Who says you can't live better working union? That's an extra $440. Per week. Per "worker." Given that kind of gravy, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the kind of budget-balancing money Wisconsin stands to save.

Prying a public-sector union away from its tax-funded nipple, however, is much easier said than done. In the old days some unions wouldn't even blink at using lies, intimidation and force to achieve their "benefits," but today's unions have learned a more modern lesson: That all problems associated with such tactics can be avoided by saddling up with the state and letting government's tax-collecting guns do the dirty work instead.

But such actions come with social and economic consequences, for the plundering of the productive to support and satisfy the ever-growing whims of the non-productive is non-sustainable. For any political entity engaging in such self-sacrificial stupidity for any length of time, there can only be one result: Ballooning costs and budget deficits.

And isn't that a scenario we see playing out all over the country? Look at states such as New York and California, running deficits larger than the entire country's of 75 years ago. Observe our large cities as they rot and decay from the core on out, bankrupt, clobbered silly by the very same leftist ideological forces of evil now running rampant all over Madison. Still don't think ideas have impact?

Detroit, the city of my youth, a once-proud, once-vibrant population center of 1.8 million, has devolved into but a shell of its former self, a Starnesville straight out of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," eaten alive bit by horrifying bit by the creed of the second-hander. Nearly half the city has fled since those days of glory. Most of those who have something to offer, are offering it elsewhere - and most of those who don't, remain and continue sucking dry a "welfare" system that is just about out of victims.

And that's it, folks, that's the end of the statist road: poverty and collapse. Anyone else besides the greedy unions care to see the rest of America looking like Detroit? The existence, and continued milking of, the first-handers, the producers, is the primary prerequisite else the whole scheme collapses.

But the Wisconsin unions don't give a damn about any of that. They, for now, still have a ready supply of victims to plunder, so let the rot roll on. But the final joke might soon be on them: As events in Wisconsin are making clear, you are beginning to see the day when the looters' checks start bouncing as overdrawn.

Bradley Harrington is a former U.S. Marine and a writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyo.; he blogs at www.timeforeverymantostir.blogspot.com.