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Democracy and Power 114: The Power Players
There will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them. Hence as all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom, a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed: the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more.
-Benjamin Franklin in a letter to the Constitutional Convention
Who actually controls the force of government? The politicians and interest groups control the American political process. The politician seeks power. Special interest groups – big business, small business, unions, education, seniors, and a multitude of others - seek favors: tax breaks, subsidies, exclusive legislation, etc. Interest groups give enormous money to political campaigns, and receive gigantic benefits in return.
Government unions have hijacked and abused the omnipresent power of government. The process is simple. Government collects mandatory union dues, which are funneled to elect politicians. In return, the lawmakers bestow excellent salaries, medical benefits and lavish retirement programs on the government workers. The Wall Street Journal explains:
Public unions have a monopoly position that gives them undue bargaining power. Their campaign cash—collected via mandatory dues—also helps to elect the politicians who are then supposed to represent taxpayers in negotiations with those same unions. The unions sit, in effect, on both sides of the bargaining table.
John Fund of the Wall Street Journal exposes what the union bosses fear in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker proposes to stop automatically taking money from union members’ paychecks and transferring the money to the unions. For example, Wisconsin automatically transfers $700 to $1,000 from a union teacher’s annual salary. Without automatic transfer of dues, union coffers substantially diminish as does their power. Fund quotes Fred Siegel, a labor historian, in the following:
"Ending dues deductions breaks the political cycle in which government collects dues, gives them to the unions, who then use the dues to back their favorite candidates and also lobby for bigger government and more pay and benefits."
The collusion between politicians and unions was feared by Benjamin Franklin: a party (today the government unions) for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them.
This usurpation of power by colluding politicians and government unions is adverse to the citizens of Wisconsin: Hence as all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom, a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed: the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less.
Franklin feared that the overwhelming power of government normally prevails:
Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more.
In Federalist Paper Number 10, James Madison addressed the universal problem of groups seeking the power of government versus the best interest of all the citizens:
By a faction (interest group), I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
The battle in Wisconsin is very important. There will be similar battles in New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana and many more states. As the American Founders reasoned, no faction or interest group should collude with government’s power against the wellbeing of all the citizens.