Democracy and Power 114: The Power Players
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, big unions, education, seniors, and a multitude of others – seek favors, tax breaks, subsidies, exclusive legislation, and the list goes one. Interest groups give enormous amounts of money to political campaigns and receive gigantic benefits in return.
Wisconsin Recall: All About Taxes and Political Power
For many years, government employee unions have become a powerful, special-interest group. Similar to all special interest groups – Wall Street, big business, big unions and thousands more – the government employee unions seek to co-op the coercive power of government in order to secure good wages and excellent medical and retirement benefits.
Actually, government unions have exceeded the reach of most special interest groups, and government unions have achieved lavish pay and retirement benefits for their members as well as funded the Democratic Party by taxing every American worker.
Basically, it works as follows: Government employees are usually required to join a union. The union demands a payment of dues. The government takes the dues out of the employee’s paycheck, and sends the money to the union bosses. The union bosses give the money to their favorite politicians’ campaigns – almost universally Democrats. Then, the elected politicians determine the salaries, medical benefits and retirement programs of the government employees.
This circular flow of money, power and benefits enriches all the active participants – power for the politicians and exceptional retirement and medical benefits for the government workers. Of course, this scheme costs money – taxpayers’ cash. The circular flow of lavish benefits in exchange for political power is continuously maintained by government extracting dues from the employee’s paycheck, which perpetually enriches the Democratic Party. Michael Barone at Real Clear Politics explains:
Public employee unions insist that dues money be deducted from members’ paychecks and sent directly to union treasuries. So in practice, public employee unions are a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayers’ money to the Democratic Party.
Intending to stop the perpetual and ever-increasing flow of taxpayers’ money to union bosses, Wisconsin Governor Walker and a few Republicans changed the laws.
Government employees were allowed to opt-out of the union and Wisconsin stopped taking money out of the employee’s paycheck. Resultantly, many public employees have chosen not to pay. How many opted-out? The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees lost over 50% of their dues-paying members – down from 62,218 to 28,785.
Obviously, the unions lost gigantic sums of money, which greatly disrupts the flow of money for political power. Now there is less money for campaign contributions, making it harder to elect Democrats. Without a majority of Democrats, they cannot vote for great pensions and medical benefits. Worse, from the government unions and Democratic Party perspective, is with Republican control the entire scheme is destroyed. This is exactly what occurred in Wisconsin and the very reason Wisconsin’s Democrat legislators fled the state in an attempt to prevent a quorum and stop the legislation.
Then, the union bosses initiated the recall and spent millions of dollars trying to remove Walker and the Republicans. The union bosses had to restore the circular flow of taxpayers’ money going to their treasuries and to Democratic legislators’ campaigns. They were in crisis.
This circular scheme has another nefarious component – hiding the actual cost. Cleverly, the politicians, union bosses and the employees surreptitiously agree to push the cost off to the future. Better stated, the cost is hidden until the retirement benefits must be paid.
Meanwhile, most Americans are working and raising a family. Most people are unaware of the circular flow of this money-power-benefits scheme. Of course, future workers are totally unaware of the tax burden being imposed upon them and their children.
Conclusion: Every American must know that special-interest schemes always benefits a specific group at the expense and detriment of the rest of the citizens. Over 200 years ago, James Madison feared special-interests – then called factions. He wrote in Federalist 10:
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.
Special-interests are damaging America. Wisconsin has, at least temporarily, stopped government unions and the Democrats from hijacking the enormous power of government for their benefit at the expense of the citizens.
Remember, there are a multitude of groups and thousands of different schemes that constantly seek to usurp and benefit from the enormous power of government. Until We the People understand their methods and the harm caused by special-interest politics, the problem will always be with us.