California Dreamin’

Can California be cured?

The ratio of COVID shots delivered to doses on hand is amongst the lowest in the country. The Employment Development Department has sent out something over $4 billion to fraudulent unemployment insurance claimants, including one who identified himself as Diane Feinstein. The San Francisco subway (all 1.5 miles of it) is (so far) five years behind schedule and at least 100% over budget. Significant numbers of California’s citizens are taking themselves and their businesses to another state. For the first time in history, our State will lose representation in Congress. What’s going on?

There are undoubtedly numerous causes of our malaise, but one of the main ones is that we are a one party state run by public sector labor unions. Actually, we have two political parties — Progressive and More Progressive, but members of both parties label themselves Democrats, and the unions provide the bulk of campaign funding for both.

“Public sector labor union” is an inappropriate label. The core of the union concept is that employees band together to engage in bargaining from a position of strength with employers. Conflict is inherent in the process. Employers want to pay for productivity; employees want to get paid for attendance. Employers want flexibility to meet changes in the market; employees want static work rules. Employers want to reward based on merit; employees want to reward based on seniority. None of that applies to public sector “unions”. They are lobbying organizations.

When a politician sits down to negotiate with a “union” leader, there is not an adversarial relationship. The people paying the bill — taxpayers — are not in the room. The negotiating cabal grants a pay scale that will not make for ugly headlines that would threaten the politician’s reelection, and a benefits package (which usually escapes public attention) that is beyond generous. The key ingredient is automatic dues collection. A significant percentage of those dues are round tripped in the form of campaign contributions. The process is corrupt on its face. In this cozy arrangement, job security is guaranteed and there are no penalties for failure. At worst, in the event of egregious failure, the head of an agency is pointed toward the exit into a generous retirement. Nobody gets fired. Nobody loses pay or benefits.

How can we cure this situation? There are two easy solutions. First, end the automatic collection of dues and have a convenient process for civil servants to opt out of paying dues. Second, prohibit all contributions by unions to any politician who is part of the entity which employs the members of the union. Those two solutions won’t cure all of California’s problems, but it would be a good start.

A Different View