Conservatives have been pointing out for years that the unintended consequences of big government programs often do more harm than good to the minority communities they are designed to help – and at last conservative reformers are not only being joined by good-government liberals, but also by the new conservative members of minority communities. Revelations regarding public sector union abuse of power are helping make this conversation regarding the power, the agenda, and the effectiveness of big government a more inclusive discussion than it has ever been. Exposing and reforming the abuses of public sector unions is a nonpartisan effort that has attracted powerful new allies in the African American community.
One such leader is Star Parker, founder of CURE (Center for Urban Renewal and Education), who is speaking with increasing frequency on the problems caused by public sector unions. In her March 7th, 2011 column entitled “Union power is symptom of what ails us,” she offers some insightful observations on what public sector unions are doing to our country:
“It has been those moments when we have departed from the blueprint for freedom laid out so clearly in our Declaration of Independence — that our Creator endowed us with certain rights and that men form government to secure and protect those rights — when we have had pain.
The willingness of the founders to tolerate slavery in a country designed to be free produced a legacy of pain that haunts us still today.
Today’s departure is the extent to which we have allowed a culture of force to take hold, limiting our freedom and the natural bounty it produces. The two fronts of this culture of force is the growth of government, where the institution there to protect us is now telling us what to do, and with union power, which goes hand in hand with government power.
Freedom works so well because it automatically connects individuals with the common good. The way individuals improve their own life is through self-improvement and better serving others.
The result is that one plus one equals three.
The premise of the culture of force is that individuals improve their lot not through personal responsibility, self-improvement and service but by taking what others have through threats, force, and violence. One minus one equals zero…
…But the natural alliance of government monopoly power and union power has grown through government workers’ unions. This perversity too is now tottering as government unions use the force model to enrich themselves at the direct expense of taxpayers to the point of bankrupting us all.”
In an earlier column entitled “Unions, public schools and minority children,” Parker had this to say about public sector union control of public education:
“In 1960, about 35 percent of public school teachers belonged to unions and today it’s twice that at 70 percent.
In an article in the latest edition of Cato Journal, Andrew Coulson notes that, on average, compensation of public school teachers is about 42 percent higher than their counterparts teaching in non-unionized private schools. Yet, according to Coulson, research shows that private schools consistently outperform public schools.
He attributes the higher average wages of public school teachers less to union collective bargaining and more to the political clout of unions to maintain the public school monopoly over K-12 education.
The main beneficiaries of education alternatives are minority children. Yet, at the state level, unions provide a unified lobbying front to block such initiatives.
A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed reported on the glowing success of charter schools in Harlem. ‘Nationwide the average black 12th grader reads at the level of a white eighth grader. Yet, Harlem charter students ….are outperforming their white peers in wealthy suburbs.’ Yet, in 2009 the New York teachers union successfully lobbied the state legislature to freeze charter school spending and now is pushing to limit penetration of charters in school districts.
Kids in Los Angeles’ public schools are overwhelming Hispanic and black. According to the Los Angeles Times, ‘just 39 percent of L.A.’s fourth-graders are even basically literate.’ Yet, the Times attributed union lobbying to undermining a recent attempt by the L.A. school board to open failing schools to non-unionized charters.”
As Parker puts it, “This [public sector unionism] is the disease that pretends to be the cure.”