I have a friend named Mike who is a very intelligent and sensible man. He is a strong supporter of lower taxes, the rule of law, the military, and especially of the right to keep and bear arms; he is, in fact, a long-time NRA member. This man takes the time to be well informed on current events and is always on top of pending legislation. In short, he has all the makings of a genuine conservative except for one fatal flaw: he is an ardent union member.
When talk of all but the most radical political candidates is raised, he will, after talking a good game about the strengths of the Republican candidate, invariably vote for the Democrat. He was a vocal supporter of George W. Bush in 2000 but -- like the old-time base-stealer who had larceny in his heart but whose feet were honest -- his good intentions went by the board and he pulled the lever for Al Gore. I thought we had him after the attacks of 9/11, but even as much as he admired President Bush's conduct of the defense of our country, he continued down the donkey path.
For all the labels put on conservatives, the most common is that we are "one-issue" voters. Whether that issue is the sanctity of life, national defense, border security or shrinking the government, we are nearly always referred to in that way. Yet we never hear about the voting proclivities of folks like Mike whose one-issue vote is this: the enlargement and strengthening of the American labor movement.
In this country where class warfare is ever escalating, criticizing labor unions is sure to draw charges of elitism and worse: siding with corporate America. But are unions and, more importantly, union membership still beneficial to our country? While an argument can be made for some private sector trade unions where at least the consumer can be assured of qualified workmen, most union growth is in the public sector where it choking governments at every level, and not just economically.
Union membership is an attack on productivity. How many of us know someone who, when first getting a union job, was told to "slow down," as they were showing up the rest of the crew? And why should anyone make an extraordinary effort when the best worker will get the same pay as the worst?
Collective bargaining represents a diminution of individual responsibility and accomplishment. We can see how teachers, for example, who are protected from being judged on their merits, have crippled our education system. It's funny that in the classroom where "self-esteem" is so esteemed, the NEA should so disdain the concept in its own members.
Unions infringe on the freedom of workers, who, even under the protection of so-called paycheck protection laws, are basically unable to choose the way their own dues -- only 30% of which actually goes to work-related issues -- are used for political purposes.
And most of all, as promoted by the humorously titled "Employee Free Choice Act," big labor is now mounting an attack on democracy by seeking to remove secret-ballot voting from the unionization process. The way liberals use the word "choice" would be funny were it not so reminiscent of totalitarian regimes. Yet, to hear union backers tell it, the deck is always stacked against them.
A favorite complaint of unionists is that management somehow maintains an upper hand on labor because it lobbies Congress. Indeed, my good friend Mike claims that his employer, the United States Postal Service, is losing out on the coveted overnight delivery business because of greedy lobbyists from UPS and FedEx. And sure enough, these two companies are two of the top thirty lobbyists of the past 20 years.
But a closer look at the heaviest hitters in the D.C. lobby game reveals that labor unions comprise nearly half of the top third on the list, including Mike's own National Association of Letter Carriers, which checks in at number 29. Not surprisingly, these big labor lobbyists gave an average of 95% of their funds to the Democratic Party. Coming in at number 16 on the list is the United Auto Workers, who are in the process of being bailed out by those same Democrats in Congress. And that's where the rubber meets the road.
When talking to my friend Mike who is, as I said, an otherwise sweet and level-headed American, the very mention of the name Ronald Reagan turns him into a froth-spewing madman. No amount of arguing that Reagan was simply doing his duty by firing illegally striking PATCO workers will dull the tirade, and to union members, all Republicans still bear his "R" on their foreheads.
We conservatives are perpetually accused of being mind-numbed robots because we come together in iron-clad support of certain issues at the core of our national interest: the protection of life and liberty. Now to our union friends, job security may indeed be important, but a mind is a terrible thing to waste.