The “New Tammany Hall”

Posted By on January 2, 2011

Here in lies the problem….Fred Siegel, a historian at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute, has written of the “New Tammany Hall,” which he describes as the alliance between public officials and labor.  “Public unions have had no natural adversary; they give politicians political support and get good contracts back,” “It’s uniquely dysfunctional.”

In California, pension costs now crowd out spending for parks, public schools and state universities; in Illinois, spiraling pension costs threaten the state with insolvency.

And taxpayer resentment simmers.

Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty, a liberal Democrat, served four years as mayor of Washington Township in New Jersey. As the bill for pension and health benefits for town employees soared, he struggled to explain this to constituents.

“We really should not receive benefits any better than the people we serve,” he says. “It leads to a lot of resentment against public employees.”

All of which sounds logical, except that, as Mr. Moriarty also acknowledges, such thinking also “leads to a race to the bottom.” That is, as businesses cut private sector benefits, pressure grows on government to cut pay and benefits for its employees.

In the past, union leaders, have proven adept at winning gains not just at the bargaining table. In 2000, union lobbyists persuaded legislators to cut five years off the retirement age for police and firefighters — a move criticized as a budget-buster by a state pension commission. The next year, the budget still was flush and union leaders persuaded the Republican dominated legislature to approve a 9 percent increase in pension benefits. (The legislators added a sweetener for their own pensions.)

Those labor leaders, however, proved less successful in persuading their legislative allies to pay for such benefits. For much of the last two decades, New Jersey has shortchanged its pension contribution.

Governor Christie talked about tough choices this past year — then skipped the state’s required $3.1 billion payment. Now New Jersey has a $53.9 billion unfunded pension liability.

More at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/02/business/02showdown.html?pagewanted=2&hp

About the author

Comments

Comments are closed.

Copyright © 2020 The Stated Truth