Sunday, July 22, 2007
Thank you for your comment.
I think it is an enormous stretch of the imagination to fear that a city garbage strike will lead to your home invasion by a totalitarian police force.
More importantly, at the heart of your argument is the admirable American love of liberty and the individual. So many Presidents, including the present dissembler, have made fools of the electorate by imposing bigger and more extensive government on them, while preaching Ermersonian ideals.
While I am largely sympathetic to those views, and in many an instant will still side with them, there is no question in my mind that government has an important role to play.Yes, it more often than not plays badly and makes us yearn again for the dictum "that government which governs least, governs best."
However, cities and sovereign states and provinces and countries do need policy and management.In the course of caring for the sewers and the fires and the public order, governments will employ workers. Yes, it is a sign of our unwillingness to care for ourselves that government is now the biggest employer in Canada, and no doubt the least effecient.
But, here we are. Postal workers, garbage collectors, park rangers and so on.
Now, all of these people deserve some reasonable kick at the cat. That is, within the range of their abilities and opportunities, they aught to be able to afgord some of the many extraordinary comforts of the current age.
The politicians and their managers can. Vancouver City Hall, for example is overrun with people we've never heard of who have been earning in a excess of $100,000 a year for many years.
(My own personal belief is that, if many of those were fired, the garbage men would do just fine, thank you, and so would you and I.)
So...strike on, I say. I will not be voting for ANY of the current City Council come next election. I may fear stinky garbage, but I don't expect the Boys in Blue to drop by, arms drawn, for breakfast.
Posted by David Berner at 9:26 AM
Hi David-- I would like to disagree with you on your stance regarding the City workers strike. I am opposed to the very idea of "public sector unions' and I would like to tell you why.
If the workers in a company in the private sector elect to go on strike (say, Air Canada) the situation is quite different. If they reach a settlement that either raises the cost of travel on AC or results in a lower level of service, I can choose not to fly with them. If enough people make a similar decision, the company will fail and then both Robert Milton and his employees will be looking for work. In other words 1/ I, as an individual, can reject any settlement and 2/ any agreement must ultimately fly in the marketplace.
In the case of the public sector there are no similar checks and balances. If the city workers and the politicians reach a settlement I, as a homeowner, have no choice but to go along with it.
But let's assume I choose not to. Suppose I refuse to pay the additional taxes that the settlement requires. I will receive a series of polite (then increasingly threatening) letters from first the City--and subsequently from the legal system--telling me that I MUST pay these new taxes. If I continue to refuse then men with guns on their hips (policemen) will come to my home and tell me that I must either pay up or leave my home. If I protest and say "This is my home and I want you to get out of here" they will tell me that I must leave and will attempt to physically remove me. But suppose I am foolish enough to continue to resist them? At some point, these nice men with guns on their hips will draw their guns. If I should continue to resist even then, they may well use these guns (effectively bringing the matter--and perhaps my life--to a close.)
So, unlike the Air Canada example, the contract that public sector unions negotiate with the City is, in the last instance, extracted by the use of deadly force. I offer this for your consideration.
Posted by David Berner at 9:23 AM