May 14, 2012 9:23AM

Scott Walker and Public‐​Sector Unions

Today POLITICO Arena asks:

Did foes of Scott Walker make a bad bet on the recall?

My response:

We'll know soon enough whether foes of Scott Walker made a bad bet on the recall, but either way, Wisconsin made a bad bet years ago in initiating America's public-sector union movement.

The incentives thus established -- with concentrated benefits for state employees and dispersed costs for taxpayers -- have made it all too easy for politicians to cave in to union demands, resulting over time in government workers with benefits far exceeding anything a rational market would afford -- or those who pay for the benefits (taxpayers) can afford. Not surprisingly, therefore, states with strong public-sector unions -- California, Illinois, New York -- are today in economic disarray.

Bad enough that private-sector unions make businesses less competitive, the remedy for which is moving to right-to-work states or abroad. States can't move. But their businesses and citizens can -- and they do. Witness California over the past decade, and New York for several decades. Scott Walker has done us all a favor by crystallizing the issues facing so many states today.