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.