Berry: SB5′s Theater of the AbsurdWritten by Thomas Berry | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The more heated the rhetoric from opponents of SB5, the more ridiculous it gets. The usual cliché is that it’s a vicious attack on Ohio’s workers and hardworking middle class – as if only union members, and especially only public employees, work hard or comprise the middle class. More specifically, SB5 is accused of destroying collective bargaining rights, pensions and health care benefits. All right, then: If any opponent of SB5 reads this, then please share with us the exact citations from the law, as passed and signed, that document this.
SB5, in part, allows public employees’ pay to be cut and for them to bear a higher portion of the costs of their benefits. The uproar that provokes is perfectly understandable; any employee faced with reduced net pay and higher costs has every right to be upset. But I say to that upset: Welcome to reality, in which millions of private sector workers are facing that exact problem without the convenience of forcing taxpayers to bail them out.
And what about us hard-working non-union members of the middle class? Do we not have a right to enjoy the fruits of our labor without the government redistributing them to enrich a tiny number of other workers? Evidently, everyone else is supposed to sacrifice for the benefit of the favored few; but why?
Buying of political favor. Summarizing remarks at a May 19 press conference, The Toledo Blade reports that State Representative Matt Szollosi (D) denied that, “Democrats were championing the rights of the unions in order to promote their own political power.” But unions very typically bankroll Democrat candidates, which makes little sense given the progressive Democrats’ record of killing private sector jobs through punitive taxes, litigation and regulation. SB5 partially restricts the inherent conflict of interest in which public employees can demand higher wages and benefits from politicians for whom they campaign and vote and who, in turn, confiscate these goodies from the rest of us by duress.
Again quoting The Blade, Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins (Ind) claimed in the same conference, “This is all about unbridled power to (sic) an administration that would seek out and destroy the middle class in the state of Ohio,” and that “binding arbitration is what’s held the state together since 1983.” Councilman Collins, as a former constituent of yours, I am ashamed of you. I repeat the challenge: Show us in the law where the administration is given “unbridled power.” The “seek out and destroy” remark is so foolish that it refutes itself, and a look at the long history of the state’s deteriorating economic health and business climate shows just how poor a job binding arbitration has done of holding the state together.
This gets directly to the heart of the problem. Contrary to the ridiculous rhetoric used by Councilman Collins and other SB5 opponents, what is being attacked is not the middle class, nor organized labor. It is decades of irresponsible spending and concessions by government intended specifically to buy the votes of the beneficiaries. If the economy were to continually grow and prosper, these giveaways could – and only could – be affordable. But the downturns in tax revenues brought about by recession doom them to insolvency and expose the folly of increasing costs while revenues stagnate. And, no, the answer is not punitive taxation; see above.
With all this said, I wholeheartedly applaud the effort of SB5 opponents to put the law on the ballot for a popular vote. In doing this, they’ve conducted themselves far more honorably than have their counterparts in Wisconsin; there, supporters of public employee unionism tried to elect a candidate with no judicial experience to the state Supreme Court specifically to cast a tie-breaking vote on public employee collective bargaining after she prejudiced herself on the issue.
My main reservation about the ballot measure is the susceptibility of voters to hyperemotional pleas. Count on it: We will be bombarded by tearjerking ads about how evil, greedy Republicans are balancing the state budget on the backs of underpaid, impoverished workers. Never mind that those workers are in fact overpaid, receive tremendous benefits and get a dozen or more paid holidays a year, all at our expense, and never mind that the payment is made by government forcing us at gunpoint to underwrite the lifestyles of the few whose favor it buys for votes.
My other concern is that voters accustomed to voting as the progressives dictate will vote against SB5 merely because progressive politicians whose names they recognize, or some union, told them to. Would that they would instead think independently, do their homework, learn the facts and vote accordingly.
Thomas Berry, for the Children of Liberty, www.meetup.com/The-children-of-liberty.