Hoyer Speaks - Must We Listen?

Commentary by Ron Miller

Ron MillerHe's been quiet for a while.

Perhaps he was chastened by losing three southern Maryland counties for the first time in nearly two decades, or by the fact that only 572 votes separated him and his opponent, Charles Lollar, until Prince George's County pulled his fat out of the fire, as it always does.

Yes, there was that wisecrack back in January about Tea Party people:
There are a whole lot of people in the Tea Party that I see in these polls who don't want any compromise. My presumption is they have unhappy families. All of you have been in families: single-parent, two-parents, whatever. Multiple parent and a stepfather. The fact is life is about trying to reach accommodation with one another so we can move forward. That is certainly what democracy is about. So if we are going to move forward compromise is necessary.
He later tried to downplay by saying he meant that compromise was essential to harmony in the family and good governance, and he was in no way disparaging the personal family lives of Tea Party members.

Whatever. Oh, and we're not a democracy - we're a constitutional republic. Democracy is about mob rule, not compromise.

Now he's speaking again, and once more, he's making sense only in his own mind.

If you've been following the news, you know that Democratic legislators in Wisconsin and Indiana have devised a novel approach to conducting the people's business - run like hell. It's yet another example of how politicians live in a bizzaro world where accountability, stewardship and humility are mocked, and infantile behavior is cheered as heroic.

One of the people waving the pom-poms is our own Steny Hoyer, who yesterday compared the AWOL legislators' actions to Republicans' use of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate to block Democratic initiatives:
There are 14 members of the Wisconsin Senate who are not in Wisconsin at this point in time. Some Republicans have criticized that. [The Democrats] don't want something to come to the floor unless they can fully participate and not just be rolled.

Thirty-eight, 39, 40, 41 Republicans did that consistently over the last four years in the United States Senate. Now they were here, but they simply would not vote to bring measures to the floor. I see no substantive difference.
Yes, there is a substantive difference. The filibuster is a legal practice accepted and used by both sides in political debate. Fleeing the job for which the taxpayers hired and pay you is desertion.

And spare me the whining about being rolled. The last Congress redefined the term with the tactics they used to ram Obamacare down our throats.

Hoyer went on to decry Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's use of the state's budget problems as "an excuse for taking away from workers the right to collectively bargain."

A "right?" You mean the "right" that neither federal employees nor public employees in 12 states possess?

Collective bargaining with private enterprises that make a profit is one thing, and that is not under challenge here.

Public sector unions, however, are in collusion primarily with Democratic politicians to whom they contribute hundreds of millions of dollars, after which these elected officials provide increases in pay and benefits to union members. Both the public employees and the Democratic politicians believe in bigger government, and have no qualms about spending your money.

Jonah Goldberg of National Review summed up the critical difference between private sector and public sector unions:
Private sector unions fight with management over an equitable distribution of profits. Government unions negotiate with politicians over taxpayer money, putting the public interest at odds with union interests and, as we've seen in states such as California and Wisconsin, exploding the cost of government.
The problem is that most of the states overpromised and now can't deliver without severe repercussions, including bankruptcy. It is in the taxpayer's interest not only to address public sector wages and benefits, but to eliminate once and for all the conflict of interest where public sector unions and politicians scratch each other's backs at our expense.

It's an insidious system. State governments collect union dues automatically from public employee paychecks, even if they don't want to be part of the union. The money is handed over to the public sector union leaders, and they use it to buy their favorite representatives, usually Democrats. As a public sector union leader in New York City once boasted, "We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss."

The only problem is that the taxpayer is footing the bill. We're the bosses that are being plundered.

Under the reforms proposed in Wisconsin and already in place in several states and the federal government, the unions themselves would have to collect dues from their members, and dues would be voluntary.

Since most federal workers don't pay dues, you can project what would happen if something similar was implemented at the state level. If state and local public employees were allowed to opt out of paying union dues, most of them would, leaving a ton of cash uncollected.

Less money for union bosses means less money for Democrats. It's no wonder they're fighting so hard.

That's why the private sector unions are involved as well. Only 6.9 percent of private sector employees are unionized, but 36.2 percent of public employees are in a union.

Unions overall have been on the decline for decades, with only 11.9 percent of the workforce unionized, and they are being propped up by public sector unions. For them, this is nothing less than a struggle to maintain what little power and influence they have left.

A past American president foresaw the problems with collective bargaining by public employees and spoke out against the idea:
All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public-personnel management. The very nature and purposes of government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government-employee organizations. The employer is the whole people…
Who was this evil corporate shill who favored the oppression of workers and the destruction of the middle class?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

For what it's worth, this isn't an indictment of public sector workers, at least not all of them. The people who are out in the streets shouting, attacking reporters, counter-demonstrators, and public officials, and leaving trash in their wake ("a pigsty," according to one Wisconsin lawmaker), in my opinion, are not representative of public workers and do them a great disservice.

This isn't a struggle about rights. It's a desperate attempt to hold onto power that dismisses the fundamental accountability of public employees to the taxpayer.

The bottom line is that Hoyer can blather on about duty and desertion being the same thing, or about a contrived "right" that is philosophically in conflict with the positional relationship between government and the people who pay the bills - us. It probably sounds good in his head, but that doesn't mean we have to accept it as gospel.

Ron Miller is a conservative writer and commentator, author of the book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom’s Porch, and the president of Regular Folks United, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of individual liberty, free markets and our nation's founding principles. The nine-year plus veteran of the U.S. Air Force and married father of three writes columns for several online sites and print publications, and his own website, TeamRonMiller.com. Join him on Facebook and Twitter.

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