Pushing the Envelope--of Mediocrity

September 8, 2002

by Brian W. Peterson

It’s all just an opportunity, to some: forget homeland security. Forget stopping terrorists before they strike. The objective is to unionize as many people as possible whenever and wherever possible. Opportunity knocks.

The Bush Administration has responded to terrorists at every possible juncture. Our military has crushed the Taliban and destroyed much of al-Qa’eda’s ability to organize and communicate; our intelligence officers have captured and interrogated enemy combatants and thus prevented other terrorist attacks.

The biggest short-term threat- identifying and stopping terrorist cells already in this country--remains the most pressing matter for our government. But for some Senate Democrats, this is just an opportunity to expand union membership lists. Terrorist threats? Oh sure, they need to be stopped, but not by non-union people.

Why is the federal bureaucracy so big and slow? Why is it so incredibly difficult to fire inefficient and incompetent government workers? They are unionized, treated collectively, free to push the envelope of mediocrity.

For the Democrats, this is bliss. Unions generally endorse Democrats because they can count on the party to push the union agenda.

Government employees work directly for the people. They are allowed the privilege to unionize, but they lack the “right,” despite union officials’ claims. Government cannot prohibit private industry workers from unionizing because prohibition of such private activities is outside the realm of government authority. Public unions are not outside that realm.

Imagine if those employed in national security agencies were to strike. It is bad enough that other government employees have the “right” to strike The People--their employers--disrupting the duties of the government if they so choose.

The president desires the ability to move key personnel when necessary and to--gasp!--fire people who are ineffective. This position is purely logical and prudent. Some employees deserve reassignment, pay raises, or promotions. Others deserve termination, pay cuts, or demotions.

Bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), has downplayed the differences between Senate Democrats and the White House. He says that he was simply “trying to stick with the tried and true civil service program.” Tried and true for union coffers is more accurate.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) is more blunt about the matter. “We’re not gonna roll over when it comes to principles and beliefs we hold to be very, very important.” The union vote is now a principle.

Many effective, dedicated people have worked in the federal bureaucracy. Unfortunately, they are overshadowed by those who are less competent yet receive the same salaries, the same benefits and the same job security as those who are exemplary. Unions make such mediocrity sustainable.

For taxpayers, the best sequence of events would be for the executive branch to prohibit the employees of the new Department of Homeland Security to unionize, and then to take the successes that follow to provide the springboard for the eventual elimination of all federal public unions.

Without public unions, the threat of public strikes would not exist, incompetent federal employees could be fired just like in the real world. Government efficiency--currently an oxymoron--would improve.

If successful--and it would be successful--various states would likely experiment with the elimination of public unions.

The unions are loaded with cash, so the legal fights would be extensive.

Constitutionally speaking, no obstacles exist to prohibit the elimination of public unions. The question is whether politicians have the courage to fight off the unions--the purveyors of mediocrity--and whether the judges have the requisite constitutional understanding. The outcomes are anyone’s guess.

National security must not be hampered by the desires of special interests. The ability to defend ourselves on our own soil is already a built-in deficiency in a free society. We tolerate the fact that evil people have opportunities to act in return for the ability of good people to live freely. That is the trade-off in a free society. But we do not need additional and unnecessary obstacles in our war against terrorism. We must allow the new Department of Homeland Security to be union-free.

Let us all hope that, in the name of security, special interests and mediocrity are overcome for the good of our great Land.