[T]he more [Wisconsin] voters saw of the [Budget Repair] law’s effects, the more they liked it. Dozens of school districts reported millions in savings, most without resorting to layoffs. Property taxes fell. A $3.6 billion state budget deficit turned into a $154 million projected surplus. Walker’s measures proved a tonic for the economy, and support for restoring the status quo ante faded — even among Wisconsin Democrats. Long before Election Day, Democratic challenger Tom Barrett had all but dropped the issue of public-sector collective bargaining from his campaign to replace Walker.
The second harbinger was the plunge in public-employee union membership. The most important of Walker’s reforms, the change Big Labor had fought most bitterly, was ending the automatic withholding of union dues. That made union membership a matter of choice, not compulsion — and tens of thousands of government workers chose to toss their union cards. More than one-third of the Wisconsin members of the American Federation of Teachers quit, reported The Wall Street Journal. At the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, one of the state’s largest unions, the hemorrhaging was worse: AFSCME’s Wisconsin rolls shrank by more than 34,000 over the past year, a 55 percent nose-dive.
Did government workers tear up their union cards solely because the union had lost its right to bargain collectively on their behalf? That’s doubtful: Even under the new law, unions still negotiate over salaries. More likely, public-sector employees ditched their unions for the same reasons so many employees in the private sector — which is now less than 7 percent unionized — have done so: Many never wanted to join a union in the first place. Others were repelled by the authoritarian, belligerent, and left-wing political culture that entrenched unionism so often embodies.
The article hits all the important points, but let me recap some of the observations I've made here and elsewhere over the past many months on the subject. On Blog Silence Day, Bruce made some observations regarding the actual expenditures of pro- and anti-Walker organizations.
First of all, the Wisconsin Progressive experiment with public unions was a failure, because public unions could not be trusted not to abuse their privileges. The unions have liked to cast the issues as matters of rights, rather than privileges, but they have always been privileges, and they have been increasingly flouted at the cost of the taxpayer for the reasons that Jacoby states. Let the unions cry as loudly as they want about the abrogation of their so-called rights. At every turn for more than half a century, they have proved themselves miserably unworthy of their privileges and despicably selfish towards taxpayers and the body politic of the state. They have nobody to blame for the termination of their privileges than themselves.
Second, unions whether private or public benefit from a strong economy, and the great driver of any free nation's economy is free enterprise. When the economy tanks, as it has done so horribly under Obama's watch, labor is cheap. When an economy is strong, labor is at a premium, and employers are much more able to negotiate raises in salaries and benefits. It has been a buyer's market for labor for the past 4+ years, and anyone with an ounce of economic sense understands that government impediment in the way of regulation or higher taxation will only worsen the situation, as indeed it has done. The Stimulus was a farce; the Recovery Summer was a farce; the EPA's power grabs are an ongoing farce; the Obama administration of the economy has been an enormous, poorly acted, extraordinarily expensive and stupid farce from beginning to end, and let us hope that it ends quickly.
Third, let's stop all the neighing about 'evolution.' People who like to use this metaphor generally haven't any idea at all what it means, or the implications of their misuse of the metaphor. Free enterprise and capitalism evolved because they are apt. Human nature has not 'evolved' much during this period. Ideas such as public unions that require as a precondition of their operation a reformed human nature never work, because human nature is not reformed by them. The self-described more evolved human beings who propose such scams (X-Men of Intellect, all) are all, whether they know it or not, a lot of confidence men whose unredeemed humanity will justify any selfishness in the name of their self-serving utopianism. What has evolved, perhaps, is the general populace's understanding of just how unredeemed the Great Promisers and Little Performers are.
Let a thousand petty selfishnesses bloom is pretty much this failed administration's motto. Break out the Round-Up.