In today’s Wall Street Journal, Steve Malanga highlights the public’s growing frustration with public sector ujnions and the taxes that are needed to support them. He discusses the implications of this change to electoral prospects. I found this bit of information particularly interesting:
The backlash against public unions has gone beyond heavily unionized states like California and New Jersey. One illustration is the finding of a July 7 national Rasmussen poll: Only 19% of Americans said that they would be willing to pay higher taxes to keep government workers from being laid off. Even in public safety, where Americans are sometimes reluctant to see cutbacks, the poll found only 34% endorsed higher taxes to preserve police and fire jobs.
I think one reason that Americans express a willingness to sacrifice public safety jobs is because they know that that isn’t really necessary. Politicians hold out the specter of firing teachers and policemen anytime they face a budget crunch to frighten voters into supporting tax increases. As I detail in this article, state budgets have ballooned in recent years (especially education budgets).
This topic came up when I was doing the Thom Hartman radio show the other night. Thom challenged me asking if I wanted police and teachers to lose their jobs. Of course, no one wants anyone to lose a job (well, besides some elected officials…), but I don’t think it should be taboo to say that state government workforces are generally bloated and are acting as a drag on the private sector. As we saw in cash-strapped California, elected officials are wasting millions (in this case more than a half billion) on unnecessary projects. I bet many of those in the Rasmussen poll don’t want police and fire job cuts, but they are sick of the tactic that suggests that the only alternatives are higher taxes or fewer policemen.