The Founding Fathers understood the inherent risks of democracy. This is why they did not establish a proper democracy in America, but rather a strictly limited form of representative democracy in a republican structure. They did this in fear of the tyranny of the majority and to place a limit upon the momentary passions of the general public.
However, it has become clear that limited representative democracy has evils of its own that are arguably more pernicious than the vagaries of unlimited democracy. As American history demonstrates, representative democracy rapidly devolves into an system where various interest groups band together and form a kleptocracy wherein the government is little more than a mechanism for transferring wealth from the people to the interest groups.
It is unlikely, for example, that the American people would have voted for the TARP bailouts or the government-guaranteed profits that the Wall Street banks have enjoyed since 2008. However, their so-called representatives did because they were more beholden to the banks than to the voters whose interests they supposedly represent.
The same process has been at work at the state and local level for many years. Politicians have colluded with the government unions to consistently funnel vast sums of public money to bureaucrats, teachers, police and prison guards. Both the politicians and the government unions win; the unions ensure the politicians get elected and the politicians see that the unions get their oversized salaries and overstuffed pension plans. The loser, of course, is the taxpayer, whose interests are wholly unprotected and whose collective pockets have been picked for literal decades.
Neither the greed of the unions nor the ambition of the politicians has known any bounds, which is why Americans find themselves in this peculiar state where the 80 percent of the private labor force that is still employed full time finds itself with lower salaries and smaller pensions than the government employees they are forced to fund. Even worse, the private labor force is now going to be held liable for unfunded pension payments for those government employees whose contractual arrangements are so sweet that they are often making more money in retirement than when they were employed.
This goes well beyond ideology. Even the liberal media’s standard bearer, the New York Times, was appalled to discover that New York is home to several ex-government employees who retired in their 30s whose pensions now pay them more than $100,000 a year. This is legal, contractual and totally unconscionable. No retired policeman can reasonably claim to have ever put his life on the line to the extent that a Marine Corps private making one-quarter as much while stationed in Afghanistan or Iraq does.
Unfortunately, the increasingly useless Supreme Court has decided that while premarital contracts and business contracts are essentially meaningless and subject to ex post facto modification, government pension contracts are inviolate. This means that there is absolutely no way that the various state and local governments facing pension-related financial issues can hope to make up their funding shortfalls through spending cuts, tax increases or economic growth.
There is only one way out, and that is bankruptcy. Naturally, this will be vehemently opposed by a wide range of powerful interest groups, ranging from the police and teachers unions to the state and municipal bondholders. But the sooner bankruptcy is filed, the sooner the situation can be resolved and the sooner the public leeches can be removed from the taxpayers’ backs.
Unions may have served a purpose long ago, but it is abundantly clear that government unions are a clear and lethal danger to the public purse. Following the series of state and local bankruptcies, government unions must be banned to prevent a repetition of the same financial insanity.