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Just when you think government has reached the limits to corruption and waste, a new insight emerges.

Take New Jersey (it’s motto is “Liberty and Prosperity”). Geographically it’s a small state, but that hasn’t limited it’s appetite for corruption.

In New Jersey, taxpayers actually pay union thugs their state salary, solid gold benefits and credit toward retirement time they take off from their government or school district job to do union work.

Contemplate that for a while. Let the level of corruption all around the table sink in. State managers, who are charged with stretching tight taxpayer dollars, actually pay union thugs to help union employees to get ever larger bundles of taxpayer cash, benefits and retirements. The union doesn’t have to pay them a cent.

“Time off for growing the union? No problem, Ted. Take the week off. Oh, it’s three months? Well, OK. We’ll hire a substitute while you are gone. Let me know when you’re back in the classroom.”

Meanwhile, health and dental insurance costs are rising, and the public employees’ retirement investment funds haven’t done quite as well as expected. So the legislature and governor regret to inform you that taxes must be raised to cover the shortfall. We must all do our fair share. We regret the error.

Oh no, you don’t “regret the error.” Not yet, anyway. But you will regret the error. When you go to jail.

Calls for firing government employees who have abused the public trust are ludicrous. An employee – any employee – has a legal responsibility to do the best thing for his or her employer. Theft is not among those best things.

How will this be met when it spreads out from New Jersey and reaches your state? “We’re sorry, but union contracts are not publicly available. … Well, yes, it is public money, but privacy … We don’t have any record of that occurring here. … Certainly there could be legitimate reasons for that. … I don’t know, but I will look into it. …”

You get the picture. Deny, delay, derail. The public is a fat cow to be slaughtered for the annual union picnic every year. Public dollars flow into union pockets – and then out again. Guess where they go? They go into Democratic politicians’ hot little hands.

How big is this fraud on the public likely to be?

Just for grins, let’s take the combined membership of the three biggest public-sector unions. That would be 6.8 million members.

Now let’s take an educated guess that only two in 100 union employees have received such payments during the past year. And let’s calculate that this amounts to two weeks a year for that employee. At an average salary of $80,000 per year (low), plus benefits of 35 percent of pay, each employee costs taxpayers $108,000 per year. Divide by 52 weeks per year for $2,077 per week, or $4,154 for our two-week period.

With 6.8 million members, 2 percent of those people amount to 136,000 employees. Multiply by $4,154 for two weeks of union proselytizing, and the total comes to $564,944,000.

Cost to the taxpayer? We paid over half a billion dollars to “grow the union.” Keep in mind, this is per year. With a four-year election cycle, taxpayers are funding Democratic politicians’ re-elections to the tune of nearly $2.2 billion.

Benefit to the union? 564,944,000 dollars that can be poured into union organizing and political contributions.

Benefit to Democratic politicians? Priceless.

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