January 24 2012
Carrie L. Lukas
One frustrating aspect of public policy debates is it usually takes awhile to see the impact of policy changes, and even then so many other variables change that it's hard to isolate precisely the impact of one new regulation or law.
That's why it's especially noteworthy when there is solid evidence on the outcome of a policy debate. And as detailed in the City Journal, a year after a contentious policy changes were advanced in Wisconsin, evidence shows that the doomsayer scenarios were plain old wrong, and that the policies have helped move the state toward fiscal health. Christian Schneider reports how the changes in collective bargaining have allowed localities to renegotiate with health insurance providers, saving taxpayers millions, and increased health and pension payments from public workers (who previously were all but not contributing to such benefits) has made up for reduction in state aid, helping balance Wisconsin government budgets across the state.
The Wall Street Journal tells a similar story today, noting that Big Labor claims to have enough signatures to trigger a recall of Wisconsin's Governor Walker this spring. Big Labor will have to convince Wisconsin citizens to reject the sensible policies that have led their state back toward fiscal balance.
Big Labor, of course, is sinking millions into this campaign to defeat Walker (once again showing how union dues are commonly put to political use). If they do so it will not only be a set back for Wisconsin, but for taxpayers everywhere. This is one of those classic instances of concentrated vs. diffuse benefits. Labor is willing to pour everything they have into a system that allows them to fleece taxpayers; since the pain of such policies is spread among many taxpayers, taxpayers aren't nearly as focused on fighting back. Yet taxpayers need to pay attention and defend their interests, if they want a fair system and to end the sweetheart deals between unions and big government. This is one debate that will be worth watching.