- The Washington Times - Monday, February 28, 2011

Armstrong Williams attempts to lay out the gross imbalances in state finances resulting from public-sector unions, but he falls into the same old accounting trap when trying to explain the situation (“Principle over political expediency,” Page 2, Monday).

One thing we all have heard repeatedly is the gross disparity between public-sector pensions and health insurance and private-sector retirement and health insurance. Those exorbitant union benefits all come from taxes collected from private-sector employees. If the source is not taxes, then it’s debt, but that debt ultimately is paid off with taxes.

What are the benefits when a public-sector employee has more deducted from his paycheck for pensions or health care? The taxpayer burden may decrease, but there are no overall savings. If the state is spending $1 for salary and health care and the public employee is forced to shoulder more of the cost, the total outlay is still $1.

The only reform worth pursuing to protect the taxpayer is the abrogation of collective-bargaining rights for wages and benefits. The taxpayer gets to select the best, lowest-cost alternatives in this case, and it is the only way to reduce the cost. This is what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is demanding. It should be noted, too, that if federal employees had collective-bargaining rights for wages and benefits, the United States would have gone the way of Greece years ago.


Reston, Va.

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