A huge step backward

The American financial crisis has become more about political willpower than even money.

And not just among politicians.

Ohio leaders passed a law to try to prevent organized labor costs from eating the state alive, as is happening before the world’s eyes in Greece. Sadly, voters stoked by public unions and millions of dollars of union money voted last Tuesday, against their own interests, to overturn that law – and put the state back on an unsound financial path.

In short, even as we watch the crumbling of the social welfare state in Europe, it appears many Americans don’t want to be spared the same fate.

In the bigger picture, it’s obvious that November 2010’s election gains for commonsense conservatism have faded from memory – and unless folks who are worried about this country’s future mobilize next year, their complacency will cripple America.

Commentator Mark Steyn noted after the Ohio vote that Americans are “not yet sold on transformative rollbacks of government and the public sector. They seem to think that out there somewhere there’s a way to get the good times back that’s more or less pain-free. ... Obama & Co. will have a pretty good shot at fooling them.”

It worked in Ohio.

As stated before Tuesday by the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, a vote by the public to reaffirm Senate Bill 5 “would require public employees to pay a bigger share of their health-insurance premiums and pension contributions, eliminate binding arbitration, and consider performance for raises and promotions, along with seniority and credentials.”

That’s all. Pretty commonsense stuff. And, in truth, it might have helped bring public employee benefits more in line with the folks’ benefits in the private sector who are supporting the public employees. But on the strength of some $30 million, much of it from out of state, the unions’ cynical “We Are Ohio” campaign outspent the other side 3-to-1, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The unions fooled the public – or simply overwhelmed an uninspired electorate – by claiming it was “about jobs.” Actually, it was about the affordability of outdated pay and benefit packages.

As the Dispatch warned, “Ohio’s teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public workers do valuable work, but a collective-bargaining system tilted against taxpayers has led to pay, benefits and other perks that no longer are affordable.”

One of this nation’s great states just took a huge step backward.

If the rest of the country doesn’t hear that thud, we are doomed to repeat it.

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon