Morning Libertarian Rant
By Arnold Kling
Those who are blaming states for their severe budget shortfalls and arguing that Congress shouldn’t provide much-needed assistance until states “clean up their act” (here’s a recent example) are wrong on both counts.
Pointer from Mark Thoma. Shure argues that state and local revenues are down because of the recession. That is true. Revenues are down at many private firms, also, and that is why 7 million private sector jobs have been lost, compared to about 100,000 in the public sector.
To put this another way, calling for the Federal government to prop up state and local governments rather than cutting taxes for business is really calling for a transfer of power and wealth from the private sector to government.
If my state, Maryland, needs a bailout, it is because it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the teacher’s union. As the Washington Post editorializes,
a new law took effect in Maryland that undercuts local control in collective bargaining by giving a significant new advantage to teachers unions, one they had been seeking for decades.
…it creates a Public School Labor Relations Board, which will consist of two members nominated by unions, two members recommended by school boards and superintendents and a fifth to be independent but with experience in labor relations. ..
This new board’s decisions on wages, benefits and even what matters can be collectively bargained will be binding. That is a power that the state education board never had in resolving disputes. Local school boards and counties, which opposed the bill, are right to worry that binding awards could force counties to accept contracts they can’t afford.
So, just at the point where voters are starting to wake up to the need to curb teacher compensation, we are going to have a state-level unelected board that can overrule the decisions of elected officials on teacher pay.
But what should the public be afraid of? The Post’s conservative columnist, Michael Gerson, has the answer.
the ideology of libertarianism is itself a scandal. It involves not only a retreat from Obamaism but a retreat from the most basic social commitments to the weak, the elderly and the disadvantaged, along with a withdrawal from American global commitments.
Reading that, you may be ready to jump on board Brink Lindsey’s bandwagon and try to kiss up to liberals. But then read David Ignatius:
President Obama got serious this week about the ticking time bomb in his new health-care legislation — the lack of any clear plan to reduce costs and improve quality. What he did was install someone who can use our behemoth Medicare and Medicaid programs as laboratories for change — so that reform doesn’t bankrupt the country.
Ignatius is referring to the recess appointment of Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Berwick is an ardent opponent of markets and an admirer of the British health care system.
Enjoy your juice and toast.
[UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg rants. I think that writing Liberal Fascism made him more libertarian.]