The exception to this, of course, is what is happening in Wisconsin and in Ohio. Both of these governments, under the leadership of Republican governors, have realized that the existing bracelets wholesale of forces is untenable. Both states will be dragged into bankruptcy if they cannot get control over the unrealistic contracts that were written in the past on behalf of public employee unions. Both governors have realized that the fundamental problem is the monopoly power of unions, a power that remains largely unchecked from one government administration to the next. Even in the situation that Republican government hold the line on concessions while Democratic governments loosen or let go of the line, the impact, over time, is a ratcheting up of union power and benefits. This is what explains how it has come about that public employee unions, in states where these unions have monopoly power and a closed shop, have achieved benefit contracts that are utterly non-viable over the long term, and in some cases very quickly so.
As I tried to explain in the previous post, there is, ultimately, a market powerbalance that holds a veto, even in the case of the contest between state government and the public employee unions. That power, however, is not held by the voters as a collective. It is held by taxpayers, both individuals and businesses, who have the wherewithal to leave the state for more hospitable climes, or, if worse comes to worse, who cease the activity that is the source of the wealth that is taxed by the state. That ultimate veto power holds the key to the survivability of the state. It's a veto power that remains largely hidden from view in normal times. These times, however, are not normal, and people, voters, are becoming increasingly aware of that power, a power that no democratic government dare attempt to control.
Voters in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere understand what is at stake, even if they don't clearly understand all of the forces at play. They understand that the long-term viability of their state is at stake. They will, eventually, understand that the crucial piece of the equation that needs adjustment is the collective bargaining power balance cheap of public employee unions. That power needs adjustment because benefit contracts are permanent for those who retire. They are permanent for precisely as long as a state remains out of bankruptcy. And, given the current balance of the forces involved in generating those contracts, the public employee unions hold the upper hand.
And history shows that no union, either public or private, ever had the wisdom to hold its own power in check to ensure the long-term survival of the business that generated its benefits.