Monday, March 7, 2011

Public Unions Under Water

Noman hasn't been able to read Peggy Noonan since the 2008 election.  Her reaction too Sarah Palin was too visceral, too over-the-top catty for his taste.  Then, when she turned into President Obama's #1 boot-licking Republican, Noman figured that she'd sold her conservative birthright for a cup of Pulitzer porridge.  Truth is, she should have won one for her 9/11 articles.  But, that writer disappeared in an avalanche of alternately virulent-to-her-side and gushing-to-the-other side offerings.

But, today, she lured Noman in for the first time in two years by analogizing public unions to the crooked longshoremen's union in one of Noman's favorite movies, On the Waterfront starring the inimitable Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden and Eva Marie Saint.  What a movie!  The article isn't bad.

She writes about the New Jersey unions that turned Chris Christie into a presidential possibility: "If the union leaders had been smart--if they'd had a heart!--they would have held a private meeting and said, 'Look, the party's over.  We've done great the past 20 years, but now taxpayers are starting to resent us, and they have reason.  They're losing their benefits and footing the bill for our gold-plated plans, they don't have job security and we do, taxes are high.  We have to back off."  Forget heart.  If they'd had a brain they might have reacted to the tea party zeitgeist that way.  But, if they could think that way, says Noman, they wouldn't be liberals.

Noonan scores more points with other keen observations: " When governors negotiate with unions, it's not collective bargaining, it's more like collusion... [T]he taxpayers aren't at the table.  The taxpayers aren't even in the room."  And, again: "The little guy is the private-sector worker who doesn't have a good health-care plan, who barely has a pension, who lacks job security, and who is paying everyone else's bills."

She concludes that public-employee unions remind her of Johnny Friendly, the corrupt boss in that magnificent movie.  Noman too.  Johnny Friendly is a belligerent bully with a chip on his shoulder and an overblown sense of entitlement.  Brando took a beating to eliminate his menace from the docks.  Noman says we're watching a late night rerun in Wisconsin and Ohio.

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