U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of the People’s Republic of Vermont -- the nation’s first socialist presidential candidate since Eugene Debs (1855-1926), five times candidate for president and Norman Thomas, a presidential candidate six times from 1928-1948 -- has a hearty dislike, people will have noticed, for “greedy” companies larger than a mom-and-pop-deli. “Greed” is the mud-ball leftist extremists throw at business enterprises that are successful. There are two kinds of businesses: successful ones that make a profit and unsuccessful ones that go out of business. “Greed” is excessive profit-taking, the “excess” to be determined by socialists and progressives who historically have been much in the habit of transferring funds from obscenely greedy “haves” to the importunate and much more numerous “have-nots.”
A Hartford newspaper made Connecticut history when it called unions “greedy” in an editorial. Stubborn union leaders, the editorial pronounced, were perversely refusing to do the right thing: “They still refuse to even talk about, let alone offer, concessions in the unions' platinum-plated retirement and health care benefits package to help Connecticut avert a major budget crisis. We hope that unions do see the light, and quickly. This is the wrong time for greed.”
Legislative leaders of both parties and Governor Dannel Malloy – NOT greedy, although he is the architect of the largest and second largest tax increases in state history – the paper noted, had called union leaders to the table “to talk about money-saving ways to scrape some icing off the state employees' rich pension and health benefits cake,” but union deciders said they had to put the discussion offer to their membership before participating. The careful reader will note the use of the expression “rich,” pensions – as in “Why don’t we round up the rich and send them to re-education camps?” A bit of the Bern there too, no?
When leftist legislators, noticing Yale’s indecently profitable endowment of $23.8 billion, attempted to expropriate a portion of the endowment for budget balancing purposes, President of the State Senate Martin Loony was roundly denounced. “The Looney Principle” a political commentator noted, “is simply: What's yours is mine.” And the Hartford paper suggested in another editorial that state number crunchers might consider hiring the overseer of Yale’s endowment to run chronically inaccurate state budget projections.
The two Democratic majority leaders in the General Assembly, Looney and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, have climbed aboard Mr. Malloy’s “New Reality” ship, Mr. Looney warning that if union leaders do not reopen their contracts, “… their own members are going to suffer more layoffs, which means it is going to be very harsh on more junior employees with families than older employees who are protected through bumping rights and seniority.”
Benefits and salaries for workers that escape renegotiations, union leaders have determined, are more important than the calamities visited upon approximately 1,900 prospectively laid-off union workers. Prior to the French Revolution, anti-monarchical sans-culottes spread the rumor that Queen Marie Antoinette, responding to the hunger of Parisians denied bread, said imperiously “Let’em eat cake.” Similarly, union leaders respond to potentially jobless union workers, “Let’em go on welfare.” And throughout the state, no revolt of the masses who pay for both union excesses and welfare abuses appears to be stirring.
The political condition of the capital city of Hartford may be taken as an indicator of the condition of the whole state. Both Hartford and Connecticut are one-party operations the governments of which have been for years in thrall to special interests. Just now, newly elected Mayor of Hartford Luke Bronin, once Mr. Malloy’s chief council, is begging the General Assembly to give him the authority to wrest political control of the economic destiny of his city from unions, which are largely responsible for turning the city into the hands of Democrats. The same General Assembly leaders who are now urging unions to renegotiate contracts will only reluctantly come to the rescue of the city in which they write laws and offer special concessions to unions, Connecticut’s fourth branch of government. And, of course, virtually all other Democratic mayors of one-party cities in Connecticut will maintain a discreet and union-enabling silence.
Their silence is worth a thousand position papers and fanciful political promises. The unions, one may be sure, are taking names.