On Sunday February 2nd the Sacramento Bee released an editorial entitled “CEQA’s being hijacked, where are the enviros? ” In the editorial, the Bee states:
“With shameless abandon, lawyers and monied players are abusing the state’s premier environmental law – the California Environmental Quality Act,” and “Labor unions are an even larger abuser of CEQA. In recent years, labor groups have used environmental lawsuits, or the threat of such suits, to stop or slow down power plant construction, hospital expansions and housing developments. The unions’ lawyers always seem to disappear once a developer has signed an agreement to hire only union labor. Critics call this practice ‘greenmail,’ a polite term for legal extortion.”
The Bee is on to something, but it is the Bee and other members of the press who need to wake up just as much as “enviros.” Because all laws can be hijacked, and it is the press whose sacred trust is to speak truth to power. In its brief editorial the Bee documents several recent examples of how unions are using environmental laws to force landowners and developers to hire union labor. And the problem, as we’ve said again and again, is not the ideals of unions – it is the reality of unions using their control of state, county and municipal governments to guarantee wages and benefits to unionized public workers and contractors that are far greater than what private sector workers can earn with similar skills. Read “California’s Deficit,” or view our interactive spreadsheet “Pension Calculator” to better understand the cost of union control of government policy.
If mainstream media such as the Sacramento Bee covered this reality more often, the points we make here would have more credibility. But being a voice in the wilderness doesn’t make one wrong. Here’s what one prominent California assemblymember wrote me a few months ago:
“Public employee unions have policy influence on the state legislature that is tantamount to control. Due to the considerable resources they bring to bear… our policy decisions are absolutely influenced by public employee union interests.”
This is why public employees retire in their 50′s with pensions and health care for life – while the rest of us retire in our 60′s, if we’re lucky, hoping we’ve saved enough to get by, since social security will possibly pay our property taxes, and not much more. And since our policymakers condone millions of unskilled immigrants, legal and illegal – entering America and acquiring American entitlements year after year at the same time as menial jobs are being relentlessly automated – the average wage earning capacity of Americans continues to drop. So the bureaucrats who control the reins of government grant their unionized government workforce special entitlements that their own policies ensure will never be economically feasible to grant all American workers – whose rights, dignity, and entitlements should be exactly the same as theirs – according to their own ideals.
What does this all have to do with environmentalism? Because this latest wave of green mania that has captured the hearts and kindled the fears of millions of Americans is potentially the most abundant source of new taxes in the history of the world. Environmentalism, ironically, is a virulent form of the globalization environmentalists ordinarily decry – because the prescriptions of individual sacrifice and collective leveling of lifestyles that will satisfy what is now mainstream environmental wisdom – can only be fulfilled through global socialist tyranny. And since socialism, in essense, is communism with accomodations for ultra-rich private property owners, the agenda of socialism benefits all powerful vested interests – big environmentalist organizations, public sector unions, corporate cartels (including the “indian gaming” interests), insurance companies, trial lawyers, big government, and the super rich. The losers are small businesses, the consumer, individual liberties, and the interests of emerging nations.
If unions truly cared about workers, they would care about all workers. But instead they concentrate their power in areas where there is no global competition – the public sector, where profits don’t have to be made, and where success (eliminating social problems) is failure (since fewer government jobs are then necessary). It is in this inverted world that unions flourish, and control our destiny. Pandering to the endless and impossible demands of environmental extremists guarantees both more revenues and regulations; the currency of unions and the currency of government have become one and the same.
Where are the enviros? We are here. But mainstream media is not listening – despite an occasional flirtation with reality on the part of the Sacramento Bee, they and their media counterparts are not beating the drum nearly loud enough or often enough to be heard by voters.