THE BLOG

From Union Wife to Union Buster

04/21/2011 07:10 pm ET | Updated Jun 21, 2011

Few things political can be much more confounding than self-labeled "common-sense conservative" Sarah Palin standing in front of a Wisconsin crowd to proclaim government knows best.

But that's exactly what she did over the weekend when she announced Badger state Gov. Scott Walker is "not trying to hurt union members. Hey, folks, he's trying to save your jobs and your pensions!"

Let's assume for a minute that this is true. Does that mean Walker's view should trump the decisions of thousands of Wisconsin wage slaves who vote on union labor agreements governing jobs, pensions and salaries? Shouldn't state union workers in Wisconsin have as much right as other Americans to make bad decisions, or are we all now bound to some new common-sense idea that the politicians know best?

What Walker is trying to do in Wisconsin, of course, is eliminate collective bargaining for state employees, and the reasons are simple and understandable. It takes politicians with guts to negotiate fiscally conservative contracts with public employee unions. It's much easier to tell individual employees, "We're paying you the minimum wage, take it or leave it," than to try to work out a deal with a union leaders who say, "Look, if you do that, nobody -- and I mean NOBODY -- is showing up for work. We want the minimum wage plus a dollar for starters, and a pay scale that increases from there based on experience and performance, and we want yadda, yadda, yadda."

Collective bargaining without argument makes life difficult for government, not to mention business, by giving some measure of power to working folk. Collective bargaining is what ensured a fat salary for Sarah's husband, Todd Palin, when he had a job in the Alaska oil patch. His old oil buddies on the North Slope might have been shocked to hear Sarah announce that getting rid of collective bargaining, which essentially makes unions meaningless, was a great idea in Wisconsin.

State of the union flip-flop


Long-time observers of Palin in Alaska, however, were hardly surprised. Her politics have always been basic. No matter how she might now describe them as "common-sense conservative," her politics are far simpler than that.

Sarah Palin's politics are Sarah Palin. They can be summed up in four words: "It's all about me."

Palin is a self-serving pragmatist. When Americans were struggling and the country seemed on the verge of a second Great Depression, she sounded like an advocate of unions seeking good wages for workers. In 2008, on the campaign trail, she credited her husband's union for among other things, providing good family health care.

We've gone through periods of our life here with paying out of pocket for health coverage until Todd and I both landed a couple of good union jobs ... Early on in our marriage, we didn't have health insurance, and we had to either make the choice of paying out of pocket for catastrophic coverage or just crossing our fingers, hoping that nobody would get hurt, nobody would get sick.

Now that the threat of an economic meltdown has passed and America is more concerned with a deficit piled up after a decade of war and inflated government budgets, Palin thinks it a good idea to gut unions by banning their ability to bargain collectively.