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Matt Welch and Steven Greenhut on Stossel, Talking About Public Sector Unions, Pensions, and California

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On Feb. 11, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch and February cover boy Steven "Class War" Greenhut appeared on John Stossel's weekly Fox Business Channel program to talk about the power and impact of public sector unions, and whether America on the whole is on a "road to serfdom." This excerpt of the hour-long show clocks in at around 13 minutes:

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  1. This is a repeat. I remember that red tie.

    And, I remember the class warfare! Matt goes after Bernard Parks just because he’s wealthy.

  2. My favorite bit was the union guy laughing at the assertion that farming and fishing are more dangerous than being a fireman. Facts ? Who needs facts when you have romantic mythology.

    1. “Who needs facts when you have romantic mythology.”

      I’ve been thinking about American Romanticism lately. In general, Romantic ideals are foolish at best, damaging to perceptions of reality at worst, but people are so ready to embrace them. I devote a significant portion of my literature courses to dissecting and critiquing Romantic ideals, and my students all seem to be fairly level headed and rational when it comes to enjoying the idea but not embracing the ideology wholesale. They can sort through the crap readily enough with literature, but its more difficult to recognize in popular culture.

      I see that it is necessary that I add some modern “factual” American Romantic writing to the course. Students seldom make the automatic translation of skills from fiction to non-fiction. If its non-fiction, it must be true, yes, and not need a critical eye turn towards it.

      You’ve also given me some thesis-fodder, and for that I thank you. Romantic mythology in modern American media could make for some interesting grad work.

    2. Btw, here are the fatality statistics.

      http://orangejuiceblog.com/wp-…..s_2006.pdf

      I would put a caveat on these, however. Statistics like these often miss indirect causes of death such as exposure to chemicals, which can certainly be non-trivial in some occupations. It’s a lot easier to count the number of employees who get shot, run over, or blown up than it is to count the number that died a few years early due to a cancer they didn’t need to contract. However, none of this really applies to cops and firefighters, who have jobs which are more dangerous than the norm, but not markedly so.

      1. The only occupation with a higher fatality rate than firefighting on that list is farming/ranching (fishing isn’t mentioned). But it is more than double the fatality rate of firefighters so Matt appears to be right.

      2. Oops forgot to scroll. Let’s see…

        Trucking and driving is a little more fatal.

        Electrical power line installers/repairers are a little lower than farmers but still more than double firefighters.

        Garbage, recycling collecting and roofing are 2.5 times as fatal.

        Logging and aircraft piloting are 5 times as fatal.

        Fishing is 8.9 (!) times more fatal.

        1. And remember, most regression analysis find that the risk premium is around $100 for each 1/100,000 risk, which is one way we determine that a “life” is worth around $10,000,000 for use in cost-benefit analyses. Therefore, a cop’s extra 12/100000 risk relative to a typical worker suggests his risk pay should be on the order of $1200 per year.

          1. Of course, some cops have jobs that are tougher than others… but the cops with higher pay are often in wealthy suburbs that are also less dangerous. Fairfax County VA a few years back had its first *ever* two policemen die in the line of duty.

  3. I loved that the public union guy was mostly only able to repeat sound bites like “firemen run towards fires when everyone else runs away”. Sadly it seems a large enough swath of the voting public is so poor at analyzing policy issues in depth that the sound bite strategy quite likely works better than actually trying to win a debate with superior reasoning.

  4. well we just need a better sound bite. ‘we’re fucking bankrupt’. why don’t more politicians drop the f-bomb here and there?

  5. No one should be allowed to organize against the people of the United States.

    1. Organizing is fine – just drop the monopoly exemption.

      1. What if your “organizing” amounts to blackmailing the American people and undermining our system of checks and balances? When you have the (public) teachers’, nurses’ and firefighters’ unions threatening to bring society to a halt unless their demands are met … well, then we need some rebalancing to restore our democratic republic.

        I suppose leftists make the same arguments about corporations. In both cases, though, the power to pull of a Bond-villain-worthy blackmail scheme always seems to be granted by government allies in the first place.

  6. Excellent job by Matt Welch.

  7. The fact is that Dave Low likes to say, “The fact is…”

  8. My cable TV provider doesn’t carry the Fox Business channel. Can anyone post a place to get “Stossel” online? I’ve searched and I can’t seem to find it.

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