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This is where internal corruption meets external corruption. These unions have millions in union dues to play with and exploit, and they use it to full advantage. In fact, that was one of the original purposes of the unions for Democrats – Democrats allowed unions to form in violation of basic anti-trust principles so that the unions could be used as political organizations to support them.
Is there any question that in paying off politicians with the cash of their constituents, unions border on violation of 18 USC Sec. 201(b), penalizing anyone who “directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official or person who has been selected to be a public official … with intent – to influence any official act …”? These aren’t union members finding their friendliest candidates and raising moolah for them – it’s union heads parlaying directly with politicians and trading support for favors.
In condemning unions in this manner, we border on John McCain-esque critiques of money in politics. In suggesting that unions give cash as soft bribes, we seem to make the case that money has no place in politics, and that campaign finance reform is a necessary and just objective.
It is not. There are two answers to the problem of legalized political bribery. The first answer is narrow: destroy unions’ anti-trust exemptions. If unions are forced to allow competition in the labor marketplace, unions will no longer be able to use their union dues without regard to union members. Since unions are the main purveyors of the direct political kickback, such bribery will largely wither on the vine.
But it will not die unless big government dies first. As long as government remains an enormous grab bag of cash, waiting for the first paid-off politician willing to “make it rain” for his patron, soft bribery will remain the rule rather than the exception. Limited government prevents any corporation or union from treating government as a feeding trough – there’s no slop in the trough in the first place.
Unfortunately, no matter how often Democrats realize that they must sometimes disappoint their union sponsors in tough economic times, they will always find a way to renew their vows when the ledger turns from red to black again. Unless the American people and their elected representatives hold true to Constitutional principles for the long haul, America will always play the see-saw game of bribery and corruption, bankruptcy and austerity, then back again.
Ben Shapiro is an attorney and writer and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, and author of the upcoming book “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV” from Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.
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