Throughout American history -- and as recently as the 1950s -- there were no unions for government workers. Public-sector employees were expected to earn a bit less than their private-sector equivalents. The reasons they did so included an interest in public service, job security and reasonable benefits.
But that changed in the late fifties with New York City Mayor Robert Wagner's cynical appeal to the votes of city workers. He signed an executive order authorizing them to unionize, and soon other local and state Democrat legislators around the country followed his lead.
These efforts culminated in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy granted federal employees the right to collectively bargain. Since then, public sector union membership has skyrocketed while, in the private sector, unions have fallen out of favor.
In 2009, private sector union members were outnumbered for the first time by their public sector counterparts.
The historical basis of unions revolved around workers receiving a reasonable share of a company's profits. But that tenet is nonsensical when applied to public service. Governments don't make profits; they simply assess taxes.
The aims of public sector unions conflict directly with the interests of taxpayers.
And because it has been exceedingly hard to fight public sector unions, the salaries...