The Blog

No More T.O.

What's bad for Terrell Owens is good for America.

11:00 PM, Nov 28, 2005 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

All unions have, increasingly, come to resemble those in sports in that they exist to get--and protect--lavish deals for a privileged few. So when there is conflict between labor and management, most of us figure that we do not have a dog in the fight. Unions once struggled to gain entry for their members into the economic mainstream. Good wages meant a larger middle class and that was good for everyone. (This was Henry Ford's insight.) These days, unions strive to protect their members from the realities of the marketplace. This, at the expense of the rest of us who, after all, pay for the cushy medical benefits that GM workers have come to expect and which few of us enjoy. We just assume we'll have to meet the deductibles and make co-pays and don't understand why putting rivets in Chevrolets should make one exempt.

Not too long ago, it was easy--not to say, instinctive--to sympathize with talented athletes who were told "take it or leave it," by owners who offered them cheapskate contracts and colluded to keep players from selling their skills in the open market. The players associations changed that and the games--contrary to the predictions of owners and some others--did not roll back their eyes and die. In fact they got better and everyone prospered. The unions were good for the game; just as the industrial unions were good, once, for the economy.

When those are the stakes, the unions win. When they fight for special deals for a pampered few, they will lose public support and, eventually, the battle itself.

Somebody needs to tell the school teachers this before it is their turn.

Geoffrey Norman writes for a number of publications including the Wall Street Journal and THE WEEKLY STANDARD. His most recent article there was on nuclear power in Vermont, where he lives.