Governor Scott Walker joins Rare to discuss the role of government regarding public employees and unions. What is the rightful role of government?
Kurt Wallace: In the book, Governor Walker, you have a very positive attitude about the mindset of Americans — that they don’t grow up wanting to depend on government, or rely on government. You’ve spoken that you guys, basically, won over the people based on principle. In this, what do you see as the rightful role of government? Should the role of government be to employ people to provide all of these services, or would it be better in the private sector? And should the government have unions?
Gov. Scott Walker: Couple of interesting questions there. One – just in general – I have a very optimistic view. I mention in the book one of my frustrations with Mitt Romney’s 49 or 47% comment wasn’t just that it was politically ill-timed, but was that I just don’t believe it. While there may be close to a tipping point in America today of people who are temporarily dependent on the government, I still believe the vast majority of Americans – and I still have a great belief in the people in my state and the people in this country – the vast majority of people here in America still believe that the American dream is something that comes from their own hard work, not from the mighty hand of the government. The true freedom of prosperity comes from people controlling their own minds and their own destiny, and that’s something you don’t get by government money pigs. The American dream I’ve talked about in the book Unintimidated is one where it was growing up in Delavan (a small town) – I grew up there. There were any number of people I’ve known over the years who immigrated here from other countries around the world. Each of us, whether we were born here or came here, we were drawn with the idea that in America, it doesn’t matter what class you were born into. That anyone can have the chance to do just about anything out there – that it’s up to you own hard work and self-determination. It shouldn’t be up to the government picking winners and losers. Now having said that, in the larger context for your other questions, I think that’s why my view of government is that it should be limited. It should be now in focus that – particularly the federal government, but true on other levels as well – has grown too big, too encompassed in our lives, too involved in our lives, and it should be narrowly focused on a handful of things that are necessary. And then, those things we should demand – just like we do from private businesses – are done well. And as part of that, per your question on public employment matters, in the end it’s what’s appropriate where they can do it well. There shouldn’t be but the vast majority of other institutes I dealt with a lot of this when I was with the county, where I would contract out services that are parks, even in the courthouses and other places. There are other people who can do it for much less cost than what the government can do and still provide the same – and better level – of services. And on your last question on public employees – without a doubt – there’s no need for public employee unions. It’s one of the comments I raise in the book that probably irritates the most, and that is…I point out that that philosophy isn’t just a Republican or even a conservative point of view. Frankly, Delano Roosevelt – who’s not exactly a conservative icon – actually held very similar viewpoints that there isn’t a need for public employees because the government is the people, and who are you protecting yourself from?
Kurt Wallace: Exactly. They should be trusted servants, at best, and that attitude is unfortunate to see that the host is being sucked on by the virus
Gov. Scott Walker: Yeah. The real irony is, another reason why I put this book Unintimidated out as well is there’s this vicious cycle as well. Taxpayer money is going to legitimate wages and benefits. But on top of that, paying for union dues would then go to union leaders, who then would use a portion of that to pay for political action efforts, who will then go out to interview candidates to find out how much more they’ve got to spend, how many more employees are they going to add, how many more benefits are they going to keep on public employees, and the cycle starts all over again. Nowhere in that circle is anyone advocating for the hardworking taxpayers, you know, and that’s the great irony in that is that the very people – and there are a couple of other examples I mention in the book. One is actually Chris Christie’s predecessor in New Jersey that talked about a union rally about how he was going to stand up for the public employee, but that’s not his job. They already have that. I mentioned a similar story about a county supervisor, when I was a local official, complaining that some of her colleagues were asking if she was going to talk to the union leaders as one of the stakeholder groups. Well, in contract negotiations, her job was to advocate on behalf of the people – the people in her district and the people at county, and not on behalf of unions – because they already have a seat at the table. But often, so often, politicians are being elected by those same public employees and they forget that.
Kurt Wallace: Governor Walker, author of Unintimidated, thank you very much for spending time with us today on Rare.
Gov. Scott Walker: My pleasure. Great to be with you.
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