But conservatives now say they are unwilling to pay for those freedoms, through the government agencies which protect us. Fortunately, these freedoms turn out to be important enough that Americans always, in every poll, say they are willing to pay.
One of the most important American freedoms is freedom to operate in the free market. This is not an issue for millionaires, but for average American workers. Freedom to work at good jobs with a living wage and some vacation time. freedom from abusive bosses. Freedom from discrimination in the workplace, based on race or religion or sex or sexuality. Freedom to participate in workplace decisions.
These freedoms have not been granted by grateful employers to the workers who make their businesses run. They had to be won through decades of struggle, on the job and at the ballot box. They could only have been achieved through collective action, through worker solidarity, organized in unions. Those freedoms are just as important for public sector workers as for those in the private sector. Governments as employers have committed the same workplace abuses as private companies.
Americans will gain nothing if the public service workers’ unions are broken. Workplace freedoms are not free, but the savings that taxpayers could get from eliminating collective bargaining for public service unions are minuscule compared to the losses we will see in the services we use every day.
Their freedoms are our American freedoms.
Let’s not sell them for a few bucks.