A common refrain from people wishing to destroy public employees’ unions is that their workers are ‘demanding more from the tax-payers.’ It’s a testament to how confused the Right is about the role of government.

Public employees are not demanding anything from “the taxpayer.” They are workers demanding fair wages from their bosses.

We live in a democracy, and tax-payers get to participate by voting. If, for example, one doesn’t like our public education system, one can vote for a representative who shares his or her view on the subject.

However, a sizable majority of Americans do want a decent public school system. It’s a democracy, so we’ll have public schools. That’s the end of the role of the tax-payer in this story.

Now, our schools need to hire teachers, and those teachers are workers, and our school system is their employer. They’re not making any demands on the tax-payer — the tax-payers role was deciding to have public education in the first place. And the same can be said of garbage collection, law enforcement or anything else the public sector does.

Cross-posted from my butt-ugly personal blog.

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About the Author

Joshua Holland

I write for AlterNet. I've written a book, The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy, which I recommend. You might also consider following me on Twitter.

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