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The Case Against Public Sector Unions in 5 Minutes

Pass this video on to your family and friends who don't understand yet why the country is going bankrupt.

Philip K. Howard


July 29, 2013 - 7:30 am
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Government is supposed to serve the public, not public employees – but that is not the case in America today. With strength in numbers – over 20 million people work for federal, state, and local government – and significant campaign support to the elected officials who negotiate their contracts, public unions have created “rights” that have busted state and municipal budgets and prevented the efficient management of government. From Long Island to Wisconsin to California, the examples of public union abuse – dubious disability claims, spiked pensions, ridiculous work rules – are numerous. It’s past time for these excesses – including the automatic deduction of union dues – to be reined in so that those charged with providing the public good can make the needed choices to do so.

Additional reading: see this abridged version of a November 2011 Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “The Public-Union Albatross” on Common Good’s website here.


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Philip K. Howard, the son of a minister, has a long record as a prominent civic leader and public policy activist. He got his start working summers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for Nobel Prize-winner Eugene Wigner and has been active in public affairs his entire adult life. He is a prominent civic leader in New York City and has advised national political leaders on legal and regulatory reform for fifteen years, including Vice President Al Gore and various 2008 presidential hopefuls. In addition to Life Without Lawyers (W. W. Norton & Company, 2009), Philip is the author of The Death of Common Sense (Random House, 1995) and The Collapse of the Common Good (Ballantine Books, 2002). He is Vice-Chairman of the law firm Covington & Burling, LLP. In 2002, Philip formed Common Good, a nonpartisan national coalition dedicated to restoring common sense to America, and which he still chairs. Common Good’s initiatives include: A joint venture with the Harvard School of Public Health to design a model for expert health courts (bipartisan bills to fund pilot projects are pending in Congress). A joint venture with the Teachers Union and the New York City Board of Education to overhaul the disciplinary system of New York City public schools. Working with leading judges and scholars to rethink the mechanisms to restore reliability to civil justice. In 2008, Common Good led a group of nonprofit organizations in creating NewTalk (, an online forum presenting focused discussions among experts in theory, policy, and practice on the most important domestic topics affecting America today. Philip writes periodically for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, and has appeared on Oprah, Today, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Paula Zahn Now, 20/20, Nightline, and numerous other programs. He is a graduate of Yale College and the University of Virginia Law School, and lives in Manhattan with his wife Alexandra. They have four children. Read Philip K. Howard’s entry on Wikipedia here.  

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I've read one of Philip Howard's books - the Death of Common Sense - and found it one of the best short books on some of the truly ludicrous aspects of government bureaucracies at the local, state, and national level.

This guy gets it. We really ought to listen to him.
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