Thingish Things

Tammany’s Amity

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Feb• 24•11

Tammany Hall’s George Washington Plunkitt (1842-1924), an unapologetic advocate for “honest graft” in government, railed against newly enacted civil service laws of his day to anyone who would listen because the laws, he argued, cynically removed political patronage from government.  In his book, Plunkitt of Tammay Hall, the state senator and Democratic Party boss unabashedly explains that political volunteers should be rewarded with government jobs.  How else can you trust ‘em?  Professional civil servants don’t owe anything to anybody.

Plunkitt, still remembered for the line “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em”, would be mightily impressed by the opportunities Democratic Party bosses seen and took in those civil servants in the 87 years since his death.

In Plunkitt’s day, anyone wanting a government job from a Democratic Party boss had to volunteer on a campaign. Today, it’s all automated: Public employees are forced to pay dues to their mandated union – government conveniently takes the money out of their paychecks and hands it over to the union for them – which are then passed to Democratic politicians in the form of campaign contributions and advocacy media buys. And it’s all done with taxpayer money.

The irony is rich: Plunkitt believed that reform-minded civil service laws spelled doom for the Democratic Party; instead they were so successfully manipulated that they became the party’s core strength. And it’s all legal!

The numbers would make Plunkitt blush.  Today’s re-election system is no nickel and dime business.  In the 2008 election cycle, public service unions donated $400 million dollars to political campaigns, virtually all of it to Democratic Party candidates.  Every dime of that $400 million taken from taxpayer-provided union dues.

As they might say in Boston, those Tammany boys are wicked smaht.

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