A few years ago I bought a new set of tires for our 2003 Honda Element, an automobile that has served us well. A new set of tires just gives you that hug-the-road feeling and you, at least, feel safer. Then over the past few weeks I began to notice a vibration on the front end and I knew from past experience that it was time to rotate and balance the tires. This past week I got around to doing that and, presto, the problem was solved for a while.

You know, having the proper balance is the key to lot of things running better and smoother, including our lives. This concept also includes our nation’s economy, which has been terribly out of balance for a long time. In this context it is important to understand that it only took a few months of highway tread wear for my tires to get out of balance, while it’s taken several decades for our economy to get out of balance.

There are many different reasons for the dilemma we face: Corrupt politicians, a massive national debt, high unemployment, a huge trade deficit and a national government that is seeking to control more and more of our lives. While there is more than enough blame to go around, one of the factors that must be considered is our nation’s unions.

In the national interest, here is a question that I would like for you to ponder with me for a few minutes: Do unions have too much power? From my perspective, the answer to this question is both "yes" and "no." If you are a member of a union and, over time, your union leaders have been able to negotiate you a higher salary, fringe benefits and a better work environment, the answer is "no." On the other hand, if you own or manage a company that is "union" and it has become so powerful that it is almost impossible to fire incompetent employees, and the union is inflexible when it comes to concessions when the company falls on hard times, the answer is "yes."

Whether you agree or not, here is the problem. Like my tires that got out of balance, when unions get out of balance and have "too much" power, you have a stand-off that is not good for anyone, and this includes our nation’s future. The key phrase in the question is "too much." As English historian and moralist Lord Acton (1834-1902) has said, "Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Then there is also the question of whether we are talking about private sector or public sector unions. I belong to the school of thought that public sector unions should not exist. It is a privilege to work for the government and serve the people, and when public sector employees band together to from a union and "take more" than private sector business and jobs can sustain, you are again out of balance. You know what happens when workers are taxed to their limit — the government borrows the money and this is where we are today. If we are to ever again have a healthy free-enterprise economy in our nation, we must understand who the real boss is.

The author here is unknown, but the truth is undeniable: "There never has been, there is not now, and there never will be any boss but the customer. He is the one boss we must please. Everything we own he has paid for. He buys our home, our cars and our clothes. He pays for our vacation and puts our children through school. He pays our doctor bills and writes every paycheck we will ever receive. He gives us every promotion we will ever obtain during our lifetime and he will discharge us, if we displease him."

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com.)