Food For Thought

"Labor unions would have us believe that they transfer income from rich capitalists to poor workers. In fact, they mostly transfer income from the large number of non-union workers to a small number of relatively well-off union workers." - Robert E. Anderson

Friday, February 25, 2011

What I Don't Get Is...

The debates in Wisconsin are, of course, the topic du jour. During this, WTMJ talk host Charlie Sykes has, several times, had a popular segment entitled "What I Don't Get Is..." I'm constantly amazed at the callers who express surprise (not necessarily outrage, but surprise nonetheless) at the protests, the reaction of the Unions, the 14 AWOL Senators, and the rest of the circus in Madison and across the state. Since I don't get a chance to call in and since Charlie's program is so popular that I can't get through, I'll answer that question here.

What I don't get is why they don't get it.

The plain truth is that the reactions of the protestors, the Unions and the far left did not have spring up overnight. They have evolved over the last decade or more. It is the manifestation of the mantra of "symbolism over substance". In a word, it is hypocrisy.

Now let's be fair - there are hypocrits of every stripe. But the modern Democratic Party has made this a core principle. I say "modern" to distinguish this from the party of Kennedy (who, fiscally and on defense, was more Republican than Regan) and Roosevelt (who said what he was going to do, then did it -- like Scott Walker). And this has been evolving for more than a decade.

Take the Political Correctness movement of the 90's beyond. In specific, "free speech" versus "hate speech". Recently, that maven of the media Oprah called for "respect" for President Obama, saying, “even if you’re not in support of his policies, there needs to be a certain level of respect.” And yet, it was perfectly acceptable for Oprah, The View, Jon Stewart and others to not criticize, but engage in ad hominem attacks on President Bush. Remember when it was "patriotic to speak out against your government"? Ah, but not when its our guy.

And staying with public figures, let's talk about our Flee-Baggers. During the Doyle administration, with a Democratic-controlled state House and Senate, the Republicans drew repeated fire for their use of the filibuster. Last night, the House Democrats acted outraged when a procedural motion was used to end over 80 hours of a Democratic filibuster (far longer than any that has ever been staged before). Let me not hesitate to point out that a filibuster requires that the politicians in question actually are on the job, not hiding out like fugitives in a sympathetic neighboring state.

And then there are the protestors themselves. The Union Line is that of Helen Lovejoy, screaming, "Won't someone think of the children!?!?" They try to tie the modest increase (5.6% for pension and 12.8% for healthcare) to a collapse of the educational system when, in point of fact, those increases are less than private sector workers pay for those benefits. When this is pointed out, they cite the "anti-Union" portions, stating that its taking away workers "rights and freedoms". And yet, that conveniently ignores the fact that this bill gives back freedoms -- the freedom to choose if one wants to pay $1000 per year in Union dues and be forced to accept whatever health care plan the Union wants (one that is, ironically enough, owned by the Union). So, drawing the line from point A to point B, this isn't about the finances of their members and it isn't about the freedoms and rights of their members, its about Union dues, Union-administered and owned health funds and Union power.

And the "rights" that are "stripped" (a favorite word of the pablum-fed media)? Turns out that "unions still could represent workers in wage negotiations, but they can’t seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless the hikes are approved in a public referendum". So this isn't about "rights", this is about the Union not wanting to "chance" the public turning down such a referendum. It's about Union power.

The protesters themselves are on the forefront of hypocrisy. Their leader, President Obama, recently called for "a more civil and honest public discourse" in the wake of the Arizona shootings. And yet the protesters, the vanguard of the "political correctness" movement, are making direct "hate speech" attacks on Governor Walker -- even so far as to putting "crosshairs" over his picture and calling for "reloading". Scant weeks before, these people were screaming about Sarah Palin's "crosshairs". Shame, shame if it's Palin, but huzzah if its the left!

Then there's the blogger (not journalist) Ian Murphy who scammed (not pranked, that word is too 'lighthearted' for his misrepresentation) his way onto a phone call with the Governor. In a recent interview by a real journalist, Murphy, a virulent shock-blogger, admitted that he is not a journalist. He's akin to the guy who breaks the jewelry-store window and then the passerby (the responsible journalists) who would never do it themselves, happily take the stolen goods.

Yet the same people who are holding this self-described "troublemaker" as a paragon of investigative reporting are the same ones who cry "foul" at conservative (and degreed) journalists like Fox News, Drudge and Breitbart. They constantly harp on how "biased and slanted" those legitimate news outlets are while at the same time espousing people like Murphy (who ranted "F*** THE TROOPS" in one of his virulent blogs) as the standard of virtue.

Additionally, there's the selective short-term memory of the protesters, bloggers and leftists when it comes to "responsibility". They love to blame Republican administrations for all the world's ills, but are mysteriously silent about the fact that it was a Democratic Governor, State House and Senate that used short-term budget "fixes" and Federal monies to paper over the serious fiscal situation while simultaneously passing larger and larger budget deficits to future administrations.

So now we're faced with the reality of a massive budget shortfall. And some of the people who swept Walker and others into office under the banner of "fixing the fiscal mess" are committing the largest hypocrisy of them all -- fix it, but don't take away MY perks!

As I said at the beginning, none of this is new. It's been brewing for a long time. You could see it in the lawsuits of the 2000 Presidential election versus the so-called "mandate" of the 2008 Presidential election. What is new is the blatant way in which it is shown in public. The left has taken off the mask of principle and sincerity in the last decade and now they are the ones asking "What I don't get is..." when the hard-working private sector no longer buys into their hollow rhetoric. They are left wondering why they are, despite doing all the things that people have "bought" for a decade, now being laughed at, vilified by the majority, and no longer in power.

What I don't get is... why they don't get it.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Remedial Math

I was in the state capitol, Madison, yesterday, for a technology seminar. The seminar started late because a couple of the presenters couldn't make it around the Capitol Building due to the protesters. Who were these people and what were they protesting? They were WEAC and state workers protesting Governor Scott Walker's proposed state budget.

Governor Walker has to contend with a budget that does not balance. His proposal includes eliminating or cutting some (not all) benefits from some (not all) state workers. Why? In his own words, benefit cuts are better than job cuts.

Now, I realize that WEAC doesn't really care about teaching. I mean, let's face it, its a Union. If they're honest, themselves, they would admit that what they care about is their power, not the quality or content of the jobs those members perform (I'm not being flippant, here, I'm being serious -- ask yourself, "what's the mission of a Union").

So, in deference to this fact, I thought I'd take it upon myself to explain a little remedial mathematics in the form of a story problem. I'll even make it easier by making it "multiple guess".

Scotty has six friends and four apples. Each friend wants an apple. How many apples should Scotty give each friend?
A) 2/3 of an apple
B) 0, he should keep them all
C) Get rid of two friends and give each of the remaining four a whole apple

Hmmm. Well, let's show our work, for the benefit of the WEAC folks scratching their heads.

4 apples divided among 6 people = 4 / 6 = 2 / 3

So the answer is "A". But wait, that means no one gets a whole apple! Doesn't matter to WEAC and the Unions. All they care about is a whole apple. They don't care that Scotty can't get any more apples. Its immaterial that with the mathematically correct answer everyone stays a friend and everyone at least gets something. What matters to them is that no one's getting an entire apple! An apple they fought for and deserve, dammit! An apple they have a full right to!

But as they say, "follow the money". What's the meat of Governor Walker's proposal? It's actually not to take away benefits but to limit the Unions' negotiating power to salaries only. And that's what rankles the Union bosses, which brings us back to my point about the purpose of Unions. They don't care about the jobs that are performed, they care about the benefits. They don't care about the number of workers employed, they care that the workers that are employed get as much as they possibly can.

Once again, the Unions show where their sympathies lie -- with their power. They don't really care about their members and they don't care about their member's salaries. All they care about is keeping themselves in power by appearing to "fight" for things that can't be provided without bankrupting the state. Which, of course, they don't care about (despite several states already going bankrupt).

Back when I was in grade school, there was a local teacher's strike that garnered attention in the national media. The teachers said that they were striking for higher pay because "taxes are so high." Now, I was only in grade school, but I looked at my parents and asked, "But if they get higher pay, won't taxes go up again to pay for it?"

I know the math here is a bit difficult for those who grew up on "new math" and geography classes that taught how to balance a checkbook (true story), but maybe some of the students of WEAC's members can explain it to them.

Unfortunately, I doubt it.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

What the Left Will Never Get

An article in The Daily Beast today reads, in part, thus:

"President Obama’s 2012 budget, set for release on Monday, projects a $1.65 trillion deficit this year—the largest on record.
Before you buy Republicans’ complaints about the deficit, however, keep this in mind: The main reason this year’s deficit is larger than expected is the deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, which the GOP pushed for."

Now, the Daily Beast is not known for being a paragon of unbiased reporting. Just last week, they crowed, in an article entitled "The Myth of Obama's Big Spending":

"Obama has slashed one tax dollar for every dollar he’s spent on government programs."

The Left, as well as the media elite, love to deride the Tea Party, calling them all sorts of names and portraying them alternatively as know-nothing rednecks or gun-toting domestic terrorists. It has been intuitively obvious that those who engage in these one-dimensional characterisations have no idea what the Tea Party movement was or is all about, nor have any idea of the reasons for the failure of so many incumbents (Democrats and Republicans) in last fall's elections. They miss the point, entirely.

The point of the Tea Party movement was and remains to hold Congress to the same standards that each one of us is held to; to hold them responsible for their spending; to hold them accountable for their actions and their promises. It is a rejection of "business as usual". It is not Left, it is not Right, it is not Liberal, it is not Conservative. It is a movement of, by and for the People to enforce their control -- their Constitutionally-guaranteed control -- of their Government.

So as budget time looms, those who lost power are, as predicted, trying every tactic to slander and change the facts. They are deliberately missing the point that lowering taxes is only one half of the equation. Without cutting spending significantly, we will continue to be in a status quo.

Think of it this way -- if you're getting paid $50,000 per year and your expenses are $60,000 per year, how much does it help to get a raise of $3,000 per year if you don't cut your spending? You're still in the hole and sinking, just not as fast! Ah, but you say, "Ok, I'll cut a dollar of spending for every dollar of my raise!" So now, you're cutting your spending to $57,000 per year and you've increased your income to $53,000 per year. Um.... you're still sinking!!!

Congress and the administration must be held accountable. We all have to learn to live within our means or we go broke. Government is the only entity that has been held exempt from that, and they're the ones who gave the exemption! They force everyone else to be solvent, but not themselves.

The People spoke, last November. They sent a message to their elected officials -- play by the rules we have to play by or be replaced, regardless of your party affiliation. We were and are sick of "business as usual" of the last two decades of Congress.

As I said when I started this blog, "There is one and only one thing that strikes fear into the heart of any politician - that is We the People." And a scared animal lashes out.

So take heart; the entrenched power elite are running scared. That sound of hoofbeats? It's We the People.

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