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Archive for February, 2011

To Have or Not to Have—Public Unions

26 Feb

Unions grew out of a need to provide a safe working environment and appropriate wages for employees.  Until unions countered the strength of management, working conditions and wages were horrendous and in many cases down right scandalous.  They provided a much needed balance between the workers and those that hired them.  In fact unions were good and served a good purpose.

A banana split is also good.  But, if the intake of banana splits isn’t controlled they can become insidiously distasteful and very harmful.  Ever heard of the obesity issue?

The point is, too much of a good thing soon becomes a harmful thing.  And when that good thing is not countered effectively with prudence and reason they almost always get out of control.

When unions deal with private industry there is a strong counterbalance to the union’s demands.  If not strenuously resisted, those demands might very well run the business out of business,  or force business to find its employees elsewhere.

Now, about Public Unions:  I often have to look hard to find issues where I agree with President Roosevelt.  But, on the advisability of unionizing public employees, I totally agree with him.  Public employees should not be allowed to unionize.  Here are four reasons why they shouldn’t:

First, their jobs are to serve the public.  In many instances their jobs are to provide critical serves that, if not done, will result in a direct harm to the public, e.g., garbage removal, snow plowing, sewage treatment, police and fire protection.  Now many of these services can be done by the private sector, but most are not.  If they go on strike the public might very well be harmed.

Second, in most cases the governmental bodies for which they work do not allow any competing operations to be established.  And for good reason.  Some things, such as making and enforcing laws must be done by government.  Imagine competing police forces dealing with various crimes.  It would be chaotic.

Third, the organizations the unions bargain with are often not constrained by a “bottom line.”  If these organizations run short of money all they need do is raise taxes.  Thus, they might very well trade off raises with long-term benefits which come back to bite the people they serve sometime years after the politicians leave or are thrown from office.

Finally, the people the unions bargain with are in many cases people the unions have contributed funds, large amount of funds, to get them elected.  In other words we’ll give you some money, but you must see that we get more money sometime in the future.

I’m not anti-union in the true sense of the word, but I am anti-public employee union.  One only needs to look at the many states that are in the throws sever financial disasters brought about by the retirement benefits “bargained” away in years past.

It’s time to make a coarse change, or sea change.  Either remove the unions from public employees, or restrict their bargaining to wages and working conditions only.  As one rather aggressive politician said “never let a crisis go to waist.”  Though he wasn’t thinking in terms of cutting back on the role of government, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

 

Government Unions. Will the States Crush Them and Survive. Or Not and Die?

19 Feb

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Our states are in a financial mess for many reasons.  Chief among them is pure and simple.  OVER SPENDING.  Over spending is pretty easy to understand.  You spend more money than you take in.

Our need for self gratification and getting what we want right now makes us loose sight of what is happening to our budget. That is caused by a lack of concern or more significantly a lack of restraint.   Many of us can get away with racking up our credit card bills until a collection agency gets on our backs.  It isn’t pretty when that happens.  Then somehow we find a way, often a very painful way of getting out of the pickle we’ve made for ourselves.

But governments are quite different.  And different levels of governments have different options available.  The federal government doesn’t really have a budget, though it likes to think it does.  It can just keep borrowing, or printing more money.  State governments have budgets that they must at hear to.  Even so, states find tricky ways to get around their budgets, namely take on debt that won’t show up until long after our politicians die off or are out of office.

So where do unions fit into the picture?  Well, they are masters at convincing governments to take deals that will increase the wages or benefits for their members without having to pay the piper.  The biggest “sleeper” budget busters are public employee retirement plans.  The unions bargain for more and more guaranteed retirement benefits in exchange for salary increases, or at least not as much of an increase as they dreamed for.

The states (and feds too) have caved in to unions for far too long.  The recent recession has now brought the general public up to speed on just what has been going on.  Last November they said: enough is enough.  It’s time to pay the piper.

Now listen as the unions cry foul.  Time will tell just how loud they will yell, or I’m afraid just how violent they will get.  In the past, union members were not queasy about applying  violence.  Government workers aren’t as brutish as teamsters, but how they are reacting in Greece, Great Britain, etc. shows they aren’t above it.

The public must keep the pressure on state legislators to “force” them decisively reduce the power the unions have or eliminate them altogether.  If they don’t our country is doomed, at least as a democracy.  Quite frankly, I don’t think the unions would mind that at all.  Isn’t that their basic premises?  Collectively they will redistribute wealth and power.  Yes, to them, socialism is a pretty nice option to replace our form of government.

Keep an eye on the next few days and weeks.  It will be interesting.

 

The Fifteenth Amendment*

17 Feb

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Amendment 15 – Race No Bar to Vote. Ratified 2/3/1870. History

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

2.The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

A little reminder that the Civil War meant that the right to vote was extended to ex-slaves.  Sometimes it takes a kick in the pants before the message gets through.

*The amendment above comes directly from the “U.S. Constitution Online” website: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html# The comments related to this website were written by Stephen J.J. Mount.  You can read about him at:  http://www.usconstitution.net/sjjm.html

While I don’t necessarily agree with him on every point, I think this is a very good website for you to look at.

 

The Amendment that Opened the Flood Gates of Taxation

14 Feb

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Amendment 16 – Status of Income Tax Clarified. Ratified 2/3/1913. Note History

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

This gave the government the power to enslave nearly all wage earners.  One can never really be free if the government can steal property…and money is property.  There are far better ways to fund government and a government that is limited is not that hard to fund.

*The amendment above comes directly from the “U.S. Constitution Online” website: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html# The comments related to this website were written by Stephen J.J. Mount.  You can read about him at:  http://www.usconstitution.net/sjjm.html

While I don’t necessarily agree with him on every point, I think this is a very good website for you to look at.

 

The Fourteenth Amendment*

10 Feb

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Amendment 14 – Citizenship Rights. Ratified 7/9/1868. Note History

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

We’ll be hearing a lot about this amendment.  This is the one that has been interpreted in a way that Anchor Babies become citizens if they were born in the US.  The amendment was originally past in order to provide a way for former slaves to gain citizenship.  It now applies to any baby born in the US regardless of the citizenship of its parents.

Where do you stand on this issue?

*The amendment above comes directly from the “U.S. Constitution Online” website: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html# The comments related to this website were written by Stephen J.J. Mount.  You can read about him at:  http://www.usconstitution.net/sjjm.html

While I don’t necessarily agree with him on every point, I think this is a very good website for you to look at.

 

So what is our unemployment now?

05 Feb

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Statistics are statistics.  Their ambiguity is no more evident than what the latest numbers to come out on unemployment suggest.  It’s a bit confusing isn’t it?  We gained 36,000 jobs.  Seems that was enough to drop the unemployment down to nine percent from nine point three percent or thereabouts.  That’s an interesting shift.

I know, I know, a few people gave up looking, but still that is a big drop.  I’ve listened to those in the know try to explain it.  They seemed to be making a lot of guesses along the way.

One thing for sure, we are not getting enough new jobs generated.  And, I would guess we won’t until those that do the hiring have more certainty on just how much government is going to inflict them with new or expanded taxes or regulations.

It’s a shame that business decisions are being made based on the tax structure rather on the customer.  One can’t blame business from being leery when one of the biggest intrusions revolves around ObamaCare.  Why in the world would Obama want to delay getting the matter to the Supreme Court?  I can guess, but I’d rather not have to think our leader in those terms.

Anyway, I would guess that the latest figures will be adjusted sometime soon.  I would follow up that guess with the thought that the situation won’t be any clearer after the next round of numbers comes out.

In the meantime, keep an eye on the calendar.  I’ll bet the mid April payment of our taxes won’t go by without some question about whether or not our tax preparation method is based on all the correct facts.  Keep you hands in your pockets just to make sure Uncle Sam isn’t tempted.

 

The Thirteenth Amendment*

03 Feb

Amendment 13 – Slavery Abolished. Ratified 12/6/1865. History

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This is a  big one.  We fought a civil war to make this one part of the Constitution.  Except that it took a war to get there, and it was a long time in coming, this amendment clearly demonstrates that the Constitution is a living document that can be altered in a way consistent with the ideal laid out within it.

*The amendment above comes directly from the “U.S. Constitution Online” website: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html# The comments related to this website were written by Stephen J.J. Mount.  You can read about him at:  http://www.usconstitution.net/sjjm.html

While I don’t necessarily agree with him on every point, I think this is a very good website for you to look at.

 
 

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