BeLABORED

I would not argue that unions have never done good.  We could debate if they came before or after safety  standards were already improving.  Lets explore for a moment the historic image of unions, that uncaring business exploited it’s workers who banded together to force the evil company to treat them fairly.  The term “redneck” gets used a lot, but most are not aware of where the term originated.  Farm workers or any who toiled in the sun frequently suffered sunburns on their necks, and was a common phrase for field workers.  During their early organization, miners unions used the phrase and it’s symbol, a red bandana to promote and denote a union worker.  Many Irish immigrants  became coal miners and may have been the inspiration.  The unions were seeking to unite blacks, whites and immigrants and gained the nations attention with the “Red Neck War”, properly known as the Battle of Blair Mountain.

The Battle of Blair Mountain was one of the largest civil uprisings in United States history and the largest armed insurrection since the American Civil War. For five days in late August and early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, between 10,000 and 15,000 coal miners confronted an army of police and strikebreakers backed by coal operators during an attempt by the miners to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired, and the United States Army intervened by presidential order.(1)

I can see several sides to this story, the mine owners have/had certain rights as property owners.  It’s easy to say, don’t take the job if they only pay in company script, good only at the company store, but that was a different time with greater hardships.  It’s clear many of these companies engaged in virtual slavery, even if it was somehow legal.  Hiring a private army and the practices they used cannot be considered legal by any reasonable consideration.  By most accounts, the miners were not violent until a long history of being abused, even killed, without any legal consequence to their oppressors.

I think the failure of the law, of the government of the people, for the people is as relevant as the birth of unions.  The mine owners used the government and the force of law to get their way, to exploit the mine workers as they saw fit.  Think about US Army planes bombing US citizens who were revolting because they had seen their friends and family beaten and killed while every government official involved seemed content to allow it to continue.  Do I see where unions were needed?  Absolutely, this is the same type of abuse that led to our own revolution.  But I also see where unions have turned the tables, and now are the ones using the government to force their will upon others.  Mining is one of the most dangerous jobs with poor working conditions and long-term health issues.  But since when did librarians need such protection?

We get another glimpse of California’s fiscal insanity with the news that even in the face of the extreme financial crisis the state and its cities face, the state’s biggest public employee union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), is fighting to stop fiscally strapped Californian cities from outsourcing library operations.

Two cities in California — Camarillo and Santa Clarita — decided to bypass their county library system and instead hire the private company Library Systems and Services (LSSI) to run the city libraries.  A few other California cities have done the same in the past.  So a handful of the over 1,000 public libraries in California have decided to save money while maintaining the city services by outsourcing.

However, even this pathetic, meager stab at privatization — in a state verging on insolvency, filled with cities many of which are verging on bankruptcy — has aroused the ire of the SEIU.  SEIU tool Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) has introduced a bill (AB 438) that in effect would stop any more cities from contracting out library services to private companies.

To be precise, this benighted bill would allow outsourcing library services only if no public employees would be “displaced” — meaning that no public employees could even be transferred to other work or libraries elsewhere, much less laid off — no matter how much it saved the city or how deeply the city is cash-strapped.  Even more outrageously, the bill prohibits outsourcing to any private company whose compensation is lower than what the public library employees receive — which negates the whole reason for outsourcing to begin with, and ensures that cities can find no relief going forward from the high compensation rates extracted by the unions.(2)

The Battle of Wisconsin has been interesting to observe.  Think about a strongly Democratic state electing a Republican governor along with majorities to both houses.  The people had had enough of unions bankrupting the taxpayers with no end to their demands.  I think the strongest statement about unions is made when dues are voluntary, not forcefully removed from their paychecks.  Union members seem to be mostly fair weather friends, supporting the union only to get what they want, but dropping out when they can and avoiding those union dues.  It is unquestionably true union membership declines wherever due are paid directly by the members, not held from their paychecks like the government does our taxes.

Obama was all for education reform before his election, after it was only union approved reform he supported.  Bye, bye charter schools and vouchers.  Will the unions allow non-union tutors?  Most schools are struggling with No Child Left Behind (really bad ideal, George, REAlly Bad ideal) resulting in the Dept. of Ed. considering waivers. (3) Don’t get in a hurry Mrs Duncan, your bureaucracy has been screwing up our national education for over forty years, a couple more won’t matter much.  Better think about what’s best for your boss which means getting him re-elected so you can keep your job too!  Is it worth discussing why we don’t pay good teachers more and bad ones less?(4)

Or what about the friendly sky’s?  It’s one thing that the unions prevent firing of teachers for acts that should result in their arrest, but our government has firm control over air traffic, which is controlled by a union.  You know how this works, wait for a plane crash, then the media will tell us all to get upset and who we are mad at…
FAA and the controllers union — with assistance from NASA and the Mitre Corp., among others — formed a working group a year and a half ago to study fatigue among controllers and develop recommendations. Among those recommendations, which were presented privately to Babbitt in January, is that FAA change its policies to give controllers on midnight shifts as much as two hours to sleep plus a half-hour to wake up.But a key member of Congress said building in time to sleep on the job is unacceptable.”I think that is totally bogus,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told the AP. “There are so many professions that have to work long hours. I was greeted this morning by a young surgeon that had been working all night in an ER.(5)
And what does the media tell us about the unions?  That they are just looking out for the little guy(aren’t most librarian’s female), OK, little person, and insuring they have safe working conditions from exploitive corporation(but teachers, air traffic controllers, etc, work for the government…are unions now protecting workers from government exploitation?)…  How about an informed media perspective on unions?(great chart here also)
On the August 15 “Dylan Ratigan Show,” MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan and the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney sparred over the extent to which Big Labor impacts the political process relative to other industries.Ratigan, who has made a career out of bemoaning the influence that the energy, banking, health care, defense, telecom, and agriculture sectors exert on politics, omitted organized labor from his exhaustive (exhausting?) list. After Carney pointed out that labor unions collectively direct more campaign contributions to political candidates than any other industry in the country, Ratigan sternly corrected him: “That’s not right. You can’t invent facts…that’s a great distortion of facts to make it look like labor controls the government.”So who’s right?According to Duquesne University professor Anthony Davies’ chart, posted by Big Governmentlast month, Big Labor has contributed to more money to political candidates and political parties from 1989 to 2009 than all “Top-100” special interest groups combined.
The study shows that during that time, labor unions have donated twice as much money to political candidates and parties as the telecommunications, insurance, pharmaceuticals, and real estate industries combined.Honing in on more recent spending reveals that while Big Labor expenditures vary by election cycle, the top unions are always formidable forces.Open Secrets datashows that while the Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business lobby, spent the most money among non-party committees, nearly $33 million, during the 2010 cycle, the top three labor unions combined to outspend the Chamber: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spent almost $16 million, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) spent $13 million, and the National Education Association (NEA) spent $10 million, for a grand total of $39 million.Data from the 2008 cycle paints an even more promising picture for Carney’s case: the SEIU spent the most money, $42 million, and the AFSCME spent the second most, nearly $20 million. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce spent about $16.5 million. Overall, spending by non-party liberal groups outpaced non-party conservative groups by $159 million to $120 million, respectively.While no one doubts the influence of pro-business groups, Carney seemed to be on solid footing by insisting that Ratigan add Big Labor to his list of influence-peddling bogeymen.A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:MSNBC(6)

(You can’t invent facts…that’s my job as a media commentator)  Remember John Melencamps sage advice, Play Guitar?  Not if the unions have their say…(I will have more to say about Gibson Guitars in a few weeks, but thought it interesting that the unions almost destroyed the company.)

The Gibson Company was started by Orville Gibson in 1894 at his workshop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. As the popularity of Orville’s instruments grew, his company grew with it. Gibson eventually became the most respected name in Mandolins, banjos and guitars in the world. In 1963, Gibson was having difficulty remaining solvent and parent company CMI president H. H. Berlin hired Stan Rendell as V.P. for manufacturing to straighten out the problem. In the book, 100 years of Gibson, Rendell says explaining the problem the company faced:

“The problem was the steelworkers union!” he details (the company had been unionized during World War II, when the plant was making metal-intensive war products). “They were dictating everything.”

Rendell’s solution was simple: Move all string manufacturing from Kalamazoo across Lake Michigan to Elgin, Illinois. This reduced the crossover from job to job and increased efficiency both in guitar production and string making. It also sent a message to the union that Rendell was not going to mess around. (Mulhern, 1994)

Rendell soon returned the company to profitability but labor and quality problems persisted. Finally, the decision was made to open a new production facility in Tennessee, a right-to-work state. Hear this Boeing! Manufacturing in a new location with a new labor force was not easy but eventually the old Kalamazoo plant was phased- out with products coming out of plants in Nashville, Memphis and Bozeman, Montana.(7)

I think a fitting modern image of today’s unions would be Harry Potters gluttonous cousin with that pig’s tail.  They are only concerned with feeding themselves.  And like that spoiled brat he portrays, care not if their greed destroys their provider.  Boeing wants to build a new plant and expand their operation to North Carolina.  The union said no.  Two of Obama’s appointments to the Labor Relations Board also said no, it was in reprisal to past union strikes.  Again the union is using government force to get their way.  Will be interesting to see how this works out, can Boeing shift to right to work states and survive, or will the government force them to stay under the unions thumb until they bankrupt, or flee the US?  I think this is the time for us to follow Wisconsin, and reduce the unions power before they do to us as they have done California.
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(2)http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/09/a_state_of_total_insanity.html
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Comments

  1. gmanfortruth says:

    Good article LOI 🙂

    Ever since thw Wisconsin debacle, I have been looking at Unions as nothing more than another tentacle on the Progressive octopus. They no longer serve those who are paying them. Unions have become a corrupt part of society that is at the level of organized crime syndicates.

    • I Agree. Not so strange bedfellows intent on screwing over the taxpayers. Looks like Obama’s “job’s program” will seek to pay off the unions for their support. If the house doesn’t pass it, they will be blamed for the high unemployment.

  2. Interesting points.

    I would like to point out that there is a big difference in private and public labor unions. The big fight in Wisconsin was over public labor unions’ right to collectively bargain. The difference between the two types of unions is that collective bargaining in the private sector pits workers’ compensation and whatnot against managements’ profitability. Public unions bargain with government representatives, many of whom have a strong incentive to increase benefits for the workers. I would have a problem with removing collective bargaining for public workers if there were no one fighting for their rights. There is no need for them to collectively bargain, because liberal representatives already do so.

    Just a thought.

    • JB,

      And a good thought. We see where, as you point our, liberal representatives have shown for years they will appease the public sectors demands and pass the cost on to the next generation to figure out how to pay for the promises they make. And it has kept them in power where it should not by any reasonable thought. The Detroit’s and other cities with decades of high unemployment keep their Democratic favor granters in office year after year, almost like they don’t want jobs or prosperity.

  3. September 6, 2011, American Thinker
    Dems’ new civility: ‘Let’s take these son of a bitches out’m (updated)
    Thomas Lifson

    James Hoffa, Jr., warming up a Labor Day crowd in Detroit before President Obama addressed them, issued an apparent call for violence against the Tea Party, calling the peaceful movement “son of a bitches.”

    “And you see it everywhere, it is the tea party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner. It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We’re going to win that war.”

    So far, despite calls for President Obama to rebuke Hoffa, the President, who seized upon the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to posture as civility advocate, has not responded. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, interviewed by Gretchen Carlson on Fox & Friends this morning, was pressed for a reaction to Hoffa’s obscene (and ungrammatical) call for violence, and retreated into generalities about policy, refusing, despite being pressed, to in any way comment on Hoffa’s inflammatory words.

    If Obama is smart, he will decry ugly words “from any side” in his address to Congress Thursday. But such a move might antagonize Hoffa and other labor leaders — at least unless Obama did plenty of hand holding, letting them know this is a tactical move, nothing serious. But the AFL-CIO is restive, and threatening to concentrate its resources att he state level, where it is fighting states like Ohio and Wisconsin, where public employee unions have been reined in, and prevented from automatically collecting dues from the paychecks of public employees.

    The glaring hypocrisy of the White House on violent rhetoric will continue the deterioration in President Obama’s public approval.

    Phil Boehmke adds:

    Following Jimmy Jr.’s not so civil discourse, Mr. Obama expressed his sense of pride for the labor leaders (including Hoffa) who have so generously supported his campaign by diverting the forced union dues of the rank and file into his re-election war chest. During his remarks the oblivious one commended his union pals for their tireless effort “to build a better Detroit.” What says success in Detroit better than 24% unemployment?

    The Labor Day attack was just the latest in a sickening series of officially sanctioned assaults on the loyal Americans of the Tea Party movement. The CBC has declared all-out war on the Tea Party by whipping up racial hatred in the black community. Although there is no direct evidence connecting recent spate of racial mob violence that has rocked our nation to the CBC’s hate campaign, it does give one pause to think. Since there has been no statement from Mr. Obama regarding the attempts by the CBC to incite violence against members of the Tea Party, it is safe to assume that he supports their efforts.

    The extreme rants of the CBC recently gained a veneer of academic credibility (is there such a thing anymore?) when a paper presented at the American Political Science Association endorsed the belief that the Tea Party is a racist movement. According to Emory University Professor Alan I. Abramowitz:

    “Tea Party supporters displayed high levels of racial resentment and held very negative opinions about President Obama, compared with the rest of the public and even other Republicans,” Mr. Abramowitz wrote. “In a multivariate analysis, racial resentment and dislike of Barack Obama, along with conservatism, emerged as the most important factors contributing to support for the Tea Party movement.”

    Was this what it was like during the early 1930’s in Germany? Most typical German citizens turned a blind eye to the Nazi (National Socialist) encroachments on private enterprise and their campaign against the Jews, after all as long as the government left them alone why should they worry? Still, Hitler did give the people socialized medicine.

    Update: Hoffa is unrepentant. Talking Point Memo:

    Hoffa said he’d say the exact same words all over again.

    “I would because I believe it,” he said. “They’ve declared war on us. We didn’t declare war on them, they declared war on us. We’re fighting back. The question is, who started the war?”

  4. September 6, 2011, American Thinker
    Showdown at the Post Office
    John Watson

    The New York Times reported on September 4, 2011 (“Postal Service Is Nearing Default as Losses Mount”) that the Post Fffice is close to default and may have to shut down this winter, unless, of course, Congress “intervenes.” The report cites that 80% of the postal service’s cost is labor, as compared with only 53% at UPS and 32% at FedEx. It also cites that postal workers get more generous health benefits than even most other federal employees. The Postmaster said they may need to lay off 120,000 workers, among other cost cutting measures like closing 3,700 post offices, but there’s one major problem: the American Postal Workers Union.

    The union has vowed that layoffs are illegal under their contract, and they will fight hard against layoffs.

    This brings up an interesting dilemma. Providing postal services is one of the very few things the federal government is required to do under the U.S. Constitution. The government, it seems, should be required to find a way to keep the postal service operating. One obvious way is to take money from programs or departments that are not authorized under the Constitution, of which there are many, and use those funds to pay for postal services, at zero additional cost to the taxpayers. Another obvious and parallel solution is to slash the labor costs. Not surprisingly, the union is promising to cause havoc if this is tried, but this contract needs to be legally avoided. The fact that UPS and FedEx can provide far superior service for as little as 40% of the labor costs speaks volumes.

    It will be interesting to see the proposed solutions to this urgent matter. The only acceptable solution should be one that is cost neutral or cost savings and assures long term stability of the postal service. The steps necessary to accomplish these goals, however, may be quite unpalatable to the union and many politicians who are beholding to the unions. Borrowing more money to pay ridiculous labor costs should not be an option. We simply cannot afford it.

    While we are at it, perhaps we should address the question of whether unionization of constitutionally mandated services should even be permitted. What’s next, unions for the military?

  5. Nice article, LOI. A couple points come to mind. I actually wrote a thesis on the labor movement in the United States for my MBA. It was quite interesting doing all the research. In today’s society with the advent of OSHA, EPA, FLSA, ADEA, EEOC, Child Labor Laws etc., unions have outlived their usefulness and only exist to pad the pockets of the labor management and to allocate money to politicians. With the exception of bargaining for wages and benefits, I can see no reason for their existence. However, I am not against collective bargaining provided the playing field is L E V E L….which it is not.

    (1) Right to Work – All states should have the right to work. As an individual, I should have the choice (freedom) to be in a union or not be in a union. I should not have to suffer ridicule or expulsion or rejection if I choose to bargain for myself. This is a level field.

    (2) No Compulsory dues – I should have the right to decide if I wish to pay “homage” to a union or not. if there is one where I choose to work Dues should never be compulsory and no one’s job should hang in the balance. The “you are getting the benefit of union negotiations” is a lame argument at best. I should be allowed to bargain with my employer if I choose to do so. This is a level field.

    (3) Right of Redress or Grievance – I should have the right to redress my own grievance with my employer. I do not need some “representative” to do my talking for me. As stated above, since most, if not all, safety and working conditions are in Federal or State law these days, and since each state has minimum wage laws already and since the Federal Jurisdiction takes over where state’s do not meet minimum standards, I can see no reason that I need a representative. (Please do not throw out the argument that collectively I will be represented by a lawyer…it is also lame). If my employer does not address my complaints in the manner in which I like, I am free to go elsewhere. This would be a level playing field.

    (4) Union Shop – States that employ “union shop” rules have a stacked deck. To require compulsory union membership is simply wrong, This is NOT a level field. As an employer, I would not open a business in that state nor would I invest one skinny dime.

    Now to be fair, I have heard many progressives, like Charlie ( Sorry my Plutonian friend…I am picking on ya a little), that cannot get slavery or child labor out of their minds. They dwell in the past and that is exactly what it is….past. Employers have learned a valuable lesson from the advent of labor unions and were the recipients of their own stupidity. Labor unions may have been beneficial at one time, but like many other things, have outgrown their usefulness. Again, with the advent of many labor laws and departments on federal and state levels…what is left EXCEPT bargaining for wages and benefits.

    (1) If a union exists and an employee force wishes one….so be it. I have no problem with this at all provided that the same right for them to strike gives the employer the same rights to break the strike. If the employees wish to peacefully assemble and walk a picket line, the employer should have the same right to peacefully break the strike by hiring new employees and escort them peacefully through picket lines. Those new employees (or SCABS as they are called) have a peaceful right to a job and be free of ridicule and harassment at home. This would be a level playing field. If the picketers show up with bats and rocks, the company has a right to respond equally or greater to minimize or reduce the threat.

    (2) If a company chooses to move to another state because it is more favorable to business……is a level playing field. It is their right. If a company has a union, and collectively bargains, and reaches impasse and said impasse is economic in nature, there is an inherent right to be able to relocate free from government interference.

    The list of recommendations and solutions is long and arduous but I am sure you get the gist.

    At any rate……it is also easy to beat a union. Very easy. The dues checkoff is a negotiable item. IF all aspects of negotiations have been settled, simply do not agree to a dues checkoff. Tell the union to collect their own dues. It is not your problem. If the union chooses to strike over the checkoff item, then it is classed an economic strike. In the advent of an economic strike, the employer has a right to hire permanent replacements. (Economic strike is an economic dispute with the employer and employee not for unfair labor practices, but for reasons such as a wage dispute. An employer would be able to permanently replace an economic striker but will not be able to prevent the worker from coming back to an un-replaced position for the reason that the worker was on strike. An economic strike is also a strike that causes undue hardship and/or loss of production to the employer and the employer has not engaged in unfair labor practice according to law).

    Unions for the MOST part, have outlived their usefulness and I see very little difference in public sector unions and private sector unions.

  6. NLRB agrees to new rules that will harm workers, job creation
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    posted at 10:45 am on August 31, 2011 by Tina Korbe
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    The National Labor Relations Board yesterday issued three decisions that will make it easier for workers to unionize even when a majority of workers prefer to remain non-union. The Wall Street Journal reports:

    In a case known as Specialty Healthcare, the board decided that the union could seek to organize a group that consists only of nursing assistants, a blow to the employer, which wanted to include other nonprofessional employees in the unit. Employer groups had been concerned the board would use the health-care industry case to endorse the formation of so-called mini-bargaining units in a range of workplaces, which they said would allow unions to target small groups of workers the unions know would support unionization. …

    In another case known as Lamons Gasket Co., the board decided that employees opposed to a union would no longer have the right to immediately challenge the recognition of a “card-check” election—in which employees sign cards to show their interest in joining. Unions prefer the card-check method over secret-ballot elections.

    In the third case, known as UGL-Unicco Service Co., the board decided that after the sale of a unionized company, the new owner, the employees or a rival union can’t immediately challenge the incumbent union’s right to represent the workers. Instead, there must be a “reasonable period” of time for collective bargaining to have “a fair chance to succeed,” the board’s Democrats decided.

    As might be expected, all three decisions were made along party lines. The three Democrats on the board voted in favor, while the lone Republican voted against. They also came at a particularly interesting time: NLRB Chairman Wilma Leibman’s term expires this Saturday. President Obama has already named as the new chair another Democrat already on the board — Mark Pearce. With Leibman’s departure, the board consists of just three members — concentrating power in the hands of an even smaller number of unelected bureaucrats.

    Of the three decisions issued yesterday, the first, in particular, is troubling. Current law defines the appropriate bargaining unit as similarly situated workers who share a community of interests, but the new rule allows unions to define the appropriate bargaining unit as workers with the same job title. Such micro unions disenfranchise those employees who do not want a union; prevent career advancement by limiting workers to the work entailed under specific job titles; and redistribute wages from the non-union employees outside the micro union to the union employees within the micro union. James Sherk, a labor economist at The Heritage Foundation, explains each of these downsides:

    Disenfranchising Workers. Under the board’s proposal, unions could organize micro unions at businesses in which most workers oppose unionizing. For example, most workers might oppose unionizing at a store in which the union had majority support among cashiers. The union could organize a unit representing just cashiers, excluding shelf stockers and greeters. This would allow unions to gerrymander bargaining units to create one in which they have majority support. …

    Preventing Career Advancement. Unions insist on work rules that strictly define what work can and cannot be done by members of the bargaining unit. Separate unions representing individual job titles would prevent companies from training workers for and assigning them to jobs in different bargaining units as needed.

    For example, the machinists union would not allow a company to train a welder to operate their machines. They would insist that their members perform all precision machine work. This would limit employees’ opportunities to learn new skills and employers’ ability to assign workers where they are needed most, which would both reduce productivity and limit workers’ opportunities to advance within the company. …

    Redistributing Wages. Permitting micro unions would also enable unions to redistribute wages from nonunion workers to union members. Unions know that companies in competitive markets have little ability to increase total pay. Businesses cannot raise prices without losing customers. Consequently, unions typically negotiate contracts that keep average pay—and total costs—constant. Unions reward their supporters by redistributing wages within the company. Union contracts typically give lower pay to high performers and higher pay to less productive workers.

    If the NLRB allows micro unions, they will also attempt to redistribute wages to their members at the expense of nonunion workers. Micro unions will threaten to strike to get higher pay for their members, forcing companies to choose between a strike shutting down their operations or giving higher pay to unionized units and lower pay to nonunion units. Faced with such a choice, many employers would give in to union demands. This would also put pressure on nonunion employees to unionize to prevent their pay from being redistributed.

    Sherk points out that multiple micro unions within a company also increase the cost of business operations because they require employers to negotiate multiple collective bargaining agreements.

    But the largest problem with the new NLRB rules has to do with job creation — purportedly the president’s top priority. In general, employment in unionized businesses grows 3 percent to 4 percent more slowly than employment in nonunionized firms, according to Sherk. To promote unionization for the sake of unionization — and not because workers really need or want to unionize — at a time of more than 9 percent unemployment makes little sense and belies the NLRB’s pro-union agenda — an agenda its three Democratic members will pursue even at the expense of the nation’s agenda to create jobs and grow the economy.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/08/31/nlrb-agrees-to-new-rules-that-will-harm-workers-job-creation/

  7. September 6, 2011
    Labor Dept. power grab rewards Obama’s union allies

    Ed Lasky

    In a stealthy bureaucratic move, an Obama political appointee is rewriting rules to enrich unions, economically harm developers, and hinder future construction. The Washington Post takes Obama’s Labor Department to task for deciding “with a stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen” to reward unions while imposing crippling costs on everyone else . The issue involves one of unions’ favorite pieces of legislation: The Davis-Bacon Act.

    The 1931 Act has required contractors to pay construction workers “prevailing wages” for construction projects involving “public buildings or public works’ funded by the federal government or by the District of Columbia.

    The prevailing wages usually mean the highest union wages for that community. As an aside, this is one reason why Obama prefers government expansion: funding for the government comes with many strings attached — especially the one that requires federal funds be used in ways that empower unions-regardless of the costs to taxpayers and the budget.

    Until now, the plain language of the statue has been followed: that the Act applies only to “structures funded, owned or occupied by the U.S. or District governments”.

    But we live in the Age of Obama and all prior definitions, agreements, understandings are null and void at the whim of Barack Obama and his team.

    The Washington Post editorializes:

    Now, with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, that understanding has been upset. A Labor Department regulator has ruled that Davis-Bacon covers the CityCenter DC project, a $700 million private-sector complex under construction downtown at the site of the former convention center. The decision is astonishing, both because it is such a stretch legally and because of its implications – which range from a financial hit for the District to higher costs for development across the country.

    Investors were assured that the Davis-bacon Act did not apply. After all, no federal money went into the project and no government offices would be located there once the project was completed. Even a civil servant at the Labor Department agreed, But then Nancy Leppink, an Obama political appointee and the acting administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division, entered the picture and overruled her underling.

    The Washington Post continues:

    Her reasoning: The District owns the land, which it is leasing to developers for 99 years; it retains “direct authority” in the form of a limited veto over aspects of construction; and it has touted the public benefits of the project, such as more jobs and tax revenue for the city. Ergo, CityCenter’s hotels and restaurants are “public works,” just like the 14th Street Bridge.

    Never mind that the District’s actual control over construction amounts to little more than the usual regulatory oversight, or that long-term leasing of municipal land is a common economic development tool not previously thought to convert office-retail complexes into public works. Never mind that Ms. Leppink’s expansive reasoning could apply to all future commercial redevelopment of land belonging to the District or to the federal government anywhere.

    The result: increased costs for developers, less development going forward, and damage to the economy as a whole. The rule by fiat also undermines confidence — who can calculate the risks of undertaking projects when the government can decide “with a stroke of the pen” to undermine the economics of the development? Even after a great deal of money has been poured into projects with the understanding that the federal government would not swoop in and decide to enrich union coffers at the expense of investors.

    Obama’s political appointees are the culprits who often undermine the work and the decisions of bureaucrats who are more knowledgeable and experienced.

    This is just one more example of the modus operandi of President Obama and his appointees: ignore previous agreements and precedent, throw free enterprise into the ditch, in order to reward union allies.

    Hasn’t Obama been talking about putting country before politics? His administration is all about politics — especially getting Barack Obama reelected and his appointees keeping their jobs.

    Here is his hypocrisy in full bloom: he needs union money and help for his upcoming election. Therefore he uses regulatory power to transfer wealth to unions.

    Given this environment can anyone blame business for being seized by paralysis?

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/09/labor_dept_power_grab_rewards_obamas_union_allies.html

  8. Welcome, Union Brothers and Sisters
    September 6, 2011 at 2:50am

    In my speech on Saturday in Iowa, I said: “Between bailouts for Wall Street cronies and stimulus projects for union bosses’ security and ‘green energy’ giveaways, [Barack Obama] took care of his friends. And now they’re on course to raise a billion dollars for his re-election bid so that they can do it all over again.” This was shamefully on display yesterday at President Obama’s taxpayer-funded campaign rally in Detroit. In introducing the President, Teamsters President James Hoffa represented precisely what I was talking about as he declared war on concerned independent Americans and on the freshman members we sent to Congress last November by saying, “Let’s take these son-of-a-bitches out!”

    What I say now, I say as a proud former union member and the wife, daughter, and sister of union members. So, as a former card-carrying IBEW sister married to a proud former Laborers, IBEW, and later USW member, please hear me out. What I have to say is for the hard working, patriotic, selfless union brothers and sisters in Michigan and throughout our country: Please don’t be taken in by union bosses’ thuggery like Jim Hoffa represented yesterday. Union bosses like this do not have your best interests at heart. What they care about is their own power and re-electing their friend Barack Obama so he will take care of them to the detriment of everyone else.

    To the same degree Americans are concerned about irresponsible, greedy corporate execs who got cushy bonuses from taxpayer-funded bailouts, we should also be concerned about greedy union bosses who are willing to tank our economy just to protect their own power. As union history shows, power and greed corrupt. Just because you claim to represent union members doesn’t mean you are on the side of the angels. The greed of too many of these union bosses has all but destroyed the labor movement in this country, helped chase away our jobs, and is killing the American dream.

    To see where this leads, look at what’s happening to the working class in our industrialized cities. These cities are going to hell in a hand basket thanks to corruption, crony capitalism, and the union bosses’ greed. The union bosses derive their power from your union dues and their promise to deliver your votes to whichever politician they’re in bed with. They get their power from you, and yet their actions ultimately hurt you. They’re chasing American industry offshore by making outrageous, economically illogical demands that they know will never work. And now that they’ve chased jobs out of union states, they’re trying to chase them out of right-to-work states like South Carolina, so eventually the jobs will leave America altogether. But these union bosses will still figure out a way to keep their gig, and so will their politically aligned corporate friends. As long as these big corporations have a good crony capitalist in the White House, they can rely on DC to bail them out until the whole system goes bankrupt, which, I am afraid, is not very far off. When big government, big business, and big union bosses collude together, they get government to maximize their own interests against those of the rest of the country.

    So, now these union bosses are desperately trying to cast the grassroots Tea Party Movement as being “against the workingman.” How outrageously wrong this unapologetic Jim Hoffa is, for the people’s movement is the real movement for working class men and women. It’s rooted in real solidarity, and not special interests and corporate kickbacks. It represents the needed reform that will empower workers and job creators. We stand with the little guy against the corruption and influence peddling of those who collude to grease the wheels of government power.

    This collusion is at the heart of Obama’s economic vision for America. In practice it is socialism for the very rich and the very poor, but a brutal form of capitalism for the rest of us. It is socialism for the very poor who are reduced to a degrading perpetual dependence on a near-bankrupt centralized government to provide their every need, while at the same time robbing them of that which brings fulfillment and success – the life-affirming pride that comes from taking responsibility for your own destiny and building a better life through self-initiative and work ethic. And Obama’s vision is socialism via crony capitalism for the very rich who continue to get bailouts, debt-ridden “stimulus” funds, and special favors that allow them to waive off or help draft the burdensome regulations that act as a boot on the neck to small business owners who don’t have the same friends in high places. And where does this collusion leave working class Americans and the small business owners who create 70% of the jobs in this country? Out in the cold. It’s you and your children who are left paying for the cronyism of Obama and our permanent political class in DC.

    Ask yourself if the folks you heard demonize concerned, independent Americans yesterday really speak for the working class when they’re all too happy to burden your families with the bill to bail out the President’s friends on Wall Street.

    We should not forget that for all his lofty rhetoric, President Obama is a Chicago politician. Graft, cronyism, and quid pro quo are the well-known methods of an infamous Chicago political machine, of which Barack Obama emerged. This corruption isn’t just the result of a few bad apples. It’s the nature of a skewed system that’s typical of one not allowing a level playing field. If one desires opportunity for all, then the only solution is sudden and relentless reform. I know of what I speak. I too served in public office in a state that had a corruption problem. The difference is that I fought the corrupt political machine. Barack Obama used the machine in his state to advance. He never challenged it. And he’s evidently brought the same Chicago “pay-to-play” practices to the White House.

    It’s sad to see much of the labor movement fall lock step behind a President whom Hoffa calls upon to partner in “waging war” against patriotic Americans. I will never forget that as a governor, in trying to be a friend to the working men and women in our unions, I gave a speech on August 27, 2008, at the annual AFL-CIO meeting in Anchorage. There, union members humbled me with a standing ovation for fighting the corruption in Alaska and for bringing parties together for progress on energy development projects. Then just two days later I landed on the national stage as John McCain’s running mate, and the union leadership turned on me from that day forward even though I had not changed one iota in my plans, principles, vision, and commitment to jobs for working class Americans. The only difference was I was challenging the politician the union bosses were committed to electing. It was almost comical, this lesson learned with their new spots revealed so quickly.

    Recently someone commented: “I’m a union member. I’ve been a Democrat all my life. Now I’ll vote for anyone with a plan to save America.” I know what that person is feeling. I want all good union brothers and sisters to know that there is an alternative. The grassroots, independent Tea Party Movement articulates a real alternative rooted in free men and free markets, not the cronyism of Barack Obama and the permanent political class in DC. Their cronyism is why we have no job growth, massive unsustainable debt, and a housing market in the tank. Too many politicians are simply addressing the economic symptoms instead of fighting the underlying disease. The path forward is through reform. On Saturday, I outlined some ideas about that reform, and I will continue to do so.

    In the meantime, good union brothers and sisters, don’t let Hoffa tell you what to do. He doesn’t represent the real interests of working men and women. He’s not doing you any favors. He’s just living off your paychecks.

    – Sarah Palin

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150285058673435

    Well said!!

  9. This past year has shown me the ugliness of unions up close and personal. I continue to be amazed at people that are willing to blindly follow the union propaganda. The union mentality is one of the biggest mind robbers I have seen in grown adults. Think, people, think!

    This weekend’s language at the various rallies, including the words of Hoffa, Obama, and Biden, gives us a peek into what is coming in the next year leading up to the election. Desperate people resort to desperate measures. The progressive movement along with their union allies are desperate. It will be ugly.

    • Yep-if you ever have the misfortune of interacting with the unions-up close and personal-you find out real quick just how underhanded and ugly they can be-then you find out that law, proof of wrong doing, fairness, justice, hell even a State court judgment that you are innocent of any wrong doing-can be undone by some agency in the federal government without you even being their or having a voice in the proceeding.

  10. Hmmm-they didn’t get their raises-now thousands are being laid off-I wonder why. Is reality getting in the way-bringing the infeasibility of their ideas to light.

    Quinn to Lay off Thousands

    A decision made by Gov. Pat Quinn may leave thousands of state workers without a job by the end of the week.

    The cuts are coming in the face of a budget deficit that doesn’t leave enough money to pay the workers, the governor says. Quinn also plans to close a prison, juvenile detention center and homes for the mentally ill.

    If no cuts are made, several agencies will run out of money by spring, Quinn says.

    “We can’t spend money we don’t have,” Quinn said Tuesday.

    WATCH

    The state’s largest government employee union, AFSCME, promises to sue if the layoffs are made, much like they did over blocked pay raises.

    And just like the pay raise situation, Quinn says these layoffs aren’t his fault.

    The governor insists lawmakers didn’t leave him enough money to keep the state operating for a whole year. Quinn has asked for $2.2 billion more and already has made partial vetoes to the Legislature’s budget.

    In July, Quinn responded to a growing labor impasse by saying the General Assembly didn’t appropriate any extra money for raises and that his hands were tied.

    “The law says that subject to appropriations, these raises would be given,” Quinn said. “But the General Assembly did not appropriate the money, the millions of dollars to pay the raises.”

    When asked Tuesday to confirm the cuts mean thousands of jobs, Quinn said, “We have to do what we have to do.”

    At same time Quinn maintains, “our number one priority is jobs.”

    http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Quinn-to-Lay-off-Thousands-129290828.html?dr

    • “We can’t spend money we don’t have,” Quinn said Tuesday.

      Haha! Quotes like this make me laugh.

  11. Another labor “success” story:

    Rhode Island Pension System Collapsing

    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/09/05/rhode-island-pension-system-collapsing/

  12. 😐

  13. In 1984, the Ministry of Plenty handled rationing. The Ministry of Love was in charge of torture. And in the summer of 2011, life imitated art when the National Education Association announced it supports the use of student performance in teacher evaluations. So says the group’s latest position paper on the subject. Sometimes, you see, organizations say the opposite of what they mean.

    The New York Times took the bait, using the headline “Union shifts position on teacher evaluations.” The casual headline-skimmer might be led to wonder, have bona fide education reformers infiltrated the NEA Politburo? Then you come across this Orwellian head fake of a phrase in The Times’s coverage:

    “But blunting the policy’s potential impact, the union also made clear that it continued to oppose the use of existing standardized test scores to judge teachers, a core part of the federally backed teacher evaluation overhauls already under way in at least 15 states.”

    Translation: While they claim to support the principle of teacher accountability, they oppose any particular accountability plan if it contains the inherent design flaw of actually doing anything.

    Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/09/02/teachers-unions-all-for-accountability-%e2%80%a6-in-theory/#ixzz1XC8g6udL

  14. I tried to get a good job
    With honest pay
    Might as well join the mob
    The benefits are okay
    Standing in the sun with a popsicle
    Anything is possible
    With a lot of luck and a pretty face
    And some time to waste
    Leave without a trace…
    Leave without a trace…
    I tried to dance at a funeral
    New Orleans style

    I joined the Grave Dancers Union
    I had to file

    Trying to do the right thing
    Play it straight
    The right thing changes from state to state
    Don’t forget to take your mace
    If you’re out working late
    I liked to see your face
    You left without a trace
    Leave without a trace

  15. Slight hijack here. I say slight because with some hard looking I expect you will find labor linked to this program as are the Algorians.

    http://www.25×25.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=41

    When you get to the site click on HOME and then find the Call to Action.

    As the whale begins to die each of the sharks starts fighting to maintain their “share”.

  16. Before I assault LOI on unions, which in the united states these days is nothing more than an extension of one party’s political leverage and equally as corrupt as those they support, let me point out the recent hypocrisy of President Obama, Richard Trumpka and Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. Where the flying FOCK were they in Wisconsin? I think Obama mentioning collective bargaining after Wisconsin is about as offensive as it gets. Likewise, Richard Trumpka’s sudden concern for labor and the Democratic Party (again, post Wisconsin) should tell his rank and file to seek a third party and fast. And Jimmy Hoffa is no different. Where were these guys when Wisconsin took a double dose (first the disbanding of collective bargaining and then the vote that kept the disbanding in place)? So, as far as these unions go, I can only hope their rank and file looks to the socialist, communist or any other party that will actually give a shit about them.

    Now, on to LOI’s half admission that capitalism is, in fact, slavery.

    http://media.photobucket.com/image/capitalism%20tower/Sam020484/capitalismtower.jpg?o=1

    It’s clear many of these companies engaged in virtual slavery, even if it was somehow legal.

    a.k.a. capitalism … and it hasn’t gotten all that much better. Workers are still slaves to their wages (whether you like the Marxist term or not). So long as labor laws (the ones you fail to mention) are so one-sided against actual workers and so long as profits (which are record profits for corporations since the 1940’s), workers reside on the short end of the stick with a perpetual gun to their heads in the form of wages.

    But since when did librarians need such protection?

    Why shouldn’t all workers have equal benefits? Surely the state can find better things to do with tax revenues than fund pointless wars that never end. Why would it bother you if that money was appropriated to public service workers? Why shouldn’t they have what the political representatives who bargain their rights away have?

    You want to get rid of unions? Get rid of capitalism. It’ll be a done deal.

    More domani …

    • Terry Evans says:

      Not to dilute your diatribe, but Josh Stinson was called up from the minor leagues this past weekend, and pitched for the Mets Friday night and again either Saturday or Sunday…it was in relief and he did well…this is the guy, if you recall, that is a son of one of my employees…Not a NY Mets fan, but I am a fan of Josh Stinson!

      Concerning the topic, I was once a member of a union. I saw first hand how they operate, and it is underhanded. There was a time and place for unions, but (IMO) that time has passed. Could there be a need in the future for unions…possibly, and at that point I would support them, just not now.

    • Charlie,

      I have been reading along for a while now and reading these rants that you keep posting against capitalism. I’m beginning to think you have gone completely off the deep end! Especially when you advocate for something as destructive as communism. Communism is an ideal and one that has been proven doesn’t work. Why would you want that? Why would you want a system that takes away individualism? Why would you want a system that advocates the government taking care of you? They aren’t doing it now, what makes you think they are going to start? I don’t think that I am a slave to my wages. I work because I feel productive when I do. My salary is adequate to suit my needs and I don’t need more than that. I don’t need someone to take care of me, I can do it myself! I think that you will find the majority of us here feel the same way. It isn’t the goverment’s job or your job or anyone else’s to take care of me. If I can get what I want or need on my own then I don’t need it that darn bad.

      I keep hearing you throw out the term equality. The constitution says that all men are created equal, it doesn’t say anything about all men having equal status or equal money. All that means is that all men and women have the same opportunity to make something of themselves. Life isn’t fair, that’s a fact. But the constitution doesn’t say anything about life being fair. The constitution promises us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t even promise happiness, just the pursuit of it and it doesn’t say a damned thing about fair!

      • I have been reading along for a while now and reading these rants that you keep posting against capitalism. I’m beginning to think you have gone completely off the deep end! Especially when you advocate for something as destructive as communism. Communism is an ideal and one that has been proven doesn’t work. Why would you want that? Why would you want a system that takes away individualism?

        It isn’t that I want communism as much as I don’t want capitalism. Yes, it is a utopia, but no less so than capitalism in a free market; both are ideals, neither has ever been proven to work without the state overseeing them. As for the evil of communism you’ve been fed by the same propaganda so many of you here seem to be against regarding what schools teach (all that “liberalism”), there are several examples of where it does, in fact, work. Communal living isn’t something everyone might agree with, but it certainly does eliminate the master-slave relationship capitalism requires.

        Why would you want a system that advocates the government taking care of you? They aren’t doing it now, what makes you think they are going to start? I don’t think that I am a slave to my wages. I work because I feel productive when I do. My salary is adequate to suit my needs and I don’t need more than that.

        I don’t need the state to take care of me. In fact, I’m probably 1000% better without it taking care of me. Your attitude regarding work (taking pride, etc.), what makes you think those who advocate for socialism or communism don’t take pride in their work. I take extreme pride in my work product (no matter what it is). I don’t even mind that others get to reap the greater profit from my work ethic … but I do see that profit reaping as intrinsic to the problems we all face today (i.e., power resides with money–corporations thrive in this nanny state you advocate). You say you want freedom, yet it is the corporate world that takes advantage of the government it owns at your expense. The reason it needs the government is because it cannot exist without it.

        I keep hearing you throw out the term equality. The constitution says that all men are created equal, it doesn’t say anything about all men having equal status or equal money.

        Yes, well, the constitution was written by the wealthy to protect the wealthy. Government, from the get-go, had one idea in mind, to protect private property. That’s great if you belong to the wealthy class. If not, you get the bumper sticker slogans to live by. And, not to belabor the point, but that constitution and “all men are created equal” bit didn’t mind that slavery was part of the formula when it was written and for another 100+ years before a war brought that to a seeming end, it was 1965 before it was put into law. So, please, no more constitutional references …

        All that means is that all men and women have the same opportunity to make something of themselves. Life isn’t fair, that’s a fact. But the constitution doesn’t say anything about life being fair. The constitution promises us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t even promise happiness, just the pursuit of it and it doesn’t say a damned thing about fair!

        You need to take a look outside the constraints of a very biased view on just what equal opportunity is across the board and not assume everyone starts from an equal playing field–they simply don’t.

    • “Now, on to LOI’s half admission that capitalism is, in fact, slavery.”

      I don’t think I said that at all. I know some businesses exploit people, which is why I think some government is needed. It happened a hundred years ago, and may still happen again. If so, I see this as a failure of government, such as my example showed, had been corrupted by the mining companies. I think today the unions have similar influence. I think by your logic, the nutjob that held that girl captive proves we still allow slavery in the US.

      Face it Charlie, you already had your mind made up. Librarians need/deserve union protection. Sure, lets set up the paper cut police. You just want unions to grow into socialism, communism, etc. so we’re all equal. And I can agree it sounds great in theory, but it has never worked!
      Did the USSR or China not do it big enough for you? 70-100 million killed in the name of central government. That is the key point, big government will always preform poorly. And if we become socialist, we won’t be equal, we’ll just appoint the Obama’s and Pelosi’s as our masters, to think and decide for us what we should eat and who gets cars. And for the life of me, I can’t understand why you are so intent to put on a slaves shackles.

      • Perhaps we should define Capitalism-I define it as private ownership of the means of production-I have seen it defined as private and corporate ownership of the means of production. Yet corporations is an invention of government-without government it wouldn’t exist-so I think mine is the correct definition. Crony capitalism per definition fits our present system-not capitalism. Using the term capitalism to describe our current system is a stretch -Maybe we should call it crony socialism instead. 🙂

      • LOI, you’re starting to panic for no good reason, sir …:) You’re sold on the propaganda about the Soviet Union and China so there isn’t much I can tell you that will help. Look to Cuba, where there is also a dictator in power. You won’t see flat screen tv’s but you’ll see a 100% literary rate amongst adults … you’ll see incredible increases in health benefits to a people that were abused no end by capitalism. And there were at least as many political prisoners under Batista and his version of the “free market” as there were/are under Castro. He’s no hero, but the Cuban people are better off with their limited resources now than they were then.

        Capitalism is the system going down fast … #5 in the world, America was ranked yesterday … we’re headed for third world status soon enough. Keep freeing up business to do what it wants (as if it doesn’t now) and you’ll get there even sooner.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      Charlie, your argument as to why librarians need such protection is simply “why not?”

      That is not a valid argument.

      http://www.conservativeblog.org/amyridenour/2011/2/19/text-of-fdr-letter-opposing-public-employee-government-union.html

      That is a pretty good argument for why public service employees should NOT be allowed to unionize or to collectively bargain.

      Ultimately, who is the employer of the public service employee? The people! Who do public sector employees bargain AGAINST when they collectively bargain?

      • Why isn’t it, Peter? Why should I accept corporate record profits when they are laying off people? Why do I have to accept what you or capitalism decrees? Baloney. It’s time the “workers” get their fair share. Lawyers charging $750 an hour when paralegals, secretaries and mail room people do the bulk of the work is obscene. Don’t tell me how hard they worked to become lawyers, please. That’s simply a crock. Bankers on Wall Street earning millions while the underlings make just enough to get by is absurd. Why aren’t those profits shared? Because capitalism requires slaves to the masters, it’s as simple as that. Don’t like it, starve (that’s the atitude). Sorry, that’s an anachronism about to die, thank God.

        • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

          Charlie, you are a functionalist at heart. Functionalism looks good on paper, but that’s about it. The problem with functionalism is that there is no way to actually determine what the worker’s “fair share” actually is. If you have any ideas on how to determine the “fair share” for the worker based on the specific job that each worker does, I would love to hear it.

          • I’d love to hear yours as well … right now, the way I figure it, you’re all for the 0.2%’s … take a look-see at the capitalist tower … it’s about as accurate as it gets.

  17. It was a mite quiet today-I guess everybody had to catch up on work after having Monday off. 🙂

  18. Another group whining about not getting enough from the Federal trough.

    http://www.dailyyonder.com/case-missing-rural-non-profits/2011/08/22/3488

    Note last paragraph. Quite frankly I didn’t know that our “rural” areas needed to be rebuilt.

    I am offering these tidbits so everyone can get a flavor of the stuff going on in Washington than the vast majority of us don’t know is going on.

    For example, note the references to “public/private partnerships”. This has been a major emphasis within the Fed. Govt for some time. This is Fascism at its core (public use of private sector to achieve control over means of production). It leads to groups, including your local govt, lining up to fight over Federal favors. It also leads to Federal control over local decisions.

    Such partnerships are designed to implement Federal Priorities at the local level where the Feds have no existing authority, other than to spend money.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      @JAC – “White House Rural Council”…..sheesh…..we are our own worst enemy.

    • PPPs..code for Agenda 21

      • Anita

        Sometimes, but not always.

      • Anita

        Interesting how this lady’s perspective of what these partnerships are “for” differs seriously from my perspective. Mine is driven by actually being involved with them at the implementation level. Not sure where she is coming from but seems to start with an assumption based on her supposed discovery at the “World Bank”. I admit however, that not all such partnerships are equal or the same in their goals. We may both be correct.

        But in my experience the Gov t uses these partnerships to “leverage” their assets and force changes in society. The term “leverage” is one used by the Federal Govt managers by the way. They decide what they want done. They then work to form partnerships with other govt and private entities to get more funding and implement whatever it is they want. It could be conversion of stop lights to round-abouts for example. Or the development of “sustainable community” planning and ordinances. Preservation of key habitat or wetlands is another.

        • I agree JAC. I got that link in an email early in ’10. The email is set up really weird so I’m not sure how it would copy to here. Here’s a main point of it though:

          Anytime you here the phrase “Public- Private Partnership”, you can be sure that a corporation or foundation is benefiting, as PPP’s are the tool of fascism. The “Private” component of the PPP is the money partner and is always interested in profit and power. When they couple with the government (the Public component of the PPP), the benefit is enforcement of policies, tax breaks, fees, etc.

          • Anita

            I would agree with that statement much more than the lady’s claims in the video.

            And PPP’s are most certainly a major tool of the Agenda 21 supporters.

  19. Ray Hawkins says:

    @D13 – hoping you see this and can offer some “horse’s mouth” commentary…….heard on one of the talk shows yesterday that a reason Texas is having such a hard time fighting the fires were the budget cuts Perry and legislature enacted with respect to fire fighting services. Any truth to this or is this complete b.s.?

    • Complete BS……I would know for I am coordinating equipment from the National Guard to be used with the civilians. One main reason we are having such a hard time is there are 11 separate fires going right now, the drought, and the winds. When you have a prairie fire being pushed by 40 mph winds, the fire travels…….40 mph. We also are using our rainy day fund because we have no Federal funds being allocated to us. Obama has said that these fires do not reach the National Disaster Category……

      However, be prepared for a lot of Perry and Texas bashing. It is coming. We are successful and nobody likes it.

      • I might add…..7 of the 11 fires have been deliberately set.

      • d13

        Are any Federal agencies providing fire fighting forces in the efforts?

        • No sir, but the Texas National Guard is at its own expense. I know for I am helping the coordination of State assets from the border to the fires in BAstrop. I understand that we have asked for Federal air assets and in my briefing we have been told that the request does not meet the requirements for Federal aid.

          • I have read article after article-that says Federal fire fighters are on the ground in Texas-that Texas has been given grants that cover 75% although caps were mentioned- so this % was questionable-You are telling me this isn’t true-that my first thoughts on this situation were correct—-GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!! I wanted to be wrong!!

  20. Thank goodness for journalists such as Malkin, who still do investigative work:

    How Obama protects the Teamsters

    http://michellemalkin.com/2011/09/07/how-obama-protects-the-teamsters/

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      What’s interesting about EO 13552 is that it says nothing of the ECONOMIC “administration and completion of Federal construction projects”. (economic in my sense meaning maximizing the dollars invested).

  21. Good Grief—Where it stops nobody knows! I’ve got a wonderful kitchen knife that would kill you just as fast as any knife listed here. Stupid really has no end-does it.

    Crime Boston Set to Restrict Knife Sales

    * Posted on September 7, 2011 at 10:59am by Buck Sexton Buck Sexton

    Legally buying a handgun in Boston is already impossible for most citizens, but soon it may become much harder to purchase even a pocketknife in Beantown.

    Yes, some Boston politicians believe that if you make it harder to buy something with a sharp edge, there will be fewer stabbings. Apparently, Boston has had 1300 such attacks over the past two years.

    The Boston City Council will meet tomorrow to vote on the ordinance, which would require a licensing process for the sale of knives. Boston already dictates the type of knives that can be sold, but this new legislation would allow the state to continuously keeps its hands on anyone who sells everything from Swiss Army Knives to machetes.

    It is unclear if sale of chef’s knives, which often have 8-inch-long, razor sharp blades, will be covered by the new regulations, but the impact on fine dining around Beacon Hill could be severe.

    Even without this legislation, Boston is far from a 2nd Amendment haven.

    Current Massachusetts law bans all sorts of weapons and imposes draconian prison terms for their possession. Many knives such as switchblades are illegal outright. You need a license to carry pepper spray. One could guess this has made the city much safer from rogue female joggers.

    For the aspiring ninjas out there, be forewarned: Massachusetts has already banned nunchakus, Kung Fu Sticks, and throwing stars, punishable by no less than two-and-a-half years in prison.

    The lengthy sentences under Boston extend to firearms as well. Have a sawed-off shotgun? Or an automatic weapon? You could get life in prison.

    Watch the video below, courtesy of MyFoxBoston, and hear the politicians behind the knife bill make their case for regulations that they claim won‘t be ’onerous’:

    http://www.ammoland.com/2011/09/06/boston-proposes-to-license-knife-sales-restricting-your-second-amendment/

  22. Want a glimpse of Charlie’s world…….watch the movie Mao’s Last Dance

  23. Ray Hawkins says:
    • Ray Hawkins says:

      oh my…..its just a game eh?

      • Ray

        I know. It is quite something isn’t it.

        My prediction, not much of one actually.

        If the demonization of the Tea Party is successful, which it looks like it is given the polling data, then you will see the Dem’s label virtually all Republican candidates as Tea Party candidates this coming year. That will include Romney if he is nominated.

  24. Top 5 Union Work Controversies

    By Maxim Lott

    Published September 06, 2011

    | Fox News

    Government work rules restrict what public employees can do, often in the name of safety. But critics say the rules have, over the years, been manipulated for political ends by bureaucrats and unions. Sometimes, the rules restrict public employees so much that they put lives in danger.

    From an incident in California in which police and firefighters watched as a man drowned himself, to a public school teacher in Texas who stood by as one of his pupils was beaten up by another student, government and union work policies have had tragic consequences.

    FoxNews.com takes a look at five of the most serious cases.

    1) Firefighters Not Allowed to Save Drowning Man On Memorial Day — A man drowned himself in shallow water in the San Francisco Bay in front of dozens of onlookers — including on-duty police and firemen.

    They could do nothing but watch the drowning, because their department’s work rules forbade them to attempt water rescues without specific training that was no longer provided.

    The firefighters say they wish they had been allowed to enter the water.

    “Every one of our members who was on that scene wishes that the policy would have allowed them to do something,” the union President said at the time.

    After the man was dead, a young woman — not a city employee — swam out and pulled him back to shore.

    Fire officials said that they have already repealed the policy in response, which had been created by both management and the union in March 2009 in response to budget cuts.

    2) A $2,500 Fine for Reporting a Safety Violation — Are you in a union? Watch out before you report a safety hazard at work.

    Mark Overton, a construction foreman working on the Taum Sauk reservoir in Missouri, noticed a safety issue: A concrete-pouring machine was not properly stabilized – and was at risk of falling over.

    Following the company’s policy, he notified management. The problem was corrected, and the worker who was found responsible was given a three day suspension from the company.

    But the punished worker was also a union member. So the union accused Overton of “gross disloyalty” and “conduct unbecoming a union member” and fined him $2,500. Overton either had to pay, they said, or stop working at the company.

    This April, a judge said that the union’s fine was perfectly legal.

    The union that issued the fine — IUOE Local 513 — did not respond to e-mails and calls from FoxNews.com. But some labor lawyers defended the concept of “disloyalty” fines.

    “The union wants solidarity among employees and supervisors,” Boston University Professor and labor law expert Michael Harper told FoxNews.com.

    3) $388,860 to Fire a Teacher — Wisconsin teacher Bob Zellner was caught viewing pornography on a school computer, and the school board voted 6-0 to fire him.

    “This issue boiled down to the basic requirement and the expectation we have that people will not access pornography sites from our school computers. Period.” Cedarburg school board member Kevin Kennedy told FoxNews.com.

    But before a union member can be fired, the case must go before an arbitration panel. The arbitrator acknowledged that computer logs proved the teacher had viewed porn on the computer – but ruled that it did not give “just cause” to fire the teacher.

    The panel ordered the school “to re-instate the [teacher,] … to reduce the [teacher’s] discipline to a written reprimand and … to make the [teacher] whole for all lost wages.”

    The school appealed, and got the right to fire Zellner – but only after three years of legal battles that cost the district $388,860, school superintendent Daryl Herrick told FoxNews.com.

    “The Union legal team went out of their collective way to seemingly try to cost the District as much money as possible in legal fees, depositions, etc,” Kennedy said.

    4) Don’t defend students — In Dallas, a math teacher simply looked on as one of his pupils was repeatedly punched in the face by another boy in his classroom. The union defended the teacher’s inaction, saying he was following protocol and staying safe.

    “In today’s society, which is a violent society, you do not touch the student,” Rena Honea, the President of the teachers’ union Alliance-AFT, told Fox News 4 in Dallas. “I believe that that is for the safety of, number one, the students — but [also] for the individual teacher as well.”

    See video here.

    5) No volunteers allowed — Many towns around America rely entirely on volunteer firefighters. However, in some California cities, firefighters’ unions have completely driven out volunteers.

    “300 homes burned down [in my area] in a 2003 wildfire. After the fire, I tried to volunteer to help,” Richard Rider, who runs the group “San Diego Tax Watchers,” told FoxNews.com. “But they will not allow volunteers to fight fires.”

    San Diego Firefighters Union spokesman confirmed that, but said it was for safety reasons.

    “We’re a professional organization that has specially trained and certified people. It costs more — but what is a life worth?”

    But Rider said that not allowing volunteers to supplement professional crews costs lives.

    “The national response time is 5 minutes, and we don’t meet that here in San Diego. If we had volunteer firefighters on call, response times would be faster.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/06/top-5-most-dangerous-government-work-rules/#ixzz1XIEoFEuj

  25. If we’re gonna talk about whether or not Perry’s budget cuts effected taking care of these fires-how about this situation by the Federal government-and why-has this become an issue right now. And oh looky there California’s resources are down because they can’t afford them either.

    Contract Dispute Grounds Firefighting Planes
    by Audrey Hudson
    09/07/2011

    Nearly half of the federal government’s firefighting air tankers are siting idle at a California airport, grounded by the Obama administration in a contract dispute just weeks before wildfires swept through Texas killing a mother and her child, and destroying 100,000 acres.

    The massive blazes forced Texas Gov. and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry to abruptly call off a campaign appearance in South Carolina earlier this week to respond to the crisis, and may force him to cancel his first debate appearance Wednesday night.

    The U.S. Forest Service terminated the contract with Aero Union five weeks ago to operate seven P-3 Orions that are critical to the agency’s firefighting mission, leaving the federal government with 11 tankers under contract to help battle more than 50 large uncontained wildfires now burning nationwide.

    That’s down from 40 tankers used by the Forest Service just a decade ago, according to Rep. Dan Lungren (R.-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Administration, who is challenging the decision to dismiss the largest provider of heavy air-tanker support to the federal government.

    “We were certified to fly all season, but they just terminated us and threw 60 people out of work and left the country vulnerable to fires, as you can see right now in Texas,” said Britt Gourley, CEO for Aero Union.

    “This is our 50th anniversary fighting fires for the Forest Service. It’s not quite the way we wanted to celebrate it,” Gourley said.

    Gourley said the government did not provide details on why the contract was canceled, but that they did not agree with Aero Union’s 15-year maintenance plan.

    “We wanted to sit down with them and ask why it was canceled and find a quick resolution, but they didn’t want to talk about it. They just said, ‘We don’t want the airplanes, have a nice life,’ ” Gourley said. “I had to let go of my staff–60 people and their families were devastated,” Gourley said. “It’s really been tragic.”

    The Forest Service says it will not use aircraft that does not meet its requirements, and in this case that included the long-term airworthiness inspection program, although the company passed its annual inspection.

    “Our main priority is protecting and saving lives, and we can’t in good conscience maintain an aviation contract where we feel lives may be put at risk due to inadequate safety practices,” said Tom Harbour, director of the Forest Services fire and aviation management program.

    “This contract termination notwithstanding, we possess the aircraft support needed for this year’s fire season,” Harbour said.

    In a letter to the administration questioning the canceled contracts that was obtained by HUMAN EVENTS, Lungren said the aircraft “are some of the best available for fighting fires in the United States.”

    “The [Federal Aviation Administration] representative stated that the disrupted contract issues which led to the grounding of Aero Union’s entire fleet do not relate to the suitability of these aircraft to perform for the remainder of this fire season,” Lungren said in the Aug. 15 letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose agency oversees the Forest Service.

    “I am deeply troubled by the Forest Service’s sudden action, particularly as California enters into the fire season. Our aerial firefighting fleet is already seriously undercapitalized,” Lungren said.

    In addition to the 11 tankers in the fleet still operating, two air tankers are under contract to operate on-call, and up to eight military firefighting aircraft can be called to assist if needed.

    Aero Union operated six Lockheed P-3 Orions, and was preparing to add a seventh to the fleet when the contract was canceled. The four-engine turboprops were originally used as anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft that were built for the U.S. Navy.

    Ultimately, those aircraft will be replaced with two-engine CV 580s from Canada, which Lungren said is “worrisome” because those aircraft will carry a smaller load of fuel-retardant and require more downtime.

    Despite the contract cancellation, Gourley told HUMAN EVENTS he has reached out to his former employees and that they could have four planes up in 48 hours to fly to Texas’ rescue, and assist in other devastating fires burning in California.

    “First and foremost, we are firefighters at Aero Union, and we do not want to sit idle while the people of Texas and California suffer,” Gourley said in a letter Tuesday to Harbour.

    “We feel strongly that a contract disagreement unrelated to the safety of our fleet to fight fires should not stand in the way of our mission at a time when these aircraft are most needed. The tragic scenes in Texas and California make any contract issues appear very secondary,” Gourley said.

    Perry toured the devastation near Austin on Tuesday and viewed some of the homes destroyed by the flames.

    “These fires are serious and widespread, and as mean as I have ever seen, burning more than 1,000 homes since this wildfire season began,” Perry said.

    “Texas appreciates the resources and support we continue to receive from across the state and across the country to fight these fires, and the efforts of the brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect Texans’ lives and property. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are impacted by these fires,” Perry said.

    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=46009

    • V.H.

      This issue with the P-3 Orion has been building for some time. I don’t know the details on why that particular contract was suddenly terminated but there have been issues and it appears to me that the contractor and their Congressman are oversimplifying the issue.

      The State of Texas is still free to hire these aircraft if they want to use them. They just won’t be paid for by Federal money.

      • That wasn’t my point of posting this article-it’s the whole thing-California being low on resources because they have no intention of balancing their budget is okay-but Perry is guilty because Texas actually wants to pay their bills without taking every penny the government tries to force on States. People are attacking Texas because they don’t take every handout -and celebrating states that do at every opportunity. People want to blame Perry and claim that these cuts caused a problem but ignore the fact that Texas does have a rainy day fund they can pull from -if the Federal government decides to punish them politically(well to continue to punish them)-but if California had to have help it would be just fine and they sure as heck don’t have a rainy day fund-because they follow the progressive agenda.

        Per this article I could make a pretty good case that Obama is endangering everybody by making such a move during the drought season-whether it was true or not, whether they still have enough other planes to cover any problems or not. Just like they are trying to put the blame on Perry for making cuts to balance his budget. But California being low on resources is just fine-as long as they aren’t doing anything economically feasible that might have affected the resources. The arguments are just so hypocritical it drives me nuts.

      • This is not true, JAC…..the Orions are not available for any price.

        • Common Man says:

          Colonel;

          You made a statement last week sometime relative to Perry not getting many Texas vote’s. What are you basing your statement on?

          CM

        • d13

          Colonel, this makes no sense what so ever. If the Orions no longer have a contract with the USFS then they should be free to contract with anyone else. That includes Private or State/Local.

          If they are “grounded” then that means the FAA was actually the ones that forced the contract termination by the USFS. Because the USFS does NOT have authority to control State or private aircraft contracts for fire fighting. Well let me put that another way. They never used to have such authority and that would be a major change that slipped under my radar.

          • I agree……But I am here to tell you, we have burned up the phone lines and have agreed to pay for them out of state funds….they are not available. I have since then heard that have some “maintenance problems”. However, since I posted that I am glad to inform you that we have received some Federal help. I was just notified via messenger……we will gladly welcome the help that is coming…..all three of the fire trucks and crews….all three of them.

            We do have some private help out of Washington State and Oregon with their air assets. And we have some of the Colorado fire crews here. We have also activated 600 National Guard soldiers (on state funds) that have fire fighting experience.

            Side note….I was out there when one of the modified 130’s flew over and dropped water. I would not suggest being under one when it is dropped. I saw the impact of that water (which I thought would be dispersed on the free fall) break branches on the trees. WOW….big impact.

            • D13

              If you think water is awsome, watch a retardant drop up close.

              If nobody told you here is safety tip if you get caught in a drop zone.

              Lie face down with your head towards the approaching air craft. Throw all sharp equipment behind you, then tuck your elbows tight and put both hands on your hard hat or hat. Helps keep hat on and your head from snapping around.

              • You forgot mentioning to put your head between your legs and kissing you ass goodbye.

                My son, was for awhile, a para jumper in Colorado. He told me about the retardant drops….his description was like yours….AWESOME but dont be there….lol

            • D13

              I once topped out on a ridge with my strike team and came face to face (almost literally) with THIS as it started to drop the retardant.

              For those who have not experienced it, standing about 100 feet under this when it passes over your head is a TRUE RUSH. 🙂

  26. An pretty good summary of how Govt agencies are sidestepping the regulatory process. Which allows the rabid supporters of the POTUS to claim he has NOT increased onerous regulations.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/09/epa_fundamental_transformation_through_regulation.html

  27. @ anyone that is computer savvy for I am a mere user. All of a sudden, my screen is filled with the large print on SUFA and small print on everything else. Anyone know what the hell I hit or did? And changing the resolution in settings does not correct the problem.

  28. September 8, 2011
    Thuggery in the Wisconsin Union Battle
    By Gary Larson, American Thinker

    At first, the multi-union sponsor of the annual Labor Day parade in Wausau, Wisconsin “disinvited” all Republican office-holders. No kidding. No marching for them. No open convertibles. No waving to the crowds. No tossing wrapped candies to kiddies along the parade route.

    Then the Wausau-based union locals had a change of heart. Undone by nasty publicity and a level-headed mayor threatening to yank their parade permit, union bosses grudgingly gave in, lifting their silly ban. So on Monday, Labor Day, Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) of Wisconsin’s Seventh District showed up, only to be taunted by jeering union activists turned out en masse for the parade. Literally turning their backs on their duly-elected representative in the U.S. House, protesters screamed at the curbs, “Shame! Shame!” as a nonplussed Rep. Duffy passed by.

    Not that Wisconsin Republicans were all that keen to join Labor Day parades, suspecting catcalls and maybe flying objects — in short, the foul play they’ve come to expect from rabid public employee union devotees, led by teachers, and camp followers. All this furor because GOPers acted with resolve to stop the hemorrhaging of the state finances by curbing excessive public employee benefits enacted by previous (Democrat) regimes. Finally someone stood up for ordinary Wisconsin taxpayers.

    What we have, in reaction, is down ‘n’ dirty public union thuggery. No other word for it. News media have that see-no-evil response. Thus do weird politics become scary in the Badger State, triggering unprecedented recall elections. Spite was asserting itself. Despite pouring over $30 million into their friendlies’ campaigns, unions could not replace enough Republicans with their lackeys to win control of the state senate. Along the way toward Armageddon, almost inevitably, came death threats, largely unreported — or is that ignored? — by news media.

    “Across the whole Republican caucus, we have received at least a dozen, credible, specific death threats,” a well-placed legislative staffer told National Review’s Deroy Murdock. “This was not just ‘go to hell,'” the staffer added, “but threats that rose to a level that made people feel unsafe.” Trouble is, perception in politics can become chilling reality.

    GOPers in parades might put their chins, or their lives, on the line as the heated rhetoric of the pro-union left becomes disturbingly violent. Here’s a snippet, word-for-word, from an actual email received by a host of Republican legislators from a known suspect party in Lacrosse, Wisconsin:

    … I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we’ve had enough. We feel that you and your republican dictators have to die. This is how it’s going to happen: I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it’s a matter of public record. We have all planned to assult [sic] you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head.

    Say you are a Republican state senator. In the relative safety of your office at the Capitol, you find a note slipped under your door. It is anonymous. It says: “The only good Republican is a dead Republican.” Who would do such a thing? A fellow legislator? (Yes, as it turned out.) As a joke? (Not really — done in the heat of the moment.) Some dark sense of humor…it fits progressives’ theater of the absurd. Not getting their way, tantrum-like, they trash any opposition, waiting for Godot.

    Later, after the final legislative session, a darkened chartered bus whisks you and fellow GOP legislators away from the Capitol in the dead of night to avoid the shoving, scurrilous, yelling mob doing damage to the Capitol. Your personal safety at risk. Meanwhile, your home phone has been ringing. Madly. From irked union constituents. This is America? You became a public-serving legislator for this? Gotta be kidding.

    Worse yet, your kids go to school and are subjected, they say, to hostile looks from their teachers, perhaps by lower grades, and harsh words from fellow students. Friendships are frayed. Retribution for their parents’ vote on a budget reform act, for goodness? How surreal does it get? Kids will be kids, but spiteful teachers too?

    (Few know: in December 2009, then-Governor James Doyle, a Democrat, signed into law a union-authored bill that forces unions on schoolchildren, teaching the history of organized labor, including paeans to collective bargaining “rights.” Click the link if you doubt such curriculum mandates imposed by servile-to-union Democrats then in power.)

    At the Capitol this spring of discontent, angry mobs, mainly teachers, many on phony “sick leaves,” their schools shuttered by their absences, took over “debate.” They and their union disciples scream “Shame!”and worse, coarse obscenities and lightly veiled threats, toward Republicans. The F-word is employed. Shabbily, the mob preaches a false righteousness for their unions to control the state’s purse strings, and for the Employer State to collect their very union dues.

    A death threat is the ultimate form of thuggery. Lesser threats — not to life, but to others’ well-being and property — include intimidation of local businesses. Sadly, unions are up to that tawdry task. If a business does not bow to their demands, such as placing a pro-union poster in their windows, the threat — in writing, no less — is to boycott it. Try to injure it. To hell with others’ jobs.

    Neutrality is not an option. Businesses large and small are tagged as guilty if not kowtowing to the union humbly, POW-style. It is a variation of the old protection racket run by organized crime. It’s that old savage hit-’em-in-the-kneecaps strategy if they don’t, ah, “cooperate.” Or maybe a knuckle sandwich will get the lowly businessperson to see things the unions’ way?

    Astoundingly, even Wisconsin police and fire public unions hint that they would not respond to crime in progress or fires at non-union-compliant businesses. This amounts to the would-be forces of anarchy on the prowl. Coverage of all this possibly criminal skulduggery is nearly nonexistent.

    An in-depth study by Media Research Center of major networks ABC, CBS, and NBC coverage of Wisconsin’s madness discovered only eight reports dared show protesters’ vile placards comparing the union-reviled Gov. Walker with a mustachioed Hitler, replete with swastikas, or to a red-caped Satan, sprouting horns. “Not a single network anchor or reporter addressed whether the signs are close to civil, or appropriate,” said MRC President Brent Bozell.

    Only one cable network, vilified by the left, reported on the death threats. That sole mention was a “Talking Points Memo” during Bill O’Reilly’s top-rated talking-head program on Fox News. Evidently “shhh” was the operative word on all other networks about no less than palpable death threats. Only a few newspapers picked up on the death threat storyline, including a courageous Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Proving, at least, it could be done, absent political correctness, by members of another union, the Newspaper Guild. Otherwise, it was union birds of a feather not issuing a peep — definitely bad news for America.

    Finally, this, from an obviously deranged loony-tunes lefty, is found in this e-mail to selected, targeted Wisconsin Republican legislators:

    We will hunt you down. We will slit your throats. We will drink your blood. I will have your decapitated head on a pike in the Madison town square. This is your last warning.

    Snippet from an al-Qaeda broadside? No, this e-mail was received by Republican state senators in Wisconsin. Still wonder so many Republicans skipped Labor Day parades? With that kind of union-induced hatred oozing from humanity’s seamier side, it’s no wonder. Something is very, very rotten in Wisconsin, and it’s not the cheese.

    • Went biking around the lake in downtown Madison yesterday and then had a Bloody lunch at a restaurant “on the square” which surrounds the state capitol. Lunch time was over so missed the solidarity singers that show up every day to spew their nonsense, but there were some hangers-on with solidarity signs. Biggest laugh from us came when we could hear shouts in the distance but couldn’t understand what was being said until two guys came around to our side and through their megaphones, one would yell “Recall” and the other “Walker” as they continued walking around the building. Total losers – all of them. Really just wish these socialist progressives would move to California. Fill the state with all of their ilk and let them spend each others money on their social justice programs.

      • Buck the Wala says:

        How horrible of those two guys, exercising their rights and calling for the recall of Walker. I especially love how you wish they would just move to CA. If you don’t like it, you can always move to Texas.

        The above probably comes across online much more mean-spirited than the sarcasm intended. 🙂

  29. I did not get to see the great debate last night.

    So I am curious what other who did have to say this morning.

    • Buck the Wala says:

      In a nutshell: An overall waste of my time.

      A few interesting moments though.

      1) Perry’s inability to respond to questions on why he is against a MA-style individual mandate for health care while TX leads the nation in highest percentage of uninsured
      2) Award for funniest moment of the night: Romney’s face in the background as Bachmann is trying to answer a question on Libya and foreign policy. Sheer and utter bewilderment!
      3) Perry v. Romney on SS
      4) Award for most disgusting moment of the night: the audience cheering at the mere mention of the 234 individuals executed under Perry’s watch, coupled with Perry’s absolute lack of compassion at the thought that any of those individuals could have been innocent.

  30. Come one Buck…I know you do not like Perry for his stance on tort reform..(assuming here as you are a lawyer and the trial lawyers are up in arms ion him)….

    But…I agree with you on the mandate…he should have answered that any “mandate” is wrong and a theft of freedom…he should have answered that Texas is a pay as you go state and subsidized health does not take priority over anything else. The budget is what it is and he nor Texas is going to raise taxes just to have a subsidized health policy.

    Perry on Social Security….you know as well as I Perry does not want nor will he want to abolish SS. But he is totally correct on it being a Ponzi scheme because it is. I suggest you read his stance on how to solve the problem. He should have said that last night but he actually baited a very good trap for the media and Romney. He has a pretty good idea….I do not agree with all of it but it is better than what we have now…the media and Romney will fall for the bait and Perry will slam the door. He is a pretty good tactician. Last night was not the night to fire that bullet.

    As to the “death penalty”……he is responding to Texas. It was on one of our elections one year and capital punishment was voted for overwhelmingly. Neither you nor the rest of the nation has a say in it. It is a state right. We like it…we want it…we have it. I personally think it takes too long to push the juice…but all of the appeals takes about 5-8 years….more than enough time. You may find it personally disgusting….but you are in New York. We have a more definitive sense of justice. If you think he would push a Federal system for this…you are mistaken. Perry is a strict State’s rights advocate….and it should be a state issue.

    • That said…….I wish he would stay here. He is a good governor…..but Dewhurst will be also.

      • Buck the Wala says:

        Hey, we agree! I wish Perry would stay there as well!

        Re the mandate question, what bothers me the most is that he should have anticipated the question and should have had a much better answer. Clearly I disagree with him on the issue.

        Re SS — No, it is not a Ponzi scheme. But regardless, as to whether Perry does or does not want to abolish SS, I don’t know where he stands. Last night he seemed to say that he did want to abolish SS. This morning his campaign has doubled down and refused to clarify questions on this exact issue. He has a pretty good idea? What is it?

        Re death penalty — 1) it is not a state’s right issue (to me) as it goes against the 8th Amendment. 2) even if you believe it to be a state’s rights issue and support TX having the death penalty, does it not bother you in the least his complete disregard for even the (likely) possibility that one innocent man may have been put to death by the state under his leadership?

        Re tort reform — true, I disagree with his stance on this issue. But I also disagree with him on a host of other issues. In fact, I can’t think of a single issue where I agree with Perry!

        • Which is probably why, right now, I like him the most.

          How Buck, is our current structure for SS, not a Ponzi scheme?

          Death penalty re perhaps putting one innocent to death? This logic always amazes me from the left – innocent babies? Kill at will!

          • Buck the Wala says:

            Sorry to say, but SS is just not a Ponzi scheme. Are there problems with the system that need be addressed? Yes. But it is not a Ponzi scheme, its long-term funding can be more than adequately addressed by minor tweaking, and it is an important program that millions rely upon.

            Re death penalty and abortion. Very different issues. But if you want to erroneously conflate the two, what are your thoughts on the possibility of an innocent man being put to death? Or do you scoff at the possibility, a la Perry?

            • Buck

              Your admission that “tweaking” is needed to make it sustainable is the proof it was in effect a PONZI scheme from the start.

              Those who pushed for it knew it was not sustainable, that it was not truly an insurance program and that an increasing number of contributors would be needed to pay the benefits to those collecting. It is one of the greatest FRAUDS ever perpetrated on the American People.

              • Right up there with the Federal Reserve!

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Tweaking is needed because of changing demographics. It is a very sustainable program.

                SS is not based upon a need for a geometrically-increasing chain of investors to make promised pay outs. It is not based on a lie or fraud, with ‘investors’ not knowing where the money is coming from or going. It does not promise exorbitant returns that cannot be sustained. Ponzi Schemes to my knowledge are not able to be tweaked. So how does the ability to provide for minor tweaks make SS a ponzi scheme?

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                Ponzi Scheme:

                1. Convincing investors that they will achieve a SAFE return of X on their investment.

                2. Spending the “investment” money of the investors on anything BUT the described investment as soon as it comes in the door.

                3. Paying off “senior” investors with moneys brought in from “junior” investors, in order to cover up the fact that the “investment” of the senior investors was NOT invested but was instead SPENT.

                So Buck, try again… how does social security NOT fit the above description?

              • Mathius™ says:

                1. I am not convinced I will achieve a safe return on my “investment”. In fact, I am under no delusion that it is an “investment” at all. I cannot speak for the people who have not bothered to learn about the system, but the truth is readily available that SS is nothing more than a wealth-redistribution mechanism from current workers to current retirees.

                2. We know full well what they’re doing with the money – they’re paying current retirees and looting the rest to patch the budget. Al Gore wanted to use the money to buy a really big locked box, but absent that, it’s public knowledge that the government is freely looting the fund. Where is an official described investment plan which forbids this (is there one?) – does anyone take it seriously?

                3. They’re not covering anything up – this is how they say they will use the money. There is no lie here. Nothing unethical. They say they are taking from current workers to pay current retirees. That doesn’t make it a scam. Stupid and nonviable in the long term, sure, but there’s nothing wrong with my buying a lottery ticket and having that money pay for the current winner. The problem is the LIE. And this is not a lie.

                See my fuller answer below.

            • I can’t believe we as a country-are going to argue over the nuance of whether or not SS is a ponzi scheme

              As far as the death penalty and abortion-yes they are different issues in many ways-but they can be conflated-it happens all the time. But I’ll talk about the differences.

              Lets see abortion is the taking of an innocent “life”-based on a subjective definition of “human life” based on a subjective guideline of when that “human life” begins based on an educated guess of when that life actually began in the womb( when the woman actually became pregnant)

              The death penalty is based on an extensive court process, decided by a jury of ones peers of an adult who is far from an “innocent, defenseless, voiceless baby”

              As far as Perry, I don’t think he was scoffing at the possibility-he was reacting to a question that was stated very badly on purpose. The questioner might as well have said , How do you sleep at night you horrible murderer? I actually thought the questioner was going to have a stroke, He was trying so hard to hide his anger. And,by the way, I laughed when the audience clapped-and I don’t rejoice at the death of anyone-the way the question was asked deserved derision-IMO.

              • “I can’t believe we as a country-are going to argue over the nuance of whether or not SS is a ponzi scheme” One of the primary things about a Ponzi scheme is that it’s a lie, hence “scheme.” The government, while it doesn’t go out of it’s way to publicize the fact, does not lie about who is paying in and who is receiving. Everyone who cares to know is well aware that it is being redistributed from those paying in to those taking out, not like a traditional investment account where I put in for myself and take out from what I put in. So in that sense, if in no other, it is entirely different from a Bernie Madoff style Ponzi scheme.

            • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

              Buck,

              Taking the money of current investors and using it to pay off “senior” investors, because the investment firm (government) spent the “senior” investors principle rather than properly investing it is the DEFINITION of a Ponzi Scheme. So, once again, please explain how SS does not fit that definition

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Please see Mathius’ postings on this. He’s doing a pretty good job of explaining why SS is not a Ponzi scheme. That, and I’m way too busy at the moment to get into this debate.

        • Ok….we will keep him. I sincerely wish he stays here. We like him.

          As to the death penalty….no sir, I am not bothered by it. I agree with with him. I certainly do not want an innocent person put to death and neither does Perry….but I will have to say, given the levels of appeals and chances for new trials…when it these cases finally run their course…..and no appeal is successful, I am satisfied that due diligence has been achieved. So…having said that……I would not lose one ounce of sleep either.

          The minute the SS trust system was raided ( and I do not care which side did it )…it became fraudulent. Money raised for one thing and used for another…but add another tryst in there and call it a pyramid scheme…All are fraudulent and the taking of money for one thing and using it for another purpose….is fraudulent.

          But I will agree with you on anticipating the mandate question. Bet he has an answer next time.

          • Buck the Wala says:

            Sorry but his answer was way too cavalier in regards to the death penalty for my taste.

            Have you seen this article? http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/07/090907fa_fact_grann

            • Ok, I can understand cavalier but that is how we think down here. I guess from a sense of Western style justice…I do not know but the death penalty here has had plenty of opportunity to be thrown out. It always survives with over 70 percent of the voters. But what the hell…we all “carry” down here. Even our grandma’s pack heat and will use it. So, Our sense of justice is perhaps different and seem harsh to some.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Again, you see it as a state right and support TX having it. Fine. But there is a huge difference in my book between supporting having the death penalty, and completely disregarding (or worse, not even caring about) the possibility that it has been used to execute innocent men before (and will continue to do so in the future).

                I would want my Governor (or President) to grapple with that possibility. To understand the magnitude of the decisions he is making. Perhaps this is more to the point of why his response to the question disgusted me.

              • I see your point and can agree to it somewhat….the magnitude of the decision making hits a note with me as I have been in combat situations where I made certain decisions that resulted in losses….I did not have a cavalier attitude about it and I still live with those decisions, constantly questioning myself on if I would change anything….so I understand your point. Well taken.

              • Ray Hawkins says:

                Or….tyranny of the majority?

            • Yes…have seen and read the article. Interesting, don’t ya think?

    • By the way my friend….the fact that you are on here tells me you survived ok..hope you personally did not have damage. My thoughts were with you.

      • Buck the Wala says:

        Appreciated! Very little damage sustained — just a bit of water coming into the crawl space under the house and some minor repairs to be made to the gutters.

        Haven’t been on here much lately due to the abundance of work passing over my desk, not due to any problems with the house, family, life, etc. How are you doing down in fire country? All well I hope.

        • We could use some rain. We would take all 22 inches of what you got. The bad thing about the fires is 50% have been deliberate. I have had to coordinate bringing Guard equipment off the border to fight fires. I am beginning to wonder if the cartels know this and are setting fires to pull troops off the border.

          • Buck the Wala says:

            Any evidence to support that claim Colonel?

            Not saying it can’t be true, just curious as to how you reached that conclusion.

            • Oh no,….that is just my assumption. Nothing credible at all……we do know that several were deliberately set….and only one person caught so far and he was not cartel associated. A 14 year old kid from…..ready for this…..California that was here on a visit. He set one of the fires in West Texas. But nothing else to sink my teeth into. My Colonel mind is thinking but I have no proof…..it would be a great tactical move though. (@ MAthius…just stay where you are).

              • d13

                Deja Vu’……….all over again????

                A fire balloon (風船爆弾, fūsen bakudan?, lit. “balloon bomb”), or Fu-Go, was a weapon launched by Japan during World War II. A hydrogen balloon with a load varying from a 12-kilogram (26 lb) incendiary to one 15 kg (33 lb) antipersonnel bomb and four 5 kg (11 lb) incendiary devices attached, they were designed as a cheap weapon intended to make use of the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and wreak havoc on Canadian and American cities, forests, and farmland.

                The balloons were relatively ineffective as weapons but were used in one of the few attacks on North America during World War II.

                Between November 1944 and April 1945, Japan launched over 9,300 fire balloons. About 300 balloon bombs were found or observed in North America, killing six people and causing a small amount of damage.[1]

  31. Ray Hawkins says:

    What happened to James Adams part deux?

  32. Gotta get off the blog for awhile….seems as if I am supposed to do some work. Adios, amigos. Hasta Leugo.

  33. From MMalkin on the debate last night. Very good thought of the day.

    “If I could assign just one piece of mandatory reading to the GOP front-runners and the journalists who question them about jobs and the economy, it would be Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson — published in 1946 and as relevant as ever today in the era of monstrously expensive, bipartisan “public-private partnerships,” endless bailouts, and unholy alliances with Big Labor.

    Here’s the Chapter One intro:

    Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousand fold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine-the special pleading of selfish interests. While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.

    In addition to these endless pleadings of self-interest, there is a second main factor that spawns new economic fallacies every day. This is the persistent tendency of men to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.

    In this lies almost the whole difference between good such shallow wisecracks pass as devastating epigrams and the ripest wisdom.

    But the tragedy is that, on the contrary, we are already suffering the long-run consequences of the policies of the remote or recent past. Today is already the tomorrow which the bad economist yesterday urged us to ignore. The long-run consequences of some economic policies may become evident in a few months. Others may not become evident for several years. Still others may not become evident for decades. But in every case those long-run consequences are contained in the policy as surely as the hen was in the egg, the flower in the seed.

    From this aspect, therefore, the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups…”

  34. Mathius

    re Soc Sec schemes.

    “So in that sense, if in no other, it is entirely different from a Bernie Madoff style Ponzi scheme.”

    So I say it is a Shit Sandwich and your argument is that it is really a Cat Shit Sandwich and therefore nothing like a Dog Shit Sandwich.

    • Mathius™ says:

      It may be a shit sandwich.. I sure expect to lose my entire “investment” – but nobody is promising me that I’ll get my money back. My money is gone – poof – redistributed to the current retirees.

      So you say it’s a Dog Shit Sandwich – it’s not. Simply put, period: no it is not. It is a Cat Shit Sandwich. The two may be similar, but they are distinctly different things.

      To put it in perspective, let me ask you this: If Bernie Madoff came out and offered his investment plan in explicit detail – clarifying how he planned to use new subscriptions to pay out old redemptions, etc etc – full and complete disclosure. In short, if he did the exact same thing that he did, but told all his investors honestly about it upfront, would you consider it unethical? No. You would not. Stupid, yes. Unethical, no.

      Conversely, let’s imagine a perfectly ethical (if highly stupid) investment setup where Bernie came to your house, held you at gun-point and demanded you contribute a portion of your income into his plan. Now, even though there’s nothing intrinsically unethical about the style of investment, the means by which you were compelled to participate are unethical. This is Social Security.

      There’s nothing unethical about contributing a portion of your income into a big pool out of which current retirees (who paid in earlier and are now redeeming) draw their “interest” payments. But there is something unethical about being forced to participate. With me so far?

      So the big difference between a Ponzi Scheme (ie, Madoff) and a stupid but compulsory setup (ie, SS) is that the points at which they are unethical are different. What’s wrong about Madoff is the LIE. What’s wrong about SS is the FORCE.

      So even though they are superficially very similar, they are morally very distinct from each other.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      Social Security was originally described and advertized as INSURANCE. Insurance is a form of investment.

      No matter what kind of sandwich you call it or how you slice it, the ONLY difference between Social Security and a Ponzi Scheme is that Ponzi couldn’t legally print infinite “legitimate” (haha) money to cover up what he was doing.

      • Mathius™ says:

        in·sur·ance
           /ɪnˈʃʊərəns, -ˈʃɜr-/ [in-shoor-uhns, -shur-]
        noun
        1.
        the act, system, or business of insuring property, life, one’s person, etc., against loss or harm arising in specified contingencies, as fire, accident, death, disablement, or the like, in consideration of a payment proportionate to the risk involved.

        Here the contingency is disability and/or old age. I see nothing about investing premiums to fund payouts. Yes, only a stupid and soon-to-be-bankrupt insurance company wouldn’t invest their stockpiled premiums, but that’s a business decision. The point of insurance is that if something bad happens to you (such as getting old or disabled), someone will step in and help mitigate your loss in consideration of a payment.

        This has nothing to do with who can and cannot print money. The question is what, if anything is immoral about the two systems. And you’ll arrive at two distinctly different answers when evaluating Madoff’s Ponzi vs SS. They both may be shit sandwiches, but they’re still very different types of shit sandwiches.

        • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

          What I find interesting is that you would rage, raise hell, and accuse an insurance company of fraud if they did not invest insurance premiums properly to assure their ability to pay claims. Yet, somehow, if the government participates in the same action which would cause you to accuse a private insurance company of fraud, that is fine and dandy, it is the government, so that somehow makes it a different kind of sandwich.

          THAT is precisely why it is actually so important that we discuss whether or not Social Security is, in fact, a Ponzi Scheme or not. If it is illegal for an insurance company or investment firm to do precisely what the government is doing, then why do we turn a blind eye when the entity performing the act is government?

          If an insurance company were to spend incoming premiums on WHATEVER for a large number of years, even though their client base was clearly aging, and then when the claims started to hit, the same insurance company would attempt to use the incoming premiums of the younger (and less numerous) policy holders to pay off the claims of the older and more numerous policy holders, two things would occur:

          1. The insurance company would go bankrupt
          2. There would be WILD and RAVENOUS calls for regulations to prevent other insurance companies from behaving like that in the future

          I find it highly ironic that in the case of a private insurance company, you would see this as natural, but in the case of the government, you don’t see this as a natural consequence at all….

          • Mathius™ says:

            I don’t care one iota about whether the insurance company invests my money, burns it, or folds it into millions of dainty little origami cranes. The thing I care about is the promise they’ve made to me: you pay x every month, and if y happens, then we’ll give you up to z to make it right. I don’t care how they get z dollars to pay me, so long as they do pay me. If an insurance company failed to meet it’s obligations, then that is the result is due to mismanagement and/or fraud. But the unethical thing is that they made a promise and did not honor it. They haven’t promised to invest my money – they’ve promised to secure me against loss. What they do with my premiums is their own business – if I don’t like what they’re doing, then I’m free to choose a different company, however.

            Government has not promised me anything. They have promised current retirees and, probably, soon-to-be-retirees. If they cannot honor that promise, that is unethical. But I am under no delusion that they are investing my money so that they have enough to pay me.

            If it is illegal for an insurance company or investment firm to do precisely what the government is doing I’m not aware that it’s illegal at all. I just think it’d be stupid not to invest the money – but sometimes the best investment strategy is to bury the money in a mayonnaise jar out back rather than investing it. I’m aware of no law mandating how an insurance company manages it’s collected premiums.

            Further, there are a great many things that are “legal” for the government and illegal for private companies. There are many things that are illegal for private companies/individuals but are nonetheless completely ethical. There are many things that are legal for private companies/individuals but are nonetheless unethical. The correlation between “ethical” and “legal” is tenuous and imperfect at best.

            1. The insurance company would go bankrupt
            2. There would be WILD and RAVENOUS calls for regulations to prevent other insurance companies from behaving like that in the future

            Yup. And?

            but in the case of the government, you don’t see this as a natural consequence at all…. I don’t know where you got this from.. if/when the shit eventually hits the fan (and it is my humble opinion that it will eventually have to), it’s going to be a big deal. The government may not go bankrupt (that terms is somewhat meaningless in regards to an entity capable of printing it’s own money), but there are sure as shinola going to “WILD and RAVENOUS” calls for all sorts of things. People are going to be pissssed. And they’re going to want blood. And they’re going to want their redistributed income reinstated.

            ——-

            But the fact remains. The major point of a ponzi scheme is the LIE: “I’m investing your money and paying you x returns.” Social Security has made no such claim – the ethical violation here is the compulsory nature: “I’m taking your money and paying current retirees with it (ethical), but you don’t have a choice in the mater (unethical).”

            • You make an interesting point here.

              I think the distinction is in the structure of the program. SS is widely described as a pseudo-retirement plan. At least that is the way many politicians and the general public see it. I pay money into SS and then when I retire they pay it out to me. In that sense, if the government spends that money elsewhere, then it really is a lie. I know it’s much more complex than that, and I generally agree with your assessment.

              In general, though, who cares about the specifics. Let’s look at the big picture. I understand why people call it a Ponzi scheme, even if it doesn’t fit your technical definition. I think it’s reasonable to make the comparison, right?

              Incidentally, if SS is meant to be this pseudo-retirement program, why not just let me keep my funds and invest it as I wish? The only reason I can think of is to redistribute wealth to poorer people from the wealthy. If that’s it, then I’d love to see politicians call

              “Government has not promised me anything.” Is this true? Once you pay into SS, it is assumed that you will be paid, right? I think you’re getting too technical. Look at the big picture.

              • … call it what it is. How great would that be. “Yes, I want to take money from the rich and give it to the poor.” Honesty for once!

              • Mathius™ says:

                Well, for starters, I don’t think it’s necessarily from rich to poor so much as workers to non-workers. Minor distinction, I know, but one of the major problems I have with it. In my world view, there is a case to be made for taking from those who can afford it and giving to those who NEED (not just want, but have legitimate need – however one establishes this), but simply redistributing because someone has reached an arbitrary age is not acceptable to me. There are plenty of elderly who are more than capable of working a regular job – maybe not a physically demanding one, but certainly an office job, and 65 is not as old as it once was.

                That said, I agree that, in shape, there is certainly a strong similarity. No doubt. But the problem is the ethics of the thing, not the thing itself. When we talk about a Ponzi scheme, we talk about a scam whereby someone promises to invest our money and give it back to us later plus interest. The implication from the government and/or politicians does seem to generally match this, but the official facts do not. This is like a sales pitch verse a contract awaiting your signature. The former is full of bluster and puff, whereas the later is a binding promise. We know that salesmen are going to exaggerate/lie/whatever. We know this and we discount what they say. Similarly, we take everything from a politician with a grain of salt. But the terms of SS are clearly out there for anyone to see. We are not being lied to – we’re lying to ourselves by accepting the implications that it is an investment at face value when we know we shouldn’t and even a cursory examination of the facts will show otherwise.

                Incidentally, if SS is meant to be this pseudo-retirement program, why not just let me keep my funds and invest it as I wish? The only reason I can think of is to redistribute wealth to poorer people from the wealthy. Full agreement, except as I said, cross out wealthy and poorer and make it workers/non-workers respectively.

                Once you pay into SS, it is assumed that you will be paid, right? The government is not responsible for your assumptions. It is responsible for what it officially states. Yes, logically, one would assume that they’re getting their money back given the way it is pitched, but unless it says somewhere that you will get it back, there is no lie. (and it might, in which case I’ll still argue it’s not technically a Ponzi scheme, but it’s only a hair away).

                I think you’re getting too technical. Look at the big picture. OK, big picture, yes. On the surface they are very similar in form and function. And both may be unethical, albeit for different reasons. I think that Ponzi is a good short-hand for describing the way it works, though it does imply the unethical qualities of dishonesty which Social Security does not possess. It also, on the other hand, misses the unethical quality of being compulsory which a Ponzi scheme does not possess.

                To recap, Ponzi scheme is a very apt descriptor for the FUNCTION of Social Security. It is a poor descriptor for the MORALITY of Social Security.

    • Texas Gov. Rick Perry stuck to his claim during last night’s presidential debate that Social Security is “a Ponzi scheme.” The media are getting a lot of mileage out of that sound bite, and the Ponzi-scheme debate is very much alive this morning.

      On Thursday’s “Squawk Box” on CNBC, CME Group floor reporter Rick Santelli, known to some as the father of the tea party movement, challenged New York Times columnist and Rick Perry critic Thomas Friedman on that claim.

      “I’d just like to know — you know, I was watching that debate last night, although it really wasn’t a debate,” Santelli said. “It was like a weird press conference. But I would like to know — does Mr. Friedman think Social Security is a Ponzi scheme?”

      That led to a heated back-and-forth between Friedman and Santelli:

      FRIEDMAN: No, I don’t think it’s a Ponzi scheme.
      SANTELLI: Earlier in the show you said that we’re putting a burden on our kids that’s unsustainable. What’s the definition of a Ponzi scheme?
      FRIEDMAN: It’s a program that made promises that it cannot keep in full and it needs to be fixed and reformed.
      SANTELLI: Isn’t that exactly what a Ponzi pyramid is?
      FRIEDMAN: I don’t think it is a Ponzi scheme as a criminal endeavor.
      SANTELLI: No, no — forget the criminal side. You need more people to perpetuate a myth because if the people stop the myth is known to all. That’s my definition of a Ponzi scheme. Let’s call at it chain letter, a pyramid scheme. Isn’t that by definition what Social Security is? Take the legalities and fraud out.
      STEVE LIESMAN: Why is it a Ponzi scheme, Rick?
      FRIEDMAN: It is pay as we go. Ronald Reagan fixed it. Why can’t we fix it?
      SANTELLI: What does Ronald Reagan have to do with my question?
      FRIEDMAN: What does your question have to do with reality?
      MICHELLE CARUSO CABRERA: We brought it up.
      SANTELLI: You can’t decide that more people is the only thing made Social Security work. We have a real issue because many people in government seem to like to read your work.
      FRIEDMAN: What makes Social Security work is fixing Social Security in terms of the population demands.
      SANTELLI: I didn’t ask if we should fix it or not. I asked if it’s a pyramid scheme.
      FRIEDMAN: Your question is idiotic. That’s what you asked.
      SANTELLI: You’re idiotic. I’m done. I feel good.
      FRIEDMAN: So do I.

      Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/09/08/rick-santelli-to-tom-friedman-youre-idiotic/#ixzz1XNplr3Mn

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        Friedman won’t answer the question because the answer is self-evident, but to admit the self-evident answer would be to admit that the whole program is a fraud.

        • Buck the Wala says:

          He won’t answer the question because it is absolutely ridiculous.

          I echo VH (obviously for very different reasons) in that I cannot believe we as a country are going to have this debate.

          • You can’t just call it ridiculous and dismiss it. This is an incredibly important discussion! Even if it doesn’t fit your definition, think about why exactly he calls it a Ponzi scheme. That issue should ABSOLUTELY be addressed, no?

            • Buck the Wala says:

              To me, no. I agree with Friedman’s general assessment that it is a ridiculous question.

              You want to argue against SS, that it is not the government’s place to provide this type of program and argue for its repeal? Fine, be my guest. That’s a fair and legitimate argument. But why are certain people going out of their way to classify the program as a Ponzi Scheme when it is clearly not a Ponzi Scheme? Argue based on the merits, not by using a loaded catch-phrase of a statement to grab at people’s emotions.

              • I see what you are saying now, Buck, and I agree with you. I just don’t want the issue swept under the carpet because we don’t like the language.

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                You still haven’t explained to anyone’s satisfaction but your own how it significantly differs from a Ponzi Scheme. You just wave your hands and say “it isn’t one”, but that doesn’t make your wish reality.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                I guess to me there are two things with this ‘debate’: 1) SS is just not a Ponzi Scheme (as Mathius put it – where is the scheme? where is the lie/fraud? it’s all out there plain as day) and 2) The whole debate is a complete non-issue. Even if it is a ponzi scheme, that still doesn’t address whether or not there should be SS.

                That being said, I am (obviously) a supporter of SS and think it is a program that absolutely should be provided.

                And with that being said, I have long said there need to be minor tweaks to the program for long term sustainability. But that’s a different issue entirely.

          • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

            Buck,

            We as a country NEED to have this debate.

            Clearly you fall into the category of “it should be illegal for a bank, investment firm, or investment advisor to behave this way, but it should be commonplace, and even expected, for the government to behave this way”

            At least it seems clear to me that that is the meat of your argument.

            • Buck the Wala says:

              Lets have a debate as to whether the government should provide Social Security, not whether or not SS is really a Ponzi Scheme. Huge distinction between the two debates.

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                Buck,

                If the government had invested social security “premiums” in wise investments, and then paid the “investors” back both the principal and the interest on their wise investments (as SHOULD have been done in the first place), then there would be no need for your new and spurious argument as to whether it is the business of government or not.

                Clearly, it should never have been the business of the government in the first place, but the government MADE it their business, and then topped it all off by botching it royally (which is, 99.999% of the time exactly what happens when government involves itself in business which is NONE OF ITS BUSINESS), and NOW that it is crystal clear that the government botched it royally, you want to retroactively have the debate that happened in the 1930’s???

                Why should we NOT debate how the government SHOULD have handled social security as opposed to how the government DID handle social security? I see that as a PERFECTLY valid debate to have, since the government has been convinced (and has tried its damndest to convince the people) for over 70 years that it IS in fact the business of the government to provide this “service”.

                If you agree to provide me a service, and you botch it royally (either through purposeful intent or negligence) then I have recourse against you. When the government provides a service and botches it royally, what recourse do we have against the government?

                The argument about whether or not government should even be the provider of this service was unfortunately OVER more than 70 years ago. The BEST we can hope for now is that government will ADMIT that it royally screwed everyone “participating” (yeah like we have a CHOICE?) in the program, and close up shop before they incur any more losses.

                As far as the Ponzi Scheme argument goes, let me over-simplify it for everyone here:

                1. You convince Peter to invest.
                2. Rather than invest Peter’s money, you either A) spend it, or B) use it to pay Paul.

                Correct me if I am wrong, but that sounds PRECISELY like social security to me….

              • Buck the Wala says:

                I would really love to get into this more today, but I really gotta get back to work. Some one has to pay into this system ya know!

                Briefly though, I will say that I don’t believe SS has been botched all that much. Overall it is a pretty successful program. In need of minor improvements? You bet. But royally botched? I don’t see it that way in the least.

                And again, it cannot be a Ponzi Scheme if Peter knows I am using the money to pay Paul. One of the core elements of a Ponzi Scheme is the lack of knowledge as to where the money is coming and going. That element is flat out missing from Social Security.

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                So Buck, your opinion is that a Ponzi scheme is perfectly fine and legitimate as long as it is transparent. Ok, gotcha.

                Also, all you have to do is go to USDebtclock.org to see just how big the unfunded mandate represented by social security actually is. Last I checked social security is in debt to the tune of 15.2 Trillion dollars. This is a number LARGER THAN THE FEDERAL DEFICIT. Yet you somehow claim that the system would be just fine with merely a few tweaks…. Ok, I am listening…. Tweak away!

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                OOPS meant to say “larger than the Federal DEBT” (not deficit)!! Clearly, it is MUCH larger than the deficit! If we throw in the UNFUNDED mandates of medicare/medicaid, we get the staggering sum of 115.5 Trillion that the government plans on spending but hasn’t actually budgeted any money for, and ALL of that is in addition to the “official” Federal Debt. So, for those of you keeping score, the ACTUAL Federal Debt is 130 Trillion, not that paltry 14.6 Trillion you always hear about.

          • It is definitely for different reasons-I simply don’t care what terminology you use to define the issue-call it a ponzi scheme, call it misuse of funds, call it what you want-lets just fix it. Arguing about the term is being used as away to accuse anyone who uses it, as out, to get Rid of SS-not just fix it-it is this part of the equation that I think makes the argument over the nuances of the word silly. -when we all know why people feel it’s a ponzi scheme or close enough to qualify. But don’t expect the other side to just sit back an take that accusation without defending why they define it as such. And if the dems. want to use it to promote a false assumption-then they damn will need to be made to defend why that think it isn’t -not just Claim it’s a stupid question.

            • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

              Buck inadvertantly stumbled upon the answer. The REAL answer is that government should have never enacted the program in the first place.

              The only Statist answer that would even VAGUELY satisfy ANYONE would be to actually have set investment options for the money you (and your employer) put into social security, have regular quarterly statements of deposits, gains (losses), and net balance, and run it just like a government employee 457 plan… but where would this leave anyone above the age of 35 who has already been screwed?

              The non-Statist plan would be to scrap the beast and let the free market handle it, but that isn’t an instant panacea either, especially since we don’t currently have a free market. It would also leave anyone who “invested” in social security potentially screwed.

              One important thing though, is it is almost always necessary to argue about the proper DEFINITION to use. If you cannot define your terms properly, how do you expect to properly define the cause of a problem, much less devise a sensible and logical solution?

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Woah woah woah…that may be your ‘real’ answer to the question. It certainly ain’t mine…

                Sorry, couldn’t let that one lie out there. God I really need to close out of this site and get back to work…for some reason short weeks are always the longest.

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                I am in complete agreement with your above statement 🙂

                “for some reason short weeks are always the longest.”

            • Mathius™ says:

              It’s important because you can’t have a debate where one side gets to unilaterally define the terms.

              “Ponzi scheme” is a loaded term. It means unethical. It means theft. It means deceit. It means fraud.

              If we’re going to debate whether SS is good or bad, right or wrong, moral or immoral, and we allow you to start the debate with “It’s a Ponzi scheme” then simply cede the point to you, then there’s no way to dig out from there. It may be the case, but it’s not conducive to an honest debate of the issues on the merits. If you want to make that claim, you’ll have to prove that as well, starting from the ground up.

              For reference, if we were discussing whether abortion is ethical (and I think I’ve used this comparison here before), how can we have a debate if we start from the claim that “abortion is the murder of an unborn baby”? It may be. But how do we debate if it’s ethical if we’ve already allowed you define it as murder and define a fetus as an unborn baby? If we accept your terminology and the meanings behind those terms, there’s going to be no way to have an honest and thorough debate.

              I’ll agree that it functions much the same way, but I can’t allow you the point that it’s immoral in the same way because it’s not, and to cede that point puts me in a place where we’re building our logical framework for debate on a biased and faulty foundation. I’ve already lost because you decided the terms.

              Let’s have a contest, you and I, to see who is a better person. For this contest, we’ll define “better person” as “taller.” I (almost certainly) win, therefore I’m a better person than you. Do you accept that? No, of course not. Because I defined the terms, I biased the whole contest and there was no way for you to win. This is what’s happening. No one is debating that Social Security functions similarly to a Ponzi scheme, but if we allow you to start the debate with it defined as an unethical fraud, there’s no possibility that we reach a conclusion otherwise.

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                What, precisely, about social security, makes it DEFY the terms unethical, deceitful, fraudulent, and thievery?

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                Or, to put it another way, if an investment advisor comes straight out and TELLS you that he is going to REQUIRE that you invest money with him for your retirement, and he is going to straight-up use that money to pay other bills, pay current benefit recipients, or pay whatever the hell else he wants to, but he will PROBABLY pay you back in the future when you retire… although he MAY capriciously raise the retirement age and/or cut your projected benefits at any time… you would be OK with that arrangement since it was crystal clear in the description?

                I would say that to allow yourself to be REQUIRED to invest in such a scheme isn’t very smart….

              • Mathius™ says:

                Where’s the fraud? You and I both know exactly what’s happening, where the money is coming from and where it is going.

                Where’s the deceit? Yes, the salesmen puff and blow, but the law is clear and black and white – it’s right there for anyone to see. The investor relations guy might give you a whole song and dance, but when it’s time for you to sign on the dotted line, the whole thing is spelled out for you in black and white.

                Unethical – up for debate. I think it is unethical, but for different reasons than you. But maybe you can just be satisfied that we both think it’s unethical?

              • Mathius™ says:

                if an investment advisor comes straight out and TELLS you that he is going to REQUIRE that you invest money with him for your retirement, and he is going to straight-up use that money to pay other bills

                Pete, I’d say that’s unethical!

                But that doesn’t make it a Ponzi scheme. That makes it an act of theft, like a mob boss “suggesting” you contribute to some “charity fund raiser” which you know full well he’s going to pocket. The key difference is that the unethical quality is no longer a LIE, but now is FORCE.

  35. Sorry to change the subject-but this is certainly surprising and interesting.

    September 8, 2011
    Breaking: Feds raid Solyndra
    Thomas Lifson

    Acting at the request of the Inspector General at the Department of Energy,FBI agents executed a search warrant at Solyndra, according to NBC Bay Area.

    The investigation comes after a request by the Department of Energy’s inspector general, FBI spokesman Peter Lee told NBC Bay Area News.

    Agents arrived at Solyndra at 7a.m. and were examining the factory. Solynrda has a skeleton crew of 100 workers on the scene, who are closing the factory down.

    Lisa Fernandez at the San Jose Mercury-News:

    Solyndra spokesman Dave Miller said the search came as a surprise, but he emphasized the company is “fully cooperating” with federal officials. He said he did not know the purpose of the search, but he speculated it could have something to do with the $535 million in loan guarantees the Department of Energy awarded to Solyndra.

    There are indications that the agents are in the process of interviewing Solyndra employees.

    Coming in the wake of revelation that Solydra executives had as many as 20 White House meetings prior to the questionable loan guarantee, the raid raises questions. Will the Justice Department stonewall Congressional investigators’ subpoenas, on the basis of an active investingation?

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/09/breaking_feds_raid_solyndra.html

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      Another example of the government taking action to distort markets, and then somehow being surprised when such market distortions result in catastrophic failure.

      Also, yes, the justice department most likely WILL stonewall Congressional Subpoenas due to the “ongoing investigation”.

      The end result is that the executives of the (bankrupt) company will by symbolically martyred, while the executive of our country will be held blameless.

  36. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    In reply to Mathius above:

    So, it seems that you are saying that social security is a forced act of theft with clearly outlined transparent parameters? There is no “dotted line” for us to sign… we simply get that magical social security card very shortly after we are born, and BAM, we are in the system with no questions as to whether we want it or not.

    If that is the case you are making, I am inclined to agree, at least as far as it goes.

    In the beginning, social security was ADVERTIZED as being individual accounts managed by the government, but maintained for each individual. From very early on in the program, it was clear that no one in government was ACTUALLY going to let the program work that way, so I would say that the initial advertizing was false advertizing, which could be construed as a form of fraud.

    Also, each and every one of us gets a statement periodically (quarterly, annually? I forget) which shows how much we have put in and how much we can expect to get out based on the age at which we retire. However, the government has already begun to “adjust” the age at which we can retire with “full benefits”, and it is also clear that the amount of defined benefits on that statement could be rendered as complete hogwash if the government decides to change the rules. So, this statement we receive does not reflect any sort of real “account” that we hold, nor do the numbers on it actually have any real meaning. In those terms I would say that the system is at the very least deceitful, if not out-right fraudulent.

    However, as I mentioned earlier, the option of “letting the market take care of the problem” is currently unappetizing as well, seeing as how we don’t have a free market, so there is no conceivable way that natural market forces could work anyway, because the market is far too distorted from anything “natural” to have a hope in hell of success at this point.

    That leaves me with currently no good answer to the problem, which I find disheartening.

    To put it bluntly, you CANNOT “privatize” social security, because the banks and financial institutions aren’t PRIVATE institutions!

    • Mathius™ says:

      I can’t speak to how it was initially pitched, but I would argue that current retirees were paid out immediately after the act went into affect (I vaguely remember reading about some woman who was the first to collect a check). How can someone collect a check immediately if she has never paid into the system if it’s a system of individual accounts? That makes no sense whatsoever.

      That said, however they pitched it originally 90 years ago, that’s not what it is now. What it is now is wealth redistribution from workers to non-workers. And this I find (generally speaking) unethical. Was it deceitful as originally written and run? I can’t say.

      If that is the case you are making, I am inclined to agree, at least as far as it goes. Yes. That is exactly the case I am making.

      Given my druthers, I’d end Social Security immediately – today, this minute. I have no problem with welfare in principle (yes, it needs substantial improvements against fraud and disincentivizing work), but I have a problem with having my money taken away and given to someone else just because they’re old. So maybe welfare would need to be expanded and funded in place of SS, but that’s a different conversation. I dislike that it’s an entitlement of old age rather than a safety net for those in need.

      I had this conversation with my father a long time back – he’s paid the max in every year for decades. When he’s eligible, he intends to cash his checks. Why the hell should he get a check? It’s not his money coming back to him – his money is gone, spent (poof – like a fart in the wind). So why should he be allowed to collect money from my paycheck just because he’s old? BAH!

      As for a free market… that hasn’t existed in our lifetimes, and probably never will. I’m not convinced you’d even want it to, not completely free anyway. But I’d still much rather be able to manage my retirement (as I do) by investing with established banks I (sort of) trust than relying on Social Security handouts from a new generation of workers.

      (and anyway, I’ve got my gold coin – at this rate, it should more than fund my retirement)

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        Well Mathius, I can say that at least on the subject of Social Security and retirement funding, you and I are remarkably close to being on the same page.

        🙂

        • Mathius™ says:

          I think you’ll find that for a great many topics..

          • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

            It is most likely true for a great many topics. Our debates merely serve to highlight the difference more than they highlight the similarities, but that is not to say that the similarities do not exist, clearly they do 🙂

  37. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    Social Security provides us a WONDERFUL (and horrifying) example of exactly what BF is talking about when he says that “you cannot fix the system from within the system, any attempt to do so will only pervert the system further”.

    Basically, what Social Security amounts to is the government forcing you to give them your money (“for your retirement”) even though they freely admit that they have absolutely no intention whatsoever of saving or investing it for you for your future retirement, but are instead going to spend it on whatthehellever they please. You don’t have any option to “opt out” even if you have the full realization that such a scheme cannot possibly work. In fact, you can easily find hard numbers to show that the scheme has resulted in 15.2 Trillion Dollars disappearing down the rabbit-hole!

    And yet, there are those who believe that “minor tweaks” are all that is necessary to “fix” the monstrosity.

  38. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    “Federal appeals court rejects Virginia’s challenge to Obama’s health care law, saying the state doesn’t have standing to file suit…”

    Ok, that is one way to throw out cases that claim that the health care law is unconstitutional, simply rule that the individual states have no standing to file such a lawsuit against the federal government!

    Astonishing.

    • What?????????????? Who has standing if not the States??????????????

    • Mathius™ says:

      You’d have to consult with a lawyer, but standing is a complicated and nuanced concept in law. It doesn’t mean exactly the same thing a lay interpretation might lead you to believe. Without looking into the actual ruling, I suspect that they’re not saying that the state doesn’t have ANY standing, but rather not the specific standing they tried to claim. This happens pretty much all the time.

    • Buck the Wala says:

      Well, Virginia doesn’t have standing to challenge the ACA. Where’s the injury to Virginia?

      Virginia tried to create standing by passing a law that says, basically, no Virginian shall be forced to buy health insurance. Virginia then used this law to argue standing to bring the suit. As the Judge points out, this would allow a state to bring any action against the government for a law it doesn’t like merely by passing an unenforceable law in conflict with the federal law. Going back to the Social Security discussion, this would mean Virginia (or Texas!) would be able to pass a law stating that no Virginian (or Texan) shall be compelled to pay Social Security taxes. Now that state can suddenly bring an action on behalf of its citizens against the Feds that the Social Security Act is unconstitutional!? Doesn’t work that way.

      But don’t fret, this can still reach the Supreme Court on the merits based on the 6th Court of Appeals case.

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        That is precisely right Buck,

        Virginia passed a law (immediately after the Affordable Healthcare Act or whatever the name was) was passed, saying that no Virginian could be compelled by law to purchase health insurance, and then tried to use that law to argue standing to bring suit.

        The State SHOULD have simply argued that it had standing merely on the basis of being a State, but instead it used a post-facto law to try to argue for standing. Even though I don’t “like” the ruling, I am actually inclined to agree with it based on the argument that passing of a state law AFTER THE FACT of the enactment of a federal law amounts to chicanery.

        • Buck the Wala says:

          I would go even further — had VA passed the law before enactment of the ACA, VA would still lack standing on this basis. Had there been no VA law, VA would still not have standing on the basis of it being a state either: A state does not have standing to bring an action against the federal government based on a general grievance with the federal government’s actions.

          • You say a State doesn’t have-based on what?

            And even if they don’t-should they?

            • Buck the Wala says:

              Based on lack of standing. To have standing there must be a specific injury in fact. Where is the injury to Virginia?

              All that happened here was that Virginia brought an action as to the constitutionality of a federal law it didn’t like. This is merely a general grievance with the conduct of the federal government. No specific injury in fact.

        • Mathius™ says:

          They should have passed it first. How hard would it have been to pass that law in the state senate while congress was wrestling with it? I wonder if that would have works since a bill has no legal value.

          • Buck the Wala says:

            Nope, not enough. Sorry.

            • Mathius™ says:

              That’s it. I’m never appointing you to the supreme court.

              Not like Senator JAC would ever confirm you anyway.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Aw come on now. You know you agree with me on this.

              • Mathius™ says:

                Fine, but you and I both know that as soon as you’re confirmed, you’re going to fly to Hawaii and sit on the beach for the rest of your life while laughing at our inability to fire you.

  39. Health
    |
    9/06/2011 @ 1:36PM |1,117 views
    The New York Times’ Misleading Look at the Perry and Romney Health Care Records

    Last month, I published a “Health Statistics Almanac” comparing the record of Gov. Rick Perry in Texas to that of former Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. I looked at numerous measures that governors could conceivably have influence on, including private insurance costs, medical malpractice claims, the uninsured population, emergency room overuse, and Medicaid.

    I wrote then that, “If you’re most concerned about runaway government spending, Perry is the clear winner. If the rising cost of health insurance is your primary worry, Perry wins there too. On the other hand, if universal coverage is your bailiwick, Romney comes out far ahead. If that sounds like the basic ideological divide in health policy, you’re not far from the truth.”

    Sure enough, this week, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are out with editorials discussing the Perry record on health care, along with the Romney record in the Times’ case. And, predictably, the Times blasts Perry and the Journal defends him. The Times describes Perry as showing a “shocking lack of concern for…Texans who can’t afford health insurance or who have to struggle to keep it.” But the Times piece is what surprises, for its misleading and misinformed use of the numbers.

    Texas has a high uninsured rate: but it did in 2000, also

    The Times editors point out, as many others have, that “Texas was last” in the country in 2008 in the percentage of its non-elderly population with health insurance, whereas Massachusetts was first. It blames “Mr. Perry’s personal-responsibility approach” for the fact that “a quarter of the state’s population [is] uninsured.” But the key question, in assessing the governors’ respective impacts, is not what these percentages were at any given point in time, but how they changed over time. And, by that standard, trends in Texas’ uninsured population reflected national trends.

    As I wrote last month, “From 1999 to 2009, the proportion of uninsured in Massachusetts declined by 51%, from 8.9% to 4.4%. Over the same time period, Texas’ uninsured population grew, by a similar proportion (18%) to that of the nation as a whole (19%).” And the Times editorial makes no mention of the factors that partially mitigate Texas’ higher uninsured rate: its younger population; its high Hispanic and illegal immigrant population; its higher proportion of smaller and newer businesses; and its unusually extensive system of free charity care.

    Texas has an expansive welfare program for low-income children

    The Times goes on to slam Texas for being one of the “worst offenders” (along with, interestingly, California) in “failing to enroll children who were eligible for Medicaid or a related children’s program.” Whether you like Medicaid or not, this is a dishonest criticism, given that Texas has one of the most expansive programs for low-income children in the country. The Texas Medicaid/CHIP program for children in 2007 covered 11.0% of the Texas population, compared to 6.9% in Massachusetts and 9.5% nationally. And while Massachusetts spends more per enrollee than Texas does—$4,064 in 2007 vs. $2,400 for Texas—Texas spends more than the $2,135 national average.

    Texas insurance costs have been far lower than Massachusetts’

    The biggest whopper of all is when the Times claims that premium costs in Texas and Massachusetts are “roughly the same.” That’s a selective use of the underlying data, which comes from the federal government’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. From 2006 to 2009—that is, from the passage of Romneycare to the passage of Obamacare—premiums were cheaper, and grew at a much lower rate, in Texas: 3.0% on average for individuals and 1.2% for families, compared to 4.3% and 4.6% nationally, and 5.8% and 6.2% in Massachusetts.

    Only in 2010, after the passage of the ironically-named Affordable Care Act, did Texas premiums undergo an anomalous rise. This is likely because insurers wanted to get their rate increases in before Obamacare’s federal price-control provisions go into effect this month.

    Romneycare blew through government spending projections

    As to Massachusetts, the Times claims that Romneycare “drove up costs to the state budget only modestly and in accord with projections.” That’s funny, because in 2009, the Times reported on the $175 million tax increase that the Bay State ended up passing to “keep the state’s landmark universal health coverage plan afloat” because the plan was “over budget because enrollment has been higher than expected for state-subsidized insurance policies.” (Unfortunately, the measure only ended up raising $131 million in its first year on the books.)

    Massachusetts also passed a “one-time assessment” on hospitals and insurers of $50 million: a classic accounting maneuver whose costs were passed straight down to state residents, in the form of higher premiums.

    On top of all this, President Obama’s stimulus package, which subsidized extra Medicaid spending, expired on June 30, leaving the state with another near-$200 million shortfall. The state’s 2012 budget aims to compensate for exploding Romneycare costs by increasing Medicaid spending by just 1.5 percent: a growth rate that the Times would excoriate, if it were to have come from a Republican governor.

    Not content to stop there, the state is also imposing price controls on local insurers, which the Commonwealth’s own insurance analyst has described as a “train wreck” that will cause “catastrophic consequences…to our non-profit health care system” by forcing insurers to bleed money while the state’s hospital monopolies continue to jack up their rates.

    Texas’ economic performance cannot be ignored

    Finally, as the Wall Street Journal points out in its editorial, the critique of Perry makes no reference to the state of the actual economy in Massachusetts vs. Texas. And little wonder: it’s the thing that matters most to voters, and to those who have driven Texas’ population growth up 21% from 2000-2010, compared to a measly 3% for Massachusetts.

    I’ve lived in both states, and enjoyed my time in each. And there may be other reasons to support Mitt Romney for the GOP Presidential nomination. But Romneycare isn’t one of them, and the New York Times’ first attempt at arguing otherwise was weak.

    UPDATE: A plugged-in e-mailer points out that Texas has passed two major Medicaid reform bills under Gov. Perry, one in 2007 and one in July of this year. The 2007 reform attempted to “get flexibility to use Medicaid funds to help the uninsured,” but, according to my correspondent, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ignored Texas’ waiver request. “If the feds won’t approve our waivers to increase the number of insured and expand medical care,” he asks, “is it fair to then slam us over the uninsured and access to care?”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2011/09/06/the-new-york-times-misleading-look-at-the-perry-and-romney-health-care-records/

    • VH……it does no good to argue Texas points with the uninformed.

      • Buck the Wala says:

        Come now Colonel, it doesn’t help matters that this article also misrepresents reality.

        Take that UPDATE at the bottom of the article for instance — the waiver was rejected (at least in part) because it was riddled with errors. Texas never resubmitted a revised waiver. Is it fair to slam the feds for not approving an erroneous waiver application when the state failes to make the necessary corrections?

        But beyond that, per the article: “Texas’ economic performance cannot be ignored” and neither can the actual numbers. Texas is dead last in the percentage of uninsured. Texas is ranked #46 for overall health care. Perry is quick to blame the federal government for these numbers. Shouldn’t he be held accountable as well?

        • Buck-you should read the other link (“Health Statistics Almanac” ) I posted this because the author gave alot of facts besides just ONE statistic to judge from-it isn’t a Texas is great or Texas is crap article.

      • Buck the Wala says:
  40. I am sorry I missed this whole debate today. But better late than never. I have in the past called SS a Ponzi scheme. But as Mathius has pointed out it is slightly different. It is a pyramid scheme in that it takes an ever widening base to fulfill the promises made. One can enter a pyramid scheme with full knowledge of its structure. The common falisy is that one always assumes that they are in early enough to reap the benefits before it collapses from the finite nature of the base. Greed can play a bigger role in the pyramid scheme than fraud.

    On my pay stub it says FICA = Federal Insurance Contributions Act. But as we have seen in the arguments it is really not insurance since the government can redefine the benefits at any time and has done so frequently. That’s fraud #1. In 1984 the Greenspan Commission raised the rates above what was necessary to pay current retirees. The excess was put into the SS Trust Fund (fraud #2) which was a fancy name for government interest paying bonds. The money was promptly spent. In essence the bonds (~$2.6T) are worthless since the only way to pay them off is to raise the money again through taxation, borrowing, or printing. I have proposed that we simply write this debt off so we can get around the emotional arguement of the “lock box” and possibly try to solve the real problems. There are more than just minor tweaks required to fix SS if the trust fund is not included in the calculations. It is a major hole that must be filled or we must renege on the promises made. Payments already exceed receipts eventhough only a small fraction of the boomers have retired.

    I have major problems with Matt’s concept of turning SS into a welfare program. That means that individuals who managed their money wisely and have resources when the reach retirement get nothing or next to nothing while those who sqaundered their equivalent income and have no tangible assests upon retirement will get a free ride. Once again, the grasshopper wins and the ant gets the shaft.

    I have been paying into SS for over 40 years, many of those years at max. If I could have invested that money plus the empoyers half in private account, I would have a substantial next egg that my wife could inherit should I die young or my kids could use for their retirement. Furthermore, that money would have been invested in a way that might have helped our economy grow. If I could have invested just the excess collected since 1984, it would still be a substantial sum of money. But alas, the money was squandered.

    • TRAy

      Well said.

      I disagree with one thing, that is if we intend to meet the SS promises. Just eliminating the debt does nothing because that money has to be paid back to SS one way or another. All it would do is eliminate the interest payments, but that interest is also needed to balance the fund.

  41. “Spot On” article on how Sarah Palin has framed the debate. The author highlights some of the main points of her speech in Iowa. Article was posted today. Very civil discussion follows the article. Charlie..even you will have to agree with this one.

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