Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Collective Bargaining and Public Worker Unions...

After a little research and reading, I think I’ve done a complete about-face on public unions and collective bargaining.

Here is what I think is happening and gonna happen…


1- Despite what they are telling you, Republicans in gubmint are going after public worker unions as hard as they can because those unions are big supporters of the Democratic party. All you have to do is look at the big fish political donations over the last ten years – I think 14 out of the top twenty are unions, public and private – and exclusively Democratic.
2- Those Republicans are under intense pressure from their big supporters, bizness interests, to gut all unions. It just makes sense (see next point).
3- Financial concerns are real only if you look at this from the employer/investor point of view.* Proof of this is that police and fire unions, traditionally either Republican supporters and/or big lightning rods for public sentiment, are not being touched….
4- News coverage is being manipulated, to some extent. Example: you really don’t hear a lot about concessions unions have offered or already made.

Gonna happen:

1- Unions are going to be separated and lose their focus. That is one reason fire and police unions are not being targeted. It’s planned that way, which leads us to…
2- There won’t be a general strike – see above.
3- An even more confusing “right to work” landscape between the states. As more states adopt limits on collective bargaining and weaker public unions, courts will be flooded with all kinds of rights violations and challenges.
4- *Gutting unions and collective bargaining won’t help the economy. In supposedly “saving our progeny” from financial disaster, we’ll just be moving that financial disaster from one shell to another in the big game.

Baby boomers are retiring – all over, not just from gubmint. But retiring gubmint and public workers are the ones who stand to lose the most of their safety net from this political solution to gubmint’s cash crisis. We're just moving that stress from an already planned (That's the sick part of all this - we are planning on breaking promises and f-ing up peoples lives, and giving them practically no notice.) from the public to the private sector's not-so-golden parachute.

Most people aren’t seeing the difference between civil servants and teachers and their retirement packages. Teachers at public institutions pay a pretty large chunk of their salaries towards retirement. Most of them have to have 30 years in before it actually pays for them to retire. Thirty years.

5- Channeling GHWB, here “Not gonna help the economy. Not gonna…”

Ignoring the fact that in busting the unions to get at their retirement packages is breaking both a promise and in most cases a contract, it doesn’t make sense economically. Can we adjust the contract from here forward? Sure. But changing the rules in the middle or end of the game is just plain wrong. Wrong.

Do you think that cutting the retirement benefits of teachers – many of whom could have made more money in private sector employment, but chose teaching as a calling, not a job – is really going to save the state money, when they have to go back to work, after working thirty years, just to pay for their health care? Whose job will they take? Maybe yours? Your just-out-of-college-and-trying-to-pay-off-their-loans child’s job? If there’s justice – yes.

In the end, public is now going to mirror private sector compensation, but it’s not going to result in a better life for middle-management on down...

Political appointees and their staff (the VPs of the public sector working-world) are going to end up with all the perks and huge salaries (This is already happening in public institutions such as colleges, where Deans and VPs and Presidents make three-four-five times more than even the longest tenured teachers.), while average worker pay and compensation decreases. Lower budget deficits equal higher profit margins… only they don’t – because the “middle-class” takes a huge hit as public workers join the working poor of the public sector, and the “American Dream” will exist only for an even fewer few.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Military advertising on NASCAR vehicles…

The House has voted to let the Pentagon continue using taxpayer dollars to sponsor NASCAR race teams.

By a 281-148 vote, lawmakers rejected an effort by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum that would have ended the practice. McCollum aides said the Army is spending $7 million on a sponsorship this year, and the Air Force and National Guard are spending additional money.

They are after their targeted demographic: Young, mechanically inclined males, with little (or no) education. Cheap fodder. Where better to find that than at or watching NASCAR, the people who go in circles for 4-500 miles at a time and call it entertainment.

After an afternoon of that, riding in a HumVee while dodging IEDs probably sounds good...

I guess it makes sense from a marketing and economic angle -- BUT in my POV this is NOT something gubmint should be involved in.

I certainly don't want my tax dollars going to it...

For those young people who are targeted by these advertisements, the decision is mostly one made of economic necessity compounded by generationally learned habitual ignorance and multiple failures inside our educational system, including inequitable funding and failure in the family structure.

Look where the majority of our soldiers come from - the poor and disadvantaged - and over our history, not just right now. (But I will note that for many, if they survive, it will be a step up - at least for the lucky smart ones...)

Advertising is used for the same reasons as elsewhere - and it is carefully targeted. Measured against the results, this may not be wasted money. But is it right or for a righteous purpose? No.

Demographically, the military is profoundly different from civilian society. It's drawn disproportionately from households in rural areas. The South and Southwest are substantially overrepresented within the military, while the Northeast is dramatically underrepresented.

Social and economic elites are dramatically underrepresented in the military.

The percentage of enlisted military personnel from households with more than $60,000 in annual income is close to zero.

As recently as 1994, 44% of members of Congress were veterans. Today, it's only 26%.

Only about 1% of U.S. representatives and senators have a son or daughter in uniform.

Want to make sure that the U.S. never again gets stuck in a pointless war? Draft Congress!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

No need to raise taxes to balance the State of Ohio budget...

There is a movement among Athens County "Friends" to pledge part of their incomes to increased taxes.

These (well meaning) but uninformed citizens think the guvmint will actually spend our money the way we want it spent. Gubmint is busy stealing from your retirement right now!

We don't need higher income taxes to balance the budget. We need choices. Heck, right now I can take the state budget, end up with a surplus and not take one cent from education or social services.

My score from the C-bus Dispatch online State Budget APP:

* State sales tax: Increase sales tax rate to 7% (raises $3.9 billion)
* State income tax: Cut income taxes by 5% to help Ohioans (costs $800 million)
* 'Pop' tax: One cent per ounce (raises $800 million)
* Exemptions: End sales-tax break for packaging and packaging equipment (raises $460 million)
* Exemptions: End sales-tax exemption for mining and farming equipment (raises $300 million)
* Exemptions: End sales-tax exemption for equipment sold to electricity providers (raises $650 million)

* No spending cuts were made.

Sell or lease state assets
* Sell state lottery to private operator (raises $5 billion, but ends lottery revenue)
* Sell some state buildings, then lease them back (raises $800 million, but requires future rent payments)

Your budget results
* You have a budget surplus of $3.11 billion.