Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Amuse a Liberal Today

Root Riven Siren is laughing aloud at the following tweet:

Coming across each Walker ad- it's like discovering vomit on a morning sidewalk. Repulsive discovery.

Who knew it was so easy to amuse a liberal? Coming across a Walker ad- it's like discovering a turd in your breakfast cereal. Ha ha ha. Or like finding maggots in your genital cyst. Ha ha ha, I am hilarious. Go ahead, lol with me. I know it, you know it, I am a laugh riot. Or finding a decomposing rat....

Try it yourself. Show me you are as funny as a liberal. Coming across a Walker ad - it's like.....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Apologies to my readers for the lack of content recently, I have been crazy busy. That will taper off soon enough and I can get back to commenting on the passing scene. So Merry Christmas to all, Sean included. Who says conservatives aren't inclusive?

Monday, December 12, 2011

On Race, Talent, Christianity, etc...

People seem to either love or hate Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, I suspect because he is overtly Christian-y. But then again, Green Bay star Reggie White was also overtly Christian-y, and he was universally loved and respected as a player, though he harmed his image later with some ridiculous statements, if I recall correctly.

So my question is why the difference in treatment? Is it that White was regarded as a better player or is race somehow a factor? Any theories?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Local Lefty Echo Chamber

With Kay's Blue Racine switching to an invitation only format - me not invited - and RootRiverSiren screening and then not publishing a recent comment of mine, it seems the local left is committing to an ideological echo chamber style of blogging. For people so sure of the superiority of their ideas, this seems a bit strange. And for those of you who wonder why I put up with Sean Cranley, it is because, unlike much of the local left, I am actually up for debate and discussion and Sean sadly is my only current detractor.

So about that RootRiverSiren comment. RRS has been relentlessly focused on the recall-related misdeeds committed, allegedly, by Republicans. And she is upset that Democrat spokesman Graeme Zelinski has not denounced the perpetrators. I couldn't help but notice that the Zelinski photo had a picture of labor leader Samuel Gompers and the following quote: Reward your friends, punish your enemies. My comment was that Zelinski's sin was insufficient adherence to the Democrat ethos promoted in the photo.

Sadly, an opportunity was missed. The comment might have sparked a defense or explanation of the Gompers quote and the role or appropriateness of reward and punishment in politics. Instead, an inconvenient criticism was swatted away and its back to the one-sided demonization of Republicans. A sad state our local lefties are in. Too bad.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Tax Time?

A friend was recently asked the following question on a graduate school entrance exam: Would it be appropriate for a school to require parents to volunteer at their children's school?

My answer. First differentiate between private and public schools. The former should be free to create whatever innovative programs that might help the institutions mission and if parents don't like it they can send their children elsewhere. Regarding a public school, the oxymoronic notion of required volunteerism is truly horrifying insofar as the precedent it would set. Seeing as public schools are government institutions, the uncompensated work required would be a new type of tax, a time tax.

If this idea gained traction in the public schools, I suspect it would be only a matter of time before our Saturdays were spent assembling windmills and solar panels, for the good of society of course.

And there is another word for forced work without pay. I can't remember all the details but I thought our country had resolved that issue already.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rights Versus Rights

I was talking with a few recent college grads on the subject of rights. They were proponents of what I think are categorized as positive rights, things such as a right to a college education and the right to health care, proper housing etc... I on the other hand am a proponent of the basics, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, otherwise known, I think, as negative rights.

The rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, don't demand anything of others except the respect of those rights. In other words, for me to exercise my right to live, all that is required of others is to respect that right by not killing me. My right to liberty simply requires you not to enslave me.

Among the problems with the rights proliferation favored by my young friends is that they can't be accomplished without chipping away at the basic rights favored by liberals (true liberals that is) like myself. For example, the right to a college education necessarily demands much of others. Colleges must be built, professors must teach, and this all costs money. Thus, your right to an education requires others time and money to provide that right. And in the process, one's own rights to liberty and one's own right to pursuit of happiness are diminished by the demand to provide a college education for someone else. And I am willing to bet that the advocates of rights proliferation are far more likely to be squishy on the most fundamental right, to life. What good after all is the right to a college education for the aborted/killed baby?

And on a tangential note, isn't the notion of a right to a college education rather silly if you think about it? One must have the intelligence and the drive to earn a college degree. How can those be guaranteed? It is a bit like me demanding the right to bench press 400 pounds or the right to be a pro bowl defensive lineman.

And lastly, to the extent that a right to a college education gains acceptance, we will see a commensurate increase in muddled thinking on rights.

Card Check Versus Secret Ballot Recall

Methinks we just might be witnessing the important difference between the secret ballot and card check. Presently we are amid the card check segment of the recall election. So we have some awkward moments like a Unified teacher asking for signatures at the family Thanksgiving party. I would guess there are those who might just sign to avoid a confrontation. What they do at the polls absent the pressure is anyone's guess. But this much we do know. We won't have anyone refusing to sign the recall who subsequently votes against Walker in the election. So the Dems can gloat about the number of recall signatures they can get. I doubt they will be so pleased with the election results.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Reasonable Union Myth

Continuing with the recall theme, I spoke with a woman who stated that the unions were offering all the concessions that were needed, such that Walker's subsequent "gutting" of union collective bargaining "rights" were a needless and largely personal attack on workers rights.

I didn't ask but do wonder whether her or anyone else really believes this narrative. My own belief is that unions have reliably demonstrated a pattern of conceding nothing unless it helps members and or union leadership. And this is how they should behave insofar as it is an organization created to empower its members.

The reality is that unions offered benefit and pension concessions as a tactical move to stall and hopefully prevent the needed curtailing of their political power via the forced unionization of government employees and the subsequent steady flow of dues money. And this was the right move for the union insofar as they were negotiating from a position of weakness and this was a desperate attempt to forestall the more damaging attempts to end the forced unionization of members and the restriction of certain bargaining opportunities.

But for anyone to conclude that the unions were simply looking out for the people of Wisconsin and offering reasonable concessions to ease the strain on the state budget - rather than a calculated attempt to retain as much power, money and influence as possible - well, such a person is either ignorant, delusional, or both.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ad Hominem Recall

I have talked to more than a few folks eager to recall Governor Walker. Invariably there is an intense personal loathing of the man. He is arrogant, he is condescending, he is power hungry etc... Some of these same folks will acknowledge that the cost of government employment was such that something at some point needed to be done. They want to recall him, it seems, primarily because of the manner in which he did what he did.

I will admit that I haven't spent much time listening to or observing Governor Walker, and that I generally like his policies, but what I have seen of him would not cause me to dislike him personally. He presents as a low key and reasonable person to me.

My own theory is that, upon scrutiny, Walker's signature policy move of limiting government union power was far from draconian, even for those directly affected. Thus, the emphasis for recall proponents needs to be on Walker's personal attributes, and any negative qualities must be relentlessly exaggerated or fabricated.

I don't think this recall will be successful as a result of such a week argument in its favor.

And one further point. Opponents of President Obama who frame their argument mostly in personal terms are often considered racists by the left. Indeed, the personal or ad hominem argument is rightfully considered one of the weakest forms of persuasion. Yet this is the primary method used by the recall folks. And they get away with it with little criticism.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Serve and Protect......Yourself

The City of Racine has responded to the new law allowing the concealed carrying of firearms by banning said firearms in city buildings. Mayor Dickert issued an executive order and the city is now placing signs reading: No Weapons Or Firearms Allowed On These Premises.

But the fine print is hilarious. It reads: "Although weapons are banned from this municipal facility, the City of Racine cannot ensure the protection of visitors or its employees from individuals who unlawfully enter with weapons and does not offer protection against the actions of violators."

According to the Journal Times article, city attorney Scott Lettney said the disclaimer was in part based on advice from the city's liability insurer. "We're just trying to protect (the city) to the extent we can" said Lettney.

City residents, however, are on their own, defenseless.

And just in case you haven't gotten the message, I will spell it out for you. The city will not protect you. The city will not allow you to protect yourself. But the city will protect itself, from your lawsuits, when you are injured or killed as a result of city policy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Name That Species

Today I noticed a huge group occupying private property, I believe, without permission. When asked what they were protesting, they produced a lot of noise but no coherent message whatsoever. They consumed everything in sight without paying. Indeed the very notion of an exchange of goods for an honest days work was foreign to them. And they were defecating and fornicating freely and shamelessly.

But unlike their human counterparts, they left peacefully when confronted by authorities.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Sex and Drugs

I was asked recently whether sex ed should be taught in schools. My answer was that if a school could, or would, address the full range of thoughts on the matter, then sure. And by full range of thoughts, I mean the major philosophical/religious traditions and their contributions on the subject. But as it is in non-religious schools, those contributions must be (or at least are) ignored. That leaves largely a non-judgemental, you-are-going-to-do-it-anyway, so-let's-be-safe approach.

Why not take the same approach with drug and alcohol use? Should children learn which vein to stick the needle in? Or how to make meth without starting a fire? And to drink a few glasses of water after binge drinking to minimize dehydration?

If adults can't or won't make moral judgements, should we be surprised that children and young adults can't or won't as well?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Newt Gingrich Pinched my Ass

I am concerned about Newt Gingrich's recent rise in the polls. I don't think he can win in a head to head matchup with President Obama. Oh yah, and he pinched my ass at a Tea Party event last year.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Questions Worth Asking

Lately I have been hearing more than usual about the problem of bullying and subsequent suicides of gay youths. As always I am attuned to the possibility of political agendas. So I have done a bit of sniffing around on the internet on the subject. I now have more questions than answers. I suppose I should not ask the questions, but I will anyway.

Is there an increase in suicides among gay youth or simply an increased focus on the issue? Does bullying cause an increase in suicide? If bullying leads to greater numbers of suicides, why aren't we seeing or hearing about suicide among young Asians, as they are subject to the greatest amount of bullying among young people? If gay suicide is on the rise, what does that say about the effectiveness of the LGBT outreach programs that have proliferated over the years? If gay suicide is not on the rise, why is the coverage of the problem on the rise, as it seems to be?

After reading a few articles, I am able to reach at least one conclusion about the media coverage of the issue. That is, it is to be assumed true that the suicides are caused exclusively by external factors, primarily bullying or more broadly a lack of acceptance by portions of society. Don't even dare to ask whether there is anything inherent in homosexuality that may cause internal angst, confusion, despair etc... that may lead to or contribute to a decision to end ones life prematurely.

By no means do I claim to know whether or why suicide is a growing problem among gay youths. But it seems to me that if as a society we need to explore and address a problem, we should be sure consider any and all potential factors that may contribute to the problem. Avoiding difficult or politically incorrect questions may help a political agenda, but will it help a youth in crisis?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Progressives Predicament

Proposition A: Force should be used as sparingly as possible.
Proposition B: Governments must ultimately use force to ensure compliance with laws.
Proposition C: If you agree with Propositions A and B, it follows that you would want a smaller government, creating fewer rules and using less force against the citizenry.

Unless you are a "progressive." "Progressives" will tend to agree with Proposition A but work to enlarge the scope and power of government.

Thus "progressives" are either confused, illogical, or insincere about their support of Proposition A.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Progressing to Pedophilia?

Yesterday I picked up a copy of the Wisconsin Gazette. They bill themselves as "the voice of progress for Wisconsin's LGBT community."

I find an article entitled "Gay military strategist key to Washington's victory over British" written by Victoria A. Brownsworth as a special to the Wisconsin Gazette for National Gay History Month. Read it here.

I will summarize. The article touts Benjamin Franklin as a gay-friendly founding father because he recruited gay military strategist and "extraordinary advisor" Baron Friedrich von Steuben to help with our war versus the British. According to the article, Franklin gradually overcame his reluctance to recommend Von Steuben for the job. He came with a bit of baggage. For example, a letter written to Von Steuben's former boss reads "It has come to me from different sources that M. de Steuben is accused of having taken liberties with young boys which the laws forbid and punish severely...." Nonetheless, Franklin wrote the recommendation and "Von Steuben arrived in February 1778 with his 17-year-old French lover, Pierre Etienne Duponceau. The rest - thanks to Franklin - is history."

So the only mention in the article of Von Steuben's homosexual activity involved sex with boys. The article quite evidently does not distinguish between homosexuality and gay pedophilia. Throughout the article, Von Steuben is simply described as "gay." And the article generally portrays both Franklin and Von Steuben favorably.

Frankly, I find this disgusting. A 17-year-old French "lover" of a 47 year old man would be considered by decent people as a victim, not a lover.

So I am left wondering why the voice of progress in the Wisconsin LGBT community would print articles about pedophiles and pedophilia in such a positive light. Is that what they intend to progress towards?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Undocumented Americans

We have all heard of the plight of the hard working undocumented Mexicans in our midst. But little to no attention is given to the problem faced by undocumented Americans. This is their story.

Most Americans just assume freedom is a birthright. That is what Jim (last name withheld) thought. And then his freedoms were systematically denied by, get this, his own government.

Jim was literally put in a cage for years. But Jim was not to be denied his freedom. He is free now, albeit without the proper government documents. And his plight continues.

Jim is literally being hunted by armed government officials. Sometimes Jim wishes he had it as easy as the Mexicans. He would gladly pay full tuition to a university if the government would just call off the dogs - yes, they actually do chase him with dogs.

Jim just wants the freedoms that the rest of us take for granted. If ours was a just society, we would call him a freedom fighter. But no, Jim is ridiculed. They call him insensitive and stigmatizing slurs like "fugitive" or "jailbreaker."

Shame on America!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An Untimely Excuse

That Racine's 14th annual Racine Unified analysis has revealed 14 consecutive years of educational failure should surprise exactly nobody.

Nor I suppose should we be surprised by the reasons offered by the experts. Especially comical is the explanation offered by Racine Educational Association president Pete Knotek, who cited "the elimination of collective bargaining" as "an external factor that hinders our program."

How exactly has a 2011 law that affected not a single union contract at Unified somehow managed to cause 14 years of educational futility? I wonder which 2025 legislative actions are the cause of this years dismal performance?

I guess it would be too much to consider the possibility that the single most potent force in public education, that being the union, could impact education quality.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Secret Communication!!

Crisis time ALEC members! Sean Cranley knows too much.

Now is the time to implement phase two before Sean can derail our plans. All members of the super secret Disposal of Troublesome Opposition Command meet at the black helicopter landing pad for further instructions. And is Koch ready with the genetically modified submission agent for the water supply?

It's go time guys. Corputopia is just around the corner. But first we must stop Sean Cranley!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Journal Times Exceeds Expectations

Unified taking less from taxpayers than expected is the headline in the Racine Journal Times that might as well have been written by the RUSD public relations department. Then again, perhaps it was.

I am noticing a trend. When Unified wants, say $10 million extra dollars, to "educate" the same number of students, but receives only $5 million, it is a budget cut. When they "expect" to raise taxes by, say $10%, but only raise by 6%, they would like us to believe there has been a tax cut. And the Journal Times is usually right there helping promote the dishonesty.

Next, when they expect student achievement to decline by 10%, but only does by 5%, we can rejoice in the gains made by our students.

The Journal Times should be embarrassed to print such a headline as it demonstrates once again their willingness to carry water for Racine Unified.

I have come to expect bias from the Journal Times. And sometimes, they even exceed my expectations.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Protest U?

The JT has an article today about the Original Root Zen Center's Peace School for four to eight year olds. While sitting in a circle, the "children clap and drum while repeating peace phrases, or mantras, such as 'Sharing toys, Sharing books, Sharing hearts.'"

Everything you need for a life of protest you can learn in kindergarten.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Think Danny Think

The following letter appears in the Journal Times:

Who am I? I am a patriotic Christian. To some that would make me a Republican.
I feel our country can’t solve the words problems through war. That would make me a Democrat. I feel our elderly should not be taxed out of their homes, and have to decide wether to eat, or buy prescription drugs. That would make me a Democrat.
I feel our tax system is too complex and our government to big. That would make me Republican. I do not feel our teachers, police and firefighters are overpaid. That would make me a Democrat.
I don’t see a candidate for president who feels as I do. Who am I ? By Danny Fugate.

Hmmmm. Well, for starters Danny, you are confused, but I think, no wait, I feel you know that already. That would make you a Democrat, or worse, an OWSer. You use "feel" four times and "think" not at all. That would make you a Democrat. You are right that you can't solve word problems through war. Try a dictionary or a thesaurus. I feel this also makes you a Democrat.

But all is not lost Danny. You "feel our tax system is too complex and our government to (sic) big." Nothing wrong with feelings, but they can impair your thinking. Feelings without thought can lead you to conclude that people shouldn't have to make difficult choices. But difficult choices are exactly what await this country. And neither your feelings nor mine will change that fact. Think about it Danny.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stoking Hatred

Dennis Prager asks an excellent question. Why is class hatred morally superior to race hatred?

Our schools go to great lengths to address, and probably exaggerate, the problem of hatred inspired by differences in skin color. Why not address hatred based on differences in income or accumulated wealth?

Rather than address this problem, the left, led by our president, instead stokes this hatred. This will not end well.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Searching for Mrs. Right

Like all conservatives, I am drawn to Herman Cain because he proves I'm not a racist, and he will get my full support unless we find a black, disabled, Muslim, lesbian, public-school-teaching conservative willing to run for president.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Brilliance Shared

I have a brilliant new business idea I would like share. As Free Racine readers may know, I own a retail business. On any given day, I probably have ten or so folks enter my store for the very first time. From now on I am going to charge them $500 each just to step into my store. That's $5,000 every day from now on. I can retire in a few years.

I can almost hear you skeptics out there. Nobody is going to pay the money, you say. I won't get any new customers and I will lose business, you say.

No worries. Let's suppose you are right. I have a Plan B. I will raise prices on existing customers by 50%. Problem solved!

OK, I have a confession to make. I have stolen this brilliant idea from the Racine Water Department.

A few years back, I rehabbed a commercial building and built two apartments above my retail store. In order to become a customer of the Racine Water Department I had to pay about $2,500 per unit for the water hook-up. Full disclosure: I had the total fee reduced to $2,500 because of previous water use in my building - should have been reduced to $0 but wasn't. Anyway, Racine didn't actually hook up anything - my plumber did at my expense. The $2,500 was a penalty for being an entrepreneur in Racine. But I had it easy. I later learned that new businesses that used significant quantities of water were subject to a prohibitive introductory water use penalty. Perhaps you heard of the laundromat that didn't open because of the fees or the car wash that didn't open because of the fees. How many businesses didn't open because of the Water Department business model? How many jobs have been lost? Who knows? Who cares?

Have you looked at your water bill lately. It is going up. Why? Well, recently I heard Mayor Dickert on the radio mention that we have not been using enough water to keep the water rate steady. So they need to raise the rate.

Only in government can you get away with such a ridiculous business model.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Racine

Why no Occupy Racine? Where are the Unitarians, the illegal alien lobby, the clueless Horlick students, the Peace and Justice hippies, you know, the usual suspects? Let's get this party started! How about Monument Square, directly across from an evil bank? Sean, you in? I'll bring the hummus.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Remedial Lesbian Indoctrination 101

The JT has a story, here, concerning a teacher who claims that she has been discriminated against because she is a lesbian. I am going to take the unusual position of siding with Unified on this one based on the contents of the article.

The claims themselves seem rather minor and are in any case disputed by Unified. A student who allegedly threatened the teacher was allowed to stay in her classroom but when a heterosexual teacher complained something was done. The lesbian was punished for being late for work while the heterosexual teachers saw no consequences. Yet, concerning these complaints, there appears to be no evidence that the different responses where because of her sexual orientation. Maybe it is because she is blonde.

An attempt was made to resolve the differences with the help of a state mediator. One of the terms not agreed to by the teacher was a requirement to "refrain from making any references to your personal sexual orientation to students." According to the teacher, the request itself is discriminatory because they would never ask that of a straight person.

Perhaps not, however... the teacher went on to stress the importance of discussing her sexual orientation when students inquire. "I had kids that came out and were kicked out of their houses and they need to know that, one, somebody related; and, two, that somebody wasn't going to be judgmental and they were just going to help them find a safe place." and I also had quite a few kids that struggled with suicide issues and depression and family acceptance."

Perhaps now is the time to mention that the teacher in question is a middle school remedial reading teacher.

I have no way of knowing whether said teacher is offering sound advice to confused middle schoolers or is grooming them and/or pursuing a political agenda. Regarding the grooming comment, I suppose that could upset some readers, so I will put it to you this way: would you want your presumably heterosexual fifth grade daughter talking about her sexual thoughts with the 45 year old male math teacher or would you alert the authorities? Anyway, it is not her job to deal with this stuff so she should be stopped. Maybe if she did her job instead of talking about lesbian stuff the kids could read at grade level.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Department of Mysterious Verification

Feel free to call me a crank if warranted. Yesterday I went to the DMV to get my son his temporary drivers license. One acceptable form of ID was a valid passport. I presented them with an expired passport which they would not accept. I was not happy. I understand that an expired passport would make my son ineligible to enter another country or return to this one, but why it was not an acceptable form of identification at the DMV remains a mystery. Is expired synonymous with invalid?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

On Double Dipping

The JT has an interesting article, here concerning a proposal to eliminate, or at least minimize, the practice of "double dipping" by government employees. "Double dipping" basically is the practice of "retiring" (in quotes for a reason), receiving a pension, then returning to work for the same or another government entity, and receiving a salary and a pension at the same time.

Retired people, by definition, are no longer working. As such, retirement benefits should be reserved for retired people, not working people. Working people receiving retirement benefits from government is hardly different from employed people receiving unemployment benefits, healthy people receiving disability benefits etc.... The only reason this is not considered outright fraud is because the beneficiaries in many cases are writing the laws that allow the double dipping for themselves. Yes, the fox has written the laws on hen protection.

I will now consider some of the rather weak justifications for continuing this practice.

Former and current police chief (does that make sense?, I say choose one or the other) Kurt Wahlen said "It is not like I just retired and get to draw on money from the state....It was money set aside." Yah, set aside for when you retire. You are working, therefore you are not retired. Therefore no retirement benefits. Pretty simple really.

And then there is current and former (or is it former and current?) government employee Tom Christensen who feels the proposal "treats public workers unfairly" because " a private sector worker could receive their retirements while working a new job." First of all, government has no business regulating the pay and benefits of private sector businesses. They should only concern themselves with government employees. A comparison then between private and public makes no sense. But if you want to compare the two, I am willing to bet that there aren't any private sector employers willing to pay wages and retirement benefits to the same person simultaneously.

State Senator Van Wangaard is receiving a pension as a retired police officer and a wage as a senator. He does not consider his a "double dipping" situation. He has the strongest argument in my view as at least he is elected to his job. We could toss him out of office if we don't like it. At the very least he should recuse himself from a vote on this matter as he (if I understand the issue correctly) would directly benefit from the proposals demise.

And State Rep Robin Vos seems rather lukewarm to the idea when he says "But if someone is retired for a year and they are asked to work in a different position in a different agency, I don't know why I should care." I will tell you why you should care. You should care because taxpayers are tired of getting ripped off. We don't want to pay unemployment for the employed, disability for the abled, welfare for the wealthy, or retirement for the not retired. You should care!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Media Bias?

A thought experiment for Sean Cranley. Suppose former Attorney John Ashcroft testified before Congress on an important matter, say, an operation that allowed firearms to "walk" to Mexican druglords. Well call it Operation Daft and Curious. Now suppose Attorney Ashcroft claimed, in say May of 2003 that he first heard of Daft and Curious a few weeks prior to his testimony. Now suppose Ashcroft was sent memos concerning Daft and Curious beginning in August of 2002.

Do you think this might have, just maybe perhaps aroused the interest of the mainstream media at the time?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Obama's Successes

Ages ago, after enduring endless rants about President Bush, I would ask, "Has he done anything right?" It was about the only legal technique to silence a liberal at the time.

With the tables turned and with an unpopular Democratic president, I will ask the same question. Has President Obama done anything right?

My own answer is yes, I love that he has whacked Osama, and today the Yemenese/American Al somethingorother and remember the Seals taking out the pirates? Not nearly enough to garner a vote from me, but its something.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Saving Jobs

Perhaps you have heard that Democrat Governor Bev Perdue has suggested canceling the 2012 elections. Some partisans are seeking to make this a big issue of course. As for me, I think she is merely trying to help beef up Obama's "jobs saved" numbers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

First Friday Follies

First Fridays has been a success beyond, I am sure, even the most optimistic prognosticators. So let us destroy it.

A little background. To the best of my recollection, the idea of First Fridays was introduced by former mayor Jim Smith's wife Joyce, who had witnessed such an event in Michigan. I for one thought it a bit silly to have on a Friday as I thought a full fledged street festival or two would have been a better idea. Anyway, First Friday's began several years ago as an effort to get folks downtown to beef up exposure and sales at downtown businesses. Fastforward to today and we routinely have thousands of people flocking to downtown for First Fridays. For the most part the crowd is pretty upscale and largely devoid of troublemakers. And the crowds have increased in part because the city, wisely in my view, has opted to look the other way with respect to open intoxicants on the sidewalks. People just like to walk around with a beer now and again. Regarding sales, as a downtown retailer, I can attest to the fact that First Fridays is not just a drinking event. People buy stuff and that was the whole idea.

But leave it to a handful of the perpetually disgruntled to have an axe to grind. The crowds are too big! Someone has been sneaking in alcohol in a cooler! Someone might get drunk and cause trouble! We might get sued!

The solution to these minor or hypothetical problems is of course to crack down on the open intoxicants on the street according to the pd's - the perpetually disgruntled's. The pd's are seeking meetings with the mayor, the chief of police or whomever else might work to undermine the event. If they are loud and determined enough, they might just force the hand of law enforcement, who may then crack down on the open intoxicants. Before long the crowds will dwindle, the enthusiasm will be gone, the event will wither away along with the customers and the sales. But hey, at least we won't get sued!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Who is Zea?

I encountered a woman the other day wearing a "who is Zea?" T-shirt. So I asked. She turned around, showing the rest of the shirt. Zea is the Zion (Illinois) Education Association. The lady then volunteered that they wear the T-shirt every Friday at school and that it helps not having to think about what to wear that day.

Perhaps it is time for the Zion school district to consider a dress code for teachers. A teachers union is not an innocuous organization. Right or wrong, teachers unions engage in negotiations that, by definition, have two (or more) sides. As such, they can and do lead to contentious exchanges in a given locality.

Why should such an organization be allowed to not-so-subtly propagandize to a captive audience of school children?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why Not Vigilance?

I am glad its 9/12. I can't stand looking at pictures of the burning World Trade Center, people jumping to their deaths etc... still too raw and probably always will be.

Why 9/11 inspires some Americans to lecture us about religious tolerance is a mystery to me. There is only one religion that should use the occasion to lecture its members about religious tolerance and that religion is Islam. It was people inspired by their Islamic faith - correctly interpreted or not - who hijacked airplanes and used them to kill innocents. The battle for tolerance must be fought within the Islamic religion and I stand with all Muslims who condemn the evil perpetrated on 9/11. And I will be damned if I will have tolerance for those who thank Allah for 9/11.

I propose we stop talking incessantly about tolerance on 9/11. It would be far more appropriate to talk about vigilance. We need to physically stop anyone or any group that would perpetrate 9/11 style evil against us. We must also be vigilant in confronting the philosophical underpinnings or justifications for such evil. And those justifications and religious rationalizations are found to varying degrees among far too many Muslims in this world. Vigilance rather than tolerance is the proper response to such a threat.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Economic Development 101

I have to give Racine mayor John Dickert credit for scrapping the money hemorrhaging artist relocation program. Read all about it here.

That said, I think he should also scrap the equally doomed NSP, aka the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Instead, the mayor is doubling down. According to the JT article: "The next step, the mayor said, will be to move Neighborhood Stabilization Program efforts into the Uptown area next year. Those federal funds may be used to buy foreclosed homes and either rehabilitate them or raze them and rebuild."

The artist relocation program and the NSP house flipping program are virtually identical schemes. They use federal money to buy up distressed properties. They pour lots of money and time into them and then sell them at a huge loss.

There is simply no way that this will work. The city must comply with all sorts of regulations that mom and pop house flippers can avoid, thus driving up the costs well beyond the properties potential selling price. The city further ensures losses by insisting on home ownership, thus reducing the potential number of buyers which in turn puts downward pressure on the sale price.

Top down, government directed economic development just doesn't work, locally or nationally - consider stimulus packages 1 - ? If we must spend our federal money on local redevelopment efforts, it would make far more sense to keep the government out of it as much as possible.

Here is a suggestion. Don't interfere with development efforts. Recognize that developments of all kinds will result in investment, therefor jobs and ultimately higher property values that you can tax. Recognize also that developers aren't developing in large part because they know full well that you will tax the hell out of them. Alleviate this reality based fear with a check, courtesy of unwitting taxpayers from everywhere. Put simply, reduce the cost of investing, those costs that you have driven through the roof with high taxes and a hypermeddling - yah I made that word up - economic development team. Do this and we might get some actual development in this town.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Cognitive Indifference

The Obama administration, via the Eric Holder Justice Department, sued to block an AT&T and T-Mobile merger. In so doing, they offered a great rationale in favor of breaking up the government monopoly on education by saying the merger "would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the country facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality products for mobile wireless services." So there is the proof that they know the damage caused by monopolies, but Obama and the left nonetheless is intent on keeping the government education monopoly rolling. This might cause some on the left to experience cognitive dissonance, but then again, that condition presupposes cognition.

Actually, in this regard, I don't really think the left is being stupid. Rather, I think they know full well that the government education monopoly results in "higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality." This is not "for the children." It is for the left to keep as much power as possible. I would have more respect for the left if they were merely stupid, but consigning children to education wastelands while using them to maintain political power is unconscionable.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Burglars Welcomed

The JT has an article today about a would be candy business and a controversy over their burglar bars.

To summarize the articles contents, there is a proposal for candy store in the inner city that has come before the city council. The building that would house the candy store has burglar bars. The city council has voted to approve a conditional use permit allowing the burglar bars while Mayor Dickert has promised to veto approval, noting that "bars are a horrible example of what the city should be."

I am of the opinion that the government should not concern themselves with how business or property owners protect their property from criminals. Will the city pay for the losses when the candy store is burglarized? Of course not.

The larger problem is, as I have stated numerous times in the past, the conditional use permitting requirement. In bygone days, property uses were constrained only by zoning decisions. When I opened my business in Racine several years ago, there was no conditional use permit required. I was setting up a business in an area zoned for business and I was not required to grovel to local politicians. This is how it should be.

However, we now have a conditional use permit requirement. This allows all business property decisions to be subject to political considerations. Risks abound when opening a business as it is, but the conditional use permit greatly magnifies said risks. Typically, there is considerable time, energy, and money expended prior to any business venture. In Racine now, even legal businesses in properly zoned areas are prevented by government from opening. Why bother considering Racine as a place to invest?

Of course property owners and politicians have divergent interests. Politicians, in this case are interested in combatting a perception of crime. The business owner is interested in combatting actual crimes. To politicians, burglar bars harm their fight against the perception of crime. To a property owner, burglar bars help their fight against actual crime. As you can clearly see, the needs of the politicians are quite different from the needs of this property owner. And now, thanks to the conditional use permit, property owners can now be used to fulfill the needs of politicians. That is not why people buy property and it will of course undermine a property's value.

Now on to this crime perception problem. If there were no crime in Racine I could fathom an argument outlawing burglar bars, video surveillance, heck, even locks. But crime exists and government has no business preventing people from efforts to deter crime. The city should join in this effort to combat actual crimes and, to the extent they are successful, the image problem will go away.

Perhaps the real problem with burglar bars for politicians is that they are a visual reminder of the politicians failure to control crime. But then, when your policies create incentives for criminals, what should you expect?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cranleyism Is Here!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fascism is here, says Sean Cranley in a JT commentary. If you manage to ignore the usual blather - comparisons to Mussolini etc..._ that make up 95% of the screed and search hard for the scary facts, well, here they are: Robin Vos is apparently chairman of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) Wisconsin and he attended their national convention.

There is so little "there" there that it is no wonder Sean has to hyperventilate about fascism, secret organizations run by scary corporations intent to "take power away from the people and enact laws favorable to mega-global corporations" blah blah blah.

Last time I checked, people, via voluntary association with others, still have the right to petition their government. That is what ALEC and virtually every other lobbying outfit does. It is true of course that some such associations have undue influence that is harmful to society - government unions come to mind- but the real problem with ALEC is that Sean disagrees with their agenda.

To which I respond with a big Hitleresque yawn.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Flexible Founders

A day or so ago one Nikki Fisher submitted a letter to the JT editor asserting a "founding fathers' mandate of free education for all." And today, I challenged this assertion at root river siren, here, scroll to "In Defense of Teachers" thread. Read the lefty responses for fun. I especially enjoyed Sean's efforts, including his citing of section 16 of Jefferson's Land Ordinance of 1785 for "establishing a mechanism for funding public education."

You won't find anything remotely approaching a mandate for a free public education from our founders, as none exists. But the exercise will provide a window into the essence of leftiness, wherein you can twist, fabricate, exaggerate, etc... until you have convinced yourself that what you wish to be true is indeed true, actual truth be damned.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bush To Blame

I nearly laughed out loud when listening to Don Rosen's radio program this morning. He and another liberal were talking about Obamacare while trying to figure out any reasons why conservatives were against it. All they could come up with was that they opposed it because Obama favored it. Really Don?

Here's one. How about the breathtaking assertion that the federal government, for the very first time, can force individuals to purchase a product from a private company.

I have a question or two for Don Rosen. Why is it that you are unable to accurately summarize a conservative argument? Did George Bush do this to you?

A Homophobic Nightmare

I was selling my wares this weekend at a Chicago street festival well known as the biggest party for gays in the midwest. My tent was positioned directly opposite the events premiere concert stage. Unbeknownst to me, someone from the cast of Glee was to perform there. Everything was going along just fine until the concert started, at which point the crowd suddenly and dramatically overwhelmed the area, and I found myself in the way of thousands of Glee fans. My booth was surrounded and the pressure from the massive crowd nearly upended my tables and I seriously considered the possibility that my entire display would be overrun by the crowd. Alas I and my merchandise survived and, while this was not by any stretch an ideal situation for commerce, I am now able to amuse myself by having survived what must surely be a homophobes worst nightmare - being crushed to death by a horde of Glee fans.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Money Relocation Project a Smashing Success

Racine's ballyhooed Uptown Artist Relocation Program, now in its fourth year, has relocated zero artists. It has relocated, as in lost, over $400,000 in taxpayer money. Yes, the city bought a building for $120 K, renovated it to the tune of $400 K, and flipped it for $111 K to some folks who will open a Chinese restaurant.

A horrific failure? Not according to program director Brian O'Connell. "We're getting a lot of the things we got into the Uptown project for" O'Connell told the RJT.

What were getting is zero artists and a $400,000 plus loss. If the city views this as a success, what, I wonder, would they consider failure.

Classism, Ageism, Racism?

The Journal Times today reports a new RUSD policy wherein a photo ID is required to attend a football game. Why would RUSD want to discriminate against the poor, the elderly, and minorities?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Broke Teacher Fallacy

If I had any hair I would have pulled it all out listening to WRJN's Don Rosen this morning. Before I tuned in, apparently a public employee explained his or her financial burdens caused by Governor Walker's controversial bill limiting union bargaining power. Said employee now paid X number of dollars more for benefits than before the passage of the Walker bill. According to Mr Rosen this "lost" money would not be spent at local businesses etc....., harming them and also lowering the take for government, meaning fewer services etc....

I had to call into the show, but before I got through another caller made a valiant effort to educate Mr Rosen, to no avail. I likewise was unsuccessful.

Mr Rosen commits a common mistake. He was only able to grasp the consequences of the money not in the hands of the public employee. He was unable to consider the additional money not confiscated by government that remained in the hands of taxpayers.

I believe there is even a name for this mistake. I think it is called the broken window fallacy. If someone were to throw a brick threw my window, I would no doubt spend money having my window replaced. This would be good for window makers and installers. The window installer would go to the restaurant perhaps after getting paid and this would be good for the restaurant etc....

What Don Rosen apparently fails to realize is that the money spent for my window otherwise could have gone for other purchases, helping other businesses etc... Likewise he fails to realize that the money not spent by taxpayers for the public employee is money that might be spent in restaurants etc...

It isn't exactly a wash. It is better for people to spend their own money as they are more likely to spend it wisely compared to those spending other people's money.

Good Point

Leave it to the great philosopher/economist Dr Sowell to make a great point missed by everyone else. That is, our debt ceiling laws do not in fact put a ceiling on our debt.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Explanation

I thought I should take a moment and explain the lack of activity, on my part, with this blog. I suspect it is somewhat temporary, but I just haven't been thinking about politics too much lately. Rather, I have been enjoying the good weather, I have been riding my bike in an effort to drop some pounds (15 so far), I have been playing tennis with my son, work has picked up etc.... so I have been ignoring the blog for a bit. But carry on please and I will get back into it again when the spirit moves me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Facts and Opinions

The Journal Times yesterday "separated facts from the spin" on school vouchers. This fact checking exercise found that it is indeed true that school vouchers "would cause property taxes to increase by $10 million in the program's third year when enrollment caps cease." Unified officials would lose roughly $10 million in funding because of school vouchers, yet, despite losing 4200 students or roughly 20% of the student body, they would find $0 savings, thus requiring a $10 million tax increase.

This "fact" tells us little to nothing about vouchers and all you need to know about Racine Unified. How is it possible that RUSD could lose twenty percent of their students and be unable to save any money? Consolidate, close a few schools perhaps. Reduce staff maybe. No and no apparently.

Is Unified management incompetent? Well yes, if you believe their goal is to provide the best education for children in the most cost effective manner for taxpayers. But I have long since recognized that educating children is a secondary objective for Racine Unified. The primary objective is to maximize the number of Unified employees and their wage, benefit and retirement haul. Once you realize this fact, you will also realize that Unified is extraordinarily competent in achieving its objectives.

So yes, it is a fact that Unified could lose twenty percent of its students and still demand the same $'s from the taxpayers. And it is my opinion that we should not give billions of $'s to so corrupt an organization.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On the Limits of Secular Morality

In my most recent post Sean writes "Both religion and morality are both the result of evolution, they're genetic. The difference between religious and secular morality is superficial."

I have heard some variant of this point on countless occasions and have often wondered and asked why an adherent to the secular world view would be motivated to behave morally. After all, there is no higher authority than the government, so why not do whatever suits you so long as you don't get caught? Inevitably the response is that via our logic we conclude that, if we want to be treated well by others, we will first treat others well. The golden rule in other words. Let us for the sake of argument ignore any religious connection to the golden rule and let us assume it is simply a product of the evolution and logic of mankind.

The golden rule absent God will not work. Suppose you were in the market for a gold watch. Suddenly a man appears before you on the street with just the watch you were looking for. He offers it for $1,000, roughly 20% less than the sale price at the established jewelry store. Just cause he is a swell guy, he offers a 5 year warranty when the jewelry store offers only 3 years. According to the golden rule, if you want to be trusted you should trust others first. You should buy the watch, but you violate the golden rule instead.

Another example. You are a wealthy individual with good credit. You have just been diagnosed with an incurable cancer and have but a few weeks to live. You have no heirs to worry about. Similarly, since you are about to die, you have no concerns in the least about how others may treat you in the future that doesn't exist for you. The golden rule has been rendered pointless for you. Time to screw some people who have wronged you. So you burn down the house of an ex. You blow up a business. You buy a very expensive car or two on credit and you trash them. The golden rule was useful for a while but not anymore. Why not have some fun?

If someone can explain how the golden rule can work absent a higher authority that serves to constrain our base impulses, please have a go at it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Competing Morality

I am still scratching my head over the pronouncement, in the Racine Journal Times yesterday, by "public school officials," that school vouchers are "morally wrong."

From what moral system does this pronouncement flow? Since this is the public schools with their exquisite sensitivity about the separation of church and state, I am quite certain that this is not stemming from a traditional religious morality.

That leaves us with a secular progressive, godless based morality, and indeed, according to that system of morality, vouchers would be "morally wrong." Wrong because it weakens the state, which wants to be the ultimate authority on all issues, moral or otherwise. Wrong because it violates the belief that the state, given proper resources, will best prepare students for the future - a secularly progressive future.

Let us not kid ourselves. The public school system teaches religion all day long. It is a secular progressive religion and the state is the ultimate source of all that is good. And it doesn't want its religion having to compete against any others. Is it any wonder they thing vouchers are "morally wrong?"

Friday, May 13, 2011

News Story Feels Unfair

The Journal Times has an uncanny knack for finding the sympathetic illegal alien like Christian, who "feels" it is unfair that he won't get a tuition subsidy to UW Parkside if Republicans get their way.

I am still waiting for the article featuring a hard working American citizen from, say, Zion Illinois, who, through no fault of her own resides on the Illinois side of the border and must pay full fare at Parkside, and who "feels" that it is unfair that illegal aliens get a tuition subsidy while she does not.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Abominable Commentary

A JT editorial yesterday criticized, as boneheaded, state Representative Robin Vos' vote to do away with regional transit authorities in our area.

From the editorial: The unelected "abomination" criticism from Vos that transit authorities would spend tax money, even though those boards were not elected, feeds into the recent rise in anti-taxing frenzy - including an advisory referendum in Racine County on "new taxes" for transit or rail that was defeated by a large margin.

So we have a representative who opposes taxation without representation and who recognizes that taxes for rail or mass transit are very unpopular, all while acting in accordance with the wishes of his constituents. What an outrage!

The JT I suppose would rather our representatives dismiss the concerns of rubes, ie the public, while returning to pre-revolutionary days when taxes were foisted upon us by royalty.

I prefer Robin Vos' vision.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Journal Sentinel Policy Discussion

A Sunday editorial by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel laments "that teachers have been singled out for much venom these days." A better idea according to the MJS: "Lets debate policy. There is plenty of it to debate. Let's not dump on teachers."

So this intro was followed by a robust policy discussion, right? Uh, no. Instead, we heard about the commanding presence of Ricardo Pimentel's teacher who scared him into college, and about the feared and stern Mrs. Peer recalled by board member Mabel Wong and so on and so forth.

It is true that singling out teachers for venom is one way to avoid a substantive policy discussion, but then again, so is anecdotal praise. How about that policy debate then MJS?

There is plenty to debate as the MJS noted. Do our current policies allow us to efficiently identify and remove subpar teachers while rewarding the best ones? Does tenure create the incentive to improve as a teacher? Does a backloaded compensation arrangement discourage people from becoming teachers? Can we afford the amount we are paying for public education? Would competition in education reduce the cost and improve performance?

Oh, I almsot forgot. Mrs. Peer was actually a softy and "her sternness gave way to smiles."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Uncivil Warfare

Recently I was having a conversation with a long time and very liberal acquaintance. We were discussing his difficulty, indeed the near impossibility, of maintaining positive relationships with conservative/Republican/Walker supporters. After it was essentially established that he now socializes entirely with liberals, he noted that he has had multiple conversations comparing our current divisive political climate with the Civil War.

When all your friends agree that a policy that raises the meager public employee contributions towards their health insurance and pensions is like a fight over slavery, well.... I can't think of a better argument for broadening your circle of friends.

In one sense he is right. A civil war will start brewing with uncivil behavior.

What Rude Looks Like

I have to admit that Sean's (at Kay's Blue racine) post announcing the Palin rally didn't really register with me. He wrote "More cowbell, less Palin."

Of course now I know that the protester class used cowbells and other noisemaking devices to drown out Sarah Palin's speech.

Misbehaving in a crowd can be kind of fun for the immature I suppose, but how exactly will this behavior win over the all important moderate voter?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mysterious Activity Downtown

The Journal Times has a story today concerning an alleged fight outside a downtown bar. The owner of the bar claims that there was not a fight while sworn officers claim otherwise.

Perhaps it was urban kinetic activity.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Liberals Please Think

It is such a simple concept and life would be much easier if liberals understood.

The money that is spent on public sector employees is good for them insofar as they can afford their mortgage, groceries etc.... but simultaneously bad for the rest of us who then have less money to pay for their own mortgage, groceries etc...

It baffles me that so many liberals can't seem to understand this.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Quibbling with the JT

Generally speaking I think the Racine Journal Times has improved of late insofar as they are not as blatantly political as they had been. That said, I have to quibble a bit.

Yesterday the JT had an otherwise excellent story about the AFSCME union threatening Union Grove businesses with boycotts if they didn't put a "We Support Workers Rights" poster in their windows. The print addition headline was "Businesses asked to pick sides." Asked? How about forced?

Today they ran a short story about one charming Katherine Windels who threatened the lives of Republican lawmakers by "putting a nice little bullet" in the head, along with a couple of bomb threats. They forgot to mention that Windels is a teacher. Unimportant detail? I hardly think so. One mitigating factor in the JT's favor is that it was an AP story.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stupid American

Today I was selling my wares at a multicultural/international event at a university. Next to me was vendor who was talking to a customer for quite some time. He was from Milwaukee but appeared to be of middle eastern origin. His customer was speaking amiably and enthusiastically until he asked her where she was from. Her reply was "I'm from stupid America."

And this pretty well sums up the multicultural mindset. Celebrate other cultures, denigrate our own. Stupid indeed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Progressives and Aversion to Truth

Lately I have been discussing characteristics of liberal progressives, noting a general hostility toward Israel and an ideological litmus test for friendship. Today I add aversion to the truth to that growing list of negative characteristics.

I just read Kay's Blue Racine where a full throated progressivism is on daily display. Today Kay is outraged at some anti-abortion advertisements that state that the womb is the most dangerous place for a black baby and that a potential black leader is aborted every 21 minutes. Kay did not attempt to refute the ads. Rather, they just seem to make her angry. Of course, it is not the deaths of millions of black babies that makes her angry. It is that someone dares to tell the truth.

But it is not just abortion truth that outrages the far left. The terrorist problem in the world and the US is almost entirely a Muslim phenomenon. Crime rates are higher among blacks than most other ethnicities in the US. Lower tax rates often result in more tax revenue. Bad teachers exist in public schools. Single parent families contribute to social ills when compared to two parent families. These and other truths simply can't be tolerated on the far left.

Monday, March 28, 2011

On Progressive Insularity

Over the years, I have on numerous occasions been rejected personally because of the views that I have, hold, explain and espouse. But I have no similar political litmus test for friendship. It seems to be a one way street, and the further to the left, the likelier one is to limit their potential friendships in this manner. It is these folks on the extreme left that don't simply think that conservatives are mistaken and can be won over with persuasive argument. Attempts at argument have not persuaded the conservative who has heard it all before and reached other conclusions. The liberal then concludes that the conservative is therefore evil in some or multiple ways. Never will they consider much less conclude that their own arguments are ineffective, simplistic or mistaken. It then follows that said conservative must be shunned, ridiculed, rejected, boycotted etc.... because they are evil.

The unfortunate result of this childishness is coarsened rhetoric and an insularity that explains why these folks never seem to think they are wrong or outside the mainstream. Heck, all their friends agree with them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On Firing Lousy Teachers

I had a wonderful conversation with a public school teacher yesterday. There was much agreement between us, so I won't reveal her name, lest she be ostracized by her more militant peers.

Of particular interest to me was our discussion on the problem of ineffective teachers. For starters, she acknowledged quite readily that there are some teachers that need to go. But she seemed to defend to some degree the current method to remove lousy teachers, a method created via collective bargaining. To me this should have caused her a bit of cognitive dissonance because on the one hand she recognizes the need to get rid of lousy teachers while on the other hand she defended a process that makes it all but impossible.

My own view is that an education system that is unable to root out lousy teachers isn't really "for the children" and ought to be an embarrassment for teachers serious about educating children.

Of course there is no utopian solution to the problem. That said, there must be a method for firing, not relocating, lousy teachers. That power should be held by an administrator who is in turn held accountable for his/her decisions. It is true that an administrator might wrongly fire a teacher, or worse, do so for nefarious reasons. Again, this should lead to the firing of an unprofessional administrator. And so on up the chain of command.

This task is much harder when the organization is a political one and harder still if the organization is large. Smaller units, say, individual schools, held responsible for results would be a step in the right direction. Of course this takes power away from the teachers union. That is what should happen because it is the teachers union which created a system that makes it all but impossible to fire a lousy teacher. The union too should be held responsible for their lousy results.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On Liberals and Israel

I was asked by my son yesterday why liberals tend not to like Israel very much. This was a very difficult question for me, as I don't really understand the liberal animosity towards Israel and I don't want to unfairly represent the liberal position. After a bit I suggested he ask a friend of his who proudly claims to be a communist.

The young communist answer was that Israel was a militaristic country and that liberals don't like war, though he acknowledged that Israel was living among hostile neighbors.

I thought this was an interesting answer. Granted, it was provided by a ninth grade communist, but I don't think he was off the mark in portraying a liberal take on the issue. The problem with this view, if accurate, is that it unfairly focusses on the militarism of Israel, without which it would certainly be wiped off the map.

If Israel were to adopt the liberal position, that is, disarm and hope for peace, it would certainly be wiped off the map. This is eerily similar to the dreams and aspirations of so many of Israel's hostile neighbors.

Now I don't think for a minute that liberals want Israel wiped off the map. Rather, I think they refuse to see the world as it is. It is a dangerous place, especially for Israel. The preferred method of resolving grievances - negotiation, diplomacy etc...- simply can't work if one party to the dispute wants the other party to be dead.

Liberal fantasies don't help much in this situation.

Monday, March 21, 2011

No on RUSD Referenda

Last week I heard snippets of a radio interview with RUSD superintendent Dr. Shaw. I wasn't paying close attention to the interview but I do recall the repeated use of the word "reinvestment" as part of a pitch to pass the three upcoming referenda.

As a business owner, I know a bit about reinvestment. Most importantly, the word implies that you got a return on a previous investment such that there is something there to reinvest. Certainly this is not the case with Racine Unified. Obviously there is no money to reinvest, hence the need to pass the referenda. Re the educational return, again, the previous investments have not yielded results.

In my business as in all others small enough to fail, a series of bad investments would result in unpleasant consequences ending in the most unpleasant, bankruptcy.

As we consider RUSD's request for more money, we should ask ourselves whether we are indeed "reinvesting" or whether we are funding an operation that is making repeated bad "investments" that will ultimately bankrupt the "investors", ie, the Racine area.

Now suppose you agree to some extent that RUSD is a failure. Still, you wonder, what good will it do if we don't fund RUSD? Won't it be even worse than it is now? This is indeed the dilemma for the vast majority of people in Racine. They want a good school system, and they wouldn't mind paying for a good one, but they realize RUSD ain't it.

I have over the years grappled with exactly these questions. I have concluded that RUSD is simply unable to reform itself. It exists for the adults and their retirements and their health care. Real reform in education will not come from our public education "leaders." It will come from the public. It will come when we recognize that the lack of resources is not the problem at RUSD. It will come when we recognize that a government monopoly is not the way to provide critical services. It will come when RUSD no longer has a stranglehold on the education market in the Racine area.

Don't fund a losing operation that leads only to financial and educational bankruptcy. Ask instead for something better, like a school voucher system that will allow kids to attend private schools. Vote no on the latest series of school referenda.

Monday, March 14, 2011

He took er job

The Journal Times has a cool story about a middle school kid at Prairie who is helping other kids in math at the Racine Public Library.

We are in Racine, so look for a teachers union grievance any day now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Unified Kickback?

The Journal Times has a commentary on the Unified headquarters deal. The JT points out that Unified paid $3.8 million for property last sold in 2008 for $2.5 million and last assessed at $2.95 million in 2010. The JT rightly points out that it was not such a good deal.

I will go a step further. Nobody spending their own money would agree to such a deal. The only way it makes sense is if there is a kickback of some sort involved.

On the other hand, if any credible accusations of the sort (mine is pure speculation and conjecture, admittedly) were to surface, the folks at Unified have prepared a great defense. That is, they always squander the taxpayers money, nothing to see here.

No Shame

The Journal Times has a photo today of five returning Wisconsin state senators, arms raised in triumph in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Where are the crowds chanting "Shame... Shame... Shame" when you need them?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Progressive Values Explained

Piecing together the fragments of far left political orthodoxy can be a daunting task - don't try it at home. Leave that task to me.

When elections or school referenda come around, the left will stress the importance of voting. We must have an informed and active electorate to ensure the proper functioning of our democracy blah blah blah. We need to get kids involved in this process early, so we will take them out of school to urge people to vote, so long as they live in Democratic wards.

After the election, depending on the outcome, there may need to be retribution. Voting and political participation are good - see previous paragraph - unless we don't like the outcome. It is important to punish those who voted the wrong way. Let's boycott those businesses that gave money to the candidates that we don't like. This will demonstrate our love for working people.

This boycotting business can get a little tricky. Those Koch brothers have their greedy paws involved in virtually every business imaginable. Time to swear off butt wiping because a subsidiary of the Koch brothers owns a 12% stake in a paper company that subcontracts with a non-union trucking company that delivers to PDQ, whose owner gave money to a pro-marriage initiative in California... And lets not forget Culvers, M$I bank, their investors, Woodman's cause they are non -union, no wait they are good cause they are employee owned, Taco Bell doesn't provide a suitable pension for the Mexican tomato pickers and on and on.

It is important to bring these businesses to their knees so they have to lay off the workers that we love. And we don't have to worry about failing businesses because those damn businesses aren't paying any taxes anyway, we'll show em dammit. The whole private sector is just so greedy, we should join Michael Moore, declare their wealth a national resource and take it, proving once and for all our selflessness and generosity.

Now kids, today we are going to talk about bullying. We must learn to get along and appreciate, even celebrate, our differences. Bullying is wrong, unless you disagree with the political agenda of the teachers union. Then we try to destroy the business that employs your mother. Oh I know, she is a sweet woman, she votes the right, er, correct way and everything, but she works for a company whose Chief Financial Officer gave money to Scott Walker, so she will have to be sacrificed, for you kids of course.

So, to conclude this lesson on liberalism, we value voting, democratic participation, a socially just marketplace, workers, diversity, fairness and getting along with people who are different than us, unless our pension deal is threatened.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Da Man

Scott Walker is da man!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Poll Question

I have been paying fairly close attention to the Madison standoff. I have heard of numerous polls concerning whether unions should pay more for health care and pensions. I have heard of polls asking whether or not Governor Walker should limit collective bargaining for state employees. Both sides of the divide use the results to bolster their respective arguments.

I have yet to hear of a poll concerning the missing state senators. My own view is that this is not an inconsequential question. I can't imagine that leaving your job to prevent a vote would poll well with the vast majority of Americans.

I can understand why most of the media would avoid the question. But I can't fathom why Fox News wouldn't ask the question.

Anyway, I am just a tad puzzled by the lack of polling on this issue. My hope would be that it would poll terribly such that neither party would ever again try such a stunt.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

RUSD Spends $14,000 Per Student

The Journal Times has an article today headlined "Unified to lose $19.1 million." Scary stuff right? How can we possibly teach our children with per student spending that exceeds tuition at The Prairie School?

The JT article points out that Unified had a budget last year of $294 million. And over the years, student enrollment has held steady at about 21,000 students, that is if you trust the pizza party/principal head shaving on the roof/free ipod counting methods currently used to calculate student enrollment. Anyway, grab a calculator and divide the big number by the little number and you get $14,000 in spending per student. Shave $19 million off, recalculate and the per student spending exceeds $13,000. Prairie tuition is tad short of $13 K. And most private schools are far less expensive then Prairie.

These are numbers to keep in mind when the usual suspects cry foul and implore you to vote for increased spending referenda.

Friday, March 04, 2011

On Ideological Freedom

Like most people I suppose, I have been exposed to a mixed bag of political influences over the years. I have no recollection of political conversations at home as a child, but I do recall an emphasis on education (that I promptly ignored) and Catholicism that all of my siblings and I ignored. I went to high school at Prairie here in town and again have little recollection of political influences as little if any instruction pertained to politics. It was only in college that I began to concern myself a bit with politics and the political view was decidedly liberal. I was mentored by Catholic priest and former member of the US House of representatives, one Father Cornell, a Democrat. After college I got a master degree in school social work. I was a lefty but not particularly hard core. I was in my 30's before I before I began a gradual rethinking of my world view that accelerated when I happened upon a book by one Dr. Thomas Sowell who articulated clearly, methodically and logically many of the thoughts that were germinating in my head at the time.

I share this biographical information as it pertains to a conversation I had yesterday with a highly educated customer of mine. Her view, if I can summarize it accurately, is that I have returned philosophically to the "indoctrination" of my formative years. She had to be going on her way and our conversation ended amicably as always, but it did get me thinking.

Are we all just prisoners of a world view imposed on us during our formative years? I hardly think so. If I had been successfully indoctrinated, I would be a practicing Catholic professor somewhere. I have four siblings. Most of us have rejected Catholicism to one degree or another. We have absorbed I think the value of education. And most of us are left of center with one notable exception. Sounds like a thoroughly botched indoctrination job by my parents!

My own view is that I am an adult who has carefully considered the many influences that I have been exposed to over the years, rejecting some, keeping others and discovering entirely new ones on my own. What a sad existence to believe that you have no free will and that you are merely a slave of your upbringing.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

When Will It End Mr. President?

"When will it end?" The Journal Times asks this question today in their print edition, referring, of course, to the political standoff in Madison.

The simple answer to the question is that it will end when the state senators who have left their jobs return to them. But it ain't that simple.

I have noticed the nearly complete lack of criticism of the fleeing lawmakers by prominent national Democrats. Not a senator, not a house member, not Maureen Dowd, or Paul Krugman, or even the sports guy turned politico who used to work at MSNBC, have criticized the absent senators. And most importantly, President Obama too, has been silent on the matter.

Now it is not as though these folks aren't paying attention or that they are too timid to weigh in on a contentious political matters. President Obama has weighed in publicly at least twice in support of the government unions.

What to make of the silence from President Obama on down concerning the fleeing 14 state senators? Of lesser importance, fleeing your job probably doesn't poll well with Americans. Of great importance, President Obama AGREES with the tactic. If he didn't, he would say so, if not publicly then behind the scenes. And if he said so, would all fourteen Democratic state senators defy pressure from the President of the United States? Hell no!

For over two hundred years, we have decided matters of great importance through an established political process. We vote for representatives who in turn decide important matters with input, often contentious and raucous, from anyone who wants to weigh in. Admittedly, the governing bodies in power of both parties will sometimes use their majorities to rush things through the system to their advantage. The process can be ugly but we have tended to agree that it beats all other alternatives. And in the end, there is a vote, the matter is decided. If you lose, you resolve to convince voters to toss the other guys out of office at the next election.

But now the Democratic Party, from President Obama on down, is changing the way we decide matters. If we don't like how the vote will go down, we flee to prevent a vote. We break the established rules. We replace a voting process with protesters. It is an ends justifies the means approach to governing and it is ominous for our country. And publicly at least it has the tacit approval of the President of the United States.

Now back to the "when will it end" question. I don't know, but it could and should end with President Obama saying something like:

I support unions and collective bargaining. I am discouraged that the Republican Party of Wisconsin has the votes to diminish the collective bargaining powers of the state workers unions. As important as collective bargaining rights are, there is something of much greater importance. Voting. It is how we decide matters here in America. The state senators who have fled the state need to return and do their job representing their constituents. If they don't like the result of that vote, they can work hard to convince the people of Wisconsin to move in another direction. But the people of Wisconsin recently voted for Governor Scott Walker and he has the votes to move in a direction that you may not like. But as I like to say, elections have consequences.

Like I said, this is how the standoff could and should end. But it won't, because President Obama apparently agrees with tactics that undermine 200 plus years of political tradition in our country.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Economic Fantasies of the Left

From Kay at Blue racine: Well, I don't get your logic then. You want people to make less money so you can pay less in taxes and then those people will spend less in stores like yours and that benefits you how? I'm going to take a wild leap here and guess your college degree wasn't in accounting or basic economics type of areas?

So according to Kay, I should be opposed to Governor Walkers budget because it would be in my financial interest to do so. Notice the assumption that financial self interest should be the motivating factor here, that we should use the political process to get what we can get. And they call us greedy and selfish.

Now on to the economics. Kay's assumption is that if the government pays people more they will spend more, like at my store, and everything will be peachy. There is no apparent consideration of where the money comes from to pay the government union folks the additional money.

I wish Kay's economic illiteracy was the exception on the left. Unfortunately, this thinking is the norm in the party, trickling down to Kay from President Obama.

I have read somewhere or other that a bad economist will look only at all the wonderful things you can do with money, like ensure a fine standard of living for public employees. A good economist will consider the other potential uses of said money. Like Kay, the left only considers one side of the equation.

In contrast, I have to look a bit deeper. Where does the money come from to pay greater than the market rate for public employees? Well it comes from the profit making sector of the economy, ie the private sector. What will happen if too much money is pulled from the private sector? The private sector will have less money available to pay salaries or reinvest in other profitable, that is, taxable ventures.

Obviously there are a lot more problems with the Kay/Democrat economic theory. To name a few, there is a temptation to tax the hell out of the rich/most productive as though that would have no consequences on the economy. Or to simply print more money and pretend it retains its value - reality be damned. Or to borrow and keep pushing the problem down the road as though our creditors will keep lending and forget to collect.

It is true Kay, I don't have a degree in economics or accounting. But I do have a functioning brain and I can observe the obvious. The lefts fantasy economic theories have been tried repeatedly and have failed repeatedly throughout history. And they are failing here again.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mystery Money

This one is just too juicy to leave in the comments section. Sean is claiming that taxpayers pay nothing towards government union pensions, citing an article in Forbes.

Here is what he had to say: Denis, the workers have ALREADY AGREED to the PAYCUTS. Forbes: Wisconsin Lie Exposed - Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing to Employee Pensions:

Lets get this party started Sean. Where does the pension money come from?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What A Bargain!

The scene: Government union guy sees attractive gal.

Government union guy: Hey good looking, how about a date, maybe a movie, some drinks and then, who knows...

Attractive gal: Get lost.

GUG: Hey wait a minute, don't just walk away. We can work this out.

AG: What the" %%$^&" is there to work out. Leave me alone.

GUG: You are being unreasonable. I have rights you know.

AG: Rights?

GUG: Ya, bargaining rights. Look, perhaps we started our relationship off on the wrong foot. Let's start over.

AG: Relationship? We have no relationship. Just go away.

GUG: Your not negotiating in good faith. Not even a counteroffer, like..... uh, coffee and a walk on the beach.

AG: Final offer, a kick in the groin.

GUG: Now you are just being unreasonable, denying my rights. Look, I just want to sit down and work out our differences. It would be a shame if we had to go to arbitration. That might not work out so well for ya. I'm just sayin.

AG: Arbitration?

GUG: Ya, I'd hate to go that route. I still think we can work this out. But if you continue to be unreasonable, well, an arbitrator will choose between our two final offers.

I could go on, but I will stop and explain things so Sean will understand. The exchange above is fictitious, false, made up, not true, and entirely a figment of my imagination. But is an attempt to illustrate the nonsense that is the "right" to negotiate. Whether it is an innocent woman, a business, a union, or our elected representatives, negotiations should only take place if both sides want to negotiate. What about consent? Anyone forced to negotiate is not free.

But hey, if bargaining is inevitable, lay back and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Party of Go

I have heard Dems called fleebaggers. How about this one: The party of go.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On No Bid Union Contracts

Apparently Governor Walker has something in the budget allowing for some no bid contracts and the left is up in arms. On this score I would agree with the lefties as I am no fan of no bid contracts. However.....

When was the last time a government union was subjected to a competitive bid for their services? Union contracts are always no bid.

If it is wrong (and it is) for government to sell power plants without competitive bidding, wouldn't it also be wrong to purchase labor without competitive bidding?

How about a little consistency. Let us put an end to all no bid contracts.

Democrats to the Rescue

Imagine if their were a taxpayers union that was part of the negotiations for state services, tax rates, and labor contracts. And that they were allowed to deduct money automatically from all the citizens of State of Wisconsin, even those who disagreed with their message and agenda. At first this union did a fair job looking out for the taxpayers, but over the years things began to change. They gradually decided to throw their weight behind only one political party, the Republicans. They gave large quantities of cash to elect Republicans such that it became obvious that you needed the support of the taxpayers union even to think about running for office. And if you ever bucked the taxpayers union in any way, you could forget about reelection. Now suppose that the leaders of the taxpayers union became so powerful and so self interested that they began to really harm the state and the citizens they purported to serve. And that over the years they had gained such influence with the media that their claims that "its for the taxpayer" were never challenged and the health of the taxpayer never really considered. And just when the state was nearing insolvency, the states citizens threw out the Republican Party and elected Democrats to step in to restore fiscal sanity. After proposing modest changes to curb the power of the taxpayers union/Republican Party and pave the way for a more responsible state apparatus, the taxpayers union started to foment unrest in the state capitol. More ominously, they decided to forgo the democratic process that had worked so well for them in the past. They ordered their pawns in the Republican Party to break the law, flee the state, and disrupt procedure in Madison, creating chaos all along.

I may have an additional chapter to this story that I hope does not include caving to the demands of the taxpayers union.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Democratic Governance at Stake

My son went to school this week. All week. His teachers were there too. All of them. This has been going on week after week and year after year.

This continuity and predictability would not ordinarily be worthy of comment. But this has not been an ordinary week.

As we all know, thousands of public school teachers throughout the state left their jobs this week to join a protest. Meanwhile, thousands of private school teachers did their jobs this week.

Those private school teachers don't make as much money as their public school counterparts. Their health care plans are nowhere near as lavish. Neither are their pensions, assuming they even have them. But they showed up for work this week.

What's more, they seldom seem miserable or disgruntled to me. Now I don't think for a second that all is blissful behind the scenes of your average private school. Certainly some teachers feel that they should be getting more pay or better benefits. Some may think they are not recognized properly for their accomplishments. Some in management might be buffoons. Always there are problems and challenges.

The difference between the public sector and the private sector is how these problems are handled. At my sons school, they are handled one at a time and behind the scenes, with, I suspect, a guiding document such as policy manual. Egregious departures from policy would leave either party, management or labor, to answer to a board of directors.

The system seems to work pretty well. Despite not being able to offer as much money, benefits, or job protections as their public school counterparts, the school is always well staffed with dedicated professionals. Some teachers move on, some are nudged along, and some pushed, but a large number seem to stay for a long time, an indicator of general contentedness in my view. The same is true of the administrators.

At the end of the day, all the parties involved, and that includes parents and students, are working toward a common goal of educating children. If teachers don't perform, they improve or move on. If children don't study or behave adequately, they improve or move on. If administration makes too many poor decisions, parents send their children to another school.

There is a proper balance of power between the parties involved, without which the school would fail. If management gained enough power, for example, to pay themselves lavishly, tuition would increase beyond the level acceptable to parents, and they would stop paying. If any of the interested parties were empowered sufficiently to put their interests above the others and to the detriment of the mission, the school would decline and ultimately collapse.

Decline is well under way at our public schools and collapse may not be far in the offing. The reason is an imbalance of power and insufficient means to check said power.

Do parents have the power to reform public schools? In a word, no. At the end of the day, the school will still be in operation because their funding source is Madison, not parents. The school system needs to keep politicians happy. Politicians are kept happy with campaign contributions.

Does administration have the power to reform public schools? No. Obviously and at a minimum, reforming a school system would require an efficient way to remove elements detrimental to the mission of educating students. No such efficient means exists because of the successful collaboration between and the teachers union and politicians.

The school system simply can't reform itself. The balance of power is skewed heavily in favor of the teachers union. Parents are powerless. Administration is powerless and co-opted in any case by the teachers union agenda. The same is true of school boards. And arguably, especially evident this week, the Democratic party itself is a de facto arm of the teachers union.

But alas, the public at large can act as a check on the power of the teachers union and their allies. We have elections for just this purpose, among others. As it happens, we recently did have an election. The people of Wisconsin voted. They voted to empower the Republicans. Said Republicans are attempting to curb some of the power of government unions. They are doing so via the powers established by the people of Wisconsin and the constitution that we enacted. In short, they are making laws based on a democratic process agreed upon by all Wisconsinites.

All Wisconsinites...... well, except for the government unions and their allies on the extreme left. Unhappy with the results of an election and impending changes, they have enlisted their pawns, Democratic state senators, to flee the state and avoid a legitimate debate and vote on a critical matter to the state and, it now seems, our nation.

At issue for Wisconsin and indeed our country is nothing less than the survival of our system of governance. Will we keep our established system of governance or will it be government by mob rule?

I am hopeful that our Republicans have the strength and courage to withstand the pressures of the mob and to vote to curb the powers of the government unions, assuming that we still adhere to old fashioned notions like voting.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just Askin

I know a handful of fiscally conservative tea party types who are supporting Alderman Eric Marcus for mayor. Though I like his tenacity on some issues and that he seems to be despised by many on the council, I have not yet sipped the Kool-Aid. I have a few concerns but my main one is that he seems to be courting both tea party folks AND the municipal unions. Events in Madison this week suggest a wee bit of philosophic difference between these constituencies.

At some point Marcus will have to favor one group and disappoint the other. Last night at the city council was a perfect example. Marcus voted with the majority in support of a new contract for parks and public works employees to the delight I am sure of his new friends, Penny and Scott Sharp, the latter being president of local 67.

I have given my share of grief to Alderman Greg Helding in recent years, and deservedly so, but I commend him on his dissenting vote and this comment found in the Journal Times: "I have a feeling when we go to the state they will tell us, 'Well, we tried to help you out but you guys passed the contract that you didn't have to.'" Aldermen Maack, Wisneski, and Weidner also voted no citing "looming state cuts, decreasing property values and the burden on taxpayers..."

Our Republican lawmakers are in Madison in a fight to the death with state employees unions and for taxpayers. I am as proud of them as a first lady of her country, so I am more than a little perplexed that small government types are rallying behind Alderman Marcus. If any can explain the attraction, have at it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Limiting Collective Bargaining, Part 2

A comment I made to Sean concerning the 50% of teachers who quit the profession within five years:

Sean, I don't doubt the truth of your non-anecdotal fact about teachers quitting within five years. But let us think it through a bit. Since it is likely you can't, I will do it for you. Compensation for teachers in the public sector is back loaded. The payoff really comes later after many years of service. Initially, salaries are modest. But after a while, teachers cash in with higher salaries, the better jobs, pensions and free health care for life in many cases. So young teachers have to make a choice within a few years. Will I accept a relatively raw deal now for a big payoff years down the road? Some will, while the truly talented will in many cases move on to other professions where their value is not defined by the passage of time. It would be interesting to see how many teachers leave after they are well down that road. While many have probably quit in effect, they muddle through, bide their time and await the payoff. Not exactly the best system to secure great teachers, but what would you expect from collective bargaining?

On Limiting Collective Bargaining Power

So it seems that many teachers throughout the state will not show up for work today. Instead, they will be protesting in Madison over a proposal that would limit their collective bargaining power.

Some teachers will use personal days while others will just call in sick. In Racine today the district is making plans to deal with an unusual number of teacher absences. In Madison, teachers are planning a district wide coordinated absence so they can protest.

My guess is that your average teachers collective bargaining agreement is about the size of a federal health care bill. But apparently they have secured personal days such that they can skip school and protest while still being paid by Wisconsin taxpayers. In Madison, teachers seemingly feel confident that they can walk off the job without consequences. The union and their collectively bargained contract has their back.

In the real world, people can't just walk off the job without being fired or at least disciplined. And that is how it should be. But the teachers union, via collective bargaining, have won concessions that would (and have) destroyed private sector businesses. And the concessions they have won have already done serious damage to our education system while threatening the solvency of our state.

Who would have thought that teachers, by walking off the job, would present the best argument yet for limiting their collective bargaining power.

Monday, February 14, 2011

On Government Employees and Lambs

We are about to witness a huge upsurge of hysteria over Governor Walkers attempts to limit the power of state employees and their unions. So I began to ponder the purpose of unions and to what extent government employees should even need one.

My understanding is that unions formed initially in the private sector. Through a collective with a looming threat of strikes, unions sought to win a greater share of profits, improve working conditions etc.... when negotiating with ownership.

Public sector unionization lacks some key features of their private sector counterparts.

For starters, there is not a worker/owner dynamic battling with each other over profits. Rather than battling over a finite amount of money, ie profits, generated from the efforts of both parties, the government and government unions are battling over a huge and nearly limitless amount of money generated by OTHER people's efforts. This is a recipe for disaster for the other people.

Secondly, where is the worker vs owner dynamic with a government union? Are government workers mere employees or are they the government? In truth I suppose they are a mix of the two. To the extent that they are the government, it sort of begs the question: Why does government need to negotiate with itself?

Thirdly, is government an owner? As an advocate for small government, it is beginning to feel that way to me, but that is a subject for another day. Most of us would like to think that we, as in all of us, own or are in charge of government. And that would include public employees. As "owners," why would they need to negotiate with themselves?

Lets face it, there are three separate parties involved here with three separate goals. Public sector employees want whatever they can get. Elected officials want to be reelected. The rest of us want services delivered efficiently and cost effectively.

Only two of these parties are at the negotiating table. It reminds me a little of the quip about two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. The difference being in our case as lambs that we don't even get a vote.

Yes, I know, the elected officials are there to represent us. But they are also there to represent government employees, also citizens deserving of representation. Since the goals and objectives of government employees and the lambs are rather different, this creates an unresolvable conflict for our representatives.

Furthermore, we mustn't forget the objectives of government officials. They want to get reelected. Getting reelected is not so easy when you drive a hard bargain with a large, powerful and political force such as government employees. The temptation surely is there to appease them at the expense of the lambs.

All of which leaves us with a growing government and a shrinking private sector, brought on by an unnecessary, unfair and ultimately self destructive imbalance of power which favors government employees over regular citizens. It is time to change this formula.

This is the opinion of one lamb with no vote. Thank you Governor Walker for looking out for me.