Public employee unions show their true face

February 18, 2011

Forget the overheated rhetoric and signs comparing democratically elected governors and legislators to Hitler and rapists. Forget the spoiled-brat demands and Athens-style protests for the unquestioned continuation of gold-plated benefits that most private-sector workers would give their eye teeth for.  You want to know just how much of a threat to democracy, representative government, and the general safety public-employee unions can be when threatened?

Try to take away their goodies, and they’ll go after your mother:

Idaho has a “superintendent of public instruction,” and his name is Tom Luna. He has proposed some measures that the teachers’ union doesn’t like, at all. And his opponents have made sure that he feels good and threatened.

Someone went to his mother’s house — his mother’s. Someone slashed his tires and spray-painted a threat onto the door. As reported in this article, Luna has said, “Family and personal property are off-limits. You don’t cross that line . . .”

Oh, yes, you do. At least some do. I will repeat what I have already said this morning: I don’t want to hear from the Left about “civility” for the rest of my life.

Neither “civility” nor “democracy.” And this is in deep-Red Idaho!

This isn’t just (or at all) a fight over benefits or economics; this is a struggle over who has power — the elected representatives of the people or union bosses and their paid-for allies in the Democratic Party. Right now it’s just Idaho, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana, but the battles here and, inevitably, in other states will determine who has that power. The Left has drawn such hard lines already against any reform that the governors can’t afford to back down, lest they let Labor know the elected representatives of the people  can be intimidated through intransigence and thuggery. It’s a sad thing for decent union members who would likely have accepted reasonable compromise if the situation had been honestly explained to them, but their leaders have lead them into a battle that forces the governors to break the unions in order to keep faith with their voters — the taxpayers who are the public employees’ real bosses.

More than being about fiscal soundness, this is a battle between representative democracy and corporatism.

Regarding the President shameful insertion of himself into what is purely a matter for state governments, Matt Welch at Reason cuts through the bull and asks “Is this how a President should act?

I have written in the past about how libertarians are pretty lonely in the political scheme of things in terms of constantly being challenged to defend themselves against the “logical conclusion” of their philosophy. But I think it’s time to amend that. We are witnessing the logical conclusion of the Democratic Party’s philosophy, and it is this: Your tax dollars exist to make public sector unions happy. When we run out of other people’s money to pay for those contracts and promises (most of which are negotiated outside of public view, often between union officials and the politicians that union officials helped elect), then we just need to raise taxes to cover a shortfall that is obviously Wall Street’s fault. Anyone who doesn’t agree is a bully, and might just bear an uncanny resemblance to Hitler.

The president’s heavy-handed involvement, along with House Republicans’ refusal to sign off on any new bailout of the states, means that this may very well be America’s biggest and most widespread political fight in 2011. It’s a cage match to determine first dibs on a shrinking pie. A clarifying moment.

And that clarity will not work to the unions’ benefit. The public is on to their racket.

Break them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Advertisements

Carly Fiorina: gender is more important than merit

January 22, 2010

I’m a great admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King, and particularly of one statement of his that crystallizes what politics in America should be:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

And, I think we can all agree, that should include gender, too.

Trouble is, Carly Fiorina doesn’t agree. Listen to this:

In other words, it’s more important that half or more of the elected officials of our government be women, rather than the most qualified person or the person preferred by the electorate regardless of gender. To Carly Fiorina, who has presented herself as a conservative for the Republican nomination for US senator from California, it is more important to represent demographic groups than individual citizens. This is nothing less than identity politics, and it is disturbing to say the least that someone who positions herself as a conservative running for office in a nation founded on the worth of the individual would advocate this. It is the fool’s path to a quota system and corporatism, something I would expect from Obama and the progressives who dominate the Democratic Party, not a Republican.

Tell me, Carly, since California is more than 30% Catholic, will our government be truly representative only when one-third of the legislature is Catholic? If it climbs to 40%, is our government no longer representative, even though those assemblymen and senators were duly elected by the people? And what about overlap between groups? If a legislator is a Black Catholic lesbian, in which group do you put them to determine “true representation?” Or is this the ultimate in efficiency, three groups for one seat?

How about we treat people as individuals, judging them by their deeds and the content of their character, and not by the meaningless accidents of biology?

Thankfully, California Republicans have a much better choice, a candidate who understands our founding principles: Chuck DeVore.

(Source: Red State. There’s a second audio from the same event in which Fiorina praises a observation made by Reverend Jesse Jackson. The post’s author wants us to be outraged by this. Well, I’m not. Don’t get me wrong: I think Jackson is a con artist, a race-baiter, an extortionist, and an overall slime of a human being, but there wasn’t anything particularly appalling in the statement Fiorina quoted. In fact, the real problem is that it was utterly vapid, a banal slogan pretending to be perceptive insight, something that Jackson specializes in. That Fiorina quoted it as wisdom is not evidence of her closet lefty-ism, but of her political shallowness. That’s the problem.)

UPDATE: I missed this earlier, but Sister Toldjah points to an article from the San Jose Mercury News about Carly’s foot-in-mouth moment, including a response from Chuck DeVore. More from Michelle Malkin.


Christmas for the insurance companies

December 27, 2009

Nate Beeler on the corporatist deal cut on the Senate version of health care reform:

I’d have put Harry Reid in Obama’s place, but the point is well-taken: Big Business sells out to support Big Government’s policies in return for guaranteed profits, in this case the individual mandate that requires persons to buy a private insurance policy whether they want it or not. They’re not owned by the government, but they are an arm of it, nonetheless.  It’s the fascist bargain.

And, no, I’m not calling Obama or Reid jackbooted fascists. But the progressive policies they’re pursuing are part of an ideological continuum on the Left that runs from a relatively mild Progressivism through Fascist and Communist totalitarianism, all of which subordinates the individual to the State and assumes that the State is the arbiter of the public good. Theirs is a fascism with a smile and a warm hug, not goosesteps and truncheons. In short, it’s a liberal fascism.

You can follow Nate Beeler’s cartoons at The Washington Examiner.


Brief candle?

October 6, 2009

When the electorate gave control of Congress to the Democrats in 2006 and then the White House in 2008, everyone from the most elite talking head on TV to the local bus driver had their reasons: dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq; Republican corruption; a sense (among their base) that the Republicans had forgotten why they were elected; and even just not liking Dubya much anymore. Whatever the truth, the fact is that the voters were tired of the Rs and wanted to give the car keys to the Ds.

The Democrats seem to have interpreted this as a fundamental shift of the electorate away from free-market capitalism toward a desire for much greater involvement by the state in the economy and everyday lives, a willingness to accept European-style social democracy. Thus the push for a state takeover of large sectors of the economy (two major auto companies, health care), massive Keynesian stimulus spending funded by public debt and (likely) massive taxation, corporatist-style interweaving of government, big business, and labor, and extensive regulatory control over anything that might have to do with the environment (cap and trade).

They likely guessed wrong.

Byron York reports on a Gallup survey that shows Americans by a large margin want government to promote traditional values over “no values:”

Gallup’s question was simple: “Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?” In the new poll, taken in the first days of September, 53 percent of respondents say they want the government to promote traditional values, while 42 percent say they do not want the government to favor any particular set of values. Five percent do not have an opinion.
The results are a significant change from recent years. For most of the last two decades, a majority of people have been in favor of the government promoting traditional values. But that number began to decline in 2005, and the number of people who believe the government should not favor any particular set of values began to rise. Last September, when Gallup asked the same question, the public was split down the middle on the issue, 48 percent to 48 percent. Now, opinion has rather abruptly gone back to the old position, and there’s an 11-point gap between the two, in favor of traditional values.

Gallup’s question was simple: “Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?” In the new poll, taken in the first days of September, 53 percent of respondents say they want the government to promote traditional values, while 42 percent say they do not want the government to favor any particular set of values. Five percent do not have an opinion.

The results are a significant change from recent years. For most of the last two decades, a majority of people have been in favor of the government promoting traditional values. But that number began to decline in 2005, and the number of people who believe the government should not favor any particular set of values began to rise. Last September, when Gallup asked the same question, the public was split down the middle on the issue, 48 percent to 48 percent. Now, opinion has rather abruptly gone back to the old position, and there’s an 11-point gap between the two, in favor of traditional values.

The question the survey doesn’t answer, of course, is what are those “traditional values.” According to Gallup, however, the pattern of responses “…suggest(s) that respondents understand traditional values to be those generally favored by the Republican party.”

That’s one more indicator that the Democrats are heading for a very bad fall in the 2010 elections, because the survey shows a huge shift among self-described independents and moderates:

But it is the turnaround among independents — Gallup also found similar numbers among people who called themselves moderates — that put a screeching halt to the shift that had been taking place in the last few years. “Americans’ views of the proper government role in promoting traditional values had moved in a more liberal direction since 2005, to the point that last year, as many said the government should not promote traditional values as said it should,” Gallup writes. “If that trend had continued, 2009 would have marked the first time Gallup found more Americans preferring that the government refrain from actively promoting traditional values. Instead, Americans’ attitudes reverted to a more conservative point of view on the matter. Now, Americans favor the government’s promoting traditional values by an 11-point margin, similar to the double-digit margins favoring that view through much of the prior two decades.”

To me, this shows that the Democrats badly misread their mandate from 2006 and, especially, 2008. Recall the situation in late August, 2008,  before the financial crack up and panic of September: McCain had come out of the Republican convention with what looked like a solid 3-5% lead, based on the popularity of his selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate and the Obama campaign’s summer ego-trip that turned many voters off. Then came the financial crisis, and the American public did what it often does in such times: it voted the current bums out of office, replacing them with the other bums and giving the new crowd one mission – make us prosperous again. It was not a mandate to subvert individual liberty and remake society into a European social democracy.

Hence the shifting numbers as voters realize they aren’t getting what they voted for. (In fact, they’re getting everything but, including a “stimulus” program that’s been a huge, debt-accumulating failure.) And thus, too, we see the Democrats’ unseemly haste to ram through all these bills before they can be read and analyzed (or even written) before the public puts on the brakes. They know they misunderstood their mandate and that their time is very limited; they need their long-cherished program passed soon, so that the inertia will be against undoing it.

If this poll is correct, their fears seem justified. By November, 2010, this progressive moment could well turn out to have the lifespan of a candle left out in a hurricane.


More on ObamaCare and individual insurance

July 23, 2009

I wrote earlier about what looked like a provision in the proposed health care reform bill to kill the private medical insurance market by banning the sale of new policies after the government plan comes into effect.  This was based on a  reading of the bill by the staff at Investor’s Business Daily. Others disagreed somewhat.

Philip Klein at American Spectator has taken a closer look at the bill and seems to have figured what’s really intended: it’s not that ObamaCare will ban new private insurance, it just bans the private market in insurance:

IBD followed up with a bit more nuanced editorial explaining that private insurers would still be able to offer individual insurance, but only through a new government-run exchange that would impose heavy regulations on participating insurers. At the prompting of our dilligent intern Molly O’Connor, I looked a bit further into the issue. This morning, I was able to independently confirm the IBD editorial with several Republican staffers on the Ways and Means committee. And if that doesn’t convince you, especially telling is a video clip (see below), in which Rep. Paul Ryan poses the question of individual private insurance to Cybele Bjorklund, who is the Democrats’ staff director on the Health Subcommittee that helped author the bill. While existing plans would be grandfathered in, Bjorklund responds that insurers “cannot create new policies outside of that window, outside of the exchange, but they can choose to operate in the exchange.”

In other words, private insurance may only be offered via a government-controlled market. And if the government provides the only market, it can also control the price and the breadth of offerings. It doesn’t have to own the insurance industry outright as long as that industry serves government ends, the essence of liberal fascist or corporatist economic policy.

It amazes me that the administration and the progressives in Congress insist on statist solutions straight out of the mid-20th century, which have been shown not to work as well as a free or mostly free market, when the tide of the world is still moving against collectivism.

Commanding the uncontrollable didn’t work for King Canute, either.


We don’t need no steenking bailout!

July 23, 2009

Unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford refused the crack turned down the federal bailout money. Unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford managed to adapt and stay out of bankruptcy court and didn’t need President Obama to rip off bondholders.

And, unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford has managed to turn a profit. Imagine that.

Helped by a lightened debt load, Ford Motor Co. posted a surprise second-quarter profit of $2.8 billion Thursday, following the worst loss in company history a year earlier. Shares rose more than 6 percent in morning trading.

The net profit ends a string of four straight quarterly losses for the nation’s second-largest automaker, which has gained U.S. market share at the expense of crosstown rivals Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co., both of which spent time under bankruptcy court supervision. Ford last went into the black in the first quarter of 2008, with net profit of $70 million.

However, excluding its debt reduction and other items, Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford would have reported a quarterly loss, though smaller than Wall Street expected.

Okay, so GAAP accounting rules helped create the profit. Ignore them. Even the smaller-than-expected loss is a good sign, often the first in a genuine turnaround.

It’s also a sign that sound business practices and making cars people want to buy is better than becoming Congressional Motors: