Archive for June, 2012

June 25, 2012

Study: More Than Half a Trillion Dollars Spent on Welfare But Poverty Levels Unaffected

“The vast majority of current programs are focused on making poverty more comfortable … rather than giving people the tools that will help them escape poverty.”

EDITORS NOTE: Please Read the “Cycle of Marx” which suggests a direct correlation between the size of government and the number of people in poverty and dependent on government. The conclusion is this is good for Democrats and bad for Republicans.

The federal government is not making much headway reducing poverty despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars, according to a study by the libertarian Cato Institute.

Despite an unprecedented increase in federal anti-poverty spending, the national poverty rate has not declined, the study finds.

“[S]ince President Obama took office [in January 2009], federal welfare spending has increased by 41 percent, more than $193 billion per year,” the study says.

Federal welfare spending in fiscal year 2011 totaled $668 billion, spread out over 126 programs, while the poverty rate that remains high at 15.1 percent, roughly where it was in 1965, when President Johnson declared a federal War on Poverty.

In 1966, the first year after Johnson declared war on poverty, the national poverty rate was 14.7 percent, according to Census Bureau figures. Over time, the poverty rate has fluctuated in a narrow range between 11 and 15 percent, only falling into the 11 percent range for a few years in the late 1970’s.

The federal poverty rate is the percentage of the population below the federal poverty threshold, which varies based on family size.

While the study concedes that some of the increased spending under Obama is a result of the recession and the counter-cyclical nature of anti-poverty programs, it also finds that some of the increase is deliberate, with the government having expanded eligibility for welfare programs.

In fiscal year 2008, anti-poverty spending was $475 billion. In fiscal year 2009, when Obama took office, it had risen to $590 billion.

[read more] Study: More Than Half a Trillion Dollars Spent on Welfare But Poverty Levels Unaffected | CNSNews.com.

June 22, 2012

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Union Rhetoric

After losing the Battle of Wisconsin, union members flee in droves and frantic union apologists resort to melodrama.

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Since losing the recall election in Wisconsin two weeks ago, it seems that there has been more than the usual lying, distortion and hyperbole coming from union bosses and their fellow travelers. Perhaps the most egregious example comes from Timothy Noah, a senior editor at the New Republic. In Praise of Public Employee Unions is so amazingly and transparently bad that it should be a prime example in a book on persuasive writing    about how not to make an argument. His main point is that the new school superintendent in Dallas is making $300,000 a year and that’s just too darn much. Maybe he’s right, but he has to distort the facts to make his point. He writes that teachers in Dallas, represented by the American Federation of Teachers, “bump along with an average salary of about $56,000. That’s nearly 20 percent below the average household income in the U.S. ($67,530).”

Please notice he is comparing a single teacher’s salary to average household income, which is the sum total made by all people living in the same house. He also doesn’t acknowledge that a teacher works only 180 days per year (about 25 percent less than the average worker) leaving the teacher plenty of time to work a second or summer job to enhance his or her income. He also doesn’t factor in that teachers have more generous health and pension benefits than those who work in the private sector.

An in-depth study from AEI/Heritage, released late last year sums up the situation well, finding that:

Workers who switch from non-teaching jobs to teaching jobs receive a wage increase of roughly 9 percent. Teachers who change to non-teaching jobs, on the other hand, see their wages decrease by roughly 3 percent. This is the opposite of what one would expect if teachers were underpaid.

Most teachers accrue generous retiree health benefits as they work, but retiree health care is excluded from Bureau of Labor Statistics benefits data and thus frequently overlooked. While rarely offered in the private sector, retiree health coverage for teachers is worth roughly an additional 10 percent of wages

Job security for teachers is considerably greater than in comparable professions. Using a model to calculate the welfare value of job security, we find that job security for typical teachers is worth about an extra 1 percent of wages, rising to 8.6 percent when considering that extra job security protects a premium paid in terms of salaries and benefits.

We conclude that public-school teacher salaries are comparable to those paid to similarly skilled private sector workers, but that more generous fringe benefits for public-school teachers, including greater job security, make total compensation 52 percent greater than fair market levels, equivalent to more than $120 billion overcharged to taxpayers each year.

In a final attempt to make his case, Noah careens into laughable hyperbole.

Being a teacher is back-breakingly difficult work. It is also extremely important work.

No, Mr. Noah, working in a coal mine is backbreaking. Tiling a roof is backbreaking. Teaching is certainly challenging and important work, but it is hardly backbreaking.

How do other public employees do compared to private sector workers? Via Reason, we learn that in Illinois, for example,

State workers from the metro-east averaged $61,372 last year.

How do these numbers stack up against pay for the rest of Illinois? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, per capita income for Illinois residents rang in at $28,782 in 2010. Median household income came to $55,735. 

More hysteria from Steve Mikulan. In Unions: Our Last, Best and Final Hope, he is practically reduced to tears about labor union abandonment, especially by liberals. He writes,

…liberals – and even union members – seem to be abandoning and undermining labor. We only have to look at the dismal results of the Wisconsin recall election to see the evidence. There, National Public Radio and others report, exit polls revealed that 38 percent of union-household voters cast ballots to retain the state’s paranoiacally anti-labor governor, Scott Walker. Why this disconnect?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, while the private sector had a rapidly diminishing unionization rate of 6.9 percent, the public sector came in at a still healthy 37 percent. But whatever the numbers, Mikulan is right – the decline of unionization will continue as more and more workers realize that unions don’t have much to offer them. The 38 percent that voted for the “paranoiacally anti-labor governor” probably know that union hegemony wrecks economies – hence, no “disconnect.” Also, Mr. Mikulan, please keep in mind that in 27 of our 50 states and Washington D.C. workers have to pay a union if they want to be employed in many fields. If the unions are as beneficial as you say they are, why must they force workers to join them?

After the June 5th debacle, National Education Association Dennis Van Roekel took to TV and talk radio grousing about the loss.

These millionaire donors, empowered by the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, have made a mockery of democracy and nearly drowned out the voices of working families in Wisconsin.

Mockery of democracy? Drowning out voices? Mr. Van Roekel, your histrionics have been duly noted and you are dead wrong about Citizens United. As law professor Michael McConnell points out,

In a sense, Citizens United did have an important effect on the Wisconsin election. But the effect was almost exactly the opposite of what many pundits imply.

Labor unions poured money into the state to recall Mr. Walker. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the NEA (National Education Association), the nation’s largest teachers union, spent at least $1 million. Its smaller union rival, the AFT (American Federation of Teachers), spent an additional $350,000. Two other unions, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union, which has more than one million government workers) and Afscme (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), spent another $2 million. Little or none of these independent expenditures endorsing a candidate would have been legal under federal law before (the Supreme Court decision on) Citizens United.

By contrast, the large spenders on behalf of Mr. Walker were mostly individuals. According to the Center for Public Integrity, these included Diane Hendricks, Wisconsin’s wealthiest businesswoman, who spent over half a million dollars on his behalf; Bob J. Perry, a Texas home builder, who spent almost half a million; and well-known political contributors such as casino operator Sheldon Adelson and former Amway CEO Dick DeVos, who kicked in a quarter-million dollars each. Businessman David Koch gave $1 million to the Republic Governors Association, which spent $4 million on the Wisconsin race.

These donations have nothing to do with Citizens United. Individuals have been free to make unlimited independent expenditures in support of candidates since the Supreme Court case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976).

Last, and certainly not least, there is Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, who never misses an opportunity to blame every malaise known to mankind on poverty. So of course, he wants to make unionism a civil rights issue. He proclaims,

In order to address our society’s deepening class inequalities, it is time to extend antidiscrimination protections to workers of all races trying to join a union and become members of the middle-class.

This is a nonsensical statement. No one of any race suffers discrimination for joining a union. But then again, maybe Mr. Kahlenberg is on to something. Perhaps there is a civil rights angle to all this. I propose that we pass a national right-to-work law giving all workers a choice as to whether or not they join a union. By doing so, we’d learn how many workers would belong voluntarily. And if Wisconsin is any measure, the unions’ desperate rhetoric, lies, coercion, whining, etc. won’t do much good. Workers everywhere enjoying their new civil right – as they currently are in the Badger State – will flee their unions in droves.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

June 18, 2012

DIVORCE AGREEMENT – Between the Left and Right

EDITORS NOTE: John F. Kennedy was the Last Great Democrat. He stood on the same moral ground with the Republicans. Today the Democratic Party has been thoroughly taken over by Marxist Radicals determined to incrementally delegitimize our Constitution right out of existence. Many Democrat leaders laugh at us when we call Obama a Socialist, but they fail to see the trend that he is quickly accelerating.

Our free-market economy is not a perpetual money machine; its wealth does not exceed the energy that is put into it. The source for its motive force is a combination of physical and mental labor. Our thinkers, or mental laborers, are the catalysts that solve problems of efficiency and imagines better products. Our builders, or physical laborers, move and shape earth into those products. But why, what is the purpose? What is the motivation? The answer is a better life, and the only way to achieve a better life is to make a profit. Real profit comes in many shapes and sizes. Profit can be defined as happiness manifested by a good, normal self-esteem earned through achievement and a sense of accomplishment that promotes mental health. It can also be defined by good physical health earned through exercise, good food and disciplined diet.  The most meaningful definition of profit is time spent, without stress or worry, with your family and friends at home or on vacation etc.

The more a person contributes to society and their community the more profit they deserve. The Left frequently misconstrues this motivation as greed. They are right, it is self-interested ‘constructive greed.’ But what it is not, is theft. Theft is also greed, but obviously a very ‘destructive greed.’ The Left is adept at theft. They devise ways to take from the successful using government under the guise of compassion to line their pockets with power and money. The one thing that is slowing them down from confiscating all our means of production in one fell swoop is our Constitution.

That is why I am posting this letter requesting a civil divorce. It is a proposal for a division of assets between the Left and the rest of U.S. Otherwise; we are headed for a civil war that neither side want and the Left will certainly lose.

I have thought about this idea many times and frequently fantasized about joining my comrades at Galt’s Gulch. This letter was written by a Law Student and is a follows: enjoy….

——————-

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950’s for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.

Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let’s just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to… irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:

–Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

–We don’t like redistributive taxes so you can keep them.
–You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.
–Since you hate guns and war, we’ll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military.
–We’ll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar and biodiesel.
–You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell. You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them.

–We’ll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street.
–You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless, homeboys, hippies, druggies and illegal aliens.
–We’ll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO’s and rednecks.
–We’ll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood.

–You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we’ll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.
–You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we’ll help provide them security.

–We’ll keep our Judeo-Christian values.
–You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N. but we will no longer be paying the bill.

–We’ll keep the SUV’s, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Volt and Leaf you can find.
–You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors.
–We’ll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right.
–We’ll keep “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The National Anthem.”
–I’m sure you’ll be happy to substitute “Imagine”, “Kum Ba Ya” or “We Are the World”.

–We’ll practice trickle-down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.

–Since it often so offends you, we’ll keep our history, our name, our flag and our Constitution.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like-minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, we’ll see you on the battlefield.

June 18, 2012

Are We in Revolutionary Times?

By Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson – American military historian, columnist, political essayist and former classics professor

Legally, President Obama has reiterated the principle that he can pick and choose which U.S. laws he wishes to enforce (see his decision to reverse the order of the Chrysler creditors, his decision not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, and his administration’s contempt for national-security confidentiality and Senate and House subpoenas to the attorney general). If one individual can decide to exempt nearly a million residents from the law — when he most certainly could not get the law amended or repealed through proper legislative or judicial action — then what can he not do? Obama is turning out to be the most subversive chief executive in terms of eroding U.S. law since Richard Nixon.

Politically, Obama calculates that some polls showing the current likely Hispanic support for him in the high 50s or low 60s would not provide enough of a margin in critical states such as Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado, or perhaps also in Florida and Virginia, to counteract the growing slippage of the independent vote and the energy of the clinger/tea-party activists. Thus, what was not legal or advisable in 2009, 2010, or 2011, suddenly has become critical in mid-2012. No doubt free green cards will quickly lead to citizenship and a million new voters. Will it work politically? Obama must assume lots of things: that all Hispanics vote as a block in favoring exempting more illegal aliens from the law, and are without worry that the high unemployment rate hits their community among the hardest; that black voters, stung by his gay-marriage stance, will not resent what may be seen as de facto amnesty, possibly endangering his tiny (and slipping) lead in places like Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. And because polls show overwhelming resistance to non-enforcement of immigration law, Obama also figures that the minority who supports his recent action does so far more vehemently than the majority who opposes it. Time will tell; but my gut feeling is that his brazen act will enrage far more than it will delight — and for a variety of different reasons. As with all his special-interest efforts — the Keystone cancellation, war-on-women ploy, gay-marriage turnabout, and now de facto amnesty — Obama believes dividing Americans along class, ethnic, gender, and cultural lines will result in a cobbled together majority, far more preferable than a 1996 Clinton-like effort to win over the independents by forging  a bipartisan consensus.

Economically, why would we formalize nearly a million new legally authorized workers when unemployment is approaching its 41st consecutive month over 8 percent — especially when Democrats used to label 5.4 percent unemployment as a “jobless recovery”? Here in California, the slowing of illegal immigration, due mostly to the fence and tough times, has led to steep wage hikes for entry-level and farm labor, and given a little more clout to Americans in so-called unskilled-labor fields. In other words, it really is true that the real beneficiaries of border enforcement are low-paid Hispanic-Americans and African-Americans who become more valued when they are not competing with virtually unlimited numbers of illegal-alien workers.

When you collate this recent act with the class-warfare rhetoric, the “punish our enemies” threats, the president’s and Eric Holder’s serial racialist statements, the huge borrowing, the national-security leaks, the takeover of health care, the push for redistributive taxes, and even the trivial appointments like a Van Jones, Anita Dunn, or Armendariz, you can fairly conclude that Obama most certainly did not like the way the United States operated for the last 30 or so years, and has tried his best, through hook or crook, to change America in ways that simply were not possible through legislative or even judicial action. Give the president credit. He has thrown down the gauntlet and essentially boasted: This is my vision of the way the new America should work — and if you don’t like it, try stopping me in November, if you dare.

via Are We in Revolutionary Times? – By Victor Davis Hanson – The Corner – National Review Online.

June 15, 2012

The Battle of Wisconsin

Governor Walker’s victory on June 5th was crucial, but the war is far from over.

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Just a week ago, Scott Walker survived a recall, beating back the rapacious efforts of the National Education Association and its state affiliate, the Wisconsin Education Association (WEAC) to recall the Wisconsin governor who had the moxie to work with the state legislature to eliminate collective bargaining for teachers. Union rhetoric aside, collective bargaining is not a civil right, nor is it enshrined in the Constitution or alluded to in the Bible. It’s a statutory decision made in state houses all over the country. What Walker and the legislature did was perfectly legal and in fact quite moral.

Perhaps the worst part of Wisconsin’s Act 10 for the unions is that it allows employees to opt out of paying union dues. It also says that the union can’t collect its dues via payroll deduction. As a result, within a year, the WEAC membership went from 90,000 to 70,000 and that translates into millions of dollars that the union can’t spend forcing its agenda down everyone’s throat.

What are the unions’ reactions to the defeat?

The only mention of the loss on WEAC’s website is a pointed message from its president, Mary Bell,

We are disappointed in the outcome of Tuesday’s election. Defeating a sitting governor was an uphill battle, yet despite this electoral defeat we have accomplished a lot educating and informing the people of Wisconsin about public education, workers’ rights and the need to restore honest government.

The NEA response, on the other hand, is positively bizarre. As of this writing, the only mention on the NEA website of what happened in Wisconsin on June 5th is a blog post by resident hack Tim Winter. The headline is, “Educator’s Victory in Wisconsin Gives Democrats Majority in State Senate” and the post begins,

John Lehman, a former high school history and economics teacher and a retired National Education Association and Wisconsin Education Association Council member, was elected last night to the Wisconsin State Senate. Lehman’s ouster of Senator Van Wanggaard, one of Gov. Scott Walker’s key allies, will help restore the balance of power in Madison.

Huh? They just got their political butts kicked and yet are claiming victory, touting an unimportant win in the state senate. Their senate “victory” is essentially meaningless because the Wisconsin legislature is not in session now and won’t be until after another round of elections in November.

Then, in paragraph 6, we hear from world class hypocrite Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA,

These millionaire donors, empowered by the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, have made a mockery of democracy and nearly drowned out the voices of working families in Wisconsin. The good news is that the barrage of out-of-state corporate money did not keep voters from restoring the balance of power in the state Senate.

Perhaps a little Wisconsin Brie to go with that whine, Mr. Van Roekel? Making NEA out to be a little mom-and-pop operation that was defeated by out-of-state corporate bullies is pathetic. The NEA in fact is the ultimate out-of-state corporate bully. It spent $1.1 million in Wisconsin and, as Mike Antonucci points out, it spent about $5 million to defeat Issue 2 in Ohio in 2011. The idiocy of Van Roekel’s attempts to portray NEA as a little David fighting Goliath was pinpointed by Antonucci in 2009 when he wrote about teacher union political spending. Referring to the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, he tells us that

America’s two teachers’ unions outspent AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, General Electric, Chevron, Pfizer, Morgan Stanley, Lockheed Martin, FedEx, Boeing, Merrill Lynch, Exxon Mobil, Lehman Brothers, and the Walt Disney Corporation, combined.

While NEA tries to feebly downplay what was a bad defeat for forced unionism, it is essential to keep things in perspective. There is no doubt that Wisconsin will pave the way for other states to try similar legislation, but it’s important to note that while 20,000 teachers have left WEAC, 70,000 still remain. So it’s not that all or even a majority of teachers have jumped ship.

Last week, on a similar note, the Wall Street Journal published the results of an Education Next poll. It asked, “Do you think teacher unions have a generally positive effect on schools, or do you think they have a generally negative effect?”

In our polls from 2009 to 2011, we saw little change in public opinion. Around 40% of respondents were neutral, saying that unions had neither a positive nor negative impact. The remainder divided almost evenly, with the negative share being barely greater than the positive.

But this year unions lost ground. While 41% of the public still takes the neutral position, those with a positive view of unions dropped to 22% in 2012 from 29% in 2011.

As we see, public opinion is turning against the unions. That having been said, two in five people are still neutral. Hence we seem to be in a transitional phase, but much of the public is still misinformed, uninformed or ambivalent.

More interestingly, the pollsters posed the same question to teachers,

The survey’s most striking finding comes from its nationally representative sample of teachers. Whereas 58% of teachers took a positive view of unions in 2011, only 43% do in 2012. The number of teachers holding negative views of unions nearly doubled to 32% from 17% last year.

Again, the movement is toward seeing the unions in a negative light, but still more than two teachers in five see the union as having a good effect on schools.

No doubt that winning the Battle of Wisconsin was important. But there have been many articles written in the last week triumphantly referring to Walker’s victory as the beginning of the end of teacher union dominance. Maybe it is, but it was just one battle and the bigger war rages on. To win that war, those of us who see teachers unions as the biggest impediment to any real education reform cannot afford to let up. In fact, it is incumbent upon us to redouble our efforts to make our case to those teachers and the general public who remain neutral on this issue. Even with dwindling membership, the NEA is a formidable opponent that will do whatever it can to maintain its vast and destructive power. We get cocky at our own risk.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

June 15, 2012

Your Choice: Big Government or Not?

Jeffers M. Dodge President PopModal.com & Editor of AirModal.com

Charles Krauthammer, Juan Williams and David Drucker discuss Obama/Romney dueling speeches.
Your Choice:

1: Big Government, less jobs more poverty. or

2: Less government, more jobs less poverty.

It is simple really… It takes money to run big government. Higher taxes, more borrowing, and more printing, which causes inflation and slow growth in the private sector. Slow growth means less jobs. And when mixed with higher inflation means more people fall into poverty. The more people in poverty means the more people become dependent on Big Government. So, Obama has to raise more taxes, borrow more from China and print more dollars to pay for all those that become dependent on Big Government. This is the “Cycle of Marx.”

June 14, 2012

What is a “job” a gift, a right or an expense?

Caroline May at the Daily Caller had an interesting piece about union efforts to organize the unemployed on Wednesday.  It seems the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has created an organization called the Union of Unemployed Activists (UCubed), which claims “it now has more than 100,000 jobless activists in their ranks.”

No, I’m not making this up, and I don’t think Caroline May is, either.  If she is making this up, she’s really good at it, and the producers of all future Atlas Shrugged movies should hire her as a screenwriter immediately.  She even got a quote from UCubed’s executive director, Rick Sloan, who also happens to be the communications director of the IAM: “Our objective is to pull together unemployed Americans in a way that allows them to connect, communicate, and press their political leaders for policies that will get them back to work.”

What sort of policies would that be?  Right-to-work laws would be a great start.  Collective bargaining increases the price of labor.  The modern union survives by using government power to establish monopoly environments for the labor it sells.  Union leadership is painfully aware of the exodus of jobs to right-to-work states.  South Carolina governor Nikki Haley can tell you all about it.

But no, that’s not what the IAM has in mind for its puppet organization of “jobless activists.”  Instead, they would like to see lawmakers seize taxpayer funds, and run Uncle Sam’s melted credit cards a few billion more times, to “recreate the Works Progress Administration, WPA 2.0, which in the 1930s put between 6.5 and 8 million people back to work.”

Ah, “progressives!”  Always bursting with fresh ideas, aren’t they?  Forward – to 1935!

Meanwhile, unionized teachers in Chicago voted on Tuesday to authorize their first strike in 25 years, unless they get a plump 30 percent raise.  They also think they’re being asked to work too many hours.  If they don’t get what they want, the strike will hit sometime in the next school year.

This places them at odds with the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, who used to be chief of staff for the Obama White House.  An Emanuel spokeswoman tried to make peace, saying “our teachers deserve a raise, but our kids don’t deserve a strike, and taxpayers cannot afford to pay for 30 percent raises.”

These two stories illuminate the great question facing Americans, as they wrestle with public and private-sector unions, command economics, demands for more government “stimulus” spending, and a shrunken workforce: What is a “job?”  After all, we can’t efficiently create something we cannot define.

Does a “job” simply involve performing services, in exchange for a paycheck?  That’s not a good definition, because it describes any number of activities, including things we certainly don’t have in mind when we speak of “job creation.”

Suppose your neighbor offers to pay you $1000 per day to spend an hour walking his dog.  That’s a “job,” right?  And a pretty sweet deal to boot!  But you might feel a bit nervous about basing your life upon such employment.  Who can afford to shell out a thousand bucks for an hour of dog-walking?  That guy might pay you once or twice, and then run out of cash.

Well, what if you know for a fact that your neighbor is insanely wealthy, and can easily afford your services indefinitely?  You might still feel a bit nervous about making this your sole employment.  Why?  Because your employment would exist entirely at the whim of this eccentric billionaire.

It was silly of him to offer a thousand dollars a day to walk his dog.  There is no true demand for such an overpriced service.  He can find plenty of cheaper alternatives.  He could also find plenty of other people to accept his absurdly inflated offer, if he tires of you for any reason… or no reason at all.  Your dog-walking skills don’t have an intrinsic value of anything like $1000 per hour.

A “job,” therefore, is demand for a commodity, which employees sell.  This transaction follows the general laws of supply and demand.  It is possible to assess the value of labor, which becomes less attractive when priced above its value.

One of modern liberalism’s defining psychoses is its obsession with denying these simple truths.  Liberals regard jobs as a gift, which can be showered upon deserving citizens from a bottomless New Deal cornucopia held by wise and benevolent politicians, but that’s not true.  This “gift” must be purchased, and government does not have limitless funds for doing so.  Worse, the funds it does have access to are taken from the private sector, which is far better at determining the true value of labor.  Every dollar moved into the public sector is a dollar which allocates labor less efficiently.

Likewise, the private sector doesn’t have unlimited resources to pay artificially high prices for labor, due to regulations and mandates.  When the cost becomes too great, corners are cut, and expansion plans are canceled.

Some government spending on labor is necessary and proper, of course. The State will always have employees. However, government employment is an expense borne by society, for common benefits that can’t really be provided at a profit. Police and military forces are a good example. The moral and practical rationale for government employment is that some things simply need doing, and society must bear the cost.

Any good businessman will tell you that such expenses should be kept to a minimum. As more jobs are brought wholly or partially under the influence of politics, expenses balloon, and efficiency is diminished. Political influence is anti-competitive, by definition, so the benefits of competition are lost when the public sphere grows. The result is what you see around you today: bloated government spending, a weakened private sector, and towering public debt.

What is a “job?” The definition can either be negotiated in a competitive environment, between free buyers and sellers of labor, or it can be decreed. Political muscle is a poor way of determining how many employees are needed, and how much they should be paid, so that muscle should be flexed sparingly. Unfortunately, this lesson will be lost on the horde of “jobless activists” pressuring politicians for a new New Deal, and unionized public employees who don’t want to think about the realistic demand for their labor.

via What is a “job?” | | Conservative News, Views & Books.

June 12, 2012

TEXAS, TAXES & BRASS TACKS

RUSH LIMBAUGH ONCE DESCRIBED politics as show business for ugly people. If he weren’t such a nice guy, he might have added that it also provides careers for really dumb ones.

Burt Prelutsky
humor columnist

For instance, while chatting with Charlie Rose on “CBS This Morning,” Governor Jerry Brown went into a lengthy pitch for California business, pointing out that it is the state that’s always been known for innovation. To prove his case that it is as true now as it ever was, Brown announced that no less an enterprise than Facebook got its start here on the edge of the Pacific. Not wishing to embarrass a fellow liberal, Mr. Rose didn’t start cackling like a loon, as I might have done. Instead, he politely informed Governor Moonbeam that Mark Zuckerberg and a few college pals launched the billion dollar brainstorm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while they were attending Harvard.

Because Brown has spent his entire life in politics, he didn’t say, “Whoops!” the way a normal human being would. Instead, without missing a beat, he pointed out that Zuckerberg and his company had settled in California. In other words, we’re not really the home of innovation and entrepreneurship, but we have a terrific climate, and we’re the go-to place for guys who have piled up a lot of dough and want to get away from New England winters.

The sad truth of the matter is that, when compared to other liberal politicians, Jerry Brown is probably one of the brighter ones. For instance, have you ever heard Sen. Barbara Boxer give a speech or try to answer a simple question? I’ve never even voted for the woman, but it’s downright embarrassing just living in the state that has elected her on four separate occasions.

The fact that it is the same state that keeps electing Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman and Barbara Lee, to the House might help explain why some people, including friends, call me “Grumpy.”

On the other hand, California is a huge state. We have well over 40 million people jammed in here. It figures we’re going to have more louts than other places. But when you non-Californians keep on voting for the likes of Charles Schumer, Frederica Wilson, Al Franken, James Clyburn, Harry Reid, Bev Perdue, Sheila Jackson Lee, John Kerry and Patty Murray, you’re not exactly in a position to throw stones.

Even Texas, the state that calls to me in my dreams, keeps electing people who wind up proud members of the Congressional Black or Hispanic Caucus, dunderheads who apparently feel a greater allegiance to those who share their skin color than they do to America and the Constitution. The very idea that members of Congress would separate themselves on the basis of their pigmentation makes a mockery of their oath of office. It would seem that for people such as Al Green, Charles Gonzalez, Henry Cuellar. Ruben Hinojosa, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Silvestre Reyes and Sheila Jackson Lee, the notion that ours is supposed to be a colorblind society is their idea of a bad joke.

I have heard, though, that even Democrats on Capitol Hill are getting upset because they aren’t hearing from Obama. Apparently the poor saps expect him to display some leadership. Well, I, for one, don’t blame him for snubbing them. For one thing, he has a campaign to run and a whole lot of money to raise. Besides, how would you prefer spending your time? Meeting with a sourpuss like Harry Reid or hanging out with George Clooney, Selma Hayek and the other cool kids?

Furthermore, when Obama finally put together a budget, it didn’t get a single vote in the House or the Senate. Do those people have any idea how it feels to be dissed that way? You’d have thought that Obama could at least have counted on those knuckleheads in the Black Caucus to give the brother a little love. But even Charley Rangel said, “Ooh, that is one butt ugly budget” or words to that effect.

And while I don’t like to question anyone’s sanity, just how nuts do you have to be to want to raise taxes in the midst of an economy that is already on life support? I suppose when you owe your academic career and just about everything else to affirmative action, it’s not too surprising that Obama seems blissfully unaware of the fact that his idol, FDR, prolonged the Great Depression by twice raising taxes in the 1930s. Getting the country back to work wasn’t nearly as important to Roosevelt as punishing Republican capitalists. Sound familiar?

By this time, you’ve all probably seen the map that shows Obama on the verge of winning the election even before either party has held its convention. Judging by some of the liberal pundits, the actual election is merely a formality. Oh, really? I’m actually supposed to believe that North Carolina and Texas are in play? In spite of electing all those Republicans in Virginia and Florida, in 2010, Democrats are referring to those states as toss-ups? Some folks would call that wishful thinking. I call it whistling past the graveyard.

Speaking of graveyards, Iran’s military chief of staff, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi recently announced, “The Iranian nation is standing for its cause, and that is the full annihilation of Israel.” So much for those who insist on finding a moral equivalence between Israel and its Islamic neighbors or who couch their anti-Semitism behind the canard that it’s not really Jews they hate, it’s Israeli policies they find objectionable. How odd that these same creeps never see a need to explain that it’s not Muslims they hate, but only the policies of Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

With the election looming up, roughly 150 days off, I don’t want to hear people urging other people to do their civic duty. Those who have to be prodded and poked to get out and vote are nearly always liberals. And, believe me, no good can possibly come of it. For example, in 2008, when 63.6% of registered voters went to the polls, we wound up with Barack Obama and Joe Biden. In 2010, when only 29% of us voted, we got rid of six left-wing senators and 60 liberal members of the House.

The obvious conclusion is that the fewer voters, the better.

Finally, a friend sent me a line I wish I had come up with: Re-electing Obama would be like the Titanic backing up and hitting the iceberg again.

via BurtPrelutsky.com.

June 8, 2012

Responding to Romney’s Critics about Education – His speech to the Latino Coalition

Regarding education reform, Romney needs to pound on the facts, leaving his detractors to pound on the table.

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Recently Mitt Romney laid out his education vision in a speech at the Latino Coalition’s annual economic summit in Washington D.C. The Republican candidate for president didn’t mince words. He said that we are in the midst of a “national educational emergency,” and that the only reason we don’t hear more about it is that our national focus is squarely centered on the economy. Then he got down to specifics and said,

Parental choice will hold schools responsible for results, but parents can only exercise that choice effectively if they have good information.  No Child Left Behind helped our nation take a giant step forward in bridging this information gap.  But the law is not without its weaknesses.  As president, I will break the political logjam that has prevented successful reform of the law.  I will reduce federal micromanagement while redoubling efforts to ensure that schools are held responsible for results.

Dramatically expanding parental choice, making schools responsible for results by giving parents access to clear and instructive information, and attracting and rewarding our best teachers–these changes can help ensure that every parent has a choice and every child has a chance.

He then talked about the teachers unions’ role in the problem.

…accomplishing real change won’t be easy.  Efforts to truly reform our schools always meet strong resistance from entrenched interests. 

The teachers unions are the clearest example of a group that has lost its way.  Whenever anyone dares to offer a new idea, the unions protest the loudest.

The teachers unions don’t fight for our children.  That’s our job.  And our job keeps getting harder because the unions wield outsized influence in elections and campaigns. 

Annually, many teachers are forced to pay almost $1,000 in union dues.  The two major teachers unions take in $600 million each year.  That’s more revenue than both of the political parties combined.

Mr. Romney’s talk was a good one, basically hitting on many of the points that education reformers have been making for years. So, naturally, the naysayers and outright opponents of reform took him to task.

Jay Mathews, writing in the Washington Post, oddly claims that Romney and Obama are “educational twins.”  While both men certainly are reform-minded, their reforms run in different directions, most notably Romney’s embrace of vouchers. (Obama favors some school choice but not vouchers – were he to do so, it would destroy his lovey-dovey relationship with the teachers unions.) Usually sensible, Mathews has a blind spot when the “v” word is mentioned. He says that, “…vouchers have no chance of ever expanding very far.” However, Greg Forster, senior fellow with the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, has debunked Mathews’ claim in the past and does so again in a point by point rebuttal, the centerpiece of which is,

there are now 34 school choice programs serving 212,000 students, and this story Mathews is telling hasn’t happened anywhere.

Not surprisingly, the most hostile commentary comes from the union apologists. Matt Miller, who says he has “slammed teachers unions plenty,” goes into somber mode and in sotto voce tells us in that there is a “deeper reality” that we all need to grapple with.

The top performing school systems in the world have strong teachers unions at the heart of their education establishment.

Lighten up, Mr. Miller. In reality, this does not qualify as “grappleable.” The same claim has been made countless times by union defenders. The short answer to your “deeper reality” is that in Finland and other countries, the teachers unions are more like guilds – they exist mainly to advance the professional status of their members. American teachers unions are built on the industrial model – treating teachers not like professionals but like factory workers, and protecting them no matter what crimes they may have committed and no matter how poorly they do their jobs.

Then there is Mike Hall writing on the AFL-CIO website. He picks on Romney’s assertion that, despite the popular myth, smaller class size does not translate into student achievement. The unions will never give up their “smaller is better” mantra because small classes mean more teachers and therefore more dues for the union. As if to show that he is knowledgeable on the subject, Hall trots out a dinosaur – Project Star – a study from Tennessee conducted in the 1980s – which Hall claims,

…showed students who were placed in a smaller-sized classroom made measurable gains and performed better even when they were put back in larger classes.

I totally debunk the “smaller is better” myth here. The most extensive study on the subject was done by Hoover Institution senior fellow and economist Eric Hanushek in 1998. He examined 277 different studies on the effect of teacher-pupil ratios and class-size averages on student achievement, he found that 15 percent of the studies found an improvement in achievement, while 72 percent found no effect at all—and 13 percent found that reducing class size had a negative effect on achievement. While Hanushek admits that in some cases, children might benefit from a small-class environment, there is no way “to describe a priori situations where reduced class size will be beneficial.”

And what would a presidential talk about education reform be without a rebuttal from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten? In a press release posted on the AFT website, she claims,

Today, Mitt Romney squandered an opportunity to participate in a meaningful discussion of real education reform by attempting to disguise attacks on teachers and public education as meaningful policy proposals.

Attack teachers? Hardly, though he did have harsh words about their unions. But the next part made my head explode,

Instead of looking to improve education for all children, he parroted failed voucher and privatization schemes that have not improved student learning. Romney’s proposal to take even more money out of public education and funnel it to private schools is absurd at a time when school budgets already are being slashed to the bone across the country.

“Failed voucher and privatization schemes?” She really sounds as if she believes this nonsense. A little over a year ago, the Friedman Foundation released the results of study, the most extensive ever done, which stated,

Ten empirical studies have used random assignment, the gold standard of social science, to examine how vouchers affect participants. Nine studies find that vouchers improve student outcomes, six that all students benefit and three that some benefit and some are not affected. One study finds no visible impact. None of these studies finds a negative impact.

Nineteen empirical studies have examined how vouchers affect outcomes in public schools. Of these studies, 18 find that vouchers improved public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical studies find that vouchers harm public schools.

Weingarten’s point that vouchers take money out of public education is also erroneous. As the Friedman Foundation explains,

State budgets typically save money when students use vouchers to at­tend private schools. Vouchers usually redirect state education spending from school districts to parents. If the vouchers are not worth the entire amount of state education spending, as is generally the case, then the state saves money on the difference. For example, if a state spends $6,000 per student annually in public schools, and offers a $5,000 voucher, the state saves $1,000 each year for each participating student.

The only problem I found with Romney’s talk is that while he wants to disentangle Washington from education matters to a certain degree, he doesn’t go far enough. He straddles the fence on No Child Left Behind – the reforms proposed by George W. Bush. NCLB is the 8th reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Second Education Act (ESEA) which signaled the feds’ intrusion into what had always been a state issue. Federal involvement has produced no benefits for U.S. school kids. What it has done is divert a ridiculous amount of money from the classroom to feed an insatiable bureaucracy.

Writing in National Review Online, Heritage Foundation education fellow Lindsey Burke says it best,

Moving forward, Romney’s agenda should include the conservative alternative to NCLB: the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (APLUS) Act. APLUS would allow states to opt out and spend their share of federal education dollars on any lawful education purpose they believe would best benefit students. It’s one of the best ways Congress could restore constitutional governance in education: send dollars and decision-making back to state and local leaders who are closest to the student.

Romney’s vision is a good one. With a few tweaks it could be a great one. Importantly, he has facts on his side, and he needs to pound on them every chance he gets. If he does that, all the union leaders and other entrenched special interests can do is pound on the table.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. (Title for identification purposes only.)

June 6, 2012

California voters in San Diego and San Jose, by a margin of 70%, slash pension benefits.

California Politics

SAN DIEGO — Voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for city workers in what supporters said was a mandate that may lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states and cities buried under mounting pension obligations.

Public employee unions that aggressively fought the measures weren’t able to overcome the simple message supporters used to attract voters in San Diego and San Jose: Pensions for city workers are unaffordable and more generous than many private companies offer. The result is reduced public services in the form of such things as limited hours at public libraries and unfilled potholes.

“The public is frustrated,” said San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican who staked his mayoral bid on the pension measure and advanced to a November runoff in Tuesday’s election to lead the nation’s eighth-largest city.

In San Diego, two-thirds of voters favored Proposition B while the landslide was even greater in San Jose, the nation’s 10th-largest city. With all precincts counted, 70 percent were in favor of Measure B.

“The voters get it, they understand what needs to be done,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat who has called pension reform his highest priority.

Shrinking tax revenues during the recession are also responsible for service cuts in San Diego and San Jose, but pensions were an easy target. San Diego’s payments to the city’s retirement fund soared from $43 million in 1999 to $231.2 million this year, equal to 20 percent of the city’s general fund budget, which pays for day-to-day operations.

As the pension payments grew, San Diego’s 1.3 million residents saw roads deteriorate and libraries and recreation centers cut hours. For a while, some fire stations had to share engines and trucks. The city has cut its workforce 14 percent to 10,100 employees since Mayor Jerry Sanders took office in 2005.

San Jose’s pension payments jumped from $73 million in 2001 to $245 million this year, equal to 27 percent of its general fund budget. Voters there approved construction bonds at the beginning of the last decade, but four new libraries and a police station have never opened because the city cannot afford to operate them. The city of 960,000 cut its workforce 27 percent to 5,400 over the last 10 years.

Tuesday’s votes set the stage for potentially lengthy legal challenges by public employee unions. The measures are unusual because they address pensions for current employees, not just new hires.

Opponents say the measures deprive workers of benefits they were counting on when they got hired. Some workers decided against potentially more lucrative jobs with private companies, figuring their retirement was relatively safe.

Those arguments failed to resonate with voters.

“A lot of employees are disheartened,” said Yolanda Cruz, president of the San Jose Municipal Employees Federation, who called the outcome disappointing. “We’ve been made the full problem of what’s been going on.”

The ballot measures differ on specifics. San Diego’s imposes a six-year freeze on pay levels used to determine pension benefits unless a two-thirds majority of the City Council votes to override it. It also puts new hires, except for police officers, into 401(k)-style plans.

More than 100,000 residents signed petitions to put the San Diego measure on the ballot.

Under San Jose’s measure, current workers have to pay up to 16 percent of their salaries to keep their retirement plan or accept more modest benefits. New hires would get less generous benefits.

Reed joined an 8-3 City Council majority to put the measure on the ballot. He said after Tuesday’s vote that he expected other cities in financial binds to pursue similar measures.

“It’s novel but it’s certainly not radical,” he said. “Mayors across the country are very interested. We’re at the leading edge but we’re not alone.”

via 2 California cities voters embrace pension cuts – National Wire – fresnobee.com.

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