Various & Sundry, 9/2/13

Monday, September 2, AD 2013

On the Obligation to Fast 

Pope Francis has declared Saturday, September 7 to be a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria. Ed Peters tackles the question of whether we are canonically obligated to fast.

In short, a Catholic who does not observe a fast on Sept 7 does not violate canon law. What such disregard for the pope’s unusual request might indicate about one’s desire to act with the Successor of Peter is another question.

Bwahahahahahaha

Excuse me while I gather myself.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

No. Seriously. I’m cool.

In what is being reported as a surprise move, the 40,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced that they have formally ended their association with the AFL-CIO, one of the nation’s largest private sector unions. The Longshoremen citied Obamacare and immigration reform as two important causes of their disaffiliation.

English Compositionism as Fraud and Failure

A senior lecturer at Santa Clara University takes a look at college level writing instruction and finds it wanting.

Compositionists today are laughingstocks on and off campus, notorious for babbling about “borderlands narratology” and “sustainable digitalized hyper-rhetoric” when students cannot write a coherent paragraph or even use an apostrophe correctly. I can think of no other field, academic or otherwise, in which the uninformed, “amateur” public has such a decisive advantage over guild-certified experts. A three-step program of professional reform follows: (1) dissociate composition teaching from literature teaching, (2) dissociate composition teaching from composition studies and composition theory, and (3) put writing instruction in the hands of practitioners—of whateveracademic training and political leaning—whose only job is to guide student-writers toward proficiency at the level traditionally associated with “higher” education.

And he’s just getting started.

Washington Post Writer Argues that Statutory Rape Ain’t So Bad

No. Really. That’s basically her argument.

To quote Bob Grant, “They’re sick and getting sicker.”

Prettiest Picture of the Day

Courtesy of Creative Minority Report, a wonderful image to close out the day.

 

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8 Responses to Various & Sundry, 9/2/13

  • OH man, for a second there I thought your “Bwahahahaha” was aimed at Ed Peters.

  • I take it college writing centers are now a disaster, just like the English department, the American history faculty, the constitutional law faculty, the Sociology department, and the divinity schools (and the student affairs apparat, while we are at it). I have an uncomplicated idea about how to fix academe: blow it up.

  • There is always the essential elimination of journal assignments from English Dept. teachers in all secondary school grades to be replaced with grammar book series. Quiz on Wednesdays, Test on Fridays. Rare allowance of the personal pronoun, “I” (except for fun, extra credit composition assignments). English teachers are neither sociologists nor psychologists.

  • In re: Bwahahahahahaha.

    When I saw this, it struck me that here was the most novel side-effect of Obama(don’t)care yet: Union busting, which in the Demo(n)crat universe is a solely Republican(‘t) enterprise.

    On second thought, though, it’s not all that surprising, since just about everything that ends with an “-ism” finally destroys what it claims to value most: In this case, “socialism” destroys “society,” both at large and in detail.

  • Not an obligation under church law but a loving response. As Fr. Z said,

    “And why not make it, voluntarily, a day of fasting and abstinence like to Good Friday?

    So, no, I don’t think we would sin by not participating in this in a concrete way. However, when the Holy Father makes an appeal like this, then we should respond.

    And I will add this: Those of you of the traditional stripe, by the first to take the initiative and help with whatever might be organized. Get out there.”

  • Apparently, they’re leaving the AFL-CIO because the AFL-CIO isn’t liberal enough.
    If you look at their statement, they want a single-payer healthcare system and shorter waiting periods for citizenship. I was a little less excited when I saw that.

  • A three-step program of professional reform follows: (1) dissociate composition teaching from literature teaching…

    I hate the fact that writing is always taught in the service of literary analysis in high school. It is killing my teen boys who are required to analyze literature while struggling to form coherent paragraphs. I would rather they could take a journalism class for a year, or a speech/debate class for a year, to get English credits. But no dice.

  • The ILWU was kicked out of the CIO (prior to its merger with the AF of L) for being too left wing. Under Lane Kirkland’s policy of “all sinners belong in the church”, it was re-admitted the the AFL-CIO. The west coast longshoremen are the second most left wing union in the USA, the UE taking the prize.

Beneath Contempt

Monday, November 26, AD 2012

 

 

Democrats have been stealing elections for a very long time, but lately they have been working a new angle:  exploiting the mentally handicapped for votes.  David Horowitz relates what he learned at a Thanksgiving dinner:

But even knowing this, I was not prepared for a conversation I had at Thanksgiving dinner today with my brother-in-law, Henry, who has lived most of his life in a home for the mentally disabled, and though now in his forties has the intelligence level of a six-year-old.

“Obama saved me,” he said to me out of the blue.

“What do you mean?”

“I voted for him for president and now he’s saving me.”

I was taken aback by these words, since Henry had no idea who Obama was, or what a president might be, and would be unable to fill out a registration form let alone get to the polling place by himself. So I asked him how he knew that and how he had registered and cast his vote. In halting, impeded speech he told me that the people who take care of him at the home filled out “the papers” to register him to vote, told him how Obama cared for him, even taught him the Obama chants, and then took him to the polling place to vote. They did the same for all of the mentally disabled patients in their care, approximately sixty in all.

This is so appalling in its contempt for the voting process, which is the very foundation of our democracy, and in its cynical exploitation of my brother-in-law and the other patients in the home, many of whose mental capacities are even more limited than his that I am at a loss for words to express it. I hope poll-watching groups like “True the Vote” will comb the rolls of residents at other homes for the mentally disabled, and attempt to stop this particular abuse. I hope that people who care about our country will make electoral fraud a focus of their political efforts, and work to protect the integrity of the voting process.

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22 Responses to Beneath Contempt

  • The looters and tyrants need to experience the righteous antipathy of millions of producers and taxpayers.

  • There are a mess of dubious characters in the helping professions.

  • The National Association of Scholars published a report a few years back on how social workers are educated; in a word: scandalously. Now take a look at this from Washington University in St. Louis, which has a purportedly highly rated program:

    http://gwbweb.wustl.edu/Admissions/MSWProgram/Pages/CurriculumandCourseOverview.aspx

    Examining their course lists, can you figure what these dames are being trained to do that would not and could not be covered in programs in public administration or clinical psychology?

    One project the starboard side might get cracking on on the state level is euthanizing this ideologized pseudo-profession.

  • “The National Association of Scholars published a report a few years back on how social workers are educated; in a word: scandalously.”

    Agreed! I have written about this:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/07/29/intolerance-in-the-name-of-tolerance/

    One of the main problems with academia is that too many areas of study on too many campuses are basically leftist politics with a patina of academic gibberish.

  • (Don’s wife Cathy here) Art, our daughter is applying for admission to college, and has been indicating that long-term, she’d like to become a school counselor. (No comment on whether we think that’s the best career option for her.) Don & I insisted that she had to think shorter-term as well, and pick an undergrad major which would make her employable, so she’s going with elementary education.
    Anyway, the Children, Youth & Families concentration in that Wash U MSW program description you linked to sounds an awful lot like the M.S. programs in educational psychology and developmental psychology I looked up when investigating what additional coursework our daughter would need after teacher certification to qualify as a school counselor. The main difference I can spot is that the MSW program sounds “squishier” and more advocacy/policy/agenda-oriented, even in the direct practice tracks that I looked at. It looks like the MSW program at Wash U wants to turn out social workers who not only have a certain set of skills, but also all fit a certain ideological mold.

  • Mr Horowitz of all people should know the Left’s playbook – what you pro-lifers want to deny votes to the mentally different? The chance to reach for significance, for revenge. What would Jesus say? And a whole swathe of Christians will then fold as a pack of cards.

  • Mrs. McClarey:

    A good reason to major in education is that trade associations, teacher training faculty, and unions have buffaloed state legislatures into making it a requirement for employment in the public schools. Critics of these programs (e.g. Thomas Sowell) say their value-added is undetectable.

    I do hope your daughter has

    1. mastered algebra;

    2. writes grammatical English;

    3. knows the basics of American history, geography, and civics;

    4. selects a school of education which has as its focus courses in practical teaching strategies and not in promoting rancid social ideology (Stanford University and LeMoyne College have been the focus of scandals in this regard, as has NCATE, the accrediting association for teacher-training programs).

    5. selects a decent 2d major and/or is very careful in her selection of courses to fulfill distribution requirements; courses in accounting, statistics, insurance foreign languages, economics, and mathematics are good; art history might be, if it stops at 1918; philosophy might be; social sciences should be avoided unless they are grounded in quantitative methods (or are studying work by Gabriel Almond, Dankwart Rustow, et al).

    6. If you can work in a business major, perhaps a five-year plan is worth it.

    7. Every family should have an engineer. Tell your son or one of your nephews to get cracking.

    Now I will stop being overbearing (which is the moderator’s job in any case).

  • Mr Horowitz of all people should know the Left’s playbook – what you pro-lifers want to deny votes to the mentally different? The chance to reach for significance, for revenge. What would Jesus say? And a whole swathe of Christians will then fold as a pack of cards.

    Martinis for breakfast is a bad habit.

  • (Don’s wife Cathy again) Art, we’ve been trying to talk her into a business-oriented major (f.ex. Computer Information Systems or Accounting), but she hasn’t bitten yet. There are a couple of small Midwestern colleges where our daughter’s test scores & class rank make her overqualified compared to their average freshmen (with decent U.S. News & World Report rankings, and decent results in their Net Price Calculators) where she has a shot at good merit scholarships, and has already been accepted; hopefully they aren’t as P.C.-nuts as larger schools. I’ll be driving her to their merit scholarship interviews myself, so I’ll be able to get an in-person feel for what those colleges are like.

  • I do not know why I was assuming elementary school. If she aims to be a high school teacher, she would need to be subject trained (whether the board of regents requires it or not). Of course, you could persuade her she wants to teach vocational business classes.

    I suspect with accounting there is enough temp work around that she might be able to get out of painting houses in the summer time.

  • Don’t write off an entire career path because of a bad trend among teachers. If you feel called to a particular career, and it’s something that’s marketable and you have an aptitude for, don’t let a few lousy professors push you around. I got a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics – definitely not a hard science – and didn’t get brainwashed along the way.

    First off, the average teacher doesn’t do a lot of work. He assigns texts and homework, and blathers in front of the class for a set period of time. The student regurgitates all over a midterm and a final, and maybe has to write a paper. The paper can be unorthodox as anything, but if it’s about one of the foundational texts or theories in the field, the teacher will usually accept it – and every field has some decent thought within it. Even if the teacher doesn’t like the student (and you’d have to be pretty obnoxious to get noticed in a classroom of 500 kids), with grade inflation being what it is, the student might get a B- instead of an A. Big deal. The student will still end up graduating with a 3.2 GPA.

    You might be able to find a school that has a reputation for not contaminating the students, although each teacher is different, and in a lot of cases it’s the TA who’s doing the teaching. But once you get out of the classroom, there will be a wide range of thinkers in the field. And most employers don’t care about a particular person’s ideology as long as they don’t make anyone’s life difficult and fill out the paperwork correctly. So don’t fret over a particular major.

    Actually, if I could offer one piece of advice to beginning college students, it’d be to take a minor as well as a major.

  • Pinky,

    As a student or professors my wife and I have been associated with six colleges/universities (a large state school, a large Catholic University and four small liberal arts schools). The experience you describe (professor who does little work, TAs grading, large classes, etc.) only really exist at research universities. At small colleges, professors teach 4-6 lectures per school year, do most of the grading, and, in many cases, even teach science labs. At those schools it is really difficult to ‘hide’ from the professors. My wife is currently a tenure track professor in biology at a college in the Northwest and she knows every student in the ‘large’ lecture of sixty – the largest lecture of any class at the school.

  • (Don’s wife Cathy again) The 2 colleges which have already accepted our daughter for admission are both tiny, as colleges go ( <1,500 students each) so, if she attended one of them, the profs would certainly get to know her. On the other hand, the other schools she's waiting to hear back from on admission decisions range from 2,000-35,000 students each, so there's certainly a chance she'd end up at a "Mega-U".
    As to majors/minors, our daughter is definitely interested in at least a minor in addition to a major. The way she's changed her mind each year during high school on what she'd like to major in, though, she may well change her mind again by the time she has to officially declare a major. It had better be something which will make her employable with just a BA/BS, though!

  • I got a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics – definitely not a hard science – and didn’t get brainwashed along the way.

    Economics is not sociology. It is a social science in actuality, not in aspiration. I think the same deal applies in demography, but undergraduate courses in demography are rare. One might hope a future generation will return American history, anthropology, sociology, and social psychology to a state where practicing them is not functionally dependent upon signing on to a Marxist, feminist, or multi-culti catechism.

    By the way, I did most of my undergraduate study at research universities. There was a minor kerfuffle at the engineering school at one place when students were assigned a TA who spoke only some odd dialect of Chinese. Otherwise, I do not recall much trouble with professors sloughing off. TAs graded exercises in large survey courses with scores of students enrolled, but the faculty did all their own lectures and relied on TAs only for end-of-the-week discussion sessions which amounted to about 25% of class time. Professors did the whole shebang for seminars and lecture courses of ordinary enrollment. I’ve a family member on the faculty of George Mason, a large research university. He usually teaches a 2-2 schedule because he commonly has important administrative responsibilities in addition to bringing in masses of grant money and having published several dozen papers in recent decades. He puts his all into his teaching as well, and would have been overqualified at the small college I attended (which makes a point of being a redoubt of ‘scholar/teachers’).

  • It had better be something which will make her employable with just a BA/BS, though!

    I hope that little college has an accounting department.

  • Maybe Pravda (Russian for “truth”) needs to update its Obama re-election coverage.

    Quoted:

    ‘Recently, Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term by an illiterate society . . . .”

    Truth.

  • (Don’s wife Cathy again)
    “I hope that little college has an accounting department.”
    Both of them do, Art, and they both emphasize internship opportunities – especially the one that’s outside our own state, and approx. a 1/2-hour drive away from a major Midwestern city.

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  • Don, to get back to the topic of using the mentally handicapped as vote generating tools for the democrats. I too have an autistic son who will likely end up in a group home when my husband and I are no longer physically up to caring for him. I have also worked as a county caseworker for intellectually disabled individuals who live in group homes. As a caseworker I was required to ask each individual on my caseload every year whether they wished to register to vote. If yes, I was required to see that they got registered. If they said no, I had to have them sign a paper stating their disinterest in registering, and turn these in to my supervisor who would presumably turn a record in to the state. As you say, there is no competency criteria. So long as the individual nods or gives some other sign that means yes, he can register to vote. He can sign with an X or other mark if he can not write his name, as long as there is a witness.
    In theory this law protects an individual who has a mild degree of mental retardation but functions with a fair degree of independence. Some of these individuals hold jobs, follow the news on tv and yes, have as much a right and ability to cast a vote as any “normal” person with a high school degree and the same susceptibility to persuasion by the media, by relatives, etc.
    In practice, the abuses mentioned in the post are widespread. I live in a conservative rural county, and so my impression is that mentally disabled individuals from groups homes are as likely to be persuaded by caregivers to vote republican as democrat. But yes, it’s a terrible situation. It would be a rare poll watcher who could get up the nerve to be seen as “supressing” the vote of a disabled person.
    If your autistic son does not advance beyond a child’s intellectual capacity by adulthood, I recommend that you obtain legal guardianship when he turns 18. Guardianship does not accrue to you automatically just because you are the parent. Your son is considered a legally competent person once he turns 18 no matter how severely handicapped. If you do not get yourself named as guardian, there is nothing to stop a caregiver from manipulating him into voting for whomever the caregiver determines is the best candidate for “disabilities rights”
    At least this is the case here in Pennsylvania, and I suspect it is the same elsewhere.

  • “If your autistic son does not advance beyond a child’s intellectual capacity by adulthood, I recommend that you obtain legal guardianship when he turns 18. Guardianship does not accrue to you automatically just because you are the parent. Your son is considered a legally competent person once he turns 18 no matter how severely handicapped. If you do not get yourself named as guardian, there is nothing to stop a caregiver from manipulating him into voting for whomever the caregiver determines is the best candidate for “disabilities rights”
    At least this is the case here in Pennsylvania, and I suspect it is the same elsewhere.”

    I had my wife, myself and my autistic son’s twin brother appointed by the court as guardians shortly after his 18th birthday. After my wife and I are gone, the plan is for him to live with his brother who is planning to join me in my law firm after he graduates from law school. From what I have seen of state institutions and group homes I will do whatever it takes to make certain, as far as I am able, that my autistic son will always live with family.

  • (Don’s wife Cathy again) “If your autistic son does not advance beyond a child’s intellectual capacity by adulthood, I recommend that you obtain legal guardianship when he turns 18.”
    That’s just what we did, Daria. In fact, we just had to file our first 3-year report on the guardianship, and we’ll all be appearing at a hearing on that report during Christmas break (when our son’s twin & co-guardian will be home from college).

  • One other thing you did not ask for:

    Your daughter should lay off any vocational discipline with high rates of innovation until her children are of such an age that she expects not to be departing the labor force until retirement. A lady IT tech of my acquaintance once lamented that things she had learned just three years earlier were now useless. You cannot come and go with IT.

They Show Their Love By Insulting You

Wednesday, June 6, AD 2012

Last night marked the darkest hour in all of human history. Humanity has seen pestilence, wars, famine, genocide, and atrocities of all shapes and sizes. But all of that paled in comparison to Scott Walker’s “surviving” a recall victory by a “narrow” 7-point margin.

Why was this the darkest day in human history? Because it was the day democracy died.

It’s the end of the USA as we know it, but strangely I feel fine.

According to Democrats, the recall election was either the moment western civilization marked its inevitable decline or a great sign that Barack Obama is going to roll to re-election. While the truth is probably somewhere in between, either way Democrats expressed tremendous outrage over this election that was bought by Scott Walker and the evil Rethuglicans. Evidently spending a lot of money on elections is a bad thing. Unless of course you’re Barack Obama.

The narrative shift demonstrates a couple of things about the progressive left, neither particularly positive. The first is the blatant dishonesty. It’s quite amusing to listen to these people complain about “the death of democracy” when they’ve spent the better part of the past 18 months organizing, busing people in from other states, staging rallies and sit-ins, ushering their representatives out of the state in the middle of the night to shut the legislature down, and basically just throwing giant hissy fits because they aren’t getting what they wanted.

More importantly, it highlights something that has been an essential fabric of the left since the Enlightenment: their utter contempt for people. According to their vision of how the world should work, Scott Walker would easily have been thrown out on his keister were it not for all the money funneling into Wisconsin on his behalf. The implication is that the people are so dumb that they forgot how angry they are supposed to be with Walker just because of a bunch of 30 second advertisements. I wonder if these people even realize how arrogant and snobbish they sound. Because there is a rather nasty undercurrent to all this talk that makes it seem that they don’t have too high an opinion of most other individuals.

As I said, this really dates back to the Enlightenment, particularly the philosophes of the French Enlightenment. As Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote, it was a common tendency among the philosophes to generalize the virtues and elevate “the whole of mankind” over the individual. The most striking example of this wariness towards real, live, human beings was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Throughout his writings, but especially in his Confessions, he continually wrote of other people in a manner that demonstrated his contempt for them. He felt so isolated from the world that he wrote:

I am now alone on earth, no longer having any brother, neighbor, friend, or society other than myself.  The most sociable and the most loving of human has been proscribed from society by unanimous agreement.  In the refinements of their hatred, they have sought the torment which would be cruelest to my sensitive soul and have violently broken all the ties which attached me to them.  I would have loved men in spite of themselves.  Only by ceasing to be humane, have they been able to slip away from my affection.  They are now strangers, unknowns, in short, nonentities to me – because that is what they wanted.

And yet his entire philosophy was geared towards improving the lot of mankind.

This succinctly summarizes the attitude of much of the left throughout history: they love humanity, but they hate people. Much of what I have read and seen over the past 24 hours has made that abundantly clear.

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23 Responses to They Show Their Love By Insulting You

  • Talk about narratives. Just curious, do you read anything outside your alternative universe? Walker and sycophants like yourself get to spend the past 12 months claiming outside interests and outside money are running the show for the union protests and then you have the gall to complain that people are pointing out that
    1) national democrats and their affiliates eschewed the recall for various and assorted reasons and
    2) Walker was given vast sums of out of state money and support.
    That´s chutzpah.

  • Exhibit A proving my thesis: MZ Forrest.

    Though I do appreciate the honesty here as MZ encapsulates the progressive mindset. Money being contributed from out of state: bad. Voters being bused in from out of state: democracy in action!

  • Nice try MZ. What really happened is that much of the Left exists in an ideological bubble where it was assumed that Walker could be recalled on a wave of popular outrage. The Left has been having a gigantic temper tantrum about Walker since his election, and it was assumed that the general public shared this outrage. The reality based community once again demonstrating that it is anything but.

  • You’ve put into words here the uncomfortable feeling I had when I identified as liberal. I wanted such good things for humanity, but oh how it annoyed me when other people just didn’t get it!

  • Democracy, like Compromise, means “doing what Dems want.”

  • He’s learnt well from his Obamassiah.

    What a wuss!

  • In regard to Rousseau’s contempt for humanity, all you need to know is the way in which he abandoned his newborn kids:

    “In March 1745 Rousseau began an affair with Thérèse Le Vasseur. She was twenty-four years old, a maid at Rousseau’s lodgings. She remained with him for the rest of his life—as mistress, housekeeper, mother of his children, and finally, in 1768, as his wife. They had five children—though some biographers have questioned whether any of them were Rousseau’s. Apparently he regarded them as his own even though he assigned them to a hospital for abandoned children. Rousseau had no means to educate them, and he reasoned that they would be better raised as workers and peasants by the state.”

    The hospital for abandoned children had a very high mortality rate among abandoned infants. Rousseau knew this. That heartless charlatan wasn’t worth being spat upon.

  • If democracy makes people so unstable I am not sure we really want it. Aristotle says that democracy comes from a corruption of constitutional government.

  • Talk about narratives. Just curious, do you read anything outside your alternative universe?

    Yes.

    1) national democrats and their affiliates eschewed the recall for various and assorted reasons and

    Optimization in the use of available resources.

    Walker was given vast sums of out of state money and support.</i

    1. The sums of money are subject to the effects of diminishing returns;

    2. The demonstration of what Gov. Walker has been up to in Wisconsin affects the political dynamic elsewhere (New York, for example).

  • Also want to point out to MZ that the unions picked this fight and poured in resources from out of state to get the recall effort off the ground. They ought not be complaining when they got beaten in the fund-raising effort. (Liberals’ success at fund raising is, of course, proof of their popularity; conservatives’ success at fund-raising is proof of their greed.)

    “Just curious, do you read anything outside your alternative universe?”
    That’s exactly the question the reporter should have asked the guy in clip who insisted democracy died (unless the reporter feared for his safety). I suspect that guy has received nothing but affirmation from his colleagues that victory was at hand. In all seriousness, he may not anyone who supported Walker, he may have no idea how to reach out Walker supporters to get them to change their mind, and seems to think that Walker supporters are all stupid or greedy.

    The reality is that Scott Walker’s opponents overreached to the point of buffoonishness and drove potential supporters (i.e., reliable Democratic voters) away. For instance, one set of exit polls (no link) showed most voters didn’t even think it was legitimate to hold a recall election for a governor unless a serious crime had been committed.

  • As always, they justify evil and hate by invoking their presumed moral superiority.

    Obama definition of compromise, “My way or the highway.”

    Gotta love it!!!

    I’m uneducated in these things. Imus says Slick Willy is sabotaging the One’s reelection efforts.

    AD is right. A. Cuomo is doing much the same (except he keeps the Unions funded with our tax money) as Walker, but he isn’t the devil.

  • Mac,

    Don’t hold back, now.

    Let us know how you feel.

    “That heartless charlatan wasn’t worth being spat upon.”

    Translation: “I wouldn’t pee on him if he was on fire.”

  • Aside from all of the rhetoric regarding the results of this recall election, when the gentleman proclaims that “Democracy is dead”, he is probably correct. As long as we allow money to “buy” elections in America (Super Pacs and other sources of campaign financing), then the every public office will continue to go to the biggest spender, with few exceptions. No wonder people believe that their vote no longer counts.

  • The money count that is tossed about may also not include union money spent.

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/06/06/Media-Spin-Recall-As-Money-Suck

    Bottom line – the common good won out.

  • The current narrative from the democrats is that republicans bought the governor’s election and they cite $34 million to $4 million (no cite) as proof. If it was true then we should be able to see a change in the polling data from before the money started getting spent to after the money was spent but there is no statistical meaningful change (no cite). The advertising had minimal impact if any. The best spin the republicans can put on spending that amount of money is that it shored up the base or helped hold on to what they had. The second problem with the number is that it does not contain what the unions and other private organizations spent. Once you look at the whole amount spent by everyone then the amounts are much closer (no cite). The real reason that Barrett lost is because he did not put out a viable alternative plans to Walker’s actions – here in Brown County there were just attack ads (non scientific research – when I watched TV & listened to radio). The best attack ads can do is suppress the other sides base but it does not attract voters. Attack ads are important but will not carry the day without a viable positive alternate plan/message. Barrett did not have such a message. Even one of my ultra far left democratic co-workers admitted that Barrett lost because he did not articulate a viable plan.

  • Y’know, MZ, I had a whole long, scathing diatribe written out but then it occurred to me that fascists don’t listen anyway.

    Best of luck. Seriously.

  • @WK Aiken: Your attacks somehow lose their sting when I realize you pretty much cut and paste the same thing for anyone who disagrees with you.

    Perhaps you should look the word up before you use it again: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fascism

  • The left is in retreat thanks to [fill in the blank].

    Jenifer Rubin, “Not even Jimmy Carter did this much, I would suggest, to jerk his party to the left and hobble its electoral prospects. No wonder Clinton is on a rampage.”

    I blame Clintion.

  • To all leftists, occupiers, unionists and malcontents:

    Thank you! What an election! We couldn’t have done it without you.

    Without your tantrums, outbursts and boorish behavior we might have

    stayed home for this election. Without your filthy, pot smoking hemp

    -headed minions occupying and violating the Capitol we might have been

    complacent. Without your obnoxious protests, boycotts and other actions

    from your union playbook, we might have sat this one out.

    But you couldn’t hold back. You couldn’t restrain yourselves and behave

    like adults. You couldn’t accept the 2010 election results. We sat and

    watched as you erupted in a juvenile hissy fit that embarrassed

    Wisconsin. The spectacle you created is what motivated us. And thanks

    to your ill-mannered behavior, we won. We turned out. Big time! And now

    we are organized and energized. Committed. “All in”. And we aren’t going

    away. We now have our own organizations (no dues required), an army of

    volunteers and the means to communicate. And countless new sources of

    funding, including a donor base from all 50 states. And we have

    “I verify the recall” to ferret out your infiltrators in our future local

    elections.

    So thank you Mike Tate, Graeme Zielinski, Fred “loonie” Levenhagen,

    Ismael Ozanne, Maryanne Sumi, Noble Ray, Charles Tubbs, Joanne

    Kloppenberg, Segway boy, John Chisolm, public employee union members,

    UW TA’s, WEAC, SEIU, MTI, AFSCME Council 24 in Union Grove, and WI

    prison guards,. Thanks for the death threats, the intimidation, the

    bullying, belligerence, thuggery and goonish behavior. The lack of

    ethics and the failure to enforce rules and laws. Thank you for putting

    your selfish, greedy motives on display for all taxpayers to see.

    Your antics might have made you feel good but they didn’t make you look

    good. They sickened the rest of us.

    Thank you Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley. Your petty politics

    woke us up. Thanks you Miles Kristan for dumping the beer on Robin Vos’s

    head. Thank you university doctors for writing the phony excuses;

    Madison teachers for calling in sick or dragging your students to the

    protests without permission. Thank you Katherine Windels for making

    death threats against the Governor. The noontime capitol singers who

    taunted Sheboygan high school students. Thank you WEA trust for raping

    Wisconsin taxpayers. Thank you Gwen Moore for your embarrassing minstrel

    show. And thanks all of you for harassing the Walker family at their

    private home.

    You have all been exposed. Your tactics have been rejected. Your bad

    behavior has been forever captured on youtube.

    Thank you Peter Barca and fellow assembly members for donning your

    foolish orange t-shirts and screaming “shame” at legislators just doing

    their jobs.

    Thank you Mark Miller and all 14 senators for fleeing the state and

    making fools of yourselves in the process. Illinois need a few more

    village idiots. Thanks for showing us what democracy doesn’t look like.

    And Mayor Barrett. How grateful we are that you chose one low road after

    another in your issue-less campaign against the Governor. This was your

    strike three. You are out. Take a seat on the bench and stay there. I

    have a hunch this was your final at-bat.

    All of you helped turn Wisconsin permanently red. Your Governor, Scott

    Walker, will not just complete his first term, he is all but assured as

    many future terms as he seeks. He will be your Governor for a long, long

    time. Get used to it. And his national “rock star” status just might

    lead him to be your President some day. Just think, it couldn’t have

    happened without you! So to all of you blue fisters, thank you from the

    bottom of my happy, red heart.

    Sincerely,

    A Wisconsin taxpayer

  • As another put it succinctly: The Dems start a fight and pull a knife then complain when we defend ourselves with a gun claiming it wasn’t fair. Classic.

  • “Democracy is dead”? People have been saying that since the Civil War.

  • OK, this is long after the fact -I can’t sleep (again!) it is Monday morning, and there are still “Recall Walker” signs around my neighborhood.

    Because, gee, “when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”

    I was never so PROUD of my state as I was last Tuesday. No out-of-stater can comprehend how awful the last 18 months were for us “silent majority” Wisconsinites. I am so happy this is over! My Memorial Day weekend was ruined by an anti-Walker leftist from Madison who spit in my face and called me a “fascist” with imaginary sexual fantasies about Walker. I have no sexual feelings about the man – I admire his bravery and class. He and his family have suffered through death threats and the vilest insults were thrown at him every time he made a pulic appearance and yet the man never once lost this temper or responded in kind. He is not Catholic, he is the son of a Protestant minister, and I believe I have never seen such an example of a true Christian in public office.

    MZ, doesn’t the hate, the bile, the sheer evil and ugliness on your side ever give you pause? The secular left would send you to the camps too – you are just a useful idiot for them.

  • SAY not the struggle naught availeth,
    The labour and the wounds are vain,
    The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
    And as things have been they remain.

    If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
    It may be, in yon smoke conceal’d,
    Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
    And, but for you, possess the field.

    For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
    Seem here no painful inch to gain,
    Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

    And not by eastern windows only,
    When daylight comes, comes in the light;
    In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
    But westward, look, the land is bright!

Battleground Ohio

Wednesday, November 9, AD 2011

In the 2012 election, Ohio will once again be a key battleground state at the presidential level. This will be a new experience for me, now an Ohio resident, as I’ve spent my voting live up until now in California and Texas — two states so solidly in their opposite party’s columns that one at times wondered if it was worth the time to stand in line and vote.

The Ohio vote froom yesterday getting national and international headlines was the rejection of Issue 2, repealing a law which limitted collective bargaining for state employees including teachers, police and firemen. State employee unions poured huge amounts of money into the “No on 2” campaign and focused heavily on scare tactics. The most frequent claim was that if unions could not negotiate over staffing levels, that police or paramedics would not arrive when you needed them. “Vote no on Issue 2. It could save your life.”

The victory in the No on 2 campaign is being taken as a positive sign by Democrats nationally, but it is likely to be a bad sign for the actual state workers who campaigned so hard for their unions. In the same election, voters rejected a number of local tax levies (both new and renewals) which in combination with the striking down of Senate Bill 5 (via the No on 2 campaign) means that local government will be stuck with old, more expensive contracts and also come up far short on revenues. This means that voters are still very much in a low tax, low budget mood (probably a positive for Republicans come next year) and that unions just spent an unprecedented amount of money in order to get more of their members laid off. Oops.

In yet another state-wide referendum, voters, by a 2-to-1 margin, voted to ammend the state constitution to ban any form of health insurance mandate in Ohio. Given that state constitutions cannot override federal laws, this is mostly a symbolic gesture, however with the ammendment getting a majority in every single county, it underscores how unpopular some of the key ideas of ObamaCare remain with voters.

It remains to be seen which of the two statewide issue votes prove to be the more suggestive of how Ohio voters will lean in the 2012 election.

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One Response to Battleground Ohio

Of Special People and Common Idiots

Thursday, June 9, AD 2011

Hattip to Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal. With one of my sons being autistic, it is little surprise that one of my favorite charities is Special Olympics.  It allows people who too often spend much of life on the sidelines  to compete as athletes and to be admired for what they can accomplish in overcoming the handicaps that life has dealt them.  The whole Special Olympics program is magnificent for special people and their parents, relatives and friends.  One would think that such an organization would be respected by all.  I guess not.

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22 Responses to Of Special People and Common Idiots

  • I’ve noticed that they’ve taken down their facebook page, or at least it is currently unavailable. I guess when each and every person wrote in to tell them what incredible idiots they all were they realized their public support was less than 100 percent.

  • These are Kurt’s people. Take the ban off and let him make a fool of himself defending his union buddies.

  • I can’t come up with words foul enough to describe the lowlifes who could pull a stunt like this and ruin a day to honor Special Olympians. I didn’t think anyone could sink as low as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist crew, but the public employee unions of the State of Wisconsin have proven me wrong.

  • This is just awful! What numbskull thought it was a good idea to protest at the Special Olympics?! I hope the Olympians had a great time anyway. These union supporters should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Jay Nordlinger writes about the idea of “safe zones”: that a person should be able to go to a concert, for example, without having someone foist his politics on him. This is the nastiest safe zone violation I’ve ever heard of.

  • Imagine there is no liberal.

  • I teach special needs kids age 17-22. If I could have reached through the monitor I would have committed a mortal sin on these protestors. Even Mother Theresa would b–ch slap these people.

  • What astonishes me about the protesters is that their hijacking of
    the kid’s moment with the governor was clearly planned, not impromptu.
    I could understand it if someone made an ass of himself because he
    was caught up in the moment, but these people got together, created
    costumes, applied makeup, and choreographed their movements.
    How is it that in all the time it took to do that, no one in the group
    realized that what they were about to do was so grotesque? It is
    chilling that there was not one shred of decency to be found amongst
    all the members of that group. What won’t they stoop to?

  • In my lifetime, I’ve known several mentally ill people, a couple of brain-damaged people, and have met several mentally disabled people. These idiots who disrupted a Special Olympics events becase they didn’t like the Governor shows the utter heartlessness of people committed to an ideology. It’s one thing to disageee with the Governor, it’s just cruel to abuse innocent people in this way. I hope the law in Madison throws the book at these creep! Maybe McClary can be appointed special prosecuter! LOL!

  • Since the pro-union protesters have made a point of showing up at the Capitol and protesting Gov. Walker’s public appearances on a regular basis, in retrospect, outside the Capitol might not have been the ideal place to hold this awards event… but even that probably wouldn’t have stopped these protestors.

    One would think liberal Democrats would respect Special Olympics because of its connection to the Kennedys (having been founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver) and because its “everybody wins” approach (entirely appropriate for developmentally disabled persons) is something liberals in general seem to want to impose on all educational and recreational activities even when it is NOT needed or appropriate. Then again, given that so many liberal Democrats fight tooth and nail for the right to kill these children before birth, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.

    As I’m sure you know, Don, autistic youth and those with other developmental disabilities don’t take too kindly to sudden disruptions in their routine; plus they tend to take things much more literally and personally than “normal” or neurotypical people do. What did these Special Olympians think when these rude people all drenched in fake blood and gory makeup appeared? Most of them probably don’t know, or care, about public employee unions or collective bargaining rights; all they know is that a bunch of people showed up at their special event and started acting really weird. We may realize it wasn’t aimed at them, but they may not, and it may have been extremely disturbing to some of them.

    Finally, this debacle just goes to show how far off the rails the concepts of civil disobedience and free speech have gone in the media age. It’s one thing to take upon ONESELF the consequences of disobeying an unjust law or order; it’s another thing entirely to call attention to one’s cause by simply being an (expletive deleted) regardless of the hardship or indignity it causes OTHERS.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) “Most of them probably don’t know, or care, about public employee unions or collective bargaining rights; all they know is that a bunch of people showed up at their special event and started acting really weird. We may realize it wasn’t aimed at them, but they may not, and it may have been extremely disturbing to some of them.”
    Elaine, I was telling Don something along those same lines yesterday at home, before we saw your comment. Had our son been there, he probably would have become quite upset at “mean people” interrupting what he had been expecting to happen. (Now, if the union thugs had been a bit more clever, they could have dressed up as Star Wars stormtroopers. Our son loves Star Wars — but he probably would have tried to touch them and talk to them then, and that probably wasn’t the effect the union thugs were going for. Oh, well!)

  • I am stunned and horrified at everyone blaming the victims – the protestors are just fighting for their rights to live in peace and harmony. So a few handicapped people were inconvenienced; their day must be sacrificed for the greater good and liberation of the working person (notice I did not say “man” because that would be sexist). LONG LIVE THE REVOLUITION!! It was the draconian, jack booted Nazi, black helicopter flying, Earth hating, Darth Vader-like behavior of the Republican Governor that caused the problem – if Mr. Walker would stop taking away the workers rights, the workers would not have had to been there.

    “A man must be sacrificed now and again to provide for the next generation of men.” – Amy Lowell. It was the Special Olympics day to sacrifice so the next generation may survive. It was caused by the inevitable march of history not the poor choices of the protestors.

    I am sure President Obama has contacted the Special Olympics and talked to them about restoring civility to our national discourse.

    Some may dislike what must be said but someone or organization must sacrificed for the greater good. To paraphrase George Orwell “To Sacrifice is Strength.”

  • Catholiclawyer.

    Are you serious????

    If so, you are a freak.

  • Don, I suspect that your sarcasm detector might need some fine tuning…

  • Now Don, you should have realized from many of my posts over the years that anyone with “lawyer” in his nom de internet may occasionally “illustrate absurdity by being absurd”! 🙂 Bravo CatholicLawyer!

    It just goes to show Don, never take at face value anything said by those sneaky attorneys! 🙂

  • I assume C/L’s “sarc-squared” function was operational.

    The point: Liberals and gov employee unions are not renowned for their intellectual acuity . . . their talents center on looting taxpayers.

  • Aha !! Mea culpa.

    I must say though, that meaningful and impacting sarcasm should be kept brief; but because it went on and on……

    Oh well, lawyers – talk a lot and say nothing. 🙂

  • How dare you Don! I will have to write a 250,000 word post to refute that libel! 🙂

  • Before you get started, I will have to plead “no contest” 🙂

    (mainly to avoid the pain) 😉

  • Their disruption of the ceremony was vile indeed, but my first thought was “They dressed like zombies?” In other words, the protesters simply reinforced the perception that they are unthinking automatons in bad need of brains. Yes, there were severely mentally challenged people at this event – and it’s not the Special Olympians I’m referring to.

    Sheesh. I’m a Wisconsinite and I am sick to death of Wisconsin politics. But I guess that is the leftist game plan – to wear down ordinary people to the point where we give up and let the left win, simply to stop the shouting.

    Except we’ve figured out that these folks never stop shouting.

  • It was mild sarcasim, the greatest form of humor (at least for me). As for lawyers talking a lot and saying nothing – there may be some truth to that but I will wait for Don’s brief.

  • Courage, Donna V.

    Last Laugh Department:

    WI Supreme Court upheld Gov. Walker’s bill reforming public employee unions – abolishing automatic withholding of dues, which was the cause of all this crap.

    The legislature, a judicial special election (where union organization should have been decisive), and the WISC all righteously beat them down.

    And, all along they showed us that they are thugs and, even worse, hurt a lot of little children.

Union Impressions: Rules vs. Work

Thursday, March 17, AD 2011

All of the discussion in the Catholic blogosphere, and the wider public square, about unions (and public employee unions in particular) has given me cause to think a bit about my attitude towards organized labor. There are a lot of rational political, economic and moral reasons I can give for why I don’t like labor unions as they exist in the US, but as is so often the case with deeply held opinions, my most basic reaction to unions has a lot to do with my personal experiences relation to work and to unions. As such, it seemed like a good way to address the issue is through the lens of the experiences which have helped shape my opinion of unionization.

1. Most of my exposure to unions was through my father, who held a staff position at a community college for twenty-five years, retiring just a month before losing a multi-year battle with cancer. (In a state college, the major divide is between staff — which includes basically everyone who is neither an instructor nor a manager — and faculty, who are the actual instructors. Since he only had a bachelor’s degree, Dad’s position was classified as staff, and staff positions were represented by a state school employees union which is a member of the AFL-CIO.) The college was not unionized when Dad got his job, but it became a union shop half-way through his time there, via an election which he always wondered about the validity of. (Union members and non-union members were given different colored ballots, so it certainly would have been easy to cheat if someone had wanted to.) Not only were the union’s politics diametrically opposed to my father’s (he always used their “state issues” political mailing to decide how not to vote) but the union supported people for the college board of directors who hired a college president who eventually drove the college into the financial ditch, resulting in constant fear and occasional layoffs. His more daily frustration, however, was the effect of the union’s vigorous protection of people who did not do their jobs well.

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40 Responses to Union Impressions: Rules vs. Work

  • What you said seems to be true from my experience as well: unions put an emphasis on rules (though I’d add ‘benefits’ too) and not on getting work done and done right. In my opinion, somewhere along the time-line of unions, they lost their purpose.
    But if it weren’t for unions, my father wouldn’t have had a job to support me and my 5 siblings: he worked as a negotiator between a union (for the FAA workers) and the government–a good one at that, apparently: no workers strikes in his almost 30 years with the FAA.

    I’m still undecided on the whole issue, but I do believe one thing for sure: that is that unions should not be allowed to donate to campaigns when using federal or local monies (ie only allowed to donate what union members volunteer to give).

  • Several years ago I spoke against the IBEW at an open meeting. I was pleased not to have been beaten up or my car torched, but the threats were real. The IBEW and their stooges, including the local newspaper, accused me of belonging to a union myself, which I don’t How ironic later to be accused by fellow Catholics of being a union member also because I am a (gasp) public-school teacher (happily, in a non-union state). Unions are objectively evil, but let us all be sure that we don’t believe everything we hear on the radio and read on the ‘net, and in so doing accuse people falsely.

  • I for one object to the notion that Unions are objectively evil. Some things that some Unions do might be objectively evil, but often the situation very much depends upon which side you view the issue.

    Lets take a closer look at the rules. My Dad was a union member for years, and many of those rules had very good reasons behind them. For example, in the warehouses he worked at, jobs were assigned by seniority. This served two purposes, it prevented the supervisors from assigning people based on favoritism (not ability to do the job, but rather based on friendship or other factors unrelated to work itself), it also gave guys who had worked very hard for a company for 20-30 years a chance to do easier jobs when their bodies were no longer able to do the hardest jobs, but they were not yet ready for retirement. Other rules, like mandatory breaks were instituted because companies use to make workers work non-stop for hours, sometimes without so much as a bathroom break.

    Now lets look at the way Unions fight for fired workers. This may come as a shock to you, but sometimes companies, or at least managers fire people for unjust reasons. I know I have been fired unjustly at least twice in my career. The first time was so a manager could hire a friend to fill my position (though he lied about the reason he fired me to his superiors) and the second time was because I disagreed with my manager about a technical issue (I am an engineer, she wasn’t and I told her her method of solving a technical issue was wrong). In both cases, had I been a Union employee, I am confident I would not have lost my job. My Dad had been a shop steward, and I know how they approached workers who were fired. A company had to document particular failings if it was going to fire a worker (failure to do their job, chronic lateness, etc.). It prevented many arbitrary firings that had less to do with job performance and more to do with bad tempers.

    Unions are an essential method in a capitalist society of balancing the scale between employers and employees. People may complain about unions these days, but how many of them would want to work in the conditions that Americans worked in in the 19th century, or that third world workers work in to this very day? Either hour days, five day weeks, breaks, child labor laws were all passed at least in part because of strong union support. If the have over reached in the present, that signals a need for reform, not elimination.

  • Your experiences with unions are entirely yours. Let me counter with some experiences in Texas – a right-to-work state – as an unemployment insurance judge. I used to do many hearings with Wal – Mart, which hires people part-time, schedules them for 60-hour-weeks for three weeks out of the month and then no time for the fourth week, so the employees don’t get paid overtime and don’t qualify for full-time benefits, but also so that the employees can’t claim for unemployment for that off-week. HEB does the same thing. Under Texas law, that’s perfectly legal. Wal-mart pays huge amounts of money to lawyers and lobbyists to keep its workplaces free of unions and organizers, to preserve its right to pay coolie wages and impose ridiculous work rules.

  • “If the have over reached in the present, that signals a need for reform, not elimination.”

    That’s difficult when the unions and their supporters treat EVERY effort at reform as tantamount to elimination. (See, e.g., Wisconsin and Ohio.)

  • “Your experiences with unions are entirely yours.”

    Yeah, no one else has ever had the same types of experiences with regard to unions.

  • A friend of mine at a Big Ten Campus had to fight for five years to fire a union subordinate who had an unexplained 50% absentee rate. Union reps seemed to think it was their sole responsibility to drag the matter out as long as possible, and had no concern that their member was being paid money to perform a job she obviously had no interest in performing.

  • If you believe that unions are “objectively evil” and need to be abolished because of the numerous abuses of union power we see today, then perhaps you should call for marriage and childbearing to be outlawed as well because of the numerous cases of domestic violence, child abuse, adultery, etc. we see today. Or perhaps police should be abolished because of police brutality. Or maybe the priesthood should be abolished because of… you get the picture. Abuse, no matter how widespread, does not negate proper use.

    Still, it is obvious that unions are in urgent need of radical reform, and that most unions in the U.S. do NOT fit the mold envisioned in Catholic social teaching. The most radical and needed reform IMO would be making union membership voluntary. Also it is not out of line to question whether unions really need to exist in the public sector where taxpayers fund the pay and benefits they receive.

    I do not have any personal experience of belonging to a union, and neither did anyone in my family with the exception of my grandfather who was a steel mill worker through the Depression, World War II and into the 50s. His union had to fight pretty hard for every benefit they got, and they inevitably went on strike every 3 years when their contract expired. My grandfather hated being on strike, especially when the strikes dragged on long enough that it began to hurt his family financially. Their last strike, just before he retired, lasted more than 6 months.

    My grandfather, who died when I was in my late teens, never had anything good to say about unions when the topic came up. However, in his last and longest strike one of the concessions the union got from the company was a much improved pension plan. That pension enabled my grandparents to live reasonably well for the remaining 25 years of their lives. Since they themselves lived simply, they even were able to set aside money to help me and my brother pay for our college education. So he did at least get some kind of compensation in the end for all the strikes he had to endure.

    As with anything else run by fallen human beings, unions have their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Mack Hall,

    One could say that many unions at this time support objectively evil things — but I don’t think it’s at all possible to say that unions “are” objectively evil. Indeed, it’s hard for me to see how any organization could be objectively evil in and of itself. Organizations just are — and I certainly have no objection to an organization consisting of workers forming to give workers a voice. I do tend thing that the union regulations we have here in the US probably create some bad incentives for both employers and employees. But I don’t think that unions per se are evil or even are by their natures bad or unhelpful, I just think that in our current economy and polity their incentives drive them to look out for bad workers over good ones.

    Not to join the (justifiable) pile on, I just figure as the author of the post I need to be clear on this.

    Maryland Bill,

    I can see that seniority rules would sometimes have benefits, but at the same time, when rigidly enforced, they can have some serious downsides. For instance, one of the stories that the GOP was pointing to in Wisconsin was how a young teacher voted “Teacher of the Year” for outstanding work was laid off the next year because there were budget cuts in the school district and the union insisted that the teachers with the least experience go first. Now, one could argue that that teacher will do much better finding a new job than someone with twenty three years of tenure who’s just punching the clock, but it hardly seems just or desireable for the work of the school that people be laid off completely irrespective of merit.

    On the flip side, I do know of instances where (especially because a union shop often results in a company effectively outsourcing their HR work to the union) unions have done good work on behalf of people fired unjustly. For instance, I recall a friend of my in-laws who was a UPS drive who was fired because in deep snow he failed to see a curb while backing out of a drive way and drove over it with his truck, accidentally crushing an ornamental nick-nack the homeowner had out by the mailbox. The homeowner complained and UPS, having a “zero tolerance” policy terminated him without questions despite his having worked there more than a decade with no prior complaints. The union got him re-instated, and I would consider that a good thing.

    However, on balance, it seems to me that unions bring more of a bad attitude to the workplace than a good one.

    Karen,

    Well, everyone’s experiences are theirs, that’s a bit of a tautology, isn’t it.

    I certainly don’t think that employers never behave badly. I know people who have been unjustly fired (in Texas, no less, where I lived and worked for seven years), though in my experience it was always in companies too small to be unionized anyway.

    At the same time, I’d submit that if your full time job is dealing with situations where people are disputing whether they’ve been justly fired, that’s going to give you a highly biased set of experiences since you’ll invariably deal with a lot of bad situations. It’s like the issue with police starting to stereotype because they deal with so many people of a certain look and background who really are criminals.

    Trust me, though, there are equally bad sets of experiences which people dealing with unions can point to. There was, for instance, an admin who was terminated for never doing any work. The administration tried to fire him, but the union had him re-instated claiming there wasn’t sufficient proof. The department was so frustrated that they spent six months gathering a dossier of proof that the guy wasn’t doing his job. At that point the union reps insisted this proved that the department had a personal vendetta against him and had him reinstated again.

    Nor is this entirely the union’s fault, because according to current labor law the union is supposed to do this. Indeed, if they fail to pull every trick to protect a bad employee, the employee can sue them for failure to represent.

    Thus, naturally, in a situation where the management is not actively stupid and malevolent (which at least in my experience seems to be most places most of the time — bosses are much like workers, most of them are just trying to do their jobs well even if they aren’t particularly good at it) unions end up benefiting bad workers much more than good ones. After all, the employers want the good ones, and thus “protecting” them isn’t a huge help. The bad ones, on the other hand, need protection.

  • to preserve its right to pay coolie wages and impose ridiculous work rules.

    Stop it. Wal-Mart’s employees are not imported from India with contracts of indenture. The wages they pay are market wages.

    _____

    Re Maryland Bill’s story v. Darwin’s & c.:

    One should note that while both are describing service enterprises, two different eras are concerned, one is a private and one is a public employer, and one is an essentially masculine milieux where the brawn of the employees is salient and one is a more generic milieux. One might suggest that Wagner Act unionism was a response to defaults in industrial relations characteristic of one type of setting and not manifest in other settings, and that the extension of practices adapted to constructions sites, factories, and warehouses to clerical offices (public and private) was an error.

  • I know people who have been unjustly fired (in Texas, no less, where I lived and worked for seven years), though in my experience it was always in companies too small to be unionized anyway.

    I suppose I could be one of those people Darwin speaks of, though I don’t know if he recalls the conditions in which I lost my job in Texas. Suffice it to say, applying a normal distribution (a.k.a the bell curve) to a particular group’s performance reviews isn’t necessarily the best way of assessing your team’s talent and subsequently making job cuts based upon that data, especially when your sample size is a mere 8 people. I was that guy and was let go despite the protests of my remaining team. I suppose the logic was to either trim the fat or cull the herd (I don’t begrudge my former employer that right, it helps them in their goal of profitability.) It seems HR departments would benefit from a staff member being a mathematician or statistician to let this people know bell curves tend to be a more accurate model when your sample size is larger rather than smaller.

    Interestingly, this incident ended up starting a chain reaction which ended in me uprooting my family to a non-right-to-work state, with a new (and better!) job. Even more interestingly, the place is a union shop with unionized engineering staff too (which is where I am). We are private sector. My status with this engineering union is that of a Beck objector (basically, I pay an agency fee, which I also object to, rather than full dues and have no voting rights).

    While I have thrived in this environment, I believe it’s more due to the people around me (management & team members) rather than the legalities regarding unions. With that in mind, you could probably guess that I’d much prefer that my current home was a right-to-work state. More often than not, the management that I have encountered (at many different levels) are good people trying to get the job done. I’ve encountered a couple of pricks, similar to what I experienced in my previous gig. Yet when contract negotiations come up, the rhetoric (at least from the unions) tends towards class warfare and is needlessly adversarial in nature. It becomes us (good, little guys) versus them (bad fat cats), when in fact it should be that we are all on the same team. I consider it a privilege to work in this field, as do a great many other people around here.

    My biggest complaint about the negotiations around here, is that the benefits packages are heads and shoulders above what other companies offer. And the union leadership and others don’t seem to realize just how good we have things. I fear they try to bite the hand that feeds them way too often. It’s ungrateful, really. One of my friends at church also works for the same employer, but in a fairly high position in HR. We’ve spoken about things of this nature, and he’s mentioned the ruthless nature of these negotiations. In fact, he’s been responsible for some aspects of these compensation packages in the past, only to have the union spit on what he considered a just and generous compensation package. (By just, I mean that he tries to practically apply CST.)

    I’ve also heard other stories similar to those related in this post.

  • “to preserve its right to pay coolie wages and impose ridiculous work rules.”

    Stop it. Wal-Mart’s employees are not imported from India with contracts of indenture. The wages they pay are market wages.

    Heh. I’ve never quite understood why WalMart is the “evil empire” to people in ways that Target and other similar stores aren’t. I don’t personally enjoy shopping at WalMart (and so stopped once I could afford to) but it’s reputation for being evil is outsized for sure. Indeed, in an amusingly “bootleggers and baptists” situation, WalMart has lobbied to raise the minimum wage. (Not because they’re all full of rainbows and butterflies, but because they can afford the hit better than their competitors and so forcing all low wage employers to increase wages a bit would help them more than hurt them.)

    One might suggest that Wagner Act unionism was a response to defaults in industrial relations characteristic of one type of setting and not manifest in other settings, and that the extension of practices adapted to constructions sites, factories, and warehouses to clerical offices (public and private) was an error.

    I would agree with that. I think unions are best suited to addressing situations where there is a lot of fairly undifferentiated labor that employers can easily take advantage of because of plentiful supply. With more skilled labor, it becomes much more of a racket.

  • The college was not unionized when Dad got his job, but it became a union shop half-way through his time there, via an election which he always wondered about the validity of. (Union members and non-union members were given different colored ballots, so it certainly would have been easy to cheat if someone had wanted to.)

    I hate to suggest your departed father may not have had his story right, but this makes no sense. If it was an election to create a union, then at the time of the election, no one was a union member. What I suspect your Dad misunderstood is that, by law, separate elections must be held for “professionals” and “non-professionals” unless the pros vote to be in the same unit as the non-pros. I imagine this is what was happening and I think you might want to consider his objectivity on other matters he related to you.

    Nevertheless, bosses to not share the grace given to the Blessed Mother of being without sin. Nor do workers. Having a system of due process and representation serves the common good. We can all find a few stories of the worst abuses (be they verifiable or not). But I am willing to bet that if I blindly grabbed the case load of any one of my stewards, a review of the cases might not convince my conservative friends here that the union is right every time, but I think they would be very embarrassed to defend management on most of the cases and to defend the proposition that in this workplace, justice would be served by the workers not having a negotiated grievence process.

  • I imagine this is what was happening and I think you might want to consider his objectivity on other matters he related to you.

    Yeah, I’m way not buying the poisoning the well approach, Kurt. I’m willing to qualify the point about the election (though I heard it from two different staffers as well as my dad, it was many years after the fact) but that was exactly what it was, a parenthetical. I don’t consider it remotely central to what I was relating.

    Issues such as the union defense of the department secretary I know personally from multiple sources — in part because once I was a teenager I got under-the-table work from various instructors doing her work for her on a cash basis since she didn’t do much herself. As I say, a sweet lady. But unfortunately, she just didn’t do the job.

    Having a system of due process and representation serves the common good.

    I agree, and I strongly encourage a company to have an HR department. That is no reason for the kind of idiotic lengths that unions are willing to go to in order to protect people who don’t do their jobs. For instance, it’s pretty telling when even the NY Times has done a whole series on the idiocies inflicted on their school system by the teachers unions.

    But I am willing to bet that if I blindly grabbed the case load of any one of my stewards, a review of the cases might not convince my conservative friends here that the union is right every time, but I think they would be very embarrassed to defend management on most of the cases and to defend the proposition that in this workplace, justice would be served by the workers not having a negotiated grievence process.

    Perhaps, but workplaces that you’re called into are, of necessity, workplaces that have already been turned into adversarial environments by the fact that they are unionized. And as I pointed out to Karen above — your files are, of their nature, going to be full of grievances. They’re not going to be full of how much more inefficient and hostile to getting work done your union has made the workplace for us workers who just want to get work done.

    I don’t expect you to agree with my impressions — speaking of lacking objectivity, it’s quite obvious that you have a political, professional and financial interest in not doing so. But I would advise that rather than going around suggesting that people who disagree with you on whether unions actually serve the common good as they exist and operate in the US are under the illusion that management is immaculately conceived (which is a pretty offensive notion for you to impute to others) it might well be that most of us have been put off by precisely the kind of experiences I and others have related here.

  • There is plenty of undifferentiated labor in clerical offices and (if anything) a lower aggregate skill level than you would find on a shopfloor. My suggestion was that there was a different set of social dynamics at work. One possibility is that clerical work does not lend itself as readily to production metrics. Another is that the back-and-forth between a female workforce and management tends to have a different resultant than that between a male workforce and management. A third might be that there is a greater sense of psychological distance between management and production workers than there is between management and clerical workers.

  • Here’s what due process for union workers means: LA having to spend $3.5 million to try to fire 7 horrible teachers. http://www.laweekly.com/content/printVersion/854792/

    Surely there’s a better way than this?

  • More union due process:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/nyregion/13homes.html?_r=3&sq=at%20state-run&st=cse&scp=1&pagewanted=all

    The state initiated termination proceedings in 129 of the cases reviewed but succeeded in just 30 of them, in large part because the workers’ union, the Civil Service Employees Association, aggressively resisted firings in almost every case. A few employees resigned, even though the state sought only suspensions.

    In the remainder of the cases, employees accused of abuse — whether beating the disabled, using racial slurs or neglecting their care — either were suspended, were fined or had their vacation time reduced.

  • Full disclosure: I am currently a public school teacher in Louisiana. For 5-1/2 years (2001-2006) I was a UniServ Director for the Louisiana Association of Educators. Louisiana is a right-to-work state. I am not currently a member of the union … er, professional association.

    With that in mind, I’d like to offer some perspective “from the inside”, so to speak.

    As a UniServ Director, it was my job to defend the legal rights and privileges of our members; lobby for more rights/privileges/increased compensation; inform/provide professional development opportunities; and – above all – recruit more members.

    I joined the union as a new teacher because I saw it as a way to provide myself some legal protection and because I believed – and still do believe – that workers have the right to organize for their benefit.

    I got the job quite by accident, as I was not active *at all* in the union. During my time, I saw a fair share of abuses on both sides – the teachers and the “management” (principals/superintendents/school boards).

    I ultimately quit because – through the grace of God – I found myself escorting NEA President Reg Weaver around South Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. It was just the two of us. I asked him some hard questions about the funding of immoral groups by using dues money, not PAC money. He confirmed by suspicion, and I knew that I could no longer pretend that the NEA was a morally legitimate organization.

    By the grace of God, I was re-hired by my old school district, at my old high school, just 1/2-mile from home. I will not pay dues to NEA again.

    Nevertheless, I think that I was able to do some good work. I did certainly protect employees who were being railroaded because of personal reasons.

    Did I help to make it difficult to fire a bad employee? Maybe. But, if a principal did his work, then the employee was reprimanded, suspended, or terminated. However, such action was based on demonstrable evidence; not some “subjective” feeling.

    Tenure – at least in Louisiana – does not prohibit bad teachers from being fired. All tenure does is give due process to the employee, allowing him to explain his side of the story to the body that makes the decisions – the school board. Otherwise, the school board only hears from the administration, which obviously wants the firing.

    I wish that the muckety-mucks who run the National Education Association would simply stick to education issues. But, they won’t. So, they lose members.

  • Issues such as the union defense of the department secretary I know personally from multiple sources

    Okay, let’ take that one. I’ve had more than my share of discussions with union and non-union workers who wanted my advice on how they could sue (non-union) or grieve (union) “because my boss was unfair to me.” Which, of course, my response is “okay, he was unfair. Did he violate any law (non-union)/article of the contract (union). I have no idea of the provisions of the contract this secretary was operating under, but I can’t imagine on what basis a grievence would have been filed under. Can you give me some guidence on this?

    Perhaps, but workplaces that you’re called into are, of necessity, workplaces that have already been turned into adversarial environments

    Your claim is that prior to the labor movement, America’s factories, mines and mills were models of non-adversarial environments, polluted by the advent of unions?

    I strongly encourage a company to have an HR department

    And when your advice to have an HR department that has a system of due process that serves the common good is not followed?

  • I’ve had more than my share of discussions with union and non-union workers who wanted my advice on how they could sue (non-union) or grieve (union) “because my boss was unfair to me.” Which, of course, my response is “okay, he was unfair. Did he violate any law (non-union)/article of the contract (union). I have no idea of the provisions of the contract this secretary was operating under, but I can’t imagine on what basis a grievence would have been filed under. Can you give me some guidence on this?

    From your equivalence of “grieving” with suing, I’m wondering if I am, perhaps, inadvertently using some sort of technical union terminology without meaning to. There wasn’t an attempt to seek damages or anything. What did happen, in more detail, was as follows:

    The secretary (let’s call her Kathy) had a full time secretarial job which was split between the cost centers of two departments, so she worked for Earth Science in the mornings and Psychology in the afternoons. During the course of the ’90s, as the college became increasingly computerized, the departments started asking Kathy to do things on the computers rather than via her trusty typewriter. Kathy was in her early 50s (making her the same age as most of the instructors in Earth Science, perhaps five years older than my dad) and found computers deeply mystifying. She went to various training classes provided by the college, but could never seem to retain anything even about very basic things like putting together fliers in Word or keeping an address list in Excel. Whenever one of these kind of tasks came up, she would ask for help (typically from my dad, since after the department got moved into smaller quarters they shared and office, later often from me, since when I was hanging around between classes I had more time on my hands than Dad did) and it would take a very, very long time, unless you simply did it for her.

    Thus, things she was asked to do on computer (and increasingly, you couldn’t do the things wanted with a typewriter instead) they wouldn’t get done on time, and other tasks would pile up and get delayed as well. Things got worse and worse in both departments, with other people having to pick up the slack even though it was outside their jobs descriptions, and eventually Psychology (being a larger and more anal department) eventually threatened to discipline her and have her terminated if she couldn’t get it together and get her work done.

    Kathy went to the union, saying that it wasn’t a matter of her not doing work that but the departments were asking for more and more work, and that they were trying to force her to do more work than was possible during her hours, and then disciplining her — thus creating a hostile environment. (Arguably, this was true from her point of view, since it took her four hours to type up on a computer what she could type on a typewriter in an hour — she just couldn’t learn how to format documents on a computer, how to name files so she could find them again, etc.)

    The union investigated and took the position that they were indeed violating her contract by trying to force her to do more work than was possible during her hours. The departments needed to back off and stop attempting to get extra hours out of her (or disciplining her for not doing unrealistic amounts of work) or else the union would have to take action.

    So the departments couldn’t discipline or fire her for not doing the work that was needed — given that state run colleges are very, very heavy on due process for getting rid of anyone.

    They could have declared that her work wasn’t needed, and laid her off, but then they wouldn’t have been able to hire a replacement. (If it looked clear that they’d claimed she was excess, got rid of her, and then immediately hired a replacement, that would clearly have been actionable.) They could also have attempted in pass her off to another department, but clearly this was hard to do since other departments didn’t want someone who couldn’t do the work. The union’s advice was to hire an additional secretary, since there was clearly so much work to do, but state budgets being what they are, that was never an option. So the solution for the following decade until she retired was to have her do the work she like (walking to the mail room twice a day, xeroxing, etc.) and put scheduling, fliers, mailing lists and such in the hands of someone who could do the work — usually dad, since he was the only other classified (staff rather than faculty) employee in the department, cared about whether or not things worked well, and shared an office with the secretary.

    And as I said earlier: It goes without saying that the union would have been very happy to support Dad in insisting that he didn’t have to do the work either.

    But that’s where the union mentality bugs me. I find it virtually impossible to think in terms of, “Look, it doesn’t matter whether things get done or get done right — I’ll do my hours and that’s it.” What seems to me important about work is that it be done — regardless of how long it takes. (Which can mean working late for no extra pay, or that if you get done early you should be able to walk without taking a hit on your paycheck.)

    It’s the sort of attitude it seems to me should be brought to any job — but watching how things played out at the college convinced me it was not how things worked there in a unionized environment. Which is one of the reasons I was determined to head into a non-unionized industry.

    Your claim is that prior to the labor movement, America’s factories, mines and mills were models of non-adversarial environments, polluted by the advent of unions?

    Clearly not. The spur to create unions was that in many cases employees were being treated badly by owners or managers.

    However, unions, like any other organization, become self justifying in their need for existence. And in any work environment, half the workers are going to be below average. So there’s always going to be a natural constituency for an organization which promises to protect workers as a whole and to “fight for” higher wages and benefits.

    And when your advice to have an HR department that has a system of due process that serves the common good is not followed?

    Leave and work for another company. I think companies that mistreat their workers deserve to go bankrupt. (Or else they’ll catch on suddenly that they can’t retain good talent and they’ll mend their ways. Either way, better for everyone.)

  • Leave and work for another company.

    Bingo. The mobility of the workforce is much greater than was the case eighty years ago.

  • Well, and FWIW, it seems to me that one of the things that a fraternal organization of workers could potentially be good at in the modern economy would be making labor mobility easier by providing a non-employer source of benefits.

    Blue-skying here: Say it was required that companies offer an either/or option on benefits like health insurance and 401k matching: either you can get the benefit through the company, or the company can make a transfer payment to a worker’s association you belong to where you participate in a transferable health care plan and retirement savings account.

    It would also be interesting if membership in a worker’s association actually denoted better than average accountability and performance — say if such a group provided certifications or ratings that were actually useful to employers in finding the best candidates to fill jobs.

    On the other hand, it seems like the difficulty is that given a democratic structure to a worker’s association, it would naturally tend towards non-performance-based approaches to rank and pay. It’s easier to get a majority to support seniority based pay or piling up useless certifications than it is to get a majority to support a meritocracy.

  • Which can mean working late for no extra pay, or that if you get done early you should be able to walk without taking a hit on your paycheck.

    In some cases, the nature of the work dictates the degree of flexibility in hours worked. There’s no “leaving early” for police officers. But for the increasing number of desk jobs out there, it makes sense not to treat employees like children and make them sit at their desks, twiddling their thumbs until they’ve put in their eight hours (even if they’ve finished their work and more).

    In the unionized environment where I work, employees invite micromanagement and being treated like children. That’s the flipside of getting those benefits and smoke breaks — someone’s going to be riding you to make sure you put in every minute and dot every i. I can’t say I blame management entirely — there are probably quite a few employees who would take advantage of having more autonomy. Sadly, there’s a huge divide in employee mindsets. There are many people out there who don’t have an orientation towards “getting the job done.” It’s just a paycheck, and as long as they follow the rules and show up, all is good.

    Which brings up another point…

    The mobility of the workforce is much greater than was the case eighty years ago.

    Mobility works well for a lot of white collar, private sector employees. It’s their replacement for job security. However, I’m convinced that there is a very large stratum of workers out there who can’t be, won’t be, or just aren’t very mobile. Occasionally, it’s because the nature of the work they do is so highly specific to their field, there are very poor prospects of translating it into something else. (In the defense industry, for example, there are many occupations that have no close equivalents in other sectors.) There are other reasons for a lack of mobility, not all of which are related to employee intransigence. What to do about this is a thorny issue. The standard economist’s answer is “retraining,” but that’s a bit of a hand wave to me.

    I, too, have the mindset of “getting the job done,” but I’m also aware of the Catholic teaching that the economy serves the person, not the other way around. Unions will continue to play a role for that reason. At the same time, if workers don’t want to be treated like children, they need to reject union ways that invite the comparison.

  • Blue-skying here: Say it was required that companies offer an either/or option on benefits like health insurance and 401k matching: either you can get the benefit through the company, or the company can make a transfer payment to a worker’s association you belong to where you participate in a transferable health care plan and retirement savings account.

    It would also be interesting if membership in a worker’s association actually denoted better than average accountability and performance — say if such a group provided certifications or ratings that were actually useful to employers in finding the best candidates to fill jobs.

    You have described what is currently commonplace in the unionized building trades.

    The union investigated and took the position that they were indeed violating her contract by trying to force her to do more work than was possible during her hours. …So the departments couldn’t discipline

    I’ve never seen a union contract that said a union finding prevents discipline. A Step 1 Grievance allows a worker (or the steward) to put in writing their objection to proposed discipline and receive in writing back from the supervisor the basis for the discipline. Step 2, if appealled, would allow the steward to make the case to the supervisor’s superior. 98% of cases end there. I will conceed that the union is certainly a force in favor of a poor performing worker under a manager who is incapable of articulating or describing what a worker’s preformance problem is. (I,e, a manager who can’t manage). From what you have said, it seems that management could have objectively shown that she is not performing her duties.

  • You have described what is currently commonplace in the unionized building trades.

    Good for them. Though I must say, I think the giant inflatable rats in front of companies that hire non union builders are a bit much. Quality being equal, people do tend to go for the lower bidder. (And when quality is higher at the lower bidder, all the more.)

    http://www.inc.com/magazine/20050301/nbrodsky.html

    Well, and hiring non-union workers to walk the picket lines is also mildly amusing:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704288204575362763101099660.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#printMode

    I will conceed that the union is certainly a force in favor of a poor performing worker under a manager who is incapable of articulating or describing what a worker’s preformance problem is. (I,e, a manager who can’t manage). From what you have said, it seems that management could have objectively shown that she is not performing her duties.

    Honestly, I don’t know where this fell on that question. On the one hand, I know the college had administrative procedures which made it virtually impossible to terminate someone or seriously discipline them without the union’s agreement via an internal arbitration panel with both managers and classified employees on it. On the other, we’re talking about academics here. The department heads were professors in their 60s who taught half time and managed half time, so they may well have been following the path of least resistance: if the union objects, why get into a fight about it.

  • Though I must say, I think the giant inflatable rats in front of companies that hire non union builders are a bit much.

    Really? I LOVE the rat!!!

    Honestly, I don’t know where this fell on that question.

    It seems to me to be a pretty important point. Evaluating a professor seems to me to be a rather subjective discernment and one which I imagine the profession would want their academic peers to be part of the process, not just university administrators. But a secretary? I’m impressed that she was given the opportunity for training. Management did the right thing there and yes, I would recommend filing a grievance if a worker was fired because she was given new duties without the opportunity for training.

    But she took the training and still failed to be able to perform her duties? I don’t see how you get that to arbitration. There is no dispute of fact. Her duties require “X” and she failed to achieve “X” as a simple typing test would show. How do you arbitrate over a typing test?

    If I was her steward, I think I might suggest to management a performance improvement plan where she has three months to bring herself up to objective standards that management defines at the beginning of the 3 month period (such standards being a management prerogative that a union has no right to negotiate over). After that she is either out or in. But that would be my offer to management. They could object.

    if the union objects, why get into a fight about it.

    Well, when I have been called to serve on juries, I’ve never taken the view that since defense counsel objects, why convict? But that’s me.

    In my lifetime, I can think of hundreds and hundreds of workers who would have been unjustly disciplined, had their pay docked, denied a promotion, fired, or been subjected to sexual harassment (a much bigger workplace problem than most white collar conservatives acknowledge) except for the union. And of interest to a Catholic audience, on too many occasion (one would be too many), were able to prevent women from being pressured into abortions by their bosses.

    And I can think of poor performers that, given a chance, were able to improve and become model employees rather than just being fired on the spot. (And I have never known a management official, no matter how anti-union, who to their great credit has not been willing to say to the Chief Steward “Listen, you know what’s happening on the shop floor. If you got one or two guys that are going through a divorce, just started AA, or something like that, you tell me who they are and I’ll give them a break. “)

    On the other hand, yes, there are times management punts. I’ve won cases I didn’t think we had a chance in heck. Part is that management is fine with the idea that one day folks come into work and Kathy is not there and her desk is cleaned out and everyone knows not to ask any questions about their dead of night disappearance. But management is loath to actually give Kathy notice she is in trouble because she might tell another worker that her boss is being mean to her. Well, tough luck. There is a reason management makes the big money and one of those reasons is that they have to manage and make tough decisions.

  • Well, all I can say is, these kind of horror stories simply don’t fit with what I’ve seen in the (primarily public college and school) union workplaces I’ve had most contact with. Getting someone fired at the college where my dad worked was so hard that the only case of an actual “for cause” firing I ever heard of was in the case of a janitor was was arrested for selling cameras and computers he had stolen from the college — and even then he was only fired after being on paid administrative leave for several months while the case was argued.

    How much of that was the result of actual union strength, and how much was the result of the complicated administrative rules which had been put in place (generally with the support of the unions) I don’t know, but competence was definitely not considered a reason for dismissal or even discipline.

  • Well, all I can say is, these kind of horror stories simply don’t fit with what I’ve seen in the (primarily public college and school) union workplaces

    I do note that almost all conservative complaints about unions are not from factories, mines or mills but practically exclusively about academic institutions. Just an observation.

    But your experience doesn’t match mine in a wide variety of employers in different industries. I’m willing to entertain that among academic professionals there is a long tradition (pre-dating unions) of protections regarding academic integrity and that could spill over into administrative jobs. Still, I don’t see how a union wins a grievance when there is objective, quantifiable data supporting management as you suggest with Kathy.

  • Ian Larkin had founded one of the dockworker locals in Liverpool. For three decades he led one of the most militant unions in any port. The workers loved him for his ability to speak up for them and their rights in their backbreaking work. When he died, the union shut down the port for the day of his funeral and the outpouring of emotion from the longshoremen was deep and sincere.

    His son, Jimmy, was elected the second president of the union. While he won the election easily, due to the great affect for his father, many of the other leaders were worried that Jimmy was not up to the job.

    The negotiation of the new contract was a great test for Jimmy Larkin. He stood outdoors on the dock to explain to the workers the new contract, as almost a thousand of them listened attentively. Jimmy announced “Lads, I have good news. Management has agreed to an increase of three pence an hour.” Upon hearing of such a paltry raise, less than Ian Larkin had ever negotiated , there was audible dissention. Jimmy continued “But as you know, times are tough and the company has asked that we give back one paid holiday.” Boos and hisses arose up from the longshoremen assembled before him. “And boys, management asked for give backs on the pension, but we got them to agree to no change.” The longshoremen became unsettled and starting calling out that Jimmy was a bum. He looked at the men before him and shouted out to them “But boys, what do you want?”

    And there, on the docks of Liverpool, was an incredible sight. These brawny workers, spontaneously and with one voice shouted in unison “WE WANT A SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!” Jimmy looked at them, stunned. After a pause, he remarked, “Oh, no lads. I’m sure management would never agree to that.”

  • Not sure how that anecdote was supposed to reassure anyone about unionism. Personally, I’m very much down on socialist revolutions — none of them have turned out well.

  • “And there, on the docks of Liverpool, was an incredible sight. These brawny workers, spontaneously and with one voice shouted in unison “WE WANT A SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!” Jimmy looked at them, stunned. After a pause, he remarked, “Oh, no lads. I’m sure management would never agree to that.”

    I do appreciate the humor of that anecdote Kurt! 🙂

  • Darwin,

    Its a joke, man! Don gets it and you’re much less a stick in the mud than he is!.. 🙂

  • Actually Kurt, among my fellow attorneys I am considered wild and zany, but that is among attorneys.

  • Sorry, I guess I have the tidal kind of humor — it comes and goes. 😉

    For what it’s worth (and I realize there’s nothing more dour than deconstructing a joke) I got the basic joke structure, it’s more that what I found off about the joke is that it seemed like the humor came from the interaction between the dock workers who want all out class war and the union leader who is simply a professional focused on getting the best he can out of each negotiating opportunity. To which my thought would be: See these union members really are crazy reds!

  • Wild and zany among attorneys. Gee…..

    Anyway, to DC. Yes, sometimes workers are crazy Reds. That is why you conservatives funnelled us American unions so much CIA money during the Cold War. Remember?

    Umm, just so I’m clear……you’re not asking for it back, are you? 🙂

  • Ah well, Kurt, maybe that CIA funding was simply to counteract the influence the CPUSA had with the unions during the 1930’s, no?

    My father ( who began as a simple, noble teenaged laborer in a steel factory, but later became evil incarnate when he graduated to management and thus became The Man) told me in that in the ’30’s the CPUSA ( who we now know was being bankrolled by Stalin) funded union rallies. He attended a few when he was about 15 or 16 years old. He told me the Commies gave the workers darn good sandwiches, which is what he, a male teen with the ravenous appetite of male teens, was mainly concerned about (bear in mind that this was about the same time the great famine was occurring in the USSR, which my dad had no way of knowing about. Not when you had the NYT’s Walter Duranty writing love letters to Stalin and all lesser American media following suit.)

    So, you know, if the CIA messed with the unions in the 1950’s I can sorta understand the rationale there.

  • And, just a reminder, Kurt, those wild and crazy Reds murdered 100 million in the century just past. Read the “Black Book of Communism,” for God’s sake, and tell me there is any humanity or sense in your sick, anti-human, anti-Christ ideology.

    I’ve grown tired of it. I’m tired of the charade that ‘yes, they’re on the left, but they mean well.” No, they don’t. If they do mean well, they are as ignorant and stupid as dirt and they are being led by the nose by those who do not mean well but lust to have power over their fellow humans.

  • Umm, just so I’m clear……you’re not asking for it back, are you?

    Naw. Mission accomplished.

  • Donna,

    Yes, and we of the anti-Communist left did more to contain and end Communism than you and your “useful idiot” (as the Commies called them) relatives ever did. I take it what you meant to say to me was “thank you, Kurt for your effective efforts in bringing down this great evil.”

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Brother Can You Spare a Sign?

Friday, July 16, AD 2010

From the “you can’t make this stuff up” files, comes a story of those great champions of the American working man, unions. It can be tough to ask union workers to take time out of their busy days to picket businesses who hire non-union workers, but not to be deterred some unions have followed their arch nemeses in the business world into the realm of outsourcing: hiring non-union low-wage workers to do the protesting union members won’t do.

Billy Raye, a 51-year-old unemployed bike courier, is looking for work.

Fortunately for him, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters is seeking paid demonstrators to march and chant in its current picket line outside the McPherson Building, an office complex here where the council says work is being done with nonunion labor.

“For a lot of our members, it’s really difficult to have them come out, either because of parking or something else,” explains Vincente Garcia, a union representative who is supervising the picketing.

So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage—$8.25 an hour—to walk picket lines. Mr. Raye says he’s grateful for the work, even though he’s not sure why he’s doing it. “I could care less,” he says. “I am being paid to march around and sound off.”

As it turns out, unions are just the most ironic example of a wider trend — long term joblessness allows well-funded political action groups to stage visible protests by hiring picketers where the enthusiasm of their supporters doesn’t extend to spending time holding signs.

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8 Responses to Brother Can You Spare a Sign?

  • Was this from the WSJ or the Onion!!!?

  • I might’ve shared this anecdote here before, but back when I was a consultant we had a large labor union as a client. One of their ongoing problems? The intransigence of the labor union they used for their clerical work.

  • Classic. In a perfect world, these minimum wage “picketers” would unionize against the union to demand higher wages and better benefits.

  • Wagner Act unionism – an idea whose time has gone.

  • Reminds me of a news story I quoted on my blog a few years back; ACORN had filed a lawsuit seeking to exempt itself from minimum wage and overtime laws:

    “‘The more that ACORN must pay each individual outreach worker – either because of minimum wage or overtime requirements – the fewer outreach workers it will be able to hire,’ ACORN said in its court brief.

    “ACORN’s arguments also failed to persuade the First Appellate Court in California.

    “‘Leaving aside the latter argument’s absurdity (minimum-wage workers are ipso facto low-income workers) as well as irony (an advocate for the poor seeking to justify starvation wages), we find ACORN to be laboring under a fundamental misconception of the constitutional law,’ wrote Judge P.J. Peterson for the majority.”

  • Unions have been using rent a mobs for years. I hope many more unemployed are put to such use and that this tactic gets wide exposure in the age of the internet.

  • I’d love to go ask the hired protesters if they would rather have a job protesting for the union or working for the union’s target company. I’d lay odds they would choose the later. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the target company offers medical insurance and a considerably higher wage than the union does.

  • A UNION IS A COMPANY! A UNION IS A COMPANY! I’ve been shouting this from the rooftops for years, and each time I feel like my voice gets completely drowned out, especially when the people whose roof I am on call the fire department.

Mickey Kaus: Democrat With a Difference

Monday, May 3, AD 2010

Mickey Kaus, blogger and writer, is running against Barbara Boxer in the Senate primary in California.  I have read with enjoyment his KausFiles for years.  Alas, Mr. Kaus is not pro-life.  If he were, I could imagine myself possibly voting for him.  He is taking on some of the major shibboleths of his party.  Here are a few examples:

Unions:

“Yet the answer of most union leaders to the failure of 1950s unionism has been more 1950s unionism. This isn’t how we’re going to get prosperity back. But it’s the official Democratic Party dogma. No dissent allowed.

Government unions are even more problematic (and as private sector unions have failed in the marketplace, government unions are increasingly dominant). If there are limits on what private unions can demand — when they win too much, as we’ve seen, their employers tend to disappear — there is no such limit on what government unions can demand. They just have to get the politicians to raise your taxes to pay for it, and by funding the Democratic machine they acquire just the politicians they need.

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One Response to Mickey Kaus: Democrat With a Difference

When Unions Go Bad

Friday, September 18, AD 2009

Occasionally unions are a good tool for righting genuine injustices in the working world, but often they later become organizations focused on their own self-perpetuation. Because all union members pay the same dues, this self perpetuation often takes the form of protecting bad workers from the consequences of their actions. The good workers, after all, will almost certainly be treated well by their employers anyway, so the only service the union can provide when there are no real injustices to fight is to take care of workers who are incompetant or just don’t care — allowing them to do the minimum and still get annual raises rather than pink slips.

According to this recent article from the New Yorker, hardly a conservative publication, the New York City teachers union has clearly reached that point and then some.

In a windowless room in a shabby office building at Seventh Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street, in Manhattan, a poster is taped to a wall, whose message could easily be the mission statement for a day-care center: “Children are fragile. Handle with care.” It’s a June morning, and there are fifteen people in the room, four of them fast asleep, their heads lying on a card table. Three are playing a board game. Most of the others stand around chatting. Two are arguing over one of the folding chairs. But there are no children here. The inhabitants are all New York City schoolteachers who have been sent to what is officially called a Temporary Reassignment Center but which everyone calls the Rubber Room.

These fifteen teachers, along with about six hundred others, in six larger Rubber Rooms in the city’s five boroughs, have been accused of misconduct, such as hitting or molesting a student, or, in some cases, of incompetence, in a system that rarely calls anyone incompetent.

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17 Responses to When Unions Go Bad

  • Darwin,

    With regards to this,

    “The good workers, after all, will almost certainly be treated well by their employers anyway…”

    I wouldn’t necessarily assume that. Good workers can and have been mistreated – especially by the corporate criminals that have raided their pension funds. Lifetimes of work have gone up in smoke.

    That being said, I do agree with you on the general corruption of unions. They are stalwart guardians of the status quo, and they have always been hostile to cooperatives and distributism in general – that is, to ideas and programs that abolish “the working class” and make the unions completely useless.

  • You might as well call the post “When People Go Bad.” Corporations have no automatic step up on virtue where human associations are concerned. Perhaps the best one can hope for is a series of checks and balances: unions strong enough to counter the excesses of employers, or perhaps even better, employers including workers on boards of directors and embracing a more democratic ideal in the management of companies. Otherwise the Henry Ford ideal of USSR-style big business will hold sway.

  • It’s certainly true that employers (whether corporations or public entities such as the NY City public school districts, as in this case) do not have any guarantee of virtue. However, except in situations where employers end up treating _all_ employees badly (the which are situations which tend to fuel union creation and strength), it’s actively in their interest to treat good employees well. All you have to assume to predict that is that employers are selfish — and I don’t think anyone would disagree that’s a fairly reasonable assumption. Good employees help employers accomplish their goals and make money, so they’ll usually treat them pretty well, if only out of selfishness.

    However, unions have somewhat more perverse incentives, in a situation in which people are not all being treated badly. If the good employees are being treated pretty well and rewarded for good performance, then the only way for the union to prove itself useful is by protecting the bad workers and making sure they continue to stay employed and get raises despite poor performance.

    This, in turn, puts more burden on the good workers.

    I think to a great extent this can be mitigated by not allowing closed shops in which all employees are forced to join the union.

  • I don’t think unions have more perverse incentives at all. Sadly, some employers do have goals in mind–personal goals that exist at odds with those of the company and employees. I’m thinking of one example of Jeffrey Loria running the Montreal MLB team into the ground, hoping for a sale to a US market or a buyout from other owners. More recently, we see executives of AIG, Enron, and other names of ill-repute running companies into the ground, taking personal profits, and thriving in a general scenario of lawlessness–literally.

    As for the problem of unions, if employees had a seat at the table in which company policies were decided and set, that might mitigate the need for unions to a degree. But the notion that business owners and executives will naturally have the best interests of employees at heart is, frankly, naive. Some bosses are incompetent or corrupt. And the best do thrive thanks to good employees. I think one has to be either pro-union or pro-democracy. The alternative is to be pro-fascism.

  • Sadly, some employers do have goals in mind–personal goals that exist at odds with those of the company and employees. I’m thinking of one example of Jeffrey Loria running the Montreal MLB team into the ground, hoping for a sale to a US market or a buyout from other owners. More recently, we see executives of AIG, Enron, and other names of ill-repute running companies into the ground, taking personal profits, and thriving in a general scenario of lawlessness–literally.

    It’s telling that one has to pick out rare, though high profile, exceptions to make this point. Most businesses are not in the middle of destroying themselves in the misguided hope of either gaining illegal personal profits or selling themselves off to another company. And even in most situations where a company is trying to be bought out, keeping the good employees motivated with good pay and benefits remains a priority. Generally, it’s only businesses in the middle of failing which turn to treating even their good employees badly — and obviously, companies are highly motivated not to fail.

    As for the problem of unions, if employees had a seat at the table in which company policies were decided and set, that might mitigate the need for unions to a degree.

    I guess I just don’t see how this one is very compelling. Certainly, I have opinions about lots of things my company is doing, both in regards to direction and to HR. But honestly, I would have no more input if I along with all 40,000 other employees got to elect a couple representatives to go and pretend to have our best interests at heart. My real means of exercising democracy is deciding whether or not to go look for a job elsewhere.

    I mean, really, we all get to vote for our congressmen, state reps, and city councilmen, but to what extent can we really say that those levels of government always do what we want?

    But the notion that business owners and executives will naturally have the best interests of employees at heart is, frankly, naive. Some bosses are incompetent or corrupt. And the best do thrive thanks to good employees.

    See, that’s the whole point — employers don’t have to have employees best interests at heart. If they act totally selfishly, they will end up working hard to retain good employees. Because without good employees, they can’t run their companies. Their interest serves us better than their good intentions — if they even have good intentions.

    I’ve had a lot of managers over the years (three in the last six months, actually — it’s re-org season) but I’ve never had one, in a good or bad company, who didn’t recognize the importance of trying to retain good employees by treating them well. Some are really bad at telling who is actually a good employee. Some are really annoying or abrasive to work with. But none who don’t recognize the need to reward good employees. I’m sure there are some out there, but through survival of the fittest, there won’t be many.

    The big exception to this is when there’s a huge glut of employees available, and they can all be treated interchangeably. This is when self interest will direct employers to treat all employees badly — and in such circumstances many do. That’s when unions have a legitimate purpose. But without that labor glut, they turn to perverse incentives to justify their existence and things get bad very quickly.

  • There are already a lot of checks and balances inherent in a functioning market economy. As Darwin mentions, the most powerful “vote” an employee has is to vote with his feet — and walk out the door if necessary. Obviously there are labor market conditions that can make such a move impractical for an employee, such as monopsony labor markets, but these are generally an exception rather than the rule.

  • “It’s telling that one has to pick out rare, though high profile, exceptions to make this point. Most businesses are not in the middle of destroying themselves in the misguided hope of either gaining illegal personal profits or selling themselves off to another company.”

    And yet haven’t you done the same in making your point against unions?

    The point is that businesses do indeed destroy themselves by any number of human, fallible means. Behaving to maximize the profit margin isn’t a perfect game. As for a low-profile but everyday occurrence, ask your local banks how many local mortgages they hold.

    As for the my-company-love-it-or-leave-it approach, I’d prefer to stay and change things for the better, even if it meant a boss was sent packing or was reassigned to do good elsewhere.

  • I’m sorry, with due respect to my friend Darwin, I must disagree that the ability to leave one’s job is somehow a democratic check on corporate authority.

    This may be the case if one is a valued commodity which is not easily replaced; how often is this actually the case with the average worker in the typical job? Like it or not, one of the defining features of modern capitalism is undifferentiated, homogeneous labor. This is especially true as the education and expertise required for a job decreases. There will always be people looking for work, but there won’t always be decent employers who pay a family wage – even Adam Smith knew the advantage was to the capitalist and not the worker.

    This is why Catholic social teaching has always emphasized and encouraged more widespread ownership; because it is really only through ownership that one acquires a say in the administration of things, and only through ownership that one is regarded as more than a repository of labor power.

    Again, with due respect my friend Darwin, I think sometimes you tend to generalize your personal experience. From everything I hear, you seem to be an educated, skilled, and valued worker, a professional or semi-professional. That puts you in a somewhat better bargaining position than the average undifferentiated worker.

    Personally, I think free labor is something that ought to be confined to the professional classes, who will always possess greater bargaining power, while a more secure and stable system rooted in ownership is in place for less skilled workers, who will most likely never possess it. The only problem with this is global competition – any company that can, will go to the third world to take advantage of economic and political conditions that make the pool of available workers desperate and servile.

    So the great challenge is how to make dignified labor competitive with desperate labor.

  • As for a low-profile but everyday occurrence, ask your local banks how many local mortgages they hold.

    Roughly 25% of the outstanding residential mortgage debt is held on the books of banks, savings & loan associations, and credit unions. Most loans have been sold off (often quite quickly) to secondary mortgage brokers (of which the most prominent are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Mortgages on commercial real estate do tend to be held and serviced by banks, but such mortgages amount to only about 20% of outstanding mortgage debt.

  • Seeing what has happened to both the public sector and the auto industry, suggest a goal of policy might be to dissolve the existing body of trade and industrial unions in favor of producer co-operatives and company unions whose elections would be supervised by local boards, much as elections to school boards are. Fiorello LaGuardia was during his lifetime very dubious about collective bargaining in the public sector, and he turned out to be right.

  • I might suggest that the appropriate function for unions would be the settlement of workplace disputes, the provision of channels of information flow from the bottom to the top of an institutional hierarchy (the University of Rochester was during the time I worked there an employer badly in need of this), and as a means of negotiating burden sharing among owners, managers and workers during economic crises. Unions are often quite piss-poor at this last, and are often so in response to the opinions of membership. It is poor social policy to make use of tools of collective bargaining to raise wages, as this acts to redistribute income from unorgainized workers to organized workers and reduce overall levels of unemployment. If you are concerned about income distribution, a restructuring of the tax code would be a preferred policy measure.

  • More recently, we see executives of AIG, Enron

    A manufacturer of my acquaintance described AIG as “a great company destroyed by five guys in London”. My local buddy in the insurance business explained that the disaster was the work of its Financial Products Unit, a small office geographically segregated from the rest of the company and doing work poorly understood by the insurance men running the company. They were writing credit default swaps on mortgage backed securities; the supervisor of the unit, Joseph Cassano, had only a dim awareness of the composition of the mortgage pools from which the securities they were insuring derived and the unit warehoused the risk rather than hedging as other buyers and sellers of credit default swaps do. AIG was brought down by incompetence and inattention on the part of a small but key group of employees, not by self-dealing.

  • Two quick points:

    – While I’m dubious of the overall value of collective bargaining in regards to wages (I think it too often only serves to lock out those not already in a unionized job) I’m not necessarily trying to attack unions for truly unskilled and interchangeable workers in this post. My big beef with with cases such as the NY Teachers (or the California Public Employees union my father was forced to join — and always hated) which is representing people who are college educated, skilled workers who are (in the cases cited in the article) actually making more than I am. I find the idea of teachers making six figure incomes needing a closed union shop pretty laughable. And as described, I think at that point the union will often seek to justify its existence primarily by protecting the incompetent. While the article shows an extreme example of this, that was my father’s number one complain with his union. On various occasions the union kept his department from firing or disciplining: a custodian who was widely known to be stealing college property, a department secretary who refused to learn how to use a computer and most of whose work thus ended up being done for free by my dad, an admin who didn’t show up for work half the time, etc.

    – While I’ll readily admit my thinking on these topics is heavily shaded by my experiences, I will say in my defense that although these days I definitely work in a professional type role, I started out ten years ago making within a couple dollars of minimum wage and put in time in retail ($5/hr), call centers ($8/hr) and basic admin/shipping/warehouse work ($14/hr) — all of which I’d argue are pretty working class ways to spend your time. And so when I say that employers naturally try to retain good workers, I’m thinking not only of the marketers I work with now, but also of good retail people in the bookstore and good phone bank callers and good order takers, warehouse guys, fork-lift drivers and delivery drivers. Now obviously, there’s a realistic limit to how much extra consideration being a good worker will get you in these lines of work — just as there is in regards to union agitation — because there’s a limit to how much these jobs are worth. But I have seen employers at those levels go to moderately decent lengths to keep good people at those levels, which adds to my impression that this is a pretty universal phenomenon.

  • While we’re on the confessional track, I’ll add that I have an abiding lack of trust of authority, especially leaders who recognize no accountability. In my own hourly-wage experiences in high school and college I saw bosses value employees, but I also saw employers view them and their ideas as threatening.

    I don’t see how fallible and sinful human beings can escape the temptation for destructive self-interest. I certainly don’t see employers as possessing any inherent moral superiority in regard to good behavior.

    Rather than come down with or against unions or corporations or management in general, maybe it’s better to just say that good behavior is good, bad behavior is bad, and we should work to eradicate the latter and encourage the former in all systems.

  • Some are really bad at telling who is actually a good employee.

    Meet my department head.

  • Since all people are sinners, all organizations made up of people are subject to corruption and abuse of power. This applies equally to employers and unions.

    However, this does not mean that the basic right of workers to organize should be denied or withdrawn because SOME unions abuse their power, any more than parental rights should be denied or withdrawn from everyone because some parents are abusive.

    Actually I am not a big fan of most unions. I’ve never belonged to one and honestly hope I never have to.

    My least favorite union right now is SEIU, which was a big supporter of our (ahem) esteemed ex-governor Blago; in fact the wiretaps record Blago raising the possibility of SEIU giving him a job as part of a quid pro quo for the Obama Senate seat appointment. Personally I think they are just as crooked as the Teamsters under Jimmy Hoffa if not more so. Anyone they endorse would automatically lose my vote — if they even HAD my vote in the first place, that is.

  • I have been on a local school board, dealing with the unions. My wife is a member of the teachers’ union in another school district.

    I have seen the senior members of the union, who are well represented on the negotiating team, pad things in the contract for the senior teachers at the expense of the junior teachers, even threatening to strike if we balanced things a bit more between the senior and junior teaching staff.

    I have seen the teachers union over and over talk a so-so game about “the kids,” but when there was a conflict, they always yelled for the teachers and the heck with the students. I’m thinking, for example, of arguments about the size of salaries and benefits, in a time of fixed income, so class size is the only other variable that will make income equal outgo.

    I had a teacher’s union rep tell me “the only reason high school sports exists is so new teachers can get paid extra for coaching. When they’ve saved up the down payment on a house, it’s time for someone else to have the job.” EVERYTHING’S about us!

    I’ve seen principals demand time clock punching behavior from their teachers (e.g. you may not leave one minute early, even if you are going to put in two hours tonight at home, off the clock), “I have the power over you and don’t you forget it” type behavior that is completely out of date in the private sector. The result is an institutional hardening of the arteries, as petty grievances get bargained into union contracts with a one size fits all answer.

    I’ve seen repeated “please pass the trash” behavior by principals, who can’t fire incompetent teachers or even teachers where there is misbehavior that isn’t quite bad enough to get them jailed. Instead, they wait until there is a school with an opening and a principal who is retiring. Then the bad teacher is transferred to a new assignment in that building. The old principal doesn’t care, she’s retiring and the new principal isn’t in place yet.

    Union leadership work, the last refuge of a poor teacher.

    But the worst part of the system is the flow of money from the teachers’ union dues into the pockets of politicians as campaign contributions, so the politicians will give the inmates the keys to the asylum. Those who have the gold make the rules.

Blueshirts, Pelosi, and Mobs, Oh My!

Saturday, August 8, AD 2009

It’s been an interesting week in the world of American politics.  With the arrogance of congressional Democrats and the White House attempts at discrediting a grassroots movement, the passions will certainly continue to climb after the weekend is over.

Here are some highlights from these past few days:

1. At a town hall last week in Dallas, an elderly “mob” with “manufactured” outrage questioned AARP’s support for nationalized health care, asking: “Do you work for us or do we work for you?”

There were no swastika-wearing grannies at Tuesday’s meeting, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might claim. Nor were they “taking their cues from talk show hosts, Internet rumor-mongers . . . and insurance rackets,” as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said.

But they were mad as hell at the perception that AARP was selling them out in the name of government-run medical insurance. That perception was not helped when the AARP town hall on the subject was shut down by the seniors outfit once the members dared to ask questions. The AARP representatives did not want to hear from the members at all. Just send in your dues, granny, and be quiet.

To read the rest of this IDB Editorial click here.

2. You’ve heard a lot about this crazy, scary, vicious mob on some shadowy GOP payroll. By the way the DNC, Rachel Maddow, and President Obama talk, you’d think it was a motley crue of Hell’s Angels.

Let me introduce you to the mob:

scary mob 1

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20 Responses to Blueshirts, Pelosi, and Mobs, Oh My!

  • A superb roundup Tito! You have a real talent for putting these together!

  • It’s funny we hear Republicans say that they do not want “faceless bureaucrats” making medical decisions but they have no problem with “private sector” “faceless bureaucrats” daily declining medical coverage and financially ruining good hard working people. And who says that the “private sector” is always right, do we forget failures like Long-Term Capital, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco, AIG and Lehman Brothers. Of course the federal government will destroy heathcare by getting involved, Oh but wait our military men and women and the Senate and Congress get the best heathcare in the world, and oh, that’s right, its run by our federal government. I can understand why some may think that the federal government will fail, if you look at the past eight years as a current history, with failures like the financial meltdown and Katrina but the facts is they can and if we support them they will succeed.

    How does shouting down to stop the conversation of the healthcare debate at town hall meetings, endears them to anyone. Especially when the organizations that are telling them where to go and what to do and say are Republicans political operatives, not real grassroots. How does shouting someone down or chasing them out like a lynch mob advanced the debate, it does not. So I think the American people will see through all of this and know, like the teabagger, the birthers, these lynch mobs types are just the same, people who have to resort to these tactics because they have no leadership to articulate what they real want. It’s easy to pickup a bus load of people who hate, and that’s all I been seeing, they hate and can’t debate. Too bad.

  • If you don’t know who Rick Scott is then you don’t know who is duping you. This is the false prophet. Scott is the money-changer you let into your temple. Scott is a big health care CEO (whose company by the way was fined $1.7 billion for fraud) who is financing the disruption of the town hall meetings. He is the temptor who has cause you to stumble into the gospel of hatred for your fellow man. His “salvation” (money) is to get you to serve corporate profits instead of your fellow man.

    One Master said “Feed my sheep,” “As ye do to the least of these my brothers, you do unto me.” Perhaps you can appreciate how that would be served by universal health care?
    The other “master” says, “shout them down,” and “voice your anger.” Does that really serve your mission to be the spreader of the Good News?

    I truly feel sorry for good-hearted people who have been drawn into the hatred of political extremism and who honestly think they are serving Christ, when in fact they are serving corporate lobbyists. What a shame!

    Check it out: http://thinkprogress.org/2009/08/06/rick-scott-sanchez/

  • Paul,

    Those were very hateful elderly people in those posts.

    I guess the GOP Hate-van picked them at an early bird dinner and bussed them over to these town halls.

    It’s called grasping at straws.

  • I really don’t care how great the proposed healthcare bill is, even if it give cradle to grave care to all at the same level Congress enjoys (don’t mention the military, our healthcare isn’t all that great). I don’t care if B.O. & Company summon up a genie to pay for it all with no expense to the taxpayers. I don’t care if there is absolutely no provisions for funding abortions in it.

    If it doesn’t expressly forbid coverage for abortion and euthanasia it isn’t good enough. Period.

  • The health care plan on offer provides for government funding of abortions. Pointing to shady corporate lobbyists doesn’t change that gruesome fact. Who’s the temptor who put that murderous, needless and revolutionary language in the bill? Mr. Scott may be a fraud, but he hasn’t snuffed human life on the scale contemplated by this health bill.

    It has no place in a “health care” bill. Demand that it be taken out and I’ll stand with you, CL. Ignore it, and I’ll ignore you.

  • Paul,

    Do you have a citation for your assertion that the military receive the ‘the best health care in the world’?

    I am not aware that anyone has asserted that private enterprise is infallible, merely that it generally performs more efficiently in the provision of merchandise and services unless the good in question is one that cannot be vended on a market (e.g. law enforcement, or natural environments) because the costs and benefits of the provision of the service are very poorly aligned, payer and recipient being different parties (for the most part). A secondary problem you have is that often the use of markets to provide certain goods and services leads to a distribution of same that people find unpalatable. Medical services is one of those goods.

    People’s demand for goods and services (including medical services) is invariably going to exceed the capacity of producers to supply these services. From the perspective of the consumer, if you spend more on x, you have to spend less on y. Rationing of the fruits of productive capacity may be done through price systems or through administrative controls, but it must occur. Neither the individual household, nor the commercial insurer, nor the government have unlimited resources, so some party must be in the business of ‘denying coverage’ (i.e. refusing to pay for it). The commercial insurer charges you a premium which is derived in part from an understanding of a particular benefits configuration. If you change the benefits configuration post hoc, the insurance program is not actuarially sound and eventually goes bankrupt.

    The program as proposed is hideously rococo, is proposed to be enacted when there are severe demands on public resources from the banking crisis, and is being enacted when simpler alternatives that allow for more decision-making by consumers and providers are available. People also tend to be rather risk-averse in these sorts of situations, preferring a devil they know. That there is opposition is unsurprising. Get used to it.

  • Paul,

    the plan at offer bears no resemblance to the plan which congress generously offers itself, it’s more akin to medicare or the veterans administration. Active military enjoy excellent trauma care, but their “routine” medical system leaves a lot to be desired.

    ChristianLiberal (an oxymoron),

    and your well-crafted talking points are financed by George Soros. Whatever the agenda of Rick Scott’s organization, they fund NOBODY to attend any townhalls, they, along with many other conservative groups help to analyse the proposal (it’s >1000 pages for legalese and Orwellian “newspeak”) and communicate their findings. It’s the well funded SEIU that is far more in line with what you’re accusing us of.

  • Advocacy groups, at ALL points on the political spectrum, exist for a very good reason: because most ordinary people cannot take the time to thoroughly perform completely original research and personally lobby their legislators on EVERY single issue of interest to them.

    That’s why we have issue-based organizations that do it for us — National Right to Life, the NRA, AARP, the Sierra Club, etc. If they organize an event and provide transportation, meals, etc. for people to participate, does that automatically mean that every individual who attends is being “manipulated” or “bought” and therefore their views don’t deserve consideration? Do people’s views “count” only if they happen to find out about an event completely on their own and attend totally at their own expense, without using any arguments or “talking points” that have ever been used by anyone else?

    The mere fact that an advocacy group organizes an event or actively invites people to participate (no one has, as far as I know, claimed that anyone on either side was ordered or forced to attend) does NOT mean that the views expressed by those attendees are insincere or not worthy of attention. I think that applies just as much to SEIU as to any alleged GOP political operatives — if they care enough to show up for an event, they have a right to be heard AND a responsibility to let others be heard as well.

  • Elaine,

    you’re right of course, but in the case of the townhall ‘mobs’ the only support provided has been information as far as we know, and that’s generally the case with conservative causes. On the other hand, there is a LONG history of leftist groups using all sorts of enticements, including cash payments to individual protesters. Furthermore, it’s curious that the SEIU is showing a lot of interest in this matter, since union negotiated health care plans are largely exempted from interference under this law. Also notable is the special treatement afforded SEIU and other democrat activists at these supposedly “open forums”.

    I remember SEIU “protestors” involved in a janitorial contract dispute a couple of years ago marching around Cincinnati. I asked one of them what it was about and after a short discussion he acknowledged that he had no idea what it was about he just got paid to come out.

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  • I probably should have added that I have very little if any sympathy for SEIU, since they were among the biggest supporters of and donors to Illinois’ disgraced Governor Blago, and also among the most strident groups now pushing for a massive tax increase to cover the state deficit. I believe their efforts to organize home health care workers and demand taxpayer support for them are doing more harm than good to their cause and those of the elderly and disabled people they are supposed to be helping. Also, it is true that completely original arguments offered by someone acting on their own will carry more weight than canned “talking points”.

    What I take issue with, however, is the notion that participating in ANY kind of organized effort or campaign regarding an issue somehow invalidates one’s point of view or makes it less genuine.

    Also, Pelosi obviously doesn’t know what “astroturfing” means. In my experience as a journalist, it referred to instances in which an advocacy or lobbying group creates fake grass roots support for its point of view by getting its own members or clients to write a bunch of letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, blog posts, etc. in a way that makes them APPEAR to have come from ordinary citizens moved to write purely out of personal conviction — with NO mention of the authors’ group affiliation or personal or financial interest in the matter. However, the mere fact that a letter-writing campaign or public event is organized by some group does not make it “astroturf.”

  • Tito Edwards, Art Deco, Matt McDonald: It is very American to want to help our fellow countryman. I believe in my government especially our men and women in our military, firefighters and police. You, not so much. Lets face it the previous administration did nothing (except start two wars of choice that are bankrupting our country with all the “war profiteering” contracts to Halliburton) well you and I will just have to agree to not agree. I did not believe any of the Republican rhetoric before the last election and I do not believe them now. I do not believe that your sentiments are in line with the majority, but your comments, funny stuff.

  • Paul,

    Tito Edwards, Art Deco, Matt McDonald: It is very American to want to help our fellow countryman.

    yes, and we do. In fact, if you are a typical liberal, and we are typical conservatives then we do far more to help our fellow countrymen than you do… shame on you.

    I believe in my government especially our men and women in our military, firefighters and police. You, not so much.

    I believe in God Almighty. I appreciate and thank our military, firefighters, and police. The FEDERAL government bureacracy which you worship, not so much. State and local governments I appreciate and trust more because they are closer to the people.

    I do not believe that your sentiments are in line with the majority

    based on all the liberals you hang out with it’s not surprising that you have no idea what the majority think. Check the polls buddy.

  • “I believe in my government especially our men and women in our military, firefighters and police. You, not so much.

    And this comment was meant to prove what exactly?

    It reminds me of a corrupt company when faced with possible prosecution for dumping toxic wastes into rivers; they all of a sudden introduce the rather conspicuous red herring: well, our company, as you know, believes wholeheartedly in the greatness of these United States and, in fact, donate regularly to charitable causes!

    Well, quite frankly, much like the Demo-n-Caths and other like-minded felons who capitalize on the veneer of societal goodness, professing such remarkable love of country and their fellow man, all the while, advancing deterimental policies that only hinder and even injure the common citizen; I don’t buy the seemingly noble facade even for a second.

    Go sell your liberal goods elsewhere; while McDonald might play gracious host to you, I, on the other hand, see you for who you truly are: an actor disguising sheer demagoguery in mere sentimentalism but, as even evident in the agenda and actions of the current administration, nothing substantive or even noble where the average American Family is concerned, which policies as these can only prove injurious as regarding any purported benefits such policy claim to advance and can prove even fatal, especially in light of end-of-life issues which will certainly be truncated — not so surprising given the fiercely Pro-Abort administration bent on only advancing the merits of the Culture of Death.

  • e.,

    very eloquent!

  • Matt & e: Sticks and Stones……. Stick and Stones

    I do not believe that your sentiments are in line with the majority, but your comments, funny stuff.

  • Paul:

    I do not believe that your sentiments are in line with sanity; but, hey, such is the sorry state of the world.

    All things besides, interesting that you should flaunt your views as being the right one simply because you make the rather tenuous claim that it happens to be the majority, which doesn’t necessarily make them right even if so.

    That notorious ad populum is an old fallacy that even your own ignoble confreres have used time and again.

    Please do visit us again should you have something more substantive to share. Thanks.

  • e: Snore….Snore

SEIU Blueshirts Attack Health Care Protestor

Friday, August 7, AD 2009

SEIU Blueshirts

[Updates at the bottom of this posting.  Most recent update at 7:41 pm CST]

On Thursday, August 6, the White House call to arms by Deputy Chief of Staff David Axelrod, “punch back twice as hard“, at the growing grass roots movement opposing government single-payer health care produced the first violent incident later in the day.  During a Town Hall Meeting with U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan at Bernard Middle School gym in south St. Louis County, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members dressed in dark purple shirts, though they look blue in the video below, attacked a black American protester by savagely beating him.  The protester ended up in the Emergency Room of St. John’s Mercy Medical Center.

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13 Responses to SEIU Blueshirts Attack Health Care Protestor

  • I just realized that Donald had posted about this incident earlier on one of his updates, but it goes without saying that these protests are drawing violent reactions from proponents of government intrusion.

  • It’s an important event Tito and it needs all the exposure it can get. Great post!

  • Just flat-out disgusted.

    No less because I’ve already seen folks blaming… dum dum dum… opponents of the healthcare boondoggle for the violence. (How dare that fellow violently attack the union members’ shoes?)

  • I rather be called an American, but for the sake of argument…

    Latinos are predominantly more conservative, traditional, and orthodox in their Catholic faith than liberals lead on. Once we find someone who can break this liberal stereotype, the floodgates will open when Latino’s realize that there are more platforms within the GOP than in the Democratic Party that reflects their own values.

  • This whole health reform mess gets uglier by the day.

    At what point do the Democrats back off?

    Mr. H
    http://www.allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/

  • At what point can any Catholic in good conscience and of good-will be associated with the party of death?

    At first I was outraged by the barbaric violence found on this video but on further reflection this is a predictable natural outcome for a party that accepts abortion as the paramount plank in its platform. If you accept murder, then on what grounds would you object to anything that amounts to less?

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  • Marlene,

    Please be more careful in stating your opinions and refrain from what may be perceived as racist remarks.

  • Wait, I’m confused. Gladney is the black guy lying on the ground where the white guy is trying to kick him, right? Why is Gladney wearing a “Health Care 09: We Can’t Wait” t-shirt? That’s an SEIU shirt.

    Or is Gladney the guy who gets knocked down right after, while he’s rushing over to the downed SEIU guy? Because that guy gets right back up and is walking around throughout the rest of the video. Did he get some sort of delayed-onset injury, where you can walk around, chat with a cameraman, flag down the cops, and speak just fine on Fox News the next day, but then the day after that you can hardly move?

  • Gladney is the *skinny* black guy wearing a tan polo shirt; the one that purple-shirt-blue-jeans-hat on the right throws to the ground again at about 0:05, while the camera guy is trying to get what the heck is up.

    Can’t see who you think is rushing over, because you can see Gladney being pulled to his feet (and swaying) by the guy who looks like retired military, the one that directs a lady to pick up the button-boards.

    The fat guy in the purple shirt is the one that called him a n****r and first attacked him, if I understand it correctly– he’s on the ground because folks pulled him off Gladney. (and if that’s an attempt to kick, they suck– cheap shot would be dead easy there)

    I’m wondering– have you ever been hurt? It often takes at least five minutes after an attack before you realize how hurt you are. I know that when I got bucked off and dislocated my shoulder, I didn’t know it was damaged until I couldn’t lift it to climb the fence.

    Unless you’re going to claim that the hospital treated him for imaginary injuries….

  • Update on the guy mistaken for Gladney:
    Elston K. McCowan is a former organizer – now the Public Service Director of SEIU Local 2000 – and board member of the Walbridge Community Education Center, and is a Baptist minister, has been a community organizer for more than 23 years, and now, he is running for Mayor of the City of St. Louis under the Green Party.

    He’s…kind of known for nutty behavior, since he accused the mayor of setting fire to his/church/Green campaign van….

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Townhalls Out of Control! The Unions to the Rescue!

Friday, August 7, AD 2009

Lots of videos of townhalls here where members of Congress face outraged constituents.

Liberals can relax however.  The AFL-CIO is going to send out union members to restore order at the townhalls.  I look forward to the footage when a union leg breaker decides to take a swing at someone who is not enamored of ObamaCare.  In the age of cell phone videos nothing will escape being placed on video.   Conservative union members, your dues money at work.   My late father was a member of Allied Industrial Workers for 30 years, and it used to anger him intensely that his dues were used to support political causes he adamantly opposed.  If you don’t like this and you are a member of a union, you might want to attend a townhall meeting!  Although maybe they won’t let you in.  At the Russ Carnahan town meeting in Saint Louis over a thousand protesters were locked out and only Carnahan supporters were allowed in. Similar tactics were used at a townhall in Tampa.  That will solve the problem!  Lock people out who disagree with the person purporting to represent them in Congress!

The Left  is completely misreading this situation.  This isn’t a matter of just Republicans and Conservatives.  There is a prairie fire of anger burning in this country, and it is not going to be stopped by biased media, attempts at intimidation, White House calls for informants or locking citizens out of townhall meetings.

Update: An  update here from Gateway Pundit on the violence at the Carnahan town meeting.

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14 Responses to Townhalls Out of Control! The Unions to the Rescue!

  • That’ll be interesting to see Obama’s goons try and strong-arm red-blooded Americans into silence.

    Technology will reveal the true colors of these Government Health Care ‘enthusiasts’.

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  • Just finished reading the ‘prairie fire’ article by the insightful Victor Davis Hanson. What a damning report on left-wing elitism that is demonizing hard working Americans and stoking class-warfare in order to push what is essentially socialism in all disguises upon the American public.

  • Stongarm I deleted your comment. Come back when you have something intelligent to contribute.

  • To quote the SEIU member in the video: “We didn’t attack him for nothing . . . He attacked America.”

  • While I am not a fan of Obama or his health plan by any means, after reading a variety of articles and opinions on this subject (not just the ones I tend to agree with) it seems to me that some of the more dangerous aspects of the healthcare reform plan have been blown out of proportion by their opponents — most notably, the “end of life” care clause.

    From what I gather, it does NOT mandate or encourage euthanasia but provides a mechanism (government funded of course) by which seniors are kept informed of their rights concerning advance directives and are given the opportunity to communicate their wishes regarding end of life care (whether via living will or by granting healthcare power of attorney to a trusted relative or friend). Most hospitals do this already for people having surgery or other procedures. There are also differences of opinion regarding whether the current reform plan will actually force the government or any private insurer to pay for abortions. All these things need to be monitored carefully, of course, and any healthcare plan that includes explicitly anti-life measures must be defeated.

    That being said, it seems to me that the Dems are throwing gasoline on a “prairie fire” that could be contained simply by slowing down the process of passing these bills — so that the Congresscritters and public could actually have a chance to read and debate them — and by EXPLAINING, carefully, 50 or 100 times if they have to, what is really in the most controversial parts of the healthcare bill. Why does it HAVE to be passed in the next 30 or 60 days? If a timetable for passage must be set, why not make it January, or next spring, or next summer? (Worried about reelection prospects perhaps?) Instead they just insist on shoving it even harder down everyone’s throat. No wonder people are so upset — and the sad thing is, it MIGHT turn out to be over

  • issues that were’nt really there in the first place.

  • As shown by the “we won’t pay for treatment, but we’ll pay to kill you” examples out of Oregon, it’s amazing how quickly a relatively inexpensive “option” becomes the only funded option…that’s why mandatory counseling by the bureaucracy paying for treatment to discuss “options” is such a bad idea.

    As for not explicitly funding abortion– do you hear the pro-abortion folks complaining about the bill? No? Pretty clear they think it’ll fund it just fine, then….

  • If it takes the health care issue to force Americans to realize just how much control over their individual lives, their money and their government they’ve lost, so be it.

    I’m personally hoping for a massive backlash against the Democrats… however, its also likely that any Republicans that win in ’10 will be of the statist variety. The struggle will be far from over…

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  • Elaine,
    From what I gather, it does NOT mandate or encourage euthanasia but provides a mechanism (government funded of course) by which seniors are kept informed of their rights concerning advance directives and are given the opportunity to communicate their wishes regarding end of life care (whether via living will or by granting healthcare power of attorney to a trusted relative or friend). Most hospitals do this already for people having surgery or other procedures.

    Have you read the language? It REQUIRES seniors to meet with a end-of-life counselors every 5 years or if they go downhill. After the session a “DIRECTIVE” will be issued, it is not at all clear whether the victim, er patient will have the authority to dictate the directive or it will be simply imposed upon them. When asked about this Obama dodges it shamelessly, why? Because it does exactly what we fear it does.

    All these things need to be monitored carefully, of course, and any healthcare plan that includes explicitly anti-life measures must be defeated.

    That’s not a the right test at all, we as Catholics must work towards defeating any policy which explicitly OR implicitly contains anti-life measures. Good heavens, what do you think “reproductive health care” means?

    We need to be clever as serpents here and look for the evil in this man’s policies because we know his nature. Time to drop the politics and get ALL CATHOLICS to oppose this expansion of the abortion and euthanasia regime.

  • Don’t forget “women’s healthcare” and “healthcare education.” Oh, and “dignity.”

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Education Reform

Friday, July 10, AD 2009

Here is another proposal I set forth in my previous campaign for Florida State House- this was published as a guest column by Florida Today Newspaper. This was also the straw that broke the camel’s back in my bid to run again- as the Unions refused to endorse me- and liberal Democratic activists could not stomach a candidate who was pro-life and pro-private school options. I was especially disappointed with the teacher union reps since my proposal is one that is so totally win-win from a teacher perspective, and it is obviously something in the interests of parents and their children. Pope Benedict has recently commented that Catholic schools should receive some state funding given the benefit these schools offer society. Here is the text of my proposal:

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5 Responses to Education Reform

  • Interesting.

    I’m curious why I settled on a model of paying the salaries of a specific number of teachers rather than the more standard model of offering a voucher equal to around 80% of the money the state would allocate per child (while leaving the remaining 20% with the public schools to cover infrastructure overhead.) Was that aimed at finding a middle ground with the teachers’ unions, or is a separation of church and state provision? Or just a different economic model?

    I’d be concerned the effectively subsidizing the school rather than the child would provide less incentive for the school to cut tuition enough to be affordable, but I’m curious as to the thought process.

  • The Vouchers had been shot down by Florida’s Courts because of the Church-State issue- it is really bad here in the South due to the last effects of anti-Catholicism.

    I was trying to avoid the legal issue by paying teachers not schools directly- it would work a bit like a market in that only schools that attracted more students would get more teachers- see the 1:20 ratio- so if a private school tried to take advantage by hiking fees they would still have to be appealing to parents- the state would only kick in and kick in a set amount for teachers- of course- opening the door for ‘scholarship’ like monies for excellent teachers is something that private citizens and/or orgs could add into the mix- this is why I call my proposal pro-teacher in the extreme- and it exposed the true agenda of the teacher unions- it is about ideology and control, and thinking outside the box is not welcome- and this is how teachers represent themselves? Public and private school teachers should not be pitted against one another- we are all supposed to be motivated to instill something good and great in the young people- I’m sure many public school teachers would be more comfortable teaching in some private schools so this is actually a ‘pro-choice’ proposal ironically!

  • The demand for state funded Muslim school is in accordance with the law of the land. Muslim community is not asking for any favour. There are only ten state funded Muslim schools and the British Establishment are ready to fund all Muslim schools. Only less than five percent of Muslim children attend Muslim schools and at the same time, there are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools.

    Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. At higher levels, there is no need for a Muslim teacher.

    The medium of instruction in a Muslim school is English and all of them follow the National curriculum. Muslim children need to learn and be well versed in standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time Muslim children need to learn and be well versed in Arabic language for their spiritual and religious development. Muslim children need to learn and be well versed in Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry.

    Bilingual Muslim children in British schooling has led to a predictable response from the tabloids, which present these children as a problem for “others” children and teachers.This is both racist and wrong. British society must recognise that over 50% of the world now routinely use more than one language in their daily lives and some 85% are able to function at least two. In a global economy these “problem” children are infact, the norm, and in a global sense they are potentially an asset, not a drain. British society should be thankful that the highest achieving students are bilinguals.
    Iftikhar Ahmad
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org

  • Making private schools use unionized teachers would destroy the private school system. A significant advantage of private schools is that they are not beholden to the teachers unions which would force them to keep bad teachers and pay them the same as good teachers. In fact, the unions would probably use seniority to force the private schools to offer preferential hiring to “veteran” public school teachers no matter how bad they are.

    I would suggest the encouragement of private foundations forming for the purpose of rewarding teachers,

    a great idea, but the unions would not likely support such a program.

  • The teacher union leadership was hostile to the whole deal- but like I said the sister union idea would not be comprehensive beyond salary guarantees- since the state was paying the salaries for a certain set of teachers- if the private school wanted more teachers they would not be beholden to make those teachers part of the union deal for example- and hiring/firing would be an administrative perogative- separate from the public school set-up. Only salary and benefit packages would be the realm of union contact- and only for those teachers being payed for by the state to aid the private schools, not take over management. If the schools have no market interest in the community, they get no money because they need to have their act together to attract students- and only if they attract students will they get teacher assistance from the state- if they don’t want the teacher assistance they can still say no and go it alone. I am trying to find a comprehensive approach that harm’s no one’s interests here but allows for more options to spread the students out according to a true accounting of their parents’ wishes.

3 Responses to Dehumanizing Work and Obstructionary Unions

  • It might happen, provided one or all of them still exists in two years. As with so many of these snowball effects, the underlying philosophy behind them was It Seemed Like A Good Idea At the Time. Not knowing that GM would ultimately have three times as many pensioners as active employees. And as for today’s criticism of the Porkapalooza Bill- the union movement forked over $400 million to the Obama campaign. It expected results favorable to it in return. It is never an easy thing for an invdividual, an organization, a movement, to be asked the challenge to reinvent self. But events of the past few months- personally and in the wider society- have wacked ol’ Ger in the head that it will be mandatory. For all of us. Woulda happened with or without Porkapalooza. The Church is immune as She was founded by Christ. And she is still dealing with the vast reorganization known as Vatican II. So happens to the best of us. Just control the nature of the change, not the inevitability of it.

  • Taylorism is alive and well–and still causing problems.

    However, manufacturing enterprises which have adopted “Lean” techniques are able to avoid Taylorism, because “Lean” is Toyota-system based. It’s actually a work-reduction system–or better put, an efficacy, rather than efficiency, based work environment.

    Where Taylor reigns, workmen’s compensation claims are significant expenses…

  • The claim of “5000 pages of work rules” stinks to high heaven; kindred to the big lie of UAW wages of $72 per hour. Production supervisors don’t carry around 5000 page manual; they are simply required to understand the seniority system and treat human beings fairly and with decency. Say what you want about unions, but as a union worker I never had to work in fear or brown nose. I came into the shop with my dignity and at end of the day I walked out with my dignity.