Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Union thuggery lives on

On September 8th, the SEIU launched a “strike” against Sodexo on the campus of George Mason University, a public university in Northern Virginia. Oddly, Sodexo does not recognize the SEIU Local 32BJ that organized the “strike”. Sodexo is a private food services provider that was contracted by George Mason University to provide cafeteria and food services for students. The SEIU has been trying to draw attention to tough anti-union laws and attempted to use George Mason University as a pawn in their fight to overturn collective bargaining laws.

Virginia has some of the toughest public-sector union collective bargaining laws in the nation. So strong are the laws in Virginia that it is a crime for a public official to enter in to a collective bargaining agreement with a union. Thus, unions are extremely weak in Virginia.

There are several issues regarding the “strike” that broke out at GMU. First, the “strike” resulted in several university food operations being shut down affecting services that students had paid for up front at the beginning of the fall semester. The SEIU proved that they cared less about the money that students had spent for these services and instead sparked near revolution on campus through chants such as “No justice, no peace!”

Second, the SEIU organizers admitted that they had bussed in strikers from other universities around the country. Union thugs were brought on to the GMU campus from Ohio State, Georgia Tech and other various universities.

Third, and by far the most troubling, was the support that was lent to the event by State Senator Dave Marsden, a Democrat whose district is in Northern Virginia. Marsden went so far as to attend a “speakout” held on campus by the SEIU on the second day of the strike. We contacted Marsden for comment but he did not return our call.

For years, the SEIU has been funneling millions of dollars in legislative races to overturn the tough collective bargaining laws. Marsden is one such official in Virginia that the SEIU has been attempting to persuade through donations. Clearly, those investments have paid off as Marsden has sided with the unions when he endorsed their “strike” at GMU, and it is likely that the SEIU will be able to count upon Marsden to aid and abet any SEIU operations when they try to overturn those laws.

According to an interested parent, “If Dave Marsden had one ounce of honor he would return the SEIU money and defend the students and their parents against the ruthless power grabs by the union.” Several people affected by the situation expressed concerns about the “strike” and the meaning of the protests. The SEIU thugs that were allowed to roam around campus posed a danger to students — as they have an extensive track record of violence.

Just as troubling, the SEIU may have illegally used public-sector property at Mason to attempt to organize inside of Sodexo. Which begs the question, why did Mason allow the SEIU to run wild across the campus for the better part of a week? If any other group were to come on campus to recruit folks they would need explicit permission from the university. We have been unable to ascertain the reasons that the SEIU was allowed this privilege.

The SEIU appears to have packed up and moved on from their “strike” theatrics at Mason for the time being. But they are pulling these antics in other states attempting to influence the government officials that keep the union out of the public sector. The SEIU might just be coming to a university near you. So be on the lookout for the purple shirt brigade.



The German Miracle: A reminder

Earlier this summer George Soros and some leading Keynesian economists criticized what they regarded as Germany's overly strict fiscal discipline. Yet Germany's real output expanded at a robust 9% annual rate in the second quarter, while the U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.6% rate. So is Germany now a role model for how to recover?

In a June op-ed, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble justified his government's decision to cut spending, citing "aversion to deficits and inflationary fears, which have their roots in German history in the past century." He was presumably making a reference to the destructive hyperinflation of the 1920s.

Yet Mr. Schäuble might have cited another relevant episode from his nation's history. Sixty-two years ago Germany became a role model for recovery from a very different crisis. In the aftermath of World War II, Germany's cities, factories and railroads lay in ruins. Severe shortages of food, fuel, water and housing posed challenges to sheer survival.

Unfortunately, occupation policy makers actually perpetuated the shortages by retaining the price controls the Nazi government had imposed before and during the war. Consumers and businessmen battled against the bureaucratic regime of controls and rationing in what the German economist Ludwig Erhard described as Der Papierkrieg — the paper war. Black markets were pervasive.

Germany's new Social Democratic Party wanted to continue the controls and rationing, and some American advisers agreed, particularly John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith, an official of the U.S. State Department overseeing economic policy for occupied Germany and Japan, had been the U.S. price-control czar from 1941-1943; he completely dismissed the idea of reviving the German economy through decontrol.

Fortunately for ordinary Germans, Erhard — who became director of the economic administration for the U.K.-U.S. occupation Bizone in April 1948 — thought otherwise. A currency reform that he helped to design was slated to replace the feeble old Reichsmark with the new Deutsche mark in all three Western zones on June 20. Without approval from the Allied military command, Erhard used the occasion to issue a sweeping decree abolishing most of the price controls and rationing directives. He later told friends that the American commander, Gen. Lucius Clay, phoned him when he heard about the decree and said: "Professor Erhard, my advisers tell me that you are making a big mistake." Erhard replied, "So my advisers also tell me."

It was not a big mistake. In the following weeks Erhard removed most of the Bizone's remaining price controls, wage controls, allocation edicts and rationing directives. The effects of decontrol were dramatic.

The shortages ended, black markets disappeared, and Germany's recovery began. Buying and selling with Deutsche marks replaced barter. Observers remarked that almost overnight the factories began to belch smoke, delivery trucks crowded the streets, and the noise of construction crews clattered throughout the cities.

The remarkable success of the reforms made them irreversible. A few months later the French zone followed suit. The Allied authorities went on to lower tax rates substantially.

Between June and December of 1948, industrial production in the three Western zones increased by an astounding 50%. In May 1949 the three zones were merged to form the Federal Republic of Germany, commonly called West Germany, while East Germany remained under Soviet domination as the German Democratic Republic.

Growth continued under the market-friendly policies of the new West German government. Erhard became the Minister of Economic Affairs, serving under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer from 1949 to 1963. The West German economy not only left East Germany's in the dust, it outgrew France's and the United Kingdom's despite receiving much less Marshall Plan aid. This was the era of the Wirtschaftswunder or "economic miracle."

Between 1950 and 1960 the West German economy's real output more than doubled, growing for a decade at a compound annual rate of nearly 8% per year. Econometricians who have tried to parse the various factors contributing to this remarkable record found that not all of it can be attributed to a growing labor force and investment flows, or to "catching up" from a low initial level of output. A large chunk of the period's growth is explained by superior economic policy.

Erhard succeeded Adenauer in 1963 and served as chancellor for three years. His electoral success was an endorsement of the policies that had unleashed the Wirtschaftswunder.

Erhard drew his ideas from free-market economists centered at the University of Freiburg, particularly Walter Eucken, who developed a classical liberal philosophy known as Ordoliberalism (named after ORDO, the academic journal where the economists published their ideas). Interest in Ordoliberal ideas waned in Germany after 1963, eclipsed by interest in Keynesian economics. The welfare state grew. The economy became clogged with interest-group policies. Not coincidentally, economic growth also waned. From 1960 to 1973 growth was about half as great as it had been in the 1950s, and during the period from 1973 to 1989 it was halved again to only 2% per year.

Interest in Ordoliberalism began to revive among academics in the 1970s and 1980s, and it continues to have an institutional presence in Freiburg at the university and at the Walter Eucken Institute. Greater interest among politicians might be the best thing for reviving German economic growth over the long term.

If Mr. Schäuble is sincere when he says that, by comparison with U.S. policy makers, "we take the longer view and are, therefore, more preoccupied with the implications of excessive deficits and the dangers of high inflation," he can find a useful model in the policies of his predecessor 60 years ago.



The Death of Medical Privacy

By Arie Friedman, MD

As I have read through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA, aka ObamaCare), I have been repeatedly struck by the disregard the law has for patient privacy. Time and time again, the PPACA authorizes the federal government to obtain information about patients directly from their health care providers. A particularly vivid example is Section 4302, "Understanding Health Disparities: Data Collection and Analysis." Section 4302 literally opens up almost every medical record in this country for government review and data collection. Let's go through the section with an eye towards patient privacy issues:

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall ensure that, by not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this title, any federally conducted or supported health care or public health program, activity or survey (including Current Population Surveys and American Community Surveys conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of the Census) collects and reports, to the extent practicable--

(A) data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status for applicants, recipients, or participants;

(D) any other demographic data as deemed appropriate by the Secretary regarding health disparities.

There is no pussyfooting around in this first portion of Section 4302. Within two years, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will be obtaining extensive health and demographic data about every patient who participates in federally supported programs or who interacts with a public health department. This would encompass every single patient who participates in Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, or the Supplemental Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). It is also a good bet that data will be obtained from the Veterans' Administration, government employees' health insurance programs, and patients receiving medical care at local Boards of Health. Lastly, I suspect that various regulatory mechanisms will empower state and local Public Health Departments to collect this data on everyone.

It is worth noting that the description of data to be collected is quite broad. Aside from the laundry list of information to be collected, paragraph (D) authorizes the Secretary of HHS to obtain any additional information whatsoever if it fulfills the purpose of investigating health "disparities." Nowhere in this section is there an actual definition of "health disparities." As a result, one can begin to get a picture of the limitlessness of this mandate.

Much more HERE



Bad news for Airbus: "The pilots of a Qantas jet involved in two terrifying nosedives that caused more than 100 injuries have joined a lawsuit against aircraft manufacturers Airbus. The night flight between Singapore and Perth, QF72, was forced to make an emergency landing at Learmonth after a defect in the Airbus A330s autopilot mechanism caused two sudden drops in altitude. Passengers and crew were thrown from their seats against the cabin ceiling. Nine crew and 106 passengers and crew were injured, and the plane's captain was so traumatised by the experience he has been unable to fly since. The plane's captain told investigators that the A330s computer put the plane into an unexpected steep dive twice, then refused to let him take over the controls."

The case for a “Repeal Amendment”: "In its next session beginning in January, the legislature of Virginia will consider proposing a constitutional ‘Repeal Amendment.’ The Repeal Amendment would give two-thirds of the states the power to repeal any federal law or regulation. Its text is simple: ‘Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.’”

Electronic cigarettes: Who is the FDA working for?: "About the time a friend was putting together an ‘electronic cigarette’ package to send me, the US Food and Drug Administration was mailing letters to several manufacturers/sellers of e-cigs, informing them that the regulatory hammer is about to come down. I’m dismayed, but hardly surprised, to learn that the US government, the tobacco companies and their ‘non-profit’ anti-smoking counterparts are conspiring to keep me (and millions of other Americans) on tobacco. Smoking, and pretending to oppose it, are big moneymakers for the political class.”

In defence of speculation in food: "The anger of the mob, the righteous indignation of the ignorant, is being stirred up again. You can hardly open a copy of the Guardian or Independent but someone is lecturing you on the evil of speculation in foodstuffs. How dare these people trade in futures, commodities, when there are hungry people in the world? Surely there are some things which it is too important to have markets in? Well, as Mr. Venning always said, the correct answer to any question which begins ‘Surely’ is ‘No.’ And the reason for the no in this case is that speculation in foodstuffs stops people from starving.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


No comments: