Sunday, February 20, 2011

Unions' Fight in Madison Is a Disgrace

The Democratic/government-union days of rage in Madison, Wis., are a disgrace. Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan calls it Cairo coming to Madison. But the protesters in Egypt were pro-democracy. The government-union protesters in Madison are anti-democracy; they are trying to prevent a vote in the legislature. In fact, Democratic legislators themselves are fleeing the state so as not to vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget cuts. That's not democracy.

The teachers' union is going on strike in Milwaukee and elsewhere. They ought to be fired. Think Ronald Reagan PATCO in 1981. Think Calvin Coolidge police strike in 1919.

The teachers' union on strike? Wisconsin parents should go on strike against the teachers' union. A friend e-mailed me to say that the graduation rate in Milwaukee public schools is 46 percent. The graduation rate for African-Americans in Milwaukee public schools is 34 percent. Shouldn't somebody be protesting that?

Governor Walker is facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit, and he wants state workers to pay one-half of their pension costs and 12.6 percent of their health benefits. Currently, most state employees pay nothing for their pensions and virtually nothing for their health insurance. That's an outrage.

Nationwide, state and local government unions have a 45 percent total-compensation advantage over their private-sector counterpart. With high-pay compensation and virtually no benefits co-pay, the politically arrogant unions are bankrupting America -- which by some estimates is suffering from $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

Exempting police, fire, and state troopers, Governor Walker would end collective bargaining over pensions and benefits for the rest. Collective bargaining for wages would still be permitted, but there would be no wage hikes above the CPI. Unions could still represent workers, but they could not force employees to pay dues. In exchange for this, Walker promises no furloughs for layoffs.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is also pushing a bill to limit the collective-bargaining rights of teachers for wages and wage-related benefits. Similar proposals are being discussed in Idaho and Tennessee. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich wants to restrict union rights across-the-board for all state and local government workers. More generally, both Democratic and Republican governors across the country are taking on the extravagant pay of government unions. Why? Because taxpayers won't stand for it anymore.

In an interesting twist on this story, even private unions are revolting against government unions. Private unions pay taxes, too. And they don't have near the total compensation of the public unions. It's no wonder they're fed up.

So, having lost badly in the last election, the government-union Democrats in Wisconsin have taken to the streets. This is a European-style revolt, like those seen in Greece, France, and elsewhere. So it becomes greater than just a fiscal issue. It is becoming a law-and-order issue.

President Obama, who keeps telling us he's a budget cutter, has taken the side of the public unions. John Boehner correctly rapped Obama's knuckles for this. If the state of Wisconsin voters elected a Chris Christie-type governor with a Republican legislature, then it is a local states' rights issue.

But does President Obama even know that the scope of collective bargaining for federal employees is sharply limited? According to the Manhattan Institute, federal workers are forbidden to collectively bargain for wages or benefits. Instead, pay increases are determined annually through legislation.

Meanwhile, Gov. Scott Walker said it would be "wise" for President Obama to keep his attentions on Washington, not Wisconsin. "We're focused on balancing our budget," he said in a television interview. "It would be wise for the president and others in Washington to be focused on balancing their budget, which they're a long ways from doing."


Obama should stay out. And Governor Walker should stand tall and stick to his principles. A nationwide taxpayer revolt against public unions can save the country. Otherwise, the spiraling out-of-control costs of state public-union entitlements will destroy the local fisc, just as surely as the unreformed federal entitlements of Social Security and health care are wrecking our national finances.



An Assault on Taxpayers by fat-cat unionists

Where can one find a safe environment for children? As political props for union activists, of course, holding prefabricated signs demanding the state go broke funding increasingly inferior yet increasingly costly education. OK, by education I mean pensions. But isn't it nice to see kids thinking for themselves?

Now, as easy as it is to blame unions, it's not enough. We have a bigger problem, and that's monopoly. Every year government grows, each time a state assigns itself new duties, the monopoly expands. Education is just the worst example.

Whatever you may think of the politics of private-sector unions -- now less than 7 percent of the work force -- they function in a competitive environment. Public sectors, on the other hand, have artificial leverage that no other workers in the nation enjoy.

In Wisconsin -- where union sign wavers have yet to get the memo that Nazi imagery is no way to embrace the new era of civility -- lawmakers are attempting to reform bargaining rights of about 170,000 public-sector workers in unions. More precisely, they want to restrict union members to bargaining for wages rather than take taxpayers hostage with unsustainable pensions and benefit demands every few years.

Wisconsin's fight is just a harbinger, of course. A recent Pew poll on states found that state pension systems have a combined $1 trillion in unfunded liability. In other words, every U.S. household may have the honor of subsidizing someone else's public service an extra $8,800.

The counterargument is familiar. These folks are sacrificing healthy salaries by choosing to teach your children rather than greedily chasing riches that they would almost certainly realize if they took their talents to the private sector. (Funny, isn't it then, that when we try to inject competition into education, it's met with anger and scorn by the people who sacrifice without it.)

But according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report -- a new one is due next month -- state and local government employees, all told, are already making approximately $12 more per hour than private workers. Last year, a USA Today analysis found that federal employees' average compensation had grown to be more than double what their private-sector counterparts were making. Public service, indeed.

Immunity from economic downturns and market fluctuations is a rarity in America -- though we've been doing our best via bailouts. The problem isn't that government workers are trying to get theirs; it's that the arbitrary reward is often tied to the vociferousness of the worker's demand rather than reality.

Certainly, how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fares in this battle will be an important signal to the rest of the nation. Some places, such as Colorado, only recently have allowed state workers to organize. Other states are facing pension nightmares. Who knows? States may begin privatizing and allowing competitive outsourcing of jobs. States must, because nationally we're headed in the other direction.

"Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions," explained President Barack Obama, who, unlike governors, can (and does) borrow trillions. The numbers, though, tell us that public-sector unions are the ones assaulting taxpayers and brittle state economies. And the more we grow the state monopoly the worse it will get.



How ObamaCare Kills Medical Innovation

Now we know what rationing will look like under Obama Care, with the FDA's decision to ban doctors from prescribing the drug Avastin to patients with breast cancer. And it's only the beginning.

This first step, impeding the use and development of life-saving medicines will lead to even more dramatic decisions to delay, prevent or withdraw care from those in real need of health care.

But, there had to be a legitimate reason for the Obama Administration's Food and Drug Administration's decision to prevent the use of Avastin, right? If rationing is a legitimate reason to you, then the answer is yes.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration banned doctors from prescribing Avastin, a potent but costly drug, to patients with advanced-stage breast cancer. According to the FDA, the drug doesn't offer 'a sufficient benefit in slowing disease progression to outweigh the significant risk to patients . . . .'

Ponder the FDA's justification -- there wasn't "sufficient" benefit in relation to Avastin's risks. Sufficient according to whom? For your wife, mother or daughter with terminal breast cancer, how much is an additional month of good-quality life worth? Why shouldn't she be able to spend her own money on her health care to try to go forward another day, month or year?

All new medicines are expensive. In fact, the first edition of practically every innovation is the most expensive version of whatever it is. But as long as there are risk takers and people willing to pay higher prices, why shouldn't we let these forces try to advance progress in drugs and medicine? Should we care that new drugs are so expensive? The story of the discovery of penicillin is instructive. Let's examine this FDA justification by posing the question, should we have stopped the advance of health care in 1945 when penicillin was discovered?
The discovery of penicillin is attributed to Scottish scientist and Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming in 1928. He showed that, if Penicillium notatum were grown in the appropriate substrate, it would exude a substance with antibiotic properties, which he dubbed penicillin. This serendipitous observation began the modern era of antibiotic discovery . . . .

The challenge of mass-producing this drug was daunting. On March 14, 1942, the first patient was treated for streptococcal septicemia with U.S.-made penicillin produced by Merck & Co. Half of the total supply produced at the time was used on that one patient. By June 1942, there was just enough U.S. penicillin available to treat ten patients.

A moldy cantaloupe in a Peoria, Illinois, market in 1943 was found to contain the best and highest-quality penicillin after a worldwide search. The discovery of the cantaloupe, and the results of fermentation research on corn steep liquor at the Northern Regional Research Laboratory at Peoria, Illinois, allowed the United States to produce 2.3 million doses in time for the invasion of Normandy in the spring of 1944. Large-scale production resulted from the development of deep-tank fermentation by chemical engineer Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau . . . .

Penicillin production emerged as an industry as a direct result of World War II. During the war, there was an abundance of jobs available in the U.S. on the home front. The War Production Board was founded to monitor job distribution and production. Penicillin was produced in huge quantities during the war and the industry prospered.

In July 1943, the War Production Board drew up a plan for the mass distribution of penicillin stocks to Allied troops fighting in Europe. At the time of this plan, 425 million units per year were being produced. As a direct result of the war and the War Production Board, by June 1945 over 646 billion units per year were being produced....

Talk about a decline in unit costs! Production of penicillin dramatically increased from 2 doses in 1942 to over 646 billion doses in 1945 -- just three short years. This is a declining unit cost curve in the extreme. The discovery of Penicillin is a perfect example of how future beneficiaries benefit forever thereafter from the initial high cost and complications of perfecting drugs and medicines.

Unequal outcomes are what propel economic progress in every way. The steam engine for ships and trains produced huge reductions in the cost of moving people and goods around the world or across the territory -- and unit costs are still dropping.

Unequal outcomes always result from huge increases in productivity. And, productivity always results in lower long-term costs of the produced items. Market economies create this rise in productivity and lower unit costs whereas Socialistic economies always "tax success" and destroy this process.




Freshmen spur GOP-run House to big spending cuts: "The GOP-run House, jolted by freshmen determined to drive down the deficit, snatched $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs while shielding coal companies, oil refiners and farms from new federal regulations. Passage early Saturday of the $1.2 trillion bill, covering every Cabinet agency through Sept. 30, when the current budget year ends, sent the measure to the Senate, where it faces longer odds, and defied a White House veto threat. The largely party-line vote of 235-189 was the most striking victory to date for the 87 freshman Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the deficit and reduce the reach of government."

House votes to overthrow 'czars': "The House voted Thursday to dethrone nine White House "czars." Republicans successfully added an amendment to the continuing resolution that would leave President Barack Obama's senior advisers on policy issues including health care, energy and others out of a job. The vote was 249-179. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) offered the amendment that blocks funding for various policy advisers to combat what he called "a very disturbing proliferation of czars" under Obama.

Laws also deserve to be scrutinized: "I believe that when you are serving on a jury, it is your duty to not only judge the facts of the case (in other words, to decide if the accused person actually did what they are accused of), but also whether the law the person is accused of violating is a good law or not. This has been the cornerstone at the foundation of the legal system America inherited, whether judges like it or not."

Where's the stimulus?: "A bill to jump start the economy. That was the main idea behind the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the "stimulus bill," which became law two years ago today. However, the nation is still waiting for the bill's promised jolt. "Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs," President Obama told a joint session of Congress, a week after signing the bill in 2009. Economists have debated whether the plan actually accounted for that many jobs, but there's little doubt the economy did not get a "jump start." A stutter start would be more like it."

Congressional testimony on the stimulus: "Over the last two years, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has injected over half a trillion dollars into the US economy in hopes of spurring recovery and creating jobs. The results have been deeply disappointing."


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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)


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