Monday, February 28, 2011

Don’t Just Bail - Fix The Leak

Collective bargaining for public sector unions has to go.

Wisconsin has been in the news lately. So has Ohio, Indiana, and a slew of other states. Most of the discussion, if you follow the Main Stream Media (MSM), concerns the attempts of Republican Governors to balance their budgets by “Union Busting.” While the governors deny this, it is essentially what they are doing. I don’t think they should deny it. They should stand up proudly. After all, they were accused of being the “Party of No,” so now they are in control of many arenas and they are the “Party of Yes.” In the Wisconsin situation, the current “Party of No” is actually partying in Illinois - to avoid being present for a quorum so the bill can’t be brought to a vote. I don’t know if this is a new low for the Democratic party, but it is somewhat embarrassing that this kind of childish behavior takes place in America. I would not be surprised if one did some research and found that Republicans did this at some time or another in the past, but as of now, it is the Dems who look foolish.

As far as the “Union Busting” goes, here is why it should be done, and why there never should have been public-sector unions in the first place.

-This as a conflict of interest if there ever was one. Unions raise money for political contributions to Democratic lawmakers who then give great contracts with lucrative pay and benefits back to the unions and the cycle continues, all paid for by the public who has no say in this and is held hostage to the unholy alliance between the politicians in power and the special interest group that keeps them there. It’s the union members hiring their employers, with someone else required to pay the bill. Not exactly a good formula for balance. It’s the Fox Guarding the Henhouse.

Picture this. Suppose Republicans control the government of a given state. A large real estate holding company owns all the buildings that house state, county, and city operations. The company contributes huge amounts of money to Republicans, which helps get them elected, and who in turn give higher than reasonable rents to the real estate holding company, and the cycle continues. Do you think there would be cries of foul? What’s the difference, other than the additional union advantage of having a large voting block?

-In the private-sector, as nasty as unions may get, they know if they go too far, the company may go out of business and they are all without jobs. Not so in the public sector. Government can’t go out of business. So they must raise taxes or cut services to meet union demands. This is not a “balance of power” as the unions would have you believe.

-If a union strike closes down a business such as a grocery store, the public can go to another grocery store. Not so with governmental operations. If the government is shut down, there is no DMV to renew your license, no EDD to give you your unemployment check, and, conceivably, no police or fire to handle emergencies. Again - an unfair balance of power.

I don’t believe I have ever heard of any governmental agency, union or no union, exploiting it’s workers. Government workers do not need unions to have fair salaries and benefits - only to have exorbitant ones. And, of course, if the employee does not like the pay and conditions, they can leave and go into private sector work.

Despite all the ills of having unions in the private sector, there are unquestionably some benefits - both for the union members and for the public as a whole. Not so with governmental unions.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. Even in some Dem-controlled states, the governors are attempting to get concessions from the unions. While this is good, it doesn’t solve the control problem, and if the economy and government revenues start rolling again, the unions will be there to suck off all they can. Taxpayers will be forced to pay the exorbitant bill. This boat is sinking - we need to fix the leak instead of just bailing out the water.

That being said, I don’t believe there is a problem with public sector unions if they exist for the purpose of securing benefits outside of their relationship with the government. However, workers should not be required to join the union, and union dues should not be taken from pay checks. The union should exist totally outside the government, and should be completely non political.

As something of a side note, I find it interesting that the MSM reports that unions cry “union-busting” governors are against working families. It is working families the unions are trying to take money from and the governors are trying to protect.

Unions are the biggest “Special Interest” group in this country, and the public sector unions are the strongest, with the biggest conflict of interest. If anyone is concerned with the power of special interest groups, they need to weigh in on this.

Mercer Tyson

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Emperor and the Bigot

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Or call the Kettle black.

I often listen to talk radio in the car when I am driving more than a short distance. This is probably more dangerous for me than texting because I often start screaming at the radio, which might be distracting - if not to me, to other drivers.

Last night on my way home to Sacramento I was listening to a left-wing host on KGO, San Francisco. Her discussion centered around the news that Obama and Holder would no longer defend DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), signed into law by the Republican legislature and Democratic President (Bill Clinton) in 1996 because, in their view, it is unconstitutional. Her topic question of the evening was why there was not a lot of hoopla from Republicans about it. She speculated it might be because they saw the writing on the wall that gay marriage was becoming more favorable amongst the general population and they didn’t want to lose votes, and she invited people to call in with their theories. Surprising to me was her complete and total acceptance of O/H’s actions, without even questioning what they did from a procedural standpoint. She brushed off one caller who questioned the legality of O/H’s actions by saying DOMA was deemed unconsitutional by one appeals court judge, and was, therefore, unconstitutional. Quite a leap. In fact, at the current moment, it is only “unconstitutional” in that particular district. Also in fact, since congress and the legialsture passed DOMA into law, it is probably O/H’s obligation to fight the appeals court ruling at the Supreme Court level.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not questioning whether the legislation is good or bad. And O/H may very well be correct be correct in their constitutionality assessment. What I am questioning is the ever-increasing attitude of O/H that they have the right to decide for us what is right and wrong and what is constitutional without regard to constitutional procedure and the law.

As stated, DOMA was passed into law in 1996 in the appropriate manner; the legislature drafted the bill, approved it, and it was signed by the president. Therefore it is the law. Nowhere in the constitution does it state, hint, or imply that subsequent presidents have the right to unilaterally determine that a law is unconstitutional and therefore they won’t enforce it. Sorry - the president’s job is to enforce the laws of the United States.

I did not listen to the entire program, but I did listen to enough to generalize her viewpoint from the show - what O/H did was the right thing to do and anyone who doesn’t think so is a bigot (I’ll get to that later).

I eventually switched stations and found a different talk show featuring a “debate” from two lawyers on different sides of the political spectrum concerning, not DOMA itself, but whether the action taken by O/H was proper or not. The conservative lawyer posed this question to the Liberal one-

What if the next president decides unilaterally that the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 are unconstitutional, and therefore will not defend them or prosecute incidents that would be covered by them?

She laughed, and said it was a question of reasonableness. In her view, DOMA was not reasonable, so it was okay. Not defending the Civil Rights Acts would not be reasonable, so it would not be okay.

Whether one sees DOMA as right or wrong or “reasonable” is irrelevant. What is relevant and astonishing is that a president feels he has the right to decide which laws are constitutional and which ones are not. Constitutional Law Professor? I think even Harvard, the bastion of liberal law where Obama got his law degree in 1991, should be stunned by this. As far as I know, the Pres has no more right to determine constitutionality of a law than I do. Do I have the right to choose which laws I want to live by and which laws do not apply to me?

Also astonishing is that another liberal lawyer believed these actions were proper. Do all liberals think this way? Really? I am beginning to think they do. The rule of law definitely applies - unless you don’t approve of it, in which case it doesn’t.

Yes, presidents have taken similar actions before on rare occasions. But that does not make it right; and certainly not by a “Constitutional Law Professor.” And, given Obama’s appointments of numerous czars and his EPA and FCC actions to bypass congressional approvals, I think this is something to be worried about. At a minimum, it is a clue as to who Obama thinks he is. The Emperor.

Now the bigot part. Back to the first talk show, the host agreed with a caller who had tabbed a previous caller a bigot because he did not believe gay marriage was okay for religious reasons. Did this man ever take any actual discriminatory actions because of his beliefs? Who knows. But what we do know is that the host and her other caller think this man is a bigot for what he thinks.

I looked up the word bigot. It means an “intolerant” person. Was the caller opposed to gay marriage a bigot? Maybe. But I can tell you for certain who the real bigot was; the talk show host. Her intolerance of people who don’t agree with her is of epic proportion. Of course, she would not agree with this assessment because she, as is the case with a good number of radical liberals, cannot allow others to have opinions that are different from hers without tabbing them a bigot, racist, or something that seeks to defeat the other person immediately, without reason or cause. The “bigot” who called in to the show believed what he believed for religious reasons. Does this make him a bigot? Does his having an opinion for any reason make him a bigot? Could you classify this treatment by the host as bigotry on her part for being intolerant of his religious beliefs? By the very definition, absolutely.

I know I am making an assumption here, but having listened to this talk-show host more than a few times, I expect she would dub me a bigot just for questioning the procedure, because by questioning the procedure, she would see me as being anti-gay.

I try not to do what I decry by classifying all liberals in the same manner. However, it is increasingly difficult not to when virtually every discussion with a liberal contains at least one charge of bigotry, racism, homophobia, not caring about children, or families, or something else. I have only one strongly liberal friend who does not do this, and sticks to the point. He and I have great discussions. Sadly, it rarely occurs with others. I wish it would.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Pepsi Commercial Racist? That’s a No-Calorie Claim

Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is doing her best to keep racism alive.

For those of you who didn’t watch the Super Bowl or were wolfing down nachos during the commercials, there is a controversy over the Pepsi Max spot. The ad depicted a black man and woman going through a series of actions, culminating in the black woman throwing a can at the black man who ducks, and the can sails past the man and hits a white woman. The black couple then gets up and runs away. Here is a link to youtube to see the commercial-

Today, Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) spoke before Congress and called the ad racist. Her argument is that it depicted black women as aggressive and “battle axes,” and black men as sex hounds. When is this nonsense going to stop?

I did not see a racist ad. However, I did think it would be called racist. I asked other people who saw the ad and they responded much as I did. One conversation went like this:

Me: “Did you see the PepsiMax ad on TV during the Super Bowl?”

Them: “Yes.”

Me: “Did you think it was racist?”

Them: “Well, yes.”

Me: “Why? What was racist about it??”

Them: “Black people are going to take offense.”

Me: ‘Why? If it had been the other way around, I wouldn’t have found it offensive, just funny. So why is it racist?”

Them: “Because they won’t like it.”

Me: “Why won’t they like it?”

Them: ”I don’t know, they just won’t.”

Me: “So, you don’t actually think it is racist, but you are saying that black people might, and that is what makes it racist, right?”

Them: “Right.”

The conversation was longer and more detailed than that, but you get the picture. This person thought it was a racist commercial because he believed blacks would find it offensive, not because there was anything inherently racist about it. So - is that what makes something racist? How black people see it?

Here’s the absolute truth; if the ad featured three white people it would not have been considered racist by anybody - just funny. Three black people? Maybe, but certainly with less insistence. How about if the couple were white and the third person black? Probably not, but maybe.

The lesson here? Don’t use black actors in situations that may have any remote chance of making them look anything less than normal - and especially if there are white people involved who may appear in a better light.

Sadly, claims of racism have become so overblown that now just the possibility someone might perceive something as racist declares it so. Until we look at a funny commercial like this one without dwelling on the racial makeup of the players, we are doomed to perpetual ill will. And as long as people like Ms. Lee continue to make ridiculous charges like this one, real charges will be ignored as “just another ridiculous claim.”

Incidentally, when others lke Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) make statements considerably more racist than the Pepsi commercial could possibly be, it is dismissed as okay by people like Ms. Lee and other liberals because of Reid’s “track record” and “intent.” So, in addition to the focus of this article, we have to consider those things as well. Would somebody please write some rules on this?

Unfortunately, Ms. Lee is doing her best to keep racism alive.

Mercer Tyson

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Obama - The Marlboro Man?

Wasn’t the Marlboro man the guy on the horse in the wild west?

The word is out - Obama appears to have kicked the habit. Michelle Obama said last Tuesday her husband has stopped for almost a year. Good news for the Pres, his family, and all others interested in reducing smoking in the US.

However, it got me thinking. Rumor has it Obama smoked Marlboro Reds. Marlboro’s ads famously featured the Marlboro man, a guy on the horse with the Wyoming mountains in the background. A guy who worked his jeans off, and probably would not have been caught dead in a suit in Chicago. So let’s imagine; wouldn’t that have been something - Obama doing Marlboro ads? “Come to Marlboro Country” and “Come to where the flavor is.” 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., D.C.? For inauguration, he could have ridden his horse right up to the big house. Hmmm,...I wonder how long it would have taken him to get a permit to build a barn on the grounds for his horse and the secret service horses. Of course, the planning commission or whoever decides all those things probably would have given him a waiver.

But wait - what if he smoked something else?

If O were a woman, Virginia Slims would have been appropriate; “You’ve come a long way, Baby!” But alas, he’s not. Maybe for Michelle. Does Michelle smoke? I don’t think so.

How about Camel? Given the problems in Egypt these days, a Camel would show his acceptance of all things Middle Eastern, and would look good in a press appearance with Mubarak. Plus, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette,” so it would go right along with Michelle’s health kick. I mean, after all “I’d walk a mile for a Camel.” These days, that’s considered good exercise. Who knows, since doctors “recommended them,” he might have ordered us to smoke Camels. It could have been written into Obamacare. “Walk a mile, smoke a camel.”

Or he could go back and forth between Camel and Mecca - “Where Was Moses When the Lights Went Out? Groping for a pack of Meccas.” Groping for a pack of Marlboros doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Of course, they way he has tried to redistribute the wealth, he must have been listening to his Chesterfield-smoking base, “Blow some my way.” He managed to blow a lot their way. He blew some our way as well, along with some mirrors.

Or maybe they were smoking Muriel cigars "Hey, big spender, spend a little dime on me."

Unfortunately, the 111th congress must have been smoking Tareyton - when asked along the way to cooperate with Republicans and get some bi-partisan legislation passed, they said they would “Rather fight than switch.” So they fought, and congress switched.

Actually, though, this puts a new spin on things. We all know how tough it is for people to think clearly when they are giving up the habit. Could this be why he hasn’t had a clue for so long? Nicotine withdrawal? Or is he just planning on using that as an excuse?

I wonder if you are allowed to smoke on Air Force One. Did he smoke in the Oval Office? I haven’t seen him chewing gum - is he using the patch?

I just figured it out! He is always so composed, Kool must have been his cigarette of choice!

I’m rambling. I’ll stop now. I just couldn’t help it.

Mercer Tyson

Sunday, February 6, 2011

All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go - Is Education That Important?

To many, education is the spotlight on tomorrow. But education alone is not the answer.

We all agree that education is important. Certainly the numbers bear that out - not only in traditional analyses of the lifetime earnings of college graduates as compared to high school graduates and dropouts, but also in light of our current economic “recovery.” Government figures point to evidence that wealthier segments of society are recovering faster than the not-so-fortunate. In addition, skilled and educated workers, especially those with math and technical backgrounds, seem to be enjoying something of a boom, with wages rising and the prospects of more. When Obama and other politicians point to these statistics, it implies that if everyone had a good education, everyone would have a good-paying job. What it says to me is that if you want a bigger piece of the economic pie, an education serves you well.

But how about for the economy as a whole? Obama has professed on many occasions that a well-educated citizenry is the key to our future. While I certainly agree that a good education will help, it is not the main ingredient. The main ingredient is the economic system America has embraced since it’s inception; a system that is now under attack.

Why our economic system is faltering at the present is, of course, a matter of opinion and is highly politicized. There are arguments about our trade agreements, the high cost of labor due to unions, unnecessary government regulations - you name it. Yet the subject of education in all this is left out, jabbed at only on the fringe, like waving to a stranger as you drive by. Education is seldom brought up as a problem when discussing the past; it is always George Bush or Barney Frank to blame. So why is education heralded as the beacon of the future?

In the last few decades, the US has lagged seriously behind many other countries in the quality of education provided to the general public in our secondary schools. Our colleges and universities are among the best in the world, true. Many argue our model of higher education doesn’t focus on facts and knowledge as much as that of other countries, but rather focuses on creating “smarter” all around peole with more emphasis on free thinking and innovation. I don’t doubt that is true. But we have large numbers of people who don’t graduate from high school, and many who do emerge without basic reading, writing and math skills. And, a number of our successful graduates are from other countries and return home upon graduation taking their education with them. And yet, over that period of time, our economy has been incredible - the driving force of world economics. Why not Europe? From all accounts, they have terrific educational systems.

The answer is obvious. It isn’t education that drives our economy. It’s the system of rewarding those who produce. It’s the system of requiring people to pay their own way so they are productive and don’t drag society down. It’s the system of allowing people to choose what they want to do and pursue it. It’s the system of rewarding innovation. It’s the system of people putting their necks on the line with the chance of great success. It’s the system of people working as hard as they can to keep from losing their investments. It’s Capitalism.

As far as US education goes, the capitalistic system holds up education not as something to covet, but as a means to an end; for some because they want to learn, for some because they want a good job, and for some because it’s required for what they want to do. In Europe, education is often something you are required to get just because. The education itself is the desired carrot. The degree is the top of the mountain, not the boots and walking stick needed to get there. And since Europeans hold the education itself as the desired goal, they put more effort into providing it. In their view, an educated citizenry is the ultimate goal. This may be an oversimplification, but the essence is true.

So how does this all figure in? Many politicians over the years have touted education as the key to our success. President Obama is no exception. He wants to provide a college education of some sort to everyone who wants one. Not only is this unrealistic, it is not, as the POTUS believes, the key to our economic future. The key is our economic system. Given we don’t hear from anyone that our lack of education is the reason for our economic problems, it is interesting that education is heralded as the savior of the future. When things are slow, there are plenty of things to blame, but lack of education doesn’t seem to be one of them.

No, it is our economic system that must be preserved to ensure our continued prosperity. Education does not create jobs, businesses do. Economic innovation creates jobs. Industries create jobs.

Ah, you say. But we would do better in all those arenas if we were better educated. Absolutely! There is no question about it. A better educated public has more ability to be creative. But will they once they are educated? The answer is no - unless the system encourages it.

So, is education important? Yes. Is it important even in a stagnant economy? Yes - for the individual. They will get a bigger piece of the pie, even if the pie isn’t big. But to get a big pie, it is capitalism that counts. With a big pie, the money interests get more money, the skilled and educated workers get better, higher paying jobs, and the unskilled workers get decent jobs. That’s different from the smaller pie where the “decent jobs” part is not so prevalent. A well-educated citizenry in an economic system based on a strong capitalistic principles is a big pie with lots of ice cream.

One ironic twist is the role of or our colleges and universities in this. As mentioned previously, we have some of the best in the world. In recent decades, however, while educating our young people, many have also been indoctrinating them into liberal beliefs that are generally anti business and lead to stifling the very system their students are looking to for a good career. Many educators have taken the attitude that the education they provide is, as in Europe, the desired accomplishment. If the universities would take the position that education is only the first step and work towards furthering the country’s overall economic interests by instilling the values of our economic system in their students, their graduates - and our overall economy - would be better off, with a wider and more lucrative arena of industries, careers, and jobs.

I’m all for education. But the education will be worthless if our system isn’t preserved and encouraged. Let’s quit beating up and maligning our economic system. Let’s appreciate our businesses, corporations, and entrepreneurs for what they are - the purveyors of jobs and economic prosperity.

Lets not let our next generation get all dressed up with a college education and nowhere to go.

Mercer Tyson

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