Slaying The Myth That Corporations Are The “Money In Politics” Problem

At NRO’s The Corner, Kevin Williams restates the list of top ten political donors thusly:

Democratic/Union Goon proxy: $51 million

Death Star, Inc.: $46 million

Union Goons (public sector): $43 million

The Committee to Re-Inflate the Bubble by Electing Democrats: $38 million

The Bankers Who Elected Barack Obama: $33 million

Democratic trial lawyers: $33 million

Union Goons: $33 million

Union Goons (public sector): $32 million

Union Goons: $30 million

Union Goons: $30 million

No wonder the Democrats are obsessed with the Citizens United case.  They need a shiny object to distract people from the real scandal about political money.

By the way, Death Star, Inc. is AT&T — rent seeker extraordinaire.  Telecommunications regulation moves billions of dollars between companies on a regular basis, so we know what AT&T is trying to buy.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Better Late Than Never

The U.S. is finally repositioning some ships into the Red Sea so they can take action in Libya if needed.  It is unbelievable how limp the U.S. response has been to a revolution to depose a sociopathic dictator running an oil-rich country who previously ordered terrorist attacks on U.S. targets and is now certifiably insane and slaughtering his citizens.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s On — Sheen v. CBS & Co.

His lawyers Charlie Sheen is clean and sober and ready to work.  And more than ready to sue his bosses.  This should be interesting.

As a commercial litigator, I can imagine just how much fun the lawyers will have with this one.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gov. Walker Swings Back At Obama

Obama decided to stick his nose into the Wisconsin public union fray again today, and now Scott Walker has issued a statement that will make Obama regret it:

“I’m sure the President knows that most federal employees do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits while our plan allows it for base pay. And I’m sure the President knows that the average federal worker pays twice as much for health insurance as what we are asking for in Wisconsin. At least I would hope he knows these facts.

“Furthermore, I’m sure the President knows that we have repeatedly praised the more than 300,000 government workers who come to work every day in Wisconsin.

“I’m sure that President Obama simply misunderstands the issues in Wisconsin, and isn’t acting like the union bosses in saying one thing and doing another.”

That’ll leave a mark. 

Obama has already nationalized the issue, and he just keeps digging the hole deeper.  He has now (1) highlighted the issue of government spending, (2) elevated a budget-cutting Republican Governor to national status, simultaneously diminishing himself, (3) demonstrated how beholden the Democrats are to their union bosses, (4) exposed the left as the real perpetrators of nasty political rhetoric and tactics, and (5) gotten his facts wrong (yet again) making himself look lazy and uninformed, reflexively partisan, or both.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 7:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

At the same time he is spending billions of dollars of our money in the name of global warming, President Obama is flying a personal trainer from Chicago to D.C. every week. 

Via Instapundit, who doesn’t want to hear one more goddamned thing about his carbon footprint.  Me neither.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 11:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Obama Admits That The ObamaCare Law Sucks

Maybe the headline isn’t exactly accurate.  But after voting present on his own signature legislation and allowing Pelosi and Reid to run with it, the President has apparently signalled that he supports “amending the 2010 health care law to allow states to opt out of its most burdensome requirements three years earlier than currently permitted.” 

Here’s an idea.  Maybe the Democrats could have thought through the consequences of their legislation before ramming it through.  Just a thought.

Here’s another thought — just repeal it.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Surprise! Obama Votes “Present” On Libya

As Libya’s psychopathic dictator of 40+ years brings in mercenaries to slaughter its citizens and retain control of the oil-rich nation, President Obama finally breaks his silence to say this:

“Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need and to respect the rights of its people,” the president said in his first public comments about the Libyan revolt. “It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities and face the cost of continued violations of human rights.”

That’ll show him.  The Libyan government is not failing to meet its responsibilities.  It is slaughtering its own citizens. 

It’s 3 a.m., Mr. President, and I am pretty sure I would rather have a person selected at random from the White Pages answer the phone than you.  Pathetic.

Published in: on February 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Meet The Face Of The Dems’ New Age Of Civility

He was last seen valiantly defending himself against this unrepentant thug, who had the audacity to point a camera at him:

Full story and video at Michelle Malkin’s place.

I will patiently await the media’s constant looping of this video and cries of outrage.

Still waiting. . . .

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Michael Barone Reminds Us Why Wisconsin Matters — “Public unions force taxpayers to fund Democrats”

Actually, public employee unions do four very bad, interrelated things. 

First, as Barone points out, they force taxpayers to fund Democrat politicians.  Taxpayers pay public employees, and union dues are generally taken by automatic payroll deduction from those paychecks and delivered to the unions.  The unions then use those dues to elect Democrats into office:

Walker was staging “an assault on unions,” [Pres. Obama] said, and added that “public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens.”

Enormous contributions, yes — to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

Thus, one of the problems with allowing public employee unions is similar to the main problem with public broadcasting.  Both use taxpayer dollars to fund liberals and advance their agenda.  That is wrong.

Second, the unions then “bargain” on behalf of their members with the very officials they are in large part responsible for electing.  The unions thus have a seat on each side of the table, while taxpayers have none.  As a result, public employees receive above-market salaries and benefits, and taxpayers get the shaft.  Governments do not need to turn a profit — they merely go back to the taxpayers and try to extract more money in taxes — so there is no market mechanism to reign in spending on public employees.

Third, the budgetary mechanisms that might keep public employees compensation in check are gamed by the unions and the politicians they elected.  Since salaries squeeze other budget priorities and are a visible budget item, much of the cost of public employees is shifted to the future through cushy pensions, early retirement, excessive “sick day” payouts  upon retirement, etc., that the politicians then under-fund to hide the their true costs.  When the bill comes due, the politicians who gave public employees and their unions gobs of other peoples’ money to secure their own seat at the public trough are long retired.

Fourth, (back to Barone) the unions’ “incentives are to increase the cost of government and reduce down toward zero the accountability of public employees — both contrary to the interests of taxpaying citizens.”  Hence, the joy of going to the DMV.

But it is not just the cost of government that the unions have an incentive to increase.  It is also the size.  Every new public employee is an additional union member and forced donor to the Democratic party.  And the cycle continues.

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 11:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Are Public School Teachers Underpaid? No.

At NRO’s The Corner, Kevin Williams has a great idea for an experiment:

Let’s have Wisconsin cut its government workers’ pay by 5 percent and see if the state has trouble filling those government jobs. Let’s cut their pay by 10 percent and see if anybody notices.

Anybody want to place a bet on the results of that experiment?

Actually, we don’t really have to go through the motions to find out.  We can already do that experiment by comparing public school teacher compensation with compensation for private school teachers. 

Looking at base salary alone — and no one would lose money betting that a benefits comparison would favor public school teachers — we find that the public schools pay teachers an average of $49,630/year, while private schools pay just $36,250.

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wisconsin Public Schools — Highest Spending In Midwest; Terrible Results

As Wisconsin teachers rally for more pay and benefits, I thought it would be interesting to see how the Wisconsin schools are faring under their tutelage.  Not so well:

Two-thirds of the eighth graders in Wisconsin public schools cannot read proficiently according to the U.S. Department of Education, despite the fact that Wisconsin spends more per pupil in its public schools than any other state in the Midwest.

In the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009—the latest year available—only 32 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned a “proficient” rating while another 2 percent earned an “advanced” rating. The other 66 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned ratings below “proficient,” including 44 percent who earned a rating of “basic” and 22 percent who earned a rating of “below basic.”

The test also showed that the reading abilities of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders had not improved at all between 1998 and 2009 despite a significant inflation-adjusted increase in the amount of money Wisconsin public schools spent per pupil each year.

In 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Education, Wisconsin public school eighth graders scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test. In 2009, Wisconsin public school eighth graders once again scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test. Meanwhile, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil expenditures from $4,956 per pupil in 1998 to 10,791 per pupil in 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator the $4,956 Wisconsin spent per pupil in 1998 dollars equaled $6,546 in 2008 dollars. That means that from 1998 to 2008, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil spending by $4,245 in real terms yet did not add a single point to the reading scores of their eighth graders and still could lift only one-third of their eighth graders to at least a “proficient” level in reading.

The $10,791 that Wisconsin spent per pupil in its public elementary and secondary schools in fiscal year 2008 was more than any other state in the Midwest.

A bunch of that $10,791 per pupil spending goes to teacher compensation.  For example, the average annual salary for a teacher in the Milwaukee Public School system is $56,500.  They also receive a staggering benefits package bringing total compensation to $100,005 in 2011.

I also found the 2010-2011 Milwaukee Public School calendar on line.  For teachers, the school year began August 30, 2010 (students didn’t arrive until September 1, 2010) and will end June 14, 2011.  That’s about 10 1/2 weeks off already.  Then we add 10 more days off for Winter Recess, a random 1-day “mid-semester break” in February, and another week off  week off for Spring Break.  That brings us to holidays — Labor Day, 2 days for Thanksgiving, MLK Day, and Memorial Day.  Oh, and at least 8 more days for planning, etc. in which students are not in attendance.   All in, I counted 174 days of instruction for the entire school year.

$100,000 is a lot of money for a part-time job.  It is especially a lot of money when you are not doing it very well and cannot be fired.

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm  Comments (1)  

Looks Like The Governor Is Winning In Wisconsin

How do we know?  Easy.  Just see which way the Weathervane-in-Chief is pointing these days. 

Last week, the Democrats were proud of using Organizing for America, Obama’s political organization, to pump up the protests in Madison.  This week, not so much.

Last week, Obama nationalized the issue, in typical Obama fashion, by ignorantly weighing in on the side of his union buddies.  This week, the White House Communications Director says “This is a Wisconsin story, not a Washington one.”

Keep fighting the good fight, Governor Walker.  You are winning, and the Democrats are disgracing themselves by fleeing the state, occupying the capitol, running around with Walker = Hitler signs, skipping work, and handing out fraudulent doctors’ notes to excuse their absences. 

Public sector unions have been feeding at the public trough for decades while using union dues deducted from taxpayer-funded paychecks to re-elect their Democratic servants.  It is time (long past time, actually) to bring them to heel.

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Colorado Democrats Kill Anti-Public Employee Union Bills

As Wisconsin shows us where the true priorities of public employees’ unions lie, and the tactics they will use to achieve their goals, Colorado Democrats have spiked two bills that would have helped prevent the budgetary melt-downs we are seeing in various states by limiting collective bargaining by public employees:

Senate Bill 12, by Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, would have prohibited public entities from collectively bargaining with a labor union, or an employee association from acting as a bargaining agent for public employees.

Senate Bill 38, by Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, would have prohibited an employee organization from being officially recognized as the exclusive representative of state employees; barred the state from negotiating with an employee organization to create an employee partnership agreement; and terminated any existing partnership agreements.

In 2007, then Governor Bill Ritter signed an executive order allowing state employees limited unionization.  Current Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper has thus far refused to rescind the order.

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

The “Tax Me More” Fund

Apparently, there is a fund in Virgina set up to receive money from anyone who wants to pay extra into the state coffers.  Since its inception, the fund has collected a grand total of just $12,887.04.  The Virgina state website identifies just seven donors.

Following Virginia’s lead, the folks at Colorado Peak Politics have a splendid idea.  Those complaining about budget cuts who want to increase taxes should set up a similar fund in Colorado to collect additional revenue from those who want to donate it.

That will put people like State Senator Bob Bacon (D-Fort Collins) to the test.  Sen. Bacon recently said “I can afford to pay more. Many people I talk to say they can afford to pay more.” OK, Senator, go ahead and write a check, and get those generous folks you refer to do so as well,  so we can see how sincere you all are. 

Sure it’s a gimmick, but it would be a fun gimmick.  The point is, many people who support higher taxes don’t want to pay those taxes themselves.  They want more money flowing into government coffers from other peoples’ wallets.

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Case Against Public Sector Unions

Professor Bainbridge eloquently makes the case:

A core problem with public sector unionism is that it creates a uniquely powerful interest group. In theory, bureaucrats are supposed to work for and be accountable to the elected representatives of the people. But suppose those bureaucrats organize into large, well-funded, powerful unions that can tip election results. With very few and very unique exceptions, no workplace in which the employees elect the supervisors functions well for long.

* * *

In effect, public sector unionism thus means that representatives of the union will often be on both sides of the collective bargaining table. On the one side, the de jure union leaders. On the other side, the bought and paid for politicians. No wonder public sector union wages and benefits are breaking the back of state budgets. They are bargaining with themselves rather than with an arms’-length opponent.

Meanwhile, Daniel DiSalvo quotes FDR — no enemy of private sector unions — on their public counterparts:

F.D.R. believed that “[a] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.”

In Wisconsin, unionists have used their political power to extract unsustainable benefits along with generous compensation from bought and paid for politicians, virtually all of which are Democrats.  The voters finally had enough and installed a Republican legislature and governor. 

Rather than accept the will of the voters, the Democrat politicians fled the state, and their union masters have effectively shut down the Wisconsin schools and legislature.  This “manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied.”  It is anti-democratic to the core.

Meanwhile, President “Elections have Consequences” is backing and helping organize the protestors.

Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm  Leave a Comment