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Monday, February 28, 2011

Union Bile Runneth Over

“Certain business leaders may consider "big government" or socialism more of an immediate threat to their interests than communism. Are they allowing themselves to be deluded by their own propaganda to the effect that organized labor in this country is in favor of big government or the nationalization of industry?

Nothing could be further from the truth. The main function of American trade unions is collective bargaining. It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government. Unions, as well as employers, would vastly prefer to have even Government regulation of labor-management relations reduced to a minimum consistent with the protection of the public welfare... — George Meany, President of the AFL-CIO in an article he wrote for Time Magazine, December 4, 1955

The quote shown above is an excerpt from an article written by George Meany, the president of the AFL-CIO virtually on the merger of the two unions — the CIO being affiliated with industrial workers and the AFL with trade unions. Meany believed that public sector workers should not be unionized as they had special status under the civil service laws and were different than the workers he represented that had no such protections.

I have used the quote by Franklin Roosevelt regarding public sector unions several times. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, like the overwhelming majority of Americans today, opposed public sector unions. See below the full text of FDR's letter to Luther C. Steward, President of the National Federation of Federal Employees, of August 16, 1937. (In fairness I should point out that the New York Times reported that their New York Times/CBS poll shows a contrary result)

My dear Mr. Steward:

As I am unable to accept your kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the Twentieth Jubilee Convention of the National Federation of Federal Employees, I am taking this method of sending greetings and a message.

Reading your letter of July 14, 1937, I was especially interested in the timeliness of your remark that the manner in which the activities of your organization have been carried on during the past two decades "has been in complete consonance with the best traditions of public employee relationships." Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.

The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or 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. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that "under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government."

I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding and trust that the convention will, in every way, be successful.

Very sincerely yours,

[To] Mr. Luther C. Steward, President, National Federation of Federal Employees, 10 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C.

Source: John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project, Santa Barbara, California.

You can see by Roosevelt’s letter that he was strongly against collective bargaining rights for public sector workers. He was also against the militant actions the teachers and their union supporters are carrying out in Madison, Wisconsin and other cities throughout the nation.

At some point in the past 30 years with the declining membership in the legitimate industrial and trade unions the leaders of these unions egan recruiting public sector workers for membership in their unions. This all began in New York City, in 1958, when Mayor Wagner issued an executive order allowing city workers collective bargaining rights. This escalated across the United States to Wisconsin in 1959 and California in 1978. The 1978 Dill Act, promoted and signed into law by Jerry Brown, granting union rights to public sector workers was the first big step along the road to financial disaster for the State of California.

nazi_wisconsin_signThe Boiling Over of the Liberal Mind is on full display these days, and it is not a pretty sight. Union protesters in Wisconsin compared Gov. Scott Walker to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other tyrants. A sign showed him in a Nazi salute and screamed, "Heil Walker." Another said, "Hitler, Stalin, Walker." Still another showed a swastika next to his name.

New York unions also reached back to World War II, although with a twist. "Wisconsin: Our Pearl Harbor," wrote John Samuelson, president of the local Transport Workers Union, which represents transit workers. He railed against "enemies of labor and democracy. But Paul Krugman proved himself the master of disaster comparisons. The bid to trim union power reminds the excitable New York Times columnist of the invasion of Iraq.”

Wherever you look, the bile runneth over. Beyond making fools of themselves with juvenile comparisons, the "social justice" crowd is inadvertently proving that public-sector unions are a privileged class. Touch them and you die from a thousand insults.

One Democratic congressman wanted the real thing. Rep. Michael Capuano of Boston said Wisconsin protesters should "get a little bloody" to protect bargaining rights.

He later apologized, but too late to rescue the era of civility President Obama urged after the Tucson shooting. Civility doesn't stand a chance against the entitlement culture of unions and their political puppets.

What makes the responses so irrational is that there is an obvious problem. Many states and cities are dangerously deep in debt, thanks in part to union payrolls and pensions. Washington hangs on by virtue of its printing press.

It's not as though American governments don't spend enough. Taxes go up nearly every year in most jurisdictions, yet it's never enough to keep pace with the spending.

The emergence of the Tea Party movement was precisely on this point. Demonized by the mainstream media, which trolled rallies for signs of racism and Hitler, members took their wrath to the ballot box and won a historic victory.

Instead of accepting that verdict, the unions and others seek to delegitimize new governors like Walker by calling him a fascist and a Nazi. The running and hiding by Dem lawmakers adds an element of farce, their empty chairs a potent symbol of their impotence.

Such nonsense is not likely to stop the movement to put the "public" back in public servant. Poll after poll across the country shows most people understand the relation between government bloat and expensive union contracts, which give workers a richer life than the taxpayers they supposedly serve.

There is a danger that Republicans will repeat the mistakes of Democrats and overreach. But Obama and his allies in Congress and states like Wisconsin don't have much standing to demand compromise after they acted on straight partisan votes. (Remember Obama’s quip “John, Elections have consequences”). Had they exercised a modicum of restraint, Washington and the states would be in a better fiscal position and Dems could have created a model of bipartisanship that Republicans would be pressed to follow. But they didn't, and now are finding that payback is a bitch. The least they could do is take their medicine like adults.

The Late Irving Kristol wrote in 1974: "The average politician of today sees it as his role to gratify the appetites of the people, to liberate them from deprivation, as we say. The truly creative politician of today is more 'far-sighted' in that he discovers new and original deprivations, popularizes them, makes them keenly felt. 'What have you done for us lately?' is now assumed to be the absolutely proper question for the citizen to address to his representative who, in turn, frantically speculates as to what he can do for them tomorrow. What this means, quite simply, is by the traditional stands of republican political philosophy, American politics today is the politics of demagogy, the politics of bribery."

David Denholm writes in the Washington Examiner that public sector workers have no rights to collective bargaining. In his OpEd piece he states: “Protesters in Madison, Wis., and Columbus, Ohio, are defending the "right to collective bargaining." Guess what? There is no right to collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a legislated privilege given to unions by friendly lawmakers.”

“The federal courts have been very clear on this. A federal district court in North Carolina put it quite eloquently in a decision upholding the Tar Heel State's law prohibiting public-sector bargaining, saying, "All citizens have the right to associate in groups to advocate their special interests to the government. It is something entirely different to grant any one interest group special status and access to the decision-making process."

“A law granting public-sector unions monopoly bargaining privileges gives a union, a special interest group, two bites at the apple. First, it uses its political clout to elect public officials. Then it negotiates with the very same officials.”

“When you consider that between 70 and 80 percent of all local government expenditures are personnel costs, you begin to get an idea of the magnitude of the power such laws give unions. Not only is there no right to collective bargaining in public employment, it is wrong. Collective bargaining distorts and corrupts democratic government.”

Denholm continues: “Government is inherently a monopoly. If you don't like a decision of government, you can't check with the competition to see whether you can get a decision more to your liking. Business, on the other hand, is competitive. If you don't like the cars being made by one manufacturer, you can check with another to see whether you can find one you like better.”

“In business, the bottom line is dollars. No matter how politically popular a business decision might be, if it bankrupts the company it is a failure. In government, the bottom line is votes. No matter how financially ruinous a decision might be, if it gets you re-elected, it is a success.”

“More importantly, government is sovereign, while all other institutions in our society depend on free choice. Sovereignty is the right to use force to enforce decisions. We may not think about it in our everyday lives, but lurking in the background behind every government rule or regulation is the fact that government has the right and the power to use force to enforce it.”

“We might resent that when it comes to things like taxes, but we need it when it comes to things like murder and mayhem. A sovereign institution might choose to seek input from interested parties about a decision, but when the decision is made, it is the law.”

Public-sector collective bargaining was a creature of the social revolution that took place in this nation in the '60s and '70s. It was the wrong thing to do, but unlike many other mistakes it created a very powerful institution that will fight furiously against any effort to repeal or reform it. That's what's happening now in Wisconsin and Ohio and in many different ways in states all around the nation.

haight-hippieIt’s nearing two weeks since unions and their cohorts on the Left have thrown a nationwide fit over Scott Walker’s solution to what is ailing Wisconsin. Unions and Democrats have made Wisconsin their cause célèbre by deploying Organizing for America (OFA) astroturf, the big talking heads, as well as recruiting just about every known Grateful Dead concert attendee on their mailing lists into Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Democratic state senators (now humorously known as “fleebaggers”) comically continue to hold the state hostage over an issue of union power, politics and money—nothing more and nothing less.

Despite unions’ long hatred of Scott Walker, the new governor is moving to address both the symptoms of the disease and the disease itself—the public-sector union scheme that has molested Wisconsin’s taxpayers and their children by gaming the system. Unions like Wisconsin’s teachers’ union [WEAC] (which was Wisconsin’s biggest-spending lobby in 2009) have been extraordinarily adept at fixing the system through spending millions to elect politicians who, in turn, reward the unions at the expense of the taxpayers.

Now, in response to Walker’s proposals, the Left has gone overboard in their attempt to protect their stranglehold on Wisconsin taxpayers. Even though unions have made clear that their fight is not about their wages or benefits (they’ve offered concessions), they’ve made the fight all about their “right to be unionized” and the fictitious right to “collective bargaining”—which makes their cause even more despotic.

In making Madison into something reminiscent of the spectacle of the 1960s, unions, Democrats and their liberal cohorts are attempting to make the Wisconsin union battle into a civil rights battle, when it is not. In fact, the Wisconsin fight, when compared to private-sector negotiations is about: 1) the Scope of Bargaining, 2) Union “Income” Security [Right-to-Work vs. Forced Dues], 3) whether Wisconsin should be the unions’ dues collection agency [payroll deduction of dues], and 4) whether public-sector unions should be ‘recertified’ by holding elections every year.

Contrary to the Left’s hyperbole, Scott Walker’s proposals do nothing to eliminate public-sector workers’ right to association, assemblage, or to petition their government. Even pretending that it is a “rights” issue is a mistake. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires a government to engage in a back and forth negotiation with a collective of workers.

As Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour explains: “When they have collective bargaining in Wisconsin, on one side of the table there’s state employee unions or the local employee unions. On the other side of the table are politicians that they paid for the election of those politicians,” Barbour said. “Now, who represents the taxpayers in that negotiation? Well, actually, nobody.”

Admittedly, Governor Walker’s proposals are a threat to unions in several ways. As Walker’s proposals determine:

  1. The extent of what unions will be allowed to bargain about. Walker’s proposal limits bargaining to wages only, effectively eliminating the WEA Trust monopoly which gets its money from local school boards and runs it through a union-run insurance company.
  2. Whether unions can have workers fired for not paying union dues. According to its most recent financial record on file, WEAC (the teachers’ union) raked in over $25 million in 2009. Walker’s proposal makes paying union dues voluntary, as opposed to mandatory. This goes to the lifeblood of any union. If, for example, 20% of those teachers who are currently required to pay union dues as a condition of employment opt out, WEAC could lose up to $5 million a year in revenue. [It is noteworthy that, in the private-sector, the SEIU will be conducting its second strike at a Pennsylvania medical center over the issue of mandatory dues.]
  3. Whether the state will continue being the unions’ dues collector. Walker’s proposal eliminates’ the employers’ payroll deduction of union dues. Again, while it is commonplace for unions to negotiate payroll deduction, there is nothing anywhere (in private or public sector law) that states that it is an employers’ duty to be a union’s collection agency.
  4. Whether the unions will have to ‘re-certify’ every year to maintain representational status. Of all of Walker’s proposals, this seems to be one that could be considered a ‘throw away’ item in negotiations. If Walker’s other proposals get enacted, and union-represented employees feel that the union is worthless, they can initiate an election themselves every calendar under existing law [see Section 111.83(5)[h]] .

Governor Scott Walker addressing the people of Wisconsin
Given the ability of the unions and their co-conspirators on the Left to hijack the issue in Wisconsin over these last two weeks, there appears no way for a “win-win” compromise to be worked out. One side or the other will win. Either the unions and the Left, or taxpayers will prevail.

If the Left wins, all chances of reforming public-sector unions will be tossed aside by weak-kneed Republicans who will then be held hostage by temper-tantrum throwing Democrats (see Indiana for example). In addition, the Left has already painted the entire Republicans party with bulls eyes and has for years. Therefore, there is no reason for GOP governors like Scott Walker, Chris Christie and John Kasich to back down, which puts the Left in an untenable situation as well.

In the meantime, the disciples of Saul Alinsky will continue their prattle, attempting to convince America that the Battle of Wisconsin is something more than a fight over union power, politics and money…even though it’s not.

The Unmitigated and Unchallenged Hate of the Left

"They (leftists) are the most disagreeable of people...Their insincerity? Can you not feel a sense of disgust at the arrogant presumption of superiority of these people? Superiority of intellect! Then, when it comes to practice, down they fall with a wallop not only to the level of ordinary human beings but to a level which is even far below the average." — Winston Churchill

"Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose." Rule No. 8, Rules for Radicals — Saul Alinsky

“There is hate in their eyes.”

That’s the eerie description Fox News national reporter Mike Tobin gave of the Wisconsin protesters in Madison on Saturday night. By Sunday afternoon that hate manifested itself in the form of an assault on Tobin, who was hit during a live broadcast from the Capitol amid chants of ‘Fox News lies!”

If you’ve been a viewer of the Fox News Channel over the past week and a half and have paid attention to its coverage of the standoff between Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic members of the state Senate, you may have noticed the protest that has ensued in Madison, Wisconsin has been less than hospitable to the cable news channel’s reporters.

On Saturday night’s broadcast of “Geraldo at Large,” Fox News correspondent Mike Tobin took some critical shots at protesters attempting to shout down and disrupt his broadcast. He told host Geraldo Rivera he has observed hate and an effort to shut out other viewpoints.

“One thing I think should make clear – the people coming after us from every live shot here, these people hate,” Tobin said. “These are people who don’t respect diverse viewpoints. In fact, they’re so afraid I’ll present a diverse viewpoint, that’s why they try to heckle me and shut down every live shot. They’ve made it clear, that what they want to make it harder for me to do my job. They are proud of that when they disrupt a live shot, when they really trample over the First Amendment rights or the First Amendment’s obligations of a reporter. Now, I am not saying that’s all of the people. Those are the people that come here and heckle and try to disrupt things. I look in their eyes — there is hate in their eyes. They don’t want to hear any kind of viewpoint that is different from their own. That’s why they do what they do.”

“A teacher was giving me the business yesterday,” Tobin explained before the attack, “and the teacher told me she hates me because it makes her feel good.” He then found out the extent of that hate just moments later:

Rivera explained Tobin’s report was troubling, especially since Madison is the home of the University of Wisconsin, where one might think that in a university setting people would be more receptive to other points of view.

“And the sickest thing is many go to the University of Wisconsin there or are affiliated as teachers or some other positions with the university, supposedly a liberal bastion committed to the Bill of Rights and the United States,” Rivera said. “And yet, they are using bullying tactics on the one hand and then this gross interruptions of a reporter trying to do his job.”:

Mike Tobin of FNC talks with Geraldo Rivera

Geraldo Rivera doesn’t get it and he never will. You see he is a liberal at heart and he cannot see the steady stream of hate coming from the left — a stream that has come for years. While Rivera can go out and make comments about the Tea Party being racist towards his Hispanic brethren he cannot seem to come to grips with the steady stream of vitriol, hate and racism that emanates on the left. All you have to do is view some of the video from the anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam and Iraq wars. If the left doesn’t like something they draw a pass from the media because they a “passionate.” I have never met a leftie who will not explode in vitriol when you do not agree with them, that’s because they think they are smarter and better than the rest of us unwashed citizens. The left will do anything to win, even violence. Lee Harvey Oswald was a Communist.

The head of one of the nation's most powerful labor unions did not condemn the violent rhetoric in placards and signs held by union supporters demonstrating in Wisconsin despite two direct attempts Sunday to get him on the record declaring them inappropriate.

On several occasions over the past two weeks of demonstrations in the Wisconsin capital of Madison news media have zeroed in on signs that liken Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and recently ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Just think if the Hitler reference was made to Obama — the national outrage in the media would be thunderous.nazi_wisconsin_sign

Appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was twice asked whether he found the tone at the nearly two-week long demonstrations "wrong" or "inappropriate."

Trumka did not answer, instead saying, "We should be sitting down trying to create jobs. ... In Wisconsin, a vast majority of the people think this governor has overreached. His popularity has gone down. They're saying to him, sit down and negotiate; don't do what you've been doing. So he's losing."

Turning to Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a staunch Walker defender and potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012, Trumka added, "If that's the argument you're going to do this year and next year, it's a loser."

Barbour, who was then challenged by another panelist on the show as fearing democracy, responded that the 2010 election showed that Wisconsin voters wanted a Republican legislature and executive branch that pledged to get the budget in check. He then described a similar effort in Indiana.

"In Indiana, this was done six years ago by the governor. It has been very popular. Nobody put (Gov.) Mitch Daniels' picture with a crosshair over his face like they're doing in Wisconsin. You know, if Sarah Palin did that, it would be the world coming to an end," Barbour said, referring to the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate who has become a lightning rod for Democratic criticism.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., who also appeared on the show, said he rejected the allusions to Hitler and violence as inappropriate.

"Absolutely. It's inappropriate. It should be condemned, not only by people close to the governor but by those of us who are observers. I think that's something that we've got to squash in this country. We've come to a point in this government discussion where, you know, one side says anything goes to get my point across. And I think it would be certainly something that I would condemn," Cleaver said.

But immediately following those remarks, Cleaver,, who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Walker's position that Democrats come home from Illinois in order to cast a losing vote is not acceptable and suggested the Wisconsin governor was leading more like Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi than an elected official.

When the lion and the lamb lie down, if you look closely, when the lion gets up, the lamb is missing. .The governor was just elected. He'll still be governor in a year. And, you know, the agreements that we have were not made by Qaddafi. They were made by people who sat down in a room and worked out an agreement.

"And I think labor unions are saying, and public-sector employees are saying, 'OK, you know, maybe things have gotten out of balance; we'll -- we'll reduce some things.' The governor is saying, 'I don't care -- you know, I want to crush the union.'"

Even Cleaver’s condemnation was weak. He had to make the comparison of Walker to Qaddafi. He couldn’t simply refute the behavior of the protestors he had to bring a relevancy to defend his union supporters. That’s what left wing Democrats does — they concede with one hand and stab with the other. They do not have the integrity to be honest

Trumka is like all union thugs. He is a radical leftist more concerned with the longevity of the union than those the union represents. He knows if he gives an inch he will lose power — power he needs to control Democratic politicians. When we were fighting for Prop 35 in California — a constitutional amendment to insure Caltrans the ability to outsource some of its engineering and surveying work — the president of my firm was in the office of Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-San Fernando Valley), the chairman of the assembly transportation committee. Also present was Bruce Blanning, the executive director of the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG), the union representing more than 15,000 Caltrans workers. They were attempting to negotiate an agreement between PECG and the private engineering community. The discussions became so confrontational that Rep. Katz threw a glass ashtray at Blanning and told him never to come back to his office again. PECG is a member of the National Association of State Highway and Transportation Unions (NASHTU), with is affiliated with all the other public workers unions. These unions are one large cartel and should be investigated by the Justice Department for RICO violations.

In another recent event the police refused to remove the protestors for the Wisconsin State Capitol building even after being ordered to do so by the Governor. The state agency that oversees the Capitol asked the throngs of demonstrators who have camped out inside the building since Feb. 15 to leave by 4 p.m., saying the building was in dire need of a cleaning. But in the hours before the deadline came and after it passed, it was clear most protesters did not intend to leave voluntarily and police had no immediate intention of forcing them to go. Late Sunday night, Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said no demonstrators would be arrested as long as they continue to obey the law.

This is exactly what I was predicting in my Blog of Sunday, February 27. It’s just another case of the taxpayer being ignored by the public unions. The hate of the protestors is exactly what the union leaders want. It is right out of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and Cloward and Piven’s strategy for creating chaos that will overload the system.

They have enlisted the useful idiots of the universities and rank and file. They have given them talking points and told them to go forth and create a riot. If anyone challenges then they should shout them down and if needed use violence. It’s the way the left works.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Anarchy Is Just Around The Corner

"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service," — Franklin Roosevelt, in 1937 to the National Federation of Federal Employees.

What I feared is beginning to happen. The police in Madison are beginning to side with the demonstrators. Last Saturday there were images that were odd, and to some shocking. In the halls of the Wisconsin Capitol young people banged drums, danced around, and blew horns as socialists and Marxist signs looked on. It was a scene described to by a disgusted observer as a drug and alcohol-infested rave that Capitol police ignored. And while the Capitol Police deny those charges, it seems one prominent protester noticed something interesting, too.

Socialist and Anarchists protest in Madison, Wisconsin

There is another video suggesting Capitol police are supporting the protesters. Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who joined the protesters over the weekend, noticed the “hippie drum circles” in the Capitol, too. But he also noticed something else: the cops were very buddy-buddy with the protesters.

Tom Morello in an interview with

In an interview with GritTV, Morello admitted he was “broing down with the cops,“ meaning that instead of having to ”sneak” around the police, he said, some of them were openly expressing support for the unions and stopping to take pictures with Morello

Fox News reporter attacked by protestors

Capitol Police spokeswoman Carla Vigue said no arrests had been made from Saturday on, and no one has reported any drug or alcohol use within the Capitol or on Capitol grounds. “The protesters have been very peaceful and very cooperative,” she said. Regarding the possibility of people using substances, with specific reference to the video of them looking on, she added, “That would never be able to happen.” She cited the “couple hundred” police patrolling the Capitol each day in making her statement. Because of security protocol, she said she could not detail exactly where police were stationed but said generally police were roaming “all over.”

So what does this mean? In the end it’s a he-said-she-said. Vigue denied police were joining in with protesters and, according to her, drug and alcohol use inside the Capitol could “never happen.” The disgusted observer suggested otherwise, and Morello claims police were “down” with protesters and expressing their union support.

According to the Green Bay Pressgazette; “Hundreds of off-duty police officers and deputies joined protests today against Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill that would strip most collective bargaining powers from about 170,000 public employees.”

“Police, state troopers and firefighters are exempt from Walker's proposal, but even as some marched on the downtown Capitol Square, hundreds of other officers from around the state provided security.”

“Sheboygan County Sheriff's Cpl. Matt Spence and Deputy Todd Traas stood guard on the Capitol's northwest side directing pedestrians toward entrances to the building. ”We left at 3 a.m. on Thursday and have been (in Madison) ever since," Traas said. Five Sheboygan County deputies were on duty Saturday. ‘They came equipped with riot gear, including helmets and batons’, they said, but didn't expect trouble.”

From inside the Wisconsin State Capitol Ryan Harvey reported: “Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside.”

“Police have just announced to the crowds inside the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin: ‘We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what’s right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact; we will be sleeping here with you!’

If the police will not do their job we are headed for anarchy. If you call 911 will the dispatcher ask you if you support the union before sending help? Will firefighters only respond to emergencies for union members or supporters? These people took an oath and now they are spitting on that oath and their own integrity. Roosevelt was correct when he warned of the dangers of public sector unions. This is Boston of 1919 all over again.

Meanwhile in New York City Mayor Bloomberg is getting furious over the abuses by the teachers unions. The New York Post reports: “In the city's funny math, you get only one teacher for the price of two.”

“The Department of Education pays about 1,500 teachers for time they spend on union activities — and pays other teachers to replace them in the classroom. It's a sweetheart deal that costs taxpayers an extra $9 million a year to pay fill-ins for instructors who are sprung — at full pay -- to carry out responsibilities for the United Federation of Teachers.”

“With Mayor Bloomberg calling for thousands of teacher layoffs to balance the 2012 budget, critics say it's time to halt the extravagant benefit. In these tight fiscal times, it defies common sense to pay two different people to do one job," said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a government watchdog. "It's a waste of money."

That $9 million would cover the salaries of 198 new teachers at the current annual $45,530 starting pay The DOE lets 40 experienced teachers collect top pay and fringe benefits, but work just one class period a day.” The DOE lets 40 experienced teachers collect top pay and fringe benefits, but work just one class period a day.

“Under a contract agreement since 2003, the DOE excuses these veterans to work for the UFT -- currently 38 as district representatives and two as union vice presidents. The UFT pays them another salary, plus expenses.

27.1n007.uft1--300x300English teacher Tom Dromgoole, for instance, collects top teacher pay, $100,049 a year, from the DOE for his slot at Leadership and Public Service HS in downtown Manhattan. But he is relieved for most of the day to serve as a UFT high school rep. The UFT supplements his salary by $50,461, records show. Dromgoole is outspoken on state budget cuts, which he blasted at a boisterous protest last March with UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Reached Friday outside his Brooklyn townhouse, Dromgoole brushed past a reporter who asked about his UFT work, saying, "No comment." (Photo at left)

“Another veteran teacher said of the lucrative gigs, "It's a plum because you're not teaching. Some principals give them little or nothing to do" because the UFT reps are powerful.”

“The rest of the 1,500 teachers paid for time away from students are UFT "chapter leaders," who represent faculty at each school. They get at least one class period a day "for investigation of grievances" and other union-related duties, the contract says.”

“The UFT reimburses the DOE only about $900,000 of nearly $10 million it spends to replace the teachers, officials said. One principal said his school's chapter leader is helpful as a staff liaison, but he questioned why the UFT — which collects $126 million in member dues — doesn't cover the cost: "They have a lot of money to run TV ads. Should DOE be paying for this?"

This is another case of featherbedding by the unions with the taxpayers getting hosed. Perhaps you will be getting the idea why the teachers unions are constantly crying for more and more money “for the children.” For the children my eye! These greedy, selfish union teachers don’t give a hoot about the children. All they care about is how to line their pockets with more taxpayer money — our money.

In a recent national poll 61% of the respondents supported the union in Wisconsin yet 75% said taxes were too high and we were spending too much money. How can such a dichotomy exist in the minds of the American people? I’ll tell you how. The media is covering this issue from the side of the union. They are not telling the truth and the American taxpayer is getting bamboozled by the left wing press.

I realize that there are a few media outlets that are trying to tell the public the truth about the public sector unions, but they just are not reaching enough people. As long as the Democratic Party is controlled by unions we will never get out of this mess. It appears that the rational, conservative side of this issue — the Roosevelt side — is just not controlling the dialog.

In Wisconsin, and other states, the unions are busing in thousands of demonstrators. How many Tea Party members are traveling to Wisconsin ti support Gov. Walker? Not enough. And even if they did they would be excoriated by the left wing press as they were in the 2010 elections.

All we can do is make our arguments, with facts, to everyone we know — even our teacher and union friends. This is not about steel workers or teamsters, it’s about public sector workers feeding at the public trough.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Requiem for Jimmy

“Heroes aren’t athletes who set new sports records or Hollywood actors who make ‘daring’ films, or politicians who make bold promises. Heroes are people who place themselves at risk for the benefit of others.” — Oliver North

Today I attended a memorial service for a friend who passed away ten days ago. Jimmy was the same age I am and was born in Florida. As a young boy Jimmy used to hunt snakes in the everglades with his Indian friend and take them to the local doctor who was experimenting with anti-snake venom.

As jimmy was growing up he learned to play the violin and developed a love of classical music, especially the music of Frederick Chopin. He also used to dress in costume and role play with his friends.

When jimmy was 16 (1952) he lied about his age and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He did this to help his parents financially, but more so to help his county that was fighting a war in Korea. While in the Navy Jimmy became a Navy Corpsman and was assigned to the carrier USS Essex. Later he was transferred to the USS Hornet.

At nineteen Jimmy was assisting in surgery aboard these carries and riding as the “Angel” in a helicopter hovering over the ship to retrieve aviators who crashed on landing or takeoff.

Eventually Jimmy was transferred to a Marine unit fighting in Korea. Here, as all Navy Corpsmen serve, he was the medic in a Marine combat unit where he received his Purple Heart. Jimmy related a story to me where he had managed to get 18 wounded Marines into a cave and was treating all of them when they were attacked by North Korean soldiers. Being the only able bodied person in the cave Jimmy fought off the attackers for over an hour until relief arrived. He used every gun he could lay his hands on from a .45 Colt to a Thompson submachine gun. When the relieving Marines arrived they found 30 dead North Korean soldiers in front of the cave. Jimmy saved everyone of the 18 wounded soldiers he was responsible for.

After the war Jimmy was discharged from the Navy and tried his hand in the medical field. He met his wife at a roller rink and eventually they were married, a marriage that lasted until he day he died. When he met his wife, Patricia, he told her he had lied about his age when he enlisted in the Navy and said “while his classmates were at their senior prom he was in a foxhole.”

Drawing from his Navy experience as a Navy Corpsman, Jimmy did private nursing in the Hollywood area and took care of celebrities.

Eventually Jimmy wandered into police work where he served on the Santa Monica Police Force and then on the Corona Police Force. While on the Corona force he served as an NRA rifle team advisor and instructor.

Jimmie was active in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for both of his children and even years after they had grown up. He started a troop in San Marcos and another at a school for boys with special needs.

Jimmy loved to collect police badges. He would go with his son to Police Memorabilia shows where they began a decades-long project of collecting police badges from all over the nation.

In 1985 Jimmy suffered a serious leg injury that resulted in a series of 14 surgeries and he had to adjust to living with chronic pain His leg was so badly damaged that he had to get around in one of those electric scooters.

Jimmy loved pets, especially German Shepherd dogs. He always had two or three dogs in his house. When I first meet Jimmy he had three. Even though he was homebound he would take time to call others who were also homebound and give them encouragement.

Finally Jimmy succumbed to illnesses and passed away on February 16, 2011. Jimmy was a hero not only for his actions in Korea, but for the courage he displayed in his life after sustaining a terrible injury. Jimmy was always helping others and he had a great love for this country. He was a Christian who believed in God and his son Jesus Christ. No one will ever know the number of lives he saved while serving as a combat Navy Corpsman and what those people went on to become. Only God, who Jimmy is with now, knows.

Jimmy is one of the thousands of Korean War veterans who are dying each year in this country. For many Americans this is the “forgotten war.” It was a war where so many young men went to fight on that God forsaken peninsula to stop the enslavement of the South Koreans by the communist aggression from the North. If you ask any high school or college student what the Korean War was about you will get a blank stare from at least 90 percent of them. Jimmy knew, he was there.

Jimmy is survived by his wife, a son and his wife, a daughter and her husband and three grandchildren. May Jimmy rest in the bosom of Jesus Christ where there will be no more pain.

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette — Alive at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

“Let them eat broccoli.” — Michelle Obama

It only took a few hours for President Obama to jump into the middle of the Wisconsin budget debate. He was quick to defend his labor union supporters by saying public sector workers are our neighbors. On the other hand it took him days to develop a clear message on Egypt and he still hasn’t made a clear and definitive statement on the revolution going on Libya. So what is our president and his queen been doing these past few days while the Middle East is turning upside down and the states are dealing with union protests as they try to balance their budgets? Well he is partying down at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The President has done nothing about the crisis in Libya except give a press conference in which he called the situation “unacceptable,” then proceeded to accept it. He’s holding consultations about having meetings to design a committee that could help the world “speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya,” a move that will doubtless be appreciated by anyone who survives Qaddafi’s Last Stand. Americans trying to escape the Libyan civil war were left stranded on a chartered ferryboat that was too small to handle the Mediterranean Sea while the French, Italians, Chinese, and other nations were able to get their citizens out of Libya.

Not a word has been uttered from the White House to condemn the fugitive Democrats who acted to shut down democracy in Wisconsin and Indiana. Widespread violence and hatred from union foot soldiers has gone unremarked.

The pirates of Somalia sail through the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden with confidence after slaughtering four innocent Americans. Middle Eastern unrest is poised to blow the price of oil into the stratosphere, a death blow to the economy Obama has already crippled, since he has moved forcefully to make us wholly dependent on foreign oil, while Obama cronies — including George Soros, who is what the Left likes to fantasize the Koch Brothers are — stand to make billions from useless “green energy” boondoggles.

His hapless Secretary of Homeland Security gapes in wonder as Americans are murdered on the southern border, while a young Saudi national is caught on the verge of deploying weapons of mass destruction. The nation teeters on the edge of ruin, and the President responds by submitting an absurd dead-on-arrival budget that increases federal spending.

Where is President Obama during all this? He’s enjoying the sounds of Motown at a star-studded White House event.

As the Associated Press reports, “The White House reverberated like a long-ago basement sound studio in Detroit on Thursday as the likes of John Legend, Seal, Jamie Foxx, Nick Jonas and Sheryl Crow channeled their inner Motown before Michelle and Barack Obama.” Other performers at this grand affair included Natasha Bedingfield, Smokey Robinson, Jordin Sparks, and Stevie Wonder. If you were not in attendance, don’t worry — you can watch the whole thing next Tuesday, on taxpayer-subsidized PBS.

To emphasize the historic importance of this White House concert, the President declared, “At concerts in the South, Motown groups literally brought people together — insisting that the ropes traditionally used to separate black and white audience members be taken down.” Back here in 2011, Obama’s loyal union supporters are howling racist, sexist, and homophobic insults into the faces of all who dare oppose them, and the President is utterly silent. So much for civility.

First Lady Michelle Obama got back from her lavish President’s Day ski retreat in Vail just in time to enjoy the concert. “As Motown rose, so did the forces of change in this country,” she declared. “During that time, it was the time of King and Kennedy, it was a time of marches and rallies and groundbreaking civil rights laws.” How many of those groundbreaking laws were passed by cowardly legislators who fled their states to avoid tough votes?

Presidents host big parties at the White House all the time. No one would begrudge Obama a bit of ceremonial elegance if he wasn't completely MIA during major crises. The sounds of Motown are indeed sweet, and historic, but last night they vanished into a howling void of leadership. Even the Supremes could do a better job than the anointed one.

Savor the bitter irony of the President taking the night off in the midst of national and global crises, many of his own making, to enjoy the music of a city that has been utterly destroyed by fifty years of his Party’s governance.

50 years of Democratic party leadership in Detroit

At least we know there was nobody in the Oval Office doing anything important that might have been disrupted by all the noise. If there were just let them eat cake.

65 Years Latter

Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.” — Albert Einstein

Yesterday a friend of mine sent one of those viral emails that seem to go round and round. This one was entitled “65 Years Latter.” The photos imbedded in the email showed Hiroshima in 1945 after the Atomic Bomb had destroyed the city. Then it showed a series of photos of Hiroshima today with its brilliant neon lights and tall buildings — a real modern metropolis. The third set of photos showed Detroit as it exists today with its abandoned buildings and decaying infrastructure. The photos do not lie, but the context is misleading. The first photo shown below is of Hiroshima, August 1945. The second is Hiroshima today and the third is of Detroit today – 65 years later.

Hiroshima 1

Hiroshima 3








Detroit 2

I sent this email to a few friends as an illustration of our decaying cities. One friend replied that he was disturbed at the lack of context in which the photos were displayed Evidently he has a Belgian neighbor who continually bad mouths the United States and claims that Europe should be our guiding light. I cannot or will not address this Belgians prejudice and will only say that planes leave for Europe every day.

After reading my friends comments I began to reflect on the email and its message and I too took issue with it. Here is my view of the message in the email.

First of all I don’t think the email is meant to reflect a superiority of the Japanese. After all we put a great deal of money into rebuilding Japan after WWII. I see it more of a comparison of what we do with the money. We have poured billions into cities like Detroit for the past 50 years. We have built public housing that turned to slums soon after he were opened. We have supported generation after generation with welfare and aid to dependent children only to create more dependent children — mothers having babies out of wedlock and their children and grandchildren doing the same. In essence we have promoted economic serfdom in the urban inner cities with our misguided giveaway policies. All to make liberals and bleeding hearts feel good. We have poured billions down the public education rat hole with declining results. This is what I see in photos.

My friend’s Belgian neighbor is wrong about Europe. We gave them billions under the Marshal Plan and paid for their national defense for the past 65 years through NATO. They too have a welfare system that is going broke. He has no right to brag about anything. We saved Europe in two world wars and then rebuilt the continent and defended them against soviet aggression for 65 years. They are nothing more than client states. Their day of reckoning is upon them. Their multiculturalism, social spending and selfishness are beginning to pay them unwanted and unplanned dividends — all bad.

The Japanese on the other hand took what we gave them and turned it into a plus. They rebuilt their industries, their cities and their society. Every dollar they spent was with practical purpose. They educate their children better than we do and they are not a 90.1242multicultural society — in fact they are a racist society. I have been to Japan. And most of Europe is racist to some extent. When you scratch the liberal surface skin of a German, Frenchman or Belgian the racist nature of their society will begin to bled through. I have experienced it. (The photo at the left is of he graffiti stained memorial to the Marshal Plan in Frankfurt, Germany)

Let us not forget that once we were a nation like Japan is today. We had Free enterprise, an entrepreneurial spirit and small, unrestrictive government. We built a world class Interstate Highway System where Americans could travel the country with ease and good could be shipped quickly and cheaply. We built a nation where two-thirds of Americans owned their homes with a yard, a garage, car and a picket fence. Very few Japanese or Belgians have the same. In fact my friend’s Belgian neighbor lives in such a house, something you won’t find in Brussels, Liège or Antwerp. We had farms that feed the world and a great manufacturing base. Our R&D was second to none, after all it was our Atomic Bomb that ended WWII and probably saved millions of lives — American, Japanese, British and Russian.

Our problems developed not from the American spirit, but from years of Democratic control of big city governments. Their policies of prostituting themselves to public sector unions and the recipient class so they could maintain their power drove these cities into virtual bankruptcy

Japan and Belgium are not saddled with 18 million illegal aliens who are draining our economy. Their cost to the city of Los Angeles alone is $600 million per year. We have an unsecured border and an immigration policy that is not enforced. No European nation or Japan has such an immigration policy. If you don’t believe me just try to walk into any European county and set up residence. It won’t happen.

Our education system, which used to be second to none, has fallen to that of a developing country. We have schools that are more concerned with security and teachers more concerned with their collective bargaining rights than teaching. We have a union driven tenure system that allows bad and lazy teachers to continue while the good ones have to stand by a keep their mouths shut. They are forced to join unions that collect hundreds of millions of dollars in dues and then use that money to finance the campaigns of Democratic candidates who continue the death spiral of the cities and states where they have power. Japan and Belgium do not have teachers unions to degrade their education systems. Teachers are respected for the professionals they are, not the union tradesmen and women they have become in his nation.

One more thing to remember in this comparison is the millions of Americans who were killed and maimed fighting a war so Japan and Europe could be free and prosperous.

What Happened to Honor and Integrity in the Democratic Party?

Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people." — John Adams.

Last Friday (February 18th) the fourteen Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Senate jumped into a yellow bus and headed off to the more friendly liberal climes of Illinois. They claimed the reason for their self-imposed exile at the Best Western Inn was to promote democracy in Wisconsin. You see they wanted to prevent a legal quorum in the state senate so there would be no vote on Governor Scott Walker’s public sector union reform bill. They claimed they were doing it for the people of Wisconsin to protect their human right of collective bargaining.

During the 2009 health care debate President Obama told Senator John McCain when challenged on the impact the bill would have on the American people “John, elections have consequences.” It appears that to a Democrat, elections only have consequences if they win — something they have done for many years in progressive Wisconsin. These 14 state senators could not accept the fact that the majority of the people of Wisconsin threw the Democrat governor and legislature majority out of office. They cannot accept their leader’s claim that elections have consequences.

These Democratic senators took an oath to defend the Constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Wisconsin and to execute the duties of their office. Without reading the constitution of Wisconsin I am certain that there is no mention of fleeing to another state when you do not agree with the majority party. This is comparable with succession. These senators are cowards with no integrity what so ever. Rather than stay and argue in opposition, as the Republicans did in the health care debate when they were being steamrolled by Pelosi and Reid, they decided to spit on their oath and exile himself to Illinois. Their actions were also replicated by the Democratic members of the Indiana Legislature to protest a similar measure to limit collective bargaining in that state.

If these state senators had any sense of honor or integrity they would stand on the floor of the Wisconsin Senate and furiously debate Gov. Walker’s bill. Perhaps they could get one or two amendments added to the bill. Eventually there would be a call for a vote, as there was in the State Assembly, and the majority party would carry the vote and Walker’s bill would become law. Then like good losing Democrats they could look to the courts to override the will of the voters. Of course if the voters of Wisconsin believe the actions of heir legislature were wrong hey can make their voices heard in 2012 and those elections will have consequences. You see when Democrats, like the dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya, don’t like the consequences they riot, scream, stomp their feet, throw insults at the opposition and exile themselves showing their true colors of cowardice.

Wisconsin State Assembly passes budget bill

After one Wisconsin state senator canceled his appearance on FNC’s America Live Thursday afternoon because he was running from the media, host Megyn Kelly confronted Sen. Jon Erpenbach, a Democrat currently hiding out in Chicago. (Kelly’s interview is well worth watching)

Megyn asked Erpenbach to justify his absence as the state legislature waits to vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal. “You have to go do your job. It is not your job to leave the state and cower in Illinois,” she said. “How is hiding out in Chicago discharging the duties of your office?”

While he dismissed the notion that he was “cowering,” Erpenbach insisted he and his fellow Democrats were doing their jobs, answering emails and phone calls from outside the state.

“What we do in this country is we vote. You can vote no and you can rail on the senate floor why this is wrong,” Megyn insisted. “You gotta vote, sir.”

Charles Krauthammer writes in Human Events; “The magnificent turmoil now gripping statehouses in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and soon others marks an epic political moment. The nation faces a fiscal crisis of historic proportions and, remarkably, our muddled, gridlocked, allegedly broken politics have yielded singular clarity.”

“At the federal level, President Obama's budget makes clear that Democrats are determined to do nothing about the debt crisis, while House Republicans have announced that beyond their proposed cuts in discretionary spending, their April budget will actually propose real entitlement reform. Simultaneously, in Wisconsin and other states, Republican governors are taking on unsustainable, fiscally ruinous pension and health care obligations, while Democrats are full-throated in support of the public-employee unions crying, "Hell no.”

They are crying “Hell no”, not because they have the best interests of their state in mind, but because they have the best interest of their financial backers — the public sector unions — to bow to. They don’t give a damn about the taxpayers of their state they are only concerned with their constituents — the unions and the recipient class.

Krauthammer goes on to say; “Wisconsin is the epicenter. It began with economic issues. When Gov. Scott Walker proposed that state workers contribute more to their pension and health care benefits, he started a revolution. Teachers called in sick. Schools closed. Demonstrators massed at the capitol. Democratic senators fled the state to paralyze the Legislature.”

“Unfortunately for them, that telegenic faux-Cairo scene drew national attention to the dispute — and to the sweetheart deals the public-sector unions had negotiated for themselves for years. They were contributing a fifth of a penny on a dollar of wages to their pensions and one-fourth what private-sector workers pay for health insurance.”

“The unions quickly understood that the more than 85 percent of Wisconsin not part of this privileged special-interest group would not take kindly to "public servants" resisting adjustments that still leave them paying less for benefits than private-sector workers. They immediately capitulated and claimed they were only protesting the other part of the bill, the part about collective bargaining rights.”

In the private sector, the capitalist knows that when he negotiates with the union, if he gives away the store, he loses his shirt. In the public sector, the politicians who approve any deal have none of their own money at stake. On the contrary, the more favorably they dispose of union demands, the more likely they are to be the beneficiary of union largesse in the next election. It's the perfect cozy setup.

Recognizing this threat to union power, the Democratic Party is pouring money and fury into the fight. Private unions have shrunk to less than 7 percent of the working population. The Democrats' strength lies in government workers who now constitute a majority of union members and provide massive support to the party. For them, Wisconsin represents a dangerous contagion.

“Hence, the importance of the current moment and its blinding clarity. Here stand the Democrats — avatars of reactionary liberalism — desperately trying to hang on to the gains of their glory years — from unsustainable federal entitlements for the elderly enacted when life expectancy was 62 to the massive promissory notes issued to government unions when state coffers were full and no one was looking.”

“We have heard everyone — from Obama's own debt commission to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — call the looming debt a mortal threat to the nation. We have watched Greece self-immolate. We can see the future. The only question has been: When will the country finally rouse itself?”

“Amazingly, the answer is: now. Led by famously progressive Wisconsin — Scott Walker at the state level and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan at the congressional level — a new generation of Republicans has looked at the debt and is crossing the Rubicon. Recklessly principled, they are putting the question to the nation: Are we a serious people?”

Are Public Sector Unions On The Decline?

"Taxes should be continued by annual or biennial reenactments, because a constant hold, by the nation, of the strings of the public purse is a salutary restraint from which an honest government ought not wish, nor a corrupt one to be permitted, to be free. ... We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. ... The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife." — Thomas Jefferson.

AP reports that the school board of Providence, Rhode Island, the state's financially troubled capital city, has voted to send termination letters to all of its nearly 2,000 teachers after city officials said the move would give them "maximum flexibility" to make budget cuts.

State law requires school departments to notify teachers by March 1 if they'll be laid off the following school year.

Providence teachers received notices of potential layoffs before the board met Thursday night and voted 4-3 on sending termination letters. The notices don't mean the teachers will lose their jobs, but the vote means some of them could at the end of the year. The vote give the city the opportunity to terminate as many teachers as it deems necessary for budgetary reasons, but the city hasn't indicated how many that could be.

Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith had said earlier the decision was "beyond insane" and created chaos and anxiety among teachers.

More than 700 teachers packed the Providence Career and Technical Academy gymnasium Thursday to tell school officials their hearts were broken, their trust was violated and their futures as teachers were jeopardized, The Providence Journal newspaper reported.

The financial problems in Providence, the state's biggest city, have caused enough alarm at the state level that Gov. Lincoln Chafee has instructed two of his top fiscal officers to meet with city officials. A recent audit showed Providence, which has about 175,000 residents, had nearly depleted its rainy-day fund and overspent its budget last year by more than $57 million.

This is just another example of the massive deficits created by the salaries, pensions and benefits cities and states have granted public sector unions. It’s not only Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and New Jersey that are facing up to this problem. Other states are beginning to take their lead now that they have Republican governors and legislatures.

Video produced by the Reason Foundation for the Heritage Foundation

What do unions do? The AFL-CIO argues that unions offer a pathway to higher wages and prosperity for the middle class. Critics point to the collapse of many highly unionized domestic industries and argue that unions harm the economy. To whom should policymakers listen? What unions do has been studied extensively by economists, and a broad survey of academic studies shows that while unions can sometimes achieve benefits for their members, they harm the overall economy. (To see the Top 10 Labor Union Outrages click here)

Unions function as labor cartels. A labor cartel restricts the number of workers in a company or industry to drive up the remaining workers' wages, just as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) attempts to cut the supply of oil to raise its price. Companies pass on those higher wages to consumers through higher prices, and often they also earn lower profits. Economic research finds that unions benefit their members but hurt consumers generally, and especially workers who are denied job opportunities. In the case of public sector unions they hurt both he employer and the consumer as both are the taxpayers.

The average union member earns more than the average non-union worker. However, that does not mean that expanding union membership will raise wages: Few workers who join a union today get a pay raise. What explains these apparently contradictory findings? The economy has become more competitive over the past generation. Companies have less power to pass price increases on to consumers without going out of business. Consequently, unions do not negotiate higher wages for many newly organized workers. These days, unions win higher wages for employees only at companies with competitive advantages that allow them to pay higher wages, such as the public sector. That’s why union membership is decreasing in the private sector and rising in the public sector.

At the engineering firm where I was a part owner we had two classes of employees. Our professional and office staff was non-union and our field surveyors were members of the Operating Engineers Union. The percentage of direct labor for our office staff was 40% while for the union staff if was 56%.We paid all of the normal benefits for our office staff including 100% of the medical insurance. We also were a employee stock ownership where the employees earned stock in the company. We also had a matching 50% program for their 401k investments.

All benefits to our union employees came from their union. Their pension, vacation and health and welfare were paid by the union. We also paid their union dues out of the 56%. In essence for every dollar in wages we paid our field personnel we contributed 56 cents to the union. What did they get for these 56 cents?

They only worked when there was work. They were not able to transfer between field and office jobs without getting out of the union and losing their union benefits. There wages were set by the union, but we could pay them over scale — something we did to retain the very best. We also invested in technology so we could reduce the number of field staff needed to do the job. Where once the standard field survey crew was three persons when I retired it was two and in some cases one. This meant less jobs for union members.

As the union negotiated for higher wages and benefits each year we became less competitive in the marketplace and would lose work to non-union firms. We were locked into the union as long as we provided services to major construction projects, which amounted to about 35% of our field work. Over the tears this had decreased from 50% as we shifted our focus to public sector clients not requiring union workers. Eventually I can see the firm abandoning all field work requiring union personnel and leaving the union. It should be noted that our other offices in Colorado and Arizona were not unionized, but we were forbidden in our union contract from using field staff from these offices in California.

What I have described above plays the same for public sector unions with he exception that the buyer of the services (client) and the provider of the services (employer) are the taxpayer. When the union negotiates a contract with the employer they are actually bargaining with the taxpayer, who has no representation at he negotiation table. So when the teachers unions demand higher wages and more benefits from a school board they are demanding it from the local property owner, who has no place in he negotiation. This is what it is a cartel.

Over the years these school boards, city councils and state legislatures have given into the demands of the unions without ever telling their partners, the taxpayers, what they are doing or the financial impact their actions will have on the financial health of the entity involved, i.e. school district, city or state. These giveaways have slipped through unnoticed for years. The unions, especially the teachers unions, have done a great job at spreading heir propaganda that states everything they do is for the children, while it is not. It’s for the unions and their members. Just look at the results. Bad schools, low graduation rates, tenure for incompetent teachers and the dumbing down of the nation’s children. Yet they demand more and more money and will fight to their death for the continuation of a system that can no longer be supported by the taxpayers.

For many years, Heritage Foundation labor economist James Sherk has analyzed the impact unions have on workers, employers, businesses, and the general economy.

Sherk explains that unionization often doesn’t have the promised benefits—and these benefits often come at a cost. “Some unions win higher wages for their members, though many do not. But with these higher wages, unions bring less investment, fewer jobs, higher prices, and smaller 401(k) plans for everyone else. On balance, labor cartels harm the economy.”

The union’s focus on wage and benefit increases can often have perverse effects, including for public employee unions. Governor Scott Walker offered this anecdote during a recent interview with Heritage:

“I saw it firsthand as a county official when I was trying to do things like ask for a little bit more for pensions or a little bit more for health care contributions. At one point in years past I even tried to do a thirty-five hour work week as a way to avoid layoffs. The union leadership basically said “forget it. Go lay off five, six hundred people off. We don’t care.” That’s where their mindset is. They know the power of collective bargaining forces local governments not to be able to make reasonable decisions to protect jobs.”

Furthermore, Sherk argues, “union contracts typically give workers group identities instead of treating them as individuals. Unions do not have the resources to monitor each worker’s performance and tailor the contract accordingly.”

For example, no matter how well (or poorly) a teacher performs or how late he or she stays to offer special help, teachers are judged as a group, not as individuals. This is the wrong way to go if we want to achieve results in education.

You can read more about unions by James Sherk for the Heritage Foundation by clicking here