Greedy SEIU

I’m so sick of hearing those on the left complain about “greedy” bankers, capitalists, what have you. Protecting what is rightfully yours is not greedy. Taking from others what isn’t rightfully yours is. When the others are people on public assistance and the takers live the fat life while pretending to be allies, the theft goes beyond greedy. It’s unconscionable. And it’s par for the course for SEIU, other public sector unions, and their enablers and apologists.

In a piece from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, titled “Michigan SEIU Scam the Product of Government Collective Bargaining,” author Trey Kovacs details a scheme where the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3) was created ostensibly to register providers as an aid to Medicaid recipients looking for home health care service. In fact, it was used to declare all such providers government workers, facilitating their covert and forced unionization.

Once the scam was completed, SEIU was given a collective bargaining agreement by the state, and the theft began. A mechanism was created to siphon union dues from Medicaid checks. Read that again: SEIU is quietly, deceptively, possibly illegally siphoning union dues from medicaid checks before they get to the recipients — people who cannot afford health care on their own.

Since 2006 SEIU has taken $28 million from medicaid recipients and their caregivers.

And this is just one such scam. How many more are there throughout the country?

The left always claims to be motivated by a greater measure of compassion for those in need, and by “fairness” for working people which can only be secured by unions fighting against the greedy interests arrayed against them. Where is the compassion for Robert and Patricia Haynes, the parents of two children with cerebral palsy, cared for at home with help from medicaid so they don’t have to be institutionalized. The Haynes are not health care workers but simply parents caring for their children in need, and they lose $30 / month to the greedy SEIU thugs and their legislator and bureaucrat partners.

Read the rest here:

Michigan SEIU Scam the Product of Government Collective Bargaining

Parents Forced to Pay Union Dues, Lawmaker Rakes In Health Care Money

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Inept Regulation, Real Costs

The following two messages were discovered, adjacent to one another in an inbox, while cleaning out some old mail.

Date: 31 Oct 2011 07:38:46 -0400

Bloomberg Bullet Points on
MF Global…





And 25 minutes prior to these
headlines, we saw:



Date: 31 Oct 2011 10:19:09 -0400

Just Out…Headlines only…





Look at the dates of these two stories. The Federal Reserve is arguably one of the most effective regulators (at least partly due to insulation from partisan political considerations and a left-handed compliment to be sure). Still, they apparently didn’t know there was a problem with MF Global, or only took decisive action hours before the firm declared bankruptcy. Note also the possibility that it was the oft-maligned market that may have been the Fed’s first clue and, at any rate, reacted before the regulator.

The Bloomberg headlines are less than clear, but my initial reading was that MF Global was being cut off from new business with the Fed. If that reading is correct, the Fed acted first to protect the Fed, and left everyone else to fend for themselves. Those with unfettered faith in the ability of gubbermint to insulate us from every ill always whine about the “harsh realities” of unfettered competition. That’s a straw man, as this country hasn’t seen unfettered free enterprise in nearly a century (or more).

The industries which elicit the loudest cries over “unfairness” and “greed” when harsh realities are meted out after they blow up, are invariably the most regulated (banking, insurance, autos, etc.). Those which are less regulated don’t seem to blow up. When was the last time Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Cisco, etc. needed a federal bailout? Where is the real innovation and economic value being delivered — in the most regulated, or less regulated industries?

Government regulators protecting the populace is a pipe dream. They protect themselves. The costs — both bureaucratic overhead and compliance, all born by we the people — are not.

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Exploiting Youthful Idealism – Shamelessly

In the New York Times article, “Students Lose Zeal for Aiding Obama Again” (11/14/2011), are the following paragraphs:

Mr. Obama’s advisers, while acknowledging the shift, said they were confident that the loss of these workers would be negated by an influx of new students who have turned of voting age since 2008. Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, said there had been eight million voters ages 18 to 21 registered since the last election, most of whom were Democrats.

“Their brothers and sisters started it, and they are going to finish it,” Mr. Messina said Monday. “They are storming into our office. Our volunteer numbers are up from where we thought they would be.”

This would be a stunningly shameless admission if such blatant exploitation weren’t so commonplace as to numb the senses to being stunned any further. Note that Mr. Messina acknowledged the sentiment shift, but flatly ignored Obama’s responsibility and the people he harmed. There is no perfunctory (and disingenuous) “We feel your pain,” no pro forma (and dishonest) “We’re doing everything we can,” no confession that the students’ disaffection is well founded, no compulsion to address them or their issues at all. Rove Messina may as well have said: F - - - them. We moved on, they should too.

These exploited voters are simply being discarded for the next group of unwitting dupes. It’s not even a speed bump for the regime. They see a path to maintain their power and the disappointment and powerlessness of those who invested their hopes and dreams are of zero consequence. Sadly, using history as a guide, the message will be lost on those who can ill afford to miss it, whose futures are jeopardized most, the very ones exploited — in this case the young.

The natural idealism of youth is a valuable input, counterbalancing the equally natural circumspection of the not-so-young. The two forces should create productive tension. Another way to state this difference is: the young lack — dare I say ipso facto — tempering experience.

This does not assert that experience negates idealism. If that’s what you hear, re-read the introductory clause of the previous paragraph. The two innate characteristics counter-balance one another. My history includes the idealism of my youth. The young do not, cannot, share my subsequent hard earned experience. A thought experiment for the young, and useful for young and old alike: I understand and embrace your idealism to offset my certainly diminished capacity for same. Do you similarly value my input to offset your lack of experience?

There is an irony here. (Isn’t life full of them?) Of the two demands requisite to productive engagement between generations, the one placed on the young is necessarily the more challenging. The old must put aside whatever barriers they have to pulling existing items from the memory bank in order to recall the idealism of their youth. But we ask the young to accept as true what they have not yet experienced, so cannot know. We ask them to take it as an article of faith.

We do a disservice to them and to ourselves when we fail to acknowledge that the young have the more difficult end of the bargain. It is a lack of empathy that our experience should warn to guard against, but too often doesn’t. And this is the gap exploited by partisans, ideologues, tyrants, and other power-hungry lovers of self.

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Obama 2012 Theme Song

Listening to a news report a couple weeks ago, about Tom Petty sending a cease and desist letter to the Bachmann campaign demanding they stop using “American Girl” as a theme song, I simply shook my head. What is it with celebrity twits? Do they project their own dimwittedness to all their fans? Does Petty really think people are so stupid as to assume using the song implies his endorsement of her campaign? Or is he just an insufferable pettifogger?

Anyway, I don’t want to get bogged down in that discussion. It’s pointless.

Later that day, or the next, I popped Neil Young’s “Sleeps With Angels” CD in the car and was soon listening to one of my favorites of his: Piece of Crap. As I shouted the tag line with each verse, loudly, it occurred to me that this could be Obama’s 2012 theme song. And we all know he wouldn’t get the same grief Bachmann did.

So I went home, found the words, then began writing my own. Here’s the original, with the new lyrics below.

Piece of Crap

Original Lyrics

Tried to save the trees
Bought a plastic bag
The bottom fell out
It was a piece of crap

Saw it on the tube
Bought it on the phone
Now you’re home alone
It’s a piece of crap

I tried to plug it in
I tried to turn it on
When I got it home
It was a piece of crap

Got it from a friend
On him you can depend
I found out in the end
It was a piece of crap

I’m trying to save the trees
I saw it on TV
They cut the forest down
To build a piece of crap

I went back to the store
They gave me four more
The guy told me at the door
It’s a piece of crap

Obama 2012 Lyrics

Tried to save the planet
Bought a plastic duce
The bottom fell out
It was a piece of crap

Saw it on the tube
Messianic overtone
Now you’re home alone
It’s a piece of crap

I thought this would begin
An epoch, utopian
But this hope and change
It was a piece of crap

Lemmings, me and friends
Believing he transcends
I found out in the end
It was a piece of crap

I’m trying to save the planet
Catechized by the TV
They razed the greatest country
To build a piece of crap

Fake leader, tinsel orator
Meretricious class warrior
Thinks he should get four more
It’s a piece of crap

Imagine this song blaring at every Obama campaign stop, with those majestic columns falling over in the background. It’s perfect.

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Provincial Bureaucracy

An email soliciting an IT contractor came through my inbox the other day. The body of the message included this bit:

Category: Computer Systems Analysis Services

Location: 116 W. Jones Street, Room 5200, Raleigh, NC 27603-8005

Estimated Duration: From: 7/1/2011 To 6/30/2012

Please arrange to provide 1-2 local candidates with government experience preferably with Office of the Governor, NC with following skill-sets:

This rubs me the wrong way.

Any employer gets to specify the requirements to fill a position. One would expect, at least in the private sector, that the terms are set for the purpose of finding quality candidates. When the governor’s office specifies previous government experience, and preferably within that office, it’s easy to suspect this has more to do with finding a loyal partisan than with finding the best qualified professionals.

Any government employer should be obligated to maintain open hiring policies. There ought to be an inviolable fiduciary responsibility to get the best employees possible, and there ought never be any tolerance for policies that would enable rewarding of political patrons.

I’ll allow for the possibility that valid circumstances could exist for restrictions like those in the email. But those must be rare and transparent exceptions. Otherwise, the bureaucracy becomes another rent seeking special interest.

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Why Not Give Them Spoons?

Economics is a topic that seems particularly susceptible to ideologically-driven emotions overtaking reason.

With that in mind, the Assume a Can Opener category is supplemented with illustrations of seemingly logical propositions which, upon further examination, fall short. They demonstrate the need for critical thinking, and highlight those who count it among their achievements.

This one gives opportunity to recognize Milton Friedman, a great mind in 20th century political/economic thought.

[O]ne is reminded of an incident in an Asian country where Milton Friedman upon arrival to a public works program finds that workers are using only shovels and not any earth-moving equipment. Upon questioning about this lack of use of heavy equipment, Friedman is told that this was a public works program and the aim is to employ as many workers as possible. Friedman then quips, “why not give them spoons to dig?”

Source: World Bank

[ The story has been recounted in somewhat different variations, but with the same punch line, in a wide range of publications, from the WSJ to the Huffington Post. PBS Nightly Business Report described it as possibly apocryphal. I looked for an authoritative source but was unable to find it, so chose a version to my liking. No matter the origins, it is insightful. ]

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Green Pipe Dreams I

An article yesterday morning in Mercury News’ tells the story of a “rough patch” that “high-flying Solyndra” has hit. The company manufactures solar panels. Despite $1 billion venture capital funding and a $535 million loan guarantee from DOE, the company is struggling and analysts don’t see a way forward.

President Obama held the firm up as a “green” poster child during a visit less than a year ago.

Jumping to conclusions from one anecdotal data point, in one article, does not generally indicate reasoned understanding. Nonetheless, Mercury News is no right wing puppet and the story includes some damning facts.

The article also raises the obligatory China card (who can compete with their labor costs?), but contains its own refutation of that scaremongering.

Solyndra’s manufacturing costs are $3/watt, but the distractingly vague “many low-cost Chinese manufacturers” have costs in the $1.10-$1.20/watt range. There, that’s it. Those damn Chinese and their “massive government support.” Except Solyndra has received similar support (what is $535 million, if not massive?). Still more relevant is that another competitor, First Solar of Tempe, AZ, has manufacturing costs of $.75/watt, expected to be at $.53 by 2014.

Even if Solyndra could compete with the Chinese, they’d be beat by a company right here in the good ol’ US of A. So why raise China? Maybe to fill the story without having to ask the question: What in God’s green earth makes people believe the gubbermint can pick winners and losers?

I’m not even asking whether government should make such choices (the consequences of which — abuse of power for personal gain — should give liberals the heebie-jeebies, rather than the orgasms it seems to do).  No, the objection is to whether they can make such choices effectively. Government “investment” (a misnomer if there ever was one) will inevitably lead to misallocation of limited resources, making us all worse off.

Before I get the obligatory “ok government hater, don’t call 911 the next time you have an emergency” straw man objections, I’m not advocating no government, but a properly limited one. $535 million (even if “only” loan guarantees) to a company with a possibly fundamentally flawed business model, no matter how great a product, is $535 million down the toilet. It is unavailable (whether privately or publicly, capital is fungible and this capital is gone) for investment  in a viable enterprise that might create 1000 jobs rather than scuttle such plans as Solyndra has done.

A company spokeswoman is quoted, “The company didn’t tell its story as well as it should have.” That sounds like some politicians, who can’t admit their schemes don’t work and aren’t wanted by the citizens. They delude themselves into believing they simply failed to effectively sell them to the ignorant masses.

If those in public positions want to be hedge fund managers, or venture capitalists, then they should choose that route. Decisions like this, and mountains more just like them, prove why they don’t. They couldn’t succeed. But as a politician, or bureaucrat, they’re able to play assume a can opener all day long, with other people’s hard-earned money and without personal accountability. Don’t talk to me about the accountability of the ballot box. There are enough voters with short memories that we’re still electing politicians based on the same failed promises of the last 40 years. (Probably longer, but that’s all I remember.)

Stop already with “green jobs of the future” promoted by those who don’t even know the past. Enough with government “investment.” With apologies to the many teachers who don’t deserve it, consider this epigram: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Without apology I add the corollary: Those who can’t teach become politicians and bureaucrats.

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Race, Nanny State, Confusion

New Year’s eve I caught a clip of ABC’s Deborah Roberts (20/20) interviewing Michael Oher, the subject of the movie The Blind Side. (It must have been a recap of the year’s stories, because the interview is a year old, corresponding to the movie’s release.) What captured my attention was her asking Michael Oher about black people refusing to see the film. It seems they were offended by the story of a rich, white family rescuing another black kid from the poverty of the ghetto, perpetuating the notion it’s the only means for escape.

The disconnect is stunning — even for a journalist.

Let me connect two simple and obvious dots.

• Liberals, including the most prominently recognized black “leaders,” promote the nanny state. Their message: it is fairness, even justice, for the government to “lend a hand” to those “less fortunate.”

• Liberals, including those same black “leaders,” promote taxing “the wealthy” to pay for the nanny state. This too falls under the same asserted “justice.”

Don’t blame me, but those same black leaders have made this into a racial argument. Black people, many of them poor, must be propped up, when it’s really about poor people, many of whom happen to be black. (This oft-used sleight of hand suggests correlation == causation.) The issue has been hijacked, the perpetrators doing the bidding of their Democrat plantation owners. A black isn’t even authentically black if they don’t buy the agenda that they need help from the state. I didn’t say it; they did.

Now, connect the dots. They’re offended that the Tuohy family would provide help directly, of their own initiative, but demand the same family give more money for the government to provide the same help (sans the effectiveness). Am I the only one who sees through this stupid three-card Monte game?

I’m glad blacks are offended at the suggestion they’re lost without help. They’re right. They are as capable as anyone. But why the denial that it’s their own poverty pimps selling them the lie that they are lost? Where does government help come from if not the same rich people (many whiteys) causing them such angst?

And what about the oblivion surrounding a journalist asking such a question?

(Hat tip: Paula Mooney, at the Cleveland During my search, I found details about the 20/20 piece in her article. Her politics are unknown to me, so I don’t want to unfairly associate her with mine, but she expressed discomfort with the question as well.)

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You Go, Michael Vick

President Obama re-ignited the flames of a “controversy” that seemingly is bound to smolder forever. I like animals, especially dogs. I’m neither a fan of the President, nor the NFL. But I’m with Obama on this one.

Every time Michael Vick takes another step that does not evidence failure on his road to redemption, the self-sanctimonious crowd spins into action, wasting no time, sparing no vitriol, to kick him and kick him again. This is expected from single-issue liberals, especially the limousine type, but the battle has been joined from the right, which proves just how utterly confused this story has become.

Let’s start with Tucker Carlson.

“I’m a Christian, I’ve made mistakes myself, I believe fervently in second chances, but Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did [it] in a heartless and cruel way,” Carlson said. “And I think personally he should have been executed for that.


Did he really claim belief in second chances, a “fervent” belief based on his Christian faith, and in the same sentence suggest Vick should have been executed? It’s safe to dismiss this as provocative simply for publicity’s sake. I mostly enjoy Carlson, but he willingly sacrificed credibility for media whoredom. Lost in the blitz (pun intended?) is another human, God’s creature, objectified in the cause of self-aggrandizement.  Shame on Tucker Carlson.

Let’s not forget the lefties who can’t resist similar temptations. They are also in it for the fund raising. But are the donations gathered for the “cause” or to maintain their livelihood? What would they do if they weren’t living on the dole? These self-interested “advocates” also view Michael Vick only as an object to be used for their own advancement, not a living, flawed, human being just as they are. Shame on them too.

Allow me to answer the complaints.

1. Animal Cruelty is an unforgivable sin

Hogwash. Cop killers become causes célèbres (e.g. Mumia Abu-Jamal, FALN). Terrorists’ public images are rehabilitated (e.g William Ayers, Gerry Adams, Yasser Arafat). Baby killers are virtually worshipped. Sex offenders, obligated to register and continue paying for their crimes after serving their time, have defenders of their civil rights. But abuse an animal and there is no redemption. This is insane. I reject the elevation of animal life above human life.

2. We should all be sick of pampered celebrities

I’ve written before about not being enamored of celebrities. They are often self-important buffoons who receive inexplicable special treatment. That, however, is not a capital offense. They also are sometimes targeted for high profile prosecutions to “send a message” to the masses. This is a favored tactic of the IRS, some argue their most effective enforcement mechanism. So celebrity can cut both ways.

It’s safe to say no one would be engaged in this “issue” were Michael Vick not a public person. My bottom line is this: he did his time. What he did was despicable and should always be condemned. But we have more to gain corporately from a rehabilitated sinner. Those screeching the loudest expose pure self interest, masquerading as concern. Like Tucker Carlson, my faith informs my belief in redemption. Unlike him, and all the others, my beliefs must be more honest. I’m not willing to sacrifice them, or a second chance recipient, for an exercise in self-absorbed self-sanctimony.

In the article referenced above, I wrote:

I’m always wary of presuming to “know” public people, and of consequently ascribing unwarranted character, or lack thereof. The parts of their lives which aren’t necessarily guarded are too often carefully choreographed.

I am skeptical of reading too much into celebrity mea culpas. They are usually quite transparent but, even when seemingly genuine, reading another’s heart is impossible. Reading a practiced performer’s heart is even more so. While acknowledging the difficulties, Michael Vick struck me as possessing real remorse. Nothing he has done since causes me to question that guess. Quite the contrary, everything has confirmed it. I’m not willing to judge him by a standard I too would fail. I’m pulling for him and celebrate his success without reservation.

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CAIR lies

CAIR is not about improving relations between Muslims and the rest of America. It is about shutting down any and all unflattering speech, truth be damned, using lies and intimidation. The latest:

“NPR should address the fact that one of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed as security threats,” said CAIR National Executive DirectorNihad Awad. “Such irresponsible and inflammatory comments would not be tolerated if they targeted any other racial, ethnic or religious minority, and they should not pass without action by NPR.” [source:]

Juan Williams did no such thing. He did not say anything about security policy. He simply expressed, with honesty and some obvious discomfort, his own personal fear. He neither suggested it was legitimate, nor that it should form the basis for any policy. He has been an outspoken critic of “racial profiling” in public security policy, sometimes against all reason. For him to be tarred in this manner proves just how fearful the left is of some truth, from any quarters.

The claim that similar comments would not be tolerated regarding other races and religions, coming from a group that tolerates vile anti-semitism in its own ranks, is laughable. There is an unending litany of bigoted speech targeted at Christians and Jews.

Compare this episode to discussions of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church. By CAIR’s standards, talking about an endemic problem in the church was “irresponsible and inflammatory.” One notable difference: the vast majority of non-pedophilia-tolerating Roman Catholics rose up to clean up their own mess, starting with honest self-criticism, and without trying to shut down discussion–even from outside their faith and way out-of-bounds. When the vast majority of “peace loving” Muslims stand up in similar fashion, instead of cowering behind the skirt of the thought police, the disquiet felt by 100’s of millions will begin to dissipate. Shutting down criticism and remaining otherwise silent on the sidelines won’t cut it.

I’m not a big Juan Williams fan.  Some have suggested he has softened his liberal opinions over the years. I don’t see it that way. He has become more Pavlovian in his defense of Obama, more willing to unthinkingly avail himself of talking points brewed in the incestuous pot of liberal groupthink. For someone as intelligent and capable of independent thought as he has proven himself to be, this is sometimes maddening.  He does, however, deserve credit for fearlessness to engage in debate. He presents himself in venues likely to be hostile to his views and does battle.

During those exchanges there may be hostility towards his political beliefs, but never any directed towards him personally. This is the way a pluralistic society is supposed to carry on political debate. Far too few on the left seem capable of this engagement (and some on the right as well), opting instead to discredit people, not their ideas, in an effort to shut them up. CAIR, darling of the left, deftly wields this sledgehammer, does it while pretending to sing Kumbaya, and rarely is called on their deceptions.

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