Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How the Tea Party Could Lose

The Tea Party has some problems. Members need to reassess and reengage. Don't retreat, reload. Ignore anyone who calls you a violent racist homophobe - they will say that because you're "the enemy". Remember:

"Ridicule is man's most potent weapon." "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself."
- Saul Alinsky

They're going to say that crap anyway. They're going to accuse, attack, and lie. The left's use of "teabagger" ridicule, attacking the Tea Party as extremist, and generally trying to terrorize those who oppose them is part of their rulebook. Just remember to ignore them - the people on the far left are unlikely to change (unless their own side rejects them).

But on to what's going on:

CNN Poll: Unfavorable view of Tea Party on the rise

-- Nearly half of all Americans have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party movement, putting it in the same company as the Democratic and Republican parties, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that 32% of the public have a favorable view of the two-year-old anti-tax movement, which also calls for less government spending and a more limited role for the federal government in our lives. The 32% favorable rating is down five points from December.

The people questioned for the poll who say they have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party is 47%, up four points from December and an increase of 21 points from January 2010. That number is virtually identical to the 48% unfavorable ratings for both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the same poll.

"This is the first time that a CNN poll has shown the Tea Party's unfavorable ratings as high as those of the two major parties," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It looks like the rise in the movement's unfavorable rating has come mostly among people who make less than $50,000."

Why? Because the Tea Party is disorganized to begin with. The Tea Party, by its very nature, is composed of people who are interested in fewer taxes and less government intervention. Tea Party members have jobs to go back to. Those who are on welfare of one form or another are opposed to having their gravy train cut off. The "recipient class", as Sirius/XM radio host Andrew Wilkow refers to them as, will not vote against their own handouts. They aren't going to reject handouts - unless the Tea Party can explain that, to adjust Art Alexakis song lyrics a bit: "The hand that feeds is the hand that holds you down."

That's a lot to digest, so let's look at some parts of it.

Thomas Sowell wrote about one aspect of the hand that feeds is the hand that holds down recently, but with regards to the Republican party and its inability to win with black voters (arguably the best avenue for the Tea Party movement to make inroads into national politics). He notes specifically that Democrat housing policies have driven blacks from the San Francisco area to the point that blacks now represent as little as only 3% of the population in some places there.

Sowell writes:
Between restrictions on development and the destruction of existing low-income housing by redevelopment, low-income and even moderate-income people are forced out by high housing costs.

Often this process takes the form of ethnic cleansing. Blacks, for example, have been driven out of communities up and down the San Francisco peninsula, including East Palo Alto, which was once 61 percent black, and is today only 17 percent black.

But that 17 percent is still the highest proportion of blacks in any community in three whole counties on the San Francisco peninsula. None of the 38 other communities in those three counties has a population that is even 5 percent black.

Sowell also writes:
With all the Republican politicians' laments about how overwhelmingly blacks vote for Democrats, I have yet to hear a Republican politician publicly point out the harm to blacks from such policies of the Democrats as severe housing restrictions, resulting from catering to environmental extremists.

If the Republicans did point out such things as building restrictions that make it hard for most blacks to afford housing, even in places where they once lived, they would have the Democrats at a complete disadvantage.

It would be impossible for the Democrats to deny the facts, not only in coastal California but in similar affluent strongholds of liberal Democrats around the country. Moreover, environmental zealots are such an important part of the Democrats' constituencies that Democratic politicians could not change their policies.

Although Republicans would have a strong case, none of that matters when they don't make the case in the first place. The same is true of the effects of minimum wage laws on the high rate of unemployment among black youths. Again, the facts are undeniable, and the Democrats cannot change their policy, because they are beholden to labor unions that advocate higher minimum wages.

Yet another area in which Democrats are boxed in politically is their making job protection for members of teachers' unions more important than improving education for students in the public schools. No one loses more from this policy than blacks, for many of whom education is their only chance for economic advancement.

But none of this matters so long as Republicans who want the black vote think they have to devise earmarked benefits for blacks, instead of explaining how Republicans' general principles, applied to all Americans, can do more for blacks than the Democrats' welfare state approach.

The Tea Party intrinsically understands these concepts, both in the general in in Sowell's specific, but isn't getting out that message well enough. The leftist modern liberal statist is inherently destructive to the black community. The modern left thrives on it, because it creates dependency, and it creates a "good feeling" for those giving handouts. It also breeds resentment on the part of the black community, which when directed by the poverty pimps (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, etc.), turn into tools for the left to use against the right and conservatives. The "liberal" creates a handout that's viewed as "good", that "helps" people when it really hinders their growth and development (as individuals and as a community), and the inevitable negative results of domestication by the Democrat party is then blamed on the right.

An easy example is minimum wage laws, championed by the left, and destructive to the communities they're intended to help.

The Tea Party needs to explain these things.

On to another problem:

The older Tea Partiers with signs that say "get government out of my social security" on the surface are subject to immediate ridicule (Saul Alinsky's rule again). The problem is that social security isn't explained. For those who think money magically comes from the government, it's a handout. For those who have had a percentage of their wealth taken from them at the point of the IRS's gun for their entire lives, the message means "I paid in to social security for 30 years and they do owe me MY money back, so get government away from the money I paid in that I want back". That's just a bit long for a sign - unfortunately it's necessary - otherwise it's a point lost on everyone, and easily misinterpreted.

Those "recipient class" see it as rank hypocrisy, because to them, money does just come from government. Or Obama's stash.

But what's the Tea Party's biggest problem? It's cliche, but it's the Tea Party's strength. The Tea Party's strength comes from the fact that they're normal, working people with jobs who have to work. Tea Partiers are productive individuals who don't have time to get into politics professionally. That's why the movement is so remarkable.

That's also why the Tea Party has such difficulty against people who are professional revolutionaries. Obama was a "community organizer" before he was president. The man was a professional agitator and political panderer. His buddy Bill Ayers, after being a terrorist, went on to dedicate his life to indoctrinating children and ruining the lives of black students especially.

These people are professional revolutionaries. Van Jones to Cass Sunstein, this is all they do. Their lives center on getting grants and departments made for the expansion of their own policies. They exist only to grow government as their means to control.

The Tea Party is made of people who desire the exact opposite. Tea Partiers are not lawyers, bureaucrats, politicians, agitators, or professional revolutionaries. They are plumbers, railroad workers, cops, engineers, insurance adjusters, car salesmen, fast food managers, ranchers, farmers, pilots, truckers, warehouse workers, small businessmen, factory workers, and people who produce goods or services.

There are no professional revolutionaries in the Tea Party. There are no conniving bureaucrats out to create their own government empires in the Tea Party.

The Tea Party certainly doesn't need that, but it is going to need some people to bite the bullet and leave behind the private sector to start taking down oppressive parts of government and actively rejecting influence of statist ideologies.

The Tea Party could lose if it doesn't get out its message, it's flailing a bit because it's not out there at the forefront getting the economic word out. It's already mocked and ridiculed, but its members are growing less afraid of being called violent racist homophobes. It does need to start illustrating to people why Tea Party ideas (which are mostly fiscal conservative/Austrian economic school classic liberal) do work. The Tea Party needs to stay active, not just when it's ticked off. The Tea Party needs people to do the nasty work of getting involved with government at all levels. Leftist-statists do this naturally, but Tea Partiers need to start doing it.

Electing new representatives in 2010 certainly made a difference, but now is not the time to rest on one's laurels. Now is the time to press the advantage.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.”
- General George S. Patton

At the basic level, this can mean talking to people around you about this stuff. If you discuss politics with 5 people of non-Tea Party mindset, the simple economic realities will be absorbed. They can't dispute numbers and facts. They may reject the facts, but eventually will come around. Don't preach, just educate. We're all ignorant of something, and for folks who don't pay attention to politics, discussing the examples of minimum wage or housing policies, for example, may be enough to start to get them to come around. Explaining why "get government out of my social security" isn't completely absurd can make a difference as well.

Assuming those 5 all have a negative opinion of the Tea Party as expressed by the CNN poll and represent that approximately 50% negative, if you change 2 of their minds, the Tea Party's disapproval rating drops to 30%. More importantly, the likelihood of them voting based on their own ability to discern the facts of the issues of the day changes.

If the Tea Party disengages, it could lose. If the Tea Partiers pack their bags and assume the job is done because of the 2010 elections, it could lose. If the Tea Party doesn't press the advantage, it could lose. If the Tea Party doesn't explain how statist economic models ultimately fail, and how lefty do-gooder govt. policies invariably hurt those they're supposed to help, it could fail. If the Tea Party doesn't get a leader or two, it could fail. If Tea Partiers don't get involved at the local level, and don't talk to their friends, it could lose.

The solutions are all simple, but require work - something Tea Partiers are actually quite good at. It's just a different kind of work.

*For the lefty who may stumble on this, no, I am not inciting violence. I am not suggesting that libertarians/conservatives/Tea Partiers attack people like lefties do. This is metaphorical, as in attack the ideas.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Financial Martial Law? A second look.

The link that JBH posted for Michgan's "Financial Martial Law" bill was a floor summary. After he posted it, I looked up the text of the bill, as well as a lot of the debates. Some other things ended up delaying me, but on that first day, I noticed that the story was only picked up by CBS, the Michigan Messenger (which I have no familiarity with), and archlefty Mother Jones. The rest of the search results for it were mostly copypasta of the CBS story, and almost universally on lefty blogs, with the exception of all-around conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Color me skeptical, but I take both of those Joneses with a big grain of salt.

Here's a link to the bill, as approved by the Gov and filed by the Secretary of State of Michigan:
House Bill 4214
And in easier-to-read PDF format:
House Bill 4214

Some of the most important things to note are in one of the first summaries - note the background information.

Note the citation of Citizens Research Council of Michigan's report 362: Financial Emergencies in Michigan Local Governments.

The report basically goes over some of the levels of failure of Michigans, townships, school boards, cities, and communities. It's bad.

To give an anecdotal example, an economic refugee from Michigan who I know bought his house a few years back for about $170,000. He ended up getting away from it at $40,000. He was happy to get out from under the crushing debt on a house that wasn't worth anything anymore due to the housing bubble collapse.

Yes, really. He could buy it.

Now, consider how towns, cities, and even states generate revenue. One of the big methods is property taxes. It's considered a progressive (in the lefty sense) tax that's acceptable, because it only taxes the rich, landed classes. It's politically acceptable, since folks who are well-to-do typically want to think they're paying for their schools, and it's not visible enough like sales taxes to bother people who rent. It's considered a cost of "owning" a home, even though you can never truly own something you have to pay someone not to confiscate, but I digress. It's a standard source of revenue, and widely accepted.

Using that $170K to $40K transition, let's assume a tiny tax rate of 1% of the property's value per year. If Anytown, Michigan, were making $1700 per year in taxes off a house, and budgets according to what they have to spend, even with no deficit spending (unlikely), times 1000 houses in their township, then Anytown, Michigan, has about a $1,700,000 operating budget. That's enough to hire several police, maintain a small fire department, and Anytown's part of Anycounty's incorporated school distruct running (there are also roads, sanitation, etc.).

And with the end of the housing bubble, suddenly Anytown is making $400 per year in taxes off a house. With the 1000 houses in the township, Anytown, Michigan now has only $400,000 to spend for their operating budget. Suddenly, the cost of police, a fire department, and Anytown's part of the school district is threatened, along with the town's other few services.

Anytown still has financial obligations to pensioners, to contracts (be they private or union), and suddenly Anytown is faces with a financial disaster. So Anytown petitions the State to come in. The state is faced with the same budget crisis, and has no money to spare to bail out 200 desperate Anytowns.

The solutions do become desperate. Does the township reneg on its obligations? Do they declare bankruptcy? Do they raise taxes on the remaining residents? Since those residents have fewer jobs, and can't meet their personal obligations and declare bankruptcy as individuals, does Anytown get even the $400 tax anymore? Should the town go bankrupt if it has thriving industries and in simply going through a hard time? Should the town, run by a corrupt mayor and crooked board of aldermen, simply be dissolved?

That's where the bill comes in. Michigan is in a state of financial emergency, no matter what Chrysler is trying to sell. The dominance by unions, democrats, and leftist identity politics melded together to keep everyone but the political exploiters down. The big car companies made foolish decisions to sign unsustainable union contracts and are saddled with debt to the point that taxpayers around the country had to bail out GM and Chrysler - formerly companies that were powerhouses - are now weak shells of their old selves. Black/white identity politics tore communities apart as the economy fell, and things just got worse from there. Economic destruction is all part of that, intertwined with societal destruction and redistribution and unsustainable economic policies.

The state of Michigan didn't past the bill to start dissolving neighborhoods. They passed the bill to keep the entire state from imploding due to its horrible economic situation - they passed it to put capable managers in charge of towns and districts that need help. If they keep doing what they're doing, they'll be begging for a federal bailout, and as Margaret Thatcher said: "Socialism works great until you run out of other people's money."

The thing is, the rest of the country doesn't want to bail out Michigan. For example, California with its own mismanagement certainly doesn't need to be taxed to bail out Michigan, nor does a successful state need to have its success confiscated to bail out Michigan. The successful states need to be emulated, not taxed.

The grasshopper needs to stop having government steal the ant's hard work, and instead the grasshopper needs to get off his ovipositor and start doing what the ant did to succeed. Michigan acknowledges this, as there are towns that are ants, and towns that are grasshoppers within it, and there is no reason why the entire state should be consumed.

Having read a lot of it, I'm not so sure that it's a power grab - it seems to be an extreme austerity move, wherein most of it is a move by the state against local governments, and all with checks and appeals to the state court system as well.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Private Sector Unions to the Rescue!

Trouble Maker SignImage by friedmanlynn via Flickr
For those of you who don't know I am a member of a private sector union because I have to be in order to work for the railroad I am currently employed with. A day or so ago I spoke with a friend of mine in regards to an email he had received from one of our union representatives.

The email was entitled, "Don't Let Our Enemies Turn Back the Clock." The emails concern was the actions taking place in Wisconsin and other states. In these respective state legislatures along with republican governors are taking actions to break a never ending cycle of public sector unions donating vast sums of money to get democrats elected, in turn the democrats reward these public sector unions with unsustainable commitments in the form of union contracts.

Here at the Patriot Perspective we have explained through several articles the difference between public and private sector unions and how public sector unions in "union states" have the unique ability to affect the tax rates at both the state and local level. Couple that with states like Wisconsin and Michigan whose debt is out of control and one can see why those governments are doing everything they can to reduce their spending and deficits. Does the law itself end collective bargaining for most public sector employees? Yes. Does it force state workers to take an 8% cut in benefits? Yes. Is that really going to destroy someones livelihood? Hardly.

Back to the letter.

"Don't let our enemies turn back the clock. Why are many union (not going to share the name of my union) members participating across America in rallies opposing attacks on collective bargaining rights? Why have we created the Collective Bargaining Defense Fund to assist our union brothers and sisters? Because we know that those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it. We know that if right wing extremist succeed in busting public sector unions, their next target is airline, bus, and railroad labor unions."

I would really like to know here exactly how they know that the government is going to target these private sector unions? My experience so far with a private sector union has been dismal. 120 dollars a month for little to no representation. I have to be a member or I cannot be employed by the railroad. How's that for freedom? Most of the time it seems as if the union and the company aren't really at odds with each other. But oh well.

"The history of working men and women in America -- before we fought for and won the right to join a union, engage in collective bargaining and have grievances resolved by a neutral party -- was a bleak history of low wages, few if any benefits, unsafe working conditions, and arbitrary discipline and discrimination on the job."

Largely at the time they are speaking of all those conditions did exist but not anymore, and personally it is hard to see how these folks rationalize that the clock would indeed be turned back to those same conditions in the 21st century. But as I said early I wish I had the right to NOT join a union, and in my industry collective bargaining usually results what the company wants anyway. However, I had an engineer tell me once that he thought he always got better contracts when Republicans were in office. Talk about irony if you are a hard core democrat union guy.

"Let's take a short trip back to the times before workplace democracy. Before labor laws and worker rights, courts considered any combination of workers seeking wage increases and/or improved working conditions as a criminal conspiracy, punishable by fine and imprisonment. Picketing an employer -- by even one picket -- was considered by courts an unlawful restraint of trade. Workers typically put in a 12 hour day, six days a week, with no overtime pay, no paid vacations, no employer-provided healthcare insurance, no process for worker grievances to be heard and no compensation for on-the-job injuries."

Workplace democracy usually means workplace socialism, spreading the work around or in my case keeping the board stacked so others can make money too. Usually those combinations of workers seeking those increases did things they weren't supposed to do. Like blackball fellow employees who couldn't afford to strike and crossed the picket line. Or workers would sabotage or deface company property to get their points across. A lot like those spoiled children up in Wisconsin at the state capital recently. Yes the days might have been long and hard back then with little to no compensated time off and guess what it is the exact same way today. I am on call 24/7 with no set off days, pretty much on duty for 12 hours at a time. Sure I have personal time and vacation days that are compensated but due to some of the recent legislation like the rail safety bill of 2008 which the unions backed so they could get more union dues because it would force the railroads to hire more people, that I rarely get time off unless I call in sick. The only problem is the railroads have been exceptionally slow on hiring and training, so we are constantly undermanned with a decent portion of train service employees on federal rest that they have to take at the behest of the Federal Railroad administration thanks to the union I am a member of.

The letter goes on to give more of the same concerning the plight of workers and then begins it close:

"Turn back the clock? Never. We will not go away. We will never forget. Together, in solidarity, we can and will win this fight and emerge stronger then ever."

Living in the past instead of looking to the future. We will be a nuisance and cause trouble like we did in Wisconsin. We like to co-opt 9/11 slogans to look patriotic. If we can get the workers of the United Sates to unite we can live in socialist harmony the rest of our lives. That about sums up the rest of the letter.

Not once do these people recognize the difference between public and private sector unions. The railroad unions deal with a private company and not the federal government unless they are trying to get legislation passed, which they almost always are. The private sector unions do not affect other citizens tax rates in the state or county in which you live. It is a given that the railroad was brutally tough on its employees in the late 19th and early to mid 20th century. A lot of that act has been dealt with. What I want to know is how is the state of Wisconsin brutally tough on its union employees. The trash collectors, the clerks etc? Do they really have it that hard? Are they struggling for raises just to make ends meet? I seriously doubt it.

Folks, continue to do your research, check every bit of information you come across, there are those out there how what you to cast aside reason and feel just for the sake of feeling and abdicating any form of thinking. Don't cast aside reason hold it tight. Check your facts and do not succumb to the call for the abdication of thought.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Power Grabs: Michigan Republicans

From CBS News

Keeping in mind there's a huge difference in the political spectrum between a Texas republican and a Michigan republican, Michigan republican governor Rick Snyder is about to allow his state bureaucracy to make a huge power grab over city elected officials.

Mr. Snyder is about to sign into law a bill that will allow the governor of Michigan to declare a "financial emergency" in any town or school district. This declaration would pave the way for the state through a "financial czar" to fire elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services and possibly even eliminate whole cities and school districts.

Here is the bill.

If this isn't a statist power grab I don't know what is. The only opposition to this that needs to be noted is state democrats and even some federal representatives are opposed to this bill not because it violates property rights or dissolves local governments on a whim. They are upset because there happens to be legislation that is going to affect the collective bargaining of their beloved public sector unions. They also seem to be linking this bill to the Wisconsin bill that provided reform to bargaining with public sector unions and gave the choices to state employees as to whether they want to even belong to a union.

These state and local democrats of Michigan ARE NOT decrying the power grab itself, which means they are okay with most of the bill. Meaning the are alright with the power to wipe Detroit off the map if they see fit to do so, or some public school that has been mismanaged in another city. They don't seem to be too upset about that. They definitely aren't upset about being able to seize property. And you don't All they care about is losing part of the force that has kept them in office for years, their beloved public sector unions, to which they continuously have given more benefits and more money to over the years, which has continuously increased the tax burden on Michigan's citizens over the years. In turn, these statist lean on the public sector unions political action committees for support reelection which keeps the cycle of ever raising taxes and increasingly over compensated public sector unions.

The Michigan Democrats are also playing the race card on this as well with comments directed towards minority communities that the dissolving of the local governments is targeted at minority communities and will impact the greater then another community. How so? Didn't they elected their representatives? Didn't the next town? Did those individuals even get out to vote? Are the fiscal issues of their township in the hands of their elected officials just like the next town? Don't they have the ability to vote new representatives in every 2 or 4 years just like the next town? How is it any different? You won't get an explanation. Only that it'll affect a minority area that elected fiscal idiots over some other town that isn't primarily minority that also elected fiscal idiots.

Bottom line?

This is a power grab by the state pure and simple. These cities, school districts should be allowed to go into bankruptcy on their own. The democrat gripe over collective bargaining for the public sector unions is just a token out cry that's going to affect only their re election bids. The seizure of property, breaking of contracts in general are pure power grabs and something the statist in general are okay with. More regulation and more regulation are always something the statist want. Dissolving elected bodies reminds me personally of past despots like King George III of Great Britain and should not be tolerated. The people of Michigan need to take a stand for true liberty and freedom, and oppose the signing of this bill that is an outrageous violation of the United States Constitution which guarantees a republican form of government for each state.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Unintended Consequences Part 7201

U.S. Dept. of Transportation data show drop in flight delays, rise in canceled flights
Published: Monday, March 07, 2011, 7:00 AM Updated: Monday, March 07, 2011, 9:35 AM

By all accounts, the Federal Aviation Administration’s "tarmac rule" has dramatically reduced the number of passengers who are stuck inside an aircraft on the ground for three hours or more.

Violations of the rule, which went into effect last April, can cost airlines $27,500 per passenger, or $2.75 million for a planeload of 100 people going nowhere fast. In fact, there were just three cases nationwide of three-hour tarmac delays in December — compared with 34 the previous December, according to the federal Department of Transportation, the FAA’s parent agency.

But critics say an unintended consequence of the rule is becoming apparent and spoiling travel plans for a far greater number of would-be fliers.

Economists of the Austrian-Chicago schools (Hayek, Friedman, Sowell, etc.) would absolutely refer to this as unintended consequences.

To put it simply, the airline is impaled on the horns of a dilemma. Which do they do: risk $27,500 in fines per passenger at a cost of $2,750,000? Or lose $500 of business per passenger at a cost of $50,000 (minus the expenses in fuel and some labor hours on the flight as well)?

This is the result of a limited part of "passenger's bill of rights" - a somewhat statist concept that rights spring from the government anyway, but I digress... With bad weather last December at many airports, the regular delays and cancellations were magnified. But this isn't because of December, and this isn't the first time it's been noticed. Not by a long shot.

If the airlines were doing something illegal when airline customers were stuck on planes for 3 hours (arguably this could be the case), a simple prosecution and use of criminal courts would've sufficed.

If airlines were violating their contract with their passengers when they left people stuck on the tarmac for 3 hours, civil courts between the passengers and the airline would've sufficed - a class action lawsuit would result in the passengers getting that $27,500 per person, not the government getting it. Which is a better compensation for the injured party? To get $27,500 for the 4 hours you spent on the tarmac, your flight delayed, unable to get to your important meeting and to see grandma, getting cramped, listening to cranky kids and generally enduring unpleasantness, or would you rather the $27,500 go to a government agency? Assuming you had three delayed flights a year and were given that $27,500 as compensation, you could do pretty well for yourself just through compensation from the airlines. I'd sit on a plane for 4 hours on the tarmac to get a significant part of a house payment or a Mustang.

With the use of what amounts to a new taxation system, a cost-benefit framework is now established for the airlines. Now the airlines are forced by state coercion of extreme fines and thus the laws of economics to abandon flights as soon as the risk of fines come up, which screws passengers further. Imagine sitting for 2 hours and 45 minutes waiting to takeoff and then being kicked back into the terminal and your flight being cancelled.
It's like having your schedule stuck between two warm pillows.

To give a comparison on well-meaning government, consider red light cameras. They were intended to catch people who run red lights. What happens is they scare people on the penalty of a ticket - financial loss - into slamming on their brakes. This results in higher levels of rear-end collisions, increasing the numbers of accidents in one manner.

Red light cameras are frequently used as a revenue stream, and at least in Chicago, are used in poor black neighborhoods (as folks there are less likely to have lawyers or know the Mayor). In Britain, speed cameras known as "Gatsos" are frequently used as a revenue stream via creation of automated speed traps. Speed limits are recorded as being cut as much from 70 mph to 40 mph. The subject (not citizen over there) is inconvenienced, taxed, and all for "their own good"... or fines.

They are not well loved. The British solution is to toss a tyre round the beastly thing and set it alight.

This brings up a cynical question: are the fines intended to actually help airline customers - since a cancellation can be a lot more hassle than a long tarmac wait - or are the fines intended as a revenue stream, with the added bonus for politicians of demonizing airlines for cheap popularity?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wisconsin Protest: Myth Vs Fact

H/T: Facts are Stubborn Things

xkcd's Nolan Chart

Pretty much on the mark with this one:

We here at The Patriot Perspective agree (from back in the days when I was even more heavily influenced by the Jawa Report's style of finishing off a post*):

xkcd is cool, no matter what the haters on any blagoblogs** say. It's just cool the same way that Rush and D&D are cool.

But whatever. I'm a Far Side guy myself.


They're going to rescue Willzyx and Tom Cruise.


* For a recent example from Jawa Report. They do look for terrorists and terrorist propagandists to disrupt online, often by reporting videos online or getting servers to stop hosting terrorist sympathizer websites. Admirable work. They also like hot chicks, a staple of the internet - and know there's a reason they're morale boosters. I also like big morale boosters. Most guys do.

**Or blogoblag. But I wrote blagoblog without looking up that comic first... so I'm sticking to it. Blagoblog.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Union Educations

The Wall Street Journal has this piece today entitled "A Union Education". It's an excellent read, and quite informative about how and why public sector unions are, have been, and always will be a bad idea.

... George Meany, the legendary AFL-CIO president during the Cold War, also opposed the right to bargain collectively with the government.

Why? Because unlike in the private economy, a public union has a natural monopoly over government services. An industrial union will fight for a greater share of corporate profits, but it also knows that a business must make profits or it will move or shut down. The union chief for teachers, transit workers or firemen knows that the city is not going to close the schools, buses or firehouses.

This monopoly power, in turn, gives public unions inordinate sway over elected officials. The money they collect from member dues helps to elect politicians who are then supposed to represent the taxpayers during the next round of collective bargaining. In effect union representatives sit on both sides of the bargaining table, with no one sitting in for taxpayers. In 2006 in New Jersey, this led to the preposterous episode in which Governor Jon Corzine addressed a Trenton rally of thousands of public workers and shouted, "We will fight for a fair contract." He was promising to fight himself.

Thus the collision course with taxpayers. Public unions depend entirely on tax revenues to fund their pay and benefits. They thus have every incentive to elect politicians who favor higher taxes and more government spending. The great expansion of state and local spending followed the rise of public unions.

This is much like the complaints that congresscritters and senators vote for their own raises. There's no accountability on government or union bosses.

The taxpayers are forced to give money to the government. Unions get their money in both dues and salaries from the government. Unions then spend money buying politicians who will grant them political favors in the form of increased wages and better benefits... at the expense of the taxpayer. The unions are accountable to no one, the politicians are accountable to no one after the elections are bought, and the taxpayer has no means to hold anyone accountable... until now.

Basically, that's it. Notice that one group pays in and gets nothing.

It's worthwhile to note that the petulant employees in the Wisconsin are teachers. Teachers who are refusing to teach. Their employers are their students parents - and instead they are going on marches demanding that their students parents pay them more money, even though those same parents are making less money in this recession. And now police unions are supporting them.