Sunday, October 21, 2012

Proposal 1 - Yes!
We need an adult in the room.

Proposal 1 can be described as the "adult in the room" proposal. Voting "Yes" keeps a strong Emergency Financial Manager law in place.

Public service unions oppose Proposal 1 on the same basis they push Proposals 2 and 4: Maintaining their advantaged economic position.

Proposal 1 is about changes to an existing Emergency Manager law passed after Rick Snyder was elected governor. The old law did not allow an Emergency Manager to recommend that the state amend a local government’s collective bargaining agreements. That mainly affects pensions and health insurance in insolvent local jurisdictions, like Detroit. The new law must be kept for that provision alone. Pontiac provides an example:
Pontiac is one city where the new law appears to have worked. The EM there is Lou Schimmel, who has served as emergency financial manager for another city under the old law and also served as a court-appointed receiver for one city. Among the necessary changes in Pontiac that were made possible by PA 4 [the new, stronger law]?

* Pontiac contracted out its police force to Oakland County and saved $2 million annually while increasing enforcement personnel in the city;

* Pontiac contracted fire duties to Waterford Township and expects to save more than $3 million a year; and

* The city consolidated 87 city health care plans to one; saving $5 million annually while still offering very generous benefits at a cost of $20,000 per employee.
Any supporter of regional cooperation must logically support a stronger Emergency Manager law.

Employee benefits are a major expense in most local government units. But don't take my word for it, let's visit the problems faced by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero:
Lansing taxpayers will foot the bill for more than $16 million in fringe benefits – including retirement and health care – for Lansing police officers in the next year, according to budget documents obtained by

That's nearly $3 million more than they'll pay in salaries for officers in the same time frame.
Responsible local governments will never need an Emergency Manager. Corrupt and/or irresponsible local governments have demonstrated they desperately need a strong Emergency Manager law: A law that gives them the tools needed to prevent fiscal collapse.

You will recall a "Public Safety" millage was passed in Lansing in 2011; targeted for police, fire and roads. Without it, Lansing residents were told public safety would suffer and policemen and firemen would face layoffs. Turns out most of that money will go for "Pension Safety." Even Virg Bernero gets it:
Out-of-control pension costs are seriously undermining our ability to continue providing essential city services and threaten our ability to keep police officers and firefighters on the job protecting our residents. We must take action sooner rather than later to control these costs or we will be in a very serious predicament very quickly.

...Bernero has said more than two-thirds of the new revenues generated by a voter-approved millage have been dedicated to health care and pension costs.

Without concessions from the unions, the city would have to use all the millage funds to cover the increased retirement and health care costs, and supplement that with money from the city's general fund, the administration said in the release.

The millage is expected to generate about $7.6 million annually.
This issue boils down to whether Lansing keeps a promise on police pensions or is forced to continuously downgrade public safety. In the private sector, this choice is known as bankruptcy vs. reinvention.

I'm not happy when a promise isn't kept, but I understand that if keeping it is not sustainable, everyone will end up with nothing.

Stein's law applies: "Something that can't go on forever will stop." The question is whether it will stop because adult decisions are made, or because it collapses in chaos. Bernero is suggesting an adult decision. The unions, like those in Detroit, prefer their perks to keeping police on the beat. Bernero:
"We can't force changes if we have a contract in place. We have to honor the contract, and I don't want to have to lay off anymore officers."

"We're saying in a time like this, put (funds) into a Police Officer Preservation Fund because our challenges are getting worse from year to year," Bernero added. "I don't want to have lay off anymore officers. If I had one rallying cry it's no more layoffs."
Lansing has been realistic, relatively, in addressing this issue, though battles with the unions continue. Union parasites may prefer keeping the promise alive until their host collapses. I do not.

The current Emergency Manager law should be retained by voting "Yes" on Proposal 1.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Democrats say voter ID laws are unnecessary, but there seems to be enough #Votefraud for them to have advisors on how to go about it

Sunday, October 07, 2012

NO! 2 4

That title is intended to make it easy for you to remember to vote NO! on the two most dangerous proposals on the Michigan ballot. If you do nothing else, remember: NO! 2 4.

You will bring your own opinon about the present day contribution of public-sector unions to this post, and will probably leave with that unchanged. However, the world has changed and the response of the public sector union elite has been unconscionable. They have decided exploitation is fine, as long as it's taxpayers being exploited. That's Proposal 2; To enshrine collective bargaining rights in Michigan's Constitution.

For better or worse it's been decades since the UAW had to strike. The Pinkertons haven't busted a strike, or a head, in nearly a century. Nine year olds haven't been forced to work 7 day-a-week, 18 hour shifts in coal mines since before Dickens' wrote about it. In any case, none of those memes apply to any government workers in this country today. And they never did.

Here's a fact that does apply: It has been 70 years since Big Labor and Big Government denounced the idea of public sector union collective bargaining. Proposal 2 runs counter to the considered opinion of that champion of collective bargaining and creator of the New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt. On August 16, 1937 he wrote to Mr. Luther C. Steward, President, National Federation of Federal Employees, as follows:
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.
Even the labor movement considered the idea of public employee collective bargaining an idiotic idea. George Meany, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O had this to say in 1955: "It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government." He meant that collective bargaining with the government was like two wolves and a sheep debating on the dinner entrée. "Bargaining," as it is commonly understood, involves two parties discussing their differences. It does not mean two parties deciding how a third party should be exploited.

Public sector union collective bargaining has brought us the highest cost for education in the world along with less than mediocre results. Despite the economic conditions in this country, and despite the fact that 40% of Chicago high school graduates are functionally illiterate, the teachers in Chicago just got a 17% increase in pay: As a result of a strike FDR would have considered illegal and immoral.

The consequences of collective bargaining with government are bankrupting Illinois and California due to skyrocketing pension and retiree health insurance costs.
Since 2002, for every $1-an-hour pay increase, public employees have gotten $1.17 in new benefits; private-sector workers, meanwhile, have received just 58 cents in added benefits.
We know the financial impact of Proposal 2 would be huge, but what about changes to existing law? As the MEA has noted, Proposal 2's Amendment to Michigan's Constitution could effectively repeal many laws, unexceptional in the private sector, regarding employment:
The new prohibited bargaining topics created by 2011 PA 103 and included in Section 15(3) of PERA would NO LONGER exist. This law currently prohibits bargaining over the decision or impact concerning the following subjects:
a. The placement of teachers;
b. Personnel decisions for teachers during a reduction in force, recall or hiring after a reduction in force, as set forth in MCL 380.1248;
c. Teacher evaluation systems, including the format, timing or number of classroom observations, as set forth in MCL 380.1249 and in the Teachers’ Tenure Act.
d. Teacher discipline policies, which may NOT include a standard different than the arbitrary and capricious standard; and
e. Performance-based compensation systems for teachers, as set forth in MCL 380.1250
f. Notification to parents and legal guardians that children are being taught by ineffective teachers, as required by MCL 380.1249a.
Wow. And that's just the MEA's early analysis.

There is, in fact, no way to be sure about all the laws which would be retroactively repealed. The audacity of this power grab by the public sector union elite is matched only by its venality.

Proposal 2 would have us place collective bargaining rights in the Michigan Constitution. This is a pre-emptive strike by public sector unions, notably the SEIU and MEA, to prevent right-to-work legislation ever being passed in Michigan.

If Michigan wants to emulate the financial basket cases in Sacramento and Springfield we should put this fiscal time bomb into our Constitution. If we want to roll the dice on what laws the MEA wants repealed we should vote for it. Me? I'd rather we didn't make the whole state into Detroit. A vehement NO!! on Proposal 2.

With Proposal 4, we have yet another example of public sector union greed and corruption. Proposal 4 is an attempt to Constitutionalize Jennifer Granholm's stealth gift of $30 million to the SEIU. The SEIU dearly wants to re-institute the dues Granholm helped it loot from private citizens who had no interest in SEIU "representation."

The SEIU wants to perpetuate a fake union in order to skim dues from government payments to individuals who provide home care for their own relatives. To grab this money, SEIU is willing to reduce the funds available for care by extracting dues from self-employed citizens who don't want to be SEIU members. "They didn't build that," so the SEIU must be paid. This is the best argument for a right to work law we'll see any time soon.

While the MEA is circulating ideas that Proposal 2 would overturn prohibited bargaining topics created by PA 103, such as teacher discipline, Proposal 4 requires background checks on people providing care for their own relatives. Those checks will initially be vetted by SEIU appointees. This amendment is designed to accomplish two things: 1-Restraint of trade in order to 2- fill the coffers of a corrupt and venal union. NO!! on Proposal 4.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Why have medical and education costs risen so much faster than everything else?

Because the government distorts the market.
The Central State directly spends over $1 trillion a year on Medicare and Medicaid, and controls private spending with rules and regulations.

As for college costs: could their incredible expansion have anything to do with the Central State backing $1 trillion in student loans?
Not to mention that student loans cannot be discharged via bankruptcy, a big incentive to lenders. "Safer than houses," so to speak.

I include one chart, but read the whole thing at the link:
The Source of High Inflation: Government Spending

In the case of energy, the cause is the decline in value of the world's reserve currency - a result of printing too much of it.