## We can survive without public sector unions. They cannot survive without us.

I demand the right as a taxpayer, to strike.

ex•tor•tion [ik-stawr-shuh n] –noun
1. An act or instance of extorting.
2. The crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority.
3. Oppressive or illegal exaction, as of excessive price or interest: the extortions of usurers.
4. Anything extorted.

Early in our industrial infancy, the cheapest labor was often recent immigrants, indentured for their trip from the old world. Like many nubies, they were mocked as unsophisticated or slow witted by some in pop culture for their low socio-economic standing and lack of understanding of local norms. They were employed at a slower rate than assimilated workers. Unscrupulous business owners, and I might add, political parties, took unfair advantage of their ignorance. Workers were hired under misleading arrangements specifically worded to entice these workers into unfair contracts. The workers did what all workers in a free market do when treated dishonestly, the walked out. This wiped the gotcha-smile right off the bosses faces. The bosses could not infringe upon one’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One of the principles essential to the right to pursue happiness is the ability to keep the fruits of one’s pursuits, the protection of private property. The bosses wanted to get the production from the worker, and keep much of the remuneration as well.

To infringe upon this right required collusion with government.

Fraudulent employers got bigger, helped elect business friendly politicians who then enacted laws allowing employment contract skippers to be arrested and to allow local police to enforce the terms of the contracts. Railroads, coal mines, steel, were industries notorious for taking advantage of workers, enforced with the help of local and state police. They paid in script only accepted at the over priced company store. This is the part of the story we have all heard. The employees banded together and stopped working. Without production, the bosses could not buy the government they needed to keep the employees working. Such collusion only works to the advantage of the privileged few. We elect our government and the majority of Americans do not appreciate fraud and corruption, even now. Once the lights were turned on, the roaches scurried.

For most of the rest of our country’s history, unions could strike and business owners could fold. Pay and benefits were negotiated somewhere in the middle. All agreements were subject to either party simply walking away, at least temporarily. If the business folded, no amount of picketing would create money from thin air. If the employees walked, no amount of retained profit would produce. Soon equilibrium was reached whereby the employees felt favorably compensated, the business owner had labor he could count on and little changed year to year. Employees questioned the relevancy of the unions and hesitated to pay the dues for no change year to year. But politicians, as they are prone to do, followed the politically expedient source of money and grew to be on the “side” of unions, for a price. The unions used the means at their disposal to enact favorable legislation of their own. So was born the closed shop. If you wanted a job in a union shop, you had to join the union, often before applying for the job. Anyone who was not pro-union would not be allowed to join and therefore could not get the job. Friends and family were the only ones allowed to join and dissention in union matters was scarce. Even with this arrangement, employees were less and less interested in joining unions and paying the extorted dues. Non-union shops could pay less and charge less and fire people more easily, at the same time, they hired more easily and sometimes the take home pay was higher as no one was supporting a union infrastructure. This was especially true for other countries. Soon, a new generation of workers grew up only hearing stories of the labor movement. Their union loyalty faded as the union looked less and less like the savior of mistreated employees, and more and more like the bloated bureaucracies that had enslaved their grandfathers. Unions needed a better way of growing members in order to survive.

One option, the hard way, was to insist on minimum standards for members for training, ethics, dependability, etc. They could insist on eliminating poor performers from their ranks. This would give unions a reputation for the best employees for the money and guarantee a steady supply of employees wanting to join and a steady supply of employers wanting to hire them. The downside, the dues would have to be really low to keep newly employed members from leaving once they got the job. And, there is the downside of having to produce something in return for the dues after years of getting closed shop dues for relatively little. But if they could find another option, a new steel industry or a new coal industry, where the businesses hardly had any competition for employees, it would be much easier. Such a business would be staffed by employees with little choice but to work for the union. What would be even better is if they could do so in an industry with considerable profit margin from which to negotiate. The search was on for an industry with unlimited funds, relatively high tolerance of favoritism and nepotism, and a favorable political climate.

The perfect industry exists. However it was illegal to organize until the late 1950’s. Then a New York City mayor wanted to secure a few city worker votes and the public sector union was born. Democrat politicians across the country rushed to add public sector union members to their roster of campaign contributors. The unions could push the entitlement form of pay and benefits, and get the government to pull their closed shop union dues straight from the employee’s paychecks. The union could then use those dues to help elect pro-union politicians with which to negotiate those entitlements. The position normally held by the business that could go out of business was now filled by the tax payer. The tax paying public can not cease to exist due to unprofitable employment arrangements. Moreover, the union employee gets to vote for their representative on the government side of the table, same as any other tax payer. They then also get to send a second negotiator on the union side. The first places to adopt such laws were those states where a large portion of the state’s employees worked for big, heavy industries which were already union supporters. The rust belt fell first along with steel and dockworkers heavy states. More would follow as right-to-work states had uprisings to get the “right” to extort higher pay from their taxpayers as well. All went as planned, at first.

The arrangement in Wisconsin threatens the golden egg laying goose for two simple reasons: Greed and incompetence. Pay is peanuts; the big money is in pensions. A public sector worker can work for 30 years as a teacher, from 25 to 55 years old, retire with a pension, live to be 85 years old, and draw more in pension in those 30 years than they were paid to actually work 30 years. Each time a teacher in Wisconsin retires, the cost of their replacement is double, one for the replacement, one for the pensioner. In a private sector business, where pensions have long gone the way of the dinosaur, the money for the pension would be set aside each year the teacher worked. The cost would be obvious as the $52,000 teacher also had$52,000 set aside for her pension in hopes that she only lived 30 years following retirement. Retired teachers who live to be 90 could see 5 years when the cost is triple. The number of retirees, who do so, increases every generation, as does the base pay, all of which is renegotiated each year. The public sector union employee in Wisconsin grew up seeing their parents get this pension, without paying into it themselves, and now expect the same. They see it as a right. They feel entitled. Public sector pay and benefits outweigh the private sector employee packages from which the public sector pensions are paid, and the private sector employee also paid for a significant portion of their own retirement. Private sector pensions are all but nonexistent because no one can predict how long a new 25 year old employee will live after retirement. No business decision can be made 30 years in advance with any security. Private sector employees must live off of the retirement they helped pay for as well as continuing to pay for the public sector pension for a retiree who did not. The cost of a public sector union employee far exceeds that of the private sector employee’s pay and benefits. Which would be OK, if the electorate feels they are getting their money’s worth. The downside of favoritism and nepotism in an environment of employees motivated by belief in entitlement to the job, is that performance will always be lackluster at best, and never approach the performance where continued employment and promotion require it. Indeed, the union can be counted on to talk higher performers into slowing down or performing less to prevent bringing undue attention to the overall lackluster performance. But the internet allows parents to realize that their students are more likely than other similar students to perform poorly, despite spending much more per capita on education. As teacher pay increased, public school student performance decreased. We understand child learning better now than in previous generations, we have computers and other teaching tools available to us like never before, and a large portion of Wisconsin public school 8th graders cannot read proficiently.

But the death knell for the public sector unions in Wisconsin and the rest of the U. S. sounded when they took a stand on the ability to renegotiate their position, on the promise of accepting pay and benefit cuts now. They got the nation’s attention when they stated flatly, that cutting pay and benefits for union members instead of raising taxes on everyone was solving a money mismanagement problem on the backs of the unions.

Really? The collective scowl from the country was palpable.

Although they were correct about the mismanagement, it was at the hands of the union-elected miss-managers. Taxes had already been raised 60% to pay for the existing packages as businesses left the state. Fewer students to educate could not be accepted as a sound reason to lay off unneeded teachers. The teacher’s union wants everyone to pay even higher taxes, following an election upset run and won on the promise of cutting spending and taxes,  The union promises that union members will take a small hit now, so long as they get the opportunity to negotiate themselves raises and increases in the future, (when they can get more union friendly politicians elected). What I heard was, “We will keep the roaches out of the kitchen so long as the light is on.” Such negotiations in the past have often been accompanied with back pay for those cut years. In other words, “Write us an IOU for the “pay cuts” we are borrowing from the next generation of workers we are under-educating, or we will shut down the underperforming school system we took an oath not to abandon. Really, we promise.” To put it in terms some of you might appreciate, they said, “Nice school system you have here. Be a shame if something bad were to happen to it. A threat?!! Heavens no, it is illegal for teachers in Wisconsin to strike! I’m just sayin’ if something were to happen, organically without our community organizers community-organizing it . . .”

We are at a crossroads in this country on so many levels, but this is ground zero for the entitlement culture war. (Wisconsin is also seen by many as the beginning, ground zero, for union solidarity of past unions. I find this ironic, but perhaps fitting that the attempt to skew the political processes in favor of the privileged few, on the backs of the many, would be exposed there and defeated there.) If Wisconsin folds, so folds the country.

I call for the formation of a new union, one representing the over 80% of all workers who are not currently represented. I suggest that membership be open to all taxpayers not belonging to a union and that membership can be begun and ended year by year, with a prorated refund of dues anytime a politician you don’t want to support is supported. I suggest that we vote ourselves the “right” to bargain and the “right” to have union members pay OUR retirement and healthcare. In fairness, the unions will likely loose the ability to negotiate pension and healthcare soon either way. Perhaps we should only reserve the one right we truly do have; the right to the pursuit of happiness; the right to keep our property. I suggest we organize a taxpayers union and strike to end the extortion of our property on the threat of public employee sickouts. I want the right to strike and put the golden egg laying goose out of the egg laying business. I want to strike to end the practice of borrowing from our children without their informed consent, to send from balanced-budget/right-to-work states like Virginia, to states like Wisconsin.

We can survive without public sector unions. They cannot survive without us.

## The Teacher’s Unions in Wisconsin have hastened the demise of public sector unions.

Just as the textile looms moved from Europe through the northern states, to the southern states, and away to over seas markets, so goes unions. In the hay day of the American textile industry, Americans in the north, many immigrants from Europe, were willing to work for lower wages than Europeans and the European economy suffered. Once we had plenty of employment, then we also wanted more pay. But, pay is related to the difficulty in finding work, or the supply of employment and demand for workers, go figure. America had plenty of workers and more arriving every day. Industrial businessmen figured out that helping people get elected who were friendly to their activities produced regulations that allowed them to treat workers in a way which they could not otherwise. The Government enforces contracts, among other things. Businesses enticed workers into unfair contracts and used government to enforce them. The employees organized under the belief that through solidarity, the business/government partner could not put them all in jail. They used their numbers to intimidate strike breakers and slow down or halt commerce.

Eventually, the unions put up candidates of their own for government positions and the practice of government enforcement of unfair labor practices was replaced with regulatory protections against them. However, just as business used this influence to their advantage, unions worked to enact legislation favorable to themselves through their elected officials. Eventually, all truly unfair business/employment practices were eliminated by legislation. Unions were no longer relevant in matters of fairness. To remain relevant, they negotiated from a position of solidarity for better than fair pay and benefits. Pay to union employees rose above non-union pay and unions could not persist. Businesses resisted hiring union employees, knowing pay and benefits would be extorted above market price. In some areas of the country, unions were influential enough to successfully support a sufficient number of elected officials to make it legal to force businesses of a certain size to only hire union employees. The concept of a closed shop was born. Join the union, or don’t bother applying for a job. Favoritism and nepotism replaced merit and production.

Businesses that could not survive the new burdens of employee strikes and unfair legislation, did not survive. They either moved to more business friendly environments following the paths of looms past, or businesses formed by others in such friendlier locals put them out of business. This cycle of business start up, unionization of the successful ones, and their eventual demise continued until all but the large industrial employers with factories and plants too large to move easily were gone. Now, a business opens in a union state and makes a profit long enough to get the attention of a union. The union convinces the employees that they deserve a larger portion of the difference between their current pay, and the profit retained by the owner, real or imagined. This is an easy sell in union states as it is common knowledge in such states that union jobs can pay several times what non-union work pays. The owner is told that the union will supply well trained employees and the increased pay will be an advantage as the unions will not tolerate non-union shops which might open to compete with the union shop. This is an easy sell as well, since the owners often grew up in the union rich society of the union state. The owner tolerates the union and can sometimes negotiate help from the union elected government officials in the form of competition limiting regulation in return for better pay and benefits for the employees. Over time, the negotiated arrangement is re-visited and changes in favor of the employees creep in. Rarely does an economically weak company gain relief with newly negotiated employee contracts, as the union continually attempts to get as much of the profits for employees and the union as is possible, while threatening to interfere with commerce if any reduction is requested. Often, concessions in good economic periods render the business unprofitable in another. High labor costs in high skill, labor intensive fields encourage automation in competitors where such automation would prove too costly without the union bolstered pay scales. Eventually, unionized industries fail more often in union states and less often in non-union states or countries. Unions fail and disappear in direct relation to the death of the host organism they helped starve. As profits shrink in favor of high pay, even the large industrial employers are replaced by foreign competitors. Unions could have educated and trained their members to be more competitive than non-union workers, instead they worked for conditions where they would not have to compete.

There is one industry however, which can never be outsourced. There is one industry which has almost no connection between the existence of the employer and the financial feasibility of the employee pay package. There is one industry where competition for survival has no connection to the production of the workers. This industry is government. Union organized public employees can pay dues to support the election of union compliant officials, and then “negotiate” a “fair” pay and benefits package with those same officials. Since unfair business practices or unfair pay and benefits are no longer left to fight, the union must fabricate such in order to remain relevant. This is exactly what happened in Wisconsin. The “union busting” legislation proposed in the Wisconsin legislature, if passed, would only make Wisconsin state teachers’ bargaining abilities equal to those for unionized Federal employees. The proposed legislation would not however bring the teacher’s union employee’s pension or health insurance contributions in line with either non-union Wisconsin residents or in many cases, other union employees. So why would the unions and their members take an extremely hard stance on an incremental loss in abilities which are out of line with most other employees’ abilities? They are not fighting for safe working conditions. They are fighting to be able to re-negotiate when the electoral pendulum swings back in their favor and they once again choose the government negotiator. They are fighting to continue to negotiate from both sides of the table. They are trying to make the voters, their employers, regret challenging the status quo.

The unions have drawn the line in the sand. The risk is that voters will not regret challenging the unions, but regret allowing them to exist at all. If the proposed Wisconsin legislation passes, I believe this will be the first time that public sector employee unions have lost any significant gains for their employees. There have been some temporary decreases in benefits, or temporary freezes on pay raises, or temporary freezes in hiring. I assert that this is the first permanent setback in the slow progression of pay and benefit improvements. I assert that this is the first setback that will not be re-negotiated with the elected official of their construction. If this legislation passes, the unions will have to negotiate in the open venue of public elections directly with their employer, the voters, instead of behind closed doors with someone who owes them for their job. They will have to stand in the public square and convince them that union members are entitled to pay raises when everyone else is taking cuts. They will have to convince the public that higher union pay will lead to better educated students, . . . this time. They will have to convince the voting public that tax increases best balance a bloated education budget, coincident with rising teacher pay. If the proposed legislation passes it could indicate a realization by the public that unions are obsolete, to be replaced by automation or at least, lower paid labor. I first suspected they recognize this too when I noticed the unprecedented pressure being brought to bare on Madison Wisconsin by the union friendly, union elected power players outside of Wisconsin. The unions are calling in their chips and the union elected officials are doing what they promised to do, knowing this will not go unnoticed by the voting public. President Obama publically put his support behind the unions. I assert that he does this as a knee jerk reaction resulting from his coming through the union rich political machinery of Chicago somewhat oblivious that his actions caused most of the rest of the country to pause at their own jobs and look up to see what he has done. The DNC sent their chairman, Tim Kaine to help with organizing protests, knowing(?) the people in the right to work state of Virginia will not understand his support for a union fight against negotiating directly with the tax payer over tax payer supplied pensions, and may not vote him into office again. President Obama put his left-over campaign resources into the fight via his campaign organization, Organizing for America. Solidarity. President Obama’s oath is to the Constitution. He is an employee of the very tax payers he has sided against. It seems lost on him that the fact he cannot represent “US” and “THEM” at the same time and that he chose to move to this side of the table. It seems lost on him that the fact the taxpayers have realized this is the very basis for the November upset in Wisconsin, and the new support for union restraint there. Is it more likely that such support for a union is because teachers are barely being fairly compensated in union negotiated contracts, or that the union contracts are so lucrative that the union members will pay dearly to keep them?

Consider this: If the school system took bids for teaching jobs, union and otherwise, would the low bids from out of work teachers be the same as the current teacher pay? Or, could current teachers be replaced from the free market for a price much lower?

So long as there are out of work teachers, the pay is too high. We expect the highest moral character in our teachers. We want them to be attracted to teaching because of a heartfelt desire to be in the profession. We want teachers driven with a desire to encourage such character in our children through example. What I see in Madison are teachers apparently attracted to teaching by a strong union, lying to their employers the taxpayers, saying they are sick and cannot work. I see them doing so in public, in front of their students, in front of an electorate not stupid enough to believe them. I see them doing so, knowing that no one believes the obvious lie, yet they persist. I see doctors lying on camera, writing notes to the very teachers who would not accept a bogus doctor’s note from their students. I see the kind of lying and cheating that money buys. I see teachers claiming that an education is a right while interfering with said education. I see them causing a stop to education activities and claiming without the union, education of the children will cease. I see teachers willing to teach children that lying for money is acceptable. I see teachers deliberately confusing the difference between rights and privileges, for their personal monetary gain. I see teachers using school yard bully tactics against legitimately elected officials with whom they disagree, for the purpose of interfering with the sworn duties of teacher and Congressman alike. I am not alone when I plainly see what an entrenched union will do when challenged.

What the union members do not realize is that much of the country is watching. Most of us did not grow up believing that such poor behavior is acceptable in the protection of the union interest. What they do not realize is how disgusted I am with the thought of my personal friends who are teachers, being forced to support and pay dues to such an organization as a condition of their being allowed to teach my children. I find it particularly unsavory that one of my teacher friends would be required to pay to support the election of a particular candidate as a condition of employment. I am not alone. The line has been drawn. Tremendous force is being applied in Madison in the protection of the unions. I find it a little ironic that their “fight for the freedom to negotiate” as unions could lead to Wisconsin’s freedom from them. All that stands between union survival and union oblivion is freedom to work without paying the union for the privilege. Simply allowing a teacher to work as a non-union teacher for the same pay as a union teacher will mark the end of teacher’s unions. The teacher’s union could have simply allowed this proposed bill to pass, quietly, then wait a couple of years and have the union supported Congress that would one day return, “fix it,” and get back to negotiating ever increasing benefits. Instead, they want to end challenges to public employee unions by their employers, and punish those who dare to do so. I wholeheartedly hope they succeed in doing just that. I hope that freedom ends this debate once and for all. What a fitting place for the progressive movement to have gained an early foothold, and ultimately the place where it shot itself in the foot, marking the end of the belief in the long term sustainability of socialist tenants. What a fitting end to public sector union conflict-of-interest, at the hands of voter solidarity.

## Teachers are more fun than real people.

You have to be crazy to make a living from some jobs. You know that ones, ice road trucker, deep miner, repo-man, bounty hunter, Dennis Kucinich official food crunch tester, wildcat sorter, or public school teacher.

There was a time when teachers were examples of the better parts of our society. They were generally kind, articulate and selfless. They worked for little pay compared to their education level and often took tutoring in the evenings and summers to bring their pay up to that typical of their communities. We held them in high regard for their job choice and insisted that our children treat them with the highest respect, often more than elders and family members. Something changed, in us or the profession or those attracted to it. Somewhere along the line we coined the phrase, “Those who can, do, and those who cannot, teach.” We claim that public teaching is the fall back occupation for some people seeking an easy occupation, recognizing they work alongside those well suited to and proficient at the task of preparing our children for the future. I know this because I have met some amazing teachers, mine and those of my children. With an increasing percentage of our population getting degrees in subject areas unsuitable to any other profession, (gender studies?) it is predicable that teaching would begin to look like a more representative cross section of our good and bad society than the better-among-us of the past. What happened to the days when parents looked at school as a path to a better life for their children than their own?

But I called them crazy and I’m sticking to it. If you look at the two extremes of teachers in the profession, you would have an example of the typical government bureaucrat on the one end, and the consummate professional on the other. The stereotypical bureaucrat is not more interested in being a teacher than any other government profession. This person could have as easily applied for a Postal job but teaching opened up full-time first and the local municipal staff are expected to work summers for less pay, so teaching it is. Some of these are capable of being good at most anything but didn’t like their private sector prospects. Many are talented and can be fairly decent lecturers. Good students with mediocre drive can get a good education from such a teacher. Their main goal is to keep their head down and survive to retirement while avoiding summer duties. The worst teachers come from this group, but rarely the exceptional ones.

On the other end are the committed teachers. (Not loony committed, although it seems I am making that argument.) These take an interest in their student’s success and judge their own by it. They notice and are affected by students who do not perform to their potential. They notice techniques and seek out methods which make them more effective teachers. Students with any drive will succeed in such a teacher’s classroom, some without drive are motivated by them and excel. They are most frustrated by students and parents who treat school like day care, some place to exist, not a place of opportunity. Such frustration peaks when they see parents in jobs they hate; oblivious to the link between being able to learn and being promotable at work; living vicariously through their children. Imagine the discouragement felt in a parent-teacher conference with a parent encouraging their child to take school lightly and berating the teacher for expecting too much and not “letting a kid be a kid,” How hard would it be for such a teacher to not scream at such parents? How hard not to scream that they are stacking the deck against the kid’s future ability to compete for a job they enjoy. The best teachers almost always come from this group, although some good ones start in this group and migrate towards the other end of the spectrum as their careers beat the drive out of them. The really bad teachers rarely come from or have ever been in this group.

Obviously, we should encourage the consummate professional and at a minimum, weed out the poor performing career bureaucrat. But this is why you have to be crazy to be a public school teacher. We do neither of these even as we lament the fact. Given my previous description, which I find people generally agree is accurate, we should have no trouble noticing which type we encounter.

Meanwhile, Natalie Monroe, a Philadelphia suburb teacher, was suspended pending dismissal proceedings for writing in a blog where she called some students, “lazy.” Specifically, “My students are out of control, . . . They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.” Please note that she did not use her full name or the names of any of her students in her blog and in the life of her blog, very little of the content had been about her students or even being a teacher. Her blog could have been written by any teacher in any school about any students, anywhere in the country. It could have been fictional, but she was suspended immediately. She is not being called out for lying about her students, no one is even suggesting that what she said is not true, simply that it is inappropriate for a teacher to say such. I should think that students should be encouraged to critically evaluate such a claim and determine if it has merit. I should think that a teacher should be obligated to speak the truth as often as possible, not to avoid it whenever it is contrary to the bureaucracy narrative.

It seems obvious to me that teachers’ mass lying to students and their employer is acceptable to the Madison Wisconsin school system, even when the student’s education is suspended and the community is disrupted in support of the bureaucracy. It seems apparent to me that the Philadelphia area school system is not concerned that a discouraged teacher speaks in generalities about the state of student entitlement. They are however concerned that a teacher would comment on current culture in which she has intimate professional knowledge. They are not concerned enough to investigate if they are true, or if changes in that culture could be brought about by changes in the bureaucracy and lead to better performing students.

These are stark, perhaps extreme, examples of the state of public education in this country. But it seems to me that similar situations arise and play themselves out in school systems across the country every day. Most are small, almost unnoticeable exchanges to those outside the system. It seems that good bureaucrats are more valued than good teachers. It seems to me that good bureaucrats can lie about their absence and allow students to go unsupervised and untaught for days in the pursuit of monetary gain. It seems that firing a teacher for expressing her personal opinion on her personal web page, on her personal time is acceptable even if the opinion would be permitted by any other member of society. A person would have to be crazy to devote themselves to teaching students who do not value them, be berated by parents who want them to lighten up on school workload and complexity, while reporting to bureaucrats who will not support them except when lying about their motives contrary to their work agreement.

I for one am thankful that such insanity exists.

## Dennis Kucinich is the domestic enemy he is sworn to defend against.

mor.al adj, mòr-әl: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior: ethical

I was surfing for some news this evening on my Sirius Radio while driving in my car. The dreaded drive hours, more advertising than music. Today reminded me of those days, I was flipping through my news channel presets and thankfully the BBC doesn’t care as much when we are in our cars. But eventually I stumbled onto Stuart Varney filling in for Neil Cavuto on his business news program Your World. He was doing an acceptable job in being politely cynical of the assertions of Dennis Kucinich, (D-Representative of Ohio’s 10th). I feel no need to be impolite, but ration is neither polite nor rude so I feel no desire to ignore the truth in the name of being polite. Nor do I feel the need to be disrespectful of Mr. Kucinich, he is willing to put his feelings out here for the likes of me to challenge, which is more than I can say for many of his 535 or so Congressional colleagues. But fallacy deserves no respect, as misleading people, no matter if inadvertent or well intended is to be eliminated whenever it is discovered. You be the judge of my reasoning.

The discussion that caught my attention, (in addition to not being another advertisement extolling the virtues of buying physical gold or online data backups), was about President Obama’s stated intent to “invest” in, among other things, an expansion of the Smithsonian Library to the tune of $100 million. Small change compared to the high speed rail President Obama wants to replace the mostly empty slow speed rail the government currently “invests” in every year. Mr. Varney asked how the conversation could be about lowering the deficit in the same breath as suggesting that we borrow more money to build infrastructure. Mr. Kucinich said several incorrect things but I will only challenge one of them, “We need to have good paying jobs in America, and when the private sector isn’t creating the jobs, the public sector has a moral responsibility to do that.” His assertion was that government spending on infrastructure creates jobs for people who then pay taxes and tax revenue will go up, reducing the deficit. Sounds good, a kind of Government-Reagan-Trickle-Down on steroids, investment for short. First think back to high school (I know, it hurts), do some math using the Smithsonian expansion as an example since the round$100 million price tag makes it somewhat simple. I am a simple man, I need simple explanations. If all the money went to pay people doing these new jobs, none for materials etc., and all the new employees make more than the magical $250K, and do not take advantage of any of the myriad deductions like employer provided health insurance, so they all pay the maximum 35% back in the form of income taxes, the tax revenue would be$350,000. Tax revenues cannot be increased with the spending of tax revenues, as this is not an “investment” but rather an expenditure. Even if we grant poetic license to the use of the word investment, spending $100 million in hopes of getting a maximum$350,000 return is a terrible investment. But, I can cut the guy some slack since he blurted out his financial rationale in the middle of making the bigger point that this is a moral imperative.

I looked on Mr. Kucinich’s website where he claims to be “America’s Congressman,” and “America’s most courageous Congressman.” He also asks that visitors sign a petition to make healthcare a “civil right”. I know from such that he is drawing on people’s feelings more than their logic. If health care is a right, a person could infringe on someone else’s rights simply by choosing to become something other than a doctor or a nurse, or an orderly. The government could put people in jail for such infringement on people’s right to their health service. It seems obvious to me that Mr. Kucinich turns to his sense of morality for guidance instead of his sense of reason. It does not take courage to do what feels right. Courage is doing the right thing when people like Kucinich want you to feel like it is wrong or immoral. I contend there is no contradiction and that logic will give you the morally superior direction. People who do not turn to logic first, often disagree with me. I could be wrong. This is such an instant.

If you want to put more people to work, do you borrow money to hire them and then tax the pay to pay it back, with interest? Or do you let them keep the money to start with and save the overhead and interest? Logically, you choose the most efficient method which is the one without the interest. The one who would get the money now, and be taxed later may not like it, but in the end, some wealth is consumed in the borrow-spend arrangement. If your answer requires some leap of faith and ignorance of logic with an explanation that sounds something like, “the prosperity if creates will employ more people and amplify the effect,” then I suggest your answer is based on hope not reason. Los Vegas was built and thrives on people waging their own money on hope and a roll of the dice. Consider how powerful such hope is with other people’s money and a belief in “moral responsibility. If people hired by government investment would be able to pay back the loan with interest in the form of taxes, then government subsidy would not be needed. They would be able to borrow the money themselves, which is an investment by the lender in the worker. They would pay it back themselves, right? This is the logic behind school loans, borrow now and pay it back via the job you get later. The benefit of teaching a man to fish far outlasts the original investment. But where will the job be for the person working on the Smithsonian expansion once it is finished? This is the fallacy of all government “investment.” They all rely on a ponzi scheme of some sort where more and more people pay more and more into the scheme to keep it going. The Smithsonian job is an example of a Government bubble; take away the subsidy and the job is gone. The private sector is not investing in the project because there is no economic return. To keep the job, more borrowing or taxation and subsidy will be required. This is not creation, but consumption. But this spending is not about investing, or even getting a larger Smithsonian, or putting people to work or any other morally admirable goal. It is about getting money from some people, namely those of the future, and giving it to others, namely those of the now. You can try to assign any number of motivations to this desire, for example now people vote now, and future people vote later. Maybe Mr. Kucinich prefers to entice people to vote for him now as apposed to hoping they will vote for him later. But I don’t need to question his motivation, I can simply point out that his logic is flawed.

As I have pointed out, government infrastructure spending, although tolerable in some circumstances, is a form of consumption. But I assert his main failing in logic, which prompted this post, is that Mr. Kucinich suffers from selective morality. Albeit well intentioned, he is a hypocrite, although I suspect he is not aware of it. He is like the person who insists that the rich pay their share of income taxes, and then do not disclose all their income on their own tax return. Mr. Kucinich took a solemn oath to defend the Constitution of the U.S. He did this freely as a condition of the job of U.S. Representative. There is no provision in the U.S. Constitution confirming Mr. Kucinich’s assertion that the Federal Government has any authority to provide American jobs because he is unhappy with how the private sector does so. This does not change for good paying or otherwise. It does not change because Mr. Kucinich would choose industries different from that of the private sector. Further, there is no provision in the U.S. Constitution with which moral responsibility is implied. Mr. Kucinich is attempting to use the office which he holds for personal motives of morality, as he defines it. Mr. Kucinich took an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies and then ignores that oath and the Constitution or assumes the Constitution is flexible to fit his own morality. Even if he were attempting to persuade me to donate to his cause of my own free will, I must be skeptical of his description of moral responsibility when he has turned his back on his freely accepted responsibility to the Constitution. His oath did not stipulate enemies who would attack the Constitution, or break it, or bend it to their will. His oath stipulates ALL enemies. He is the domestic enemy he is sworn to defend against.

## How much worse do we have to pollute the environment before we do something?

Today, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (yes, all in the same sentence) held a public announcement session where the selected few get to state their political convictions and ridicule dissenting views. The technical name for such sessions is A Hearing. Today, the subject was the EPA’s intent to regulate “greenhouse gasses.” The posturing fell along predictable lines. But there were only two relevant lines of questioning asked in a hundred different ways: 1) Why is the EPA taking a stand to regulate as a pollutant, a gas necessary for all plant life on the planet, given off by every other life on the planet? A gas, which is not at the highest levels we know have existed? Why now? 2) Will the effort be affective? Will “greenhouse gasses” be reduced? Will the planet cool?

I think the answer to the first one is simple. No, it is not the answer Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator gave. Her reason was the agreed upon, previously released response, the evidence is overwhelming, the EPA is obligated to do something about it. My answer is that carbon is the most dangerous “pollutant” left to regulate, and public opinion has not swayed to the liking of the warming lobby, Congress has refused to pass Cap & Trade because the electorate kicks those Congressmen who threaten to do so, out of office. Just like the cleanup of the Gulf Coast beaches, lots of people are needed early on. As the worst of it is cleaned, fewer people are needed until eventually, only a few are “needed” to check out reports of places that are not cleaned. The EPA, like all government agencies, will not send the early cleaners home, and their ranks continue to grow. Their budget grew 35% since President Obama took office. There are too many people. They are obligated to clean something up. The EPA only remains relevant so long as there is an environmental pollutant not being cleaned up.

The second is simple as well, if you simply apply poli-logic, the logical assessment of a policy’s outcome. The EPA asserts it is obligated to regulate carbon, for the purpose of reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, for the purpose of relieving the earth’s fever. Assume for a second that the earth has Al Gore’s fever, and that reducing carbon will accomplish this cooling. The question is reduced to the simple form: Will carbon in the atmosphere be reduced as a result of EPA limits on it? I suggest it will not. Simply, global warming suggests a global phenomenon. The air we clean (or don’t pollute) circles the globe. The EPA does not. When it costs too much to operate a factory here, because the electricity costs too much, the factory will move to China, or close and be replaced by one opened there. The Chinese electrical generation is not as clean as ours was then the EPA was formed, much less EPA obligation “clean.” The end result is more carbon in the atmosphere than there is now, and more of other pollutants like sulfur that are all but eliminated in U.S. electricity production. If the EPA, or anyone for that matter, wants to reduce air pollution, they should do everything possible to bring as much industry to the U.S. as possible. The dirtier, the better.

While we are at it, lets look at another assumption that must be true in order for the EPA assertions to hold water, ( . . . um . . . air?), specifically that the science is settled. I can remember when floppy drives came on the scene. I can remember the news talking about global cooling in the ‘70’s and the impending next ice age. One thing I have noticed, scientists talk about the current understanding, or the current theories, not settled science. If Lisa Jackson had testified that tests have produced results consistent with the current theories, raising confidence that the theories accurately describe the natural phenomenon, I could check her assertion. I could concur, or at least find people who had done so and concurred. If she had said what scientists say, that the theory is not perfect and new refinements are being discovered each time the tests are repeated, I would have more respect for her opinion. But she did not. She said what politicians say, the subject is settled, because the Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act could allow the EPA to ignore public will and the will of Congress and act on their beliefs as apposed to mine. To paraphrase one comment made during the hearing: The Supreme Court said the Clean Air Act COULD be used to regulate airborne carbon, the EPA staff thinks it SHOULD be so used, the Congress will decide if it WILL be so used.

Scientists do not claim to know all of the consequences of a political scheme and would generally not offer what should be, one would simply state what is known, and what the predicted outcome will be. A scientist knows that she will one day be proven wrong concerning some “settled” scientific truth, and would not want to be held responsible for spending billions of dollars and sending away millions of jobs and increasing the pollution in the air. So even if Lisa Jackson is not the climate activist she seems, and is correct in her assertion about the science, how long are we going to allow the EPA to increase the carbon in the atmosphere via China et. al.?

The EPA must be stopped to save the planet!!

## You would think they should be saying thank you!

Egypt is in chaos, or at least the previously silent majority is no longer silent. But is their chaos so different than ours? Egypt is run by President Mubarak, a narcissistic man, propped up by funds from the very people he demonizes to gain the approval of his unwary former supporters. He promised them that his government would be better than previous ones and that life under such a government would be better than in the past. He offered security and hope, if they would only give him the authority and resources to overcome the flawed thinking of the past. So the people put their trust in this leader. He immediately set about increasing the size of the population dependent on government funding and filled the government with personal friends and political enablers. The resources he was entrusted with were used to further personal agendas and to the enrichment of allies. The government printed additional money to feed the ever increasing demands of the ever increasing population dependent on government entitlement. In doing so, the county’s ability to compete in the world economy declined. The decline in the global acceptance of the currency exacerbated this. The leader publicly dismissed observations of the declining condition as the misguided errors of the misinformed who had not heard his message. Eventually a portion of the population declared an end to this illusory belief that the government could provide prosperity and took to the streets to protest a government unable to make good on the utopia promised, but willing to bankrupt the country in the attempt. The organization of their protests was aided by the use of modern communication media. The leader and his allies characterized such communication as unreliable, deliberately dishonest and damaging to the country. They mocked as corrupt anyone who engaged in such communications and gullible anyone who listened. This only served to expose more people to the message and increased the numbers in the street. Rhetoric and force used by the administration to directly end such communications by controlling the news media and internet communications was ineffective and in the minds of many, proved the controlling intent of the administration. More people joined those protesting in the streets. Intimidation and other acts of desperation were used by fringe supporters of the leader and more were driven to the streets. As details his secret efforts became public displeasure in them grew. Mubarak did not expect this to become public and in an effort to distract the public, he offered 15% salary and pension raises to government employees which make up almost 10% of the population. He was surprised to find them ungrateful.

If I substitute President Obama for President Mubarak, how different is the story. Does President Obama demonize revenue producing business as President Mubarak does the gift giving west, all the time relying on such funds to pay for his endeavors? Did President Obama not promise better government but deliver more government? Are the Tea Party attendees much different than the protesters in Cairo, simply without the violence? Would President Obama have attempted to physically shut down the news media and internet if such were within his power? I assert that he certainly tried to marginalize those portions of both which questioned him in the hopes that we would effectively do so. We have net neutrality, whatever that will turn out to be.  Proposals for reviving the fairness doctrine and giving the President an internet cutoff switch are ever in the Washington D.C. vernacular.

We are different from the Egyptian people in so many ways, mostly differentiating our heritage from the vision President Obama has for America. Our press will always be free as long as any of us are. We will be free to express ourselves to each other without fear of government prosecution so long as any act is without such fear. But when I saw President Mubarak arrogantly offering a 15% raise to government employees who had been told for years that the public coffers were dry, I could remember the self admitted “amused” President Obama smirking about Tea Party protests, “You would think they should be saying Thank You,” to Democrat-fundraiser applause.

Are we different from Egypt? Yes vastly. But will these differences prevail or will the vision President Obama has for us? Will we remain the shining example of what free people can do and lead Egypt by example to their new future? Or will we follow them as every socialized society before us, into the cycle of promise, tax, oppress, and collapse? We get to decide. Will we be content with borrowing a 15% raise from our kids and simply say, “Thank you President Obama”? Time will tell, but I like the odds, given the increasing size of the crowds in the streets during Tea Parties.

Oops:  In discussions about the situation in the middle east, my friends and I speculated about the state of Egypt and what affect other conditions in other countries would have if they coincided with the unrest in Cairo.  One such country that received considerable amounts of our time was Turkey.  I prepared this post well after midnight the first night, and proof read it the second and decided instead of using a generic country in the middle east, I would use the events in Egypt specifically.  I opened the document and replaced the generic language with Turkey and Turkish, instead of Egypt and Egyptian.  Those of you who know me, probably simply read in the proper language as you read, the rest of you now have a glimpse into the hell endured by the first group.  You both have my sincerest apologies.

## Nancy Pelosi Torpedoes Obamacare

In the 1990 film The Hunt For Red October, Captain Tupolev of the Russian submarine Konovaloc, decides against the advice of his crew, gets in a hurry and launches a torpedo without any safety measures. Such safety measures would keep the torpedo from exploding too close. The apposing submariners anticipate this rash move and maneuver in such a way that the torpedo sonar locks onto the Konovaloc. The sonar operator cries, “Torpedo, dead ahead!”

The first officer of the Konovaloc who’s advice was ignored, says, “You arrogant ass. You’ve killed US!”

Nancy Pelosi is the Russian Captain Tupolev. I am not certain what part Harry Reid played, or where President Obama comes into my analogy. But without a doubt, they are all on the submarine The USS Progressive, and the torpedo sonar is now actively seeking to sink it. They are desperately maneuvering, but it doesn’t look good. Time will tell.

Monday, Federal Judge Roger Vinson in Florida declared the recent “health care law” void, in its entirety. That is not surprising, but what he said about severability is frankly, inconceivable. In my line of work, we help clients draft contracts with which work is hired. They all contain a clause we refer to as severability. In simple terms it says that if some portion of the language we draft is found to be illegal, it will be severed from the rest of the contract, the balance to remain in full force. In addition, we go a step further and state that the parties will endeavor to the degree legal, to replace the illegal language with new language which accomplishes the same result as the severed language. What does this have to do with Obamacare?

All U.S. laws, including the Constitution, are contracts. The Constitution is a contract among the states which lays out how the states will interact as the Federal Government. That is what Federal means in case they glossed over that in your school too. Laws are contracts among legislators which describe how the government will behave by the execution of these laws by, (wait for it . . .), the Executive Branch. Judges hear disputes over contract understanding. When there is a dispute between a used car seller and the buyer over the terms of the transaction, they might turn to a judge. The judge looks at the language of the contract to determine what the parties intended. The buyer cannot decide that the price will be paid in Canadian dollars a week after taking delivery of the car from a U.S. car lot. The language of the contract will clearly indicate what price was agreed upon and the location of the agreement. The intent of the parties is gleaned from the written contracts and any information indicating the understanding of the signatories at the time of agreement. A purchase in the U. S. would be understood to be payable in U.S. dollars even if it did not specifically state such. Goods shipped to another country might have a different understood currency. If the car seller in my example promised to include a keg of beer with the car sold to a 19 year old buyer, or if state law forbid free beer, or if the beer delivery were illegal for any other reason, a severability clause would keep the car sale intact, regardless of the outcome of the beer dispute. If this were on of my contracts, I might suggest substituting a cash equivalent for the beer, or deferring beer delivery until the buyer could legally take possession of the beer. Disagreements among honest, sincere parties arise, and the more complicated the agreement and contract, the more likely that a dispute will arise over conflicting understandings of the contract language. Without a severability clause, the inability to deliver the keg of beer could be cause for the sale of the car to fail, even weeks or years after delivery. You might call a severability clause, “Contracting 101” level verbiage.

The “health care law” was obviously intended to completely change how insurance is bought and sold in the U.S. It contains hundreds of new government agencies which will draft thousands of pages of regulations. If the individual insurance mandate is declared unconstitutional, Congress could endeavor to replace the individual mandate funds intended for the health insurance industry with another source. This could be done while the remaining provisions remained intact and functioning. The longer these other provisions remained, the more likely that a source of replacement funds would be palatable to the public. The process of incrementalism would work in favor of the socialist medicine agenda as the discussion moved from Repeal and Replace to Adjust and Tweak. I say could, but the “health care law” does not contain severability language. The more time passes, the more unlikely an entire bill would pass again with different funding. The torpedo is closing in.

How can this be? Is Nancy Pelosi not the greatest trench-warfare political commander the progressive left has ever produced? How could she win all of the battles, with an overwhelming force, only to loose the war? How can hundreds of attorney legislators not notice such a rudimentary oversight? I can understand how over the last ten years or so, the hundreds of political activists who wrote the bill would not know to add such language. They are not contract specialists after all, they are political specialists. But how could contract specialists, attorneys, trained and experienced in government contracts, (laws), many presumably with experience in writing laws with this same language, supported by considerable legal staff, and threatened with Constitutional challenge even before anyone had seen a bill, not take care of this simple matter?

Simply, because of Nancy Pelosi’s attitude. Behind closed doors, the bill was prepared and peppered with bribes presented less than 24 hours before the House of Representatives, over which she presided, voted on it. She demanded, “We must pass the health care bill so that we can find out what is in it.” She demanded, in affect that the safeties in the form of debate and public review, that could have rendered it safer but slowed it down, be removed. It is ironic, I think, that an unintended consequence of a law will bring harm to the law instead of the more typical innocent victim. I can hear a Russian voice in the background calling her an arrogant ass just prior to the constitutional torpedo striking the hull. I can almost hear the Honorable Judge Roger Vinson in thick Sean Connery accent, present the keys to the stealth Socialist Medicine Nuclear Submarine Obamacare, “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.”

## WTF, Beer and Toilet Subsidies?

In-vest-ment noun \in-ves(t)-mənt\ – the outlay of money usually for income or profit.

Much political discussion involves terms and phrases used in ways contrary to their definition. The cynical call it spin. President Obama says he wants to “invest” in research, education, and infrastructure. In part, his motivation for this “investment” is to get ahead of the Chinese in the green technologies race and fabricate a “sputnik” moment. He wants us to “Win the Future.” On the surface, this sounds great, after all who would not want to “Win The Future”, which I will abbreviate WTF. Would I be a loon if I wanted to loose the future green race to the Chinese? After all, they are so interested in being green in China, they have a head start, right? They have demonstrated some technological advance on par with the Russians beating us into space to prompt a Sputnik moment, right? So what could the President possibly mean? As an attorney, he understands that words have meaning, and that reasonable people turn to the dictionary to determine the common accepted definition, so let’s start there. He obviously did not intend for us to understand a meaning different from the common accepted definition. Did he? He would not count on us reacting to our feelings about the word instead of critically checking to see if he used it properly. Would he?

I have to believe his intentions are pure, that he thinks he is doing this for our own good. But his perspective, and belief in economic salvation through government fiat makes me skeptical that he has the usual understanding of the word investment. So consider the following, recognizing my skepticism, and decide. For example, an office manager might invest in training for the staff, invest in education. But buying everyone beer one evening after a training session is spending on a consumable expense. The training should lead to improved production, team cohesion, etc., payback in excess of the costs. The beer, leads to trips to the bathroom. Similarly, truthful investment in research would be in technologies with potential for a return on that investment. Spending on research in thousand year old technology with physical or chemical limitations that limit financial feasibility, would not be investment. Do you agree? We would not, for instance invest in research in windmills or ethanol. If we are to invest in education, like the office manager, we should choose those areas in which we expect the greatest, financial, return on our investment. Such investment might be in the form of incentives to attract medical students to increase medical professionals and lessen the shortage, especially in anticipation of all the new people expected to be on Medicaid in 2014. Investment in education would not be in subjects with no practical use, except to produce future professors. Investment in education would be in science, economics, and business management. There would be no investment in educating people in trades with no market demand as there would be no return on that investment. And any investment in infrastructure would be along the lines of the Panama Canal. We would invest in infrastructure with proven economic advantage over our current methods. We certainly would not invest in more government operated railway, for instance, high speed or otherwise. It would be easy to see the evidence of sincerity and understanding of the word investment. We should not see a line waiting outside the men’s room, or hear talk of free beer.

Simple investment is made in assets which are expected to go up in value with time. This can be raw materials which are tooled or modified so as to add value to them, or it can be real estate which can be improved to add value. Investment can be in people, by increasing their ability to do such things. In other words, investment is the act of taking wealth (capital) and using its ability to produce work to create more wealth. A factory owner might invest in more efficient tools and in the education of the workers to operate them, only if it allowed that owner to increase production value and therefore see a return on that investment. Without a return, spending is consumption, or charity, not investing. A factory owner could find busy work for his employees and call it investment, for a while. But just as beer is a fools investment, his capital would soon be flushed down the proverbial toilet, and he would not long be a factory owner.

“Green” is not relevant to this discussion.. When we spend tax money on research on such limited use technology as solar panels or windmills, we are duplicating research conducted for generations by the private sector. The areas where this method of power generation is preferable to other methods is well understood and found unfeasible outside of limited, remote situations. My family uses solar powered devises and I have seen solar powered wells provide water where it was not feasible to bring power lines. For as long as there has been written record, windmills have lifted water into elevated tanks for later use. But, whenever we must rely on such devices, we must have an alternative for days when the wind does not blow or clouds persist. Any savings in the “free’ energy is lost in redundant spending on duplicate structure. When we can tolerate intermittent failure, we put up with the inefficiency and losses for the savings. But, make no mistake, energy companies have thoroughly tested known material and aerodynamic technology and continue to do so secretly. Each is desperate to be the marketer of the next nuclear fusion plant or any other fossil fuel replacing technology. Are we likely to get that kind of fanatical zeal for discovery through government-grant-investment research? Perhaps, but will the zeal be to find something economically feasible, or something popular, or the answers which bring more congressional funding?

We know how much energy reaches the earth from the sun. There is not enough energy in sunlight to power our country if we could capture it all, with 100% efficiency. Solar panels and windmills will never be 100% efficient, nor will the energy storage arrangements they charge. Anyone who suggests we could have a breakthrough to change our understanding of physics sufficiently to overcome this fact is praying, not planning. Such a person is praying for a change in the natural, physical world, not planning for an improvement in our understanding of it. They are banking on an answer existing in the realm of what we do not know, no in the overall expansion of what we know. A cynical person might attribute such folly to spin as well.

I suggest we let the private sector spend its own money when something new is to be gleaned, instead of spending the money confiscated from all of us because we wish it were so. Following the real Sputnik moment, we didn’t beat the Russians to the moon, we ran there alone. No one was following us. The world was more than willing to let us spend the resources, and watch for the occasional discovery when we stumbled onto one. The world is doing the same now that we are in the “green race”. We performed a technological feat with no financially viable use for it. The world knew it could be done, but only government would do it without answering the question of why would we. I think it is really neat that we have been to the moon, and love the romantic images of doing so with a slide rule. But I would never condone outpacing the Russians if it meant borrowing the money from the Chinese, giving our discoveries to them, and mothballing the program a generation later to rely on Russian rockets to get our satellites into orbit and our astronauts to a space station we share with them. We went to the moon to prove that American ingenuity can solve any problem, the Russians went into space to prove to the Russian people that the Russian government was the solution to any problem. Which more closely resembles the arguments President Obama makes for, “investment”? Let us not spend money we borrow from our kids to mothball another technology without financial feasibility when we can do it now for free.

When we have invested (spent) tax money on education, we got more expensive education. Don’t believe me? Why would anyone spend the tax money to educate their kids in a public school, and also spend the tuition money to educate them in a private school, (as all private school parents do), if one were not better than the other? As education spending doubled in this country, our student’s performance relative to the rest of the world did not change appreciably. When we spent tax money to help students pay for college tuition, we got a corresponding increase in tuition costs. When we use government loan guarantees, we get students studying subjects and pursuing degrees they never would on their own dime, much less if a private bank had to be convinced that demand for workers with those degrees was sufficiently high to empower the graduate to repay the loan. Only the idle rich would pay their own money for degrees in un-marketable subjects. A musician of moderate skill and disadvantaged background can get a loan and earn a music degree with no hope of being employed as such upon graduation. This is not investment, it is entitlement. We believe that this mediocre musician has a right to pursue this career path and some believe he is entitled to have the rest of us pay for it. But more importantly, is such a young musician well served in being led to believe that a music degree and loan payments provide a better future than being a brick mason, for instance?

When we spend tax money on our “crumbling infrastructure”, we are doing maintenance, not investing. Such maintenance is a consumable, not an investment. This is not to say that maintenance is not necessary, but it is not investment. I suggest a restructuring instead. I suggest that we go back to the funding scheme that built much of our crumbling infrastructure. I suggest that we use the gasoline tax for road construction and maintenance as it was originally sold to us. I suggest that we end the practice of raiding that tax to subsidize public transportation like Amtrak and city buses.

I challenge you to find any area where the government operates in even tangential competition with the private sector where the government efficiency is on the same order of magnitude as the private sector. Find any activity where the government keeps its promise of controlling costs and continuously improving customer satisfaction. There is no private concern which can survive any substantial length of time without doing just that, and paying a return on investment. There are legitimate uses for government, such as refereeing and national defense. But anytime government spending is recommended as an investment, or to control costs, or as a way to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves, there has been and by the very nature of it will be, an ever increasing collection of resources and liberties in an attempt to react to the cascade of disappointments and demands. Spending tax money on beer leads to well used toilets, not return on investment. Unfortunately, it also assures votes from the brewer’s union, big toilet manufactures, and drunks.

## Kudos to President Obama and Jon Stewart

First, let me say how happy I am at the tone President Obama struck in the wake of the Tucson Arizona shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords.  I am often at odds with his approach and vision for America and feel compelled to point out those times when I think he is dead on.  The President said several things about this being a national tragedy, without trying to make political points with it.  I encourage you to look up his words if you are so inclined.  In particular, he  said it is “important to also focus on the extraordinary courage shown” and noted the examples of, “a 20 year old college student who ran into line of fire to rescue his boss. A wounded woman that helped secure the ammunition that might have caused more damage. The citizens who wrestled down the gunman. Part of that, I think, speaks to the best of America even in the face of such mindless violence.”  Well said.  Please join me in praying for the people in Arizona.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear his words and will take it as a sign of hope that he does not want to fundamentally change America as he led me to believe.  Also, Jon Stewart, who I also disagree with frequently, elevated my respect of him by saying in part, “I wouldn’t blame our political rhetoric any more than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine.”  Again, look up the rest of his well spoken words if you are so inclined.  Unfortunately, his view is not shared by the bulk of his more conspicuous knee-jerk supporters in the media, if I am to take them at their word.

In case you have not been watching, the local Sheriff started blaming his political foes for encouraging violence.  There was a collective gasp in the more liberal members of the media and a clamor to be the first or loudest to cheer, “Yeah, what he said!”  I had the same reaction as most of the more conservative members of the media and blamed this piling-on as following Rham Emanuel’s advice, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.  What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before”.  But earlier today, my good friend Brian shared a discovery he made.  He was discussing the ludicrous attempt to convince people that this could have been stopped, if only we did not sell guns to the public.  Among other claims are assertions that ending the Fairness Doctrine led to this tragedy, as did the “loophole” that allows people to say unflattering things about elected officials, leading the insane to get the idea that people are unhappy with the elected official’s conduct.  We should protect ourselves from insane people learning that we are unhappy with the state of affairs in Washington?

How ludicrous does a claim need to be, before we skeptically view it critically?  Has Critical thinking died?  Let me make a ludicrous claim and seemingly back it up with facts you can check.  Please tell me if you would accept my claim if it were presented in the news media as serious analysis and commentary.  I will make an attempt to identify the facts and the gratuitous assertions as we go along and ask that you correct me when I miss one, like my English teachers used to correct my grammar.  I do not expect political correctness, but critical thinking, so the use of red ink and exclamation points is encouraged.  So, here it goes.

In Tucson a lone gunman, shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat U.S. Representative of Arizona, (fact) as reprisal for her recent vote against House Minority Leader and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (gratuitous assertion).  Gifford was obviously unhappy with Pelosi (gratuitous assertion) for leading Democrats into the largest shift in party power since the 1930’s and the lowest Democrat representation in the House since the 1940’s (fact)  Former Speaker Pelosi has a reputation for holding a grudge against Democrats who publically disagree with her (common gratuitous assertion).  Recently the House of Representatives held elections for the position of Speaker.  All of the Republicans voted for current speaker Boehner, except Boehner himself who abstained from voting.  This is historically benign; nearly all such elections are without dissention, along party lines.  However, an historic 10% of Democrats did not vote for the Democrat nominee in this election.  18 Democrats, including Giffords, voted for someone other than Democrat nominee Nancy Pelosi.  One humorously voted “present”, and one dissenter had more important things to do and did not show up.  In 1923, twenty three Republicans voted against the speaker-to-be in a preliminary round, but voted the party line in the final vote.  Otherwise, there has never been a dissention numbering more than single digits in U.S. History, much less to vote for a record 7 different alternative candidates, 6 of whom were not even running as was the case in this election.  (facts)  It seems that in a calculated response to Ms. Pelosi’s hate filled desire to meet out revenge for her public humiliation, the gunman started with one of the more vocal of Pelosi dissenters, Giffords.  (Patently false fabrication)

(If replacing Pelosi with Boehner and telling you we are talking about 2006, with Bush as President makes this sound plausible when it did not before, stop reading, you are too lost to benefit from any further discussion.) If I demanded that Ms. Pelosi is a coward unless she personally denounce this gunman and deny he is an arm of her office or upholding in any way her convictions, would I be reasonable?  I think not.  I have not shown any link between Ms. Pelosi and the shooter in any stretch of my imagination.  Would this change if I inserted another political cause in place of the election of the House Speaker?  Certainly, that would not point to new connections and should not be treated with any more credibility.  What if I substituted someone for Ms. Pelosi in my assertion?  Again, no.

But this is exactly what has happened in the last few days.  The local Sheriff blames the hateful vitriol and rhetoric of the right, and, “believes the hard right is deliberately fueling the fire against public officials, elected officials, government, and the administration”, admitting when asked directly that he has no evidence of a connection between the two.  He does this with a veteran lawman’s knowledge that the gunman’s legal defense will use the Sheriff’s statements against the prosecution to establish bias in the collection of evidence or in mitigating his sentence.  A reporter characterizes Sarah Palin as a coward for not defending herself, presumably to him, for her roll in the shooting. Her website has cross hairs on a map of political opponents and she recently said after some political setback to not retreat but to reload.  The MSMBC crew seems dedicated to naming names and blacking eyes of those on the right who were warned that protesting “progressive” policies via Tea Parties et. al. would lead to such lunacy.  Our Secretary of State tries to make friends in the Mideast by painting the shooter as an extremist (not a criminal, not a lunatic) and equating him with the sane, organized extremists from their world who attack us.

Similar talk comes from all parts of the political world and practically nowhere else.  I would be guilty of the same if I did not point out that this is true, regardless of party or affiliation.  Hard core political beasts do bloodthirsty battle on a blood drenched field of combat before the ravenous gaze of vultures and sympathizers alike.  Is it irony that such violence-metaphor is the target of the current campaign?  But you and I are not political beasts, presumably.  I know hardly anyone who assigns political motivation to hardly any behavior other than perhaps the act of voting, or not.  My challenge is aimed at the pedestrians on the sidewalk outside the stadium, not into the fray inside.

How hard is it for you and I to check the facts?  Should those in the media be able to check them?  What about the Sheriff close to the investigation?  Would he not have the best information available?  Would we not be best served to believe him when he states that he does not have anything to back up his assertion that right wing rhetoric contributed in any way to the motivation of this shooter?

I find it interesting that those who are appalled at the incitement of violence by the right, are uninterested when the left demonizes President Bush.  The outrage is selective and no side is innocent in this regard, but there was no outrage in the media when a liberal director made a movie, The Death of a President, about the assassination of the President of the United States.  Would it surprise you to know that this was not a story about a generic President, but about the then current, sitting President George Bush?  There was certainly no outrage when Ms. Pelosi used metaphors about para-trouping over Republican resistance to the Democrat health care bill, no outrage when President Obama bragged about bringing a gun to a knife fight.  There was no outrage when Joe Manchin, a Democrat Governor, made a political add where he carried an actual gun, loaded it with an actual bullet, took actual aim and an actual target, and actually shot a hole in a copy of the cap and trade bill.  This was allowed since it was metaphorical, and from a Democrat.

I assert that people who think that ALL actions are politically motivated had to assume that the shooting of a Democrat in Arizona must be motivated by non-Democrat forces.  They could not conceive of a person being willing to shoot ANY, RANDOM elected official, without regard for political affiliation.  Since this was a liberal victim, and a liberal tenant is to blame the lack of government control for bad things, they immediately look to expose the gap in the law that allowed this person to snap.  Case in point, there are legislators calling for tighter gun control with the idea that the gunman would not have used an illegal gun to commit murder.  I will get back to my friend’s genius on this point in a moment.  Also, there are proposed laws to make illegal any speech or symbol that could be construed as encouraging violence against a member of Congress.  Too bad they didn’t think about such controls when people were burning effigies of  President Bush portrayed as Hitler hanging from a noose.  Rahm’s lead notwithstanding, there is no functional connection between such control of speach and the tragedy in Arizona.

I encourage you to listen critically to outrage.  When the victims of a shooting are enroute to medical treatment and a first responder blames someone, it can be excused considering the excitement of the moment.  When several days go by and they maintain this blame, consider if the one casting blame knows something to logically lead them to that determination, in other words, could it be factually based.  When people totally uninvolved with the shooting, blame everyone of a group who disagrees on unrelated issues, critically consider if the accusations could possibly be true.  Could the person making the claim have the bit of information to fill in the logical gap between them?  When someone defines a “problem” as if it were fact, without offering any facts to support the link between the “problem” and the crisis, then insists on a “solution” in the form of restrictions on people they disagree with, carefully consider that it may not be a solution at all, but a tool of political gain.  Don’t believe me, think for yourself.

So, how does my friend’s revelation fit in with this?  It has to do with the cries for gun controls.  Let’s look at the facts we know.  This young man was in trouble in school more than once for disrupting class with claims such as the school is using grammar for mind control.  He was once asked to leave and refused in such a way that a security guard was posted outside the room from then on.  His classmates were afraid he would show up one day and start shooting people.  He had a similar record in college where one professor said he was afraid to turn his back on him for fear he would be shot in the back.  We know that although he was arrested more than once, the charges were dropped each time.  His mom works for the County Board of Supervisors, and although I have no reason to believe the leniency he received is related to her employment influences, such would cast more doubt, in my mind, on the Sheriff’s objectivity.  We know that he was pulled over for running a red light, hours before the shootings, and let go with a warning.  And, we know that he legally bought a handgun that he then used in this shooting.  We know these things because of the records, not the least of which was the gun purchase.  This made me realize two things.  First, making people go through the background check and waiting period and so on do not prevent committed criminals from proceeding with their plans. What would have changed if guns were not legally available?  There would be no record of where he bought the gun.

Second, and most profoundly, is that the liberal idea of relativistic enforcement of the law, the idea that they should be enforced sometimes and not sometimes, enabled this man to pass the background check.  The fact that his unacceptable behavior did not have him kicked out of school and evaluated, at the high school and collegiate levels, in the name of political correctness, allowed him to pass the background check when he should not have.  The fact that he was arrested, more than once, and allowed to go free perhaps due to favoritism, may have kept him from being diagnosed as the paranoid schizophrenic he seems to be, kept him from being treated, and allowed him to pass the background check.  It is easier to attempt to keep law abiding people from buying guns, than to admit that the system failed this man, and the people he attacked, including the 9 year old girl he shot in the face at point blank range.  It is easier to think that only the system is broke and can be fixed by new restrictions on the speech and other behavior of the law abiding.  It is too hard to realize that this man is broke and no system can catch someone committed to acting outside of it.  Utopia cannot exist in a human world, regardless of the level of government control.  This man certainly would not have been deterred from using an illegal gun when he did not hesitate to shoot a child, in the face, close enough to see her anticipation and reaction.  Believing that controlling speech on the radio, or the guns in the stores, would bring this ill man productively back into society is simply bizarre.  Do we prefer to control the largest number of people, or to discover the largest number of mentally disturbed people?  Critically consider how to best do that, and the other rhetoric seems too ludicrous even for TV.

## TSA T&A, or . . . Fly Grope Airlines, We Feel Your Pain!

Once again, the Obama Administration is surprised that Americans are complaining when they should be saying thank you.  They once again believe that this is a failing of adequately explaining their policy’s advantages.  They are partly right.

People are not oblivious to the obvious improvement in security when a person cannot carry fingernail clippers under their left breast prosthesis.  The “Click it or Ticket” campaign comes to mind.  Some people are not wearing their seat belts despite being told to.  People prefer to choose their own level of risk and some will do risky things because they were told not to.  Some people drive without a seatbelt, some ride motorcycles without a helmet.  They have their reasons.  Some people recognize that their chances of being killed in a car crash while driving on the trip when they might have flown is still greater than flying with pre-9/11 security on the same trip, for now, a logical reason.  Those people would choose to not have their children touched by strangers after teaching the little darlings that this is always off limits.

They certainly would not do so for convenience or incremental additional safety.

When asked if the full body screening/brail method of terrorist detection is worth the added hassle, some 80% of Americans said yes.  What percentage of the 20% of Americans who actually fly would agree?  I expect the 80% will change their tune as the images of screaming 3 year olds being rubbed and patted make their way around.  The question I would like asked is how much extra would the 80% be willing to pay in taxes so that the airline traveling 20% can enjoy such security at discounted airfares?  I bet the amount is less than the current expenditure.

Imagine if cars were required to have every safety feature known.  They would be expensive, slow, and only as affective as the foresight of the designers.  Efficient travel and movement of goods and people would become subservient to the unattainable goal of risk free travel.  The rich would drive as a status symbol, the poor would effectively never drive, and businesses would rarely drive as the small improvement in safety would have to offset the costs of slower, cumbersome travel and the constant unpredictable nature of constant evolution.  The attempt to save us from every conceivable risk would hinder the auto and related industries.  Imagine now if there were only one supplier of cars and that supplier, the U. S. Government.  Throw in a little political correctness for good measure and you would have airline security like car travel.  The industry would require subsidy for continued existence.

Individuals do not quietly tolerate the level of control that companies are forced to succumb to.  Big Sis, via TSA, has simply switched between forcing her goal of every incremental improvement in safety on airline companies to forcing these on individuals.  Individuals will not succumb to the pressure of being labeled greedy for sacrificing passenger safety for reasonable costs, many will simply not fly.  This is where Janet Napolitano has erred.  She is using acceptance by political-correctness-sensitive companies as indication that personal liberty sensitive individuals will conform.  She should do a better job of marketing, but that would require a private sector understanding unknown to President Obama’s administration.

Such a marketing campaign should start with voluntary participation by the airlines.  “Grope Airlines” would tout safety with double redundant fondling and video taped cavity searches and proudly display the Homeland Security Seal of Big Sis Approval next to the premium price schedule.  Liberals would line up pre-lubed and donning tear away clothing, except the travel versions of not-with-my-money/not-in-my-back-yards who would sneak over to “Boxcutter Air” wearing droopy hats and hiding pepper spray to save the fee for Board Certified Feelers charged by Grope.  Eventually the better idea would win.  Something between allowing knives over 6 inches and second opinion cavity videos, would become the norm.  Is Mrs. Napolitano  afraid that the norm just might become knife wielding vigilante passengers who thwart the occasional exploding diaper nut with an Old Timer?  More likely, we would be lining up to get a grope and a massage followed by a cavity search/pap covered by Obamacare with about the same frequency with which we wear seat belts.  Since flights could not be offered for such a small segment as the seatbeltless, the economy Boxcutter flights would likely die away.  The free market would supply the rope for the socialist.  Big sis would never consider a non-government-in-control solution.

Ever hear the term, Underwriter’s Laboratory Listed?  Ever look for the UL Listed label on appliances?  Not now, we expect appliances to be safe now, not because TSA-like agents insisted, but because the purchasing public voted for it with their pocketbooks.  People tolerate fondling or radiation daily and can even accept hired strangers touching their children under the right circumstances.  We can be counted on to demand it, but it must be our demand, not demanded on us.  People are not oblivious to the obvious improvement in security.  The administration seems oblivious that we like to choose our own risk.  The administration seems oblivious to the idea that, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Tyranny does not understand liberty.  Tyranny is orderly and controlled, liberty is messy and unpredictable.  When tyranny is used to fight tyranny, tyranny wins.