It’s all about me.
That’s what we have now.
Thomas Sowell: The biggest myth about labor unions is that unions are for the workers. Unions are for unions, just as corporations are for corporations and politicians are for politicians.
Nothing shows the utter cynicism of the unions and the politicians who do their bidding like the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act” that the Obama administration tried to push through Congress. Employees’ free choice as to whether or not to join a union is precisely what that legislation would destroy.
Workers already have a free choice in secret-ballot elections conducted under existing laws. As more and more workers in the private sector have voted to reject having a union represent them, the unions’ answer has been to take away secret-ballot elections.
Under the “Employee Free Choice Act,” unions would not have to win in secret-ballot elections in order to represent the workers. Instead, union representatives could simply collect signatures from the workers until they had a majority.
Why do we have secret ballots in the first place, whether in elections for unions or elections for government officials? To prevent intimidation and allow people to vote how they want to, without fear of retaliation.
This is a crucial right that unions want to take away from workers. The actions of union mobs in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere give us a free home demonstration of how little they respect the rights of those who disagree with them and how much they rely on harassment and threats to get what they want.
It takes world-class chutzpah to call circumventing secret ballots the “Employee Free Choice Act.” To unions, workers are just the raw material used to create union power, just as iron ore is the raw material used by U.S. Steel and bauxite is the raw material used by the Aluminum Company of America.
The most fundamental fact about labor unions is that they do not create any wealth. They are one of a growing number of institutions which specialize in siphoning off wealth created by others, whether those others are businesses or the taxpayers.
There are limits to how long unions can siphon off money from businesses, without facing serious economic repercussions.
The most famous labor union leader, the legendary John L. Lewis, head of the United Mine Workers from 1920 to 1960, secured rising wages and job benefits for the coal miners, far beyond what they could have gotten out of a free market based on supply and demand.
But there is no free lunch.
An economist at the University of Chicago called John L. Lewis “the world’s greatest oil salesman.”
His strikes that interrupted the supply of coal, as well as the resulting wage increases that raised its price, caused many individuals and businesses to switch from using coal to using oil, leading to reduced employment of coal miners. The higher wage rates also led coal companies to replace many miners with machines.
The net result was a huge decline in employment in the coal mining industry, leaving many mining towns virtually ghost towns by the 1960s. There is no free lunch.
Similar things happened in the unionized steel industry and in the unionized automobile industry. At one time, U.S. Steel was the largest steel producer in the world and General Motors the largest automobile manufacturer. No more. Their unions were riding high in their heyday, but they too discovered that there is no free lunch, as their members lost jobs by the hundreds of thousands.
Workers have also learned that there is no free lunch, which is why they have, over the years, increasingly voted against being represented by unions in secret ballot elections.
One set of workers, however, remained largely immune to such repercussions. These are government workers represented by public sector unions.
While oil could replace coal, while U.S. Steel dropped from number one in the world to number ten, and Toyota could replace General Motors as the world’s leading producer of cars, government is a monopoly. Nobody is likely to replace the federal or state bureaucracies, no matter how much money the unions drain from the taxpayers.
That is why government unions continue to thrive while private sector unions decline. Taxpayers provide their free lunch.
Then there’s Obama and The Democrats jockeying for 2012.
The political fortunes of Senate Democrats and President Obama are moving in opposite directions, complicating their efforts to win a titanic battle against Republicans over federal spending.
Obama’s reelection forecast has improved since the midterms, when he looked like a one-term president. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, must defend 23 seats next year, handing Republicans a strong chance to win back the upper chamber even if Obama cruises to a second term.
The dynamic opens the door to intra-party tension that has already broken through the surface unity.
What’s political hay for the president and White House, after all, isn’t necessarily good for his party’s majority in the Senate. That’s one reason Obama has left much of the work of dealing with Republicans on spending cuts to party leaders in the House and Senate.
“I imagine the president doesn’t want to really get his hands dirty with this until he can walk away with an agreement, which isn’t helping the leadership at the moment,” said one Democratic strategist. “Now, does that have something to do with 2012? Sure it does.”
The short-term result, say several Capitol Hill staffers, is that the “every man for himself” attitude of an election year has arrived even sooner than expected. Senate Democrats wonder if or when the White
House will take the reins in a budget fight that has several of their vulnerable colleagues in a vise.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) used a floor speech to criticize Obama for not being a leader in the spending fight.
A few days later, several Democratic senators gave White House officials an earful after Vice President Biden was appointed to lead talks on a spending deal, and then promptly left the country.
The tension, said Democratic pollster Stefan Hankin, is that if one side of the budget debate on Capitol Hill bends and an agreement is reached, “Obama can look like the great arbitrator and he wins.”
For the White House, Hankin added, it doesn’t much matter which side blinks. “If there’s an agreement, it will most likely be viewed as the president working with Republicans. So the president stands to get much more credit than Senate Democrats do,” he said.
And the compliant Mainstream Media will be more than happy to be the cheerleaders for him.
After all, it’s all about them too. 🙂
Then there’s Social Security:
Everyone knows that the U.S. budget is being devoured by entitlements. Everyone also knows that of the Big Three – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – Social Security is the most solvable.
Back-of-an-envelope solvable: Raise the retirement age, tweak the indexing formula (from wage inflation to price inflation) and means-test so that Warren Buffett’s check gets redirected to a senior in need.
The relative ease of the fix is what makes President Obama’s Social Security strategy so shocking. The new line from the White House is: no need to fix it because there is no problem. As Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew wrote in USA Today just a few weeks ago, the trust fund is solvent until 2037. Therefore, Social Security is off the table in debt-reduction talks.
This claim is a breathtaking fraud.
The pretense is that a flush trust fund will pay retirees for the next 26 years. Lovely, except for one thing: The Social Security trust fund is a fiction.
If you don’t believe me, listen to the OMB’s own explanation (in the Clinton administration budget for fiscal year 2000 under then-Director Jack Lew, the very same). The OMB explained that these trust fund “balances” are nothing more than a “bookkeeping” device. “They do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits.” In other words, the Social Security trust fund contains – nothing.
Here’s why. When your FICA tax is taken out of your paycheck, it does not get squirreled away in some lockbox in West Virginia where it’s kept until you and your contemporaries retire. Most goes out immediately to pay current retirees, and the rest (say, $100) goes to the U.S. Treasury – and is spent. On roads, bridges, national defense, public television, whatever – spent, gone.
In return for that $100, the Treasury sends the Social Security Administration a piece of paper that says: IOU $100. There are countless such pieces of paper in the lockbox. They are called “special issue” bonds.
Special they are: They are worthless. As the OMB explained, they are nothing more than “claims on the Treasury (i.e., promises) that, when redeemed (when you retire and are awaiting your check), will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures.” That’s what it means to have a so-called trust fund with no “real economic assets.” When you retire, the “trust fund” will have to go to the Treasury for the money for your Social Security check.
Bottom line? The OMB again: “The existence of large trust fund balances, therefore, does not, by itself, have any impact on the government’s ability to pay benefits.” No impact: The lockbox, the balances, the little pieces of paper, amount to nothing.
So that when Jack Lew tells you that there are trillions in this lockbox that keep the system solvent until 2037, he is perpetrating a fiction certified as such by his own OMB. What happens when you retire? Your Social Security will come out of the taxes and borrowing of that fiscal year.
Why is this a problem? Because as of 2010, the pay-as-you-go Social Security system is in the red. For decades it had been in the black, taking in more in FICA taxes than it sent out in Social Security benefits. The surplus, scooped up by the Treasury, reduced the federal debt by tens of billions. But demography is destiny. The ratio of workers to retirees is shrinking year by year. Instead of Social Security producing annual surpluses that reduce the federal deficit, it is now producing shortfalls that increase the federal deficit – $37 billion in 2010. It will only get worse as the baby boomers retire.
That’s what makes this administration’s claim that Social Security is solvent so cynical. The Republicans have said that their April budget will contain real entitlement reform. Obama is preparing the ground to demagogue Social Security right through the 2012 elections. The ad writes itself: Those heartless Republicans don’t just want to throw Granny in the snow, they want to throw Granny in the snow to solve a problem that doesn’t even exist! Vote Obama.
On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia denounced Obama for lack of leadership on the debt. It’s worse than that. Obama is showing leadership. With Lew’s preposterous claim that Social Security is solvent for 26 years, Obama is preparing to lead the charge against entitlement reform as his ticket to reelection. (Charles Krauthammer)
And again, the Media will be right their to pump up the Talking Points for Obama and not be very critical of his outrageous claims.
What else, it’s all about them! 🙂
Next we’ll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we’ve been hearing about so much. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it’s a million million. It’s a thousand billion. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros.
You ready for this? It’s pretty surprising. Go ahead… Scroll down…
Ladies and gentlemen… I give you $1 trillion dollars…(in $10,000 bundles)