Monday, 08 April 2013

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AT OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

Ken Berwitz

Here is a sterling example of how at least one person - presumably a student - at Ohio State University views freedom of speech.

The anti-abortion organization, createdequal.net, had just put up the signs this genius is destroying.  Watch her vandalism and listen to the remarkably stupid, ignorant, sterotypes she is spouting (all aborted babies would have been born to crackheads?  All aborted babies would have been born into welfare?).  Listen to her foul language.  Note her lack of any concern that abortions - even late term abortions - can kill live human beings:

What a wonderful exemplar of university values.  What a delightful display of tolerance for other people's views.

FYI:  the police were called, a police report has been filed, and because of this video it should not at all be hard to find the "person" (maybe she is what Melissa Harris-Perry was referring to as a "thing") who destroyed the  property.  Besides, I'm betting she will be thrilled if the police identify and charge her.  After all, doesn't it make her a martyr for the cause?

My question is, what will Ohio State University do about it? 

Given what passes for freedom of speech on campus these days, it would not surprise me if OSU awarded extra credit for her reproductive health class.


WISCONSIN: A RIGHT TO WALK STATE

Ken Berwitz

Please be assured that the title you just read is not a typo. 

Until 2011, Wisconsin was a "right to work" state.  That meant, in order to gain employment in "union shops", workers were compelled either to join the union and pay dues, or not join but pay the dues anyway.  Now, however, Wisconsin is a "right to work" state:  i.e. not only can workers decline to join the union or pay dues, but current union members can walk away without being forced to pay dues as well.

So what has happened to union membership?  Exactly what anyone other than a pro-union fantasist or most mainstream "journalists" (often indistinguishable from one another) probably knew would happen all along:  when they were no longer forced to be in a union, a ton of workers left the union.

Here are the first paragraphs of Sean Higgins' illuminating blog at washingtonexaminer.com:

More than two years after Scott Walker's showdown with organized labor in Wisconsin, the official numbers for the states public sector union membership are in - and they are down. Way down.

According a Labor Department filing made last week, membership at Wisconsin's American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 40 - one of AFSCME's four branches in the state - has gone from the 31,730 it reported in 2011, to 29,777 in 2012, to just 20,488 now. That's a drop of more than 11,000 - about a third - in just two years. The council represents city and county employees outside of Milwaukee County and child care workers across Wisconsin.

Labor Department filings also show that Wisconsin's AFSCME Council 48, which represents city and county workers in Milwaukee County, went from 9,043 members in 2011, to 6,046 in 2012, to just 3,498 now.

These numbers come from the locals' LM-2 filings, annual reports they must make to Labor Department. They can be found here.

Are you surprised?  I suspect you are not.  It just makes sense.

I'm guessing that the first phase of dropping out was that a small number of particularly disaffected union members started the ball rolling.  And when the world did not cave in on the initial walkers, a great many others who, out of indifference, fear of retribution or just "waiting to see what happens", had stayed put, then did the same.

My guess is that union membership, as low as it has gotten, will go a good deal lower before levelling off.  And, if so, the ramifications will be huge:

-It will clearly show that a great many workers were only in the union because they were forced to be;

-Even if Scott Walker is defeated (or does not choose to run) for re-election next year and is replaced by a Democrat, it will be extremely hard to reinstate the right to work laws.  So many people walking out of the union this short a period, makes the coercion factor too clear to ignore.

-Right to work proponents in other states will now point to what is happening in Wisconsin - which has traditionally been among the strongest union states in the country - and argue that it proves unions are largely unwanted, and just a house of cards built on coercive laws.

How will unions, both in and out of Wisconsin, address these possibilities?  There are many different strategies which can be employed, ranging from reminding workers of the benefits unions provide and suggesting that those benefits, in time, will go away if there is no union protecting workers' rights (a very reasonable argument in my opinion), to very different, much less desirable strategies I hope we never see.

Regardless of how they react, it will be more than just interesting to see how this plays out; it will have a major affect on a great many workers around the country. 

Let's keep our eyes open on this one.


WHY I DON'T PAY MUCH ATTENTION TO PAUL KRUGMAN

Ken Berwitz

Why do I not pay much attention to economist/New York Times columnist Paul Krugman?

In answer, this is the transcript of an exchange which took place on ABC News' "This Week" show yesterday.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: And you talk about the Main Street, is that we're strangling small businesses. I mean everyone, no is paying much attention to these small businesses. The regulations start strangling them, some are laughable and silly, but they have profound impact on the job creators, those who are making jobs. They can't afford to hire people.

PAUL KRUGMAN: There's been, there's been tons of work on this. And what's holding small business back is not regulations, it's the fact that they don't have sales.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's not all, it's some of it.

KRUGMAN: There's not, there's no correlation looking across, which parts of the economy do small businesses complain about regulations? Which don't they? There's no correlation between that and actual job --

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask Paul a question and then I'll bring you in. I just want to ask you one question. Is the one exception to that perhaps on health care? Where firms that are greater than 50 people have to pay more. Don't you see some firms cutting off at 49?

KRUGMAN: There might be, but you can't see that in the numbers. And the overwhelming fact of the matter --

VAN SUSTEREN: Well you talk to them. Instead of looking at just numbers, why don't you sit down and talk to them. And if you actually talk to these people, and you go and talk, a lot of them are struggling with this. They don't understand a lot of things that happened to them, they don't understand a lot of things that happened in Washington.

They're very cautious because they see a real dismal economy out there, and that does have an impact.

KRUGMAN: I have talked to them, that's not what they say --

Got that?  The impossible, dizzying array of regulations on business is not a problem, it's just low sales.  The fact that countless articles have quoted countless businesspeople (not to mention a ton of other economists) who say it is a problem; a huge one?   Paul Krugman hasn't come across any of them.  Must be a fig newton of our imagination.

Now you know why I don't pay much attention to Paul Krugman.

Any questions?

Rich2506 What HP demonstrates is that small businesses don't like the regulations that they have to deal with. That's fine and that's entirely understandable. But that's not the same as saying that regulations are CAUSING any economic effects. Krugman is saying that he has indeed talked to people and looked at the figures and that there's no discernible effect. The collapse of the housing bubble took a really big chunk of consumer demand out of the US economy. President Obama put some back in via the stimulus program, but that's run out and Congress doesn't want to put in any more. Surprise, surprise! That results in a poor economy. (04/10/13)


MARGARET THATCHER R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Margaret Thatcher, the remarkable three-time Prime Minister of Great Britain (during the turbulent years of 1979 to 1990), has died of a stroke this morning. 

Ms. Thatcher, who rose from modest means to become a member of Parliament, then Education Secretary, then Prime Minister, was tough as nails.  She knew exactly where she stood, without being told what to think by advisors, focus groups or polls.  Whether you liked or disliked her positions, what a refreshing difference it was from the way most other politicians operate - especially in the USA, circa 2013.

The movie "Iron Lady", which portrayed Ms. Thatcher as a doddering, demented, pitiable old lady - and won Meryl Streep an oscar over the great, unrewarded Viola Davis (the second time Ms. Davis lost an oscar I thought she should have won) was a great disservice to her.  But, then again, when has the film industry worried about giving a fair shake to people it clearly did not like -- even when pretending to make movies which deal in reality?

Margaret Thatcher was a towering figure in 20th century politics, who acted as though she actually believed in what she was doing.  May she rest in peace.


ANNETTE FUNICELLO R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Annette Funicello, the beautiful young girl who, at the age of 13, was a superstar on the original Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950's, then a teen star with Frankie Avalon in the "Beach" movies of the 1960's, and even a top-10 singer with her rendition of "Tall Pall", has died, in Bakersfield, California, at the age of 70.   The cause of death was complications from Multiple Sclerosis - an awful disease which Ms. Funicello fought for over 25 years, but finally, could not fight any more as it wracked her body, put her into a coma, and finally took her away today. 

When I read of her death, I found myself recalling the intensely emotional lyrics from Les Miserables, as Valjean lays dying and the spirit of Fontine sings "Come with me, where chains will never bind you, all your grief, at last at last behind you". 

What a wonderful first part of her life, and what a horrible last part - especially for someone who, from everything I've read, was a genuinely nice person without any "star" airs, and truly cared about the people around her.

May Annette Funicello rest in peace.

 


WHY I DON'T PAY MUCH ATTENTION TO PAUL KRUGMAN

Ken Berwitz

Why do I not pay much attention to economist/New York Times columnist Paul Krugman?

In answer, this is the transcript of an exchange which took place on ABC News' "This Week" show yesterday.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: And you talk about the Main Street, is that we're strangling small businesses. I mean everyone, no is paying much attention to these small businesses. The regulations start strangling them, some are laughable and silly, but they have profound impact on the job creators, those who are making jobs. They can't afford to hire people.

PAUL KRUGMAN: There's been, there's been tons of work on this. And what's holding small business back is not regulations, it's the fact that they don't have sales.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's not all, it's some of it.

KRUGMAN: There's not, there's no correlation looking across, which parts of the economy do small businesses complain about regulations? Which don't they? There's no correlation between that and actual job --

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask Paul a question and then I'll bring you in. I just want to ask you one question. Is the one exception to that perhaps on health care? Where firms that are greater than 50 people have to pay more. Don't you see some firms cutting off at 49?

KRUGMAN: There might be, but you can't see that in the numbers. And the overwhelming fact of the matter --

VAN SUSTEREN: Well you talk to them. Instead of looking at just numbers, why don't you sit down and talk to them. And if you actually talk to these people, and you go and talk, a lot of them are struggling with this. They don't understand a lot of things that happened to them, they don't understand a lot of things that happened in Washington.

They're very cautious because they see a real dismal economy out there, and that does have an impact.

KRUGMAN: I have talked to them, that's not what they say --

Got that?  The impossible, dizzying array of regulations on business is not a problem, it's just low sales.  The fact that countless articles have quoted countless businesspeople (not to mention a ton of other economists) who say it is a problem; a huge one?   Paul Krugman hasn't come across any of them.  Must be a fig newton of our imagination.

Now you know why I don't pay much attention to Paul Krugman.

Any questions?

Rich2506 What HP demonstrates is that small businesses don't like the regulations that they have to deal with. That's fine and that's entirely understandable. But that's not the same as saying that regulations are CAUSING any economic effects. Krugman is saying that he has indeed talked to people and looked at the figures and that there's no discernible effect. The collapse of the housing bubble took a really big chunk of consumer demand out of the US economy. President Obama put some back in via the stimulus program, but that's run out and Congress doesn't want to put in any more. Surprise, surprise! That results in a poor economy. (04/10/13)


SEQUESTER WATCH

Ken Berwitz

It is over a month into the sequester.  

Do you feel any different?  Do you think anything has changed?  Do you think the country has gone to hell in a handbasket?

No?  Me neither.

But we should, shouldn't we?  I mean look at all those control towers that the sequester is forcing the administration to close down and how dangerous it will be for all that air traff.....oh, wait.

Excerpted from Matthew L. Wald's article in today's New York Times:

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that it would delay closing control towers at 149 airports until June to allow for safety analyses and "to attempt to resolve multiple legal challenges."

The closings had been planned as part of a $637 million spending reduction at the agency required under the across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester.

The towers identified for closing are at fields that handle mostly private planes, corporate jets, aviation schools and minimal airline traffic. The towers' long-term fate is not yet clear. The F.A.A. said that about 50 airport authorities and municipalities had indicated that if necessary, they would pick up the cost of running the towers themselves.

What does this tell you?  It tells you that, despite the doomsday warnings from Obama & Co. about the sequester collapsing our world, money can always be "found" to uncollapse it.

Put another way, since we are talking about a sequester reduction of just $85 billion dollars, only half of which would occur this year - thus actually $42 or 43 billion - out of a total budget of over $3.5 TRILLION,  maybe it just wasn't that hard to rearrange a few buckeroos here and there, wouldn't you say?

President Obama and his fellow Democrats desperately need some way to "prove" what horrible consequences are coming down on us because of the sequester.  But, in doing so, it is a lot easier to pretend that White House tours have to be suspended than it is to shut down airport control towers.  So they are staying open.

Yet, despite this embarrassing little reversal, there still are a great many people who buy what Obama & Co. are selling. 

Think of it as a test to see just how dumb, and/or how unconditionally committed to Obama & Co., they are.  

Zeke .... .... .... ..... Hey, dis here See-Kwester is a good idea. .... .... ...., Wait until Obama flies to Hawaii to give some meaningless speech and host a few fundraisers. ...... Den, See-Kwester ALL the fuel for Air Force One. ..... ..... Let the dude stay in Aloha-ville until 2017. ..... .... Keeps him and the country out of trouble until then (04/09/13)


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