26 February 2011

Flight from sanity

The events of the past two weeks in Wisconsin have pointed out a problem with an understanding of the purpose of a labor union as it applies to the private and public sector.  One can be all for the 'right to organize' on the private side and against it on the public side.  In actuality the 'right to organize' is not a right but a privilege extended to an organization that then goes over the right of the private owner to run their organization as they wish.  As all rights are individual rights and stem from individual rights, when it is allowed that an organization may represent a number of people who are a sub-set of the citizenry at large, it is by the fiat of government that this privilege is created: it does not come into being simply by organizing and is just a means of operations of an organization.  You, as an individual, do have the right to gather together with your friends and like-minded people to accomplish tasks.  That is an individual right.

Having that organization recognized and granted power to do things beyond a corporate charter is, however, legislative in nature and granted by our government.  It is not handed down from Creation nor vested in anyone, but is a recognition of a fictive device made by the hands of man.  Thus private unions are just such a fictive device, as are corporations: they are created by law and backed by it, often to the disregard of the rights of the individuals involved and their liberty.  That goes for both unions and corporations as fictive devices.  The cost/benefit trade-off is made in public by all of the people via their representative government created in a form of a republic to oversee the laws necessary to sustain society.

On the public side a public employee union deals with that organ of society we call government.  Unionizing against that organ is anti-democratic in that it seeks to change the will of the people expressed via government for hiring in the public realm.  This becomes an area of sovereign law and there are times when I feel that I have to be the one to get down the basics so as to impress upon others that there are sharp and extreme differences between public and private sector unions.  Thus I have put down commentary at Hot Air, like this tidbit given 'as is' warts and all in spelling and syntax, punctuation and grammar:

Those in the public sector have their wages and benefits set by legislation.

They ALREADY have ‘collective bargaining’ in that they get a VOTE into their legislative branch AND the right to petition it: both guaranteed by the Constitution.

It is the people who set the agenda for the public sector via the legislative branch of government.

When you Unionize to go against the legislature, you are going against the representative system in which the employee ALREADY has a say via their vote. They don’t need to Unionize. Unless you are advocating the will of the few to be imposed on the many by utilizing the striking of public employees AGAINST their employers, which is the people.

How hard can this be to understand?

ajacksonian on February 25, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Really, this should not be a hard thing to get.  Government is a collective bargaining system of society and everyone has a say in it guaranteed by the Constitution both in Amendment I and in the body with the guarantee of a republican form of government.  Going against that via a union is to utilize an organization of the minority of the people to dictate to the majority what the terms of employment are in public.  That is not only anti-democratic, but anti-republican as well, both the lower letter case in description.  In private that is a legal interaction between fictive organizations with some 'personal' rights equivalents granted to them in the way of powers.  That is guided by law set by representative government, as well.

I expanded upon this in another piece of commentary on another Hot Air item, and it is direct enough and I will again put it down verbatim, warts and all, for the amusement of the public which is expanding after yet another repetition with expansion of the prior commentary because this point is being missed:

At this point the question of ‘getting an education’ really should be one that is in flux as the technology we have is making the older school-based instruction system obsolete. That is not to say that ‘teachers’ are obsolete: those who can encourage students to learn and how to learn is still a vital skill, even more so in this modern age.

What is going out the window is the system of instructor in front of a classroom of children with chalkboards as a way of presenting material. This is 13th century technology and methodology used in the 21st century where entire bodies of work, not just individual books, are now available immediately with hyperlink indexes on resource material. Something is seriously wrong with this picture of chalkboards, books, films, notebooks and classrooms.

Where is the inventiveness that the information revolution as supposed to spur on? Oh, wait, teacher unions are interested in preserving jobs that don’t change, so they don’t change, so our children have to figure out ways to integrate the new technology without help as their teachers can’t be bothered to change their way of doing things.

Come again? This is AMERICA where we are supposed to be the most inventive people on this PLANET and adapt to anything we discover and create as that is what we DO. Yet no we have a 13th century concept embedded in a 19th century institution, trying to dictate a 20th century way of life (and barely mid-20th at that) in the 21st century.

This does not compute.

This does not work.

Johnny still can’t read at the rate of 1956, even though we pour tens and hundreds of billions into this institution.

The teachers aren’t making enough?


They aren’t being challenged to DO more, and create a brand new way of teaching that allows students to learn more in a faster way that is not beholden to the teaching institution but concentrates on teaching children how to learn on their own WITH this new technology. At this point our children probably know more of the technology than the teachers do, but we will not ask them what would make an interesting way of presenting topics. Then our wisdom, being older and wiser, comes into play to create a rich way of presenting subjects that entices and encourages learning and critical thinking.

We shouldn’t be paying AT ALL for this failure on the part of the educational system. We are paying to much for it to continue failing in the exact, same way it has for decades. And yet to dare say that and its: ‘Oh, you hate teachers!’


I hate people unwilling to admit that we have failed and that we, as a society, must take responsibility for this failure and change our conception of education and learning to adapt to modern times. Perhaps there are teachers that can do this… but this system of unions and bricks’n'mortar schools is stopping us from inventing a better way to do things.

Offer pure pay for performance: if you can teach children how to learn and want to learn more, then you get rewarded. Doesn’t matter if you are a pay-for school, religious school, public school, homeschooler or a child who learns how to teach him or herself. If you mean you will pay for performance then DO IT and stop moaning about teachers in failing schools not being paid enough.

Put up and mean it.

Or accept that you want failure and are unwilling to pay for success… and it will be cheaper to succeed in a new way than it is to fail in the old way. Ask the French about the Maginot Line on that, ok?

ajacksonian on February 25, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Ok, a bit hard to read here and there, definite grammatical and spelling errors, plus needs a thorough going-over, but the point remains pretty clear - that in this 'tumult' of invective, the utter failure of our school systems is being ignored.  Really why should Wisconsin, or any State, continue to pay for failure?

The public does have the absolute right to change its mind and have that expressed in the sovereign decisions of their government via representative democracy.  That should include putting the entire ball of wax on the table and asking if we really need the wax anymore and stop arguing about who gets what portion of the wax for their own benefit as the wax, itself, is no longer useful, what with all the inclusions in it and festooning of ancient systems of Progressive teaching dating way back to the 1970's stuck in a pre-digital age.  The system is archaic and needs a complete re-start and clean sheet of paper approach and we need to stop fixing something that doesn't work in the first place.

19 February 2011

Who these people are

If you are an American you surely remember the term that went to the Nobility in Great Britain and, indeed, many other Kingdoms and Empires. It was, generally speaking, the entire class of Nobles from the highest to the most petty, and their functionaries and followers. Together they considered themselves divinely gifted to lead their Nations. These were the people who may have inherited wealth at the very upper-most crust, but further down they subsided on what the serfs and peons could provide. They feel entitled to their public monies and privileges.

Bill Quick has a nice letter from Thomas Jefferson on debt in which Jefferson looks at this sort of situation, and I will excerpt just a bit of it:

To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude.

If we run into such debts as that, we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are.

Our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes, have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers.

Our land-holders, too, like theirs, retaining, indeed, the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, like theirs, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation.

This example reads to us the salutary lesson that private fortunes are destroyed by public, as well as by private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments.

Those living at the private expense for public government and putting the people in debt to them is, indeed, a plague of the ages.

There is a term for these people.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) via die.net and I will bold a few pertinent parts:

Aristocrat \A*ris"to*crat\ (?; 277), n. [F. aristocrate. See
1. One of the aristocracy or people of rank in a community;
one of a ruling class; a noble.

2. One who is overbearing in his temper or habits; a proud or
haughty person.

A born aristocrat, bred radical. --Mrs.

3. One who favors an aristocracy as a form of government, or
believes the aristocracy should govern.

His whole family are accused of being aristocrats.

Do you see the signs of those teachers going on strike in Madison, WI?

Courtesy: Legal Insurrection

These signs are by the 'educators': teachers and their Union affiliates.

What are they protesting?

Cuts to their benefits during one of the longest lasting recessions heading into a depression the Nation has known in decades.

Why are they protesting?

They feel entitled to benefits at the expense of the public. Not the loss of jobs, mind you, just benefits.

What do they want?

They want their Union to strong arm the representative government of all the people in Wisconsin to the benefit of the minority who work in the public sector.

What do we call these people?


What form of government do you get if they 'win'?

An aristocracy.

How do they treat the public square?



Photos Courtesy: Ann Althouse

Cleaning up trash is for the 'little people', you see. Or just make-work for their fellow Union employees... either way you cut it, there is no regard for the public square nor the public government.

What is the class of people who could care less for the public welfare so long as they get the benefits of a hard earned dollar made by someone else?

They are the Aristocracy.

The deal with public sector unions is this: they are attempting to leverage the few over the many while those few have a direct say into their employment situation not only via the franchise right but by being able to seek redress from government via individual petition.

By seeking to force government to their ends, they are putting forth that they are perpetually entitled to the public benefit and ever rising expectations by those doing the forcing to extract more and more from their hard working fellow citizens. They are trying to divorce themselves from the hard working citizen by utilizing the public taxation so as to take those funds earned by making products and providing goods and services in a competitive marketplace for benefits and jobs in a non-competitive civil service. Unlike private employers, those working for the public have a direct say in their condition via the ballot box and by seeking individual redress of government.

There is no rationale, at all, for public sector Unions.



Do you really want an over-educated, under-caring Aristocracy that feels free to call in sick on the public dime to trash the public square while venting their spleen and utilizing hate-filled rhetoric and impugning representative democracy, thereby? The residents in Wisconsin PAID for that via their tax bills.

Is this really what you expect in return for paying your hard earned dollars to government and seeing that the government has not laid off a single one of these people and are only threatening their BENEFITS?

Because if you are ok with that, then you are a serf.

And you are forging chains of your own servitude to government by countenancing this activity at your expense.

15 February 2011

Simplicity budgeting

With the latest White House budget put out by President Obama, there is little in the way of actual spending cuts or regulatory reform going on, and much in the way of increasing spending and taxation. This as the government nears its debt limit ceiling.


The lack of 'Hope & Change' in this budget for FY 2012 has been noted by many on the Left and Right, and that the Administration lacks the ability to actually show that anyone in the Administration understands the ramifications of the 2010 elections are plain: Stop The Spending. Yes, Stop The Spending is meeting Stuck On Stupid.

Interestingly enough the budget process for FY 2012 (not the FY 2011 work that is due soon) will be different than what has been going on since the 1960's, as outlined in this Politico article by Jake Sherman & Jonathan Allen on 01 DEC 2010:

House Republicans are devising a plan to simplify spending decisions by considering government funding bills on a department-by-department basis in the new Congress, according to Republican insiders.

The move would facilitate cutbacks in government programs and, GOP aides say, enhance oversight and accountability for individual agencies, fulfilling promises made by Republicans on the campaign trail and in their Pledge to America. But it would also threaten to complicate an already tattered appropriations process on the House floor and in negotiations with the Senate, which is why the mechanics of the transition are still under discussion.

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute earlier this year, Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) outlined the idea that he, Republican transition chief Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and rank-and-file Republicans are now working to implement.

"Let's do away with the concept of 'comprehensive' spending bills. Let's break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier. Rather than pairing agencies and departments together, let them come to the House floor individually, to be judged on their own merit," he said at AEI more than a month before the midterm election. "Members shouldn't have to vote for big spending increases at the Labor Department in order to fund Health and Human Services. Members shouldn't have to vote for big increases at the Commerce Department just because they support NASA. Each department and agency should justify itself each year to the full House and Senate, and be judged on its own."

This is the way budgeting used to be done before the Cold War got into full swing: Congress decided the budget for each part of government separately. The unitary budget process creates a huge ball of wax and the 'take it or leave it' form of governing, in which much bad can be packed into a bill that covers the entire federal government. It is a way to hide spending and force 'compromise' not only amongst parties in Congress but with the President. It is also highly irresponsible as each part of government should receive a separate review and be divided from other agencies to see if it is carrying out its duties in an effective manner consistent with its enabling legislation and the Constitution.

Doing it this way, piece by piece, affords opportunities for savings, reductions or changes in the way an agency works, and a review of an agency each and every year in a way that unitary budget process requirements do not meet. By allowing pork to be packed into a unitary budget, good oversight and control of the fiscal side of government, by Congress, is over-ridden by political needs to 'get things funded'. Congressionally Directed Actions put in by individual Congresscritters means that those items are not properly budget for in the Operations & Management portions of those agencies getting such funds. All accounting for those funds must be done on the set operational budget that does NOT include the earmarks. This stretches staff and reduces proper Congressionally mandated oversight on spending and puts a direct line by individual Congresscritters into government departments. By removing the opportunity for political abuse of the unitary budget process, the actual abuse is expected to diminish.

Beyond that salutary effect, however, there is something even better with this process: cutting budgets of individual departments or agencies, or even requiring that they schedule to reduce their overall size or disband completely. This form of budgeting to remove an agency is rarer, still, as Congress so rarely does this as to make such times noticeable, as I pointed out in another piece. That is the formal 'tell the agency it is time to tidy up and go home' form of Congressional budgeting. There is the other form when no spending is coming forth via the budgetary process to fund a department or agency: shutdown.

With the unitary budget process that is an all or nothing affair: either the entire government is funded or it isn't. That is a game of 'chicken' with the government held hostage to it. Thus an 'across the board' cut to all departments becomes an all or nothing affair if you use this process. When you go to piecemeal budgeting, then you get individual parts of the government segregated out for funding. This is a powerful legislative tool as it can serve very well in the hands of those seeking to remove power from government via the expedient means of not funding those parts with the power. Congress is obligated to fund very little of the federal government: servicing the debt, DoD, salaries in the three branches, the Mint, USPTO, parts of Commerce and the IRS, a piece or two of Interior, government archives, duties related to the border on immigration and naturalization as well as the orderly processing of goods individuals at the border, a postal system, plus any necessary buildings for those activities. Those are the mandatory parts of the budget, per year. Everything else is discretionary, and I do mean EVERYTHING including 'entitlements' as individuals have no contractual right (via Megan McArdle) to expect anything from SSA, Medicare or Medicaid:

Well, sort of. The first thing to point out is that legally, changing social security benefits would not be default, because (as the Supreme Court has already ruled), beneficiaries have no legal, contractual right to their benefits. They enjoy them at the sufferance of Congress, and Congress has the perfect right to change them. Doing so will not affect our status as a borrower adversely in the eyes of people we actually borrow money from. Indeed, it might enhance it. The first thing a lender wants to know is not whether you are a good person, but whether you are likely to repay the money they lend you; they are interested in the former only insofar as it implicates the latter.

During the Johnson Administration the system lost its 'lock box' with 'account' concept as all funds were available from SSA to the general fund by putting Treasury Bills in their place for future promise of payment. So servicing the debt includes those bills held by SSA. More importantly is that all the 'entitlements' are at the sufferance of Congress and are, thusly, discretionary spending.

Putting 'entitlements' to the end of the line after the mandatory funding parts, and then dealing with the rest of the discretionary budget, first, allows for a few things to be done.

First, austerity packages to federal departments and agencies can be created and passed by the House to demonstrate that it 'gets the message' of 2010.

Secondly the Senate is put into a position of a House unwilling to bump spending up for anything and it is the Senate then faced with the 'pass it or lose it' deal. This is so because a House can clearly say that in not passing a spending bill for something like, say, the EPA or Dept. of Agriculture, that the Senate clearly is in the 'clean sweep' mode and just wishes to do away with them. Then the House thanks the Senate for its fiscal responsibility and does NOTHING further on that department or agency. It passed what it had to pass and the Senate is free to pass that. Really, who is going to 'lobby' for the Dept. of Education beyond the Teacher's Union? Who will actually be HURT if the Dept. of Agriculture goes under? Monsanto?

Third the Senate, faced with either austerity or nothing, passes austerity and puts THAT on the President's desk. He has the exact, same choice as the Senate: if he wants a part of government to go away, he can simply not sign the bill. And get THANKED by the House for his fiscal rectitude.

Yes, games will be played on the 'if you agree to pass this bitsy program then I will pass/sign that bitsy program' but that would only be with the Senate. The House can say that austerity is the rule from here on out, and get used to it.

The group of Republicans following the Tea Party elections of 2010 offer enough of a block to be able to block parts of the budget as they have already demonstrated on things like the Patriot Act. This puts Democrats in the nasty position of having the 'chance' to show up the fiscally responsible House members by joining with the few remaining fiscally irresponsible Republicans to try and pass a 'bi-partisan' budget that is not responsible.

Mind you that is a career ender for 2012, which would see a return of those following their constituents and an angry populace voting out the irresponsible House (and Senate) members.

By doing it this way the line gets clearly drawn about who is serious about fiscal responsibility and who isn't.

And because 2012 will be looming, angering the voting public really isn't such a hot idea and that may even sway the irresponsible ones just a smidgen.

Then you tackle 'entitlement' reform... because everyone, up and down the line, will see that you are serious about cutting spending EVERYWHERE which will include 'entitlements'. Be a shame if the Senate or President didn't want to fund those, no?

04 February 2011

When you don't raise the debt ceiling

Not raising the debt ceiling is not defaulting on debt: it is defaulting on new spending.

Actually it is not even defaulting on that, but ending contracts via a Termination For Convenience of the Government clause in each and every contract the federal government gets into.  It is an 'unwritten' clause that need not be put down to be present in the contract and that is by statute: you are responsible for knowing how the government contracts and that there are unwritten clauses in every contract.

What does a T4C do?  It ends the contract.  No further payments, no penalties and no recourse against it.  The federal government as a sovereign power has that ability while you do not.

So if we don't raise the debt limit what would the government have to do?

First it still takes in approx. $2 trillion in revenue a year, and 1/3 of that goes to service our current debt.

Now you have $1.33 trillion left to deal with everything else.

The shortfall is about $1 trillion (give or take on the wild spending spree that went on from 2008-2010).  Not all of the spending spree money is spent, so that should have its obligations canceled under a T4C and returned to the Treasury.

Next up: cuts.

I don't like across-the-board cuts as that leaves the overburdening structure in place to resume its spendthrift ways if we can dig ourselves out of the fiscal hole.  I propose structural cuts to the federal government, reductions in military outlays for non-active war fighting operations, and entitlement cuts,  plus a clean-sheet, one rate tax code with no exemptions for anyone for anything on income.  What you buy, sell and do are your business and nothing is special enough to warrant an exemption.

What goes?

The Dept. of Agriculture is a subsidy and cash transfer system for large agribusiness to the tune of over $700 billion which includes overseas offices. It can go.  There are many fine State standards that will fill this role, like PA.

The FDA thinks that the cost of a drug changes its efficacy, and that is a lie, so it can go.  If they can't be truthful about their main mandate, it is not worth having.  Let the manufacturers know they are totally on the hook for safety and efficacy.

EPA believes carbon dioxide does not get picked up by plants for processing of sunlight into plant cells, but instead lingers forever in the atmosphere.  It can go.  The States duplicate much of the actual regulatory environment, anyway.

The FCC was made for a 1930's problem solved by 1990's technology and is now obsolete. It can go.

The SEC can't pass a GAO audit... since 2004... and now gets FOIA exemptions. It can go.

The Dept. of Education has not changed the literacy rate by 5% in the positive direction since it was started, and the current rate dates back to when Johnny Couldn't Read.  It can go.

We have had the Dept. of Energy through at least 2 energy crises and still cannot get us cheap and plentiful energy.  It can go.

National Endowments for the Arts/Humanities produce feces filled, irreligious works that are of no benefit to anyone.  Starving artists need to find real patrons, and get off the government teat.  They can go.

UN payments.  Why do we have this?  It hasn't brought world peace and only fostered dictatorships and tyrannies across the globe.  It can go.  Ditto foreign aid to non-friends and allies.

The Federal Reserve needs to be audited and asked why it devalues our currency, contrary to its mission.  It must go.

IRS needs a 'right sizing' when a new tax code comes in that is clean sheet.  Throw in the BATFE with that as it has proven remarkably effective at harassing law abiding gun shop owners and has, itself, allowed weapons to be sold to straw purchasers with the guns destined for Mexico.  If Congress really wants a tax on imported alcohol, then it can become the BA or BAT.  I would suggest eliminating the entire bureaucracy and doing the clean-sheet tax for the revenue involved, but moralists love their sin taxes.

Medicare & Medicaid - add up, divide by 2, block grant to the States with no overhead, phase out over 5 years.  Let the States figure it out, if they can, since the federal government has made a hash out of it.

Social Security - you do not have an 'account' but a promise of future payments for your tax money.  That is not even a contract but on sufferance of Congress.  Anyone in the system stays in and the SSA goes into the general expenditures part of the budget.  FICA is eliminated as part of the clean-sheet tax system.  No one pays into SSA any more and those in it have until their 'accounts' are exhausted.  If you make the argument that it's an 'account' then that is very fair: your account goes, so you go off the system.

Military bases in Japan, Germany, UK, S. Korea all can go, save if they are in the direct logistical train for current war activities, and even then shifting from high cost bases to cheaper ones elsewhere is necessary.  Stretch out refurbish times for aircraft carrier battle groups and reduce the active Navy forces for that.  Shift tactical air operations to the ground forces and make the USAF responsible for strategic forces and orbital surveillance, and remove multiple spy platform agencies from the government.

Throw in an across-the-board pay freeze and reduction to 2006 levels for the remaining workforce.

How to get rid of these things?

Don't fund them.

Then GAO takes control of their lands, buildings, offices, supplies, equipment, etc. and the National Archives takes the paperwork and documents.  Everything else is sold off at auction so the government gets a year or so of revenue from those big ticket items.

While the statutes and regulations remain 'on the books' with no one to enforce them they are not followed, and as the agencies and departments go away, any ability to enforce them are put on the DoJ, and it will not have the time, manpower, money, nor size to do so.  Thus getting rid of the enabling legislation via a 'sunset' law for all laws and regulations would look like a great idea.

With all of that stuff gone and a simple tax code in place, we can easily pay down our debt and not get into more debt, thus reducing future payments as old debt is paid off.  The 'debt ceiling' should be lowered with that, also, as we don't need that much debt.

The idea that $2 trillion isn't enough to run ANY government is asinine.

If it can't be done for that then it can't be done for ANY amount of money as no one knows how to be thrifty on the spending end of things.

Of course politicians would muck up not raising the debt ceiling: they are good at politics, but suck at economics.

Yet pure and harsh austerity will set us free from debt.  Not immediately, but not getting NEW debt is vital.  In 30 years it will all be gone and you will have given your children and grandchildren a better and more solvent country.

Or you can make them paupers indentured to the federal government.

That choice is yours, and that of your representatives in DC.

Choose wisely.

You may live to see that day when they either thank you, or spit at you, and what you do now will determine what you get, then.