Thursday, February 24, 2011

Government and Private Unions Are Not the Same

While it may be agreed there are two sides to a story, including the recent attention to government Unions, the below article brings up some interesting points about private vs. public sector Unions.  As Wisconsin, New Jersey and other states begin movements to eliminate the power of government employee unions; there are many details and interesting facts being brought to light about public sector unions and the negative impact they may be having on the states and the country.  While it may also be agreed that union members are not the villains,  the article covers a few issues and other concerns about politicians receiving financial backing from unions, the government itself being operated by unions through its employees, and numerous other conflicts of interest.
Government and Private Unions Are Not the Same
Posted: 24 Feb 2011 01:55 PM PST

Private-sector unions have been losing both membership and power, while government, public-sector unions have been gaining political muscle and membership.  In 2009, for the first time in history, there were more members of public-sector unions than private-sector union members, and unionized government workers outnumbered their private-sector counterparts by more than half a million (see chart above).  

Jonah Goldberg makes some excellent points in his LA Times editorial today ("Public Unions Must Go") about some critical differences between public- and private-sector unions:

"Traditional, private sector unions were born out of an often bloody adversarial relationship between labor and management. Mine disasters were frequent; hazardous conditions were the norm. In 1907, the Monongah mine explosion claimed the lives of 362 West Virginia miners. Day-to-day life often resembled serfdom, with management controlling vast swaths of the miners' lives. And before unionization and many New Deal-era reforms, Washington had little power to reform conditions by legislation.

Meanwhile, government unions have no such narrative on their side. Do you recall the Great DMV cave-in of 1959? How about the travails of second-grade teachers recounted in Upton Sinclair's famous schoolhouse sequel to "The Jungle"? No? Don't feel bad, because no such horror stories exist.
Government workers were making good salaries in 1962 when President Kennedy lifted, by executive order, the federal ban on government unions. Civil service regulations and similar laws had guaranteed good working conditions for generations. The argument for public unionization wasn't moral, economic or intellectual. It was rankly political.

Private sector unions fight with management over an equitable distribution of profits. Government unions negotiate with politicians over taxpayer money, putting the public interest at odds with union interests and, as we've seen in states such as California and Wisconsin, exploding the cost of government. The labor-politician negotiations can't be fair when the unions can put so much money into campaign spending.

This is why FDR believed that "the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service," and why even George Meany, the first head of the AFL-CIO, held that it was "impossible to bargain collectively with the government."

“We the people are the rightful masters of both the Congress and the Courts 
- not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution... Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Andy Rooney and Prayer

National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance and Atheist

A friend of mine and author (Steve Newman-The Night Eagles Soared) posted this writing by Andy Rooney and it caught my attention.  I did a little research on the passage and some other related topics and though it might be of interest to share and expand on it.

This particular writing has been circulating for several years and a longer version was originally written by in 1999 by a Texas sports writer named Nick Gholson. From there it circulated and was read by long time Radio commentator Paul Harvey (… the rest of the story) and later Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes. The original writing had a few other beginning paragraphs, but the shorter version that has made its way to Paul Harvey and Andy Rooney opens like this:
Take this prayer deal. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Some atheist goes to a high school football game, hears a kid say a short prayer before the game and gets offended. So he hires a lawyer and goes to court and asks somebody to pay him a whole bunch of money for all the damage done to him. You would have thought the kid kicked him in the crotch. Damaged for life by a 30-second prayer? Am I missing something here?

I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.

So what's the big deal?

It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

"But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue.

Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect — somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.

If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.

If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit.

When in Rome ...

"But what about the atheists?" is another argument.

What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do.

I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating; to pray before we go to sleep.

Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well ... just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard ... that the vast majority don't care what they want. It is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, you don't have to pray; you don't have to say the pledge of allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right. But by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back ... and we WILL WIN!

God bless us one and all ... especially those who denounce Him. God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all.

God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

May 2005 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions.

Keep looking up .

Now as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.  Are we wrong if we agree with the “Andy Rooney and Prayer” piece?  Absolutely not!  And is there a group of individuals who have been working actively and in some cases successful at removing prayer, the pledge of allegiance and Christmas trees? Yes there are, but they are successful not because of laws, but because of political, judicial and the appointed having fear of offending, and sometimes our own doing by simply going overboard and getting too oppressive in religious practices.   

By overboard, we’re talking about groups like the Texas group that goes around to military funerals protesting, or other religious groups and individuals who do not recognize separation of church and state and believe that state law and policy should be same as the Christian churches, which is a very similar view and approach to what we would say and believe fanatical Muslims want.  It’s amazing that if an individual stands on the sidewalk or on a street and starts ranting and yelling at everyone going into a building you would be arrested, and yet if a group does the same thing and says they are a religious group, it becomes free speech, and this seems to apply to any religious group.   

Salem Witch Hunts
Remember the first colonist, the Puritans, who came to the new world for freedom of religion, only themselves to deny it to others.  The saying “You’re your own worst enemy” is probably very appropriate for us with regard to prayer and separate of church and state. We want separation of church and state, and the freedom to have a moment of silence or say a prayer, or the pledge of allegiance, but then are sometimes guilty of taking it too far and turn into the exact thing we’re supposed to be against, professing to want freedom of religion, as long as the religion is Christian. 
The pledge of allegiance (see Red Skelton video) is an interesting and good example of how we took something and went a step too far.  Did you know that the original Pledge of Allegiance did not have “Under God” in it?  Congress added the under God to it in 1954 during the McCarthy Communism scare era. 

The original Pledge of Allegiance:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Now, if the original Pledge of Allegiance had been left alone, we would not have had the issues with it today in schools, after all, the pledge was and is a pledge of allegiance to the United States of American.  If we enforced our laws instead of ignoring them when a group claims freedom of speech or an individual claims they are offended, we would not have an issue. The Prime Minister of Australia recently made a statement concerning the culture of the country, and implied that if individuals did not like it or agreed with it, they could leave.(link to Aussie PM Speech)

The United States has been and is a melting pot of cultures and religions with laws designed to protect the freedom of cultures and religion. It was not the intent nor should it be the intent that one group, be it Atheist, ACLU or other, to systematically or through fear and intimidation cause the limiting of the freedoms and rights of citizens to appease the feelings of others.  

 It’s not about feelings, it’s about Freedom.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Military Retirees Get Pay Cut

Military Retirees Get Pay Cut
Smallest Pay Raise For Military Since 1962  

Rhetoric, Administration and Congressional bashing aside, this past December the President and Congress passed the 2011 budget which impacted both active duty and retired military. 

The first impact was to the active military who were given the smallest pay raise since 1962, smallest raise in almost 50 years.  The raise they received was 1.4%, which was a raise, but was also the lowest amount allowed by law.  The other impact was on the military retirees, who for the first time in almost three decades were not given an annual cost of living raise.  

At this point I could say that’s the story and it ends there, but it doesn’t. This week a notice was sent to military retirees, myself included, stating that due to new changes in the tax laws we will see a decrease in our retiree paycheck.  That’s right, a pay reduction.   

The combination of the first no cost of living increase in almost thirty years and a tax increase resulted in military retirees receiving a pay cut.  For myself it’s a $53 pay cut, which may not seem like much to some people, but my issue is not about money, it’s about honor, integrity and honesty. And by the way, Social Security recipients got the same deal, except for them this is the second year in a row they did not get the cost of living increase,  also a first since the cost of living raise were implemented in 1975, thirty years ago. 

I think most of us remember a presidential campaign and the promises of spreading the wealth, no increases in taxes if you make less than $250,000 a year, and all the other promises.  We also remember in December the so called compromise to not repeal the Bush tax cuts, which in theory should have meant that everyone’s taxes would not change. 

So if the President promised not to raise taxes, and he also compromised to not get rid of the Bush tax plan which should have left current taxes unchanged, why is everyone seeing a tax increase  (yes, everyone)? 

The answer to the question I leave up to you, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll decide to can answer it in November 2012.

We the people are the rightful masters
of both the Congress and the Courts - not to 
overthrow the Constitution but to 
overthrow men who pervert the Constitution... 
Abraham Lincoln

Friday, February 4, 2011

Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Tribute

The Green Bay Packers
Why? Because they are unlike any other team in NFL History or any Major League Sports

A Non-Profit Company 
The Green Bay Packers are a Public Non-Profit Company, and yes you read it right.  They are in fact the only non-profit community owned professional sports team in America major league sports.  The Packers do not have an owner, which is one of the reasons the team has remained in the small community of Green Bay Wisconsin since the team was formed in 1919. At NFL Owners meetings the Packers President, appointed by a board, attends the meetings.

Of course there are the Pittsburg Steelers fans who want their team to win the Super Bowl, and rightfully so, just as there are fans of the all the other teams, but there is just something about the Green Bay Packers that most of us probably never knew, and by the time you’ve finished reading this, you may just wish you were and had always been a Packers fan, just so you could be part of an extraordinary history, fraternity, and legacy of what sports was, what fan loyalty was, and still is in Green Bay Wisconsin.
What else is there about the Packers? They are the Second-Oldest Team or franchise in the NFL, a stat that may be debated by some. Supposedly the now Arizona Cardinals are the oldest team founded in 1898 as the Morgan Athletic Club.  Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears were both founded in 1919. The Morgan Athletics and Chicago Bears as founding members joined the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which is today’s NFL. The Green Bay Packers joined the next year in 1921. If we want to get more specific, the Green Bay area professional football team was formed in 1896, but did not take the Packers name until 1919 and therefore could arguably be the oldest team in the NFL. 

One of a Kind Structure:  As already mentioned the Green Bay Packers is a Public non-profit company. This type of structure is no longer allowed by the NFL and the Packers were grandfathered when the ruled were changed.  In 1923 the Packers Article of Incorporation” was put in place. A unique stipulation for the company was that in the event the Packers were to ever be sold, all proceeds would be given to the non-profit American Legion, which was changed in 1997 to the non-profit Green Bay Packers Foundation which donates to Wisconsin area charities. This stipulation was made in an effort to insure the Packers stayed in Green Bay and prevent any financial motivations by a sale of the club.  Over the years the Packers has occasionally sold stock to raise funds. The clue currently has 112,015 shareholders who can say they are owners, and which represent 4,750,934 shares of stock.  Besides the privilege of being an owner in name, stock ownership little other benefit. The stock does not pay dividends, does not increase in value, and does not include game tickets. There is a limit to number of shares one person can own so that no one person can gain control. Shareholders do have voting rights and the Board of Directors who run the company is elected by the shareholders.     

A Stadium First: The Green Bay Packers was founded by Earl “Curly” Lambeau and George Calhoun and City Stadium was home.  With the death of Curly Lambeau in 1965 the stadium was renamed to what we know today as Lambeau Field.  During the early 1950s the NFL had attempted to force the Green Bay Packers to move, citing stadium issues.  In response in 1956 the citizens of Green Bay voted to build a new modern stadium for their team, which was completed in time for the 1957 season and was the First ever exclusive NFL only stadium. The 1957 seating capacity was 32,150, which was short of demand for seats.  The stadium would have multiple renovations to increase seating capacity to its current 72,928 seats.

Sold Out: Another thing about Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packers is that since 1960, every game has been sold out.  Sold out games regardless of the team’s performance, be it good or bad. With 72,928 seating capacity, the demand for seats still exceeds what’s available and the Green Bay Packers waiting list for season tickets is over 78,000.  The estimated wait to finally get a season ticket is about 30 years and it has been predicted that if you were to add your name to the list today, you’d be on the list about 100 years. 

Their Record: The Green Bay Packers have won more Championships in the NFL than any other team. They have won twelve World Championships and the Chicago Bears is next with nine.  The Green Bay Packers are also the only team to win three consecutive NFL titles, and have done it twice, in 1929-30-31 under Lambeau and in 1965-66-67 under Vince Lombardi. The Green Bay Packers have won three Super Bowls, and have the distinction of winning the first Super Bowls in 1967. Their second Super Bowl win was in 1968 after which Vince Lombardi retired. The third was in 1996. 

The Lombardi Era:  Most football fans associate Vince Lombardi with football. Vince Lombardi was unique for many reasons. He did something rare for coaches, leaving an assistant coach position in 1959 to move to Green Bay Wisconsin as the Packers head coach and change the team almost instantly. The 1960s was synonymous with the Green Bay Packers and Lombardi made the Packers a nationwide household name. He would take the team to win five world championships including two Super Bowls during seven years. Vince Lombardi was also part of and enhanced what was the game of football.

The Green Bay Packers are more than a NFL team.  It is probably the only professional team that by virtue of its corporate structure is not in the game for money or to make money, but to play the game. Its fans are true loyal fans, as shown by a 50 year sold out record complimented by a waiting list of over 78,000. While the Packers have a great winning record, they also have had losing seasons, and still the fans are loyal to their team, unlike most cities and fan when their teams start losing games. The Green Bay Packers have a relationship with their fans, like a marriage, for better or worse they stick together, and divorce is not an option. It is too bad that the NFL and other major sports has transitioned into businesses rather than playing the game. The Green Bay Packers emulate the attitude and spirit of the after school and weekend scrimmages of the young and old, where it was a game for the fun and love of the game, and it was not about a profit margin.