The Good News Just Keeps Coming

While the conservative blogosphere is appropriately giddy over Scott Walker’s win, let’s not forget that there were other local elections yesterday — and other big victories for fiscal sanity. For instance:

  •  In San Diego, a ballot measure calling for pension reform for new city hires passed 66-33.
  • In San Jose, a similar ballot measure passed 70-30.

And just in case you were curious, San Diego and San Jose are hardly reliable Republican strongholds. Both cities went to Obama in 2008.

Yes, yes, I know — as Glenn Reynolds has repeatedly reminded us, “Don’t get cocky, kid.” But I don’t think we’re wrong to interpret these election outcomes as a sign that we’re winning the argument in re: the power of public sector unions. Evidently, even moderate liberals are smart enough to notice that the growth of a city’s pension liabilities and the quality of its municipal services are inversely related. As more and more money is devoted to feeding the retirement behemoth, current city employees are laid off by the thousands, libraries close, and potholes go unrepaired — and people are understandably fed up with this nonsense.

Look — my late granddaddy was a union man (in the private sector), so I’m not 100% opposed to the concept. If the unions were truly representing their rank-and-file members in legitimate disputes with their employers, I’d stamp them with my seal of approval. Unfortunately, that’s not what today’s unions are doing — a reality revealed by all the employees who immediately stop paying their dues the moment a Right to Work measure is passed. Even the workers themselves are sick of their unions’ corruption and hard-left refusal to be reasonable. Which means we should follow Scott Walker’s example and continue to calmly but doggedly press the issue. 

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Big Night for GOP: Scott Walker Clobbers Tom Barrett in Recall Effort

Well, the organized effort of the giant three-headed hydra of public-sector unions, Occupy Madison types and establishment DNC forces all working to dethrone the Republican with the stones to do the logical, necessary thing and attack the source of Wisconsin’s budget problems (the public sector unions)…has failed in its tantrum-like quest.  And failed badly.

Tom Barrett has lost Wisconsin a second time, and this time likely by an even larger margin than last time.

Pardon me for a moment…

NEENER NEENER NEEEEEENER!!
NEENER NEENER NEEEEEENER!!

*ahem*

Sorry…it had to be said. 🙂

On the Woes of the Middle Class

As Rep. Paul Ryan noted in his recent speech at the Heritage Foundation, it is extremely misleading to speak of the “rich” and the “poor” as if they are fixed classes. In reality, most people move up and down the income scale throughout their lifespan. Kids in their teens and twenties are at the bottom because they’re just starting out in entry-level positions. People in their forties and fifties, meanwhile, have generally hit their peak earning years, so they are more likely to occupy the top brackets. Then people retire in their sixties and seventies and their income drops again. People in the fabled “1%” one year may not be there a few years later. And if you’re on the bottom? The chances are still very good that you will not be there forever.

But it is also true that we are not quite as economically mobile as we used to be. The unfocused expression of anger that is the Occupy [Your City] movement is based on something valid. We need to be very careful, though, when it comes to identifying the sources of our distress — and their potential solutions.

Today’s Ragged Dicks (that’s a Horatio Alger reference, not an insult) run up against several roadblocks on the path to success. They include:

  • Family breakdown. Success in school requires parental involvement — but due to the rising rates of divorce and illegitimacy, many well-meaning parents simply don’t have the time to look over little Johnny’s homework. And by the way, said parents also don’t have the time to ensure that Johnny gets healthy things to eat, and bad nutrition can lead to childhood obesity and inhibit cognitive development.
  • A severely dysfunctional lower education system. Our public education establishment has prioritized fads over effective instruction and union demands over our students’ well-being. Consequently, when Johnny graduates from high school (assuming he does graduate, which is not a certainty), he may still be functionally illiterate and innumerate.
  • An increasingly dysfunctional higher education system. Let’s say that Johnny manages to graduate from high school with a B average and a 1500+ on his SAT (out of 2400). At this point, he will probably apply for a student loan and go to college. But will Johnny actually learn anything while he’s there? Is a college education really worth racking up thousands of dollars of debt? That really depends on the major Johnny selects. If he earns a BS in, say, chemical engineering, it’s likely he’ll be able to find a good job when he graduates and start moving up the income ladder. But our colleges also offer an array of fruity “do you want fries with that?” majors like women’s studies and sociology — majors that don’t reflect what the outside economy actually needs. And because all student loans are guaranteed by the federal government, our institutions of higher learning feel no compunction in jacking up their tuitions to astronomical levels so they can support their own top-heavy bureaucracies. Is the Assistant Dean of Student Diversity and his staff of 37 really going to add anything to Johnny’s college experience? No, but Johnny is going to pay for them anyway.
  • The pervasive – and wrong – belief that a college degree entitles you to a comfortable middle class lifestyle. If Johnny decides to major in something useless (like sociology), he’s in for a rude shock when he graduates, as there will be no jobs available for him in his field. Now, if Johnny is suitably humble, he will take his lumps and accept any employment he can find without complaint. Unfortunately, if the Occupy [Your City] protests are any indication, humility is not something we teach in school these days. Instead, we lie to our kids and tell them that all degrees are created equal — that it’s okay to “follow your bliss.” We are breeding a generation of spoiled brats who believe a credential – any credential – erases the need for personal industry. Is it any wonder that employers are reluctant to hire young people?
  • A culture that devalues the trades. We still need plumbers and mechanics and carpenters – indeed, some employers are crying out desperately for people with that kind of experience – but these days, we’re not really encouraging kids to go to trade school. Plumbers and mechanics and carpenters can definitely earn good money and establish themselves as members of the middle class, but right now, kids hear “college, college, college!” and aren’t presented with any alternatives.
  • A regulatory structure that pushes manufacturing jobs offshore. The dose makes the poison — yet we continue to heap costly burdens on our businesses in a ridiculous quest to ensure 100% safety and environmental purity. Yell at the eeeeevil corporations all you want, but they’re building their factories in other countries because their consumer goods would be too expensive for their customers if they were manufactured here.
  • Public policies which favor big, established businesses over small and newer ones. While I understand the economic reason why our bigger corporations have moved some of their operations out of the country, I don’t think those corporations are entirely blameless here. After all, over the years, they’ve collected billions of tax-payer dollars in corporate welfare to fund politically-favored boondoggles like “green” energy. Moreover, because they have the resources to move if they need to, larger corporations tend to like regulation because it handicaps their smaller competitors. If Johnny happens to have an entrepreneurial spirit, he may have a tough time getting his new business going.
  • Burdensome property taxes. If Johnny is successful enough to buy a house and a car or two, he may find himself paying quite a sum to fund local government services. Why? Because during the housing boom, the public sector unions managed to snag some sweet deals for themselves. There are retired public sector workers in California who receive six figure pensions, for example. And are these unions willing to give up some of their benefits now that we’ve hit hard times? Forget about it. They want the private sector to continue forking over the cash, and they’re willing to throw temper tantrums at their state capitals to make that happen. The upshot? Unless Johnny has a public sector job, he’s hosed.

I think you probably get the picture at this point. There is rampant social injustice in our system, but that is not entirely the fault of “the rich.” No — our problems are primarily government-related. It is the government that imposes regulations that prevent entrepreneurs from creating new jobs. It is the government that picks winners and losers in the business world and hands our taxes to big corporations to fund things we don’t want. It is the government that makes promises to the public sector unions that it ultimately cannot keep without going bankrupt or screwing the private sector. It is the government that grants our colleges the liberty to rip people off. It is the government that has enabled 40% of our kids to be born out of wedlock.

The aforementioned Occupiers are demanding the expansion of an already unsustainable public sector, but their proposals are akin to trying to cure someone’s chlamydia by giving them gonorrhea. We don’t need more government; we need less. Moreover, we need to restore the culture that allowed us to be prosperous to begin with. Kids need to be taught that there is no such thing as a free lunch and that they have to work – and work hard – to get the things they really want.

Mike Rowe Is Awesome

First of all, he’s awesome because he’s willing to make a fool of himself – repeatedly – in order to honor our blue collar work force. I’ve watched quite a few episodes of Dirty Jobs, and Rowe’s sincere respect for the people he interviews always comes through loud and clear. For Mike Rowe, “doing the jobs that make civilization possible for the rest of us” is not just a line. He means it.

Secondly, as it turns out, Rowe’s not all that impressed with Obama — or the public sector unions. Here he is on Obama:

He wants people to see “the rich” as the problem – not him, not spending, not debt, and not some other failed policy. He wants the Rich to be the scapegoat.

And here he is on the unions:

Personally, I find all of those vocations [teacher, bus driver, health care professional in a psychiatric hospital, sanitation worker, policeman, fireman] to be noble in the extreme. And I respect the people who do the work very much. But if you’re asking why public sentiment seemed to turn against them, I would suggest that it had to do with their respective Unions, and their absolute failure to persuade the masses. They took the same sort of aggressive posture that their private counterparts often do with management. In this sort of economy, that just isn’t persuasive to a lot of concerned voters. The entire country is struggling, and the issues facing public servants were old news for people in the private sector. They made a loud, strident, and unproductive case.

More of his commentary can be found here — and it’s all thoughtful and very classy. From all appearances, Rowe has allowed his extensive exposure to Middle America to influence his politics as well as his impression of the working man — and that’s a very good thing as far as I’m concerned.

(Hat tip to John Nolte @ Big Hollywood.)

What if the NFL Played by Teachers’ Rules?

What if the NFL Played by Teachers’ Rules?
by Fran Tarkenton @ the Wall Street Journal

Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player’s salary is based on how long he’s been in the league. It’s about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he’s an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player’s been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.

Let’s face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?

Also, if you’re a supremely talented quarterback who’s only been playing for one season, you may be dumped from the roster during a budget crisis so that your team can keep crappy players who happen to have tenure.

The War on the Young is real, folks.

Weather-Free Links (For Those Who Are Tired of the Irene Coverage)

Does contraception afford women greater freedom? No, not really:

Can contraception make America better?
by Carolyn Moynihan @ Mercator.net

It’s in this market setting, described by economists, that we confront the failure of the other contraceptive agenda: liberation. Men in fact still have the upper hand in sex and women find themselves paying a high price, materially and emotionally, for the relationship they hope for. And that’s to say nothing of the cost that children bear. Increasingly for the lower middle class, that relationship is likely to fall short of marriage, not last, and, if it produces a child, to result in one parent leaving the home by the time the child is 16.

Rather than doing their research among their pals in the birth control industrial complex (the “science and existing literature”), Drs Obama, Pelosi and Sibelius should have got out into Middle America and confronted the damage that contraceptive culture has already done. They should have interviewed some of the women stalled in uncommitted relationships and feeling they must risk the birth of a child anyway before it is too late, or trying a second or third gamble in the sexual market; the women who must be asking themselves, “Is this all?”

Paul VI truly was ahead of the curve when he wrote Humanae Vitae.

*****

Badass of the week:

Joseph Lozito

(Language warning!)

Lozito took down a spree killer on the New York subway and is now being celebrated as a prime example of traditional American masculinity.

*****

The pathetic Wisconsin left battles on. Their target this week? A Catholic school:

Locks superglued prior to protests of Governor Walker at local school

MILWAUKEE – Protesters crowded the street outside Messmer Preparatory School in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood as Governor Walker visited the school Friday to read to children.

The protests came just hours after someone vandalized the school ahead of the Governor’s visit.

“Some of these folks super glued our front doors at the prep school,” said Br. Bob Smith, OFM, the president of Messmer Catholic Schools, about the school on the corner of North Fratney and East Burleigh Streets.

He told Newsradio 620 WTMJ that a woman was walking in front of the school Thursday, asking people to protest.

According to Br. Smith, one protester said ” ‘Get ready for a riot,’ because they were going to disrupt the visit.”

This is why you keep losing, you union goons. When you pull these stunts, people logically conclude that you don’t actually give a crap about anyone other than yourselves.

*****

And lastly, Obama’s super-rich champion is a hypocrite (naturally):

Warren Buffett’s taxing hypocrisy
@ NetRightDaily

What likely got the Administration’s attention was Buffett’s oped in The New York Times. Buffett proposed that “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” He implied he would like to see the capital gains be treated equally as income.

To wit, he wrote of the so-called “super-rich,” which he apparently defines as households earning $1 million or more a year: “Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.” Isn’t that nice of Mr. Buffett?

But if he were truly sincere, perhaps he might simply try paying the taxes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says his company owes? According to Berkshire Hathaway’s own annual report — see Note 15 on pp. 54-56 — the company has been in a years-long dispute over its federal tax bills.

And thus we discover why raising taxes on the rich doesn’t work. The very rich, you see, have high-priced tax attorneys.

Meanwhile, In Wisconsin…

Pardon this drive-by fruiting, but…

The recall wave is now over and…the Dems lost. Again.

The last real shot to overturn Walker’s union-busting legislation has cleared the bow…they’re out of bullets!

Vigilance is the key now…the state can’t let control slip back to the Dems in the short term. Give the Walker bill a chance to fully work, and the anger will be gone amongst the populace. But for today…

IT’S PARTY TIME!

Wisconsin Union Law to Take Effect

Wisconsin Union Law to Take Effect
@ the Wall Street Journal

The Wisconsin Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for the state’s contentious collective-bargaining law to take effect, ruling 4-3 that a lower-court judge who put the measure on hold improperly interfered with the legislature.

Granted, we still have the recall elections to worry about. But given this and the fact that the pathetic Kloppenburg lost her judicial election despite massive union mobilization and a ridiculous recount, I feel like celebrating:


The method of celebration favored by Prof. Jacobson.


And this is the method of celebration favored by the folks at Hot Air.

Take that, losers!

Ahem. Am I gloating? Sorry. Obnoxious leftwingers inspire that in me, especially when they falsely claim to be defending democracy and “the little guy.”

Harsh!

How a Teachers’ Rally Made Me Anti-Education
by “Zombie”

The only way to break the stranglehold that leftists have on public schools is not to get rid of the leftists (which is impossible) but to get rid of the public schools. And how can we get rid of them? By making them so terrible that no parents in their right minds would allow their children to attend. And how can we accelerate the decline of public schools (beyond the atrocious decline already caused by the progressive masters)? By letting their funding dry up.

Obviously, I don’t endorse going that far. But after perusing the pics “Zombie” includes in his post, I can’t say I don’t understand the source of his incandescent rage. Bringing your students along to a political rally is an absolutely inexcusable abuse of your power as a teacher.

The Failure of American Schools

The Failure of American Schools
by Joel Klein @ The Atlantic

If the forces behind reform seem scattered and weak, those defending the status quo—the unions, the politicians, the bureaucrats, and the vendors—are well organized and well financed. Having spent eight years trying to ignite a revolution in New York City’s schools under Bloomberg’s leadership, I am convinced that without a major realignment of political forces, we won’t get the dramatic improvements our children need.

This is a long and illuminating article which, among other things, details the uphill battle reformers must fight to change the way public education is delivered in this country. Go and read.