Somehow They Don’t Seem Overly Concerned

Optics do matter in politics. However, some of our politicians are so accustomed to the media covering up their antics that they don’t even worry about the optics anymore. This was obvious last weekend when thirty Democrats headed out for a fun weekend in Puerto Rico despite the continuing government shutdown.

On Friday The Washington Examiner posted an article about the weekend trip.

The article reports:

Some 30 Democratic lawmakers left the government shutdown behind Friday on a chartered flight to Puerto Rico for a winter retreat with 109 lobbyists and corporate executives during which they planned to see the hit Broadway show “Hamilton” and attend three parties including one with the show’s cast.

Those attending the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC winter retreat in San Juan planned to meet with key officials to discuss the cleanup after Hurricane Maria at a roundtable Saturday.

But the weekend is packed with free time for the members and their families on the trip.

“We are excited for you to join us for CHC BOLD PAC’s 2019 Winter Retreat in San Juan, Puerto Rico! Each year, this retreat serves as a way for our CHC BOLD PAC Members and friends in the D.C. community to come together to escape the cold and discuss our shared priorities for a stronger and more prosperous country,” said a memo on the trip.

Some 109 lobbyists and corporate executives are named in the memo, a rate of 3.6 lobbyists for every member. They include those from several big K Street firms, R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions like the National Education Association.

What chance does the average American citizen have in getting the ear of his Congressman when lobbying groups can do this sort of thing?

The press release regarding the event is predictable–it blames President Trump for the shutdown and explains that the event was scheduled months before the shutdown. President Trump is at least partially responsible for the shutdown, but another aspect of the shutdown is the refusal of Representative Pelosi to negotiate. Having thirty of your Democrat Congressmen running off to Puerto Rico to party when the government is shut down does not make good political optics. I wonder if the American people will notice.

People Get Angry When You Take Their Free Money Away

Yesterday The National Review posted an article about some recent activities by the Teachers’ Unions. The headline of the article reads, “Teachers’ Unions Plan to Become ‘More Political, Not Less Political'” This is in response to the recent Supreme Court decision that no longer allows them to take union dues from teachers who do not want to joint the union.

The article reports:

For unions, the stakes could hardly be higher. Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, warns that surveys show “many [teachers] see dues as too high” and “political activity as too leftist”; she also notes that “only half of all teachers voted for Hillary Clinton.” Internal documents from the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers’ union, anticipate that the union will lose a whopping 300,000 members. Things look even bleaker for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the nation’s other major teachers’ union, which has 15 of its 22 largest state affiliates in former agency-fee states — and already had fewer than half its members paying full dues.

By happenstance, both unions held their big national conventions in July, providing a chance to scour the tea leaves for subtle hints as to how the unions might woo reluctant members, especially the hefty share who take issue with the leftist bent that has characterized the unions in recent decades. Even before the shock of Janus, unions worked in concert with Senate and House Republicans in 2015 to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act in a push to roll back many of the federal educational excesses of the Bush and Obama years, so a shift in approach seemed entirely possible.

It turns out that the tea leaves weren’t that hard to read, after all. At the NEA’s annual convention and representative assembly in Minneapolis, things kicked off on day one with Parkland survivor and woke gun-control activist David Hogg joining NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on stage to exhort the cheering throng, “There’s nothing more powerful in America than a pissed-off teacher.” The NEA also made time to award its Human and Civil Rights Award — given to those who have “demonstrated remarkable courage and conviction to stand up for racial and social justice” — to recipients including First Lady Michelle Obama and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

No political bias shown here.

The article concludes:

Somehow, the AFT’s new policies leaned further left than the NEA’s. The AFT unanimously endorsed a “public investment strategy for health care and education infrastructure,” which includes: universal health care, “whether single-payer health care or MediCare for All”; free tuition at all public colleges and universities, as well as “funding for wage justice for adjuncts”; universal, full-day, free child care; doubled per-pupil spending for low-income K–12 districts; and “taxation of the rich to fully fund” a raft of education programs. AFT further resolved that they would “call on our endorsed candidates to support these priorities, and toward that end we will embed these aspirations in our questionnaires to potential candidates seeking our support.” Swing-state Democrats, beware.

For those who didn’t get quite get the message, AFT president Randi Weingarten told reporters, “We’re becoming more political, not less political.” Let educators, would-be members, and public officials be forewarned.

Somehow they never tell you how they are going to pay for all this free stuff–after a while even the rich run out of money to pay their taxes.

Unions And Crony Capitalism

Townhall.com posted an article today about some of the scandals that have been occurring in America’s Public Sector Unions. Remember, the members of the Public Sector Unions are people whose benefits and salaries are paid by the taxpayer.

The article lists several recent scandals. Here are a few:

A Chicago union leader takes a leave of absence in 1989 from the city’s sanitation department, where he earned $40,000, to work for a union. He is then allowed to “retire” from the city at age 56 with $108,000 pension. (The rules say that the individual should waive a union pension to do this. In this case, the official reportedly does not waive the union pension. The city knows this, but grants the city pension anyway.)

16 psychiatrists working for California are paid $400,000 or more. One of them, with a degree from an Afghan medical school, takes home $822,302

More than half the lifeguards working for Newport Beach, CA earn more than $150,000 in 2010. One earns $203,481. A lifeguard labor union spokesman comments: “We have negotiated very fair and very reasonable salaries. . . . Lifeguard salaries here are well within the norm of other city employees.”

There are many more examples listed in the article. This might be the reason many of our towns, cities and states are on the verge of bankruptcy.

The article reminds us of the relationship between union dues and political contributions:

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) collects $211 million in dues in 2010; the National Education Association (NEA) $397 million. With state affiliates included, the total approaches $1 billion. The AFT president makes nearly half a million, and almost 600 officials at the two unions earn over $100,000. $297 million is donated to political campaigns over a decade—with total political spending much higher. It is hard to say how high the spending really is because members do not receive complete information.

…For the fifty states as a whole, unfunded public employee benefit liabilities are at least $1.26 trillion, according to the PEW Center on the states.

This information comes from a book entitled, Crony Capitalism in America 2008-2012, Chapter 19, Public Sector Union Scandals Begin to Leak by Hunter Lewis. The book is available at Amazon.com.

There might be a few clues in the above examples of union abuse of taxpayer money as to how America might begin to trim its state, local and federal budgets.

 

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An Unbelievable Labor Contract

Yesterday Mike Antonucci at Hot Air posted a few excerpts from the current contract covering National Education Association employees.

The article reports:

About 500 people work at NEA national headquarters in Washington, DC. A handful of unions represent them, the largest being the National Education Association Staff Organization (NEASO). NEA and NEASO negotiated a 136-page collective bargaining agreement in June 2012, and it runs through the end of May 2015. I have posted the full document on EIA’s Declassified page, but to save you the energy of mining it yourself, here are a few provisions I thought were worthy of highlighting:

…NEA must assume financial liability for an employee who is prosecuted or sued “because of any act taken by him/her in the course of his/her employment.” Under these circumstances, unless the employee is guilty of “gross negligence or gross irresponsibility,” he or she “shall be paid at his/her regular hourly rate for all time spent in jail.”

…NEA is required to provide “an appropriately furnished lounge” for employees at union headquarters. The contract specifically requires NEA to “make an ice machine available to employees in the building.”

There are many other provisions, including reserved parking spaces, valet services when traveling, and other things that most of us would never expect to see in an employment contract. Most of us would love to be covered by an employment contract that covers the items this contract does, but most of us realize that if a company wants to stay in business (and thus provide us with a job), they would probably not be able to afford a contract similar to the one that covers the NEA employees. The article unintentionally points out how big the gap has become between working in the private sector and working for an agency related to the government.

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What Are We Doing To Our Children ?

CNS News posted an article yesterday about a recent report containing recommendations for sex education in our public schools.

The article states:

By the time they leave elementary school, children should be able to “define sexual orientation,” and by the eighth grade be able to “define emergency contraception and its use,” according to a report containing controversial new recommendations for sex education in U.S. public schools.

This is not a direction our schools should be taking. I have no problem with sex education being taught in schools, but I think we need to take a very good look at what we are teaching.

More gems from the report:

Recommendations for students by the time they reach age seven include that they [u]se proper names for body parts, including male and female anatomy” and “[p]rovide examples of how friends, family, media, society and culture influence ways in which boys and girls think they should act.”

Starting in the third grade, and upon completion of the fifth – when most children are 10 years old – students should be able to “[d]efine sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender” and “[i]dentify parents or other trusted adults of whom students can ask questions about sexual orientation.”

By completion of the eighth grade, the report says, students should be able to “[d]ifferentiate between gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation,” “[e]xplain the range of gender roles,” and “[d]efine emergency contraception and its use.”

I realize that all children do not live in perfect families where they will get good sex education with moral values, but this is a bit much. The two-parent heterosexual family is the foundation of our society. When we seek to undermine that, we undermine our society. We need to teach children respect, but we do not need to confuse them about their sexuality at an early age, which I believe this program does.

 Let’s let our children be children for at least a few years.

 

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