Sunday, January 24, 2010

Give the Green Party a chance.

The Democrats and Republicans have been around long enough. It's time to give them layoff notices. Let's see how the Greens do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Massachusetts Voters

What were the people of Massachusetts thinking when they elected Scott Brown on Tuesday? CBS News reported that Senator Elect Scott Brown denied that his election was a referendum of political gridlock in Washington. Is it true? Could health care reform have passed long ago? The Democrats have sixty seats in the senate, but now only until Brown gets sworn in.

The TV pundits claimed that the Democrat Martha Coakley, running against Brown, was disinterested in the obligatory campaign functions herself, but Politico blogger Ben Smith presented a memo from a Coakley adviser stating that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and “other Dem organizations” failed to contribute early in the election, and “didn’t engage until a week before the election.”(i)

Jon Stewart on the Daily Show exclaimed “The Kennedy legacy is going down to a naked guy that owns a truck?” Referring to a long-ago nude magazine photo of Scott Brown and a campaign commercial where Brown introduced his truck. Later Stewart asks “how does the Democratic candidate, a one Martha Coakley, state attorney genera, lose to this cat?” proceeding with a series of clips.
CNN: “Martha Coakley may have made a big political gaff here in Boston when she referred to Kirt Shilling, the former Boston Red Socks Pitcher as another Yankees fan.”

Stewart: “That doesn’t sound like much but let’s put it in some perspective here for non-sports fans. Uhh, that would be like saying that John Lennon’s favorite Beatle was Mickey Dolenz” [of the Monkeys].

The Boston Globe reportedly once asked Coakley if she was being too passive in campaigning to which she replied “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?”

More damning clips followed, but the point is the Democrats either thought they were going to get a landslide victory or they had no interest in maintaining the majority votes necessary to pass health care reform. The Democrats have a bigger majority in the senate than the Republicans had since 1923, yet the longer health care legislation lingers in limbo, the more it continues to mutate and deform into a cash cow for the insurance industry.

“The people of Massachusetts already have a more progressive health care system than anything in the current health care bill” Stewart said.(ii) One could conclude that voters typically don’t see beyond their own state borders when they vote for someone who is supposed to make decisions that affect the nation as a whole.

It’s not surprising because most senators and representatives are lauded for “bringing home the bacon.” Earmarks are okay when it’s your own state, but if it’s another state, it’s called “pork.” The short-sightedness of the voters should not be further exploited by politicians, but the voters have a responsibility to the country as a whole too.
i. Ben Smith, - – Coakley adviser memo: D.C. Dems 'failed' Coakley 01/19/2010 [ ]

ii. The Daily Show – Mass Backwards – Video air date 01/18/2010 – [ ]

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The News Problem

Since long before the founding of the United States, the printing press was the primary means by which literate people decided their vote for a politicians and public policy referendums.

People have come to depend on the news media so much for their daily lives that owning a major newspaper meant you had more power than the government because you could make or break politicians.

The newspaper’s original free market model was entirely based on the quality of the product. There were no advertisers and the newspaper was allowed to survive based on its pure appeal to subscribers. Much like the original newspaper model, cable television once upon a time also had no advertising and was entirely subscriber based. Today, Internet service is supported by subscription to the telecommunication companies.

In the free market phase, the media is a product that relies purely on its own quality to sustain itself. A news organization should survive well in a society where affluence and literacy abound.

An appealing product of information should be easily produced in a society which is taught in a regimented and homogenous manner. An audience educated with proper critical thinking skills should require only facts with which to make decisions.

News was produced that only affected the daily lives and futures of its subscribers.

The current trend toward gentrification of literacy, by raising tuition at private schools and state colleges, the closing of public libraries by cash-strapped cities like Springfield, the shielding of teachers and administrators from Freedom of Information Act requests, is changing the course of society’s future.

Once news organizations began to depend on advertising for survival, they began to shift their appeal toward those who would advertise rather than those who would read or watch. The continued positive messages about the stock market and economy leading up to the banking collapse in 2008, and the continued positive messages about economic recovery during the current recession is one example.

The once-respected news organizations by virtue of only their continued circulation, present ideas that are of no real value to anyone, but which are perceived as being valuable merely by their presence on the printed page or television. The use of the word “popular” became more frequently necessary, as does the subtle presentation that someone or some thing is popular.

The perception of integrity and journalism has shifted from presentation of facts, to speculation and hyperbole. Reporters who adapted were kept employed while those who did not were eliminated or rejected. Media personalities who could garner the highest ratings through pure emotional appeal are paid the highest.

The owners of media decided who gets employed. The potential for an editor to gain employment may depend on how close his or her ideological agenda matches that of the owner. One might claim that an editorial board makes decisions, but how is the board selected?

Suddenly, the Internet became declassified and accessible to the public. The media “gatekeepers” no longer control the flow of information. There is no one to edit or censor communication, and everyone can research for themselves, the stories they are told.

But nobody has time. Everyone is too busy to recognize their livelihoods being gradually eroded away through subtle distortions in their values.

Hiring freeze over at UIS?

Shortly after announcing a hiring freezes(1), the University of Illinois posted an employment ad in the classified section of the Illinois State Journal Register.

One may suspend dissonance by taking account of the fact that during an election year, it is wise for incumbents of offices capable of positioning patrons in such employment, to dangle before the public such golden nuggets of aspiration that yield sacrificial political campaign contributions.

Such behavior is common as evidenced by past state and municipal contradictory and illogical actions of a similar nature. The State Journal-Register reported that the city of Springfield once hired 18 new employees despite facing an 8 to 12 million dollar deficit.(2)

Let the race begin.


(2) Published on December 18, 2009, State Journal-Register, The (Springfield, IL) Our Opinion: City should implement hiring freeze

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Union Problem

Unions have become big enough to be a problem not only for their employers, but for the economy as a whole, inevitably including unions themselves. The resources used to placate the unions and enrich the owners of production and owners of resources are inequitably removed from the rest of the population which has no political clout.

You may raise an accusatory finger and say, “everyone has a vote” which is true, but the vote has no value because money, not the public, controls who gets publicity and ultimately who gets on the ballot.

Groups who have the most money can prop up all the puppets they want because the money that goes into political campaigns must inevitably put food on the family tables of “credentialed” editors, producers and journalists.

Illinois has a small variety of very good private schools, but the quality of teaching and administration at public schools is now shielded from inquiries under the Freedom of Information Act.

The teachers union worked to protect their own upper echelons from public scrutiny, despite the fact they receive public money. Parents are interested in the quality of their child’s education.

The public can’t scrutinize the quantity and quality of information collected in the minds of students. Students’ grades are confidential. The public can already easily scrutinize unclean facilities, incorrectly prepared food and clerical errors on non-confidential documents, they should have a right to know what kind of teacher or administrator their kids are getting.

The state of Illinois has left itself exposed for criticism that says “Illinois hides the performance records of teachers, principals, and school superintendents. Anyone who can’t send their children to private school should now to find another state with more transparency in their education system.

Months after approving what was billed as a sweeping reform of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, legislators, at the behest of teachers’ unions, on Wednesday barred disclosure of performance evaluations for teachers, principals and school superintendents.

The measure doesn’t affect evaluations of janitors, secretaries, teacher aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers or any other type of school employee, nor, as written, does it have any impact on municipal, county or state workers. – Illinois State Journal Register. 01/13/2010. [ ]

Unions refuse to look over their own private white-washed fences at the crushing poverty experienced by the rest of us. They have become the very thing they sought to overcome. They seem to have no consideration for the apparent lack of tax revenues caused by the economic collapse in the private sector. Without any acknowledgement of the economic pressure on the rest of us, they continue to fight for more money still, and even suggest increasing fees or implementing new fees on the public, parallel to tax collection.

To suggest new fees or increasing fees is to put an idea in the politician’s mind that he can later easily claim that he did not raise taxes.

Ron Stone, the police union’s attorney, said the union has offered the city a number of alternatives to furlough days, wage reductions and layoffs — from charging a fee to businesses for false alarms to seeking a greater fee or full reimbursement for special events when police presence is required.

“With the city council that’s not willing to increase revenue, it’s going to be difficult,” Stone said. – Illinois State Journal Register 01/13/2010 [ ]

Unions have such a tight grip on their states and municipalities that even suggesting to suspend raises for unions brings threats of lawsuits for breach of contract, while non-union labor has no choice but to accept minimum wage increase that is far below the poverty level.

Davlin also is asking employees to accept smaller raises, saving $1.25 million for the corporate fund and $1.1 million at CWLP. All of the city’s union contracts call for employees to receive 3.5 percent raises during the next budget year. Davlin has proposed that all employees receive salary increases of only one-half of 1 percent. – Illinois State Journal register 01/13/2010 [ ]

Ultimately, unions will self-destruct simply because they refuse to adapt with the rest of us to ebb and flow of the economy. The first to suffer are services to the elderly, developmentally disabled, public libraries, elementary and secondary education among others, including those of us with no voice and no political clout.

Unions, already paid extraordinarily high wages and whose jobs are protected, are now getting a thank-you gift from the Democrats for helping them get elected, in the form of an exemption from paying a tax on their “Catdillac” health care insurance plans.

The best chance for compromise legislation on health care may be a plan under construction in the Senate Finance Committee that would pay for a public plan in part by taxing some worker health benefits.

But the union workers who helped Democrats win Congress and the White House and whose support will be key in getting a health bill signed into law would not pay the tax.

With cost estimates already as high as $1.6 trillion, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has proposed paying for the bill in part by taxing health care benefits for workers who earn more than $100,000, or $200,000 for married couples, according to those familiar with the discussions.

Baucus is also weighing a tax based on the value of health care benefits that exceed a yet-to-be determined cap. A tax on benefits that exceed the cap by a mere $3,000 could amount to $750 in taxes annually for a worker who earns as little as $34,000, say experts. --  Ferrechio, Susan, Chief Congressional Correspondent - Washington Examiner June 23, 2009 “Union workers would be exempt from Dem health care tax” [ ]

When you hear the likes of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow decrying the “Teabaggers” understand that they are talking about people who live paycheck to paycheck, people who are qualified and interested in working at a government agency, but who cannot even get an interview because the city or state is borrowing money to pay union salaries and pensions, the non-union elderly and others unable to afford their taxes and fees for property and vehicles, people who can’t afford to send their children to private school and must gamble on the quality of their child’s education.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Congratulations to INB

I went to (Move Your Money) and entered 62704 and the list of local banks to which you should move your money was topped by Illinois National Bank (INB).


Saturday, January 09, 2010

This morning's classified section

Capitol Radio Group is looking for someone to hire so I thought I would look up their address on Google Maps. Nice work.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

What is a "Straw Law?" a story you should save for educational purposes.

Luckily I get the actual printed version of the Illinois State Journal Register. I had to do a search to find this story online, even though it was in today's paper. Hmmm...

There's a story about how lobby reform legislation is being cut down by judge in Chicago who ruled it unconstitutional. It's important because it demonstrates what I like to call a "Straw Law."

Basically it's legislation that gets almost unanimous popular support, that works against organizations which are the backbone of political campaign financing. In classic textbook fashion, a quiet little rule is tacked on that will sabotage the law, but only long after the law is passed, when nobody is looking. A lawsuits against it will later be filed, and a judge can easily rule it unconstitutional.

Here now is the glaring example of such a "Straw Law:"