Freedom and Liberty
If I’m not mistaken, not a single Obama budget (those few he’s submitted) over the years has gotten even one vote when it hit Congress. And that includes votes from Democrats.
This year is likely to be no exception.
Much of the president’s proposed budget’s rosy projections will require considerable tax financing and political restraint to come to fruition. If revenues are lower than anticipated or spending is not restricted as planned, the ten-year debt picture will look quite different. I have noted before that President Obama’s later mid-session review budget differed considerably from his early budget projections. Early revenue and outlay projections were higher than actual amounts, while deficit spending surged much higher than anticipated from 2010 to 2012. This budget will likely mis-project critical variables as well. The rosiest projections all too often turn out to be the most disappointing.
Talk about an understatement. And the rosy projection? Well here it is compared to the CBO projection:
You have to chuckle at a miss that bad. In the outlying years, look at the percent of GDP the CBO projects vs. Obama. Any guess as to which projection is most likely of the two?
Go back to a key line ins De Rugy’s analysis:
If revenues are lower than anticipated or spending is not restricted as planned, the ten-year debt picture will look quite different.
Point to a moment in recent history where our profligate politicians have actually followed a restrictive spending plan that would have the effect Obama says it will?
Yeah, I can’t point to it either.
Regardless, however, we’re supposed to believe that if the plan is followed as layed out in the Obama budget, we’ll see long term debt reduction.
Unfortunatly the next chart doesn’t at all support that claim:
In every year projected, spendin is greater than revenue. So what they’re assuming is massive growth in the eoncomy to make the debt they pile up in the later years a smaller percentage of the GDP.
Really? Taxes are going to go up, government spending will also go up and yet somehow the private economy is going to surge (10 more “recovery summers”, eh?)? Obama plans spending and taxation as a percentage of GDP that are at or near historic highs, but we’ll see huge economic growth to support that?
Wow, if you’re not flying the red BS flag, you need to take an Econ 101 class.
Yet this is what the President of the United States is presenting as a functional budget for this country 10 years into the future.
“Outdated” because it confilicts with liberalism. Here’s a senior at Harvard’s view:
In its oft-cited Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the American Association of University Professors declares that “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.” In principle, this policy seems sound: It would not do for academics to have their research restricted by the political whims of the moment.
Yet the liberal obsession with “academic freedom” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?
Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.
And what is it called when one promotes the quashing of dissenting views that they find to conflict with their ideas?
Call is “social justice” or whatever you choose, it is plain old, Brand X “oppression”.
That’s right. Every oppresive regime in the history of our world has been intolerant of dissent and has taken action to quash it. Here we see the same old tired argument presented by a liberal to further the cause of liberalism. Don’t want to hear any dissenting voices, oh no.
And yet this newly trained “scholar” presents this as if it is a brand-new, brightly minted and spectacular idea. She’s a senior at Harvard and “is a joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator”.
No kidding. What a surprise. There seems to be quite a concentration of potential oppressers in that particular field of study. There certainly seems to be a dearth of critical thinkers however (she probably comes from the school of “it hasn’t worked properly yet because I haven’t been in charge”). It’s a pity she didn’t take a run-of-the-mill world history course or two to see who else in the past has shared that bright idea with her. Past hell, there’s are entire countries which have implemented that exist now.
China, Cuba and North Korea come to mind.
But first a fond farewell to Piers Morgan – don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass as you head back to the UK, you jackwagon. Oh, and would you mind taking Alex Baldwin and that Beiber thing with you?
Now to the point. One of the things that the Obama administration told us in the beginning is that it planned on putting “science” back in its proper place as something serious and non-political (an obvious political shot at the opposition who, candidate Obama claimed, used it for political purposes).
How’s that gone? Well we’ve watched the global warming bunkem. And the Keystone Pipeline nonsense. But here’s a story that will demonstrate best how much of a lie (and I don’t know how you describe what’s happened any other way) that original promise was:
A case in point is the story of DOI science adviser and scientific integrity officer, Dr. Paul Houser, who found out that by simply doing his job can be hazardous to one’s career. Dr. Houser is an expert in hydrology who was hired by DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate scientific data used in the department’s decision making process. He was assigned several Western State projects including a scheme to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Northern California—the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. When a summary of science posted on the web to support DOI’s claim for removal of the dams omitted several crucial factors from expert panel reports, Dr. Houser brought his concerns to his superiors. He was repeatedly told to refrain from sharing his concerns through electronic communication, which could be subject to Freedom of Information Act discovery.
Dr. Houser learned firsthand that policy was driving the science, rather than the other way around, when he was told by his superiors at DOI, “Secretary Salazar wants to remove those dams. So your actions here aren’t helpful.”
According to the DOI the premise for Klamath River dams removal is to restore Coho salmon spawning habitat above the dams. However, official DOI documents reveal scientific concerns that dam removal may, in fact, result in species decline based on millions of tons of toxic sediment build up behind the dams that will make its way to the ocean. Water temperature increases without the dams could also negatively impact the salmon. These studies were ignored. Concerns about the human toll and impact to local Klamath Basin communities were also brushed aside. Those most interested in the well-being of the environment they live and work in, were given a backseat to special interests thousands of miles away.
The Klamath hydroelectric dams provide clean inexpensive energy to thousands of local residents who will be forced to pay much higher premiums if the dams are removed because California has strict new laws for use of renewable energy. The town of Happy Camp sits on the banks of the Klamath River and could be wiped out with seasonal flooding without the dams. Once Coho salmon are introduced into the upper Klamath, farmers and ranchers will be faced with water use restrictions and invasive government regulation of private land. The economic impact will be devastating, property values will depreciate and the agriculture community, often operating on slim profit margins, will be subjected to the fate of the once vibrant logging industry which fell victim to the spotted owl crusades.
Last year, Dr. Houser raised these concerns and was subsequently fired by the DOI. “I put my concerns forward and immediately thereafter I was pushed out of the organization,” he stated. The agency sent a clear message to the rest of their employees and scientists – Salazar’s dam busting agenda cannot be subject to any internal scientific scrutiny. Goebbels would be proud. Truth must be repressed when it contradicts the objective.
Dr. Houser did the right thing. He did his job. His integrity as a scientist was more important than a paycheck. But he remains concerned about his colleagues in DOI, “There are a lot of good scientists that work for the government but they are scared, they are scared that what happened to me might happen to them. This is an issue (about) the honesty and transparency of government and an issue for other scientists in government who want to speak out.”
Those fish have an advocate. That advocate is named Salazar. Salazar has decided he wants a certain outcome. “Science’s” role is to justfy it. Never mind the human toll. Never mind the economic toll. Never mind any of the toll. Ken Salazar and his radical environmental cronies will feel just peachy about themselves if they accomplish this … even if the fish actually die as a result. Because, well because this is how nature did it to begin with, people are pests and it is more important that we let fish spawn where they once did than worry about how it will effect the pests. And by George he has the power of government and “science” behind him to do as he wishes. Houser didn’t toe the line, had actual scientific integrity and spoke out. And was fired.
Frankly, this doesn’t surprise me a bit.
Peggy Noonan pretty much hits a home run today (well, it being Super Bowl weekend, maybe a touchdown analogy would be better). Here’s how she begins:
The State of the Union was a spectacle of delusion and self-congratulation in which a Congress nobody likes rose to cheer a president nobody really likes. It marked the continued degeneration of a great and useful tradition. Viewership was down, to the lowest level since 2000. This year’s innovation was the Parade of Hacks. It used to be the networks only showed the president walking down the aisle after his presence was dramatically announced. Now every cabinet-level officeholder marches in, shaking hands and high-fiving with breathless congressmen. And why not? No matter how bland and banal they may look, they do have the power to destroy your life—to declare the house you just built as in violation of EPA wetland regulations, to pull your kid’s school placement, to define your medical coverage out of existence. So by all means attention must be paid and faces seen.
Dead on. SOTU has become kind of like entertainment industry awards shows I guess … something else I never watch. What government can do to your freedom? Very real.
But she’s right, more and more Washington DC has become Oz. More and more it becomes delusional, more insular and more isolated from the real America. And that’s where Noonan goes – she does a riff on real America – i.e. “reality” – a state of being that progressive try to avoid at all costs:
Meanwhile, back in America, the Little Sisters of the Poor were preparing their legal briefs. The Roman Catholic order of nuns first came to America in 1868 and were welcomed in every city they entered. They now run about 30 homes for the needy across the country. They have, quite cruelly, been told they must comply with the ObamaCare mandate that all insurance coverage include contraceptives, sterilization procedures, morning-after pills. If they don’t—and of course they can’t, being Catholic, and nuns—they will face ruinous fines. The Supreme Court kindly granted them a temporary stay, but their case soon goes to court. The Justice Department brief, which reads like it was written by someone who just saw “Philomena,” suggests the nuns are being ignorant and balky, all they have to do is sign a little, meaningless form and the problem will go away. The sisters don’t see the form as meaningless; they know it’s not. And so they fight, in a suit along with almost 500 Catholic nonprofit groups.
Everyone who says that would never have happened in the past is correct. It never, ever would have under normal American political leadership, Republican or Democratic. No one would’ve defied religious liberty like this.
The president has taken to saying he isn’t ideological but this mandate—his mandate—is purely ideological.
It also is a violation of traditional civic courtesy, sympathy and spaciousness. The state doesn’t tell serious religious groups to do it their way or they’ll be ruined. You don’t make the Little Sisters bow down to you.
This is the great political failure of progressivism: They always go too far. They always try to rub your face in it.
She has other examples, but the way she wrapped up this portion is a pretty good summary of the state of Oz.
And we’re all the poorer and less free because of it.
It is something government is quite good at doing, even though the solution usually ends up being worse than the problem.
And then there are “problems” that aren’t really problems, but government sees an opportunity to step in and “solve” it via, well, more government and less freedom, of course.
Two out of three Americans are dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are currently distributed in the U.S. This includes three-fourths of Democrats and 54% of Republicans.
On it’s face, you might not think much about this, since very few people are satisfied with their condition, regardless of how good it really is. Everyone thinks they should be doing better. And, for the most part, many like to blame others for their inability to realize whatever goals and dreams they’ve set out for themselves. It’s certainly not their fault they aren’t the CEO of a Fortune 100 company … it has to be the “elite” or the “rich” or the “old boy network” that’s kept them from their dream. And they certainly think they should be making more than they do. They’re worth it, just ask them.
They’re also fertile ground for the biggest con artist in the world to use their dissatisfaction to promise them their dream at the expense of others. Instead of saying, “Don’t like your situation? Work harder and smarter then”, this bunch of grifters promise to use their power to help the dissatisfied get “their due”. And so:
President Barack Obama spoke about income disparities in a Dec. 4, 2013, speech, saying he wanted to prioritize lowering income disparity and increasing opportunities, particularly for the poor, during the rest of his second term. He most likely will return to that topic in his State of the Union speech at the end of the month. Gallup’s Jan. 5-8 Mood of the Nation survey included a question asking Americans how satisfied they are with income and wealth distribution in the U.S. Few, 7%, report that they are “very satisfied” with the distribution, while 39% of Americans say they are “very dissatisfied.”
Who says a failing economy can’t be used to increase political and governmental power? Just hide and watch. Of course, it is no coincidence that the “dissatisfaction” with the “distribution” of “income and wealth” took a nose dive with the economy, is it?
But you know the old Rahm Emanuel saying – “never let a crisis go to waste”, even if it is a manufactured crisis. If it is an opportunity to expand government (especially if that expansion accrues more power to government and less to the people) then it’s all good.
They’ll have to move fast though:
Obama will almost certainly touch on inequality in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28. This will certainly resonate in a general sense with the majority of Americans who are dissatisfied with income and wealth distribution in the U.S. today. Members of the president’s party agree most strongly with the president that this is an issue, but majorities of Republicans and independents are at least somewhat dissatisfied as well.
Although Americans are more likely to be satisfied with the opportunity for people to get ahead through hard work, their satisfaction is well below where it was before the economic downturn. Accordingly, improvement in the U.S. economy could bring Americans’ views back to pre-recession levels.
Heaven forbid the economy get better before more useless programs can be “funded” and more plans executed to relieve the “rich” and “wealthy” of their money for the usual vote buying schemes.
But with this crew in charge, an economic turnaround isn’t very likely anytime soon … so I’m sure they feel pretty darn safe at the moment and believe that they have plenty of time.
Well you all saw the new job numbers – 74,000 new jobs, 525,000 more workers drop out of the workforce and magically, the U3 unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% (“and the underpants gnomes … SCORE!”)
Trust … why wouldn’t you trust the BLS’s numbers when you continually see this formula add up to “less” unemployment? /sarc
In more ways than one, trust in government is being squandered by those in government.
For instance have you ever seen “leaders” who seem to know less about what their “minions” are doing than this latest bunch? Barack Obama is clueless as is, to a lesser extent, Chris Christie. And so we are witness to abuses of power on a regular basis. Most of those abuses can be linked to politics in general. But let’s face it, whatever the reason, we are seeing more and more abuse of power to the point that one might suggest that our government has become too powerful (“suggest” hell, it IS too powerful).
There’s another point that bothers me. I don’t know about you, but the way I’ve always been taught – in fact what I learned as a leader – is a leader is responsible for everything that does or doesn’t happen on his watch.
And while we may apply that in our lives and jobs, “we the people” seem content with swallowing the “gee, I didn’t know that was going on” nonsense from politicians. I’ve never seen an occupation where they are given so many passes on things that in the normal business world – or any other “world” – would be the end of their career.
In terms of leadership, It really doesn’t matter what happened, it’s his or her problem and responsibility. Good leaders don’t let those sorts of problems crop up very often. That’s because it is the leader’s job to set the ethical and moral boundaries of his administration and to relentlessly patrol those boundaries and punish those who cross them.
But that doesn’t happen today in politics. Instead we just leave ‘em be when they say “uh, gee, I didn’t know a thing about this.”
Ignorance isn’t an acceptable excuse. It’s the 7 year-old’s defense, one we don’t accept from our own kids, and yet we let politicians who claim to be leaders pull it every single day.
Trust? How can you trust anyone you let lie to you daily? How can you trust anyone who has no apparent moral or ethical boundaries and are only sorry to be caught? How can you believe anything they say? More importantly, how can you let these people have any say over your life at all?
Just wondering …
The Affordable Care Act, the monstrosity of Democratic legislation with the Orwellian name, continues to lose supporters. And, as an added special feature, people in employer based programs are now paying more out-of-pocket for their medical expenses than before ObamaCare. Very “affordable”, no?
Support for the Affordable Care Act has plummeted since late last summer, and people with employer-based health insurance say they increasingly are paying more for out-of-pocket medical expenses, a new Bankrate.com survey released Wednesday revealed.
When Bankrate.com first polled people in September—right before the launch of Obamacare insurance exchanges, there was an even split between those who said they would repeal the Affordable Care Act if given the power to do so and those who would keep it: 46 percent each. (The rest either had no opinion or didn’t know how they felt.)
But three months later, after the botched launch of those government-run exchanges, the number of people who said they would gut Obamacare had risen to 48 percent, while the number of respondents who said they would keep it as law had plunged to 38 percent.
While the “botched launch” may have had some effect on that “plunge”, my guess is that hitting people’s wallet has pushed it down even more. Health care insurance isn’t some esoteric policy argument. It’s something that is important to everyone. It is about their family and trying to afford the best for their family’s health. When policy negatively effects real people, they react just as negatively (and I do hope that Democrats double down on their support of the law, since it is all theirs anyway) :
The survey also found that people, by a 2-to-1 margin, felt Obamacare had had a more negative than positive impact on their own, individual health care. The poll questioned 1,005 adults, and had a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.
His company’s survey also found that a total of 44 percent of people with employer-provided insurance said they are shelling out more dollars in deductibles and copayments than they were a year ago. And 47 percent of that group of people reported having more money deducted from their paycheck to pay the cost of those insurance plans than in 2012.
People earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually were the most affected group: with 64 percent of them reporting a bigger hit on their paychecks from health insurance. Just 38 percent of the people earning less than $30,000 reported paying more for insurance in payroll deductions as of 2013.
The great leveling. Apparently you’re “rich” if you earn between $50 and $75k, so it’s okay that you’re paying more – and besides, those “Cadillac plans” just aren’t fair (well, except for the exempt unions, of course … and Congress, and ….). Don’t forget the tsunami of cancellations that will hit employer based programs hasn’t yet happened.
Obviously it doesn’t take great powers of perception to realize that this is just going to get worse and worse as the months pass. And as those months pass, those supporting the legislation will become fewer and fewer. It will be a grand issue on which Congressional Republicans can run (if they actually can figure out how to do that successfully without the usual idiocy). Unfortunately, politics aside, it is going to be a building disaster for the American people.
Repeal is the best remedy.
Just for an intro:
A Russian expedition ship carrying global warming scientists got stuck in ice earlier this week. Now a Chinese ice breaker sent to rescue the scientists is frozen too just miles away.
Yes friends, “global warming”, “climate change” or whatever the alarmists choose to call it next year, will be with us and with a vengeance.
You see, “if you like your insurance you can keep it” Obama has said it will be one of his highest priorities. There’s gold in that thar air. It is an as yet untapped revenue source that, well, he’s bound and determined to tap – science, or lack thereof, be damned.
Nevermind that 13 new Obama taxes go into effect this next year and will likely stunt economic growth … again. Global warming produces an entire new opportunity to gouge taxpayers “for their own good” — you know, just like ObamaCare. And, of course, the grab will be couched in language much like ObamaCare. They’ll promise the moon. They’ll deliver misery. The only institution which will benefit? Government.
What will be chipped away?
A little more of your freedom. Your liberty.
It is obviously okay now for government to just engage in bald faced lies and get away with it. Obama’s “if you like your insurance …” lie led the parade of Pinocchio awards by that renowned right-wing rag the Washington Post. Result? Nada? Penalty? Nada?
Lesson learned by the perpetrators of the lie?
Hey, it’s okay, there are no penalties and it works.
Global warming (and your wallet).
You’ve been warned.
I got a taste of what modern policing has become today—which is to say, an absolute unwillingness to allow anything but complete, unquestioning obedience. Officer Friendly has long since retired, apparently.
For the past fifteen years, I have worked every day on the same very small military installation as a contractor. This morning, as I was approaching the main gate, when I started off after the stoplight, I didn’t shift upshift. So, the Goat was just wailing that sweet V8 growl as I approached the gate. About fifty yards from the gate, I slowed down, rolled down my window, and had my ID outside the car as I approached. Usually, there are civilian DoD police at the gate, but this morning, it was manned by a reservist, a 2nd Class Master at Arms—the Navy’s equivalent to Military Police. We had a brief conversation that went, as nearly as I can remember it like this:
PO2: (Snippy) Are you running late this morning?
(At this point, I could instantly see that my answer displeased him.)
PO2: (Scowling) You need to keep your speed down.
Me: I always observe the speed limits when I’m on the installation.
PO2: (Waving me through) You need to keep your speed down off-base, too.
Me: (Starting to drive away) What happens off-base isn’t your jurisdiction.
I got to my office, turned on my computer, and went into the break area to warm up a couple of delicious whole-wheat Eggos. While I was standing in the kitchen, a uniformed DoD police officer walked in and asked me if I owned the Red GTO. When I said I did, he then asked for my driver’s license. I asked, since I wasn’t operating a motor vehicle, if I was required to show it to him. (In CA, you are not required to do so when not operating a vehicle, nor are you required to show an ID otherwise. It’s different on military bases, of course, in that you are required to show an ID).
When I gave it to him, he then began to tell me how bad my attitude was, and how I should be more respectful of the police, what with them having such a hard job and all. I said that, when it came to respect, maybe the gate guard should’ve been a little less snippy. He said they didn’t need me making smart remarks about their jurisdiction, because they have a close relationship with civilian law enforcement, and he himself, had worked for Atlanta PD for fifteen years. I denied driving at an excessive speed when I approached the gate, said that my comment about jurisdiction was completely valid and that did not have the authority to issue traffic citations off-base, and that if they felt they needed to call CHP to give me a citation, they should do so. Otherwise, he should present me with a citation or arrest me for a military-related offense. Failing that, I was uninterested in further conversation. He seemed a bit upset when he left.
About twenty minutes later, two more DoD policemen came into my office. One of them was the major who serves as the installation’s police chief. They asked to talk to me outside. I told them that, since it appeared that I was the target of some sort of investigation I would refuse to answer any questions without consulting legal council. They asked me to step outside the building and I complied. The major then asked me where I was getting my legal knowledge from, and I replied that I had been an active-duty military policeman for 10 years. They asked for my license, registration and insurance card, and workcenter supervisors. While one officer began to write down my information, the major then told me that as a military policeman I should have a better attitude and be more cooperative. He then presented a hypothetical situation about approaching the gate at a high rate of speed. I said, "Hypothetically, I would categorically deny any such allegations". He began to ask me more questions, and I stopped him, saying:
Me: Don’t I have the right to remain silent?
Major: Well, if you are a former MP you should know that Miranda only applies to custodial interviews, not voluntary ones."
Me: So, is this a voluntary interview?
Me: So, I’m free to go?
(The major hesitated at this point, probably because both he and I knew what the only correct answer was.)
Major: Yes, you’re free to go.
Me: Then, I think we’re done here.
I retrieved my documentation from the other officer, put it my car, and walked back into the building.
Another twenty minutes passed when two different officers showed up at my office and asked me to come outside. When I did, they presented me with a base traffic ticket for not having my car registered on base. Quite honestly, I didn’t know I was required to, since the Navy no longer issues vehicle decals. We were told that registration was no longer necessary, but apparently the registration regulation is still on the books. The ticket had already been written before the officers approached me. One of them—the officer who had been sent over to speak with me the first time—said, "By direction of the base police chief, I am issuing you a citation for failure to register your vehicle within ten days. You can call the base traffic office if you have any questions." I said, "Wait a second, I haven’t even had my plates for ten days. I just bought the car." He said, "Your registration is dated more than 10 days ago. That’s the date we go by." Then they left.
So, I went to Pass & ID register my car—as well as my motorcycle, which has never been registered either—and they tore up my ticket. Then when I got back to my office, I called to the regional headquarters, and spoke directly with the GS-15 who runs all the local Navy police operations. I explained that I had a brief, snippy conversation with the gate guard, and since then, had been pulled out of my workcenter three separate times by five DoD police officers, and that I felt it was a little excessive, especially considering the chief of police himself had been one of the officers. He said he would take care of it, which, I hope, means he will tell the local police to turn it down from 11.
So, that was my contact with the DoD police today. At every confrontation, they clearly expected me to respond with the appropriate degree of subservience, and were baffled and angered that I refused to do so. So, they couldn’t let it go. They just kept coming back to my office, as if repeated confrontations would make me more, rather than less, servile. And all this for something that wasn’t any sort of criminal offense.
It says a lot—none of it good—that the police seem to have the expectation of unquestioning obedience. It also says a lot that they seem used to getting it, which is our fault, not theirs.
That’s kind of the $64,000 dollar question (yes, I’m showing my age … bite me) isn’t it?
You’ve seen the news about the fast food walkouts and claims that food service people should be paid $15 an hour? That what the United Food and Commercial Workers union claims workers in that industry should have. But what do workers they actually represent in that industry actually get? Not much over minimum wage and union dues to pay out of that:
An examination of UFCW contracts shows that even senior union members are not receiving the wages that ROC and Jobs for Justice demand.
Consider a department manager at Kroger’s union shop in Michigan. She earns a maximum rate of $13.80, even after over half a decade on the job. If this is the highest wage the UFCW can negotiate for skilled, experienced workers, how can the union provide entry-level, low-skilled workers with $15 an hour?
It is not possible for them to accomplish this. Yet, receiving media coverage for the protests they sponsor is an effective way to increase membership and dues collections. The wage they demand is more than twice what similarly skilled union members are paid, namely $7.40 an hour for an entry-level cashier.
Courtesy clerks are paid a starting rate of $7.40 an hour and can work their way to up a wage ceiling of $7.45, after 12 months on the job. Fuel clerks do not fare much better; they start at the same $7.40 and can earn $7.80 an hour after three years of experience, barely over half of the $15 an hour wage worker centers supported by the UFCW demand. Specialty clerks also start at $7.40 an hour, but can earn up to $9.35 after six years. This amount is still 25 percent below the $12.50 an hour “living wage” Jobs for Justice claims all entry level workers should be paid. Read the full union contract between Kroger and the UFCW here.
The take-home pay is even lower once dues—and federal and state taxes—are removed. Dues are mandatory and usually take between $19 and $60 a month from members’ paychecks.
A non-union member could negotiate that without even trying hard. So, what good is the union really done for those those it represents? Other than pay it’s union staff very well?
It is expensive to run a union. The average total compensation for those employed by the UFCW—rather than represented by the UFCW—is $88,224 a year. This income is almost six times what the union negotiated for cashiers at Kroger’s. Joseph Hansen, the International President of UFCW, earns in excess of $350,000 a year—over twenty times the earnings of many of the workers he represents. The Executive Vice President and National President both earn over $300,000. Are entry-level union workers receiving benefits from paying dues out of their $7.40 an hour paychecks to fund these salaries?
But you know, it’s “management” that’s the problem, right? I mean how could a cashier negotiate a $7.40 an hour paycheck without the union – and then give the union its “dues” out of that same paycheck? Hey, the president of the union has to have his perks, right?
I know, I know, don’t look at the paycheck, look at the other benefits … like a pension, right?
The UFCW has one of the worst records for funding of union pension plans. The Labor Department has informed the UFCW that nine of its pension plans have reached “critical status,” meaning they are less than 65 percent funded. Many of these funds have been underfunded for six years. They have low chances of regaining sustainable financing unless they can convince more new members to join and pay dues without receiving similar benefits.
And, of course, there’s the political side of things … it is important to help fund the union’s political activities, no?
Well of course it went to Democrats. Democrats have been in the union’s pocket (and vice versa) since time began, apparently. Put $11.6 in the pension fund? What are you, a Republican?
Yes, it’s a crying shame people aren’t represented by this union … said no libertarian, ever.