FT136: “Unions only represent those who pay union dues.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 21st, 2012

Fundamental Truth

The Cost of Teachers’ Salaries, Health Care and Pensions are so Costly that there is Little Left to Spend on the Children

The Chicago public school teachers’ strike is over.  And the teachers got enough of what they wanted to go back to the classroom.  Or else they wouldn’t be going back to the classroom.  Which proves the benefit of belonging to a union.  In exchange for those union dues they get a lot of political muscle.  Which they greatly leverage by having children out of the classrooms.  Suffering.  For the kids are losing out on their education.  Worse, parents are stuck with their kids longer.  And must wait longer before they get their break from having their kids home all day long.

And speaking of the children one thing you didn’t hear in the list of demands was more supplies for the classroom.  Despite good teachers everywhere dipping into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies.  Why?  Because the cost of teachers’ salaries, health care and pensions are so costly that there is little left to spend on the children.  And that pay and those benefits are pretty generous.  Especially considering with all the time off teachers get they’re technically working part-time jobs (30 hours a week or less).  With about two and half months off during the summer and the breaks during the school year teachers work about 9 months out of the year.  Which comes to about 1,548 hours a year.  Compared to the 1,560 hours (30 hours X 52 weeks) a year a part-time worker can work.  With far fewer benefits.

But yet it’s always about the children.  Higher pay and benefits for teachers benefit the children.  At least that’s what they tell us.  The ability to retire with nearly their full salary.  And free health care until Medicare kicks in.  All paid by the taxpayers.  That’s what’s important to maintain.  So the children get a quality education.  By having their teachers live a higher quality life and retirement than these children’s parents.  Who are paying for both their own quality of life and retirement.  As well as their kids’ teachers.

Big Cities set up Generous Public Sector Pay and Benefits based on an ever Expanding Population Growth Rate

Whenever a city is having trouble paying their bills they always threaten to lay off police officers and firefighters.  As if that is the only expense a city has.  They never talk about cutting back on their health care plans or their pension plans for all city workers.  Like everyone working in the private sector has gone through.  How many times have you been told by your employer that they cannot make a contribution to your 401(k) retirement plan this year because business was down?  It happens a lot.  And that’s the retirement plan most people have today.  It’s mostly what you put away for your retirement.  Pensions in the private sector are long gone.  Only those unionized sectors with enough political clout still enjoy generous pension plans.

Recessions reduce tax dollars flowing into city coffers.  But that’s only part of the problem.  The bigger problem they have is a flat population growth rate.  All these big cities set up generous public sector pay and benefits based on an ever expanding population growth rate.  But that growth rate flattened out in the Sixties and Seventies.  Thanks to widespread use of birth control and, to a lesser extent, abortion.  Women stopped having a lot of babies.  Which means there are a larger number of people retiring than there are entering the workforce to replace them.  So you have a higher growth rate of those consuming taxes.  While you have a lower growth rate of those paying taxes.  Which means cities will pay more out than they collect unless they raise tax rates.  Which they often try to do.  While threatening to lay off police officers and firefighters if voters don’t approve a new millage.

Things can be especially hard for some city workers because of that flat population growth rate.  Not to pick on the firefighters but look at a typical firehouse.  Say a firehouse with one engine/ladder truck and one rescue squad.  That’s about 6 firefighters.  If a city has 30 firehouses that’s 180 firefighters.  If they are 24 hours on duty and 24 hours off that brings it up to 360 firefighters.  If a firefighter academy graduates 100 new firefighters a year that’s about a third of all firefighters.  Now unless each firefighter only works 3 years there will always be more firefighters than open positions.  New building technologies and fire alarm/suppression systems have greatly reduced the number of building fires.  All of this on top of a flat population growth rate makes it very difficult for anyone wanting to be a firefighter these days.  Making matters worse a lot of the old cities are actually seeing population decreases.  Which cities respond to by closing firehouses.  Which reduces the number of firefighters.  Making it even harder for aspiring firefighters.

A Union Represents those who pay Union Dues—not Children, Taxpayers or Patients

Cities collect property taxes to pay for the services they provide.  As well as other taxes and fees.  From that pot of money they collect they divide it between the various departments they have.  Such as for education.  From that money educators have to pay all their bills.  From classroom supplies.  To teachers’ salaries, health care and pensions.  They can only spend this money once.  So if they give more to the teachers there is less for the classroom.  So when teachers strike and say it’s for the children it is probably not for the children.  For the children pay no union dues.  As unions don’t represent the children anymore than they represent the taxpayers.  They represent the teachers.  Because they pay the union dues.  And it is their job to get as much of that money spent on education to the teachers as possible.

There are some moves to unionize nurses and other health care workers.  In fact, that will happen under Obamacare as health care workers will all become government workers.  And eligible to join public sector unions.  Which is why all the unions were so adamantly for Obamacare even though many of them have gotten waivers to opt out.  Because it will swell the ranks of the public sector unions.  While greatly increasing the cost of health care.  And hurt the quality of our health care system.  For if we pay nurses like government bureaucrats we will shift more health care money to these new public sector workers while leaving less to spend on patients.

It is remarkable how selfless all public sector workers are.  For they never want more taxpayer money for their own selfish needs.  It’s always for the children.  The safety of our citizens.  And when Obamacare fully kicks in, the quality of health care our patients receive.  It’s just a coincidence that while protecting the children, the taxpayers and our patients that they benefit, too.  Funny how that works.  Which is what happens when you belong to a union and pay dues.  For a union represents those who pay union dues.  Not children, taxpayers or patients.

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LESSONS LEARNED #26: “If we need Big Government to protect us from ourselves, then our public schools can’t be the best place to learn.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 12th, 2010

WE ARE WHAT they teach us.  And here is a little of what our teachers taught us.  And a little of what we learned by observation.

WHEN I WAS in grade school, our teachers went on strike.  It was great.  Another week or so of summer vacation.  But I saw a curious thing.  Some of my classmates were carrying picket signs.  And there they were, walking with the teachers.  I could not understand why anyone would want to help to end an extended summer vacation.  That’s all I knew about a teacher’s strike.  I had no idea why they didn’t want to go back to work.  I just knew it meant I didn’t have to go back to school yet.

The signs my fellow students carried said something about making our schools better.  As kids typically don’t like being in school, I couldn’t imagine they thought much about improving the educational system.  Other than greatly shortening the school day.  And school year.  But giving a pay raise to our teachers?  Giving them more benefits?  How, exactly, was that going to make school better?  I mean, if they got more pay and benefits, our education would get worse, not better.  They would just transfer money from the classroom to the teachers.  Unless the city raised property taxes to replace the classroom money that was given to the teachers.  And that would only increase the household costs of these kids’ parents.  Meaning less presents at Christmas.  Couldn’t these kids see the folly of their ways?

Of course they couldn’t.  They were just useful pawns.  They hadn’t the foggiest idea why teachers go on strike.  The teachers told them what to say.  What to think.  And they lied to these kids.  They weren’t striking because they wanted more money and better benefits.  Which they were.  No.  They told these innocent children that they were striking so they could have a better art department.  A better music department.  Better field trips.  That’s why these teachers were on the picket lines.  For the children.  And that every time there were cuts in the classroom, it was because of the greed of their parents who didn’t approve a millage.  Or who bitched about rising property taxes.  It was never their OWN greed.  Never that.

WE HAD A mock election when I was in 7th grade.  It was an ‘exercise in democracy’.  I remember voting for the Democrat candidate.  I don’t know why.  I knew nothing about politics.  I had only recently quit playing with my toy cars.  I was still reading The Hardy Boys mystery novels.  And thinking about the pretty girls in class.  What I don’t remember was spending much time thinking about the presidential election.  But there I was, voting for the Democrat candidate.  Who won in our little mock election.  But how did I, as well as my fellow students, know enough about politics to vote for the Democrat candidate?

Obviously, they taught us what to think.  That the Democrat candidate was the better candidate.  Because he was for the working man.  And cared about the little people.  That the Democrats cared about education.  Not profits.  All these touchy feely things.  Which was about all a kid could understand.  A kid can’t understand monetary or fiscal policy.  The intricacies of foreign policy.  They don’t have a clue about those things.  But kids do know that they should play nice.  And that’s what the Democrats are all about.  Playing nice.  And providing political muscle for the teachers’ unions in exchange for votes.  And obedient little minds of mush that will one day become voters.

I HAD A speech/debate class in high school.  Our teacher used the latest in progressive teaching methods.  A lot of touchy feely stuff.  Feel more than think.  We often did these exercises where the class as a whole debated the pros and cons of a particular position.  One day we went through a list of five or so.  I found the last one interesting.  It was about a ‘death ray’.

I had recently watched a program about nuclear weapons.  I learned that the size of their warheads was a function of the accuracy of the weapons.  They needed a big radius of destruction to guarantee the destruction of the target.  This is true for all weapon systems, conventional or nuclear.  The less accurate they are, the bigger the destructive force required.  (Whereas smart weapons today can have smaller warheads because they can be steered onto target.)  The more accurate the weapon, the less destructive it can be.  The less collateral damage there would be.  Less civilian dead.  The lesson described the ‘death ray’ as a weapon of pinpoint accuracy.  Based on what I just recently learned, I thought that it would be very interesting to discuss the pros of such a weapon.

When we finished discussing the position before the ‘death ray’, he said something like it was obvious that no one would argue for such a weapon system.  So there was no point in discussing it.  And then, as an afterthought, he said “unless someone does” with a condescending smirk.  I raised my hand.  I began to make some positive points.  He cut me off.  There was to be no discussion in favor of any weapon system in his class.  Turns out he was anti-war.  Free speech was one thing but not when you disagree with the program.

TWO BOOKS THAT that stand out from high school that were required reading are The Grapes of Wrath and Johnny Got His Gun.  You couldn’t find a couple of more depressing books if you tried.  The Grapes of Wrath was about the plight of a family who lost the farm during the dust bowl of the Great Depression.  In it you learned that bankers were evil.  Rich people were evil.  That Big Business was evil and exploited the poor.  Whereas poor people were virtuous.  And only poor people helped other poor people.  That Big Government was good and helped the poor people.  That FDR’s New Deal was good and helped the poor people.  That unions are good and protect those who Big Business exploits.  You get the picture?  Democrats good.  Republicans bad.  Because the Democrats take care of the little guy.  And evil bankers and fat cats are all Republicans.  Or so we were taught.

Johnny Got His Gun is an anti-war book.  It’s about a U.S. veteran of World War I.  Joe Bonham.  He lost about every part of the human body you could.  And yet they kept him alive.  I read it in the 10th grade.  Young and impressionable, I saw the folly of war.  War hurt good, young men like poor Joe Bonham.  (Incidentally, the name ‘Bonham’?  It’s from the French ‘bon homme’, good man.)  A pity only the anti-war crowd read it.  Apparently no one read it in Germany or Italy or the Soviet Union.  Maybe if their citizens did read it World War II would not have broken out.  Thankfully for the free world, though, men did serve in the armed forces despite what happened to poor Joe Bonham.  And they saved liberty.  And the burning of books did not spread further.  And books like this, because of men who did pick up a gun, remain in the public school curriculum.

Of course, you know why they (the public school teachers) are anti-war, don’t you?  It’s simple.  Any money spent on the military is money not spent on them.

I HAD AN electronics teacher in high school who was really cool.  He let us drink coffee in class (or, should I say, cream and sugar with some coffee).  He’d send a student across the street to buy donuts to eat with our coffee.  And he taught us how to build little black boxes that could unscramble scrambled television.  He was also a pretty good teacher.  A PNP transistor symbol?  The arrow was P-N (peein’) on the base.  (An NPN transistor symbol pointed away from the base.)  The resistor color code?  Bad boys rape our young girls but Violet gives willingly.  The whore.  (Hey, this stuff was funny when you’re only 16 years old.)  He even set up an interview for me at an electronic repair shop.  He liked being a teacher.  But he enjoyed doing concrete flatwork, too.  One of those things he did to pay the bills while in college.  And kept doing after college.  And that’s what he did during the summer, the peak of the construction season.  And made good money doing it.

MY MOM WORKED as a volunteer at my grade school.  She got to know the teachers pretty well.  She even went to their homes.  One lived not too far away from us.  I went with her once or twice.  Talk about surreal.  Seeing your teacher outside the school.  Acting so un-teacher-like.  Wearing something she doesn’t wear to school.  Having fun.  Laughing and joking.  And seeing her being a mom to her own kids.  That was weird.  We treated her politely and with respect in school.  Her kids whined “maaaa” at home just like I did when I was at home.  My teacher was just a normal person.  Human, almost.

But what really struck me then was that though they lived in the same general area as we did, they had more.  Bigger house.  With nicer stuff.  A newer car in the driveway.  More presents under their Christmas tree.  And in bigger boxes.  It was a ‘blue-collar’ neighborhood.  Her husband was a ‘blue-collar’ worker.  Just like my dad.  But my mom volunteered.  My teacher was, well, a teacher.  The ultimate second income in a two income family.  Good pay and benefits.  And no child care to worry about.  Teachers are off when their kids are off.  Holidays.  Breaks.  Snow days.  And, of course, summer vacation.  It just didn’t get better for a working mom.

IT IS INTERESTING that people become more conservative with age.  They may start out Democrat.  But after working awhile or raising a family, they often become Republican.  Not all of them.  But a lot.  The net number of people changing from Democrat to Republican far exceeds those changing from Republican to Democrat.  If there are any.  Other than for political reasons (in a desperate attempt to get reelected by switching parties).  That’s why the Democrats depend on the youth vote.  Because the youth vote is an uninformed voted.  They haven’t been deprogrammed yet.  They still toe the party line.  Because they don’t know any better.  Yet.

As we work and live in the real world, though, away from the insulated life of home or the college campus, things change.  We get older.  And wiser.  Less naive.  Less idealistic.  Less ignorant.  That’s why there is a net change from Democrat to Republican.  We grow up.  And start thinking for ourselves.  And try as they might during our public school indoctrination, we stop being sheep.  Eventually.  We strop bleating their mantra.  ‘Big Government good.  Private sector bad’.  Why?  Because we see that public school teachers and government workers live a lot better than we do.  This privileged few, this ruling elite, continue to take from us and respond with condescending arrogance when we complain.  Angry that we don’t mind our place in the lower strata of society.  Where we belong.

And they are nervous.  They can only maintain their elite status as long as we pay for it.  The more we learn, though, the less we are willing to support this aristocracy.  And they know it.  So they try to keep us dumbed down.  For an educated constituency is the greatest threat to Big Government.  And the public school system.  This self-proclaimed aristocracy.

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