FT214: “The far left has been and always will be an aristocratic-thinking, privilege-seeking people.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 21st, 2014

Fundamental Truth

Lawyers make a lot of Money without Contributing anything Tangible to Society

An attorney was sitting in his office late one night when Satan appeared before him.  Satan said, “I have a proposition for you.  You can win every case you try for the rest of your life.  Your clients will adore you, your colleagues will stand in awe of you and you will make embarrassing sums of money.  All I want in exchange is your soul, your wife’s soul, your children’s souls, the souls of your parents, grandparents, parents-in-law, the souls of all your friends and law partners.”  The lawyer thought about this for a moment then asked, “So, what’s the catch?”

That’s funny, isn’t it?  Lawyers.  Ambulance chasers.  The butt of so many jokes.  Why?  Well, some will say they deserve it.  Because they do chase ambulances.  And will pass out their business cards if they’re on a sinking ship.  Because sinking ships are good for lawsuits.  And lawyers love to sue.  For they can make a lot of money without contributing anything tangible to society.  All they do is get between two parties when large sums of money change hands.  And put a portion of that money into their pockets.  That’s how they earn their living.  Taking money away from others.  They’re parasites.  Just to get rich.  And the big tort lawyers (those who sue people and businesses) get really rich.  Allowing them to live very privileged lives.

Take a class action lawsuit.  Where they bring a lot of wronged people together to sue a large corporation.  The old David and Goliath thing.  A little person can never take on a big corporation.  But a whole class of them can.  When represented by a tort lawyer.  Who liken themselves as heroes of the little guy.  Taking the big corporation on to make them pay for all the horrible things they’ve done to their clients.  But who do they really help?  Let’s say they win a judgment from a big corporation of $250,000,000.  That’s a lot of money.  From that sum they take their cut.  Let’s say 50%.  Leaving $125 million for the people the corporation wronged.  That’s a lot of money.  So the people won, too, right?  Not really.  For there are a lot of people represented in these class actions.  Let’s say 5 million in our example.  So if you divide the $125 million by 5 million that comes to $25 per person.  So, again, who did the lawyers really help?  The lawyers.  Which is why there are so many lawyer jokes.

In the Private Sector if you want to spend Half of your Life Retired you have to Pay for It

Lawyers vote Democrat.  Because they like being privileged people.  They don’t want the laws changing that allow them to get so rich when money exchanges hands.  Which is why they donate heavily to the Democrat Party.  And don’t donate to the Republicans.  Who complain about the high costs of frivolous lawsuits to businesses in an overly litigious society.  It’s so bad that a footnote in the financial statements of a corporation about a lawsuit is not that big of a deal.  Why?  Because so many corporations are sued that investors are more surprised to see one that isn’t being sued.  This is why Republicans want tort reform.  And pass ‘loser-pays’ into law.  Like many other countries have.  Where the loser in court pays for the attorney fees for the side that wins.  Which would greatly cut down on frivolous lawsuits.  And cut the costs businesses incur from these frivolous lawsuits that they pass on to their customers.  So the lawyers donate to Democrats.  To prevent any tort reform that would change the easy way lawyers have of getting rich.

It’s the world’s oldest profession.  Screwing people for money.  But lawyers aren’t the only ones seeking privilege.  There are a lot of others, too.  Interestingly, they, too, support the Democrat Party.  Such as the United Autoworkers.  They donate heavily to the Democrat Party to keep labor laws favorable to unions.  To make it more difficult for their nonunion competition.  And to use the power of government to force people to pay may for a union-made car.  Allowing their union members to live better lives than those outside of the UAW.  And when even that doesn’t allow General Motors to pay its bills when selling a record number of cars the UAW goes to government for a bailout of their woefully underfunded pension fund.  So their union members can continue to have a more generous retirement at an earlier age than those outside of the UAW.

Teacher unions seek privilege, too.  You hear a lot about how the teachers don’t earn that much.  But then again, they don’t work that much.  Getting 3 months off in the summer.  So you can’t compare their wages to people who don’t get the 3 summer months off.  But for teachers it’s not so much about the paycheck.  It’s the benefits.  Very generous health insurance coverage.  And pensions.  Which have gone the way of the dodo in the private sector.  Because people are just living too long into retirement.  When they first set up these pensions people were dying in their sixties.  The actuaries never saw people living into their eighties as common.  So in the private sector if you want to spend half of your life retired you have to pay for it.  And you work as long as necessary to fund the retirement you want.  The union pensions just can’t work these days as they once did.  Which is why teacher unions like the United Autoworkers and lawyers support the Democrat Party.  They want to keep their privileged lives.

The Wealth Transfers of the Welfare State give Democrats Money and Privilege

Of course privilege is nothing new to the Democrat Party.  They have long stood for privilege.  Even now.  As the Democrats provide themselves all kinds of exceptions from the Affordable Care Act.  For more expensive and lower quality health insurance is good for the masses.  But not for the privileged elite.  Or their special friends who support them so generously with campaign donations.  Congress has had a history of exempting themselves from the laws they pass for us.  It took the Republican winning of the House in the 1994 midterm elections to change that.  The first Republican-controlled House since 1952 required Congress to be held to the same laws as the rest of us.  A bitter pill for Democrats to swallow.  For their feelings of privilege go way back.

The Democrat Party can trace its pedigree back to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party.  The party of the slave-owning planter elite.  Who from day one fought for their privilege starting with the Three-Fifths Compromise.  To give them a greater say in the new national government than their voting population allowed.  The planter elite’s South turned into an Old World aristocracy.  With great manors for the landed aristocracy.  And vast lands worked by slaves.  Very similar to feudalism in the Old World.  And something they fought hard to keep.  Their privilege.  The Southern Democrats used the power of the national government (such as the Fugitive Slave Act) to interfere with state laws in the North.  To protect their feudalism by keeping slavery legal as long as they could while the north was industrializing and modernizing.  With paid laborers.  When they lost control of the House due to the growing population in the North they turned to war.  Saying that the national government was interfering with state laws in the South.  And getting poor southern farmers who owned no slaves to fight and die so the southern aristocracy could live on.

When the Southern Democrats lost the American Civil War they scrambled to maintain their privilege.  They unleashed a terror on the freed slaves and Republicans with the KKK.  The Democrats then wrote Jim Crowe Laws.  Separate but equal.  Government-enforced racial segregation.  During debate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Democrat and former Exalted Cyclops of the KKK Robert Byrd filibustered for 14 hours.  To keep the South segregated.  With power and privilege in a new aristocracy.  Centered not on land but political power and cronyism.  Even becoming the party for blacks as ironic as that is.  Trading government programs for votes.  And destroying the black family in the process.  Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) replaced black fathers with government.  And moved single mothers and their children into housing projects that became infested with drugs and crime.  But this large (and failed) welfare state transferred a lot of wealth to the Democrats.  Giving them money and privilege.   That they can use to maintain their power.  By taking care of those who take care of them.  Lawyers, the UAW, teacher unions and other privilege seekers.  For nothing has changed on the left.  They have been and always will be an aristocratic-thinking, privilege-seeking people who want to live better than the rest of us.  While we pay for their privileged lives.

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FT193: “Democrats are more unified than Republicans because they put their hatred of Republicans ahead of their policy differences.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 25th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Democrats believe Republicans should be like a 1950s Housewife and be Pretty but Express no Thoughts of their Own

What did we learn from the government shutdown?  Well, if you listened to the left you learned that there is a civil war going on in the Republican Party.  And perhaps there is.  For there are two factions in the Republican Party.  Those the Democrats like and can push around.  And those who refuse to be their bitch.

The Tea Party would be in that latter category.  And the Democrats really hate them.  Because they won’t play ball.  Like the establishment Republicans.  Who argue with and debate the Democrats.  Put on a little kabuki theater to shut the constituents up back at home.  Then vote with the Democrats.  And thank the Democrats for the occasional spoils hand-me-down.

You see, the Democrats know how to be a good Republican.  You act like a 1950 housewife.  With Democrats, of course, being the 1950s husband.  Republicans are to look pretty and agree with the Democrats.  They’re not supposed to express a thought of their own.  The Democrats promise them all sorts of things.  To honor their agreements.  To be faithful.  Then go out and break their promises and whore around.  Because in their world Republicans are second-class citizens.  Just like the 1950s housewife.  At least as liberal Democrats see the 1950s housewife.

Extorting Everyone via Obamacare has more Political Dividends than Extorting only Seniors

Washington changes people.  Well, it changes Republicans.  Where power corrupts them.  While absolute power seduces Democrats.  Which is their ultimate goal.  Even when they campaigned for their first election.  They want power.  All the power they can get.  So they can become a ruling class.  An aristocracy.  Where they can do whatever they want.  And live the good life.  At the expense of the masses.  Like it used to be in feudal Europe.  Where who you knew was all that matter.  And a good last name set you up for life.

Power.  It’s all that counts.  And with power comes privilege.  The Democrats see themselves as a privileged elite.  Or at least they think they should be.  Which explains why working Americans have to pay high premiums and pay high deductibles for a basic Obamacare health insurance policy with no subsidies while members of Congress get a generous subsidy for their gold-plated policies even though they earn more than $100 grand a year.

In fact the Affordable Care Act is all about power.  Not health care.  Forcing people to turn to government for their health care makes all people dependent on government.  And much more willing to vote for Democrats who want to raise taxes and expand benefits rather than Republicans who want to ‘throw Grandma off the cliff’.  As the left accuses Republicans of wanting to do.  For it’s one thing extorting seniors.  But it’s another extorting everyone.  Which has far more political dividends than extorting only seniors.

Empowering the Ruling Class is the One Priority Democrats put above all Others

So you have the Democrats trying to make all Americans dependent on government so they can extort them whenever they want more.  If they want more money they threatened whatever the people are dependent on.  Saying if we don’t raise taxes the Republicans will prevent the Democrats from giving them these benefits.  With establishment Republicans onboard for the occasional spoils hand-me-down.  While the Tea Party Republicans are trying honor the promises they made to their constituents.

Was the attempt to defund Obamacare a wise move?  When the Republicans only controlled the House of Representatives?  Especially with the Republicans fighting among themselves?  Time will tell.  But what was clear is that the Democrats are more unified than the Republicans.  Why?  Is it because there is no dissension in the Democrats’ ranks?  Like there is with Republicans between establishment (i.e., Democrats in Republican clothes) and the Tea Party?  No.  It’s not that.  For there is dissension in the Democrat ranks.  But unlike the Republicans, they don’t let this interfere with their ultimate aim.  Power.

The Democrats never lose sight of the big picture.  The acquisition of power.  Democrat primary elections can be brutal.  In 2008 when Bill Clinton was trying to get Senator Ted Kennedy to endorse Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama he said, “A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags.”  A racial slur.  But that was all forgotten after the election.  With Hillary Clinton even taking a post in the Obama administration.  Because empowering the ruling class is the one priority they put above all others.  And you do that by destroying the opposition.  The Republicans.  In particular the Tea Party Republicans.  Whatever the cost.  However it hurts the American people.  This is what unifies the Democrats.  Their love of power and their hatred of Republicans.  Which lets Democrats forget things like racial slurs.  While those Republicans who fight for the people get attacked by members of their own party.

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The UK and Canada get Spending under Control while the USA is in Denial

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 1st, 2011

Teacher Pensions too Generous in the UK, Too

It’s not just in Madison, Wisconsin.  Or Detroit, Michigan.  Those public sector benefits busting budgets in city and states throughout the United States are causing fiscal pain in the UK, too (see Heads vote for industrial action ballot over pensions by Angela Harrison posted 5/1/2011 on the BBC).

A review led by Lord Hutton called for final salary schemes to be replaced by those based on the average salary in a career and said public sector workers should retire later, in line with a rising state pension age…

Schools minister Nick Gibb recently told a teachers’ conference that public service pensions should remain a gold standard – but that rising costs and greater life expectancy meant reform was needed.

These generous public sector benefits are no longer sustainable.  There’s a cost to this kind of spending.  High taxes.  Which don’t create jobs.  Or economic activity.  Which is the source of all taxes.  So raising taxes to pay for this generous spending ends up reducing economic activity, job creation and total tax receipts.  Which creates unemployment.  And deficits. 

So conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to reverse this trend.  He and his coalition government with the Liberal Democrats are implementing austerity programs throughout the UK.  A la Margaret Thatcher.  The great conservative from the Eighties.  Who helped to put the ‘great’ back into Great Britain.  By cutting taxes.  And spending.

The Canadian Government becoming more American

The trend is the same in Canada.  Where Stephen Harper may just win an outright parliamentary majority for his conservative party.  Courtesy of the New Democratic Party (NDP) no less (See Stephen Harper and that elusive majority by The Economist posted 4/28/2011 on The Economist).

THE hitherto sleepy campaign for Canada’s general election on May 2nd was jolted awake over the Easter weekend by a surprising surge by the New Democratic Party (NDP), a leftish amalgam of trade unionists and farmers…

So is Canada about to go socialist? Although the Canadian dollar wobbled this week, the answer is almost certainly not.   Indeed, by splitting the centre-left vote more evenly, the NDP’s rise—if sustained—may provide Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, with the parliamentary majority that has eluded him ever since he became prime minister in 2006. In the ensuing years Canadian politics has become an unusually shrill, partisan and intransigent affair.  Frequent elections—this is the fourth since 2004—have seen falling voter turnout, while polls show that public trust in politicians is also declining.

This cynicism seems to have helped Jack Layton, the NDP leader. He is seen as the cheerful underdog, who, despite suffering from prostate cancer and hip problems that require he walk with a cane, appears relaxed and smiling. Although based in Toronto, he grew up near Montreal. In colloquial French he claims that “winds of change” are sweeping his native province. His message of higher corporate taxes, more social spending, green measures, and an early withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan goes down well in Quebec, a traditionally pacifist, big-government kind of place. Mr Layton seems to be successfully wooing disillusioned supporters of the separatist Bloc Québécois.

Once upon a time Canada was New France.  But the British changed French Canada to British Canada after winning the Seven Years’ War.  But the French never stopped being French in Quebec.  Even put ‘je me souviens‘ on their license plates.  So they would never forget their French past.  French tradition.  Or French culture.  The Bloc Québécois even wanted to get Quebec out of Canada.  It turned out that most Quebecers didn’t.  So the Bloc has been marginalized of late.  But if you ever traveled to the province of Quebec it is clear that they like their government big.  Which is why the NDP appeals to Quebecers.

The NDP is also profiting from the travails of Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal leader, who entered politics in 2006 after spending most of the three previous decades working as a journalist and academic in Britain and the United States. Although his campaign appearances have become more assured, he has failed to shake off the gibes of Conservative attack ads that he is an elitist from Harvard who is “just visiting” Canada in the hope of gaining power.

An elitist from Harvard?  Interesting.  For Ivy League elitists have ruled the US since George H. W. Bush.  The latest being perhaps the most elitist.  President Obama.  Who many criticize as being professorial.  And of talking down to the American people.  Which is what they teach you to do at Harvard.  And the other Ivy League schools.

The biggest problem for the Liberals, a centrist, big-tent party, is that Canadian politics has become less European and consensual and more American and ideological. Mr Harper has been the main cause and beneficiary of that process. After five years, he has earned Canadians’ respect if not their love. He is an astute political tactician: he is the longest-serving prime minister of a minority government in Canadian history. But he comes over as a cold control-freak. A headline on the website of the Globe and Mail, a Liberal-leaning paper, summed up popular sentiment when it described the prime minister as “nasty, brutish—and competent”.

Mr Harper’s campaign pitch is that he needs a parliamentary majority in order to sustain the country’s recovery from recession. His message of low taxes, small government and tougher treatment of criminals has won him support everywhere except Quebec…

Now this is very interesting indeed.  Becoming more American?  All the while the Americans, under the rule of those Ivy League elitists, are trying to become more European.  Where the big social democracies wield great power.  And budgets.  Meanwhile, America’s friends to the north are going low taxes and small government.  And however cruel and unfeeling that may be, the Canadian liberals even admit Harper’s government is competent.  Which is another way of saying responsible.  Or grown up.

Medicare Reform has had Bipartisan Support for Decades

The UK and Canada have little choice.  They have to be ‘grown up’ in light of their financial woes.  And it’s no different in the U.S.  Their financial woes just have taken a little longer to hit them.  Because they are the world’s largest economy.  But even size doesn’t matter in the long run.  And some have seen the writing on the wall since the early eighties (see GOP plan to change Medicare is rooted in bipartisan history by Amy Goldstein posted 5/1/2011 on The Washington Post).

There is a broad consensus that Medicare in its current form will be overwhelmed by the financial pressures of the aging baby-boom generation, longer life spans and sophisticated medical treatments. Various estimates say the fund that pays Medicare hospital bills will run short in a decade or two; the program’s trustees are to release new predictions in a few weeks.

The thinking about Medicare and market forces has long bipartisan roots. In the early 1980s, then-congressmen Richard A. Gephardt, a Missouri Democrat, and David Stockman, a Michigan Republican, proposed vouchers to help people on Medicare buy private health plans.

The term “premium support” was coined in 1995 by two respected health policy experts, neither a conservative: Henry Aaron, a Brookings economist, and Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute. “The idea of vouchers was abroad in the land,” Aaron recalled. “We thought there was sort of a free-market-will-cure-all mentality.”

Their idea was to marry market competition in Medicare with regulation to ensure proper benefits and enough financial help. The Medicare commission’s work was an heir to their ideas. Proponents point out that the popular Medicare drug benefit created in 2003 relies on a such a model.

So America has had its grownups looking at the inevitable since the eighties.  Medicare will break unless it’s changed.  For three decades the grownups have been discussing this.  But the Ivy League elitists say ‘pish tosh’ and laugh with all knowing condescension.  For they don’t live in reality.  Their world is an insulated one where the privileged elite don’t work.  But spend their days pontificating.  Safe and snug in their universities.  Or in the federal government.  Where the consequences of their policies will never touch them.

Myopic Ivy League Pretentious Condescension

So we have unsustainable spending in the UK, Canada and the USA.  Concerned citizens in these countries voted in conservative governments.  Rising costs and greater life expectancy have made the state pensions and health plans in days of old no longer doable.  No, austerity is now the name of the game.  People are getting it.  Despite the lies of the politicians.  For the people live in the real world.  The world of paychecks.  And taxes.  Unlike the elite who like to pontificate from their lives of plenty and extreme comfort.  But that doesn’t stop the lying.  The myopic Ivy League worldview.  Or the pretentious condescension.  Case in point is the wonkish Paul Krugman. 

He posted a chart showing changes in revenue and spending from 2007 to 2010.   Spending is up.  And revenues are down.  Ergo, it’s not a spending problem.  We’re simply not taxing enough (see Origins of the Deficit by Paul Krugman posted 5/1/2011 on The New York Times).

Even on this crude calculation, it’s obvious that the slump is responsible for the great bulk of the rise in the deficit. Anyone who says otherwise is either remarkably ill-informed or trying to deceive you.

Budgets in cities and states across the country are facing their biggest deficits in history.  Why?  Recession.  Tax revenues plummet in times of recession.  Housing values tumble during times of recession (and with them property taxes).  People lose jobs during times of recession (the unemployed don’t pay income taxes or payroll taxes).  And it’s the same at the federal level.  Especially during the greatest recession since the Great Depression.  Sustained government spending during times of recession empties treasuries.  And creates deficits.

Federal spending has averaged approximately 20% of GDP since 1960.  It jumped to approximately 25% during the Obama administration.  That’s a huge spending increase.  No matter how you look at it.  And this is why the deficit is soaring into the trillion dollar territory for the first time.  Record spending during the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

“Anyone who says otherwise is either remarkably ill-informed or trying to deceive you.”

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Collective Bargaining in Wisconsin – Greed versus the Taxpayers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 25th, 2011

Democracy in Action and Whiny Democrats in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Democrats need to take a refresher course in democracy.  Because democracy isn’t oligarchy.  The minority power can’t have its way.  No matter how unhappy they are.  Elections have consequences.  Like Obama said.  The Obama Administration governed without the consent or input of the minority power.  It may not have been nice or what he said he would do during the campaign.  But it was legal.  And democratic.  So Obama governed against his campaign platform.  And the American people.  The people didn’t like that.  And gave the House back to the Republicans in the 2010 mid-term elections.

You see, that’s how democracy works.  You don’t whine and cry when you can’t have your way.  You compete in the arena of ideas.  Win elections.  And govern accordingly.  And when you lose elections you don’t govern any more.  Unless you’re a bunch of whiny cry babies in Wisconsin (see Capitol Chaos: Assembly Passes Budget Repair Bill by Charles Benson, Jay Sorgi and the Associated Press posted 2/25.2011 on todaystmj4.com).

Shortly after 1:00 a.m., after more than 60 hours of debate on this, the Republicans quickly called for the vote, which ended all debate.

Some of the Democrats were so taken aback by what had happened, they didn’t get a chance to vote. 

The vote happened so fast, within seconds, that the bill pass with Republican voting for it, but while they were voting, Democrats kept yelling, “No!  No!  You can’t do this!”…

After it passed, Republicans started walking off the floor, and the Democrats started yelling “Shame!  Shame!  Shame!” as Republicans walked off, one by one, and left the Assembly floor.

Obamacare was hustled through a lot faster with a lot of bribes.  There was no debate.  Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass it to learn what was in it.  The Democrats had no problem with that vote.  The vote in Wisconsin, on the other hand, they do. 

The people of Wisconsin, unhappy with the Democrats, voted in a Republican controlled legislature.  And a Republican governor.  The Republicans had the majority.  The Democrats didn’t.  It’s called democracy.  Which they’re all for.  When they are in power.  But when they’re not in power democracy just isn’t fair.  And they whine.

Of Course they’re Over-Compensated

After the vote layoff notices went out.  The UPI reports teachers are so anxious that they were breaking out in tears.  And for good reason.  They have some pretty nice jobs.  All public sector workers do.  I mean, they wouldn’t be making such a big fuss if those jobs were as bad as they would have us believe.

We the taxpayers pay public sector workers well.  And we’ve been giving them the best of benefits.  Well, yes and no, say the critics.  They’re smart.  Well educated.  And underpaid for their brains.  The critics say people in the private sector with the same education are compensated more.  That’s a little hard to believe.  Because few give up those public sector jobs once they get them (see Everything You Need to Know about Whether State and Local Bureaucrats Are Over-Compensated, in One Chart by Daniel J. Mitchell on 2/25/2011 on CATO@Liberty).

The data on total compensation clearly show a big advantage for state and local bureaucrats, largely because of lavish benefits (which is the problem that Governor Walker in Wisconsin is trying to fix). But the government unions argue that any advantage they receive disappears after the data is adjusted for factors such as education.

This is a fair point, so we need to find some objective measure that neutralizes all the possible differences. Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, and this “JOLTS” data includes a measure of how often workers voluntarily leave job, and we can examine this data for different parts of the workforce…

Not surprisingly, this data shows state and local bureaucrats are living on Easy Street. As the chart illustrates, private sector workers are more than three times as likely to quit their jobs.

The reason someone doesn’t quit a job is simple and straight forward.  They can’t find a better one.  Over in the private sector, they say the way to increase your compensation is to make a few moves to other companies.  Let private employers bid up your salary.  This isn’t how it works in the public sector.  Pay and benefits have nothing to do with ability.  You get in and you stay put.  And let the union shake down the taxpayers for ever more generous pay and benefits.

Greedy Teachers and the Poor Taxpayers they Shake Down

Wisconsin teachers are calling in sick to show up at these protests.  They are using fraudulent doctor’s notes handed out at the protests to excuse their ‘sick’ days.  That’s not very ethical.  And probably not very legal.  Or a good lesson for the children they teach (some of which have joined them in the protest as useful pawns for the children can’t possibly understand what’s really at stake here).  So why would they go to these lengths?  Will the governor force them to choose between food and medicine?  Will they have to eat cat food?  I doubt it.  For it looks like they’re currently enjoying champagne and caviar (see Oh, To Be a Teacher in Wisconsin by Robert Costrell posted 2/25/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

The average Milwaukee public-school teacher salary is $56,500, but with benefits the total package is $100,005, according to the manager of financial planning for Milwaukee public schools.

Wow.  That’s like having one job and getting two paychecks.  And they only work 9 months out of the year.  And get a lot of time off when they do work.  That is some pretty sweet compensation.  I can see why they protest.  They are a privileged elite.  And like elites, they don’t like giving up their elitism.

So how do the benefits add up to $100,005 in total compensation for an average public-school teacher?  Well, thanks to collective bargaining, they get pensions and health care benefits like no one does in the private sector.

•Social Security and Medicare. The employer cost is 7.65% of wages, the same as in the private sector.

•State Pension. Teachers belong to the Wisconsin state pension plan. That plan requires a 6.8% employer contribution and 6.2% from the employee. However, according to the collective-bargaining agreement in place since 1996, the district pays the employees’ share as well, for a total of 13%.

•Teachers’ Supplemental Pension. In addition to the state pension, Milwaukee public-school teachers receive an additional pension under a 1982 collective-bargaining agreement. The district contributes an additional 4.2% of teacher salaries to cover this second pension. Teachers contribute nothing.

•Classified Pension. Most other school employees belong to the city’s pension system instead of the state plan. The city plan is less expensive but here, too, according to the collective-bargaining agreement, the district pays the employees’ 5.5% share.

•Health care for current employees. Under the current collective- bargaining agreements, the school district pays the entire premium for medical and vision benefits, and over half the cost of dental coverage. These plans are extremely expensive.

This is partly because of Wisconsin’s unique arrangement under which the teachers union is the sponsor of the group health-insurance plans. Not surprisingly, benefits are generous. The district’s contributions for health insurance of active employees total 38.8% of wages. For private-sector workers nationwide, the average is 10.7%.

•Health insurance for retirees. This benefit is rarely offered any more in private companies, and it can be quite costly. This is especially the case for teachers in many states, because the eligibility rules of their pension plans often induce them to retire in their 50s, and Medicare does not kick in until age 65. Milwaukee’s plan covers the entire premium in effect at retirement, and retirees cover only the growth in premiums after they retire.

No one in the private sector gets these benefits.  No one.  Unless they make very large contribution towards them.  Whereas the teachers get them totally free.  Is that fair?  People bitch about CEO compensation but at least it’s the shareholders who have last say on that.  In Wisconsin it is doubtful the taxpayers even know what their public-school teachers are making.  Courtesy of their tax dollars.

Overall, the school district’s contributions to health insurance for employees and retirees total about 50.9 cents on top of every dollar paid in wages. Together with pension and Social Security contributions, plus a few small items, one can see how the total cost of fringe benefits reaches 74.2%.

What these numbers ultimately prove is the excessive power of collective bargaining. The teachers’ main pension plan is set by the state legislature, but under the pressure of local bargaining, the employees’ contribution is often pushed onto the taxpayers. In addition, collective bargaining led the Milwaukee public school district to add a supplemental pension plan—again with no employee contribution. Finally, the employees’ contribution (or lack thereof) to the cost of health insurance is also collectively bargained.

As the costs of pensions and insurance escalate, the governor’s proposal to restrict collective bargaining to salaries—not benefits—seems entirely reasonable.

And there you have it.  Why the Left is panicking about what’s going on in Wisconsin.  And it ain’t about the children.  Health care benefits and pensions can’t get any less about the children.  Collective bargaining has given the public sector workers great pay and benefits at the taxpayer’s expense.  All without having the taxpayer to approve these generous compensation packages.  Unlike shareholders in private corporations. 

Collective bargaining for public sector workers enables the transfer of huge sums of money from the private sector (the taxpayers) to the public sector.  Union members pay dues.  And guess who unions support in elections.  Democrats.  If other states follow suit the Democrats stand to lose a lot of campaign cash and foot soldiers.  And this is what it’s really about in Wisconsin.  Greed.  The greed of public sector workers.  And the greed of Democrats.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #49: “The ‘tolerant’ are intolerant.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 18th, 2011

Liberals Benefit most from a Liberal Agenda

People on the left claim to be more tolerant than those on the right.  Live and let live, they say.  But they don’t really mean that.  For they are very intolerant of anyone who thinks differently than they do.

We’re talking about the far left.  The liberals.  That 20% of the population.  Which excludes a large percentage of Democrats.  And moderates and independents.  We’re talking college professors, public school teachers, the liberal media, the Hollywood elite, public sector unions, liberal politicians, etc.  People who have an air of superiority about them.  Who think they’re better than most people.  And who don’t care to hear any contrary views or opinions.  Because if they disagree with them, those views and opinions are just wrong.

For the ruling elite is always right.  And that’s who they think they are.  Elite.  And they rule.  Or try to.  Either in Congress through legislation.  Or by shaping opinion.  In the elite liberal media.  In our public schools where they shape the minds of our young children (to be good stewards of the planet, to trust government and not private business, that Americans stole the land from the indigenous people, that America was built on slavery and greed, etc.).  In our colleges where they continue and add to the work of the public schools (that we oppress women, that we’re a racist society, that Marxism is good while capitalism is bad, etc.).  In the entertainment world (actors, musicians, etc.) that gives a loud voice to this minority opinion.  In the public sector that grows bigger and consumes ever more of our tax dollars in exchange for support of the liberal agenda.  Etc.

It’s a small community.  Where they take care of each other.  They all have a vested interest in advancing the liberal agenda.  Because they live better than the average American.  At the expense of the average American (through high taxes, tuition, union contracts, etc.). 

Getting the People to Vote you into the Privileged Elite

So we have a minority group enjoying a privileged lifestyle.  Far better than the people paying to support that lifestyle can ever imagine.   In times past, the ruling elite used the power of the state to oppress the masses.  To get the money from them to support those privileged lifestyles.  While keeping them living in fear.  So the oppressed didn’t band together to overthrow the ruling elite.

It’s an effective formula.  And it has worked.  For awhile.  For some.  They may enjoy a few years.  Or a decade.  Or two.  A century.  Until they get overthrown by the masses.  Like the French did in 1789 (the French Revolution).  Or like the Russians did in 1917 (the February Revolution and the October Revolution).  These got pretty ugly.  A lot of people died.  Including the royal sovereigns. 

That’s the downside of absolute power.  You really piss off the people you oppress.  And pissed off people tend to revolt.  Thankfully, in a democracy, you don’t have to worry about that.  You can live the privileged life.  Without physically oppressing them.  You just have to get the people to vote for you.  And you do that by promising them free stuff.  And by demonizing your opponents.

Political Correctness helps to Limit Political Dissent

It’s called divide and conquer.  When you go up against a larger enemy, you try to divide that enemy and attack smaller parts of the enemy.  Because there is no way you can win going head to head.  The liberals, that 20%, cannot go up against the other 80% with any hopes of winning.  So they pick off parts of the 80% and attack them.

Their weapon of choice?  Political correctness.  Today you have to be very careful of what you say.  And how you say what you say.  Because if you don’t you can offend someone.  This helps to limit political dissent.  Because dissenters may say something politically incorrect.  And no one wants that.  Because they tell us in our public schools that that is wrong.  In college, too.  And in the media.  And on TV.  In the movies.  Etc.

And you can use political correctness to demonize your opponents.  If you oppose affirmative action you’re racist.  If you oppose immigration reform, you’re racist.  If you oppose welfare reform, you’re cruel and indifferent to the sufferings of the poor.  If you oppose gay marriage you’re a homophobe.  If you oppose gun control you’re a redneck Second Amendment nut (somehow that’s politically correct to say).  If you oppose Big Government you’re a tool of the special interests and Big Business.  And so on.  If you oppose any part of their agenda, there’s just something wrong with you.  Because you disagree with the enlightened people (that 20% of the population).  And because we see so many people admire and respect these enlightened people (thanks to our schooling, the media, Hollywood, etc.) we should want to be like them.  So people admire and respect us, too.

Divide and Conquer the Single Issue People

Those on the left, that 20%, are very tolerant of what you say or do.  As long as it’s what they say or do.  Because if you think and act like they do, they can maintain their privileged life.  If you disagree with them, then you threaten their privileged life.  You could vote liberals out of office.  You could set performance standards for public school teachers.  You could reduce the power of public sector unions.  You start doing these things and the next thing you know these liberals will have to get real jobs.  And they ain’t having none of that.

So they divide and conquer.  They support gay marriage and call you a homophobe because of your ‘intolerance’ of the gay lifestyle.  So the gays and lesbians support liberals.  They support abortion and call you a religious extremist because of your ‘intolerance’ of women having choice.  So a lot of people who enjoy consequence-free sex support liberals.  (And a lot of women who want to keep the right to choose just in case.)   They want to decriminalize drugs and call you a fascist for your ‘intolerance’ of people being free to put whatever they want into their bodies.  So the potheads and other recreational drug users support liberals.  (Of course, these same liberals will tell you NOT to eat a Big Mac or drink a Coke because they’re just not healthy for you.  Unlike heroin or cocaine.  Apparently.)   They support affirmative action and call you a racist because of your ‘intolerance’ of minorities.  So a lot of minorities support liberals.  And so on.

It adds up.  Get enough of these single issue people and you can maintain your power base.  So they are very tolerant of these people’s views and opinions.  And very intolerant of anyone opposing them.  They do this to persuade as many of the 80% that oppose their liberal agenda to support them.  So this minority of the population can continue to live a privileged life.  At our expense.

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LESSONS LEARNED #18: “Man-given rights are only privileges allowed by the privileged elite.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2010

GOD WAS HERE before the Marine Corps. So you can give your heart to Jesus, but your ass belongs to The Corps.

(From the movie Full Metal Jacket, 1987.)

In Roman Catholicism, this is the doctrine of the two swords.  The spiritual sword is the Church.  The temporal sword is the state.  Martin Luther had the doctrine of two kingdoms.  The religious and civil.  Going back to the source, Jesus Christ put it this way:

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s 

The original separation of church and state.  Of course, back then, this was all intended to limit the state’s interference into spiritual matters.  Today it’s reversed.  It’s the state that is trying to hold the spiritual sword at bay.

THE FOUNDING FATHERS were gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  This makes them complex.  The Enlightenment was the Age of Reason.  And guess what we did during the Age of Reason?  We thought.  Rationally.  There was a philosophical revolution going on in Europe.  Simply put, things weren’t what they were because the Church said so.  There were other explanations.  Other laws.  And the Church could be wrong.

So, if the Founding Fathers had lived in the 20th century, they would have probably been fans of the rock group Rush.  And Ayn Rand.  Who influenced Rush.  Thomas Jefferson probably would have an iPod filled with their songs, including Tom Sawyer:

No his mind is not for rent
To any god or government

They questioned ALL authority.  And some may have been Deists.  But they were not atheists.  Even Jefferson.  He may not have believed in the Trinity or Christ’s divinity, but he still believed in God.  And he worshipped Jesus in his own way.  As the world’s greatest philosopher, with his Sermon on the Mount being the best philosophy man could ask for.

THE FOUNDING FATHERS were gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  Now the other part.  The thing that makes them complex.  The gentlemen part.  What did this mean in the 18th century?  Here are some adjectives that describe a gentleman.  Honorable.  Virtuous.  Reputable.  A gentleman strived to achieve moral excellence and righteousness.  He was ethical.  His life was a steadfast adherence to a strict moral code.  And when he served in public office, it was with selfless disinterest.  He would go out of his way to NOT gain personally from his time in public office.  Some did it better than others.  But all tried.  And when they fell short, they at least put on an appearance of disinterest.  It was that important.  And expected.

In a word, restraint.  This is what a gentleman practiced.  George Washington exercised this restraint to such a degree that many found him cold and aloof.  Few saw him smile.  Few saw public displays of emotion.  What they did see was an exemplary life of virtue, honor and moral excellence.  And they would forever look at him with awe and reverence.  We do to this day.

These students of the Enlightenment, then, espoused Judeo-Christian ethics.  They questioned all authority oppressing man, whether it be Church or state.  But they did not throw out the baby with the bath water.  They remained religious.  They just wouldn’t yield to it unconditionally.  Not to the Pope.  To a bishop.  Or any other tyranny of a minority, privileged elite.  Even after their Revolution.

And they would extend this restraint to the new nation they would found.  It would be a government that would govern with the consent of the people.  But it would not be mob-rule.  Not a true democracy.  It would be representative government.  The idea was to restrain the extreme passions of the people.  They would not exchange one tyranny for another.  There would be no tyranny of the majority.

FRANCE HAD PROBLEMS in the late 18th century.  The toll of war was bankrupting the country.  Their financing of the American Revolution didn’t help either.  Food was scarce and expensive.  Famine and malnutrition were commonplace.  Among the Third Estate (the poor).  The First Estate (the Church) was doing well.  The Second Estate (the nobility), too.  Unemployed and hungry, the poor looked at the clergy and the nobility who were not. 

The Church was largely exempt from paying taxes. And the Church was the largest landholder in France.  The Church levied a 10% tax (i.e., a tithe) on the general population.  A lot of that was collected in-kind (food crops).  So the Church had more land, money and food than the starving, suffering masses.  Who became an angry mob.  That demanded democracy.

The people stormed the Bastille.  Confiscated Church property.  Overthrew the monarchy.  And sent the king and queen, and many others, to the guillotine.  Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins unleashed the Reign of Terror.  They executed political enemies, including priests, and displayed their severed heads to the angry mob.  They de-Christianized France, destroying churches and religious symbols.  They tried to do away with the Church altogether and replace it with civic and community events and organizations.  It was a revolution against Church and state.  Against law and order.  Against restraint.  They would send Robespierre himself to the guillotine at the end of his terror.  Then another terror followed to avenge the previous terror. 

There’s more to the French Revolution.  But that should suffice for now. 

FRANCE WAS IN the epicenter of the Enlightenment.  Some of the great minds of the Enlightenment were French.  But France was older than America.  And more populated.  With centuries of wrongs to right.  It was anything but a blank canvas.  Egalitarianism soon devolved into angry mob rule.  Democracy.  They went from the tyranny of a minority to the tyranny of the majority without stopping in that fertile middle ground.  As was the case in America.  Why?

It’s that blank canvas thing.  We weren’t overthrowing our history to start anew.  We had little history.  Maybe a century or two of English colonists who literally started with raw earth.  There wasn’t a rich and privileged Church.  So there wasn’t a festering resentment against the Church.  No, the early colonists escaped religious oppression and came here for religious freedom.  Which they found.  And enjoyed.

The American Revolution was more restrained.  There were no bloody reprisals after the War.  There were isolated instances of mob violence during the War, but the ‘mob’ was never in control.  The ‘gentlemen’ were always in control.  Gentlemen steeped in Judeo-Christian ethics.  From the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, the Founding Fathers built a new nation upon the Rule of Law.  And at its heart were the God-given rights enumerated in those documents.  That no man, or minority, or majority, or mob, could take away.

GOD WAS HERE before the United States.  So we can give our heart to Jesus.  But our ass belongs to the Rule of Law.

Or something like that.  We are a secular nation with a de-emphasis on the religious part.  Yes, legal punishment may dissuade you from doing wrong.  If you think the cops can catch you.  But it’s our morality that will keep us from doing wrong in the first place.  And the people at our founding were moral.  And Christian.  Or deists with Judeo-Christian ethics.

And to those who fear antidisestablishmentarianism, don’t.  I doubt the Catholics and the Protestants could agree on what an established church would be, let alone the myriad other religions peacefully coexisting with each other.  No, more religion would not result in an established church.  It may, though, result in government leaders who fear God and, maybe, they would be better leaders for it.  It sure beats us living in fear of them.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #18: “Man-given rights are only privileges allowed by the privileged elite.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 15th, 2010

JESUS CHRIST!  You’ll hear that in a foxhole.  When hunkered down as bullets and shrapnel fly thick overhead.  By theist and atheist alike.  Of course, one is most probably in prayer while the other in vain.  Considering the circumstances, though, the Lord would probably forgive the latter. As long as you’re fighting on the side of good, that is.

When emotions are running high, people tend to say things.  Sometimes bad things.  Sometimes, even philosophically inconsistent things.  What’s that joke?  At the height of confusion someone shouts out, “Thank God I’m an atheist!”

People tend to get more intimate with God when they are about to personally find out the answer to that age-old question – is there an afterlife?  Can’t blame them.  Your own mortality can be a scary thing.  And no one wants to rush that.  That’s why, in the age of the Enlightenment, people thought of government not as a force of coercion, but as protection from coercion.  People wanted to live as long as they could.  And as free as they could.  So people made governments that would function within the Rule of Law.  To better their lives.

England made great strides in protecting its citizens from the arbitrary use of force.  After some un-English-like treatment in the New World, the British America colonies broke from the mother country.  But they would build on the English ideals.  The Declaration of Independence stated:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….

The key here is that rights are God-given.  That meant kings could be wrong.  As well as Parliament.  Even the Church.  Kings, aristocracies, bishops, etc., are positions created and held by men.  Nature/God did not grant them this power.  They granted it to themselves.  And once some have power, it’s not long before some use it to oppress those who don’t.

So when it comes to determining the origin of rights, the atheists should thank God he or she is an atheist.  For if God gives them that right (to be an atheist), no man can take it away.  But if rights are not God-given, then they must be man-given.  And whatever man giveth, he can taketh away.  Especially if you piss off the powers that be.

DRUNKEN FARMER JONES was oppressing the animals on Manor Farm.  Having had enough, the animals rose up and seized power.  They renamed the farm Animal Farm.  The pigs Snowball and Napoleon were the leaders of the revolution.  They created a new political doctrine called Animalism.  It rested on the following 7 commandments painted on the side of the barn:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

Snowball wanted to do good.  The new farm started out as an anarcho-syndicalist commune.  Sort of.  Then Napoleon seized power.  He and his pigs became the ruling elite for the benefit of animal kind on Animal Farm.  And life was good.  For the pigs.

Napoleon fabricated lies about Snowball.  With the animals turned against him as planned, Napoleon had his dogs chase him off of Animal Farm. 

The animals worked harder.  But there were setbacks.  And at every setback, Boxer, the old workhorse, lamented that he would have to work harder.  And he did.  Until his strength failed him and he collapsed while working.   The pigs then sent him to the vet.  Only the side of the vet’s wagon said ‘Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler’.  Most of the animals couldn’t read.  Benjamin could.  He told them what the van said.  But it was too late. 

Benjamin, Boxer’s friend, was an old donkey.  And wise.  He saw a lot in his long life.  Little good, though.  Life was no different under the pigs than it was under the humans.  But he wasn’t surprised.  For that was life.  “Life will go on as it has always gone on—that is, badly.”

The pigs started to act more humanlike.  They started to walk on two legs so they could carry riding crops.  They began wearing clothes.  Slept in beds.  Drank alcohol.  And sent off Boxer to his death for some whiskey money.  The pigs slowly revised the 7 Commandments to agree with their new behavior.  Until, one day, there was but a single commandment remaining.  “All animals are equal.  But some animals are more equal than others.”  And life was good.  For the pigs.

GEORGE ORWELL WAS a socialist who volunteered to fight for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War.  He got shot in the throat and was declared medically unfit for further duty.  While healing, the political climate was deteriorating.  His socialist group, the Workers’ Party of Marxists Unification (or, in Spanish, Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM)) fell out of favor with the pro-Soviet Communists.  They accused the POUM of being affiliated with Joseph Stalin’s archenemy, Leon Trotsky.  So the Communists outlawed the POUM.  It’s complicated.  Suffice it to say that Orwell made it back to England.  And had no love for Stalin or Soviet Communism.

Then, of course, came World War II.  And the Hitler-Stalin Pact of Nonaggression, further increasing the love between Orwell and Stalin.  And by love I mean hate.  For Orwell hated totalitarianism.  And for all the Utopian talk, Communism had devolved into nothing more than an oppressive totalitarian regime. 

This is the story of Animal Farm.  Napoleon is Joseph Stalin.  Animal Farm becomes the police state of Soviet Communism.  At about a hundred pages, it’s the biggest little book you will ever read.  If you haven’t yet, do so.  And then pick up Orwell’s 1984.  It’s a little longer and a little darker but, wow, what a story.

SO THERE’RE TWO revolutions.  The American and the Russian.  Both ended up on ‘top ten’ lists.  One for liberty.  The other for genocide.  Can you guess which? 

As an ideology, Communism has killed more people than any other in history.  It killed more than the Nazis.  More than the Christian Crusades.  More than the Black Death even.  No other ideology (or plague) comes close. 

So why was one revolution so much bloodier than the other?  Well, the Americans were Christian.  The Russians were Orthodox Christians.  But the Soviets were atheists.  There were no God-given rights in the Soviet Union.  Only privileges allowed by the privileged elite.  And fear.  For people could disappear at someone’s slightest whim. 

That’s the down side of atheism.  And secularism.  It removes the fear of God from a people’s rulers.  And if they aren’t worrying about the afterlife, there’s not a whole lot to dissuade them from doing unspeakable things in the here and now.

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