Friday, May 28, 2010

If Unions help protect "workers" from those greedy capitalists, then who do unions protect government workers from?

Something that has always bothered me is the idea that government employees should have union representation. I grew up in a democratic household and was told that unions were good because they helped workers get more of the profit of the companies they worked for, so the rewards were not as top heavy in industries like the auto industry. Of course this view has a lot of problems with it, but let's go with this narrative for a minute.

If the point of unions is to prevent the capitalist owners of corporations from keeping all of the profits for themselves and not sharing enough with their employees then what is the point of government workers being union? How do these negotiations go? Do the union reps go to the government and say “you have stolen X amount of money from the citizens and we want a bigger cut”? It is different to say “this company made X amount of dollars last year because of our efforts, so we believe we deserve a pay raise”. The thing to me is that when a worker for a corporation contributes to the success of the corporation then it can be measured and judged by the amount of profit the corporation sees. The same cannot be said of a government employee. A teacher's salary for instance comes mostly from property taxes (in my area at least) how much I pay in property taxes has nothing to do with how good a teachers performs their job. If local property values increase is it because of a teacher, if they decrease is it because of a teacher, should their pay be dependent on property tax revenues? In a free market system parents who thought a teacher was doing a good job would reward the teacher by either being willing to pay more for their services or would at least help recommend the teacher or school to other parents. With a corporation when the profits drop in theory at least the corporation could lower the compensation rates for its union employees and then raise them back up when the profits recover. I know that in reality this rarely happens because of laws that favor the unions in negotiations over the companies, especially in the rust belt states.

What about the police? If they step up their revenue generation by setting up speed traps all over town or stealing peoples property when they have found tiny amounts of marijuana on the premise and generally pissing off the residents of an area, is this how they justify more pay? Do they point to lower crime rates and a higher percentage of solved crimes to justify their pay? Or do they simply point to an increase in sales tax revenue or something along those lines? Do firefighters point to an increase or a decrease in fires to try and justify a pay increase? In the newspaper it always seems like an increase in fires and fire damage is how the firefighters justify their pay, exactly the opposite of how the free market would work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shooting at some food, when up from the ground came a bubbling crude

The oil leak in the Gulf coast is a big disaster, it is a lot of oil spilling at once in one place. It needs to be plugged up as soon as possible. However, I do not think it is the end of the world disaster that many of my liberal friends are making it out to be.

Remember the intro to the old television show the Beverly Hillbillies? In it Jed is hunting a rabbit and stumbles upon a pool of oil and the rest is history, he becomes very rich at the discovery of oil flowing out of the ground and onto his land. This is something that really does happen. In fact it happens all of the time, and it even happens on the ocean floor, letting that oil seep into the ocean. The ocean can handle some oil mixing with it. It can handle the amount of oil the BP leak is spitting out, and in fact the Gulf gets that much oil in natural oil seeps every year. The difference is that this is not as spread out, either by location or by time.

The point is that once the BP leak is plugged, the oil will mostly evaporate and the heavier parts of the oil will fall to the ocean floor as sediment. It is not the disaster of the century. It is a problem that needs to be addressed in a timely manner, but it is not worthy of the freakout some people are having.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Census

Even though I had refused to comply with the census this year, I guess my wife didn't have the same objections as I did. The census guy came to our house and she answered the questions he asked. Probably nothing bad will come out of it. At least we are not Middle Eastern or Japanese.

Don't download this song...



Funny and strikes a chord. I recently mentioned Tommy Chong, and here he is mentioned in this song.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Would you push the button? Apparently you would.

I remember watching this show years ago, it was the Twilight Zone. The story went like this:

A man shows up at a families house and offers them $200,000 dollars if they are willing to push a button. The catch is that if they push the button someone they do not know and will never meet will die. At the end they push the button, only they realize that after they did the button disappears and they are told “this button goes to someone they do not know and will never meet”. The implication is that if the next family pushes the button, they are the ones who will die.

The question is would you push the button? Yes you would, and you prove this everyday if you support government. This is the exact same deal government offers you, only on a slightly smaller scale.

A bureaucrat comes to a family and says “if you check this box, I will give your kids a free education”, the catch is that someone you do not know will lose their home and will be forced into a homeless shelter, an old person you don't know will lose their home and will be forced to live with their kids, a child you don't know will have to forgo braces because their family has to make a choice between paying property taxes and braces. So they check the box. This scenario plays out over and over, the rewards change, but the loss is always there and until the one who loses is you it seems like you are getting a good deal.

Would you check the box? Are government handouts worth the pain the government inflicts? Sadly for most the answer is yes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A/K/A Tommy Chong

I watched the documentary A/K/A Tommy Chong, and I have to say it was one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time. It documented the arrest and imprisonment of Tommy Chong for selling bongs through the internet. The government spent 12 million dollars to take Chong down. It was a travesty of justice. It discusses the way the government set him up, then raided his house with a SWAT team. His 8+ months in prison. How they tried to make an example of him due to his fame. The good news is that Chong became an activist after going to prison, prior to that he had never really been an activist for marijuana legalization.

When this event happened I was disappointed with Tommy for taking the low road in my opinion and trying to make a deal and apologize, etc. I felt like he should have taken it to trial and made it known that selling a pipe is not a criminal act and he should not serve a day in prison and demanded a jury trial. Unlike many activists he had the money to take it all the way and get more attention to the issue than anyone else really could. However, watching this documentary gave me more appreciation for what he did do. Being more of an activist myself I would have handled it differently than he did, but I appreciate what he did. Now that I have seen this movie I can see that if nothing else making this movie is him making a serious statement against the insane war on drugs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dogs shot, kids terrorized, man arrested, over a bag of pot



Disgusting. The only criminals here are the police.

H/T