Month: January 2010
Class War: How public servants became our masters
Must-read piece by Steven Greenhut :
There was a time when government work offered lower salaries than comparable jobs in the private sector but more security and somewhat better benefits. These days, government workers fare better than private-sector workers in almost every area—pay, benefits, time off, and job security. And not just in California.
According to a 2007 analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Asbury Park Press, “the average federal worker made $59,864 in 2005, compared with the average salary of $40,505 in the private sector.” Across comparable jobs, the federal government paid higher salaries than the private sector three times out of four, the paper found. As Heritage Foundation legal analyst James Sherk explained to the Press, “The government doesn’t have to worry about going bankrupt, and there isn’t much competition.”
In February 2008, before the recession made the disparity much worse, The New York Times reported that “George W. Bush is in line to be the first president since World War II to preside over an economy in which federal government employment rose more rapidly than employment in the private sector.” The Obama administration has extended the hiring binge, with executive branch employment (excluding the Postal Service and the Defense Department) slated to grow by 2 percent in 2010—and more than 15 percent if you count temporary Census workers.
The average federal salary (including benefits) is set to grow from $72,800 in 2008 to $75,419 in 2010, CBS reported. But the real action isn’t in what government employees are being paid today; it’s in what they’re being promised for tomorrow. Public pensions have swollen to unrecognizable proportions during the last decade. In June 2005, BusinessWeek reported that “more than 14 million public servants and 6 million retirees are owed $2.37 trillion by more than 2,000 different states, cities and agencies,” numbers that have risen since then. State and local pension payouts, the magazine found, had increased 50 percent in just five years.
[…]Michael Hodges’ invaluable Grandfather Economic Report uses the Bureau of Labor Statistics to chart the growth in state and local government employees since 1946. Their number has increased from 3.3 million then to 19.8 million today—a 492 percent increase as the country’s population increased by 115 percent. Since 1999 the number of state and local government employees has increased by 13 percent, compared to a 9 percent increase in the population.
The United States had 2.3 state and local government employees per 100 citizens in 1946 and has 6.5 state and local government employees per 100 citizens now. In 1947, Hodges writes, 78 percent of the national income went to the private sector, 16 percent to the federal sector, and 6 percent to the state and local government sector. Now 54 percent of the economy is private, 28 percent goes to the feds, and 18 percent goes to state and local governments. The trend lines are ominous.
Bigger government means more government employees. Those employees then become a permanent lobby for continual government growth. The nation may have reached critical mass; the number of government employees at every level may have gotten so high that it is politically impossible to roll back the bureaucracy, rein in the costs, and restore lost freedoms.
People who are supposed to serve the public have become a privileged elite that exploits political power for financial gain and special perks. Because of its political power, this interest group has rigged the game so there are few meaningful checks on its demands. Government employees now receive far higher pay, benefits, and pensions than the vast majority of Americans working in the private sector. Even when they are incompetent or abusive, they can be fired only after a long process and only for the most grievous offenses.
It’s a two-tier system in which the rulers are making steady gains at the expense of the ruled. The predictable results: Higher taxes, eroded public services, unsustainable levels of debt, and massive roadblocks to reforming even the poorest performing agencies and school systems. If this system is left to grow unchecked, we will end up with a pale imitation of the free society envisioned by the Founders.
Read the whole thing.
Via an off-hand remark in the comments section of this article, I stumbled on this golden oldie: O’Sullivan’s Law. (John O’Sullivan is currently the executive editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.)
Robert Michels — as any reader of James Burnham’s finest book, The Machiavellians, knows was the author of the Iron Law of Oligarchy. This states that in any organization the permanent officials will gradually obtain such influence that its day-to-day program will increasingly reflect their interests rather than its own stated philosophy. […] O’Sullivan’s First Law: All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing. I cite as supporting evidence the ACLU, the Ford Foundation, and the Episcopal Church. The reason is, of course, that people who staff such bodies tend to be the sort who don’t like private profit, business, making money, the current organization of society, and, by extension, the Western world. At which point Michels’s Iron Law of Oligarchy takes over — and the rest follows.
Is there any law which enables us to predict the behavior of right-wing organizations? As it happens, there is: Conquest’s Second Law (formulated by the Sovietologist Robert Conquest): The behavior of an organization can best be predicted by assuming it to be controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.
Zombie: anti-abortion demonstrators outnumbers “pro-choice” counterdemonstrators 500-to-1, in… San Francisco?!
Zombie has a brief report out on the Apple iPad launch event, and a much longer report (with many photos) on a pro-life demonstration in San Francisco, where the demonstrators outnumbered the “pro-choice” counterdemonstrators 500-to-1. Go read the whole reportage, which is sure to shatter many stereotypes.
In a disclaimer, Zombie classifies him/herself as “reluctantly pro-choice”: that is, on the one hand(s)he finds abortion repugnant, while on the other hand (s)he does not think the state has any business entering in the doctor-patient relationship. (S)he argues against the false dichotomy of “either life begins at conception or abortion is allowed until birth”, and sees viability, or signs of consciousness, as upper term limits for abortion. While I am pro-life myself, I have always considered the “life begins at conception” position both unrealistic and counterproductive, in that it places “Plan B” type morning-after pills on the same moral plane as third-trimester abortions. And this sort of toxic moral perfectionism inevitably leads to “I might as well be damned for a sheep as for a lamb”…
State of the Union: “Statist Quo”
It’s been a very busy several days in meatspace, and I mercifully slept through the State of the Union speech of Narcissus Rex. National Review’s editorial (h/t: C2) summarizes it as “Statist Quo” (heh):
Everything changes except President Obama. His agenda doesn’t change. He has had no second thoughts about the wisdom of his health-care policies, or any of his policies; resistance is always and only a reason for redoubling. Also unchanging is the condescension with which he articulates his agenda: He faulted himself for not explaining health care well enough to the easily confused American public. The same familiar strawmen dot the landscape of his rhetoric. (Republicans want to “maintain the status quo” on health care. This president is willing to listen to Republican ideas, just so long as he can then forget that he has ever done so.) Narcissism, too, is a constant companion. The opening of the speech, and the end, invited us to regard Obama as the embodiment of the nation.
Him and Louis XIV (“l’Etat, c’est moi”/”The State, it is me”) 😉
But it is not the country’s future that has suddenly come under doubt. It is his administration’s. It is not the country’s spirit that is in danger of breaking. It is contemporary liberalism’s.
“Let’s try common sense,” said the president. For Obama, that means that expanding Medicaid is the way to reduce the deficit. That increasing the price of energy is the way to create jobs. That further socializing medicine is the way to stay ahead of India. Nothing in his speech suggested that the government’s most important economic task might be to create the context of stability in which growth can occur. (Perhaps that thought would have interfered with the theme of “change.”) Beyond a pro forma sentence, nothing in the speech suggested that any positive economic trend could ever take hold without a direct assist from the federal government. Without its help, firms wouldn’t export or get credit. The proposal to forgive student-loan debt on special terms for people who go into “public service” typifies this administration’s attitude toward the economy: Producing wealth is less noble than rearranging it. On one of the country’s true economic challenges, runaway entitlement spending, Obama punted to a commission.
Reading the speech transcript makes me wonder whether the people who wrote it (even Nixon, who generally spoke off the cuff, did not write his SOTU speeches by himself) are living in the same universe as the rest of the world. Or whether bald-faced lying is now an accepted debating technique in the USA (not just in the Arab world).
SCOTUS Justice Samuel Alito was caught on camera mouthing “not true” during 0bama’s berating SCOTUS for doing its job. (There are times I wonder whether 0bama’s read the same US Constitution as I have.) Insty, being a law professor, rounds it up here. Don Surber also weighs in.
Insty also has a gargantuan roundup of reactions to the SOTU speech in general.
And AP (yes, AssPress) are suddently remembering that they are a news agency and provided a fact check of the speech. The Cato Institute video-fisks it (H/t: Insty):
0bama: “The press is against me”; 0bamagirl: “the thrill is gone”
Unbelievable. Emperor Buck Naked claims the press is against him.
In related news, “Obama girl” says the thrill is gone.
Former Surgeon-General warns against healthcare rationing
The Politico (video at link, hat tip: Pi Guy):
A hale, 93-year-old C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General in the Reagan Administration, stars in this new spot from the conservative 60-plus association.
“I’m 93 and thank G-d for every year. I’m here with 2 artificial joints, 2 pacemakers to keep my heart in rhythm, as well as a stent to keep my coronaries open,” he says. “Seniors in this country can get the care I received, but in some places, like the United Kingdom, we would be considered too old and the cost to the state too high.”
Koop doesn’t directly tie that rationing to the health care legislation before Congress, but instead goes on to denounce Democrats for “keeping the discussion and specifics secret.”
Insty wonders if this was the last straw leading to this: Democrats slamming the brakes on healthcare overhaul.
“Ellie Light” astroturfer revealed
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that they have identified the woman who had identical pro-0bama missives published in over 60 newspapers all over the country — listing over 30 different residences.
“Ellie Light” is supposedly really a pediatric nurse named Barbara Brooks, aged 51. But then an element of low comedy sets in (see also Patterico, Hot Air, and Big Journalism): two different “Barbara Brooks”es come forward, and supposedly the actual letter spammer/astroturfer is the estranged husband of one of them, a Kossack (i.e., denizen of the looney-left site Daily KosKoos-Oom) named Winston Steward.
Patterico follows the Facebook and Twitter connections, and discovers (which doesn’t have to mean anything, as Patterico himself admits) that the very first Twitter friend is somebody from a Beltway PR agency that appears to be “friendly” with the 0bama administration.
My money is on some DIY “Nutroots” operation gone sour.
Another “letters astroturfer” for 0bama – and another, and another…
After we found out about Ellie Light (same pro-0bama letter meanwhile published in 62 papers in 29 states), Patterico just now introduced Mark Spivey, who seems to be the male equivalent.
UPDATE: for some reason, this post didn’t get published. In the meantime, Patterico unearthed more examples, and more…
No matter how pathetic they have gotten, the shills for Emperor Buck Naked still can outdo themselves every day…
Doctor Zero: The middle class is the great enemy of collectivists
Doctor Zero, in “the context of middle class frustration“, hits upon an important point: the middle class is the enemy of oligarchic collectivism.
The upper class isn’t a big problem – they don’t have the votes to block a collectivist agenda in a democracy, and they generally find ways to maintain, or increase, their power and wealth under a total State. The power of the State can be extremely valuable to them, for manipulating markets and thwarting upstart competitors. Many of them are willing to trade a little wealth for power, or find moral nourishment in supporting a collective agenda.
The members of the lower class are generally seen as the clients of a collectivist movement, the recipients of the social benefits it promises. Their desperation and anger become fuel for the movement, providing both righteousness and voting power. The collectivist only needs to conceal any hope of finding prosperity beyond the generosity of the State, and keep the lower class convinced that government is the only moral actor in the economy. Review the speeches of Barack Obama, and search for anything that suggests the poor should look anywhere beyond the government and its social programs for salvation.
It’s clear that the middle class is the great enemy of collectivism. Only they have the combination of voting power, money, and economic self-interest to see the growth of government as undesirable, and provide effective resistance. They generally view their interactions with government in a negative light – they’ve all spent time in the Department of Motor Vehicles mausoleum, spent hours wrestling with tax forms, or been slapped with a traffic citation they don’t think they deserved. They understand the inefficiency and emotional instability of government, and instinctively resent its intrusion into their lives. A health-care takeover is the best chance collectivists will ever have of persuading the middle class to vote itself into chains… but for the better part of a century, they’ve been able to hear the hammers of the State ringing on the metal of those chains, in the forges of taxation and regulation.
The middle class is a vast group in a capitalist society, which is one of the things collectivists really hate about capitalism. Its upper reaches include the entrepreneurs and small business owners that bring economic vitality. Virtually every aspect of Obama’s agenda is designed to injure or burden small businessmen, and this is no accident. Despite their angry rhetoric about giant corporations, leftists have little trouble controlling them. They often do business directly with the government, as vendors… and, through lobbyists, as customers. They generally employ members of labor unions, which serve as a de facto arm of Big Government, injecting the agenda of the State directly into the corporate bloodstream. It’s the small business owners and self-employed, along with those who aspire to join their ranks, who are the most difficult to control, and the most likely to muster effective electoral resistance to the statist agenda. The middle class is filled with people who pay attention to the second page of their paycheck stubs.
Read the whole thing.
“Letters to the editor” astroturfer for 0bama caught
Patterico reports on how the same woman, one putative Ellie Light, published fundamentally the same pro-0bama letter in at least 42 newspapers in 18 states plus DC (listing different places of residence for every state). Commenters keep discovering more letters. Sabrina Eaton at the Cleveland Plain Dealer caught her red-handed claiming diverse residences.
Can the 0bama propaganda machine possibly get any more pathetic?!
And kudos to Sabrina — although it is a sad reflection on the state of MSM journalism that journalists can now become praiseworthy merely for doing their jobs. Here is another example — in the NYT no less. (I have some bones to pick with the author, but it’s not a mindless puff piece by any means.)
Friday night beauty: Cream, “Crossroads”
Every blues aficionado knows the Robert Johnson classic, “Crossroads”. Personally straight blues isn’t my thing, but Cream’s live version of this song, as it appears on the “Wheels of fire” album, ranks among the most mind-blowing live rock performances ever recorded. During the two solo sections, Eric Clapton’s guitar and Jack Bruce’s bass play what amount to simultaneous solos that perfectly fit each other — one of a few rare instances of polyphony in straight rock music. (I remember Jack Bruce once saying in an interview that, to him, the best bass lines ever were written by J. S. Bach. Unlike the self-taught Clapton, Bruce majored in cello and composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, eventually dropping out when told to choose between his classical studies or playing jazz. Ironically, in 2007 he returned to play at the dedication ceremony for a new rehearsal hall, named in his honor, at the academy.)
The video is just a static cover image, but the audio makes up for that sevenfold.
Below is a video of Cream’s performance of the track during their 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The vibe here is quite different.
Barack Obama music video: “The day 0bamacare died”
Heh. (H/t: DesertSage @ C2)
And if that isn’t enough schadenfreude for one day, there’s LLL broadcast network Air America filing for bankruptcy.
One little victory: Democrats lose Senate supermajority
Scott Brown handily trounced (52-47, with 1% for independent candidate Joseph Kennedy, no relation to “the” Kennedys) the anointed Democratic candidate in possibly the bluest state in the Union. Instapundit is all over the story, as 0bama’s spinmeisters and media groupies are out-clowning themselves. My heartiest congratulations and G-dspeed to the new Republican senator from Massachusetts — the first since Henry Cabot Lodge [!!], if I am not mistaken.
As a great man said in another context: “This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”
Meanwhile, this Rush song is for Scott Brown.
A certain measure of innocence
Willing to appear naive
A certain degree of imagination
A measure of make-believe
A certain degree of surrender
To the forces of light and heat
A shot of satisfaction
In a willingness to risk defeat
Celebrate the moment
As it turns into one more
Another chance at victory
Another chance to score
The measure of the moment
In a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free
…One little victory…The greatest act can be…One little victory…
UPDATE: Rasmussen Reports crunched the numbers.
In the end, Brown pulled off the upset in large part because he won unaffiliated voters by a 73% to 25% margin. The senator-elect also picked up 23% of the vote from Democrats. [Our polling shows that 53% of voters in Massachusetts are Democrats, 21% Republican and 26% not affiliated with either party.]
Coakley also barely carried a usually reliable Democratic constituency. Union workers went for her by just six points, 52% to 46%.
Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters in the state say health care was the most important factor in their voting decision.[…] Twenty-five percent (25%) of Massachusetts voters say the economy was most important.
Forty-seven percent (47%) favor the health care legislation before Congress while 51% oppose it. However, the intensity was clearly with those who are opposed. Just 25% of voters in Massachusetts Strongly Favor the plan while 41% Strongly Oppose it.
Fifty percent (50%) say it would be better to pass no health care legislation at all rather than passing the bill before Congress.
Dewey wins! Oops…
“Dewey wins” moment for the Boston Globe: it just declared Coakley to be the winner. Oops… it’s 1 pm and voting is still going on.
These people are truly pathetic beyond pathetic…
Relatedly, Zombie has an open thread for reporting voter fraud incidents. Michelle Malkin reports on a pretty egregious one.
Coakley vs. Brown: howler of the day
(Hat tip: Pi Guy @ C2, via C2’s afternoon roundup)
Democrats use unintentionally hilarious Ted Kennedy analogy:“Would You Hand the Keys of the Car Back to the Guys Who Drove Into a Ditch Then Walked Away From the Scene of the Accident?”
As James Taranto would say, “Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment”.
Related: top meme on Memeorandum: “Polls: Coakley in freefall”. But, once again, don’t get cocky, guys! Winning isn’t enough — winning so big that cheating won’t matter should be the target.
MLK day video: U2, “Pride”
Pretty much every U2 fan knows that one of their signature songs, “Pride (in the name of love)” is a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. (Make sure not to miss Power Line’s homage to the man today.) Musicians and music geeks might like to press “read more”.
Martin Luther King’s dream, that one day people would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, is very much my dream, and should be the dream of every rational conservative. As another great man wrote in another context: if thou wilst, it is not a legend (אם תרצו אין זו אגדה).
Coakley vs. Brown: 0bama heckled in… Massachusetts?!
The Massachusetts by-election just keeps getting better. Instapundit and Gateway Pundit both have loads of stuff:
- 0bama speaks at rally for Coakley, cannot fill the hall…
- …and gets heckled?! At a university?! In freaking Massachusetts?! What’s next, Berkeley electing a Republican mayor?! UPDATE: top meme on Memeorandum: Dems blaming Bush for poor turnout and high enthusiasm for Brown. I’ve seen 5-year olds behave more maturely.
- 0bama warns: elect Coakley or my social engineering experiment will be finished. This should be all the motivation anyone needs 😉
- Two polls give Brown a wide lead. (See also here.) However, it ain’t over until it’s over, guys: Rasmussen still has a dead heat. And remember: winning isn’t enough, it’s winning so good they can’t cheat.
- Lefty site Firedoglake turns on Coakley?!
- The Boston Globe [!]: “The feverish excitement that propelled Barack Obama and scores of other Democrats to victory in 2008 has all but evaporated, worrying party leaders who are struggling to invigorate the base before Tuesday’s Massachusetts Senate race and November’s critical midterm contests, pollsters and party activists said.”
- Fred Barnes: interim senator cannot legally vote after Tuesday.
- Greyhawk: “I’m not in Massachusetts, so I’m really puzzled by some of the assumptions of the strategists in the Coakley campaign. Besides bringing this “Scott Brown defends young, unwed mothers” issue to the forefront, did they really think emphasizing Brown’s opposition to forcing Nuns to perform abortions was a vote-getter for their side? And what does that have to do with his Guard service?” Snarks Insty: “They’re just flailing now, hoping that something will work.”
- Related: After a year, hope turns into disappointment. Pi Guy thinks they have it backwards 😉
- Belmont Club: “Firestorm“
- C2 contributor “Behold an Iron Horse” on Curt Schilling endorsing Brown. People who care about professional sports tell me this is a really big deal. And I agree on this thing: the Coakley campaign at this point looks like a self-parody. I have trouble making up my mind whether they’re trying to throw the GOP off-balance by looking completely feckless, or actively trying to make Brown win the election. The latter would get many vulnerable Dem congresscritters off the hook from having to vote for 0baminationcare.
- Speaking of sports, Don Surber is keeping score
- UPDATE: Strata-Sphere: White House internally admits MA election slipping away. Let’s not get cocky, guys: remember Yogi Berra’s Law!
- UPDATE: JWF: It was like the Hindenburg crashing into the Titanic
- More updates to follow
UPDATE: Correspondence Committee, my other hangout, has
And last but not least, from my honored blog-ancestor, now at Pajamas Media:
Times: World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown
Most-read article on the London Times website today:
A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.
Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world’s glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.
In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC’s 2007 report.
It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was “speculation” and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.
Professor Murari Lal, who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC report, said he would recommend that the claim about glaciers be dropped: “If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or that it is a wrong presumption, than I will recommend that the assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC assessments.”
“Settled science” at work.
Coakley hits bottom, digs
C2 contributor “Realwest” posts this fine example, after which I would probably vote for a mangy dog if it were the only opponent of Coakley.
“Coakley flier: Scott Brown opposes medical treatment for rape victims or something”[…]
We’re actually about to see some legal action over this one.
The flier reportedly says “1,736 women were raped in Massachusetts in 2008. Scott Brown wants hospitals to turn them all away,” according to Greg Sargent’s blog.
Dan Winslow, counsel for the Scott Brown for U.S. Senate campaign, will hold a media availability at 4 p.m. today to announce the criminal complaint resulting from a recent mailing paid for and sent by the Massachusetts Democratic Party, according to a press release sent out by the campaign…
“The campaign’s rhetoric has gone from negative to malicious,” Massachusetts Republican party spokeswoman Tarah Donoghue told The Daily Caller from Brown’s weekend bus tour Saturday. “It’s outright offensive and it’s a distortion of Scott Brown’s record.”
No word on the charge but it’s a comfort to know that the state’s own attorney general might be in legal jeopardy due to the sheer viciousness of her smears. (Not the only legal trouble she’s in today, either.) Here’s what the Coakley campaign would have you believe amounts to wanting to see rape victims turned away from hospitals:
The 2005 amendment that Brown sponsored in the state Senate would have allowed a physician, nurse, or any other employee to deny rape victims an emergency contraceptive if it “conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief.’’ The facility would have had to have someone else who could administer the contraceptive or refer the victim to another facility at no additional cost to the patient.
The amendment, which did not pass, was attached to a bill that he ultimately voted for, which required emergency rooms to provide the contraceptives to rape victims.
He wanted a limited religious conscience exemption for ER workers, with no extra financial burden to victims, and when he didn’t get it he voted to provide emergency contraception anyway. Translation: Scott Brown hates rape victims. And to think, if only Massachusetts had followed the Coakley plan of keeping Catholic hospital staff out of emergency rooms, all this “unpleasantness” might have been avoided.
[…] Update: You have to see the flier to believe it. Even lefty Greg Sargent feels obliged to correct the record.
Chicago style politics coming to Massachusetts. Dope and chainsHope and change!
Or rather: palpable desperation. “If Brown wins, it will be the end of change as we know it.” And I, for one, would feel fine.
UPDATE: Even diehard libs appear to turn their backs on Coakley. “Whether she wins or not, she’s finished.”