Separated at birth?

NYS and CA may be separated by a continent but otherwise appear to be joined at the hip.

The July/August 2012 issue of Imprimis has an article, Economic Lessons from American History, which includes this interesting story, under the heading "Governments Are Terrible Investors":

...History is littered with government investment disasters...consider the Erie Railway. In order to get political support for building the Erie Canal, Governor DeWitt Clinton promised the New York counties that bordered Pennsylvania (known as the “Southern Tier”) an “avenue” of their own once the canal was completed. The canal was an enormous success, but as such it affected the state’s politics. A group of politicians from along its pathway, the so-called Canal Ring, soon dominated state government. They were not keen on helping to build what would necessarily be competition.

A canal through the mountainous terrain of the Southern Tier was impossible, and by the 1830s, railroads were the hot new transportation technology. But only with the utmost effort did Southern Tier politicians induce the Legislature to grant a charter for a railroad to run from the Hudson River to Lake Erie through their counties. And the charter almost guaranteed economic failure: It required the railroad to run wholly within New York State. As a result, it could not have its eastern terminus in New Jersey, opposite New York City, but had to end instead in the town of Piermont, 20 miles to the north. It was also forbidden to run to Buffalo, where the Erie Canal entered Lake Erie, terminating instead in Dunkirk, a town 20 miles south. Thus it would run 483 miles between two towns of no importance and through sparsely settled lands in between—not unlike the current proposed California high-speed rail project, the first segment of which would run between Fresno and Bakersfield and cost $9 billion...
And why, you may ask, is CA repeating a historic NYS mistake?  Firstly, Governor Moonbeam probably doesn't know much NYS history, and you know what they say about the link between ignorance of history and doom.  But more importantly, there's this:
Both CA and NYS are in bad shape despite all the happy talk coming out of Albany and Sacramento. Why?  Taxes, regulations, and...union penetration.
Nationally, the percentage of workers who are members of a union is around 11% or so; in NYS, that figure hovers around 25%, while in CA, it's around 17%.
When you combine a high total tax burden (imposed by governement), onerous regulations (imposed by government), and union influence (on government), it isn't any wonder that businesses and productive individuals leave or choose not to establish themselves in NYS and CA—with the predictable result that those states are floundering financially.
And why is it that some people think that more government is the solution?

Look for the union label

Remember Annie Leonard's tutorial on Citizens United?  What? You've already forgotten Citizens United (I can understand forgetting Annie Leonard)? At GlobalWarming.org:

The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United to allow corporations to spend money on political activities has become a primary target for liberals in Congress. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wrote this year that “this spending will fundamentally distort our democracy, tilting the playing field to favor corporate interests, discouraging new candidates, chilling elected officials and shifting the overall policymaking debate even further in the direction of giant corporate interests and the super-wealthy.”

Sen. Sanders was seconded by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who said, “At a time when the public’s fears about the influence of special interests were already high, the Court’s decision stacks the deck against the average American even more.” Liberals, you see, want to defend the average American from corporate interests. Liberals want to stop special interest deals that “distort our democracy.” Liberals want to stand up to the “giant corporate interests” and “level the playing field.”

All better now?  Got it?  Good.

My bud Blaise at Government Gone Wild says

In January of 2010, during the State of the Union speech, our Commander in Chief criticized our own Supreme Court for ruling in favor of Citizens United in their lawsuit against the Federal Elections Commission. This effectively allowed corporations to spend unlimited dollars for political purposes citing freedom of speech in their decision. In our opinion, President Obama demonized this decision because it would lessen the overwhelming advantage that unions have over the political process and our government.
Unions are not what they used to be. They are a political tool of the left and way for big government to lobby for more government.

Big Government...Big Labor...hmmm...the sources for the info in Blaise's video, dedicated to the memory of Andrew Breitbart, are listed below:


Unions Contributions -http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2012&ind=P

Wall Street Investment Bank Contributions- http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2012&ind=F2600

Oil and Gas Industry Contributions- http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2012&ind=E01

Defense Industry Contributions- http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2012&ind=D

Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Contributions – http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2012&ind=H4300

Airlines Contributions- http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2012&ind=T1100

Auto Manufacturer Contributions  - http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2012&ind=T2100

Savings and Loan Contributions- http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=F04

Percentage to political parties- http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2012&ind=P

Public Union Worker Percentage - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

State Government Worker Compensation –  - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecec.nr0.htm and http://www.cato.org/pubs/tbb/tbb-59.pdf

Federal Government Worker Compensation and Average Benefits –  http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/overpaid-federal-workers

Federal Government Employee Benefits - http://www.usa.gov/Federal-Employees/Benefits.shtml  andhttp://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/StudentLoan/

Unfunded Pension and Retirement Liabilities - http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/st329.pdf and http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/98-810.pdf and http://www.aei.org/article/economics/retirement/pensions/understanding-the-true-cost-of-state-and-local-pensions/

Election Day Holiday - http://www.nytimes.com/1999/12/30/us/little-known-provision-in-uaw-contract-gives-election-day-holiday.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

Union Bosses Rich - http://www.iwatchnews.org/2011/03/03/2097/scores-union-leaders-earn-six-figure-salaries

And remember....Live Big.


A little Biblical humor, y'know:

Barbara Lifton didn't get the memo

Barbara Lifton doesn't think this happens. We've blogged about it here, here, and in any number of other posts. These people just don't get it.

At Bookworm Room, via New Zeal:

...The National Labor Relations Board has held that Boeing cannot build a plant in South Carolina:

In a stunning move well beyond the scope of their legal mandate, the Obama Administration appointee controlled National Labor Relations Board is suing Boeing Corporation for, get this, building a second production line for their new Dreamliner passenger plane in South Carolina rather than in Washington state.


South Carolina is a right to work state whose voters this past November overwhelmingly amended their state’s constitution to ensure that a worker has the right to vote on whether they want to be represented by a labor union. The workers at the Boeing plant in South Carolina have also taken the bold step of booting out the union that represented them, effectively ending the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers stranglehold on Boeing production.

Now, Obama’s NLRB is attacking Boeing’s job creation in South Carolina as “union retaliation” directly related to a 2008 labor strike which crippled Boeing’s production in Washington state.

Now that those state governments that are in thrall to unions and labor have made it virtually impossible to do business in State A, the federal government is upping the ante by making it illegal for a business to move to State B.  I’ll reiterate here what I often say:  The Left may call them corporate fat cats or “rich people,” but I call them employers.  When you make it impossible for them to do business, they’re going to leave.  And if you make it impossible to leave, they’re going to die on the vine, leaving both State A and State B without jobs.

Read the whole thing.

Pajamas Media: "Obama Executive Order Intends to Implement Portions of DISCLOSE Act"

In a column this morning by Hans A. von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission:

An impeccable source has provided me with a copy of a draft Executive Order that the White House is apparently circulating for comments from several government agencies. Titled “Disclosure of Political Spending By Government Contractors,” it appears to be an attempt by the Obama administration to implement — by executive fiat — portions of the DISCLOSE Act.

This was the bill introduced last year by Sen. Chuck Schumer [emphasis mine] and Rep. Chris Van Hollen to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The bill had onerous requirements that were duplicative of existing law and burdensome to political speech. It never passed Congress because of principled opposition to its unfair, one-side requirements that benefited labor unions at the expense of corporations. Democratic commissioners at the Federal Election Commission then tried to implement portions of the bill in new regulations.  Fortunately, those regulations were not adopted because of the united opposition of the Republican commissioners.

As my source says:

It really is amazing — they lost in the Supreme Court, they lost in Congress, they lost at the FEC, so now the president is just going to do it by edict.

[....] this will require companies to delve into the personal political activities of their officers and directors — and require them to report political contributions those employees have made, not out of corporate funds (which is illegal), but out of their personal funds.

And note that these disclosure requirements will only apply to companies that make bids on government contracts. Federal employee unions that negotiate contracts for their members worth many times the value of some government contracts are not affected by this order. Neither are the recipients of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal grants.

[....] This administration completely mischaracterized the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United,especially when President Obama attacked the Court in his State of the Union speech. It misrepresented the intended effects and requirements of the DISCLOSE Act, which former FEC Chairman Brad Smith correctly observed should really have been called the “Democratic Incumbents Seeking to Contain Losses by Outlawing Speech in Elections Now” Act....

There's more—read the whole thing. For related posts at One of Nine, see here, here, and here.

The economy, the budget...and the Cubbies

Commentary by Tom Reynolds:

Let’s add some perspective to recent statements in the Ithaca Journal.

Some believe that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal ended the Great Depression, which started in 1929 and ended sometime between 1941 and 1946.  At best, that’s 12 years!  Is that an example to follow?  If we imitate Roosevelt’s policies, should we expect the current recession to end in 2020?  

Roosevelt’s policies were as effective as the Chicago Cubs’ management strategies.  It took a World War to overcome Roosevelt’s policies and the same World War to get the Cubs into a World Series.

In 1920, the US economy took the biggest, single-year drop in history; worse than any single year in the Great Depression.  In July 1921, (just 1 ½ years after that depression started), the recovery began.  What did the US Government do?  Nothing!  How come that Depression doesn’t get mentioned?  

Actually, the Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, was planning a massive intervention but the 1921 Depression ended before he could intervene.  Unfortunately, he had more time in 1929.  

Hoover was probably a Chicago Cubs fan.

Some people justify taxing the rich as if higher taxes have no effect on the decisions of the wealthy.  If so, why hire tax accountants and tax lawyers?  Have you ever heard of a tax preparation service advertising for business on the basis of calculating your “fair share” of taxes?

Some deny that union donations control the government.  In political donations since 1989, twelve of the top twenty donors are unions.  They are #s 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19.  Who is #1?  ActBlue, a Democratic Political Action Committee, made the highest total donations since 1989 even though it only came into being in 2004 (www.opensecrets.org).  In the 2010 races, ActBlue was also #1, giving more than twice as much as the # 2 donor, SEIU.

Now it’s the Tea Party that’s controlling the government!  Could SEIU be an acronym for the Tea Party?

“Greedy bankers” are blamed as the cause of the 2008 financial crises that started the recession.  Certainly, bankers found creative ways to unload the bad debt that they had accumulated.  But the root cause was the bad debt, not the bankers.  Where did the bad debt come from?  The primary answer lies in the federal government using the “Community Reinvestment Act” to force bankers to make loans they did not want to make to people that could not repay the loans.  No “Community Reinvestment Act” and, probably, no financial meltdown and no recession. Reagan was right; government is the problem!  

Reagan began his career as the radio voice of the Chicago Cubs, so he learned to recognize bad ideas very early in his career.

NY politicians decry how hard it is to cut the proposed budget by $10 billion to balance it.  The official state budget is about $130 billion, but there is another $50 billion in Public Authorities that should be—but don’t—get counted in the budget.  Add them together and the proposed budget was $180 billion and needed to be cut by 5.6%. In my 36 years of preparing budgets at for-profits and not-for-profits, the original “proposed” budget was ALWAYS more than 5.6% out of balance.  My experience is the norm, not the exception.  Balancing a proposed budget by less than 6% would have been considered a walk-in-the-park. 

Wait!  Last year, NY State tried to close state parks; maybe that’s why balancing the budget wasn’t a walk-in-the-park.  Again, Reagan was right; government is the problem!  

From 2001 through 2011, the NY State budget increased by $50 billion.  Had it increased by the rate of inflation, it would only have risen by $20 billion.  So the increase was 2 ½ times the rate of inflation!   And remember, the $10 billion they now had to “cut” was over-and-above the $30 Billion that was over-and-above the rate of inflation. 

Perhaps the solution to our economic problems—the national ones anyway—is to stop finding our political leaders in the same city that brought us the Chicago Cubs.


tvm—with my apologies to the original artist (although, really, the same graphic could be used every year):

A version of Tom's op-ed appears in today's Ithaca Journal.

A picture is worth a thousand words

What's wrong with this picture?

Well, this...

[thanks, Rich!]

...to which we can add this:

and this:

And to complete the NYS part of the picture:

You get the picture.

Pass the popcorn

If you've never seen any of Annie Leonard's videos such as The Story of Stuff, you should probably watch one for some context.  Her nemesis, Lee Doren of How the World Works, has produced a critique of her latest rant, The Story of Citizens United v. FEC; it's relevant to Tom's post, below.

Lee's video (via Legal Insurrection) is longish but well worth the time—grab a cup of coffee (or some popcorn):

"UFT spends millions on dinners, parties, parking, coffee as thousands of teachers face layoffs"


This is somewhat amusing because at one time the Daily News was the right-wing paper in NYC, while the Post was the flaming liberal rag. Now things are flip-flopped.  Nevertheless, I guess what is, is (via Pundit & Pundette):

As nearly 5,000 city teachers face the ax, their union shells out millions of dollars on feasting, boozing and partying, the Daily News has learned.


"I'm not going to apologize for spending money to service our members," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

"These people are heroes dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our children. They never get the respect they deserve. A cup of coffee, a bottle of water and a few parking spots is the least we can do for them."...


Subscribe to unions