Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vocal Ministry -- Money Talks (Ray Davies Lyric and Kinks Link) + Michael Barone Article -- "Who Benefits From Government Unions?"

Show me a man who says he can live without bread
And I'll show you a man who's a liar and in debt.
There's no one alive who can't be purchased or enticed
There's no man alive who wouldn't sell for a price,
Money talks and we're the living proof,
There ain't no limit to what money can do
Money talks, money talks.

Money can't breathe and money can't see,
But when I pull out a fiver people listen to me.
Money can't run and money can't walk,
But when I write out a cheque I swear to God I hear money talk.
Money talks and, baby, when you've been bought
You pay attention everytime money talks.
Money talks, money talks.

Money talks and there's no doubt about it
Money talks and we can't live without it,
What's the point of living unless you've got money?
I just couldn't function without money.
Money talks, money talks,
Money talks, money talks.

Show me an upright respected man
And I'll have him licking my boots when I put money in his hand.
It rots your heart, it gets to your soul,
Before you know where you are you're a slave to the green gold.
Money talks and we're the living proof
There ain't no limit to what money can do.
Money talks you out of your self-respect,
The more you crave it the cheaper you get.
Money talks, money talks.


Money buys you time and people listen,
Money can buy a smile and make life worth living.
If you're ugly money can improve you.
I just couldn't face the world without mazuma.
Money talks, money talks.

Who Benefits From Government Unions?

By Michael Barone

Everyone has priorities. During the past week, Barack Obama found time to be interviewed by a Wisconsin television station and weigh in on the dispute between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the state's public employee unions. Walker was staging "an assault on unions," he said, and added that "public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens."

Enormous contributions, yes -- to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say.

The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

So, just as the president complained in his 2010 State of the Union address about a Supreme Court decision that he feared would increase the flow of money to Republicans, he also found time to complain about a proposed state law that could reduce the flow of money to Democrats.

And, according to The Washington Post, to get the Democratic National Committee to organize protests against the proposed Wisconsin law. Protests that showed contempt for the law, with teachers abandoning classrooms, doctors writing phony medical excuses, Democratic legislators fleeing the state and holing up in a motel. The lawmakers played hooky without losing any salary, which is protected by the state constitution.

It's true that Walker's proposals would strike hard at the power of the public employee unions. They would no longer have the right to bargain for fringe benefits, which are threatening to bankrupt the state government, and they would no longer be able to count on government withholding dues money and passing it along to them.

But what are the contributions that public employee unions make to our states and our citizens? Their incentives are to increase the cost of government and reduce down toward zero the accountability of public employees -- both contrary to the interests of taxpaying citizens.

An argument can be made that higher pay, generous benefits and lavish pensions will attract better people to public employment. But where are the studies that show that citizens of states with strong public employee unions get better services than citizens in states without?

What citizens of states with strong public employee unions do get are higher taxes and enormous pension burdens that threaten to squeeze out funds for ongoing services, as even Democratic governors like Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jerry Brown of California have figured out.

That's why one of the great 20th century presidents was against unions for public employees who have civil service protections. No, not Ronald Reagan. It was Franklin Roosevelt who said, "Action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable."

So while the Wisconsin unions are defying the law, Scott Walker is in effect following FDR's lead -- and if he's successful, others may follow. That would be an enormous blow to the money power of the public employee union bosses.

Public opinion seems to be with the Republicans. Pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that 48 percent of voters support Walker, while only 38 percent support the unions.

This seems to be a sharp reversal of opinion over the last five years. Back in 2005, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sponsored a series of ballot propositions that would have reduced the power of the state's public employee unions. The unions spent something like $100 million -- all of it derived from taxpayers -- on TV ads, and all the propositions were defeated.

Now hard economic times have left voters wondering why public employees pay practically zero toward their health insurance and pensions when they have to pay plenty themselves. Wisconsin, which led the nation on civil service a century ago and on welfare reform in the 1990s, may be showing the nation the way ahead once again.
Copyright 2011, Creators Syndicate Inc.


  1. Should public employees continue to have the right to elect to direct -- or not to direct -- some of their compensation to the people who, say the employees, represent them?

    Can government force its employees to decide, every year, whether the organization that represents them can continue to do so?

    I don't know who contributes to Walker or to Obama. But if I did, it would not teach me the answers to those questions.

  2. Something has clearly gone terribly, terribly wrong on a number of levels. I know this (only partially addressing your question at an angle) from my experience dealing with my local Tuxedo Union Free School District (which only recognizes two of the four arithmetic operations -- addition and multiplication) and knowing very well members of the high school faculty of the Monroe-Woodbury School District (NY) who belong to our Quaker Meeting. Answering it a little less obliquely and focusing on the "can" that begins your second paragraph and question, I'm actually content to have the elected legislature (which I assume stands for re-election every two years in Wisconsin, for example) address, debate and vote on these things and be required to show up for work in order to be entitled to receive pay. I think the Barone article makes a number of good points. Great song, though, and an inspired vocal performance by the Davies brothers. Curtis

  3. You won't get any argument from me that something has gone wrong. I voted for a Republican for the first time in my life last November, for the Office of New York State Comptroller. Why? Because I trusted him to be tougher on the unions. He lost. That's democracy for you.

    It seems like big-government paternalism for the State of Wisconsin to micro-manage how its citizens -- those who are public employees anyway -- dispose of their money, whether as union dues or pensions or whatever they want. And like other citizens -- and other Wisconsin employees like police and firemen -- the State's teachers should have the right to select and engage advocates on their behalf and on their own terms.

    Barone wants a study to show the benefits of public employee unions? He sounds like a policy wonk who thinks government knows better than citizens about what's good for them. Why shouldn't the employees remain free to decide what's good for them? If they don't like their union reps, they can through the bums out.

    In truth, I don't have confidence they will get it right. But that's democracy for you.

  4. Fair enough, I suppose. You voted for a Republican? Wow. That's very broad-minded of you, I must say. I think Barone describes the "public sector union problem" really well. Charles Krauthammer has a Washington Post op-ed piece today where he also does this. I think the legislature has a job to do and should be allowed to do it. The teachers, the physicians handing out phony doctor's notes and the WI Democratic senators have all behaved disgracefully. As a person who alternately (and accurately) can and does describe himself as unemployed, underemployed, fully employed and retired, I am wholly disgusted with all of them and with the Democratic congressman who rallied the troops yesterday with his "it's time to get bloody" comments. I think "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" always obtains, as does Lord Acton's maxim. I didn't have a great deal of hope or optimism about this president in any event, so I haven't suffered any disappointment. I do think I chose some good pictures, though. Tomorrow I'm writing about shad. Curtis P.S. Michael Barone is a kind of interesting guy. He's the one everyone turns to with micro-questions about voting patterns. He knows every US district at all levels in incredible detail. That way, you don't have to. I hope you're having a good day. Currently, I'm in the deep freeze of the Philadelphia Skating Club, having just completed a "litigation letter". You know. C.

  5. Roddy, Re-reading my last response (written in the midst of writing a letter that was occupying most of my mind), I hope you understand that I was speaking with sincere admiration that you voted across your party lines in the NYS Controller race. I'm afraid I sounded either sarcastic or blase, which wasn't the case at all. This whole thing has me really upset, but I hope the weekend will provide a quiet interval. We're invited somewhere tomorrow evening that should be diverting. Curtis

  6. The only candidates I supported who did not disappoint me as president were McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry and Dukakis.

    I knew you were not being sarcastic.