Monthly Archives: July 2013

Wherein Pino Is Fine With A Worker’s Strike


I’m harsh on labor unions.  In today’s world – and for much of the time I’ve been alive, labor unions have been the scourge of life.  Nothing but sucking the productive forces of our economy and lining their pockets off the backs of the workers.

Actions truly worth protest march.

Anyway, today there is a semi-nationwide strike:

Workers at the nation’s best known fast-food restaurants in seven cities across America are planning to walk off the job Monday to protest what they say are wages that are too low to live on. In a move orchestrated with the help of powerful labor unions and clergy groups, the workers plan to strike for a day to demand their wages be doubled.

The Washington Post reports that the protests will take place in New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Flint, Mich., involving workers at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC. Some employees at stores including Dollar Tree, Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret are also expected to join the protesters in several cities.

The workers are calling for wages of $15 per hour, more than double New York’s current minimum wage of $7.25.

As far as I can tell, these workers are not represented and actually could be fired if their employer so desired.

THAT is the type of labor protest that I can respect!

I remember, years ago, working in a catering gig when the boss, a reasonable man, offered me a promotion running a cafeteria at a local community college.  WAY more responsibility and work, staff and everything.  When I asked what my raise would be he said, “There wouldn’t be a raise, just the opportunity.”

Knowing that my field of choice was not going to be in the food industry I declined claiming that the money didn’t justify the effort.  He mentioned that he could just change my assignment and force me to report to my new job Monday.  I told him that he could, but that he wouldn’t want to have to train me and then my replacement in a matter of 6 weeks.

So I GET the fact that people don’t wanna work for less money than they feel they ought to.  And I think that they SHOULD walk out if they feel strongly enough.

Good for these guys and gals.

What I oppose is the racket that is the union basically legislating rules that tip the balance in their favor.

However, the grievances these guys make are less than compelling:

“A lot of the workers are living in poverty, you know, not being able to afford to put food on the table or take the train to work,” Fast Food Forward director Jonathan Westin told CBS New York. “The workers are striking over the fact that they can’t continue to maintain their families on the wages they’re being paid in the fast-food industry.”

Simple fact – these jobs are not meant to support families.

Robert Wilson, Jr., a 25-year-old McDonald’s employee in Chicago, told The Washington Post that he makes $8.60 an hour after seven years on the job. A previous walkout in April led to “small victories,” he said, including additional hours and slight raises.

Simple fact – These jobs are not meant to be stayed at for 7 years.

The truth is that these jobs are meant to be entry level low paid gigs that, in addition to paying money for baseball cards and skateboards, teach young people work ethic, job skills and interpersonal skills.

These jobs are MEANT to be worked for a year or 3 while in school and then left for greener pastures.  These employees are being underpaid, they are overstaying.

Detroit – How Did We Get Here


De’troilet is and has been a mess for decades now.  A prime example of what happens when a democrat party controlled by unions (sorry to repeat myself ) has control of a city.

An insightful story in what residents of De’troilet have to look forward to:

In a small mill town in New England, dozens of retired policemen and firefighters are feeling the pain of what they see as a broken promise, offering a glimpse into what could happen to thousands of public workers in Detroit facing massive reductions in pension payouts after the city’s declaration of bankruptcy.

Donald Cardin became a firefighter at age 20 in Central Falls, R.I., a town just north of Providence that filed for bankruptcy in 2011. He was making $60,000 a year as a fire chief before retiring at age 42 in 2007 to take care of his wife Lana, diagnosed with thymic carcinoma, a rare cancer with extremely low survival rates.

The couple relied on Cardin’s health insurance, which required no copay, to cover Lana’s $8,000-a-month treatment. Cardin worked a part-time contracting job to make up the difference between his $34,000-a-year pension and his former salary.

But that all changed in 2011 when Cardin, and his fellow firefighters and policemen, were called to a meeting at the local high school, where state-appointed receiver Robert Flanders warned them that the city would not have enough money to survive if pensions were not cut. Weeks later the city would file for bankruptcy.

Bruce Ogni, 53, president of the Central Falls Police Retirees Association, won’t forget that day, either.

“All of a sudden they dropped this on us. There was no real negotiation. Flanders came in and said the city is in big trouble, we need half your pension and your medical,” he said.

With a wife and twin boys to care for, Ogni lost $1,200 a month and had to pay additional fees incurred by his wife’s health insurance. Eight months ago, Ogni’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, adding more medical bills to the family’s worries.

Ex-fireman Laurie and his wife, Kathleen, live off disability from social security (which he receives from previously working part-time jobs in addition to his service as a fireman) and a $19,000-a-year pension — down from $39,000 before the cuts.

The Lauries makes just enough money not to qualify for public assistance, but the $2,700 the family brings in each month barely covers their $2,300 in monthly bills.

Each of these individual stories is heartbreaking, to be sure.  Life threatening cancer to disability to expecting twins.  All of which is enough to occupy a man, but then the additional pressures of having your world turned upside down.

But there are some striking observations:

  1. What reasonable world do we live in that allows a man to retire at 42 with $34,000 in pension AND full health benefits?
  2. Every single one of the subjects is a tragedy.  Cancer, disability and expecting wife with twins.
  3. A 53 year old President of the Retired Police Association?

Personally, I think that contracts between companies and their pensioners should be upheld – the folks no longer have a position from which to bargain.  If my company changes my compensation, I can leave or stay.  However, with that said, these unions have absolutely been acting in bad faith and without moral concern for the parties involved.

They elect their cronies to office in order to negotiate with themselves.  The deals they strike are so ridiculous as to fail to pass a red face test.  And then, when the parasite finally kills the host leaving nothing but a dead husk – they act so SO surprised and innocent.

As if.

The Liberal’s Head Will Explode

Blow Your Mind

How is a liberal to think?  On one hand you have technology improving the delivery of fresh produce to markets thereby reducing the need for processed goods.  On the other, you have technology reducing the need for labor:

SALINAS, Calif. –  On a windy morning in California’s Salinas Valley, a tractor pulled a wheeled, metal contraption over rows of budding iceberg lettuce plants. Engineers from Silicon Valley tinkered with the software on a laptop to ensure the machine was eliminating the right leafy buds.

The engineers were testing the Lettuce Bot, a machine that can “thin” a field of lettuce in the time it takes about 20 workers to do the job by hand.

The thinner is part of a new generation of machines that target the last frontier of agricultural mechanization — fruits and vegetables destined for the fresh market, not processing, which have thus far resisted mechanization because they’re sensitive to bruising.

Me?  We don’t have  workers willing to work at the price being offered.  Technology is a win-win.

Medical Intervention

When we measure a health care system, are we measuring the right things?  For example, consider heart attacks.  Is the best measure of a medical care delivery system one where we measure how many people survive a heart attack once it’s happened or is it one where we measure how many people have heart attacks?

I suggest that one measure is a reflection of societal norms.  The other medical care delivery.

With that said, do we measure the US system fairly?

Cancer Survival Rate

It’s not even very close, really.  And this plays out to what we know to be true – the world comes to America for medical care, not the other way around.

Sure – move to the ranch in Montana and you have less access to medical care.  But is tat the fault of the system or a feature?

But what about life expectancy?

Life Expectency

When fatal injuries are removed, which occur before medical care can be applied, the US moves from 19 to [ahem] 1.

The Republican Conundrum On Social Security – California

Savings Account

As the debate raged over Obamacare, I warned that republicans were painting themselves into a corner.  It has been correctly pointed out that the idea of the individual mandate was an idea first introduced by the right.  After all, by requiring everyone to purchase health insurance, the costs would be spread more equitably – those more likely to require care would pay more, those less so would be less.

While that debate was raging, republicans were pushing the idea of reforming Social Security.  The goal was to institute personal retirement accounts.  In other words, the government would still take 6% of your money, probably 6% of your employers money, and give you the option of investing it as you so desired.

Forced savings.

I didn’t see the difference between forcing someone to purchase health insurance and forcing them to  purchase savings accounts.

To be sure, both are good ideas – VERY good ideas.  But having the government force it on us?  No bueno.

Now see this:

California lawmakers are pushing a controversial, first-in-the-nation plan that would require private-sector employers to remove 3 percent from every worker’s paycheck. The money would go into a new state fund with a guarantee that all withheld funds plus investment gains will be available for distribution at retirement age.

The idea behind the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program, which got preliminary approval, is for it to be a state-run supplement to Social Security, but only for people who don’t have traditional workplace retirement plans. For an estimated 6 million working Californians, the benefit of a pension or 401(k) is out of reach — so state lawmakers are trying to implement the new mandatory retirement fund for private sector workers.


Now, to be fair, there is NO WAY that California doesn’t spend the money before the benefits come due causing a dramatic budget deficit.  Beyond that, however, there is little difference between this plan and the one republicans called for in social security reform.

Maybe the good news is that by being continually to the right of the crazy, the crazy will feel the need to move right.

Race Relations: Having A Conversation

Race Relations

George Zimmerman.

Treyvon Martin


I’ve never not thought that we needed to have a conversation about race.  Of course we need to have a conversation and we have to have one now more so than in the recent past.  It hasn’t been since Obama – McCain in 2008 that we’ve talked about race in a significant manner.  And this moment in time seems more poignant.

So yeah, let’s have that conversation.

And that means putting on your big girl panties.  A conversation means interaction; interaction in ways that might be difficult, emotional and divergent from your own views.

So here is Bill:

Controversial?  Yup.  Opinionated?  Yup.  A conversation starter?  Yup.

A response:

So, Hayes has an opinion.  I get that.  And his opinion is that he doesn’t like O’Reilly’s opinion.  Which, I guess, is fine.  But what we’re trying to do here is have a conversation.  Which, like I said, is about engaging with UNlike minded people.

Hayes isn’t doing that here.  What he’s doing is anti-conversation having.  What he’s doing is offering a soliloquy, a speech of one with no option of dissenting views.

Which, like I said, is fine.  But it’s not a conversation.  And we need to have that conversation.

There Goes The Neigborhood: Literally

As if we haven’t learned by now that unions are corrosive and abusive organizations that provide no productive benefit, there are states that continue to pass legislation that helps them grow*.

Ahh, Minnesota, why you?

A bitter debate results in opportunity for providers to unionize. However, Republicans say unionization would drive up daycare costs.

The bill will allow the approximately 12,700 registered in-home care providers a chance to decide whether to form a union.

If a union were to form, providers would have to pay union dues if they accept state child care subsidies, or they would be required to pay what are called “fair share dues” if they choose not to join.

Those who would rather not participate at all say they will have to turn away children whose parents pay with subsidies.

Unions backing the bill stand to collect millions of dollars in union dues, according to various estimates.

Luckily for the unions, you can’t open day care facilities in South Carolina for Minnesota families.

* 10 bonus points if you guess what political party is in power in Minnesota right now.

North Carolina: Education


For the first time in 150 years, North Carolina has a republican controlled government.  It should surprise no one that republican favored agendas are being passed into law.

[ It should also serve as a stark lesson to all liberals who rejoiced in massive democratic majorities following the election of Obama that such majorities are not always good ]

One of the priorities of the republican legislature is to pass a voucher bill:

The House budget set aside $10 million for vouchers this year for families meeting income requirements, and $40 million next year. Parents would receive $4,200 per child to help cover private school tuition. Vouchers are in play in the negotiations between House and Senate budget writers.

Such “hatred of poor kids” is, of course, the subject of Moral Monday marches in Raleigh.  For as long as I can remember, the concept of vouchers in specific and private schools in general have been a special hatred of the left.

And I can’t understand why.

I get that the state has a vested interest in the education of its children.  And in so far as the state is interested in said education, I would suppose that how that education was delivered would largely be inconsequential.  What MIGHT be of importance is who is best able to deliver education that results in the highest levels of quality.  That is, if the state can do it better than the private school, then I get the argument that the state should provide education.

However, our public schools are horrible, yes?  And if private schools are able to deliver at least equal levels of education at prices that are dramatically cheaper, ought we not go where it makes sense?  And there is little evidence to suggest that public schools are superior to private ones.

So why the outrage over private school vouchers?

Is it because the left feels that parents of the most at risk students don’t care enough even to apply for and receive such vouchers?  Or is it because the democrat machine is dominated by the most powerful lobbying force in the country – the Teacher’s Union?

Abortion And Guns

Substitute one word for the other and you will be unable to distinguish the subject of debate.  Only the nature of the partisan will give you away.

On the right, they believe that the right to bear arms is given to us by the constitution.  Any attempt to regulate that right is really just a strategy to chip away at that right with the goal of removing all guns.  If sometimes bad people use guns in the wrong way and manner, that is the price of freedom.

On the left, they believe that the right to an abortion is given to us by the constitution.  Any attempt to regulate that right is really just a strategy to chip away at that right with the goal of removing all access to abortion.  If sometimes bad people use abortion in the wrong way and manner, that is the price of freedom.

Remember this when you are debating either guns or abortion.

NY Times Loses Nate Silver


Nate Silver, the blogger whose unerring predictions made him perhaps the most important political byline at The New York Times during the last presidential election, is leaving the paper to join ESPN. An official announcement is expected later today.

Silver will relocate his blog, FiveThirtyEight, and will also be a contributor to Keith Olbermann’s new weeknight talk show, according to the Times. He’ll also be a regular presence on ABC, ESPN’s sister network under the Disney umbrella, and will appear on programming including Academy Awards coverage, according to Politico’s Mike Allen.

I’m not a fan of ESPN really, maybe the cable channels but the web presence of ESPN has turned me off for the last several years.

But this is big news.