Friday, April 9, 2010

By any other name

By Littlefish

It is refreshing when something of importance to you, something you have been arguing for years, finally breaches the surface and enters into public discourse. So is the case with Organized Labor. After years of being able to ignore my obscure arguments, they are now front and center in the debate surrounding how to ‘shore up’ the listing, or rather, sinking ships known as State and Local Governments.

It became clear to me that the issue of over-paid, unionized government workers with unsustainable benefit and retirement packages had made it out of the shadow realm of public discourse when even the Los Angeles Times mentioned how “The state's unfunded pension costs totaled $59.5 billion while unfunded healthcare costs were $62.5 billion,” and now we have Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who according to the Wall St Journal “once organized for a teacher's union… and later ran a branch of the American Federation of Government Employees” looking to re-open contract negotiations with city employees in an effort to assuage the city’s financial woes (they’re going broke like the rest of the state). The WSJ also quoted Villaraigosa’s deputy chief of staff, Matt Szabo, as having said: "Unions have priced themselves out of a job." Amazing. Even a liberal can notice the obvious.

But not all liberals are quite that sharp of course, for instance, one of my favorite quotes from Presidente Obama in the last year showed how even the top brass of the liberal / progressive movement are completely willing to ignore the obvious in return for a proper payoff. In his speech to the AFL-CIO convention on September 15, 2009, Presidente Obama raised a rallied cry for his assertion that his stimulus package known as the Recovery Act was “a plan that didn’t include any of the usual Washington earmarks or pork-barrel spending. But what it did include was a guarantee to uphold Davis Bacon and pay prevailing wages.” Really, he said that, I watched him; he said it in almost the same breath, without any hint of sarcasm at all. Uphold Davis Bacon? Not the usual pork? Well I suppose if you want to hide something, in plain sight is your best bet.

Tell me, what is not pork about the Davis Bacon act? Davis Bacon is the only pork I don’t like for breakfast.

Prevailing wage is the term they use to remind people how important unions are to working families, how Unions have fought for the workingman. I must say, there is nothing ‘Prevailing’ about the prevailing wage. Ever wonder why public works projects run into the hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars? Prevailing wage is good start. Couple that with politicians issuing contracts to favored constituents outside of any bidding process, and whammo, your tax dollars at work!

Let me set this up…

According to the Washington State Department of Labor and industries, “Prevailing Wage is defined as the hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime, paid in the largest city in each county, to the majority of workers, laborers, and mechanics. Prevailing wages are established, by the Department of Labor & Industries, for each trade and occupation employed in the performance of public work. They are established separately for each county, and are reflective of local wage conditions.” “Public works projects paid for by public funding must pay prevailing wage rates.” The Department establishes this rate and any employee working on a public works project (from one of the chosen job classifications) must be paid the Prevailing wage for that classification. There are many different Prevailing wages depending of course on the negotiating skill of each union affected, such as plumbers and pipe fitters in King County, WA earn a prevailing wage for public works projects of $66.44 an hour, and drywall tapers on the same project earn $48.79 per hour, and those friendly folks with the STOP/SLOW signs on either end of a road project earn $33.93 and hour, before overtime.

I have no intention to judge anyone’s work or ability or worth in so far as each individual has their own worth and deserves whatever rate of pay they can fetch in an open market, but there is where I come to my point… the open market. To me, prevailing wage means, if the job were open to all comers, what would equally qualified persons be willing to do the job for? Which wage would prevail? I know for a fact that I can get someone to work on the plumbing of my building for $30 and hour, $45 tops. Drywall tapers, $15. If I needed someone to stand and hold a stop sign? Well, fixed posts do that job pretty well in most other applications, but I could be convinced there is a high touch necessary to the turning of the sign and allow that someone may, by performing that task effortlessly and flawlessly, be deserving of, say, minimum wage? With reported unemployment around 10%, I am sure the benefit package alone would make that job easily worth $8 or $9 dollars an hour to someone out of work. People would likely be lining up for the job. So, if the job could be done at a far lower price than is required by law, what exactly is prevailing about Prevailing wage? We have to look at the Act that brought us prevailing wage and the stuff it is made of, Davis Bacon… pork.

The incestuous relationship between Unions and politicians is no secret. That “we the people” allow it to go on is just as bad as a mother that lets her child be continually abused by her stepfather. The first conversation between a Union boss and a politician must have gone something like this: “So then, I’ll make a law that forces people to pony up tax money to pay your workers more than anyone else would pay them, you skim a bunch of money off the top for yourself, ‘contribute’ some of that back to me for my re-election campaign, and then next year I can get us both even more money. Man, we can ride this pyramid scheme right to the top!”

Really, this cuts more to the heart of out of control government spending, the bloated and unfunded pension liabilities that governments face are more about actual government workers, not the false wage rates paid to otherwise private workers that work on government projects, but for me, it proves a necessary point. It is so out-in-the-open-obvious what is going on.

If you take in a protest event at the capitol or anywhere a lot of hype has been boiled up, you are sure to see droves of same shirted union employees, chanting off pre-printed cards, holding pre-printed signs, all in unison to attempt to persuade the officials in their offices to do their bidding. A show of force, “this is how many votes we have, and we all agree. See, we even wear the same shirts and rode in on the same union provided busses because we all agree so much! Tax everyone else more so we can continue our little pyramid scheme please.” These days, we are lucky to have the Tea Partiers, or as they have been so lovingly called, the Tea Baggers! (I love it. Tea Bag the D-bags! Thanks Liberty) who at least show up in their own clothes with their own signs and their own concerns. I say we are lucky to have them because it wasn’t really until they showed up and provided a control sample of what non-unionized people (most of the population) are concerned with, that it became so easy to spot the union/politician pyramid scheme in action.

Many liberal friends of mine will argue that we need government to protect us from evil business, and we need unions to protect us from evil business. So tell me then, if both government and unions are the angels the liberals want them to be, why do government workers need to be unionized? Why should you have to protect government workers from themselves?

Now we see the scam at its root. Unions and Liberal politicians need a secure base of income and votes, and unionizing public employees was, really, a brilliant play. Criminally brilliant. Basically extorting tax payers dollars to pay a selected constituency who supports you financially, and at the same time, driving up costs of projects that those same tax payers fund, pushing the need for even further tax and wage increases.

Fortunately, we have laws in this country to protect the public from extortion. That brings me to how we finally get unions and politicians out of bed with one another, unless of course it’s a jailhouse bunk. It is high time to break up their racket.

The most concise explanation of the RICO act I could find comes from a Professor Hinze of the University of Florida, and he states that the RICO act “enables persons financially injured by a pattern of criminal activity to seek redress through the state or federal courts.” And we, my friends, have been perennially “financially injured” by the racketeering of Unions and Politicians. RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Extortion is one of the crimes covered under racketeering.

Unions are extorting politicians for money and votes, politicians are extorting the public for the tax dollars they need to pay off the mob, uh, I mean Unions, and keep themselves in power and the pyramid growing, and honestly, they should all be put in jail. In Jail. Any politician that has ever received campaign contributions from Unions… Jailed. Any union boss that has ever… well… been… should be jailed. Purposefully campaigning to raise taxes to fund a select constituency that is going to support you with the money you raise from taxes to pay them? Racketeering! And the general public is the victim as costs soar out of control.

Attorney Generals across the country need to bring charges under the RICO act against Union bosses and the politicians that accept campaign contributions from them. Any individual union members that renounce the crime syndicate, oops I did it again, I mean Unions that they were a part of can be simply put on probation and charges dropped after a class, and test, on Austrian Economics has been completed, it is the only cure for the Union brainwashing they have endured.

I have no problem with a group of employees meeting together to discuss their grievances with their respective companies, and even standing together as a united front as they approach their boss and request or even demand more favorable pay or conditions, but once you have a paid hierarchy of ‘leaders,’ collecting ‘dues’ (extortion again) in the billions of dollars to fund politicians, and direct them to forge policy that affects the ability of the union to garner even more money and power over their constituents and the non-union public as well, it becomes nothing less than criminal.

You want to save state and local governments? Imprison Union Bosses and the Politicians that feed them, then all union contracts and pension and benefit packages for state and local workers can be thrown out since they were initiated by criminals with criminal intent. Open up the government work force to public hiring, all positions open, anyone can apply for all jobs, and everyone that is currently working for the government can re-apply, but with no guarantee. Then the pension and benefit contracts can finally be renegotiated to sustainable and truly Prevailing levels. Or we can just wait for the states to go bankrupt and everyone in government can lose their job anyway.

17 comments:

  1. Well done Littlefish! I really like the idea of using RICO to fight for our liberty.

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  2. Dear Littlefish,
    very lucid and well established thesis you put forth. Particularly offensive when the dollars spent on those public works "prevailing wage" projects are our hard earned tax dollars being piddled away frivolously. I own a manufacturing company and have no trouble filling highly technical jobs with extremely qualified people for about half of what those union employees get...and the offensive things is when you look at the new High School in our town (Buckley,WA) that ran the bill up I belive to right around $60 Million dollars and everyone I know shakes their heads and say...WOW!!! How could they spend that much and WHY would they...but this is Empire building plain and simple.
    Anyway...great read..thanks

    Steve Hill

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  3. http://lisd-rackets.blogspot.com/2010/04/broden-vs-goldstein-scandal-for.html

    Need a little exposure on this one ...

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  4. City Light union personnel make outrageous wages and instead of building up our power grid we pay them to sit at McDonalds and drink coffee and shoot the breeze. And that is just for the ones we can see. They have plenty of good hiding places around town. They are experts at it.
    Most people think the system is going to have to collapse before we get rid of all these lazy, highly paid union people.

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  5. Why aren't Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer, and Barney Frank in prison for blocking the Bush administrations efforts to reign in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The evidence is overwhelming that they are they main culprits in the housing debacle.
    And why did 3 Trillion dollars of taxpayer money go to Goldman Sachs etc. to make them whole on Credit Default Swaps? We could have made a nice dent in the debt and had real health care reform with that kind of money. Instead we gave it to wealthy financial people. Why aren't people up in arms about this? Both parties did it. 3 Trillion dollars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  6. My god you and your ilk get further and further away from reality. If you had a real job that demanded your time and true friends and family you would not have time for this. You are transparently obvious in your neediness.

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  7. man if you guys knew anything about bush watch bush's brain and the enron movie and then maybe you'll get the real picture of how there the ones to blame not some black guy

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  8. boy fishdicks sure does like to talk alot

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  9. Littlefish,
    Welcome and nice job.
    Many of the anonymous comments are from "neondog" who is a disgusting pervert sitting at home alone trying to cause as much dissension and discord as he can.
    The good news is that the alcohol and drugs that he uses to deal with his severe emotional and mental problems are taking their toll and it won't be long now.
    The good news is that Belle has alot of really positive, solution orientated followers and so the disgusting filth on the left is usually overwhelmed here. Usually.
    Keep up the good work!

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  10. Littlefish,

    This was the first posting that I have read, and I do have to say that I really enjoyed your views. I look forward to reading more. I do have some to add about the destructive nature of Unions on the United States. Competition for customers is no longer just a state away. Companies now have to deal with competition that is on the other side of the planet. We all know we are in a global market place and Unions do not help. In fact they make it worse. Without Unions workers in the United States are paid higher wages, and when you add in what Unions demand the problem is only multiplied. President Obama says that he is going to make us competitive in the global market place, but how can this be done when he is so pro-union? I only have a history degree and I am able to see they are destructive for our place in the world, why can’t he see that? I have a lot of concerns as to the direction that the country is headed. We have lost, and will never see again, too many good jobs overseas. Some of this wasn’t going to be prevented, but some of it could have been. Manufacturing and not consuming is key to building a strong economic free nation. I do not feel most people see that. I think most Americans are fine as long as they can buy their cheap products made in China.

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  11. Hey guys I agree with your critiques of the bailout, but why waste your time complaining about drywall tapers making $46/hour? Don't you realize that all that money just goes to service some fraudulent underwater mortgage? Stick with the main point - Obama and his buddies are financially raping the middle class and we are just sitting around taking it.

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  12. Part one

    littlefish,

    Welcome to the blog-o-sphere.

    I am surprised that you have just now found the inspiration to discuss publicly the tragic state of our country. I am a little discouraged that it seems to have taken you your entire life to get worked up enough about unions to speak out.

    Unions have been around for years and discussed much over you lifetime (unless you are one year old). Yet somewhere in your sheltered life it seems this is the first you have ever heard of it.

    "It is refreshing when something of importance to you, something you have been arguing for years, finally breaches the surface and enters into public discourse."

    What is it about this president that you are singling him out for bringing up unions? Where were you in the previous eight years, the eight years prior to that, the four years prior, etc. etc.? Unions are not new news. A president backing unions is not new. What is the real underlying reason you are now speaking out?

    State governments did not, over night, fall into huge debt. Nor did this debt occur because a new, democrat president came into office. Our state deficits have been long in the making. To quote my favorite, republican, "my friend," you are late to boarding this ship. Our government has been living in relative high wealth for decades if not centuries. It seems so odd that you are just now becoming critical now. So, I ask again, what is the underlying reason for speaking out now?

    I will agree with you that Davis Bacon is out-of-wack as far as prevailing wages but it does offer other protection to workers that you should spend some time looking into. It is a fact that a republican was president when the Davis Bacon bill became law. It is also a law that only applies to public works projects. Still, it's a stretch to call it pork and a liberal issue when taking the entirety of the law into view. Marginalizing information creates more ignorant, misinformed people and really isn't redistributing any knowledge. You and liberty may want to change the title of your blog to Obscuring Facts or Reducing Knowledge to Fit My Argument.

    "Couple that with politicians issuing contracts to favored constituents outside of any bidding process," ohh, and pandering to special interests didn't happen in the Bush administration or any other prior? Again, I have to ask, what's so new that you now feel you have to speak out?

    I would begin to believe you had credibility to discuss prevailing wage if you began your argument mentioning you have worked 'N' number of years as a construction project manager. That would give some credibility to doom someone living in Seattle to making minimum wage while attempting to support a family. You should really look up cost of living statistics to prove that even a husband or wife could support the two of them on minimum wage. My spouse works with homeless families in the puget sound area. I have heard the dire statistics around wage and expenditures living in our area. In no way can a person make minimum wage, raise a family, and get ahead to live the "American Dream" in our area. We'd have a better chance of changing their fate by playing the lottery.

    "The incestuous relationship between Unions and politicians is no secret." The truth.

    "“So then, I’ll make a law that forces people to pony up tax money to pay your workers more than anyone else would pay them, you skim a bunch of money off the top for yourself, ‘contribute’ some of that back to me for my re-election campaign, and then next year I can get us both even more money. Man, we can ride this pyramid scheme right to the top!” " - Complete, unfounded speculation. This is in no way supporting your notion of redistributing knowledge.

    See Part two...

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  13. Part three....

    "I have no problem with a group of employees meeting together to discuss their grievances with their respective companies, and even standing together as a united front," what!!!! You would replace a union with....a union? And while working two or three jobs to live in Seattle on minimum wage, who will have the time after cleaning toilets, baby-sitting hardened criminals, raising family and planning how to get out of the red to organize co-workers to unite? Maybe they should hire someone to do that for them so they can get all those other things done? That sounds like a good idea. What do you think?

    "You want to save state and local governments," yes I do. Throw out everything because it was created by criminals with criminal intent? That would literally mean beginning from scratch. That would mean throwing out the constitution because, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and that was found to be criminal. As a criminal, he must have had criminal intent to extort the government.

    "Open up the government work force to public hiring, all positions open, anyone can apply for all jobs, and everyone that is currently working for the government can re-apply, but with no guarantee," I hate to break it to you, but this already happens. Yet again you are replacing the broken thing with the same broken thing.

    I admit, I don't have the answers either, but I do know that knowledge is important. Knowing the whole story to spread is important. Allowing people to make their own conclusions based on solid facts and truthful information is real power. I truly had hoped the Tea Party was that beacon. Sadly, I am not seeing it with the likes of you. I, plead to you to examine and reevaluate why you have recently become so enraged over decade long issues. Look deeper into yourself and ask is the blame directed toward the hear and now or is it just the catalyst for my thinking and is there a larger picture that needs recognizing. My only solution to offer is if we are honest, tell the truth and do all the necessary research and fact checking before informing people. Informing is the key. People are smart. If you want them to take care of themselves you need to arm them with knowledge and the intelligence to decide what to do with that information. Otherwise, you are equally as criminal as the "Union bosses" and treacherous politicians.

    Thank you for the opportunity to have a meaningful discussion regarding this topic. I look forward to your response or a follow up post.

    Sincerly,

    Wally.

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  14. Part two...

    "The incestuous relationship between Unions and politicians is no secret." The truth.

    "“So then, I’ll make a law that forces people to pony up tax money to pay your workers more than anyone else would pay them, you skim a bunch of money off the top for yourself, ‘contribute’ some of that back to me for my re-election campaign, and then next year I can get us both even more money. Man, we can ride this pyramid scheme right to the top!” " - Complete, unfounded speculation. This is in no way supporting your notion of redistributing knowledge.

    Sure it cuts to the heart, because it is your words. It isn't the truth, just you less-informed notion of the truth. What you are seeing as a problem is skewed by something else. I suggest you share with your readers what that fear is?

    "If you take in a protest event at the capitol or anywhere a lot of hype has been boiled up, you are sure to see droves of same shirted union employees, chanting off pre-printed cards, holding pre-printed signs, all in unison to attempt to persuade the officials in their offices to do their bidding." So are you saying that the recent Tea Party protest event was full of foot shooting union workers? Gasp!

    By the way, who are you quoting here, "“this is how many votes we have, and we all agree. See, we even wear the same shirts and rode in on the same union provided busses because we all agree so much! Tax everyone else more so we can continue our little pyramid scheme please.”" If you are paraphrasing, quotes are not needed. Their use is misleading, not redistributing.

    I hardly agree with you regarding Tea Party protesters coming with their own ideas. I have heard the interviews with some of these people and they lack the articulation that people like Liberty Belle can give.

    "Now we see the scam at its root." You caught them, Watson! Wait a minute. There are conservative politicians too. Wouldn't they be interested in keeping their high-paying job too? Aren't they part of that same system too? Hmmm, what is it about this new president that makes this such a ripe issue? Why would someone, now after decades of dirty deals finally come out of the doldrums with raise voice?

    "That brings me to how we finally get unions and politicians out of bed with one another," drumroll, the solution.

    "they should all be put in jail," huh?!? That's what all this is leading up to? Put them in jail? huh! I'm stupefied. All the above of your argument boils down to put them in jail. 14 passionate paragraphs and you only want to put them in jail. Where is the passion in that? Where is the humanity after decades of deceit and tyranny?

    By jailing all these racketeers I guess, at least, you will be creating jobs with all the new prisons and prison guards. Thankfully, those new prisons won't need to be built to the standards set forth by that pesky Davis Bacon Act. Maybe a collapsed wall will kill a few hundred of them. And, how cheaply we will be able to run those new prisons. Minimum wage guards holding off those treacherous and dangerous criminals. I know I would rethink working for minimum wage while putting my life in harms way with those dangerous criminals. Yikes!

    "I have no problem with a group of employees meeting together to discuss their grievances with their respective companies, and even standing together as a united front," what!!!! You would replace a union with....a union? And while working two or three jobs to live in Seattle on minimum wage, who will have the time after cleaning toilets, baby-sitting hardened criminals, raising family and planning how to get out of the red to organize co-workers to unite? Maybe they should hire someone to do that for them so they can get all those other things done? That sounds like a good idea. What do you think?

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  15. I included some links to the definition of "pyramid scheme". I thought this might help Littlefish clarify his or her thinking. The alliance between politicians and unions might be a form of corruption involving kickbacks but it is certainly not a pyramid scheme.





    When distributing knowledge it is helpful to get the basic definitions of terms right.

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  16. This is just one example of why having the US government run anything is insanse. It is why any normal project costs 100 times more run by the government than if it were managed in the private sector.
    Now Yucca Mountain is being closed when we need it now more than ever. Our enemies working in our government are closing it.

    Yucca Mountain cost estimate tops $90 billion

    By STEVE TETREAULT
    STEPHENS WASHINGTON BUREAU
    WASHINGTON -- The projected costs to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, ship used radioactive fuel to Nevada from around the country and operate the site for 100 years have grown to more than $90 billion, an energy department official said Tuesday.


    The department's previous "total system life cycle" cost estimate for the repository was $57.6 billion, set in 2001. Since that time, the project schedule repeatedly has been pushed back and some of its key elements are being redesigned.

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  17. Friend of the Tea PartysApril 26, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    When are you guys going to post again? Have you been sickened and demoralized by all these left wing sadists posting here. Sick, sick bastards.
    I wouldn't blame you for shutting it down.
    Most of us are going to kick it into gear in late July. No matter what the press says, we are going to win big. The peaceful, America loving, tea party people are going to work our butts off to take this country back from the radicals. And from the free spending Republicans.
    Change is a comin'. American revival!

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