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Archive for May, 2010

DJH: In case you didn’t know, I had a Total Hip Replacement Thursday night. It was at the New England Baptist Hospital, which specializes in major elective surgeries like spines, hips, knees, etc. My story is a little unusual, but it demonstrates exactly why we have the best health care system on earth and what has been put to risk with Obamacare.

I won’t bore you with the details of my ailments, but I will tell you that it took over a year to diagnose my left leg problems as hip arthritis. I live in Southeastern Massachusetts, near a typical suburban healthcare center in Dartmouth MA. At first, we thought it was a knee problem and then spine. Since spines are serious stuff, I decided it was worth the trip to Boston (to New England Baptist) to see Dr. Eric Woodard. He looked at my back MRI and said it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t the source of my problem. He was the first one to suggest that I might have a hip problem. That was April 28th, about one month ago.

I immediately started researching hip replacement on the Internet and by the time I met with my first hip surgeon, I already knew that there were new techniques available that minimized muscle damage, recovery precautions, and resulted in very quick recoveries — that’s what I wanted!

On May 11th, I met Dr. Carl Talmo (also at NEBH) who specialized in all of these new techniques. I immediately told him I wanted him to replace my hip and that I would take any cancellation that opened up in his schedule. Within a few days, we were booked for May 27th — 16 days after I met Carl.

What a great decision? I was out of the hospital in 2 days and walking within 3 days (although a little shakey I admit).

What does this have to do with Obamacare?

Let’s start with New England Baptist. It’s a great private hospital that prides itself on innovative techniques. It attracts the best surgeons for the same reason that the New York Yankees attract the best baseball players; the best want to work with the best and get paid for their performance. The halls of NEBH are lined with plaques honoring the thousands of private donations that made the hospital possible. The NEBH is truly a hospital where great doctors go to seek perfection in their trade. They earn good money and they are supported in great part by grateful patients; all of this is brought to you by the private sector.

Here’s the thing, along the way, I met surgeons who haven’t learned these new techniques. Sure, they do a good surgery, but the patient takes months to recover. Their patients are stuck using a walker and all sorts of devices to hobble through life. But, bad as this sounds, these surgeons are all very busy. They have plenty of patients and a 6-8 week wait for surgery. These guys are not willing to take the time and buy the equipment needed to do the kind of work Dr. Talmo is doing at NEBH.

The beauty of our system is that we provide the kind of entrepreneurial environment that  produces guys like Talmo and rewards him for discovering and perfecting the kind of medical breakthroughs that enable me to walk 4 days after getting a new titanium hip. And, under our current health care system, I can choose the surgeon I want.

Hip Replacement in Canada

A recurring claim from the left during the Obamacare debate was “it will be wonderful — just like Canada, and everyone in Canada loves their healthcare system!” While I was researching hip replacement options, I discovered this woman in Canada named Sigrid Macdonald. Sigrid had a hip replacement like mine and wrote a book about it called Getting Hip.

The idea of the book and her blog: Sigrid’s Recovery, is to provide hip replacement patients with tons of tips for preparing for hip replacement surgery and then dealing with the months of recovery that follows. Clearly, it is a book that assumes the reader gets the “Canadian Version” of hip replacement. As I contrast my own experience with her blog, the differences make your hair stand on end; here are just two:

Waiting Time: As I said, a total of 16 days elapsed between my first meeting with Dr. Talmo and my hip replacement. Here’s what Sigrid had to say about waiting times under Canada’s National Healthcare system:

“We have universal health care in Canada. When it works properly, our Medicare system is fantastic because everyone is insured. Health coverage is a right in this country, not a privilege. However our health care system is overburdened and under funded. Consequently, there are long waiting list to get in to see a specialist and even longer lists for surgery. I had to wait 18 months for my operation. This was in addition to the 18 months that it took to decide that I was going to have the joint replaced. That translated into three completely lost years for me.”

Three freaking years! I can tell you that I would not have survived waiting three years for my new hip; but wait, there’s more:

Recovery Time: Since heath care in Canada is provided by the government, they don’t tend to be on the leading edge of new techniques. In fact, if you go to the government in Canada for a new hip, you get one using the traditional technique. Keep in mind that I’m walking after 4 days when you read what Sigrid said about here recovery time in Canada:

“I had a significant degree of pain and swelling in my leg that lingered for months after my THR. Although I was only 50 years old, which is young in the world of hip replacements, I needed to use a walker for more than ten weeks. I spent an additional eight weeks on a cane. Instead of feeling well three months after the surgery, my hip did not feel anywhere near normal until five or six months postoperatively.”

This is so sad, and so unnecessary. Americans need to get past all of the Disneyland promises regarding Obamacare and look at what we really have and compare it to the “models” Barrack Obama has laid out for us. The contrast is painfully striking. Today, I just talked about Hip Replacement, but think about all of the other specialized techniques in the medical world, and think about all of the innovative doctors and surgeons of tomorrow who are now rethinking their career plans in light of the oncoming government takeover of health care.

I really think we need to keep up the good fight and vote for candidates who will repeal Obamcare. The alternative is just unthinkable!

Dave

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DJH: You may have heard that the US posted a whopping $82. 7 billion deficit in April.  Eighty Two Extra Large is serious money, but that is not the story. The real story isn’t the size of this deficit, it’s when it happened — FREAKING APRIL! You remember April, as in April 15th, as in when we all send our hard earned money to Washington DC so they can squander it for another year.

April is traditionally the month of the year with the greatest SURPLUS, but not for Obama. In fact, the  US has only posted deficits in 3 of the last 30 Aprils and those deficits were puny compared to this Pig.

We Are All Pigs

When it comes to government spending, the United States is the King Pig of the World. Sure, it starts with Obama, who hands out billions like cotton candy, but the truth is, we’re all to blame. The liberals want more social programs, loyal Patriots like new weapon systems that create jobs in places like Wichita — even if the Pentagon doesn’t need them, and everyone wants a tax break, especially Libertarians. It’s little wonder that in November of 2008, we elected the guy who stood at the end of the trough and said “vote for me and I’ll give 95% of you more slop than the other guy.”

As an American, I’m very proud when our country launches a new space craft to boldly go where no man has gone before. By the same token, when I commuted to work in Silicon Valley, nothing made me happier than when a new lane was added to Interstate 680 or 880. My sister-in-law works for a small city in Massachusetts and hands out government grants all day — talk about pennies from heaven!

That said, the problem is Government spending is no different than your spending or mine. For me, spending is the end result of two great habits — hard work and saving money.  I remember buying my first BMW with cash and while I don’t consider myself “materialistic,” it had to be the greatest pleasure I’ve even received from a man-made object.

On the other hand, how many of us know someone who impulsively used credit to buy a car they couldn’t afford or some other adult toy and sent their finances into the tank? It is the classic contemporary example of “act in haste and repent in leisure.” In most cases, the glow wears off after the second or third loan payment.

But that’s what Obama’s doing and it ain’t feeding the pig.

How to Feed Our Pig

The way we feed the pig is ridiculously simple — we collect taxes and hopefully spend it as wisely as possible. The spending wisely part is really, really important. Obama and most of the democrats believe that tax rates have no impact on economic growth, but as I wrote wast week,  “Hauser’s Law,” proves that once the total tax burden in the US gets above 20% of the Gross National Product, it hurts the economy, causes a recession, and thus results in less taxes being collected — regardless of the rates. That’s why tax collections have plummeted under Obama and no matter how many new taxes he passes “on the rich,” the pig will continue to starve.

That Guy Bush Knew How to Feed a Pig!

I was no fan of George W. Bush’s liberal spending habits. The sad part is, if he’d shown a little constraint, he might have actually balanced the 2007 budget. As it was, he did shrink the deficit after 9/11 from $450 billion down to $170 billion (the crash of 2008 notwithstanding).

This chart from The Heritage Group is absolutely mind boggling — look at how effective the Bush tax cuts were at turning around the US economy:

And for all of those liberals who say “we can’t afford the Bush tax cuts for the rich,” look at the actually tax collection data. According to the CBO, total federal revenues grew by about $625 billion, or 35 percent, between fiscal year 2003 and fiscal year 2006. That’s freaking huge. To put that in perspective, that’s enough to cover the the entire cost of Obamacare for the next 6 years!

The point is, just like regular people, nations can work hard and save to do good things, or they can choose to behave like that self-indulgent loser down he street who just bought the Ultimate Escalade with “no money down” for 60 months.

The way nations work hard and save is to grow their PRIVATE SECTOR economy, which means more jobs, less unemployment, more retail sales and guess what? More tax revenue flowing into government coffers to FEED THE PIG!

A growing private sector economy pays taxes in multiple ways. Profitable businesses pay business tax, successful investors pay capital gains tax, and all those employed private sector workers pay income tax!

Pork is Not Stimulus — Obama is Starving the Pig

Yep, you can say a lot of derogatory things about George W. Bush, but one thing you can’t say is that he didn’t know how to turn around a bad economy and Feed the Pig.

Now, let’s contract that to Barrack Obama’s approach:

1. Virtually 100% of the jobs he’s “saved or created” are employed by the government. Yes, the workers pay some income taxes, but their employer pays nothing. Also, none of Obama’s massive stimulus spending has found it’s way into venture capital; so no new businesses and no capital gains tax revenue.

2. Much like that Ultimate Escalade that was financed over 60 months, the true cost of hiring a new government worker lingers forever. Well, not forever, but at least 30-40 years.  Remember NJ Chris Christie’s February 11, 2010 speech when he spoke the words no elected official had ever uttered before:

“One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits — a total of $3.8m on a $120,000 investment. Is that fair?”

Not only did that government worker fail to feed the pig, he cleaned out the food bin for the rest of the hungry oinkers!

3. 100% of all of Obama’s so-called jobs/stimulus spending is borrowed from someone else. This massive debt competes for access to the precious capital all of those starving little private sector start-ups desperately need to get off the ground and become the next Google.

Sugar High or Pigs on Crack?

I’ve heard the term “sugar high” used by financial analysts to describe the mild recovery we’ve seen on Wall Street over the past year — meaning it was artificially induced and temporary.  However, once a sugar high is over, you go back to feeling the way you did before. That will not be case with Obama’s economic policies. The ill effects of this reckless spending has already begun to attack the nation’s vital organs. Our Health Care, Automotive, and Financial Services industries will never be the same again. And the health of our small businesses — the job engine for our economy — is very poor.

The United States will only survive if we get back to feeding the pig healthy food that we pay for ourselves, but the diet Obama’s doling out is not that, in fact it’s quite hazardous to our national health — let’s hope it’s not fatal!

Dave

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DJH: Last week Barrack Obama threw another subordinate under the bus to save his sorry butt. Dennis Blair was fired as the National Intelligence Director. I can’t say much about Blair other than he was an Admiral in the Navy and got the job right after Obama came to power. But, his dismissal got me thinking about the stark differences between the way the private sector solves organizational problems and the government’s approach.

Retired Admiral Dennis Blair

What was the original problem?

It has been well documented that there was more than enough intelligence available to stop the attacks of September 11, 2001. Sadly, the inter-agency secrecy policies and cutthroat politics between the CIA and the FBI stopped even the best and the brightest from “connecting the dots.”

This was highlighted by the 9/11 Commission as one of the key failures that enabled the 9/11 attacks to succeed with such devastation.

How did the Government Respond?

The Government (George W. Bush at the time) responded by creating yet another bureaucracy! The idea was that this new gang of “public servants” would talk to the CIA about terrorist threats outside the United States and then they’d talk to the FBI to see if they had seen anything brewing on the home front. The logic was that somehow this would “connect the dots.” Are you serious — how could anyone believe that this would speed up communications and decision making?

Not only did it further complicate vital intelligence sharing, but it also watered down accountability; now there were more people to point the finger at when something went wrong! Oh yeah, this approach tripled the cost of overhead, but that’s okay, the private sector will just have to kick in a little more at tax time.

What would the Private Sector do?

First of all, poorly managed private corporations might have done exactly what the government did, but all of the well run companies I’ve worked with would have done just the opposite. The only logical response to poor communications due to politics is to merge the original two organizations together under a single leader. The leader selected would be a proven team builder without an obvious tie to either of the original organizations. As the two teams were merged, REDUNDANT JOBS WOULD BE ELIMINATED and the money saved would be used to improve performance overall.

Perhaps Dennis Blair wasn’t the best leader, but I think he was doomed from the start based on the organizational strategy behind his job. Don’t believe me? Take a look at what Siobran Gorman reported last year about the NID’s  failures in the Wall Street Journal:

  • The U.S. intelligence chief has sent conflicting messages to the agencies he supervises, and bureaucratic turf battles continue to rage among the 16 spy agencies, while his staff continues to grow without clear direction.
  • The director of national intelligence still hasn’t established a plan or structure to ensure that officers from different agencies, which have a history of rivalry, work together to counter national security threats, Mr. Maguire wrote in his report. So, they don’t regularly work together to develop complementary spying and analysis efforts.
  • The different spy agencies complained that they receive mixed messages from the spychief, “undermining the [intelligence director’s] credibility and fueling assertions that the [intelligence director] is just an ‘additional layer of bureaucracy.'”
  • The intelligence agencies’ finances lack discipline and oversight.
  • Management responsibilities have been hampered by the spychief’s mandate to be the president’s top intelligence adviser, which requires him to spend considerable time at the White House.

Well, at least we spared no expense at doing it the wrong way! This is “Management 101” and yet there is no evidence that Bush or anyone in government ever considered merging the CIA and the FBI. The debacle that followed clearly illustrates the reason why the government can’t solve real problems by “taking over” anything operational. Bureaucracy and inefficiency is in their DNA.

Gee, I just can’t wait for government run Healthcare and Financial Services Reform!

Dave

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DJH: In the latest viral video, NJ Governor Chris Christie took apart a mamby pamby left wing reporter who questioned “his argumentative tone.”

He said:

“If you think that’s a confrontational tone, then you should really see me when I’m pissed. You know, I love when people say they don’t want to have an argument. That’s what we were sent here for.

They believe in certain things. They believe in bigger government, higher taxes, and more spending. Here it is [holding paper]. Bigger government, higher taxes, more spending.

I believe in less government, lower taxes, and in empowering local officials who are elected by their citizens to be able to fix their problems. That may lead to a disagreement or two.”

This whole exchange made for great theater, but because of that, I’m afraid a lot of people may have missed the beautiful way that the good Governor framed the issue of today.

Clearly, Christie was describing Barrack Obama’s philosophy when he talked about  “they.” Obama and his people see the big government/little government issue as black and white; right versus wrong, and I understand that. But there’s much more to this story.

Setting aside whether big government is good or evil for a minute, the question is “is big government a viable national strategy for the United States?” In the 60’s and the 70’s we saw the mother of all big governments — The Soviet Union look pretty viable for a while. They had the first satellite in orbit, more atomic weapons than anyone else, heck, they even cleaned up at the Olympics. But then they hit the wall. The weight of their massive socialist government was unsustainable by their brain-dead economy.

“But it’s because they spent all their money on weapons and the military” you say. Perhaps, but what about 2010 Greece? Anyone ever hear about the Greek military? The problem with both the old USSR and contemporary Greece is the same. At a certain point, all big governments get too big. There is simply not enough economic activity going on to “feed the pig.”

I think a lot of people these days agree with this at a visceral level. Unfortunately, most of the proof is anecdotal. For example, last month I did a piece called “The Truth About Raising Taxes and Tax Collections” that had numerous examples of the wealthy taxpayer exodus that has followed all of the liberal’s attempts to cut deficits with a so-called millionaire’s tax. Great stuff, but like I said anecdotal.

Hauser’s Law: “The  Holy Grail” for Fiscal Constraint?

A few days ago a fellow named David Ranson wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal called “The Revenue Limits of Tax and Spend,” which to me is the Holy Grail that proves that big government is not sustainable. Ranson cited something called Hauser’s Law that proves that whether tax rates are high or low, they will never result in tax collections greater than 20% of GDP.

Take a look at this chart:

Hauser's Law in the United States

Do you get it? Hauser’s Law is clear and incontrovertible proof that no matter what the tax rate is, there is an absolute and natural wall that prevents total taxes collected in the United States from exceeding 20% of GDP. Sure, greedy democrats may raise tax rates and tell you it will bring in more money for spending, but what happens is just the opposite. As soon as the economy detects tax increases without spending cuts, they “hunker down” and take action to contract for a recession; then guess what happens? There is a recession and the actual amount of taxes collected goes down! Just like it’s been doing since Barrack Obama came to power.

In fact, the only tax increase in the history of the United States that did not result in a recession was the Clinton Tax Hike in the 1990’s, but that was accompanied by Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” that severally cut spending.

Obama’s Deficit Reduction Plan is Doomed!

All of this brings us to Obama’s budget and his deficit reduction plan. Nobody in the history of the United States has grown spending as fast as Barrack Obama. And no one has so readily raised taxes to fund his spending spree. Today, Obama has a hand picked commission locked up in a room somewhere coming up with ideas on how to close the massive suicidal deficit in Obama’s budget. So far, the only “idea” coming out of the President’s deficit reduction commission is a new National Sales Tax (the VAT).

The fact is, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the trillion dollar tax hikes in Obamacare have already pushed the economy up against the “20% of GDP” Hauser wall. This means the more Obama raises taxes, the more the economy will shrink and the worse unemployment will become.

To me, this is further proof that Barrack Obama is destroying the US economy, but what do you think?

Let me know,

Dave

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DJH: If all you know about me is what you read at “Who Stole My Career?”, you probably think I hate anyone who works for the government or belongs to a labor union. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, several of my very best friends actually do both!

The Cruelty of Government Worker Pension Cuts

This past weekend, I visited with several of them and witnessed first hand something I’d never seen before — they too are nervous about their future and their retirement financial security.

The realities of the government/union meltdown in Greece and the “Chris Christie Clean-up in NJ” is sweeping across the country. Labor leaders realize that “the gig is up” on their racket that funds democrat election campaigns in exchange for outrageous union giveaways. Union bosses are starting to tell their members that their pension benefits may be getting a “haircut” down the road.

How cruel is that? Soak people for fat union dues for 30 years by promising a dream pension package and then when they’re too old to start another career, tell them it’s not quite true.

“It can’t be that bad,” I said. “How much can they cut a pension once someone’s retired; 5-10%?”

Truth be told, I was just making that up to make them feel better. In fact, I’ve done the math and 5-10% won’t make a dent in the massive unfunded deficits state and local governments have been accumulating for decades.

Today, I found this piece from Mort Zuckerman in US News and World Report called The Crippling Price of Public Employee Unions. I urge you to check out the entire story, but her are a few of the fun facts Mort laid out:

  • Over the next fiscal year, the states are looking at deficits approaching hundreds of billions of dollars. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, estimates that this coming year alone states will face an aggregate shortfall of $180 billion. In some states the budget gap is more than 30 percent. The result is a crowding out of the state role as the supporter of adequate infrastructure, education, and healthcare.
  • Now we have shrinking tax bases caused by recession and extra costs imposed on states to pay for Medicaid in the federal healthcare program. The straw (well, more like an iron beam) that breaks the camel’s back is the unfunded portions of state pension plans, healthcare, and other retirement benefits promised to public sector employees at a time when federal government assistance to states is falling—down by roughly half in the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. It is galling for private sector workers to see so many public sector workers thriving because of the power their unions exercise.
  • Investigative journalist Steve Malanga point out in the City Journal that California’s schoolteachers are the nation’s highest paid; its prison guards can make six-figure salaries; many state workers retire at 55 with pensions that are higher than the base pay they got most of their working lives. All this when California endures an unemployment rate steeper than the nation’s.
  • It will get worse. There’s an exodus of firms that want to escape California’s high taxes, stifling regulations, and recurring budget crises. When Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers, says he will not build any more facilities in California, you know the state is in trouble.
  • The business community and a growing portion of the public now understand the dynamics that discriminate against the private sector. The public sector unions organize voting campaigns for politicians who, on election, repay their benefactors by approving salaries and benefits for the public sector, irrespective of whether they are sustainable.
  • What is happening with California is happening in slower motion in the rest of the country. It must be one of the reasons the Pew Research Center this year reported that support for labor unions generally has plummeted “amid growing public skepticism about unions’ power and purpose.”
  • There has been a transformation in the nature of our employment. Labor is no longer dominated by private sector industrial workers who were in large part culturally conservative and economically pro-growth. Over recent decades public sector employment has exploded and public workers have come to dominate the labor movement. These public sector employees have a unique and powerful advantage in contract negotiations. Quite simply it is their capacity to deliver political endorsements and votes for the very people who are theoretically on the other side of the negotiating table. Candidates who want to appear tough on crime will look to cops, sheriffs’ deputies, prison guards, and highway patrol officers for their endorsement.
  • These unions will naturally back a candidate willing to support better pay and benefits for their members, and this means as much as, or more than, the candidate’s views on law enforcement. The result has been soaring pay and the ability of state police and other safety officers to retire with pensions that place an increasingly unbearable financial burden on the states. In California, such retirees at age 50 often receive pensions at 90 percent of their pay; comparable retirees in most other states get about half their final working salary.
  • In New York, public service employees have received gold-plated perks for much of the 20th century, especially generous health insurance benefits. Indeed, where once salaries were lower in the public sector, the salary gaps in the public and private sectors have disappeared in the last two decades, or even reversed for most job categories. A Citizens Budget Commission report in 2005 showed that for most job categories in the greater New York City region, public sector workers received higher hourly wages than private sector workers. And according to a 2009 survey by the same group, this doesn’t even count the money that New York City pays in full premiums for comprehensive health insurance policies for workers and their families. Only 8 percent of workers in private firms enjoy that subsidy. Moreover, in virtually all cases, the city also pays the full healthcare premium costs for retirees and their spouses. And the city pensions are “defined benefit” plans, which are more expensive since they guarantee specific benefits on retirement.
  • On the other hand, private sector workers in the survey were mostly in “defined contribution” plans, which means that, unlike their cushioned brethren in the public sector, they do not have a pre-determined benefit at retirement. If New York City were to require its current workers to pay contributions toward health insurance equal to the amounts paid by the employees of local private sector firms, the taxpayer savings would approximate $628 million a year.
  • In New Jersey, Christie says government employee health benefits are 41 percent more expensive than those of the average Fortune 500 company.

“What we suffer is a ruinously expensive collaboration between elected officials and unionized state and local workers, purchased with taxpayer money. “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” No wonder the Service Employees International Union has become the nation’s fastest-growing union: It represents government and healthcare workers. Half of its 700,000 California members are government employees.”

“More and more, it wins not on the picket line but at the negotiating table, where it backs up traditional strong-arming with political power. It spends vast amounts of money on initiatives that keep the government growing—and the gravy flowing. Similarly, for the teachers unions—with the result that California and its various municipalities, especially Los Angeles, face budget shortfalls in the hundred of millions of dollars. California can no longer rely on a strong economy to support this munificence. Its unemployment rate runs about several points higher than the national rate and its high-tech companies are choosing to expand elsewhere. Why stay in a state with such higher taxes and a cumbersome regulatory environment?”

  • California is a horrible warning for the nation of how dreams can turn to dust. In most states, politicians face a contracting local economy and shortfalls in tax receipts. Naturally, they look to cut expenses but run into obstruction from politically powerful unions that represent state and local government employees, teachers, and healthcare workers who have themselves caused pension and healthcare insurance costs to soar. It is not an accident that in framing the national stimulus program, Congress directed a stunning percentage of the $787 billion to support public service employees.
  • The lopsided subsidies for pension and health costs are a large part of the fiscal crises at the state and local levels. The subsequent squeeze on education and infrastructure investment is undermining the very programs that have made it possible for our economy to grow—thousands upon thousands of teachers let go, schools closed, mass transit slashed.
  • Between New York and California, the projected deficits run about $40 billion—and that doesn’t account for projected billions of dollars in the operating deficits in the states’ mass transit systems or the multibillion-dollar unfunded liability in many of the state pension plans. New York is badly hit because it is being deprived of tax revenues by the government’s indiscriminate attack on the securities industry, which has been so critical to the economy of New York State and to the United States.

“City government was developed to serve its citizens. Today the citizenry is working in large part to serve the government. It is always hard to shrink government spending. It is particularly difficult when public sector unions have such a unique lever of pressure.”

As I read Mort’s words, I think about the look in the eyes of my friends who have worked their entire lives,  in jobs they didn’t really care, for in exchange a promise that can no longer be fulfilled, I get very, very sad.

I am still hopeful that we can take back the country and restore some level of fiscal responsibility to this country, but at the end of the day, everyone get’s screwed.

Oh yeah, just about everyone — did you hear that Barrack and Michelle reported $5.5 million in 2009 earnings? That’s what I call [public] service!

Dave

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DJH: My old friend John Shea (of Jack Daniels and My First Big Speech fame), sent me an interesting story yesterday (Illinois Legislators Pass McCormick Place Labor Reform Bill). It’s about a huge battle that’s developed between the very liberal Illinois Legislature and Big Labor.

Trade Shows and Union Extortion

In case you didn’t know, one of the more outrageous examples of union extortion comes from the guys who control the floors of trade shows in big old blue cities like Chicago.

As a former marketing executive, I can tell you that nothing is more offensive than discovering that your own technical people aren’t allowed to plug in a light at Chicago’s McCormick Place on their own.

We would have to contact the exhibit manager, who then would have to locate a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and we’d end up paying hundreds of dollars (minimum) for them to plug in the light!

The same is true for virtually everything that happens on the trade show floor (food, cleaning, setting up, breaking down, etc.).

In exchange for this obvious scam, the IBEW and all of their union cronies would continuously pour money into the local democrat campaign coffers to “protect” their outrageous racket.

One of the great things about living in a free country is that people are able to take their business elsewhere when they think they’re getting screwed. And that’s exactly what happened to Illinois during the first year of the Obama administration.

According to the Trade Show Industry web site meetingsnet.com:

“In recent weeks, Chicago has lost business due to costs concerns, including the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society, which selected Las Vegas over Chicago for an upcoming meeting, citing higher labor costs in Chicago. Also in mid-November, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, announced that for the first time since 1971 it would not be returning to Chicago for its triennial International Plastics Showcase. Instead, SPI booked Orlando for its events in 2012 and 2015.

SPI said the organization, its attendees, and exhibitors would save up an estimated total of $20 million on booths, labor and services, lodging, travel, and other costs by making the switch.”

Clearly, this created a huge problem for the city of Chicago — no trade shows means no jobs, no hotel/restaurant taxes, no outrageous fees from union extortion, and NO POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS FOR DEMOCRATS.

Faced with this crisis of biblical proportion, the city of Chicago formed a blue ribbon commission to figure out how to stem this union/political carnage.

Here’s what John Gates, chairman of the board at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, said when he announced the formation of the task force on November 18:

“We are trying to turn lemons into lemonade—we get it, we understand our customers’ concerns, and we are going to be aggressive in finding a solution together.”

Anyway, in political terms, this blue ribbon commission reached a conclusion in record time (demonstrating just how dire it is when the funds that fuel union graft dry up). Last week (May 7),  the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation to make costs for exhibitors at McCormick Place more competitive and hopefully entice trade shows back to Chicago.

Here are some highlights from the story John sent me Illinois Legislators Pass McCormick Place Labor Reform Bill:

  • Exhibitors will be able to set up their own booths no matter what size booth they have with power hand tools and ladders.
  • Pay only straight time for labor performed weekdays in the first eight-hour shift that occurs between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Eliminate non-working stewards, and set the size of the work crew based on safety needs and the scope of work at hand.
  • Eliminate the requirement that conventions use the center’s in-house electricity provider and allows exhibitors to bring in their own food and beverage for booth staff.

Chief Union Hack -- Joe Biden

And this is my favorite part, David Causton, McCormick Place’s general manager, said in a video on the Chicago Meeting Matters web site:

“To paraphrase Vice President Joe Biden, this is a really big deal. That the city needed a deal big enough to stem the loss of shows to competing destinations became increasingly obvious last year as two high-profile events decamped to other locales. Our convention industry was at a breaking point, and the jobs and tax revenue it brings to our city and state were in jeopardy.

This process has been a collaborative effort. Many people, including our customers, rallied together to make this sweeping legislation possible. Now, after months of hard work, all we need is for Governor Quinn to sign this bill into law.”

Union Retaliation?

Sounds like a happy ending, right? Wrong, as we see daily in Greece, greedy union bosses refuse to give an inch to to save others. Rumors of strikes and protests have started to build. Frank Libby, president of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters said:

“It will have a dramatic effect on the earning power of our carpenters.”

Yeah, I bet it will. No $200 fees to hammer in a nail in McCormick place — why on earth do we need carpenters at a trade show in the first place?

I’m sure they’ll be plenty of huffing and puffing in the land of Jimmy Hoffa, but like much of the news lately, I find stories like this quite refreshing. It shows that when faced with fiscal Armageddon, even ultra liberal government bodies like the Illinois State Legislature can “do the right thing.”

Maybe we’re not the next Greece after all — but let’s not jump to conclusions!

Dave

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DJH: The “Winds of Change” have hit England in a big way, but you’re not hearing about it in the Mainstream Media. They’ll tell you all about the “hung parliament” and how the alliance between the conservatives and the liberal democrats is doomed to fail. It’s true that this unusual coalition may have some tough going ahead, but one thing is clear — the good people of England have had enough of socialism and organized labor running thier government.

The actual election results speak volumes about the the true mood of the British electorate:

  • Labour (I say labor) lost its House of Commons majority after 13 years, dropping 91 seats to 258.
  • The Conservatives won 306 districts, a net gain of 97 from the previous election.
  • The Liberal Democrats lost five seats and now have 57 members.

Perhaps this ended up in a hung parliament, but the fact is, the conservatives won big and the organized labor party and the far left party both lost.

So why did labor lose?

Check out this Kool-Aid from PM Gordon Brown’s last campaign speech before the election — this is what the Labour party stood for in this election:

Gordon Brown

“So tomorrow is the day for us to stand firm for what everybody knows to be true; that you cannot cut your way out of this recession, you can only cut your way into a new downturn.

That you cannot prepare for the jobs of the future by robbing from the future to pay for tax give-aways to the richest estates.

You cannot equip Britain for the 21st century by turning the clock back on educational opportunity and denying the next generation the 21st century education skills they need to compete and win on a global stage.

We have lived through two years in which right wing dogma has not been exonerated but been exposed, when the failures of banks show free market fundamentalism has not succeeded but failed.

And so I tell you this is not a Conservative moment.

Everyone knows that when the banks failed people needed government on their side. Everyone knows that. Everyone except the Conservatives.

And everyone knows when the global recession threatened our economy that the unemployed, homeowners and small businesses needed government to stand by them. Everyone knows that – everyone except the Conservatives.

Everyone knows that the wrong cuts at the wrong time in the wrong places will risk our recovery. Everyone knows that – everyone except the Conservatives.

Everyone knows that our highest priority should not be tax cuts for the wealthiest estates, but the NHS, the education of our children, and the police and safety on our streets. Everyone knows that – everyone except the Conservatives.”

Source: labour.org

Big government will solve all your problems; trust us. That was Brown and Labour’s mantra and it went down in flames. What’s the difference between these words and the words of Barrack Obama?

Why did the Liberal Democrats join the Conservatives to fight Labour?

The Mainstream Media tells us that the Conservatives are on the far right and the Liberal Democrats are on the far left. But, if that’s true why would they join forces to toss Labour out?

The answer is simple; the people on both the right and the left in England have figured out that the government/labor union coalition is nothing more than organized crime. It represents unmitigated greed and corruption, and what’s worse, it is a national disease that threatens the health and future sovereignty of the United Kingdom.

Sure, the liberal democrats want all kinds of foo-foo stuff like more education spending, green post offices, and a ban on Nuclear Power, but they are smart enough to realize that the government/labor union coalition threatens democracy and thus their ability to achieve their way through a free election process.

What about the United States?

As I have documented numerous times on this web site and my radio show, there has never been a president more in bed with organized labor than Barrack Obama (Two Americas: Public vs. Private Sector – How did this happen?Labor Unions: Economic Cancer for America?, and Obama Sells Out The Amercian People to Union Cronies). And, unlike England, the people who want to toss out the corrupt government/labor union alliance in the US is stronger and better organized in the form of The Tea Party movement.

As I study the results in England, all I can say is: wait until November…

Dave

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