Untenable Assumptions

Among the first of which is (update: that I can spell “untenable” on the first try) that which operates on the idea that the interests of the upper echelons of any organization and those of the lower coincide.  If one thinks about it for a minute the assertion doesn’t hold up much at all, but we still pay it implicit lip service.

Michigan’s legislature just passed a right-to-work law.  That would be (ahem!) Michigan’s legislature, as in the legislature of Michigan, which has been in the pockets of Big Labor since the Wagner Act was passed.  That would be roughly the equivalent of the Curia deciding to open a snake-handling chapel just off Sistine Chapel.  “Blasphemy” only begins to describe the sense of outrage among the . . . eighteen or so union workers in Michigan who still have a job.  But BY GOD they’re gettin’ union scale for it, aren’t they?  I mean, it’s a pity and all about the hordes of Michigan workers . . . or rather would-be workers . . . who can’t get a job at all because everyone who would employ them is either already organized or depends on organized vendors or customers, and so cannot get away with paying a wage that would pay the light bill but still falls something short of union scale.

But I digress.  Maybe because it’s a public-sector union it may be subject to disclosure rules that don’t apply to private-sector unions, but the data on the Michigan Education Association’s spending patterns is the first of this kind that I’ve seen cited.  Here’s the (pun intended) money quotation:  “According to union documents, ‘representational activities’ (money spent on bargaining contracts for members) made up only 11 percent of total spending for the union. Meanwhile, spending on ‘general overhead’ (union administration and employee benefits) comprised of 61 percent of the total spending.”  I would love to see what the numbers look like for the UAW (the leadership of which a couple of years ago decided to keep their private golf club/resort), or the SEIU, or the IBEW, or the Teamsters, or even the other public-sector labor unions.  How much of what they take in is actually spent on getting a better deal for the guy on the shop floor?  In Michigan, for teachers at least, we now know that answer:  Around eleven cents of every dollar siphoned from the teacher’s pocket on payday.

 This is not a phenomenon that is exclusive to labor unions.  Political entities are likewise subject to it.  We have a problem in the United States.  Congress is simply not serious about addressing either the short-term problems or the longer-range problems that are towering over us and our children.  They’re simply not serious about it.  Just the other day I had a conversation with a sitting member of Congress who:  (i) Informed me how razor-sharp he was and how he knew more about the healthcare issue than anyone else in Congress (I noticed he didn’t claim to have read the 1,900 pages of Obamacare before he voted for it . . . which he did); (ii) Greeted every observation about how goofy are the measures being proposed with a statement along the lines of, “But you’ll never get anything else through Congress”; (iii) In response to pointing out how Obamacare is going to wreck both the private insurance industry, private employers in general, and the healthcare delivery system, could come up with nothing better than the statement that Medicare is broken.  So because of a single entitlement program, which everyone concedes is not sustainable in its present form (Q: What will end Medicare as we know it?  A:  Medicare as we know it.) we’ve got to blow up 20% of the entire economy?  Really?

What I’d like to focus on is his second group of fatuities, namely his rote repetition that you’ll never “get through Congress” anything other than demonstrably foolish measures.  For starts, I don’t dispute the truth of his statement, at least not with respect to Congress as it currently exists and operates.  The inability of any prudent, common-sense measure to make it through Congress is an indictment of all of its members.  They’re just not serious.  You can tell that they’re not serious because they never do anything difficult, where “difficult” is measured by consequences to them personally or politically.  What they are serious about is getting re-elected.  Again, you can tell that because well over 90% of those who run for re-election in fact win.  They’re not all winning based upon their stellar service.

Churchill was serious about re-arming Britain to face Nazi Germany.  He was dead serious about it and spent years in the wilderness, crying unto the heavens.  He was black-listed by the BBC.  He was consistently attacked and misrepresented by the titans of British print media.  He was laughed at, put down, subverted, ignored.  And he was right.  You can tell when a Congresscritter is serious about changing the direction this country is going when he begins behaving like Churchill.  Can one imagine what Churchill would have done with the Internet in 1936?  If he’d had a podcast, a blog, or Facebook?

Just as the Michigan Education Association devotes barely more than a tithe of its income to improving the lot of its members, so also are our elected leaders more interested in attending to their own needs than ours.  What’s the Biblical line?  “By their fruits shall ye know them.”

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