Saturday, July 10, 2010

Will We End The Largest Theft In History?

What has been the largest theft in history? Was it the 1990 art theft from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum? That theft was worth a paltry $500 million. Was it Bernie Maddof? His Ponzi scheme cost investors $18 billion. No, the greatest theft in history has to be what we see playing out across the U.S. today, in every locality where you see the toxic combination of Democrat politicians and unions.

Unions, profligate state and local governments, and the Obama administration are executing the greatest theft in history - legally transferring hundreds of billions from the private sector wallets and into the insatiable union maw, to then be laundered back through into the campaign chests of Democrat politicians. This type of theft has been going on for decades - but what has brought it to the point of crisis is the combination of our failing economy and the vast overreach of unions. What was part and parcel of American politics over the past few decades now stands in stark relief for the toxin it is. And until Americans start to realize how they are being legally scammed at the point of the police power of the state, it will continue ever on.

I cringe when I think of my tax dollars going to fund bloated union pensions - as they are today at GM and Chrysler. I become apoplectic when I realized that Obama took money from my wallet as part and parcel of the Stimulus and transferred it to state and local governments to keep grossly overcompensated public sector union works employed so that they could continue paying dues. And I am grabbing for the keys to my gun rack when I read the of the next attempted theft. Here are a series of stories:

This from McQ at Q&O:

llinois seems bound and determined to take the title of "poster child for failed state government" away from basket cases Michigan and California.

Illinois is now billions behind in paying its bills. As Comptroller David Hynes points out:

“This is what the state owes right now to schools, rehabilitation centers, child care, the state university — and it’s getting worse every single day,” he says in his downtown office. Mr. Hynes shakes his head.

“This is not some esoteric budget issue; we are not paying bills for absolutely essential services,” he says. “That is obscene.”

Well not that obscene apparently, to the governor. In the midst of all of this, he’s decided now is a great time to give many on his staff 20% raises.

No, seriously – raises. How freakin’ politically tone deaf can you be

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has handed out raises—some of more than 20 percent—to his staff while proclaiming a message of "shared sacrifice" and planning spending cuts of $1.4 billion because the state is awash in debt.

The Democrat has given 43 salary increases averaging 11.4 percent to 35 staffers in the past 15 months, according to an Associated Press analysis of records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

. . . And as if that’s not bad enough, the state is handing out 7% “cost of living” raises to government unions:

On July 1st this year, 40,000 or so AFSCME state employees happily collected a 7% percent “cost of living adjustment”. July 1st next year, they will get another 7%. In short, in 2 years, they will get a 14% raise. Even in good years, 7% is well over inflation.

Almost 6 billion in debt and unable to pay for “absolutely essential services” and yet handing out 7% cost of living raises to government union employees and up to 20% raises to staffers in the governors office?

This would be the same Gov. Quinn today quoted in the Daily Caller stating "We need more help from Washington to protect against job cuts and health care cuts. If we don’t do that, we’re following Herbert Hoover economics." The utter corruption and shamelessness of it all is stomach churning. This governor gives truth to the apocraphyl story of a boy who killed his parents and then asked for clemency from the Court because he was an orphan. He really does need to be hung by his thumbs and turned into a pinata.

As bad as the above is, it is hardly an anamoly. It is being replicated, to a greater or lesser extent, in many states and localities throughout the U.S. The public sector has no intention of feeling the pain of the recession, nor of doing anything other than soaking the private sector and demanding ever more. Utterly corrupt Democratic politicians are, in many cases, playing along. California is legend for the size, power, and insatiability of its public sector unions. There is an exceptional article in City Journal discussing the rise of California's public sector unions and how they have turned California into a golden goose (only for themselves, of course; California is hemmoraging the private sector companies that are expected to pay for the golden goose):

The camera focuses on an official of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California’s largest public-employee union, sitting in a legislative chamber and speaking into a microphone. “We helped to get you into office, and we got a good memory,” she says matter-of-factly to the elected officials outside the shot. “Come November, if you don’t back our program, we’ll get you out of office.’

The video has become a sensation among California taxpayer groups for its vivid depiction of the audacious power that public-sector unions wield in their state. The unions’ political triumphs have molded a California in which government workers thrive at the expense of a struggling private sector. The state’s public school teachers are the highest-paid in the nation. Its prison guards can easily earn six-figure salaries. State workers routinely retire at 55 with pensions higher than their base pay for most of their working life. Meanwhile, what was once the most prosperous state now suffers from an unemployment rate far steeper than the nation’s and a flood of firms and jobs escaping high taxes and stifling regulations. This toxic combination—high public-sector employee costs and sagging economic fortunes—has produced recurring budget crises in Sacramento and in virtually every municipality in the state.

How public employees became members of the elite class in a declining California offers a cautionary tale to the rest of the country, where the same process is happening in slower motion. The story starts half a century ago, when California public workers won bargaining rights and quickly learned how to elect their own bosses—that is, sympathetic politicians who would grant them outsize pay and benefits in exchange for their support. Over time, the unions have turned the state’s politics completely in their favor. The result: unaffordable benefits for civil servants; fiscal chaos in Sacramento and in cities and towns across the state; and angry taxpayers finally confronting the unionized masters of California’s unsustainable government. . . .

Do read the entire article. A companion piece on City Journal, discusses how the left and the Unions have falsely tried to blame the disaster that is California on Proposition 13, the voter-passed 1978 initiative that made it much harder to increase property taxes.

I also blogged here on a related story of a Milwaukee teachers' union that refused to bargain in good faith to bring teachers' benefits in line with the private sector, thus closing the locality's $47 million shortfall. The union refused to make any concessions, forcing the lay off of more than 400 teachers - and they did so without consulting the teachers themselves:

The Milwaukee Teachers Education Association was immovable on benefits in part because it placed a bet on its Democratic friends in Washington rushing to the rescue. "The problem must be addressed with a national solution, a federal stimulus package that will restore educator positions," Pat Omar, the union's executive director said in June. The union's strategy in recent weeks has been to stage rallies demanding a federal bailout, and it used hundreds of school kids at those rallies as political props.

What the above stories all have in common is that the profligate states and public unions are now turning to Obama with the expectation that he will once again transfer hundreds of billions out of our pockets and into theirs. (And this is just to keep the unions afloat now . . . we are still awaiting the soon to come union pitch to have all American tax-payers pick up the tab for their underfunded pension plans.) This from The Hill:

The nation’s leading public-sector employees union will launch a newspaper advertising campaign this weekend to pressure centrist Senate Republicans to support increased federal aid to states.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will spend $175,000 on newspaper ads targeting Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe (R) and Susan Collins (R) and Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio).

The union is bracing for a major cut in public-sector jobs over the next year as states and cities scramble to balance their budgets. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s, predicted earlier this week that as many as 400,000 workers could lose their jobs in the next year.

AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee is warning centrist Republicans that blocking increased aid to states will add to the federal deficit as unemployment rises.

“The GOP filibuster of the jobs bill means more pain for working families, more debt and a prolonged recession. We’re telling senators that it’s time to stop the obstruction. It’s time to pass the jobs bill!” McEntee said in a statement Friday. . . .

“We estimate that if no additional fiscal aid is forthcoming, the massive shortfalls that states will be forced to close could result in as many as 900,000 jobs lost,” said Mike Leachman, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “We’re talking about teachers being laid off and healthcare workers and others.”

. . . Brown acknowledged that the state assistance is important to Massachusetts but added “we need to find a way to pay for [it].”

“The federal government is clearly addicted to debt and wants to raise taxes on Americans during a time when we can least afford it. This bill was defeated in a bipartisan manner,” Brown said in a video statement posted on his website.

Brown has introduced his own proposal to extend unemployment benefits and cover state budget shortfalls. The deficit-neutral legislation would be paid for largely with un-obligated funds from the 2009 federal stimulus package.

Labor officials have dismissed Brown’s proposal as “robbing Peter to pay Paul” because the stimulus program was designed to spur job creation. Labor sources believe Brown’s action shows he’s feeling political heat over the state funding issue. . . .

AFSCME and Americans United for Change also launched a $100,000 television ad campaign at the end of June pressuring Snowe and Collins to support Democratic jobs legislation including state Medicaid assistance.

The AFL-CIO organized a 200-person rally in Portland on June 30 press Snowe and Collins to support the bill. The union organized a rally outside one of Brown’s offices on the same day.

A Senate Democratic leadership aide said Reid would make another attempt to pass funding for state governments before the August recess.

“We hope to again consider assistance to states (FMAP) in the coming weeks so that states do not have to lay-off more workers and businesses and taxpayers don't see their taxes increased in a recession,” said Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle.

You will of course note what is missing from the Reid spokeswoman's statement. That would be any indication that, instead of soaking taxpayers for even more, that public sector unions are willing to accept even the slightest in cut-backs. The individual employees - many of whom have no choice about whether to join a union if they want to be, say, teachers - may well be willing to accept such accomodations, but the unions themselves are not, and thus neither are the Democrats.

I have, over the past few months, blogged extensively on the utter travesty of public sector unions and, in particular, how they are a toxic parasite on society. See Public Sector Unions: A Toxin, A Crisis & An Opportunity" and the related posts listed at the bottom thereof. Public sector unions, along with Democrats, are conducting the greatest theft in history. It is coming from your wallet and mine. The only way they will be stopped before they bankrupt us and destroy our nation will be to make unlawful all public sector unions.

Welcome, Larwyn's Lynx readers.


Anonymous said...

I have little sympathy for the people of Illinois. They vote these criminals into office. But as a citizen of the U.S. I am angry that our government is giving my money to unions and crooked politicians. I honestly believe in the next few months before the election in November we will see more underhanded tricks by our government. But it gets worse, the lame duck congress after the election will probably finish the job they started in Jan 2009. We are in for more so hold on.

Anonymous said...

We may have to resort to an unviolent protest of surrounding the 7 mints with like minded people and not allowing any newly printed money out until the government comes to a standstill. It's our only hope at sanity. Even the elections are not going to solve our problems. They will just slow the crash.