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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Public Unions...

The argument isn't about unions themselves, it's about public unions. Public employees should not have the right to unionize mainly because they do not derive their income from production. They get their money from the general public who pay the money THEY earn in taxes to support the public work force. The government does not actually produce anything. Their's is a service industry whether it be planning infrastructure, traffic lights or parks. They spend money. Taxpayer money.

Now there's nothing wrong with that since we all want good roads and decent schools. But what a public union does is drive up the cost of these services beyond the publics capacity to pay. Also in the last 15 years, the public sector has grown to enjoy even more benefits than the people who actually pay their salaries.

I'm sorry, a school teacher's job is not more important than mine. I work for a money making venture that also provides a service. The big difference is that mine makes a profit beyond costs and for the moment, is solvent. And that's only because the government has yet to suck enough resources out of us to drive us into the ground.

The counter argument is that these people have a right to organize and that they will take the cuts as long as they can have the right to organize. Well no, the public sector does not work to make profits and so really has no inherent right to organize for more pay and better benefits, the government being such an overbearing ogre of an employer don't you know, that unions are essential to protect these people.

We are not talking about working in a coal mine. People usually went into public service for the good hours, being close to home and the benefits and not for the money since in the beginning, public service didn't pay much. Now public employees have all the great pension and health benefits and seem to have the big money too!

When we have government negotiating with government employees we get the equivelant of a baseball team where the pitcher, the catcher and the batter are all on the same team. The public unions always seem to hit it out of the park. The town I live in had up until last year, 3 out of it's 5 selectmen that were public employees. That must've been one hell of a negotiating meeting huh? When a town or a state for that matter enjoys a large percentage of public employees who don't have long commutes and can organize the vote beyond the capacity of private workers, we get a one party rule and the producers suffer like we have for over the last decade.

But bad economic policy can only last so long. Government invariably ends up grabbing more than the private sector can support and it never ends well.

Here we are.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Failure of The War on Drugs

As it stands now, 20 + years after the start of the USA’s “War on Drugs” campaign, can we finally pronounce it a profound failure? Does anyone still believe this “War” has made any difference at all in keeping drugs and crime out of our society? 

The availability of illegal drugs has not changed, quality has improved and prices have stayed constant for a decade and in the case of heroin, has actually gone down. Can anyone dispute the sustained availability of these drugs on the streets of the USA right now? No, I don’t smoke the stuff but I know where it can be found: Everywhere. We all know someone who can get some. Or just ask a student, ANY student. 

What the War on Drugs has managed to produce is a large US prison population, well funded domestic gangland activity, a huge judicial industry that supports government judges, lawyers and large police forces and, of course, horrible and tortuous death. Over 9,000 people have died in Mexico’s two-year-old Drug War alone. That’s just on the Mexican side of the border while our own inner cities have become killing zones as well though much less reported. It's a joke.

This underground drug money sponsors the drug cartels of South America and the Taliban in the Middle East and anti-gov’t activities worldwide. It has been widely reported that 90 percent of the world’s heroin comes from the mountains of Afghanistan. (We’re not hearing any stories of Coalition troops burning those poppy fields are we?) All fueled by this Prohibition.

It’s time for a shift in attitudes and tactics. Resources must shift from enforcement to education and TREATMENT. Treat the stuff like we treat booze since THAT 13 year failure stands as a prime example. Addicts have very few resources available to them. They can go rob a bank/corner store/ someone’s house or car for a quick fix since we’ll happily send them to jail at a cost of $24,000.00 per year but hell; we won’t treat your dependency since that would cost too much!

Drug prohibition has been a colossal failure. We have to allow economics to achieve what our enforcement personnel cannot and that is to eliminate their access to illicit money gained from the sale of illegal drugs used to sustain their forces. This will put these organizations under pressure for alternate means of funding, more traceable and above board means of funding. They may even have to get jobs! The original purpose of the War on Drugs was to do just this but it can’t and it will never succeed even if we throw 3x the money at the problem. Supply and Demand is a market force that cannot be stopped by Prohibition.

The body count continues to climb among the competing underground factions that attempt to manufacture, grow and sell illegal drugs. Why? Because it’s ILLEGAL! And because drugs are illegal, the underground economy controls the money and distribution.

We all endeavor to educate our kids to take pride in themselves and what they can achieve and about the dangers of drugs, booze, driving while drunk and gambling. We do this because these are the major dangers of living free in the United States TODAY. This will not change. The “War on Drugs” has become an industry unto itself. It employs thousands of people. Who cares that it doesn’t work?

I do. We need to change the way we look at this problem. The sooner we face the reality of the situation, the sooner we can fix it.   

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nothing has changed in Egypt...

There has been no revolution. There have been protests but no revolt. The US funded Egyptian military has stepped forward and proven who really runs the country. Mubarak was it's titular head but when he finally became too polarizing a figure (ie: the point where EVERYBODY from all social strata hated him to the point of leaving work to protest), it was time for him to go and it was the military chiefs who told him so. So off he has gone. I'm sure he's gotten a good severance package.

It's all been so very peaceful as we have been told and it has been. But don't think anything has changed. The Army is running things and has assured the West that all treaties will be long as the money keeps coming in. There is still martial law and people still make something like $2.00 a week or some-such minuscule amount of money. I've heard it said that the Middle East has rich countries but poor people. Sort of sums it up nicely.

It remains to be seen how this democracy thing will work out for the people of Egypt. I believe the people will get their vote. I'm also sure the Army will have their preferred candidate and will probably get a raise in "aid" from Europe and the US if they promise to keep the radicals off the ballot to some degree.  They'll let it all happen as long as it pays.

Good luck to 'em. Holding onto the status quo won't be easy. The people eventually get wise to the hand they're being dealt and somebody may really start shooting.

That would be revolting.