Tag Archives: Unions

Venezuela solves hunger by banning bread lines, and solves crime by banning self-defense

Two socialists shake hands: Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez
Two socialists shake hands: Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez

First, let’s review who has been running Venezuela, and what they’ve been doing in the last few decades.

Here is an article from March 2013 from the radically leftist Slate. The headline is “Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle: The Venezuelan leader was often marginalized as a radical. But his brand of socialism achieved real economic gains”. The author is “a senior writer for the International Business Times”.

He writes:

Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism at once represented a fundamental critique of neoliberal economics, and also delivered some indisputably positive results. Indeed, as shown by some of the most significant indicators, Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving.

What did Chavez do, precisely, that caused the Venezuelan economic to boom? Well, he nationalized private industry and redistributed wealth from job creators and entrepreneurs to the poor.

As The Week correctly put it, while “Chavez’s policies of redistribution and nationalization of oil assets endeared him to Venezuela’s working class” and produced many laudable results, the country’s “oil-centric economy has taken away resources from other areas that are badly in need of development.”

It’s a miracle! Yay for socialism! Well, that’s what leftists thought – this time, for sure, the laws of economics would be suspended and unicorns would fly.

Reason.com reports on what happened next:

The tragedy of Venezuela continues unabated, but that doesn’t mean the government of President Nicolás Maduro has stopped trying to fix problems like the devastating scarcity of food which has led to malnutrition, riots, food truck hijackings, vigilante lynchings of petty thieves, and the starvation of zoo animals.

No, Maduro hasn’t admitted the failure of Chavismo — the brand of Bolivarian socialism imposed on the oil-rich country by his late predecessor Hugo Chavez — instead, Venezuela’s embattled leader has launched a war on “anxiety.”

The National Superintendency of Fair Prices has reportedly instituted a policy of fining bakeries that allow lines to stretch out their front doors, according to PanAmPost. The head of this particular bureaucracy, William Contreras, claims the lines aren’t a true indicator of a severe shortage of bread, but rather, a political “strategy of generating anxiety.”

[…][T]his is indicative of the magical thinking of Venezuela’s socialist government: the breakdown of the economy couldn’t possibly because of failed economic policy, and scarcity must be the result of a greater conspiracy.

Fine, so they solved the problem of not enough bread by banning line-ups for bread. Great. But what about Venezuela’s astronomically high murder rate? What will they ban to solve that?

Easy, peasy: by seizing the guns of law-abiding people, just like Hillary Clinton wants to do.

Daily Wire reports:

Venezuela is descending further into the misery of socialism, as their government confiscated 2,000 pistols, shotguns and other firearms on Wednesday.

Reuters reports that the firearms were “crushed and chopped up” at a square in Caracas and ammunition was registered through laser technology as part of Interior Minister Nestor Reverol’s recent initiatives to further disarm the Venezuelan citizenry.

“We are going to bring disarmament and peace,” Reverol declared.

Venezuela currently has the second highest murder rate in the world, and Caracas is the most violent city in the world. In 2012, dictator Hugo Chavez completely banned private gun ownership, and yet crime rose.

Naturally, taking away the guns of law abiding people increases the rate of violent crime. In the UK, where the ban on handguns resulted in the doubling of violent crime in the four years after the ban. This is known by anyone who has spent more than two minutes studying the history of these laws in other times or places.

In my last post, I reported about how Venezuela had resorted to forced labor (slavery) to grow more food.

Here’s what CNBC reported:

The government of Venezuela has issued a decree that “effectively amounts to forced labor” in an attempt to fix a spiraling food crisis, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

A Venezuelan ministry last week announced Resolution No. 9855, which calls for the establishment of a “transitory labor regime” in order to relaunch the agricultural and food sector. The decree says that the government must do what is “necessary to achieve strategic levels of self-sufficiency,” and states that workers can be forcefully moved from their jobs to work in farm fields or elsewhere in the agricultural sector for periods of 60 days.

It’s so bad that Venezuelans are breaking into zoos to kill and eat the animals. Now that’s real progressive animal rights for you. But they can solve this by banning the eating of meat.

Slavery, food lines, lousy health care, crime sprees, confiscating guns from law abiding citizens. All to be expected when Democrat party policies go into effect. If Democrats wins the House, Senate and Presidency, we’ll see the same here – we’re not any better than any other country. Nothing magic about the United States, if we get away from our Constitution.

Related posts

In California, even non-members of labor unions pay to advance secular left causes

Most people know that public sector unions are among the largest donors of the secular left. But most people don’t know that Christians and conservatives are often forced to join unions in order to work in a particular job, and that some of their salary is automatically taken to push causes favored by the secular left.

Here is an article from the Daily Signal:

A large California teachers union and its national affiliate are forcing nonunion teachers to pay for political activism, according to a disclosure form acquired by The Daily Signal.

Under a category called “human rights,” both the National Education Association and the California Teachers Association require nonunion teachers to finance LGBT leadership training and other political goals that may run counter to the teachers’ convictions, The Daily Signal’s analysis of the disclosure form shows.

The form shows that unions charged $1.1 million in “human rights” costs to nonunion teachers as well as members in 2013-14, while identifying another $1.2 million in the same category as not chargeable to those who weren’t members.

A separate page lists $20,228 in chargeable costs for “Women and LGBT Issues” as a line item under the category  of human rights. The same page includes a line item on “unconscious bias training” for which nonmembers must cover $5,436.

The teachers unions also spend a pretty penny on annual conferences described as focused on education, some of which appear designed instead to further political causes.

For the 2013-14 school year, the teachers unions charged nonmembers as well as members a total of $49,739 for an “Equity Human Rights Conference,” nearly twice as much as the $25,622 deemed not chargeable to nonmembers, the disclosure form shows.

The unions charged nonmembers as well as members a total of $17,108 for an “LGBT Conference,” referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement, with a lower amount, $11,358, that wasn’t charged to nonmembers.

The only way out of paying for secular left causes seems to be passing right-to-work laws, but those are strongly opposed by the Democrat Party. Why would the Democrats be in favor of forcing people to pay unions money and not letting them opt out?

Most unions donate almost exclusively to Democrats

This Wall Street Journal article explains that unions donate mostly to Democrats.

Excerpt:

Corporations and their employees… tend to spread their donations fairly evenly between the two major parties, unlike unions, which overwhelmingly assist Democrats. In 2008, Democrats received 55% of the $2 billion contributed by corporate PACs and company employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Labor unions were responsible for $75 million in political donations, with 92% going to Democrats.

So how much money are we talking about?

Total political contributions in 2014 election cycle
Total political contributions in 2014 election cycle (click for larger image)

To see how much unions control government, take a look at this story from National Review, written by economist Veronique to Rugy.

It says:

  • The top campaign donor of the last 25 years is ActBlue, an online political-action committee dedicated to raising funds for Democrats. ActBlue’s political contributions, which total close to $100 million, are even more impressive when one realizes that it was only launched in 2004. That’s $100 million in ten years.
  • Fourteen labor unions were among the top 25 political campaign contributors.
  • Three public-sector unions were among the 14 labor groups: the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the National Education Association; and the American Federation of Teachers. Their combined contributions amount to $150 million, or 15 percent of the top 25’s approximately $1 billion in donations since 1989.
  • Public- and private-sector unions contributed 55.6 percent — $552 million — of the top 25’s contributions.

Where does the money go? The Daily Caller notes:

“Nearly all of labor’s 2012 donations to candidates and parties – 90 percent – went to Democrats,” the report from CRP concluded. “Public sector unions, which include employees at all levels of government, donated $14.7 million to Democrats in 2014.”

Although unions helped a great deal in the past to protect workers from unfair practices, their primary function now seems to be to confiscate money from their members to give to themselves and to Democrats. When we make the collection of union dues optional, then unions will have to be more responsive to their members, and less responsive to their Democrat allies.

New $15 minimum wage causing apparel companies to outsource manufacturing

Young people usually only get one side of every issue - because we don't tell them the other side
Young people usually only get one side of every issue – because we don’t tell them the other side

This story is from the radically leftist Los Angeles Times, of all places.

They write:

Los Angeles was once the epicenter of apparel manufacturing, attracting buyers from across the world to its clothing factories, sample rooms and design studios.

But over the years, cheap overseas labor lured many apparel makers to outsource to foreign competitors in far-flung places such as China and Vietnam.

Now, Los Angeles firms are facing another big hurdle — California’s minimum wage hitting $15 an hour by 2022 — which could spur more garment makers to exit the state.

Last week American Apparel, the biggest clothing maker in Los Angeles, said it might outsource the making of some garments to another manufacturer in the U.S., and wiped out about 500 local jobs. The company still employs about 4,000 workers in Southern California.

“The exodus has begun,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands and a former director at Forever 21. “The garment industry is gradually shrinking and that trend will likely continue.”

But some lucky people are going to get an exemption from the new minimum wage law – even though they lobbied hard in favor of it.

The radically leftist UK Guardian explains:

Los Angeles city council will hear a proposal on Tuesday to exempt union members from a $15 an hour minimum wage that the unions themselves have spent years fighting for.

The proposal for the exemption was first introduced last year, after the Los Angeles city council passed a bill that would see the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 by 2020. After drawing criticism last year, the proposed amendment was put on hold but is now up for consideration once again.

[…]The amendment was originally proposed by Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. AFL-CIO is the largest federation of labor unions in the US, with about 12.5 million members. Hicks is also the co-convener of the Campaign to Raise the Wage.

At the time of its passage, Hicks lauded the $15 minimum wage.

“We are one step closer to making history in Los Angeles by adopting a comprehensive minimum wage policy that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of hard-working Angelenos,” said Hicks. “The city council’s action today creates a path for workers to succeed and gives our economy the boost it needs to grow.”

Hicks did not respond to a request for comment.

Union leaders have a reputation for being just terrible at economics. And when I say “terrible”, I mean they are more ignorant of economics than inanimate objects.

I actually remember far back to when Obamacare was being passed. The big labor unions lobbied for the passage of Obamacare. And when it was passed, they lobbied the Democrats for exemptions to it for the big labor unions. Exemptions from fees, as well as exemptions from taxes. Basically, the big labor unions wanted to screw all the non-union companies with higher health care costs. Unite Blue! Socialism for thee, but not for me. That’s hypocrisy.

How exposed is your state to the problem of underfunded pensions?

I am thinking about moving to a new state in the future, and one of the factors I am considering is underfunded pension liabilities. This basically refers to the ability of a state to pay out pensions to retiring public sector employees going forward. I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to solve this problem in this post.

First, Investors Business Daily explains the problem:

A new report by Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Joshua Rauh shows that, unless action is taken soon, many local governments could face bankruptcy because they can’t meet their pension obligations.

[…]The problem is surprisingly simple: States and cities overestimate returns on their pension fund investments, while systematically underfunding them. The result is a growing deficit that will require massive tax hikes or dramatic and painful cuts in government services and promised pensions to public workers.

Rauh’s study looked at 564 state and local pension systems, representing $4.8 trillion in pension liabilities and $3.6 trillion in assets — for an apparent current deficit of just $1.19 trillion.

So far, so good. But Rauh notes the average expected return on pension assets is about 7.6% — which means a doubling every 9.5 years. He calls that assumption “wildly optimistic,” and says a more realistic assumption would be the Treasury bond rate of 3% or lower — less than half the expected return.

Unless pension managers, politicians and voters do something now, the unfunded liabilities of the national system will continue to grow out of control, reaching $3.4 trillion in just 10 years. States and cities across the country would have to raise taxes massively to keep from becoming insolvent.

Right now, state and local governments set aside about 7.3% of revenues for public pensions. To keep the funding gap from exploding and taking down governments across the nation, pension spending would have to rise to  17.5% of revenues on average — roughly equal to a 240% tax increase.

How did things get so bad? Generations of feckless politicians have refused to face down public employee unions, which have negotiated massively expensive pensions for their members while concealing their true cost. Politicians have gone along with it because, heck, it’s not their money and anyway, the problems will take place long after they’re out of office. That’s where we are now.

States and cities will come under intense pressure to raise taxes on local citizens to pay for this travesty. Instead, they should get rid of the public employee unions that have plundered the public for too long and have made local government inefficient, expensive and dysfunctional. If not, they can expect to face the same economy-crippling effects as Detroit, San Bernardino and a number of other cities have — financial insolvency.

Now, obviously states with kick-ass governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin are not going to have the same exposure to such problems as incompetent governors like Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. Scott Walker know how to rein in public sector unions.

Let’s get the numbers to confirm this hypothesis.

Bloomberg has the numbers:

Bloomberg ranked 49 U.S. states based on their pension funding ratios in 2014 under GASB 25. (Delaware is not included because of insufficient data for GASB 25.)

Here are the best states… Wisconsin is 100% funded:

States with the best-funded pension liiabilities
States with the best-funded pension liiabilities

And actually there is a comprehensive analysis of the fiscal solvency of all the states right here from George Mason University.

Here’s the map:

Overall fiscal solvency by state
Overall fiscal solvency by state

I notice that the deep blue states like California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, etc. are just horrible states. No wonder everyone is fleeing them in droves. Socialism doesn’t work. Eventually, the money runs out.

So, if you’re thinking of moving to a new state, look at that. And if you don’t want to move, then vote for governors like Scott Walker who will take on public sector unions – otherwise, you’re headed for a big tax hike in the future, to pay for the big spending liberals of the past.

Ohio union employees paid twice the average salary of Ohio teachers

Ohio union officials make much more than Ohio teachers
Ohio union officials make much more than Ohio teachers

Striking story from the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

Ohio’s largest labor union is in the business of selling worker “solidarity,” and for union bosses, business is good.

Ohio Education Association president Becky Higgins was paid $209,039 to preside over a union that took member dues and mandatory fees from 121,625 teachers during the fiscal year ending Aug. 31.

Regular OEA dues for full-time teachers are $504—$42 a month—in addition to local OEA chapter dues and $183 in National Education Association dues sent to NEA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Union staff and officers working for OEA’s Columbus headquarters were paid an average of $109,789 with money taken from teachers’ paychecks; Ohio teachers were paid an average of $55,916 during the 2013-14 school year, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

For some reason, Ohio, under liberal governor John Kasich, has not yet followed other midwestern states and enacted a right to work law. Right to work laws allow teachers to work without being forced to pay dues to labor unions.  Although Ohio doesn’t have a right to work law yet, one is being drafted now. Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and other states all have right to work laws already. Kentucky and West Virginia have laws in the works.

Right to work laws 2015
Right to work laws 2015

Why should Christians and conservatives care about all the money that is taken from the paychecks of teachers for their unions?

Most unions donate almost exclusively to Democrats

This Wall Street Journal article explains that unions donate mostly to Democrats.

Excerpt:

Corporations and their employees… tend to spread their donations fairly evenly between the two major parties, unlike unions, which overwhelmingly assist Democrats. In 2008, Democrats received 55% of the $2 billion contributed by corporate PACs and company employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Labor unions were responsible for $75 million in political donations, with 92% going to Democrats.

So how much money are we talking about?

Total political contributions in 2014 election cycle
Total political contributions in 2014 election cycle (click for larger image)

To see how much unions control government, take a look at this story from National Review, written by economist Veronique to Rugy.

It says:

  • The top campaign donor of the last 25 years is ActBlue, an online political-action committee dedicated to raising funds for Democrats. ActBlue’s political contributions, which total close to $100 million, are even more impressive when one realizes that it was only launched in 2004. That’s $100 million in ten years.
  • Fourteen labor unions were among the top 25 political campaign contributors.
  • Three public-sector unions were among the 14 labor groups: the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the National Education Association; and the American Federation of Teachers. Their combined contributions amount to $150 million, or 15 percent of the top 25’s approximately $1 billion in donations since 1989.
  • Public- and private-sector unions contributed 55.6 percent — $552 million — of the top 25’s contributions.

Where does the money go? The Daily Caller notes:

“Nearly all of labor’s 2012 donations to candidates and parties – 90 percent – went to Democrats,” the report from CRP concluded. “Public sector unions, which include employees at all levels of government, donated $14.7 million to Democrats in 2014.”

Although unions helped a great deal in the past to protect workers from unfair practices, their primary function now seems to be to confiscate money from their members to give to themselves and to Democrats. When we make the collection of union dues optional, then unions will have to be more responsive to their members, and less responsive to their Democrat allies.