Perhaps one of the best stories this year was Scott Walker’s victory in his recall election. That election was prompted by Wisconsin passing a law that limited collective bargaining for some public-sector unions (most government employees, minus police and firefighters) and forced them to contribute more to their pensions.
Naturally, public unions threw a hissy fit at the thought that they would have to pay for their own benefits rather than forcing other people to pay for them—you know, government-backed robbery. They forced the recall election, but lost badly, and in the end it was perceived as a major blow to labor unions around the country. Not only did it deplete the Wisconsin unions’ coffers, it also damaged their image as a credible threat, and gave strength to more governors to fix their awful state budgets.
In retrospect, though, perhaps the big winner was Lawrence O’Donnell. Immediately after the results came in, O’Donnell proclaimed that the winner of the Wisconsin recall election was, bizarrely, Barack Obama. I derided him at the time, yet it turned out he was correct: Obama went on to win the 2012 presidential election, and took Wisconsin by 52% to Romney’s 46%.
Despite that, though, Walker’s recall victory was a major victory for free market advocates and libertarians everywhere. Let’s hope we can continue the fight under Obama’s second term.
Everyone seems to be proposing fixes for our country lately, whether it’s amendments to repeal the First Amendment or ban gays or whatever. I have a few ideas of my own that I think will go a long ways towards restoring some sanity in government and fixing what’s wrong with our society. Some of these will require constitutional amendments, and I don’t expect the entire list to actually get enacted unless magic somehow returns to the world and we resurrect Barry Goldwater, F.A. Hayek, and George Washington all at once.
I originally drafted a list of some 23 ideas, but I figured that it would be way too long for a blog post, so I shortened it to 14, a baker’s dozen. None of these are simple or light fixes, they are not tweaking around the edges to ensure a marginally better outcome. Judging from the situation our government and economy is in, from the horrific hard place our civil liberties are wedged behind, and the unmanageable mess that is Washington, I don’t think that “moderate” or “conservative” changes will do anything. We cannot pussyfoot around the issue; we need radical alterations to how our government works if we’re going to get us out of this morass. Again, most of these may never pass, but that’s to be expected.
Certainly, if you wish to hear my entire list, let me know and I’ll write it up, but for now, here are my 14 ideas for fixing our country:
1. Establish Approval Voting
I’ve already talked about this idea at length here, so I will not bore you again. In this post, all I will say is that I believe if we are to get anything done—and I do mean anything—we need to systematically reform how people actually get into office. That’s the foundation upon which any democracy stands, and when you’re up to your eyeballs in tar, the only way to get that fixed is to drain the swamp and start at the beginning.
If you listen to the media, Tuesday’s election were a mixed bag nationally and a disaster for Republican the ever crucial swing state of Ohio due to voters overturning limitations placed on collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers, which was passed by the legislature earlier this year.
Democrats and labor unions raised some $30 million trying to defeat the effort. Passage of the referendum is certainly bad news for Ohio taxpayers, who will no doubt be hit with the ever-expanding costs of public-sector salaries and benefits.
What has gone under-reported is that Ohioans voted overwhemling against the individiual mandate, a central piece of ObamaCare, by supporting a separate ballot measure:
Voters in Ohio approved a measure Tuesday night disapproving of President Obama’s healthcare law.
Unions like to present themselves as the protector of the worker from the big, bad employer. Once upon a time, that was dead on right. Those days have passed though, and now unions feel they need to do whatever is necessary to stay alive.
With Michigan’s new right to work law, unions took a big, big hit. However, the teacher’s union in that state has gotten…let’s just say “creative” …with how to stay relevant despite the state no longer permitting mandatory union membership.
A school district is attempting to force teachers to pay union dues for the next 10 years, despite being located in Michigan, which is now a right-to-work state that specifically prohibits mandatory unionization.
Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state in December. But the law doesn’t take effect until March 28 — giving unions time to grandfather in their contracts if they can get them approved before the deadline. As part of this effort, the Taylor School District approved an entirely separate “union security agreement” that will force teachers to keep paying the union until 2023.
Under the security agreement, teachers’ only options will be to pay union dues, or pay an agency fee amounting to about $800 a year.
Since its passage in 2011, Big Labor has been working through the court system to undo the collective bargaining reform law signed by Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) in early 2011. Despite the Wisconsin Supreme Court upholding the law in June 2011, Big Labor won a reprieve after a federal district court struck down part of the law.
But the these much needed reforms were given new life today thanks to a decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the law in its entirety:
A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Act 10, Wisconsin’s controversial reform law that guts collective bargaining for most public employees in the state.
The decision strikes a blow to public-sector unions that gained a temporary victory in September, when a Dane County Circuit Court Judge ruled parts of the law unconstitutional.
The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down key provisions of a separate federal court’s ruling, writing, “The district court invalidated Act 10′s recertification and payroll deduction provisions, but upheld the statute’s limitation on collective bargaining. We now uphold Act 10 in its entirety.”
Watching the footage and hearing the stories of what happened in Michigan yesterday was disheartening. Here we have people who are supposedly adults—supposedly, role models to young children out there—turning to violence when then don’t get what they want politically. This is the “grown-up,” “adult” equivalent of a five-year old stamping his feet and pouting when his parents don’t give him the candy he spied on the supermarket shelf.
We’ve seen this violence before. We saw it with the longshoremen during the OWS-type protests last year. LaborUnionReport.com has a entire category of stories of union violence. Heck, even last year ABC News ran a story headlined “How Nasty Can Union Violence Get And Still Be Legal?”
Clearly, a lot. And I think one reason we sadly tolerate this is because, somehow, Americans still think unions are looking out for the poor and downtrodden worker, who is being abused by the big corporate executives. That they’re still American, still with us, we just disagree. But as these and other stories show, they’re not. Unions are not helping America.
They’re fighting a war against us.
As Jeremy noted on Monday, the Michigan legislature has passed a right-to-work law that makes it illegal for a labor union to coerce members into financial support. The legislation, which was signed yesterday by Gov. Rick Snyder, has been the source of protests around the state, including an event in Lansing yesterday where union thugs violently trashed an Americans for Prosperity tent.
President Barack Obama spoke out against the legislation during an event in Redford, Michigan on Monday, saying, “What we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages.”
“These so-called right-to-work laws, they don’t have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics,” added Obama.
We’re still trying to get details on this, but it appears that union thugs, angry about Michigan’s recently passed right-to-work legislation, have trashed an Americans for Prosperity tent outside of a protest in Lansing. According to Businessweek, pro-union supporters “[tore] down a tent set up by Americans for Prosperity, overturning tables and stamping on signs.”
Here’s video of the police breaking up the mess:
Within moments of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker being declared the winner of the recall election against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, labor unions, commentators and other talking heads started railing against money in politics. Take, for example, the theatrics of the guy interviewed on CNN, who insisted that “democracy died” on Tuesday because of the infusion of money — some $63 million — into the state to promote or tear down candidates in the race:
Yes, your tears please me. But seriously, this guy could not be more wrong. The Washington Post noted yesterday that outside spending didn’t influence many voters, pointing to exit polling that showed that 88% of voters had their minds made up before May 1st. In other words, as Cato’s John Samples notes, “[b]y the time the ads hit the airwaves, there were few undecided voters.”
Last night, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett, squared off in Milwaukee for the last debate before Tuesday’s recall election. From the looks of it, the debate was heated at times; however, Walker managed to make Barrett look foolish on economic issues facing the state, including job creation. He also knocked Barrett for supporting a very expensive, two-mile train.
* Money: Walker raised an unprecedented $21 million for his recall campaign this year, nearly double the $11 million he spent getting elected in the first place in 2010. Barrett, who entered the race in March, has raised just $3 million. At the same time, independent groups have poured money into the state; though national progressives and public-employee unions are on the side of the recall effort, they haven’t been able to match the pro-Walker side’s spending. Currently, Walker and his allies are outspending Barrett and his backers on television ads by a 3-to-1 margin, according to a Hotline analysis.