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19 February 2011


RL Crabb

It's always a joy to wake up to your life affirming columns, George. It doesn't help that I agree with your gloomy predictions of our impending obsolescence. I have watched as my chosen profession and industry slowly fades into the sunset. Like most, I cling to the false hope that some vestige of the news and opinion business will survive when the dust settles. Unfortunately, the masses are buying into the notion that content should be free and pirating intellectual property is an acceptable practice.

I remain convinced that there are no good guys in the coming chaos. Conservatives believe that by allowing a few individuals and corporations to accumulate obscene wealth that the benevolent billionaires will trickle the crumbs to us peons, but without jobs there is no market. Money has no loyalty. It will move on to where the next market appears, and it ain't going to be in our neighborhood.

Liberals are no better. I'm all for saving the planet, and I do believe we are capable of fouling our nest to the point where we can no longer live it. But their vision of big brother controlling all aspects of human behavior has proven to be unworkable, as you and the failing nations of Europe have shown.

From my corner of the universe, I have tried to convince people that neither side has a firm grip on reality, and the solution will require cooperation rather than confrontation. I am regularly flogged for this. Just yesterday, Pelline called me a "phony" for suggesting his bias is nowhere near the middle. And over here I am suspected of being too left for suggesting that Republicans only answer to governance is to do away with it.

All eyes will be on Wisconsin this week. No one should be surprised that the Repubs are acting out their long held dream of disarming the opposition and creating a one party state. Note that the newly installed Governor has exempted law enforcement from his union gutting plan. He will need loyal thugs when push comes to shove. The question is, will there be a shot heard 'round the world?

George Rebane

Deep stuff and good thoughts Bob. Please recall that I am also for the redistribution of wealth (and have given invited talks on this to even the Republican Central Committee) through approaches that many conservatives can intellectually accept, but hesitate to accept on what appears to be an emotional basis.

Conservatives understand that money only has meaning when you can buy what you want with it. (For example, the Soviets didn't, and bragged about the "power of the ruble" generating public demand that, witnessing the long lines, could not be satisfied in their command market system.) That is why it is inimical for conservatives to create systems of governance where money loses its function as a store of value.

I don't think that Repubs are the binary thinkers on governance that you suggest - after all, they putatively revere the Founders.

On Wisconsin (not the song) I will have more to say tomorrow.

George Rebane

... and you are no phony Bob, especially for daring to look behind the facade of Potemkin Pelline.

Aaron Klein

George - my second Andy Kessler book to recommend in a row, but if you haven't read his entire book on the subject, it's amazing (I'm 70% through with it). http://akle.in/akdc-eatpeople

RL - I'm most definitely right of center (although probably not as right of center as some think, depending on the issue). Having read your comments over the course of a long time (and known you since about 2005), I think it's abundantly clear that you are an independent centrist. We have to have coffee some time again - I think it would be fun.

RL Crabb

It is somewhat difficult for my pea brain to envision how disarming one half of the electorate and giving free rein to the corporatists will result in a level playing field. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of problems with unions. I was a member and stewart back in the 70's, and was constantly appalled by having to defend employees for behavior that clearly warranted their dismissal. Then again, I was very happy to have my health insurance when a car accident left me a few inches shy of death and required three months of hospitalization.

I don't think I need to explain to anyone here why unions and the progressive movement came into being. Our robber baron history demanded that there be some accountability for the excesses of big business one hundred years ago. It was fought tooth and nail and led to the unions becoming as corrupt as the institutions they sought to reform. Like government, it became a necessary evil.

The Governor of Wisconsin knows this, as does Jerry Brown. Without the unions to pay for his tax campaign, he knows he doesn't stand a chance of passing it.

Greg Goodknight

RL, I think you've got Wisconsin wrong... it isn't a one party state the Republicans are trying to create there, they're just trying to curb the excesses of the previous one party state.

Worldwide, public employee unions are a disaster, a slow motion movement towards public bankruptcy. It will get to California eventually; with something like $500 billion of unfunded public pension liabilities, and growing every day, the stage is set.

George Rebane

Greg's point is spot on and relevant here, and continues what these pages have reflected.

Bob, my concern is with how you are framing the Wisconsin and the broader public employee service union problem. There is no "disarming of one half the electorate" here. Private sector unions employ less than 9% of the workforce, and public sector unions claim fewer than 33% of government employees. The latter have become a pampered minority who no longer understand their charge in the labor market, but have become an enthusiastic and efficient leech on the body politic.

We in the private sector pay their wages, their benefits, their taxes, their pensions, ... , and their control of the sleazebag politicians has become so complete that they have become nothing but sock puppets in the spirit of Samuel Gompers (private sector union legend), and now know only how to scream one demand, "MORE!!"

RL Crabb

I tend to agree with you on the government end. With the teachers, Tony Waters pointed out over on Jeff's site that the majority of teachers are in the 45 to 50K a year range, hardly a pampered populace. He also points out that the majority of 100K+ salaries are in administration, and not unionized.

George Rebane

Average Wisconsin teachers' (not admin workers) salary for 2010 is a little over $50K for nine months of work which does not include benefits and pension. This calculates to about $66.5K/yr with, of course, benefits and pension extended.

Their work performance, achievement, and ethic sucks when compared to what private school teachers put out for far less pay. (Three of my six grandkids are in a private Christian school.) And government teachers are scared out of their minds that they may some day have to compete in the marketplace on merit. That is why this thing may go nationwide. If these freeloaders don't stop it in Madison, the finger may be out of the dike. By any reasonable measure, they are indeed a pampered class.

Account Deleted

Bob - no computer can replace your skills and abilities to produce some fine cartoons. There will always be something humans can do to be useful and productive. It only remains for the left to get out of the way and let them. And George - I'm most pleased to see one of my favorite objects on earth represented by the 3-D depiction of an air cooled Ducati desmodromic-cam head.

George Rebane

Now if I only understood what pleased you so much Scott ;-)

Russ Steele

I visited a local company abut six ago and they has just stated to use this 3D printing technology to create casting molds. I forget which company it was, I think it was one of the companies that the ERC was touring, and I visited them to collect some pre-tour info for posting on the web. They no longer had to use the services of a model maker or machinist to create the parts to be molded. They went from engineering drawing to the printer. Watching the machine was like watching paint dry on the wall the process was so slow.

Russ Steele

Ann Althouse is a law professor in Wisconsin. She took her camera to the Madison Tea Party Rally, details here. Keep scrolling as there are some videos. Check out the doctors handing out excuse slips for the teachers so they can play legal hookie from school. Is this the example we should be setting for our young people, teachers cheating?

Todd Juvinall

I think RL is worried about something he doesn't have to regarding his work. Cartoons are fantastic and just today, my honey and I went to a movie and the previews were of three Marvel comics turned into movies. We love this stuff! Green Lantern looks like a monster hit.

Regarding unions. Maybe I am the only one here that has negotiated from the public's side and I did it almost every year as a Supervisor. I can tell you they did not like me much and during political runs they campaigned hard to defeat me. But, I beat them. Anyway, they would bring in some out of town goons who looked liked Guido and Bruno from the Bronx and then they would throw every piece of crap they could come up with against the wall to see what would stick. It was always done respectfully from our side, you know, the taxpayers side, and they were worms. Well, since I am a believer that civil service is enough protection I was never going to roll over and hopefully I did good with my votes back then. But, most of the time we were hoping to maintain peace, well, not me, and we did. I wanted them to strike so we could hire non union.

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