If only our legislators would REPEAL ONE LAW PER DAY!
Here are suggestions for repeal.

Why repeal?

“That government is best which governs least.” Thomas Paine

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Americans Want, and Expect, Repeal Obamacare

Americans Want, and Expect, Repeal | The Weekly Standard

The latest Rasmussen poll of likely voters shows that Americans support the repeal of Obamacare by a margin of 21 percentage points (58 to 37 percent), independents support repeal by 24 percentage points (59 to 35 percent), and Americans think that Obamacare is more likely to be repealed than not. Only 39 percent of voters think it's likely that Obamacare will survive, compared to 47 percent who think it's likely that it won't and 14 percent who aren't sure. Moreover, only 9 percent of voters think it's "not at all likely" that Obamacare will be repealed. Rasmussen writes, "Belief in the likelihood of repeal has now edged to its highest level to date."

Whether the Obama administration and its allies want to face it or not, wholesale repeal -- and replacement with real reform -- is a very real prospect going forward.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Civil Service Unions

Union, Civil Service Myths Busted

The Big Myth about government employees is that they are underpaid, unappreciated servants of the people who toil on behalf of the rest of us while we live lives of indulgence and luxury.

If only it were true. Civil servants today make higher salaries, get better benefits and pensions, and retire younger than the average private-sector worker who now is working longer hours and more years to pay the taxes to support the privileged civil servant class.

In other words, America is a socialist nation.

The Big Myth about labor unions is that unions assured good wages for American workers in the 1950s and 1960s, but that today unions have shrunk in size and Americans are thus suffering economically.

That is not true. Here are the facts:

America was prosperous in the 1950s because Europe and Japan were still recovering from World War II, and American factories were making 50% of the world’s finished goods. Today that number has fallen to 22%.

Workers in the 1950s would have had good wages even without unions, and millions did. At their peak, 37% of private-sector workers were unionized. Yet most Americans in the 1950s and 1960s had a very high standard of living because economic growth - not unions - provided it.

But starting after the War, labor unions organized millions of workers who already were, or would have been, well paid and had job security. Those unions certainly got even artificially higher wages for their workers and pumped up their own union coffers at the dollar-for-dollar expense of the American consumer. Then those same unions, shot through with corruption and largely controlled by organized crime, eventually drove many companies and entire industries (steel, railroads etc.) out of business, killing vast numbers of jobs and huge amounts of wealth with outrageous wage demands, ridiculous work rules, strikes, threats, intimidation and violence.

As a result, unions today remain unpopular with the private-sector American workforce that fears losing its jobs if unions organize workers and strong-arm their employers as they have in the past.

The second Big Myth about labor unions is that they have no power today.

That also is nonsense. According to the Wall Street Journal, union power certainly is declining with only 12.3% of all workers today being unionized, with private union employment only 7.2% of all jobs. But the big change is that union power has shifted from the private economy to the government sector. Reports the Journal:

‘The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that 51.4% of America’s 15.4 million union members, or about 7.91 million workers, were employed by the government in 2009. As recently as 1980, there were more than twice as many private as public union members. But private union membership has continued to decline, even as unions have organized more public employees.’ (end of excerpt)

And those union/civil service wage demands are putting not private industries but entire states like California and New York into bankruptcy.Pro-union Democrat politicians are facilitating this corruption nationwide by getting elected and “sitting on the other side of the table” from union negotiators.

In a January 2010 report from Chris Edwards, director of Tax Policy Studies at the Cato Institute called Employee Compensation in State and Local Governments, he notes that civil servants, and particularly unionized civil servants, now are taking many states and the federal government down a dead-end road of debt through exorbitant wage, benefit and pension demands. Edwards states:

State and local governments face large budget deficits as revenues have stagnated and spending has remained at high levels. To reduce deficits, large savings can be found in the generous compensation packages of the nation’s 20 million state and local workers. In 2008, wages and benefits of $1.1 trillion accounted for half of total state and local government spending.’ (end of excerpt)

Edwards points out that average compensation per hour, including benefits, for state and local government employees in 2009 was $39.66 versus $27.42 in the private sector, or 34% more, a long ways from the image of underpaid government workers. This includes a 70% higher ratio in the benefits category, $13.65 per hour versus $8.02 in the private sector. These figures come from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Under benefits for 2009, BLS stats show that state and local governments paid for 88% of health benefits, versus 71% in the private sector.

Regionally, Edwards cites BLS statistics showing that the Pacific region (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington) had the highest overall compensation, including benefits, for government workers at $49.02 per hour versus $30.78 for private workers (1.59 ratio) with a 64% unionized workforce share. New England was $43.22 versus $33.29 (1.30 ratio) with a 57% unionized share. The lowest disparity was in the West South Central Region (Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas) where the average compensation was $30.73 versus $24.35 (1.26 ratio) where the government workforce is only 13% unionized.

Edwards also notes the unstated economic value of high job security, which always has been a hallmark of government employment:

‘During good times and bad, “layoffs and discharges” in the public sector occur at just one-third the rate of the private sector. Public sector workers are rarely terminated for cost-cutting or job performance reasons.’ (end of excerpt)

Edwards notes that debt crises in states like California are directly linked to civil service salaries:

‘According to official estimates, state and local pension plans are underfunded (or overpromised) by about $1 trillion. But these estimates greatly understate the poor shape of pension plans because they rely on optimistic assumptions to value future liabilities, a practice Warren Buffett has called “accounting nonsense.”’ (end of excerpt)

Edwards’ report notes that state and local pensions could really be underfunded by $3.2 trillion, according to one private study.

According to Edwards’ report, other excesses in union/civil service funding include early retirement (’Public sector workers generally retire earlier than private sector workers and enjoy generous pension benefits for life indexed for inflation. They can typically retire at age 55 after 30 years of work, as in California’s CalPERs system.’); rigged pension formulas (‘Virtually all public sector plans calculate benefits based on pay in the last one to three years of work. … Also, public plans typically have a more generous factor to adjust pension benefits for number of years worked… In some jurisdictions, government workers inflate or “spike” their pension earnings by getting themselves big raises or working overtime in their final year or two on the job.’ ); and double dipping (‘In California, New Jersey, Utah, and other states, public workers can “retire” early and then either resume their existing job or take a new job, thus receiving a salary and pension at the same time.’ ).

Also phony disability claims (‘Excessive and fraudulent disability claims are a growing problem. In Nevada, “firemen hobbled by heart disease can collect an inflation-protected $40,000 a year for life on top of their pension. That applies even if they’re healthy enough to work in another occupation.”’); excessive benefits (‘News articles have revealed eye-popping annual pension amounts received by civil servants in run-of-the-mill positions in cities across the nation. In California, there are 6,144 retired public employees in the CalPERS plan and 3,090 retired teachers in the state teacher’s plan receiving annual pension benefits of more than $100,000.’);

And pay-to-play scandals (’The reliance on (defined benefit) plans means that governments hold huge financial portfolios. That has encouraged “pay-to-play” schemes whereby Wall Street firms bribe public officials to get a slice of the government’s financial business. New York’s pension fund, for example, is currently engulfed in scandal: “Money manager Elliott Broidy … admitted to making nearly $1 million in gifts to benefit four former top officials in the office that oversees New YorkState’s pension fund, including one-time state comptroller Alan Hevesi.’)

Americans no longer are unaware of these arcane civil service dealings. Californians are up in arms about the corruption that celebrity Republican governor Schwarzenegger never has addressed seriously. Republican reformer Chris Christie was elected governor of New Jersey in November 2009 in order to address the crisis there while Republican Charlie Baker is very likely to be elected the next governor of Massachusetts to deal with that state’s economic problems caused largely by civil service/union graft and corruption.

Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Being Forced to Flush Twice Does Not Save Water

This Bill Needs to be Re-Introduced!

What's the use when you have to flush twice or thrice to get the toilet to clear, they formerly just took one.

Bill introduced to repeal low-flow toilet requirement

November 1999

U.S. Water News Online

WASHINGTON --Plunger wielding frequent flushers across America have found an ally in Congressman Joe Knollenberg. The Michigan Republican has sponsored a bill (HR 623) to repeal a 1994 federal law requiring "low-flow" toilets.

Although the timing could be better -- the U.S. has been experiencing the second-worst drought in its history -- Paul Welday, Knollenberg's chief of staff, said his boss is responding to a genuine, nationwide movement.

Welday said Knollenberg is riding a groundswell of discontent created by citizens beleaguered by toilet bowels clogged with tissue. He says these are constituents who feel deeply that the federal government should stay out of America's bathrooms.

"It's a grassroots movement," Welday explained. "People writing us, and other members of the House, are saying, 'Get the government out of my bathroom.' "

"We're also getting good support from other members of Congress. At the moment, it's in the high 80s as far as the number of sponsorship signatures. The bill is continuing to gain momentum."

The bill also has been endorsed by the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and National Consumer Coalition. The Cato Institute maintains a position that water is underpriced, while the other two groups contend the water crisis is overstated and federal intrusion guarantees a market for poor-performing commodes.

Radio personality Glenn Haege, known as "America's Master Handyman," recently summed up the clogged commode catastrophe on his show.

"Without a doubt, there is a major problem in bathrooms all across America," he said.

The puzzle that toilet manufacturers have faced since 1994 is how to flush away excrement, toilet tissue, and whatever else goes into a toilet bowl, with only 1.6 gallons of water.

Compare that to commodes manufactured in the 1980s that used 3.5 gallons, or toilets from the 1970s that sent 5 to 7 gallons rushing through the bowl.

"The problem is the flush from a 1.6-gallon toilet does not have the capacity to move solid waste -- it doesn't have the gravitational push," Welday confirmed.

What the 1.6-gallon gallon toilet does do is conserve water. That's why the environmentally friendly law was put into place five years ago. Basically, the law says that builders must install 1.6-gallon toilets in all dwellings constructed after 1994.

Water conservationists and plumbers say that savings reflected on the water bill make low-flow toilets worthwhile. They also say technology has solved the problem, if the commode is installed correctly.

Ed Osann, a consultant for plumbing manufacturers, conservation groups, and water and wastewater utilities said low-flow toilets save water and billions of dollars in avoided-water-supply and wastewater-treatment systems.

In his 1998 report, "Saving Water, Saving Dollars," Osann cited a 15 percent savings in residential water use since 1994 because of low-flow toilets.

"And that translates into savings of $50 to $100 a year in homeowners' water bills," he said.

Welday said that damage from sediment left in metal pipes is a cost that shoul d be factored into the savings equation.

"Because the 1.6-gallon toilet doesn't have enough push, sediment collects in metal pipes and sewers," he said. "That hastens the corrosion problem and affects cost, especially in older homes."

Welday added that sediment-caused corrosion is "not as great a problem with plastic pipes."

Low-flow toilet supporters claim the correct application of a plunger is all that is required to hasten waste on its way, and warn that unregulated "rising toilet populations" would threaten water supply and treatment planning.

Bruce Case of Case Design/Remodeling Inc. of Bethesda, Md., said an occasional "extra" flush can do the trick.

"Our rule of thumb is that two out of 10 times, you're going to have to flush twice," Flara said. "From my perspective, the complaints are easing, but the toilets still are not as good (as 3.5-gpf units) so there still are complaints."

David Lee Flara, vice president of Metropolitan Bath & Tile, Hyattsville, Md., said education is the key.

"The conversation (with clients) can be uncomfortable," Flara said, "but we have to have this kind of discussion every time. The buyers don't understand that you just need to plunge them every now and then and that you can't put as much waste in."

Case pointed an accusatory plunger at thick toilet paper.

"The clogging problem is definitely going to be exacerbated by thick tissue," he said.

Commode manufacturers claim their porcelain product works much better now than 15 years ago. They cite changes in gravity-flush designs to increase the size of trapways and the surface area of water covering the bowl between flushes. They have adjusted the placement and size of jets of water in the bowl rims.

Recent designs boost the flush with pressurized water and vacuum pressure, creating a sound similar to airplane toilets.

Alan Shapiro, vice president of marketing for Winchester Homes, said the new toilets are much better. He said the National Association of Home Builders recently changed its stance on the issue from supporting the repeal bill to neutrality.

"The earlier low-flush toilets were terrible -- they almost had to come with a plunger," he said. "But the newer ones are much better."

"If, indeed, we felt that these products were not adequate ... we would bite the bullet to get back to the products that we thought were," added Peter DeMarco of American Standard Cos., the largest manufacturer of fixtures in the world. "But to turn back now (during a drought) would be just a sin.

According to DeMarco, 50 to 60 million toilets have been manufactured since 1994.

"We're making products today that people like and that do work," he said. "There are some products that don't siphon as well as others, but it's a very small fraction of 1 percent of the toilets made."

Welday said the decision of what kind of commode should go in America's new bathrooms should be made by the consumer, without government intervention. He did reserve the right of individual states to regulate toilet capacity.

"The federal government has usurped the right of the family to make a choice," Welday said. "This (1994 law) is a bad regulation."

Welday also said Knollenberg is not saying a 3.5-gallon toilet is better than its 1.6-gallon predecessor. The congressman merely wants Americans to have freedom of choice.

"Historically, the standard is 3.5 gallons because it works," he said, "but we're not endorsing anything. Let the marketplace decide, not the government."

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