No proof that unions help education of students.

In his essay in the Des Moines Regiser, T.J. Foley made at least two errors in the conclusions he drew from the statistics he used in his essay opposing changes in collective bargaining as it applies to teachers.  (See link below.)

First, assuming it is true that test scores are higher in schools with unionized teachers, he provided no evidence that the existence of unions is the cause of higher test scores.  It very well may be that unions are more often present in larger cities with higher incomes and larger schools, and that the higher scores are caused by those factors rather than the fact that a union is present.

Second, assuming it is true that the average teacher in Iowa earns 7% less than median household income in Iowa, that statistic is meaningless.   Teachers are individuals and many households have more than one earner.  Comparing individuals to households is simply not valid.

It is very difficult to say whether it would be better or worse for students if teachers lose some of their collective bargaining power.  T.J. Foley’s essay did not clarify that issue.

Link:  http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/abetteriowa/2017/02/09/dismantling-collective-bargaining-wont-help-todays-students/97698620/

 

Income inequality is not the problem.

Madeline Cano conflated income inequality with poverty in her recent letter  letter to the editor in the Des Moines Register.  (Hunger is symptom of income inequality. 10/15/2015)  Poverty is the problem, not income inequality.  Rich people earning even more does not make poor people earn less.   Cano did not actually advocate taking money from the wealthy and redistributing it to the poor.  She simply repeated the erroneous meme that income inequality is the problem.
Cano correctly identified that, “…Iowans are not earning sufficient incomes to support themselves and their families.”  Increasing the incomes of Iowans in a sustainable way to reduce hunger in Iowa should be a priority.  The best way to do that is through education, work experience, and opportunity, not through an increase in the minimum wage.
Raising the minimum wage definitely hurts most those who have no job and those who have the fewest skills.  It makes it more difficult for them to get a job and, at the same time, has a tendency to make things more expensive.
To the extent that we want taxpayers to subsidize low income earners, it is better done through the current  Earned Income Tax Credit, which targets benefits to those with real need, and excludes those with higher incomes or who are claimed as a dependent by others.

Anti-immigration feelings – some things never change

In 1862 California passed the, “Act to protect free white labor against competition with Chinese coolie labor, and to discourage the immigration of Chinese into the State of California.” Some things never change. Even though we are not that many generations away from our own ancestor immigrants, once we get settled, we don’t want others to come in and change things.

Immigrants are both producers and consumers. They are mostly honest and hard working people – looking for a better life for themselves and their families. We need to allow illegals some way to become legal. I don’t think there should be a pathway to citizenship, but there should be a pathway to legality. The path should require payment of a penalty, and immigrants should not have access to our taxpayer funded safety net until they become legal, but deportation is not the right answer.

Newspaper should be able to fire editor for expression of religious beliefs

The Des Moines Register reported today (7/24/2014) that, “An Iowa newspaper editor fired after publishing his views on homosexuals is claiming he was the victim of religious discrimination by his former employer.”  He has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Editors of newspapers should not be protected by laws against discrimination in employment based on religious belief.  Newspapers are privately owned businesses that typically express the opinions of their owners.  They benefit our society by their independent advocacy regarding public policy.   They should not be forced by government to employ editors who hold beliefs contrary to their own – especially political or public policy beliefs.  Owners of newspapers should be free to fire editors at will, unless they have entered into an employment contract to the contrary.  For government to force a newspaper to continue to employ an editor is wrong and is bad public policy.

Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2014/07/23/newspaper-editor-fired-gaystapo/13047733/

Hobby Lobby decision correct.

A Supreme Court ruling today (6/30/2014) upheld our fundamental right to use our own private property in accordance with our own moral beliefs.  The ruling gives priority to natural religious and private property rights over the politically created guarantee that private business owners will provide employees with a health insurance benefit that covers certain birth control pills.

The owners of Hobby Lobby objected to the Obama Care legal requirement that they provide their employees with an insurance benefit that covered morning after “abortion” pills.  The law was in direct conflict with their sincerely held, honest and peaceful religious beliefs.  Hobby Lobby has never used force or fraud to get people to either work for or patronize their business.

Governments are the only organizations that can legally use force against peaceful people.  We created our government to use force, if necessary, to protect our fundamental right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.  Government force should not be used to make peaceful people act against their own religious beliefs – no matter how good the cause or the intentions.

By the way, I am a peaceful, honest, pro-choice, atheist, libertarian.

Government regulation gone wild!

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is investigating the Johnston and Grimes fire departments, according to a report today, 9/23/2013, the Des Moines Register.  The DOL is looking for wage and hour violations.  The two cities share a fire chief, and some of each city’s full time firefighters also work for the other city’s fire department on a “paid on call” basis. The Register quoted the fire chief as saying, “It’s a common practice among firefighters in the Des Moines area to work paid on-call hours for another department to make more money.”  The DOL is looking into the possibility that these firefighters should be considered under labor laws as working for a single employer and get paid overtime for excess hours.

Unless the fire chief is somehow forcing the fire fighters to work the extra hours, which has not been suggested, then there should be no question about the legality of the situation and the DOL should butt out.  This is simply a case of Cities doing their best to share services and keep costs down for taxpayers, and giving firefighters the freedom to earn extra money.  Let’s hope the DOL doesn’t screw this up.

Right To Work – amendment proposal is bad.

Both current Iowa law and the proposed “right to work” amendment to the Iowa Constitution prohibit a private business owner from voluntarily agreeing to hire only union members.

In a free society that respects private property rights and freedom of association, business owners should be free to choose whether or not to bargain with anyone or group about any terms of employment.  Government should not get involved either for or against the employer or the employees except to stop either party from using force or fraud against the other.  If an employer wants to hire only union members and bargain with a single group, then government should not prohibit it.  In that case, individuals who don’t want to join the union can simply refuse to work for that employer.

Just as an employer should be free to agree to hire only people who are members of a union, an employer should also be free to not bargain with any individual or group, including unions, regardless of what employees or union members might vote for.  Unless the parties agree by voluntary contract to the contrary, employees should be free to strike, quit, protest, organize boycotts, etc., and employers should be free to fire, lock-out, hire replacements, etc. – as long as neither party uses force.

The whole issue of whether “union certification votes” should be by secret ballot or by a written card check method should not exist.  There should be no law to force employers to bargain with unions, even if 100% of the employees vote for it.  All employment relationships and contracts should be entered into voluntarily by both parties.  The only proper role for government in private business relationships is to stop the use force or fraud against, and to resolve disputes.

In the special case of government as the employer, there should be no requirement that employees join a union, and there should be no requirement that a government bargain with any union.  Government is paid for by all taxpayers under threat of force.  Therefore, government, as an employer, should not discriminate in its employment practices except on the basis of job requirements or job performance.

The proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution should die, and current Iowa law should be changed to reflect the voluntary nature of any employment relationship.