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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Unclear on the Concept

I reluctantly subscribe to the NYT. The reason I do so is so that I don't confine myself to information sources that flatter my world view.

The reason I am reluctant is that it seems, particularly lately, that the NYT either cannot comprehend constitutional government, or it can and is actively hostile to the entire enterprise.

A case the Supreme Court will hear on Monday morning threatens to undermine a four-decade-old ruling that upheld a key source of funding for public-sector unions, the last major bastion of unionized workers in America.

In the 1977 decision Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the justices ruled that public unions may charge all employees — members and nonmembers alike — for the costs of collective bargaining related to their employment. For nonmembers, these are known as “fair-share fees.” But nonmembers may not be compelled to pay for the union’s political or ideological activities.

There are many problems with that second paragraph, from the concept that the government may compel individuals to support private organizations, to what should be, but aren't in this case, scare quotes around "fair share". According to whom?

That's bad enough, but par for an Op-Ed section so at war with evidence and reason, not surprising.

It gets worse.

The Abood ruling was a sensible compromise between the state’s interest in labor peace and productivity and the individual worker’s interest in his or her freedom of speech and association.

No, NYT. Wrong, wrong, a thousand times wrong. Let me help:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech …

Just as with Citizens United, which part of "no" do you not get?


Barry Meislin said...

Oh they get it, alright.

They've just gone tribal---along with their master--and the hell with honesty.

And decency.

And truth.

And the country.

File under: My Ideology, right or wrong!!

Susan's Husband said...

Yes, I was just in a discussion on Facebook about Obama's executive orders and the other person openly admitted that Obama is permitted to abuse executive orders but a Republican President would not be. I predict[1] if the GOP wins the Presidency in 2016, starting in Jan 2017 the New York Times will freak out over abuse of executive privilege even though those actions are directly following precedents set by Obama to the cheering of the New York Times.

Harry Eagar said...

Libertarianism in a nutshell: I ride free. You do the work.

Howard said...

Libertarianism in a nutshell: I ride free. You do the work.


“Libertarianism is, as the name implies, the belief in liberty. Libertarians believe that each person owns his own life and property and has the right to make his own choices as to how he lives his life and uses his property – as long as he simply respects the equal right of others to do the same.” –

Susan's Husband said...

" I ride free. You do the work" - that's the motto of progressives and the Democratic Party. It's Bernie Sanders entire platform, basically. "We" will take money "them" and give it to "you".

Harry Eagar said...

What libertarians say and what they do are not the same. See Bundy

Harry Eagar said...

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] Libertarianism in a nutshell: I ride free. You do the work.

Harry in a nutshell: At the airport, waiting for his ship to sail.

You have missed the point entirely, so let me help. The US is a constitutional republic with a contract that limits the powers of government.

One of those limits is that the government may not pass any laws limiting the freedom of speech. Of course, it is no doubt possible that at times, on occasion, limits on free speech might produce better results. However, in the general sense, the axiomatic argument is that limiting free speech produces worse results, and that the impossibility of deciding at the margin means that all limits will ultimately prove self destructive.

It is possible that, in the case of public service unions, that stopping the state from compelling speech, might produce worse results. But that leaves you with two problems: demonstrating that truth, and amending the contract.

Neither of which progressives have done. Therefore, the only correct decision is that compelled speech is strictly prohibited.

You face multiple problems. In states where speech is not compelled, public service employees have not been driven to the wall. And public service employee unions have a frightening track record of driving taxpayers to the wall (e.g., CALPERS, Illinois, et al.)

That aside, this editorial, and your response, prove that you and the NYT are avowed enemies of constitutionally limited government.

(Which the response to Citizens United also proved, in addition to lavishly demonstrating that progressives either can't, or won't, read.)

Harry Eagar said...

You do not understand agency fees. And where in the Constitution does it say a manager can appropriate the assets of te owners to multiply his voice?

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] You do not understand agency fees.

The heck I don't, Harry; I'm in a union, remember?

I pay agency fees. I am free not to do so. And if the union had gotten just a little more stupid in some of its bargaining positions in our recent contract negotiations, I would have stopped. (Pro-tip to the mathematically inclined: if you greatly increase the salary level upon which the defined benefit pension plan is predicated, two things will happen: some guys will get a great deal of money for free, and the hourly compensation for everyone will go down. Why should I be compelled to fund a bargaining position (speech, to the slow learners in the group) that will cost me no small amount of money?

Fortunately, that particular demand was so stupid, so innumerate, that even the union finally figured it out.

And where in the Constitution does it say a manager can appropriate the assets of the owners to multiply his voice?

You do not understand the constitution. In fact, your ignorance of it is so profound -- as evidenced by asking this ridiculous question -- that I'm astounded you can ping anyone for their historical ignorance (where ignorance is defined, by you, as failing to know useless, irrelevant and recondite history).

Let me help you out here, although I am repeating myself: the US constitution delimits governmental power; the First Amendment clearly states how much power the government may bring to bear on prohibiting, or compelling, speech.

This is a perfect example of being compelled to support speech.

What I do understand is that you are an enemy of limited government.

Harry Eagar said...

Adam Liptak gets it:

Hey Skipper said...

Liptak certainly seems to get it in ways that the NYT, the union's lawyers do not.

But they contend that all of a public union’s activities are political and that being made to support them is compelled speech that violates the First Amendment.

Accepting that argument, the professors’ brief warned, would further tilt the political playing field in favor of corporate power.

“If this court chooses to grant additional First Amendment rights to union nonmembers,” the brief said, “it will only further increase the extent to which they enjoy greater rights than do corporate shareholders.”

Let's assume the consequent is true; their incomprehension is still glaring. How can the phrase "grant additional 1A rights" be anything other than facially wrong? There is no such thing as "additional 1A rights", because no limits are permitted in the first place. It is a mystery to me how the lawyers can utter that without being immediately shown the door.

There are important differences, of course, between making an investment and holding a job.

For starters, it is much easier to sell stock than to change employers. But lots of people, and certainly those who follow conventional advice about how to invest prudently, keep their retirement savings in diversified holdings like mutual funds.

There is another important distinction between the teachers who brought the new case and investors in companies. The First Amendment is a limit on government power, and it does not directly affect private agreements, whether between companies and shareholders or between private employers and their workers.

Exactly. Although he fails to note that in many states, pursuing some occupations (teacher, for instance), the government compels speech for an ostensibly private entity (the union) as the price of a government job.

In a 2012 article in The Columbia Law Review, Professor Sachs suggested a congressional fix to restore symmetry to what he called “political opt-out rights.”

“The firm would be required, as unions are, to determine what percentage of its overall annual expenditures are political ones,” he wrote. “Each objecting shareholder would then be entitled to an annual dividend equal to their pro rata share of these political expenditures.”

I see problems with that -- not all stocks pay dividends, for instance. But let's ignore whatever problems there might be and play with some numbers.

At the moment, GE has 10.1B shares of stock outstanding. It appears that GE had $20M in political spending last year.

That amounts to ... 2^-3 cents per share ($0.00002), if my cranial math is correct.

Which makes this:

But lots of people, and certainly those who follow conventional advice about how to invest prudently, keep their retirement savings in diversified holdings like mutual funds.

True, but trivially so. You'd have to own $28,000 of GE stock to get even two cents.

Why is it progressives won't do math?

Harry Eagar said...

You are looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

Hey Skipper said...

You are looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

Wow, and people think the vacuum of interstellar space is empty.

I trust you have a point. So why not make it?

Harry Eagar said...

You know programming, I think, so no doubt you recall the early days of financial data processing when the limit on memory caused many accounts to end in fractional cents. A programmer in (as I recall) San Francisco diverted all those fractions to his own account.

Hey, no harm no foul, right?

When he was found out his account held at least hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Skipper will be surprised to learn that nobody thought that was OK.

Hey Skipper said...

... so no doubt you recall the early days of financial data processing when the limit on memory caused many accounts to end in fractional cents.

Actually, I don't recall. Particularly since memory limits could not possibly result in fractional cents (pro-tip: it takes more memory for a result to contain a fraction of a cent then a whole cent.)

What I do remember is that working in single precision floating point decimal numbers would, at times, challenge memory limits. (I couldn't help but wonder why they didn't work with integers -- $1.05 = 105 cents, after all.)

And without any kind of link to any reference, I'm strongly tempted to find your tale, at best, apocryphal.

But never mind that. It isn't that $0.00002 per share is right simply because it is a small number, the point is that Prof Sachs couldn't be bothered to do a little bit of obvious math. Nor can you suss the difference between people willingly buying stock, knowing that the company's profit is reduced by $0.00002 per share, and the same amount of money being stolen from them.

I don't know what it is with progs and moral equivalency. You'd think that after having beclowned yourselves so many times you'd learn to stop. (Nor can you apparently suss that spending $0.00002 per share might have actually increased profits far more than that. Nor can you suss that excessive government intrusion into the economy requires defensive spending.)

But all of that is SQUIRREL!

The NYT is an enemy of the constitution. So, apparently, are you.

erp said...

Skipper, I remember it a little differently, so I checked with the CPA. He can't remember the details but it involved rounding down and skimming off the difference.

Arithmetic is hard because it can't be bent to fit the narrative.

Hey Skipper said...

erp -- thanks for refreshing my memory.

You are right about arithmetic being difficult. And while we are on the subject of difficult, let's add to that list argument from analogy. Unless done very carefully, the analogy does not clarify; worse, if the analogy is inappropriate, then it perverts the argument.

That is what Harry has done. The analogy is inappropriate, because it is not analogous with the situation. So, while it appears to raise a valid point, thereby raising a problem of symmetry. However, because it is not analogous, instead it serves instead not just to obscure the argument, but turn it on its head.

Whether that was due to uncritical ideological acceptance, yet another example of progressive analytical ineptitude, intentional, or some other reason, only Harry can say.

I'll bet he won't.

erp said...

Skipper, after, I think, seven decades of head bobbling to lefty thinking, I doubt Harry has lost any innate ability for logical thought he may have had a birth.

erp said...

SORRY ... correction.

Should read I don't doubt.

My fingers have certainly lost their ability to do what they're told to do.

Harry Eagar said...

Actually, of course, it is exactly analogous, and in line with erp's repeated inane question about where the capitalists got their bags of gold. Surely not the peasants who didn't have any gold.

Well, that's the thing about money. It's fungible. You can acquire a lot of it by stealing a big lump from one person or by stealing lots of little lumps from many people.

If an investor wishes to put money into GE (an example I chose for historical reasons that you are probably too young to recall yourself, but the detail is unimportant) because he likes GE's political activity, that is one thing, but that is not what investors do. Not on the scale of GE.

If you want to work out a really, really tiny fraction, I invite you to compute the proportion of the public share economy invested in Citizens United. I doubt you have enough zeroes.

You are looking through the wrong end of the telescope, just as you did on voting.

erp said...

Harry, again a non-sequitur of yumongous proportions.


Nice try. Your statement about which I requested clarification was about Protestants and the source of their bags of gold.

Come on. Stop stalling. WHERE DID THEY GET IT?

Harry Eagar said...

Asked and answered.

Where did Louis XIV get the gilding for his lilies?

Harry Eagar said...

Asked and answered.

Where did Louis XIV get the gilding for his lilies?

erp said...

I have no idea and what does it have to do with the question at hand, namely, where Protestants got their pot(s) of gold?

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] Asked and answered.

Where did Louis XIV get the gilding for his lilies?

I suspect a wrong thread problem, but never mind.

Louis XIV's religion was?

erp said...

I apologize if I was on the wrong thread. Apparently Harry was just whistling past the graveyard, so this question will be added to the archives of Harry's of unanswered questions and incoherencies.

Hey Skipper said...

[harry:] Actually, of course, it is exactly analogous …

Another addition to Harry's Big Bag o' Bollocks.

Here is how it isn't analogous, the person snipping pennies is stealing, which means he accomplished his goal only through secrecy. His stealing invariably made a great many people a little poorer. He had to steal because no one would have voluntarily given him even a tiny amount of money.

In contrast, GE can't be stealing, since the amount of money they are spending on political activities is out there for everyone to see. The goal of GE's political spending is to benefit shareholders, who will be, in general better off. GE doesn't have to steal because people voluntarily give GE their money.

Clearly, you need to spend some time with a dictionary. "Exactly" doesn't mean what you think it does.

Hey Skipper said...

If an investor wishes to put money into GE … because he likes GE's political activity, that is one thing, but that is not what investors do. Not on the scale of GE.

That is point missing on a truly epic scale. People in many states are compelled to pay for public employee unions, which, by definition, means they are compelled to support the political goals of those unions.

No one is compelled to buy GE stock, which means they are free to avoid GE stock if GE is pursuing goals they find objectionable.

If you need help discerning the difference, read this, from SCOTUSblog.

Since I know you won't here is a couple nut grafs:

The road to Friedrichs began with Abood itself. There, Justice Lewis Powell, joined by Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justice Harry Blackmun, sharply criticized the majority opinion on the ground that “the public-sector union is indistinguishable from the traditional political party in this country,” because “[t]he ultimate objective of a union in the public sector, like that of a political party, is to influence public decision making in accordance with the views and perceived interests of its membership.” Moreover, then-Justice William Rehnquist, concurring with the majority only because he had dissented in the case striking down political patronage, was “unable to see a constitutional distinction between a governmentally imposed requirement that a public employee be a Democrat or Republican or else lose his job, and a similar requirement that a public employee contribute to the collective-bargaining expenses of a labor union.

Ironically, public-sector unions may themselves have done the most to undermine Abood’s dichotomy. Since Abood was decided in 1977, unions have amply demonstrated that their bargaining with government profoundly, and often adversely, affects public policy. This includes a significant impact on the public fisc, as public employees’ wages and benefits are a sizable percentage of public budgets, particularly at the local level. Public-sector collective bargaining has also had a significant effect on non-economic public policies. For example, union bargaining with public school districts often determines educational policies on matters of public concern such as class size, teacher tenure and discipline, and merit pay. For the respondents in Friedrichs to argue that union collective bargaining with government is merely an internal matter with no political component, and of no public concern, would be to ask the Court to deny the obvious.

Hey Skipper said...

If you want to work out a really, really tiny fraction, I invite you to compute the proportion of the public share economy invested in Citizens United. I doubt you have enough zeroes.

For those of who aren't enemies of the constitution, the 1A is absolutely antagonistic to limits on political speech. For everyone else, progressives, their distortion of the SCOTUS decision can only be the consequence of stupidity, willful ignorance or outright lying.

The computation you propose puts you in one of those piles. Which?

erp said...

I see no reason why it can't be all three -- none are mutually exclusive, but in Harry's case, I pick willful ignorance because he's obviously not stupid and I don't think he's deliberately lying.

I think, like Bernie Sanders, he's a true believer in the Noble Experiment, has done so all his life and cannot see that he and the rest of his cohort are responsible for the destruction and misery it's has caused across the globe for last 100 years and counting.

Harry Eagar said...

The 1st Amendment is also antagonistic to restrictions on assembly. I wish the Supreme Court would read that part.

Hey Skipper said...

Perhaps a valid point for another time. But on this subject, SQUIRREL!

The computation you propose puts you in one of those piles. Which?

Susan's Husband said...

Skipper, as I have noted in the past, Mr. Eagar appears to simply not grasp the concept of "consent". This exchange is a classic example.

Mr. Eagar, you might checkout the concept of "socially conscious funds"[1] which are a free market response to Skipper's point about GE stock.


Harry Eagar said...

It is not so easy to invest in a socially conscious way, since social responsibility is not a part of the corporate governance of the firms that represent about 99% of the value of publicly traded firms.


Hey Skipper said...


So what? This isn't about social responsibility, or lack thereof; this is about compelled speech and the silly notion that the 1A must compromise with collectivists.

Which part of "no" do you not get?

Hey Skipper said...

This is the kind of political speech people are compelled to support in California:

In California, unions are working on an initiative that would make Governor Jerry Brown’s temporary 2012 tax increases, passed via Proposition 30 and set to expire in 2018, permanent. About half the annual $6 billion from the Prop. 30 increase was supposed to go to school districts for more classroom spending, but the state’s teacher-pension fund has sharply increased required contributions from local districts. As those higher costs phase in, they’re consuming most of the Prop. 30 education money—one reason that the unions want the taxes to become permanent. Recently, a panel convened by Los Angeles schools superintendent Ramon Cortines claimed that the district could face bankruptcy once the Prop. 30 taxes expire, due to rising pension and health costs and shrinking enrollment.

The teachers' union is engaged in a campaign against taxpayers, which its members must support.

What could possibly go wrong?

Harry Eagar said...

How is paying workers a campaign against anything?

Hey Skipper said...

Gee, I dunno Harry, how about putting unions and politicians on the same side, and racking up huge pension debt. It's a campaign against taxpayers. Remember that group the CA AG isn't defending?

Harry Eagar said...

How about huge pension debt at GM that the capitalists thought they shouldn't have to pay?

What's wrong with paying workers? Aside from how it eats up profit margins, I mean?

They should work for peanuts.

Hey Skipper said...

What about any of those things allow unions to conspire with government to compel speech and association?

Oh, right. You are moving the goalposts again.

(BMW's most efficient factory is in South Carolina. What does BMW pay its assembly workers? Why isn't it less? GM had a contract with the UAW that would have put the UAW in prison for collusion had it been a company. Among other "features", it required GM to pay furloughed workers 90% of their salary. Discuss the role of the UAW in GM's financial difficulties. Oh, wait, you won't, because when faced with complications to your marxist world view, you shout SQUIRREL and skuttle off. And what do any of those things have to do with the government compelling speech and association?)