Mike Kueber's Blog

April 8, 2015

John Saunders is rooting for the home team

Filed under: Culture,Media,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 9:41 pm
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This week on The Sports Reporters, John Saunders’s “Parting Shot” consisted of his lament that there were no black coaches in the Final Four and only one in the Sweet Sixteen. According to Saunders, this development is not a mere aberration. Rather, it is a reflection of a disturbing trend in college basketball – i.e., the return of racial discrimination. How else would you explain that during the last decade, the percentage of black coaches decreased from 25% to 22%? (Maybe the fact that blacks comprise on 13% of America has something to do with that.) How else would you explain that twelve black coaches had been fired this year alone? (Maybe they didn’t win enough games.)

I don’t begrudge a black man for rooting for black coaches. I was rooting for Wisconsin because it started four white guys while the other three teams had none, and I wanted the Wisconsin players to show that white men could play winning basketball. I considered the Wisconsin players to be underdogs, and I suppose Saunders continues to think of black coaches as underdogs, too, even though they have had and continue to have plenty of opportunity to prove their merit.

If I were famous, however, I suspect that my rooting for the white team would be challenged by many as racist, whereas Saunders’s statement sailed by without any concern.

Of course, Saunders has a history of this. A few months ago, he was euphoric over a Chicago little-league team, Jackie Robinson West, winning a national championship because it was all-black. Again, this is rooting for the underdog. Unfortunately, the team was stripped of the title a few months later because of illegal recruiting.

No one will accuse Saunders of being politically correct, but, of course, he is.

April 4, 2015

Diversity in the Final Four

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:00 pm
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A couple of days ago, USA Today published an article captioned, “Wisconsin doesn’t hide from ‘white guys’ reputation.”  In the article, the writer attempted to explain why the Wisconsin basketball team has four white starters while the other three Final Four teams have none. The suggested explanations:

  1. The system
  2. The demographics of Wisconsin
  3. The university

Of these, only the first makes any sense. There are a plethora of examples that reveal that the composition of a nationally competitive sports team has minimal connection with the demographics of a state or the university.  But the system at Wisconsin is considered to be a slow-down game with a heavy emphasis on fundamentals, and white basketball players seems to be more successful is that system as opposed to up-tempo playground basketball.

Regardless of the reason Wisconsin has four white starters, I think it is just as interesting that the other three Final Four are non-diverse in the other direction – i.e., all black starters – and I made the following comment on my Facebook account:

  • According to USA Today, the starters on the basketball teams in tonight’s Final Four are among the least diverse in all of major-college basketball. Good thing for these teams that they were selected on the basis of merit instead of political correctness. Contrary to current propaganda, I suspect that diversity creates challenges that these teams have decided to avoid.

As part of the progressive propaganda, Americans are continually bombarded with messages explaining that diversity makes businesses and organizations more effective because of the varying viewpoints and perspectives. While there is something to be said for that position, I’ve always suspected that it was driven by political correctness instead of hard analysis of the countervailing friction that is caused by diversity.

Increasing diversity is inevitable and, therefore, something that we all need to learn to manage, but let’s not lie about it.

 

December 13, 2012

More on right-to-work

Filed under: Economics,Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:44 am
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Yesterday, Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state, and already the pro-union people are working toward its reversal.  One of the first priorities for any advocate is to find a winning slogan.  As the pro-abortion people will tell you, an ugly slogan is a movement killer; it is much better to be “pro-choice” or even better “pro-reproductive rights.”  The problem that the pro-union people have is that the following three terms have been used for decades and are hard-wired into our language:

  1. A closed shop means the employer must hire union members only, and employees must remain members of the union at all times in order to remain employed.
  2. A union shop means the employer may hire either union members or nonmembers, but all non-union employees must become union members within a specified period of time (or at least pay union dues) or lose their jobs.
  3. Right-to-work means the employer must hire employees regardless of whether they belong to a union (or pay union dues).

Closed shops were outlawed by the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, but union shops are authorized unless a state has a right-to-work law.    

I haven’t read of any inspirational replacements for “union shop,” so for now the pro-union forces, including the media, are focused on destroying the already inspirational term, right-to-work.  The following is in Time magazine this week:   

  • The term “right to work,” coined by foes of union influence, is somewhat misleading. It has little to do with whether workers are eligible for employment. Instead, it restricts unions’ ability to require employees to pay union dues if they work for a unionized employer.

And the following is in this week’s Washington Post column by Harold Myerson:

  • That figure may shrink a little more with new “right to work” laws in Michigan — the propagandistic term for statutes that allow workers to benefit from union contracts without having to pay union dues.

Myerson goes on to make an incredible assertion that, although global competition is putting a damper on wages, America would better off if employees in jobs that are insulated from global competition were empowered to extract larger wage concessions from their employers:

  • Yes, globalizing and mechanizing jobs has cut into the livelihoods of millions of U.S. workers, but that is far from the whole story. Roughly 100 million of the nation’s 143 million employed workers have jobs that can’t be shipped abroad, that aren’t in competition with steel workers in Sao Paolo or iPod assemblers in Shenzhen.”

Jobs may not be shipped abroad, but they can be shipped to the 24 right-to-work states.  Myerson attempts to refute this fact by making the following misleading argument in his column:

  • Defenders of right-to-work laws argue that they improve a state’s economy by creating more jobs. But an exhaustive study by economist Lonnie K. Stevans of Hofstra University found that states that have enacted such laws reported no increase in business start-ups or rates of employment.”

Only a careful reading of this argument reveals that the first sentence refers to job creation while the second sentence is almost a non sequitur that refers to business start-ups and rates of employment.   

I suspect that Time magazine and the Washington Post are only beginning.  Just like what happened in Wisconsin, I expect the pro-union people in Michigan to join forces with the liberals in the media to launch a vicious, long-term assault on right-to-work laws.  Let’s hope the voters of Michigan are as smart as those in Wisconsin.  But if they aren’t, they will have themselves to blame for the continued economic decline of their state.

June 6, 2012

Walker wins in Wisconsin

Filed under: Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:13 pm
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column in today’s Washington Post by liberal pundit E.J. Dionne provided three fascinating insights into Walker’s wonderful win in Wisconsin:

  1. Gender Gap.  According to Dionne, “Republicans can survive a rather big gender gap as long as they win men overwhelmingly.”  This insight is based on the fact that Walker won men 59% to 40% while losing women 52% to 47%.  I recently blogged about being grateful that the media had finally quit harping about Republicans needing to do better with women while ignoring the need for Democrats to do better with men.  Well, apparently I spoke too soon.  Dionne continues to see the gender gap as a Republican, not Democratic issue to deal with.  As a partisan, I should be happy when opponents refuse to see the error of their ways.
  2. Money matters.   Did I say “three fascinating insights”?  I should have said two.  Dionne’s conclusion that money matters goes without saying.
  3. Democrats need the support of moderates to win.  Dionne bases this insight on the fact that Wisconsin voters are 21% liberal, 36% conservative, and 44% moderate.  I agree completely with this insight.  The problem for Dionne, however, is that moderates will tend to split their vote.  Thus, for Democrats to be consistently viable, they will need to revise their policies to expand their base. 

Personally, I am very satisfied with the Walker victory.  Earlier anti-Walker bias in the media suggested that there was little difference between how Greeks and Americans deal with austerity measures.  But as one of Walker’s exultant supporters declared last night, “This is how democracy works in America.”  Amen.

February 22, 2011

Money in politics in Wisconsin

A Koch Industries lobbyist in Wisconsin has described the state’s current brouhaha as, “a dispute between public-sector unions and democratically elected officials over how best to serve the public interest.”  I agree, but a lot of liberal pundits don’t.  They see this as an assault by conservative outside interests, including a public-interest group called Americans for Prosperity, to kill public-employee unions countrywide.

According to an article in the NYTimes, Americans for Prosperity is heavily funded by the secretive conservative owners of Kansas-based Koch Industries, David and Charles Koch, although the association has 70,000 other contributors.    Koch Industries also was one of the biggest contributors to the campaign of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

The growing prominence of conservative public-interest groups is well documented.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, seven of the top ten spenders in the most recent election were conservative and only three were liberal.  Ironically, all three of the liberal groups were public-employee unions – Service Employees International Union ($16), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees ($13m), and National Education Association ($9m).  However, Americans for Prosperity did not make the top ten, even though the Times article indicated the group had spent $40 million in 2010.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the seven biggest-spending conservative groups were the US Chamber of Commerce ($33m), American Action Network ($26m), American Crossroads ($21m), Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies ($17m), American Future Fund ($10), Americans for Job Security ($9m), and Club for Growth ($8m).

Most pundits correctly blame the U.S. Supreme Court for this monetary deluge.  In 2010, the Court in Citizens United v. FEC held that the McCain-Feingold law limiting “electioneering communications” by associations, unions or corporations was an unconstitutional infringement of free speech. 

Liberals are incensed about the 5-4 holding because so much of the new money deluge is coming from associations of conservatives like the Koch brothers.  Citizens United will probably become for liberals what Roe v. Wade is for conservatives – i.e., something of a litmus test for all Supreme Court nominees – with hopes of an eventual reversal. 

When I campaigned for Congress, I was asked about Citizens United and I indicated that I supported it.  It makes perfect sense that political speech by rich people should be constitutionally protected, so why make a distinction for corporations.  As George Will suggested decades ago – don’t limit the speech, just require full disclosure of who is paying for the speech.  Then let the voters decide. 

I realize that many think my view is impractical and Pollyannaish – that American voters aren’t capable of avoiding manipulation by slick marketing – but I believe we can rise to the occasion.

February 18, 2011

Unions and public employees

Union membership in America has been declining for decades, especially in the private sector.  Currently only 7.3 percent of all private-sector employees are union members, while 37.6 percent of all government workers are unionized.  Fifty-one percent of all union members are government workers.

Perhaps the most significant unionizing event in my lifetime occurred in 1981, when the air-traffic controllers went on illegal strike against the federal government to secure higher wages and a 32-hour workweek.  Reagan fired the strikers and successfully replaced them.

Public-employee unions are in the news again because many state governments on the verge of bankruptcy are trying to trim their employees’ generous pensions and health benefits.  Most of the news is coming from Republican-dominated states, but even Democratic governors in New York and California are looking at similar cuts.

The state that is receiving the most attention is Wisconsin because its governor is seeking not only a reduction in health benefits, but also the elimination of collective bargaining.    I don’t think collective bargaining is appropriate for public employees.  They are not working for a private employer who might be motivated to take advantage of unequal bargaining leverage.  Rather they are working for the public. 

The danger with public-employee unions engaged in collective bargaining is that they will obtain excessive influence over elected officials through robust election activities – not just votings, but also electioneering and, most dangerous, campaign contributions.  San Antonio fell victim to this danger during Henry Cisneros’s reign, when he and his Council gave generous pension and health benefits to the union-represented police and fire employees.  That generosity did significant damage to San Antonio’s fiscal strength, but we have recovered, and our current Council is not so profligate.

Unfortunately, there is no structural protection against governmental profligacy.  Our only protection is to elect representatives who will stand up for the voters best interests.  Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Jersey voters seem to have done that.  They elected their governors on a platform of reining in profligate spending on public-employee benefits, and they are doing what they were elected to do.   

As should have been expected, President Obama has come down forcefully on the side of the union.  His entire political career has him on the side of unions, especially public-employee unions.  This is a no-brainer for him – instead of cutting benefits, he would raise taxes.  All while he preaches productivity and competitiveness.