Monday, February 17, 2014

Cruising the Web

The loss that the UAW suffered in its effort to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga is a big deal.
The United Auto Workers Union suffered a devastating defeat on Friday, when its attempt to organize the workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga failed on a vote of 712-626 (53-47 percent). The company had agreed not to resist the organizing effort and gave the union access to the plant and its workers. If the union couldn’t win an election under those conditions, it is a powerful sign of how weak, indeed toxic, unions have become in recent years. If the UAW couldn’t win this election, it seems doubtful it can win any election.
If the UAW can't win with the company itself giving them access to employees to campaign and denying similar privileges to opponents, it is going to be difficult for the UAW to unionize any of the auto manufacturers in the South. They spent years trying to win this vote, but ultimately, they couldn't convince a majority of the employees that the union will do more for them than not being unionized. But union opponents shouldn't get cocky. As the WSJ writes,
Don't believe those who say this means the end of the UAW. It has too many friends in high political places, as the 2009 auto bailouts proved. Federal law is also stacked in favor of unions, and President Obama's NLRB is routinely stretching and breaking the law to make it even more so.

But the fact that unions must rely on brute government force shows how out of touch they are with modern economic reality. American manufacturing is making a modest comeback with the help of rising labor costs in China and the American energy revolution. But it could stage an even bigger revival without the threat that unions could once again make American production uncompetitive. The last thing the U.S. economy needs is to import European labor practices. In Chattanooga, and not for the first time, the workers are smarter than management.
Speaking of union losses, Willie Brown marvels at how toxic the support of public-employee unions was to the candidate they supported in last week's San Diego mayoral race.
It might be time for the public-employee unions to go on a retreat and rethink both their tactics and their goals. The politicians they're backing aren't exactly winning points by running on platforms of allowing transit strikes and maintaining the status quo on public pensions.

If labor's candidates can lose in heavily Democratic Los Angeles and in San Diego, they can lose here [San Francisco], too.

It's pretty bad when analysts have to figure out which week was the worst ever for Obamacare.

What's the use of having a presidential library if the former president's friends are going to have a say over which researchers will have access to the president's papers? The Clinton library is keeping tight control over the papers there restricting a lot of the material regarding his time as governor of Arkansas to researchers.

Obamacare advocates are more and more desperate in trying to convince people to enroll. Now they're using kittens and cuddly bears to try to get people to sign up. How is that going to convince anyone of anything except that the government doesn't think very much of their abilities to make reasoned decisions about their own health care needs.

Mayor de Blasio of New York City is waging war on his city's children as he does all he can to try to shut down charter schools. These are same schools which have been having greater success in educating students than regular public schools.
Mr. de Blasio plans to redress this inequity by handicapping charters. His Department of Education has already zeroed out $210 million in funding from its 2015-2019 capital budget for charter construction. The new mayor has also announced a moratorium on co-locations, a policy that allows charters to share facilities with district schools and provides for a more efficient use of space. Twenty-five co-locations approved last year under Mr. Bloomberg may be in jeopardy.

Mr. de Blasio explains that kids in district schools may feel like they're getting an inferior education if a charter moves in next door and renovates. Charters are public schools that also raise private money, and state law requires the city to match the private funds on district schools that charters spend on upgrades to prevent a disparity. So by killing co-location Mr. de Blasio can also spend less on district schools.

Mr. de Blasio also intends to punish well-endowed co-located charters like Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy schools by charging rent, which the city's Independent Budget Office says could raise $92 million. Manhattan Institute senior fellow Stephen Eide in a new study finds that a flat rent of $2,400 per student, as recommended by the Independent Budget Office, would have resulted in 71% of charters running deficits and potentially 577 teacher layoffs in 2011.

Even more destructive is the mayor's proposal to base rents on ability to pay. A progressive rent would be a de facto tax on success. High-performing charters raising the most private donations would have to pay the most, which would discourage philanthropy and mean less money for teaching. This is from the same crowd that claims we spend too little on education.
He also wants to return to the classroom teachers who have received disciplinary notices for drugs and sexual misconduct or who have been evaluated as unsatisfactory for five successive years. This is what it looks like when a politician is so indebted to the teachers' unions that he will do anything to facilitate their agenda regardless of the effects on his constituents' children. Sadly, Willie Brown's prediction of the toxicity of public-employee union support did not have a similar effect on de Blasio's candidacy. Eve Moskowitz, who is the most prominent champion of charter schools, is fighting back.
"A progressive Democrat should be embracing charters, not rejecting them," she says. "It's just wacky."

As she reminds every audience, the 6,700 students at her 22 Success Academy Charter Schools are overwhelmingly from poor, minority families and scored in the top 1% in math and top 7% in English on the most recent state test. Four in five charters in the city outperformed comparable schools.
Those are results that the teacher unions just can't tolerate. Half the children in Harlem today attend charters. Sadly, the mayor is targeting those children in his efforts to pay back the unions for getting him elected.

David Gelernter has some fun ridiculing the unending efforts to expand diversity, whatever they define that as, in the country's universities.
The good thing about the “diversity” problem is that you can obsess over it forever with no risk of solving it, because it is insoluble—based as it is on a wholly implausible lie. The diversity kingpins aim for group representation in all academic fields based on a group’s numbers in the student population, and in America (eventually the world) at large. But why would anyone suspect that both sexes and all races and nationalities have approximately the same skills at everything? And the same interests in everything? And the same physical qualifications for everything? Doesn’t diversity imply (for lack of a better term) diversity?

No!—and that’s the best thing about the diversity crusade. It is actually an anti-diversity crusade, waged by people who detest diversity. Its goal is to suppress diversity of every sort. Yale women must behave just like Yale men: must major in the same things at the same rates, go out for sports in the same numbers, get the same jobs, make the same money, care to the same extent in the same way about children, family, money, power, sex, and everything else. So why are there “Women’s Studies” departments? Because (dammit!) women and men are totally different! So why is there a diversity campaign? Because women and men are exactly the same!
President Obama might have declared all debate over man-caused climate change over, but he should go back to climate change school instead of blaming the drought in California on climate change. Many researchers, including those who support man-caused climate change, have found no connection between global warming and droughts.
Obama and Holdren would also do well to check out the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for 2012, which said this about the global drought situation: “There is not enough evidence at present to suggest high confidence in observed trends in dryness due to lack of direct observations, some geographical inconsistencies in the trends, and some dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice. There is medium confidence that since the 1950s some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts (e.g., southern Europe, west Africa) but also opposite trends exist in other regions (e.g., central North America, northwestern Australia).”

As for California, Obama and Holdren should read the Jan. 25 edition of the San Jose Mercury News, which reported the conclusions of scientists studying droughts in the Golden State: “Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years -- compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe mega-droughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years.”
The WSJ explains the real reason why the Obama administration issued its extension of the employer mandate for some employers.
If Mr. Obama really wanted to help alleviate labor market uncertainty, then he'd ask Congress to repeal the mandate permanently. No business is going to take the long-term risk of hiring and staffing decisions based on a temporary mandate holiday declared through unilateral administrative discretion.

And had Mr. Obama wanted to avoid a mass wave of small-business insurance cancellations ahead of the elections like the wave we saw last fall among individuals, then he would have relaxed the mandates for the costly gold-plated "essential benefits" that all plans will have to cover. That would have reduced the cost of small-business coverage. Instead it seems the President merely wants the political alibi of claiming to exempt some businesses so he can shift the blame to the insurers when the cancellations begin.

These two roads-not-taken suggest the real goal of the mandate delays is to funnel as many more people as possible into the new ObamaCare insurance exchanges. The President's delays create less job-based coverage and therefore more Americans who must join ObamaCare if they want insurance. The ObamaCare exchanges are unlikely to survive financially unless enough healthy, low-cost young people buy overpriced policies to subsidize everybody else....Insurance companies also think that only between three of four or four of five of the "enrollments" so far are real. The balance are probably bureaucratic errors like one person who is double counted for two plans, or people who enrolled but then dropped out when it came time to pay the premiums.

Thus this week's new delays. The employer mandate is designed to interlock with the rest of the system, and people are supposed to be eligible for subsidies only if their employers don't offer insurance. Since the White House is releasing many more businesses from the mandate's obligations, many more people will suddenly qualify to join the exchanges. The same goes for the 30% of workers who will be shut out from employer coverage under the new 70% mandate.