Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Restored Faith

Sometimes in this fast paced world it is easy to become a bit cynical about the nature of business. Too often it seems as if you are a pawn in a big game you are destined to lose. A recent experience helped to restore my faith in the system.

One of my hobbies is wire wrapping. I make pretty things - rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc. - by wrapping wire. If you want to take a quick look at the possibilities look at the cover of something like "Wire and Bead Celtic Jewelry" or "Bead & Wire Art Jewelry"

Anyway, to make a long story a bit shorter, if you are going to really get into wire wrapping you will end up needing a jig. That's a board covered with little holes and pegs of various size that you use as a pattern for wrapping the wire into different shapes. To broaden my horizons in wire wrapping I bought a BeadSmith Deluxe Thing-A-Ma-Jig. This is a marvelous tool for bending and twisting wire into different shapes, particularly when for the success of your project each piece needs to be as much like the others as possible.

The Thing-A-Ma-Jig rests on the workbench on short metal legs with a plastic foot at the bottom of each. My Thing-A-Ma-Jig was missing one of the little plastic feet. Seeing little prospect for getting one from people I got the jig from, I sent an e-mail to BeadSmith to see if they would send me one. I even offered to pay for it.

Therein lies the restoration of my faith. They actually took a strong interest and sent me an entire new Deluxe Thing-A-Ma-Jig. Wow! Just when you think that nobody really gives a darn and you are all alone in an unforgiving world, something like this comes along.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that everyone is like BeadSmith. It's just that when someone takes a personal interest and goes out of their way to help, it does tend to restore faith. Thank you BeadSmith and all the other companies that go the extra mile on customer service.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reduce My Social Security Benefits - Please

It may seem a bit strange, but I wrote to my Congressman recently telling him to reduce my Social Security benefits. There's a catch to it, of course. I wanted the benefits reduced by the same percent that the federal budget was reduced. I would gladly get by on 10 percent less in Social Security benefits, if the federal government's budget was reduced by 10 percent.

This isn't really out of character for me. Back in the 1960's, I went to college after I got out of the Navy. I lived at home and worked part-time as a security guard. Legislation was being considered by Congress called the Vietnam Era GI Bill. It would have put about $100 a month in my pocket as an education benefit. I wrote to my Congressman, Charles Gubser, telling him that as much as I would appreciate the money he should vote against it if it would help balance the federal budget. Gubser wrote back saying that if voting against it would balance the budget he would consider it, but that the cost of the bill wasn't enough to make much of a dent in the budget deficit.

I wonder whether there is a lesson in this. How many little things add up to something big? How motivated are people who benefit from one of those little things to raise the roof if it might be eliminated compared to how interested those who don't benefit from it are in eliminating it.

I hear radio advertisements from a committee opposed to cutting Social Security. I almost have to laugh at the line about how Social Security didn't cause the problem. For decades Social Security taxes have produced a surplus and Congress promptly spent that surplus while giving Social Security an I.O.U. That, by any definition is deficit spending. The money was spent on all those neat things that now need to be cut, but Congress doesn't have the will power and/or the guts to make the cuts. Too many highly motivated small special interest groups are clamoring (and paying lobbyists) to protect them.

Perhaps that's what's new and different about the Tea Party movement and why it poses such a threat to the establishment. The Tea Party is demanding spending cuts without regard to whether the cuts hurt.

The bottom line is that we can't go on this way much longer. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the national debt are becoming such a huge proportion of the budget that they must be reduced to avoid financial Armageddon.

It would be better to make reasonable, well thought out reductions now than to wait until it is too late and draconian cuts must be made in a panic.

Friday, February 18, 2011

No "Right" to Collective Bargaining

The protesters in Wisconsin and Ohio are crying alligator tears about the loss of collective bargaining rights. Let's be clear on this. There is no right to collective bargaining. All the laws that have required collective bargaining between employers, be they public or private, with certified labor unions as the exclusive representative of employees in a bargaining unit have extended privileges, not rights, to labor unions, often at the expense of the rights of individual employees.

There are several federal court decision in cases where government employee unions have claimed the right to collective bargaining and in every instance the courts have ruled that there is no right to collective bargaining.

In the private sector the federal government gave unions monopoly bargaining powers through the National Labor Relations Act, which doesn't cover public employees. Many states have enacted similar laws covering public employment.

On several occasions public sector unions have gone to court demanding the right to collective bargaining and in every case the courts have said that there is no such right, it is a legislated privilege.

This is a topic of great interest to me. I am the author of "The Case Against Public Sector Unionism and Collective Bargaining" and a coauthor of "Vallejo Con Dios: Why Public Sector Unionism is a Bad Deal for Taxpayers and Representative Government."

I commend them to your attention.