The Current State of the Union(s)
There is a word which is currently stirring much thought and commentary.
With all due solemnity and respect for the people of Japan, I would say that Madison, Wisconsin is the epicenter of an earthquake which is sending tremors into every state capital of our country.
Whatâ€™s all the hubbub, bub?
In case you have been living in a cave, allow me to enlighten you. Desperate economic times have apparently called for desperate measures. State legislatures are looking for ways to cut spending, and they have uncovered a very interesting phenomenon. Government unions have been very adroit in negotiating excellent financial compensation for their members, including fringe benefits which are outpacing the benefits of many employees in the private sector.
Governors, emboldened by the example of their counterpart in Wisconsin, are attempting to change collective bargaining laws, so, in the very least, unions do not have as much, if any, control over wages and benefits. Asking government union employees to pay more of their â€œfair shareâ€ of benefits has resulted in millions of dollars of proposed government savings.
Well, you would think that mass murderers have been cornered in the town square, because lynch mobs have formed against â€œboth sidesâ€ of this dispute. Protests have gone on unabated for days. Teachers obtained false doctorâ€™s notes excusing their absences from school, since some of these states are no-strike states. Re-call elections have been proposed in multiple states, and no mercy is being shown to bold governors or legislators who chose to leave their jobs and cross state lines for several weeks of â€“ shall we say â€“ â€œvacation.â€ (Whatâ€™s up with that?! Both Wisconsinites and Indianans sought â€œrefugeâ€ in Illinois!)
Please allow me to share my experiences with and views about unions. At their inception, unions served very useful purposes. Especially during the Industrial Revolution, managers were responsible for horrific abuses of working hours, conditions, pay, and benefits. Employees formed unions to [...]
Measure the Cost
March 19th marked an unusual anniversary for me.
Eighteen years ago on that very day, I drank my last drop of alcohol.
Yes, itâ€™s true. I am a tee-totaller. But before you declare me intolerant of those who drink, please hear my full story and how I came to the conviction of no longer drinking.
I never was a big drinker. I really didnâ€™t like to put any substances in my body which would have inhibited my intellect or athletic abilities. I never tried any illegal drugs, and I especially abstained from alcohol when I was playing football. (I played high school and college ball.)
However, in the off-season, even when it was not legal for me to do so, I would drink a beer or two. Gin and tonics were my drink of choice in college. As an adult, I acquired a taste for cheap champagne. When I got married, I learned about the refreshing taste of Long Island Iced Tea, a mixed drink with five different shots of alcohol. I â€œcelebratedâ€ my successful defense of my doctoral thesis by drinking two of these concoctions, but I donâ€™t remember much of the â€œcelebration.â€
Still, I was not given to drunkenness very often when I was still drinking alcohol. There were periodic lapses in judgment, in that regard, but I generally maintained my self-discipline.
I maintained such [...]