In July, I had the pleasure of attending the Stratford Ontario Shakespeare Festival. The three plays that I saw included The Tempest, Jacques Brel and Evita. The most striking of these for me was Evita. It provided me with an eerie reminder of how Juan and Eva Peron took over in Argentina. He was elected president based on his persona and her celebrity, and the appeal of their message of redistribution of wealth, especially to the labor unions. They took over what was then the most prosperous country in the world and within a few years bankrupted it. Argentina never recovered and has been essentially a third world country ever since.
In the August 3rd primary, I was pleased to see that many Democrats, apparently disappointed with their choices for gubernatorial nominee, crossed over to vote for Rick Snyder as the Republican candidate for governor. This bodes quite well for a Republican win in the governor’s race in November. I noted with some alarm that labor unions spent over $2 million to bankroll Virg Bernero, the candidate most like Juan Peron in their primary. It seemed like (as Yogi Berra famously said) "Déjà vu" all over again.
In races close to home, I was pleased to note that Republican Suzanne Sareini garnered more than twice as many votes for the fifteenth district house seat than did her Democrat competitor, George Daraney. Mike Adams, a political neophyte, received the Republican nomination for the seventeenth house district with about 50 more votes than his more experienced and substantially better financed Democrat competitor, former Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh. This is particularly notable as Adams was unopposed.
I was also pleased that Dr. Rob Steele, my candidate for the US House, won handily in his primary, and I am confident that he will duplicate that result when he faces John Dingell in November. The contrast between these two candidates could not be more pronounced. Mr. Dingell has been living off the taxpayer for the last 78 years, having moved to D.C. at 7 years old when his father was first elected to Congress. Dr. Steele has been a health care provider, an entrepreneur, a businessman and an employer. I have been waiting since March for Mr. Dingell to follow through on his offer to debate "anyone" on the Health Care bill, a challenge answered the next day by Dr. Steele.
Mr. Dingell’s principles were on display on August 10, when he flew to Washington to vote yes on yet another "stimulus bill". The new legislation would impose $9.7 billion in permanent tax increases. Specifically, the bill stipulates that federal funds must supplement, not replace, state spending on education. Also, in each state, next year's spending on elementary and secondary education, as a percentage of total state revenues, must be equal to or greater than the previous year's level. The bill passed on party lines, with only three Republicans voting for it.
This bill with no name contains a $26.1 billion bailout for financially strapped state governments. Much of the money will go to public employee unions, in the form of a $10 billion "Education Jobs Fund" to supplement state education costs. This comes on top of a $53.5 billion bailout of unionized teachers in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund -- much of it still unspent. Texas and Mississippi, among other states, didn’t need a bailout, but will now be required to increase expenditures in their 2010-2011 fiscal year budgets.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, school district spending growth has been grossly disproportionate to enrollment growth for at least a decade. As the Journal notes, "total education spending grew by 32% percent between 1999 and 2009, while K-12 enrollment has grown by less that 1% each year over the same time period."
For public employee unions, this is payback for their extensive support of Democratic politicians. The Center for Responsive Politics lists the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as second on the Party’s All Time Donors list. The National Education Association (NEA) is eighth and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is thirteenth. Combined the NEA and the AFT have spent over $58 million on politics since 1989, with over 90 percent of that money going to Democrats. A recent Washington Post editorial stated flatly, "The crusade for an education jobs bill, led by the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress, has always struck us as more of an election-year favor for teachers unions than an optimal use of public resources."
The Democrats claim that this bill will save 4,700 teacher jobs in Michigan (130,000 nationally). They pretend to not know that because of advance layoff notice requirements and other inflexibility imposed by most school employee collective bargaining agreements, districts send out thousands of "just in case" pink slips in June. Almost all the "laid off" employees retain their jobs come September. We must hope for the sake of Michigan’s future that many of our legislators lose their jobs in November.