Archive for December, 2011

Mitch Daniels Backs Indiana Right-to-Work Bill

Indiana’s Republican Governor Mitch Daniels says that a top priority for the upcoming 2012 legislative session will be a right-to-work bill that would cripple unions and lower wages by making dues voluntary. “When Indiana gets a chance to compete for new business, we win two-thirds of the time,” Daniels told a South Bend reporter. “Unfortunately a quarter to half the time, we don’t get to the table because business is only interested in a state with this protection. We just need to have those shots on goal because we know we’ll capture more than our fair share if we do.”

Mitch Daniels at ExactTarget

The facts are not on his side. Right-to-work states like South Carolina have a considerably higher unemployment rate than Indiana (10.5% vs. 9%) and their workers have lower wages. Daniels should get his talking points straight before he makes false and misleading claims about the jobs situation in Indiana. Unions are not the problem, Indiana Republicans’ willingness to sacrifice wages and workplace safety is the problem.

Daniels goes on to claim that, “I’d be completely opposed to this if it affected the right to organize. But every right-to-work state has unions and some of them have a higher percentage of union members than Indiana does. I’d be completely against anything that reduced the right to organize. This is only about whether you have to pay the dues or don’t.”

I’ll give the governor credit, he knows how to weasel out of his positions – at least rhetorically – even while still maintaining them. The bill has nothing to do with jobs and everything to do with killing unions. Right-to-work is a way to drain a union’s resources. If you can benefit from a union and not have to pay for it then who would offer up their dues? It’s called free-riding. For a party that would love to see all resistance to corporate power crushed, right-to-work makes a good deal of sense.

Occupy Wall Street LEGO Set

Awesome video:

Final U.S. Troops Leave Iraq

The final U.S. troops have left Iraq as of Sunday, December 18, marking the end of the nearly nine year old conflict. More than 4,500 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq in addition to the more than 30,000 wounded. Over 100,000 Iraqis died by some estimates. In all, 1.5 million Americans served on the ground in Iraq. At the height of the war some 239,000 troops were stationed across 500 bases with another 135,000 contractors working in the country.

The withdrawal doesn’t mean that the U.S. presence has ended. As CNN points out: “The United States will still maintain a presence in Iraq: hundreds of nonmilitary personnel, including 1,700 diplomats, law enforcement officers, and economic, agricultural and other experts, according to the State Department. In addition, 5,000 security contractors will protect Americans and another 4,500 contractors will serve in other roles.”

The U.S. embassy in Iraq is the largest in the world despite the two countries having little in common culturally or economically. They don’t even share a border. Why we need over 11,000 people to man an embassy is anyone’s guess (I think you can surmise why we are still there), but should a civil war occur, a lot of Americans will be in harm’s way. It is almost begging for another Iran hostage crisis to happen.

The Sanctuary Movement Tops Amazon Charts

The Sanctuary Movement: How Broken Immigration Policies Affect Cities is currently the top selling Immigration Law book at Amazon. The Sanctuary Movement is a book about the broken immigration system in the United States where cities have had to respond to the failings of the federal government with practical and sometimes controversial solutions. Sanctuary cities have been created to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. The book examines the relationship between the federal government, sanctuary cities and their undocumented citizens. You can buy The Sanctuary Movement at Amazon.com for only $2.99.

Time is Running out for Mitt Romney

Casual political observers are probably not aware, but the race for selecting a Republican nominee is in its final stages. While the Iowa caucuses are now only three weeks away, the candidates realistically have only about ten more days left to campaign. That’s because by December 24 – Christmas Eve – most Americans will tune out presidential politics and news in general to focus on family time. The holiday lull will likely continue into the New Year a week later.

The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia presents Mitt Romney, April 6, 2010

With polls showing that Newt Gingrich is now the prohibitive national favorite, as well as the leader in Iowa, South Carolina, Florida and numerous other states with the notable exception of New Hampshire, these final ten days could very well decide who will be the Republican nominee. Mitt’s hands-off approach to Iowa could be his downfall. It worked when his ascendant rivals imploded within a few weeks of taking their leads: Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain.

There is no indication from last weekend’s debate that Gingrich’s momentum is slowing down. Unlike the others Gingrich is a gritty political veteran. If anything Romney took the most damage with his $10,000 bet challenge to Rick Perry – acting as if it were chump change (and it is for a man worth nearly $200 million) – following up with a testy exchange on Monday with a Vietnam War veteran over his opposition to gay marriage. Gingrich is in the driver’s seat and time is running out for Mitt Romney.

Obama Health Law Requires Insurers to Provide Coverage or Refund Customers

A little-known part of the new Affordable Care Act took effect today. It will require insurers to stop squandering customers’ money on executive salaries and instead focus on actual healthcare spending. Forbes has the report:

That would be the provision of the law, called the medical loss ratio, that requires health insurance companies to spend 80% of the consumers’ premium dollars they collect—85% for large group insurers—on actual medical care rather than overhead, marketing expenses and profit. Failure on the part of insurers to meet this requirement will result in the insurers having to send their customers a rebate check representing the amount in which they underspend on actual medical care.

This is the true ‘bomb’ contained in Obamacare and the one item that will have more impact on the future of how medical care is paid for in this country than anything we’ve seen in quite some time. Indeed, it is this aspect of the law that represents the true ‘death panel’ found in Obamacare—but not one that is going to lead to the death of American consumers. Rather, the medical loss ration will, ultimately, lead to the death of large parts of the private, for-profit health insurance industry.

Ultimately if these changes force some for-profit health insurance companies out of business, so be it. They don’t need to exist anyway. All health insurance companies are middle men that drive up costs. America would be better off if we had a system of not-for-profit medicine. Of course the doctors and nurses will remain well paid, the people that do the actual grunt work, but the unnecessary insurance cartel will be put in its place. I think it’s a little too optimistic to say that insurers are going the way of the dinosaur anytime soon, but it is a step in the right direction to force them to spend a set percentage on doing what they are supposed to do: funding healthcare.

Operation Bald Eagle Facebook Page

A Facebook page for Operation Bald Eagle has launched. If you have a Facebook account feel free to like the page at http://facebook.com/pages/Operation-Bald-Eagle/185568411534991 for the latest updates. Of course you can also follow as it is being written at Smashwords.

The book is progressing quite nicely. Over 45 pages and counting! Can Ethan Clark prevent a cyber attack on the United States? You’ll find out soon enough. I expect that Operation Bald Eagle will soar into retail beginning in January 2012.

Christmas Sale: Get Ozzy for $.99!

Ozzy is now available for a limited time price of $.99 at Amazon.com and Smashwords. Ozzy is my personal favorite book that I’ve written so far. It is a fictional book inspired by events that I was close to.

As the description says, “Ozzy is the short story of a cat and his master. After losing his beloved wife, the man struggles to cope with a lonely life, a troubled son, and the nightmares of his past.” That man is my grandfather. It’s an honor to be able to write a story about my now-deceased grandparents.

Ozzy

The sale should be reflected at Barnes & Noble, Apple’s iBookstore and other retailers in the coming week or two when it ships to them.

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