Friday, October 10, 2008

Under Obama, Unions Could Do To Rest of Economy What They Did to GM: Will MSM Notice.

Regular readers of our BLOG are familiar with my distaste for the unions. The following piece appeared on News Busters.
For those unfamiliar with MSM it is short for Mainstream Media.


Under Obama, Unions Could Do To Rest of Economy What They Did to GM: Will MSM Notice?
By Mark Finkelstein

Labor costs the Detroit Three substantially more per vehicle than it does the Japanese. Health care is the biggest chunk. GM, for instance spends $1,635 per vehicle on health care for active and retired workers in the U.S. Toyota pays nothing for retired workers - it has very few - and only $215 for active ones . . . Contract issues like work rules, line relief and holiday pay amount to $630 per vehicle - costs that the Japanese don't have. And paying UAW members for not working when plants are shut costs another $350 per vehicle. -- Fortune magazine, January 26, 2007

Obama and Biden will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama and Biden will ensure that his labor appointees support workers' rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. -- Official Obama website statement on labor [emphasis added].

Lost amidst the mutual finger-pointing over responsibility for the financial crisis is one incontrovertible fact. Under a President Obama, the unionization of America's economy could soar, thanks to the combined effect of the legislation he would sign into law and those labor-friendly appointees he would name to oversee union elections and other matters. And while the blame for the possible demise of GM and other American automakers rests partly with feckless, uninspired management, a good measure is rightly laid at the feet of American unions who pushed a variety of contract provisions that have left the domestic industry uncompetitive with foreign manufacturers.

Let's talk for a moment about that "Employee Free Choice Act" whose passage Obama promotes and that, with a compliant Congress, would almost surely be passed into law. As I wrote last month, its very name is "double-speak that would make the commissars at Orwell's Ministry of Truth blush." Far from promoting free choice, it would go a long way to destroying it. The law would end a worker's right to a secret ballot in unionization elections, to be replaced by a "card check" system in which the vote of each individual would be published.

As that unforgettable ad [click YouTube at right] suggests, it would be the Johnny Sacks of the world standing over the shoulders of workers as they cast their unionization ballots.

Almost two years ago, that same Fortune article cited above questioned "the continued survival of the U.S. [auto] companies." Now Obama wants to let unions do for the rest of the economy what they did for GM. Will the MSM take note? What are the odds Bob Schieffer quizzes Obama on the "Employee Free Choice Act" at next Wednesday's debate?

PS: Guess who announced this week that they're launching a $3 million ad campaign on behalf of Obama?

—Mark Finkelstein is a NewsBusters contributing editor and host of Right Angle. Contact him at

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The state budget is in trouble

The State budget is in trouble and that means you and I are in trouble. Are you going to re-elect the same people who got us in trouble or will you elect individuals who will be fiscally responsible with our money. Your 401K is down, can you afford an income tax? An income tax will serve school employees and State employees but it will not serve you. State employees are guaranteed, their pensions. The only one who can look out for you and your family is you. Vote wisely.


The following cartoon appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and can be found in a number of other places as well.

The following piece appeared in the Union Leader.

The state budget is in trouble

If politicians are to be believed, the state is running both a surplus and a deficit at the same time. In the same week, Gov. John Lynch asked his department heads to cut millions of dollars from the budget, and the Senate president said on the radio that we're running a surplus. They can't both be right, can they? Well, actually they are, which is a good symbol of how difficult the budget is to understand.

The current two-year budget has a problem, but some of its individual components are fine. The first half of the budget turned out OK, but the second half is a disaster.

Overly optimistic revenue estimates created a large deficit. At the time, Republican revenue expert Rep. Norm Major warned that the revenue estimates used to balance this spending were at least $100 million too high. He was dismissed as a pessimist. Interestingly, time has proved him to be something of an optimist. First-year revenues ended up $71 million below budget projections. Second-year revenues are on track to be more than $200 million below projections.

So the budget problem is a tale of two years. The problem in the first year is much smaller, with most of the pain delayed until the second year. In addition, we started the budget with $61 million that should have been put in the state's savings account, the rainy day fund, but was kept available as a cushion in the budget.

Because we start the budget cycle with the cushion, the first budget year, which ended in June, ends up looking pretty good. Between the $61 million extra and some modest spending cuts, the state was able to spend $44 million more than it raised, leaving what counts as a surplus under state rules of about $17 million. So, fiscal year 2008 had a $44 million deficit, but because we had extra money for a cushion, it counts as a surplus.

For the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the one we're currently in, the situation is much worse. First, the budget called for spending $12 million more than it hoped to raise. Second, revenues are on track to be at least an additional $200 million below what the budget expected and needed. The governor had proposed $30 million of cuts and an additional $40 million of bonding to erase the deficit. He'll need to find an additional $140 million to $160 million.

The obvious place to turn is to the massive spending increase that had been described as mandatory. The budget increased general funding spending over the previous two-year budget by 17.5 percent, the largest spending increase in the last 20 years. Supporters of the budget agree that the increase was that high but insist that much of it was nondiscretionary spending. They say they could control only a little more than 3 percent a year, or 7 percent of the 17.5 percent two-year increase.

Yet every budget of the last 20 years faced similar decisions. If spending goes up here, something has to give there. Each of the previous budgets for two decades and six different governors made those decisions and came in with a smaller spending increase. Clearly the increases were never mandatory, as the governor is asking his department heads to cut those very same expenditures.

As bad as the current budget problem is, it looks easy compared to the next budget due after the election. Because each budget builds on the spending and revenue of the one that went before it, problems tend to grow exponentially. Weak revenue growth and an uncertain economy mean money will not be available to sustain normal levels of spending growth.

Next year, if spending were to grow at historical rates, likely revenues would be at least $500 million short. In an election cycle, politicians are most responsive to the people they hope will elect them. Each candidate should be asked if he or she will consider or rule out an income tax. In addition, candidates should be asked whether they would consider increasing other taxes or look to balance the budget during difficult economic times without any tax increases.

We know today that the problem will be as large as it has ever been. Some politicians will want to avoid all tax increases during difficult times. Others will rule out an income or sales tax but be open to other tax increases. Others, concerned about cutting spending levels, will want to consider an income tax. We need to know today what approach our would-be leaders will take. There's no need for a post-election surprise.

Charles M. Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

School Board Meeting Tonight

Just a reminder the Croydon School Board meets tonight at 6:30 at the Croydon School House.
Last night a special education meeting was held in the Town Hall. An article about the meeting appears in the Valley News newspaper. The article does not appear on-line so you will have to pick up a hard copy at the store.

Corrected for typo 6:36 p.m. 10/08/08

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


No matter who you are voting for in the upcoming election I am sure you do not want your child's teacher promoting any presidential candidate. Considering dismal reading, math and science scores across the country teachers should be spending more time educating America's children instead of indoctrinating our children.

The following piece appeared in the New York Post.


By YOAV GONEN, Education Reporter

Last updated: 10:49 am
October 2, 2008

The teachers union has been handing out thousands of Barack Obama campaign buttons to its members, sparking a clampdown by education brass.

The Department of Education - which has a long-standing policy barring teachers from wearing campaign buttons in schools - is set to send out an e-mail this week from Schools Chancellor Joel Klein laying down the law.

"Schools are not a place for politics and not a place for staff to wear political buttons," said department spokeswoman Ann Forte.

"We don't want a school or school staff advocating for any political position or candidate to students and we don't want students feeling intimidated because they might hold a different belief or support a different candidate than their teachers."

United Federation of Teachers official LeRoy Barr told his members in a recent e-mail that union chief Randi Weingarten is fighting the DOE decision.

Officials of the union - which has endorsed Obama - said they didn't know of any schools where button-wearing teachers were told to zip it, but they said they were exploring the matter "to ensure members' rights to free speech and expression."

While department officials said the courts are on their side in the matter, many city teachers say their right to wear partisan buttons is a matter of free speech.

Several cited a landmark 1969 Supreme Court ruling involving students who planned to wear black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. It affirmed that constitutional rights don't get dropped "at the schoolhouse gate."

"It's not teaching kids to vote for Obama; rather, it's showing them the democratic process in action," said Patrick Compton, a social-studies teacher at Lafayette HS in Brooklyn, who said he has been wearing an Obama button handed out by the union.

"It is shocking to me, truly, that in this day and age, the school system wants to diminish, rather than increase, participation in our democratic system."

Other teachers said they were extremely careful not to let free speech morph into any kind of partisan preaching.

"As long as you don't preach to the children about who you should vote for, I don't see anything wrong with it," said Ellen Eisenger, a teacher at PS 35 in Queens. "It's still America."

Last week, employees at the University of Illinois received an e-mail forbidding them to wear partisan political buttons on campus, while teachers at a high school near Santa Cruz, Calif., agreed to remove their "Educators for Obama" buttons in class after complaints from a parent who supports John McCain.

Here are two more pieces on the same subject.

Virginia Teachers Union Sparks Outrage with "Obama Blue Day"

Obama Children Sing for Change for Dear Leader another story appears here. It kind of reminds me of the Hitler Youth.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

I opened one of my 401K statements and almost had a heart attack. The statement ending 9/30/08 took a big hit and that was before October's drop in the stock market. There are two reasons for the drop in the stock market one reason is the housing mortgage crisis which started years ago. The other is before every presidential election the stock market drops because investors are concerned over possible changes in capital gains tax laws.

This election is extremely important; I really encourage all to make an educated vote. Obama and Biden keep trying to tie McCain to Bush policies but remember it is the Senate and the House who draft and pass policies. Yes the president proposes the budget but it is the house and senate that do all the appropriations of money and the writing of the laws. Don't fall for election one-liners educate yourself. As always I am not happy about this election once again we are voting against the lesser of two evils or against a candidate. Please make an educated vote the mortgage crisis was a long time coming and was started by a lawsuit by one of the presidential candidates

Hat tip to our friend from Richmond for sending this article to us. The following piece appeared in the New York Times.


September 30, 1999
Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.''

Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.

''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Under Fannie Mae's pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 -- a rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage point premium is dropped.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.

Fannie Mae officials stress that the new mortgages will be extended to all potential borrowers who can qualify for a mortgage. But they add that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than non-Hispanic whites.

Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the economic boom of the 1990's. The number of mortgages extended to Hispanic applicants jumped by 87.2 per cent from 1993 to 1998, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. During that same period the number of African Americans who got mortgages to buy a home increased by 71.9 per cent and the number of Asian Americans by 46.3 per cent.

In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for homes increased by 31.2 per cent.

Despite these gains, home ownership rates for minorities continue to lag behind non-Hispanic whites, in part because blacks and Hispanics in particular tend to have on average worse credit ratings.

In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers. Last year, 44 percent of the loans Fannie Mae purchased were from these groups.

The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the credit-worthiness of credit applicants.