Beyond the Cusp

May 16, 2012

A Foreboding Election Approaches

Americans are facing an election which will be a crucial reckoning point for the future of the United States. This election is coming much sooner than most of us think as it takes place not on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, but earlier on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is facing a recall election on that date that was brought about in an act of vengeance instigated by the unions angered by his placing restraints on their previous near unlimited bargaining powers. Despite facts which show that even stricter restrictions are placed upon the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) than Governor Walker requested be placed upon Wisconsin State Employees Union branch of the AFSCME Council 24, AFL-CIO, reactions from the union and related other unions was immediate, severe and fanatical. Many of us will remember the teachers union joining with the other Wisconsin State Employees Union in occupying the rotunda of the Capital Building and closing down the government for a number of weeks. But the truth went far beyond simply the Statehouse or even Madison, the Wisconsin Capital.

The demonstrations often seemed to threaten to potentially turn into violent riots which required a strong police presence to protect those employees who were attempting to simply perform their jobs as well as the members of the State Legislature, one of which was caught on film being chased by a mob of demonstrators. The revolt went what some felt may have been beyond reason when the union members went to stores in Madison and beyond demanding that store owners place signs declaring their support in the front windows of their stores. In some cases it was reported that the store owners were threatened with boycotts or even the possibility of violence and damage to their stores should they not display the required supportive notices. In the final note, the unions sponsored petitions for a recall election in order to remove Governor Walker claiming his actions were ruinous to Wisconsin, the people, and to the unions in particular. This effort proved to have sufficient support to force the special recall election where Governor Walker will face off against Tom Barrett, the current Mayor of Milwaukee. He defeated Kathleen Falk, a former Dane County executive who had been seen by some as labor’s preferred candidate, in a recent primary. Now Wisconsin will vote on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, and send a message to the rest of America’s politicians.

Should Governor Walker be defeated it will send an ominous message to the Governors and Mayors throughout the United States. To even consider taking on the unions and attempting to reform entitlements by limiting the powers and influences of unions in bargaining will be seen as political suicide. A Walker defeat would empower unions to run roughshod over State Governments and permit them to demand even the most ridiculous pension plans, health insurance packages, job security guarantees, and any other one-sided salary and benefits packages without any restrictions or reason. All limitations currently in place would vanish and every State would soon be facing the same financial challenges currently challenging some of our largest states such as California and also Wisconsin. Such a result in this recall election would immediately put an end to the proposed austerity proposals in places such as New Jersey as a simple threat of open opposition by the unions would likely intimidate many of those in the State Legislatures even if the Governor decided to risk going forward with their plans for reforms. These same ominous clouds would roll over city mayors, county governance, and any community in which their work force is unionized. The unions would also have a renewed attraction in those places where thus far the unions have yet to gain a foothold.

By defeating and unseating a sitting governor, the unions would be in a position to threaten every state government country-wide leading to financial challenges with which many states and cities would be unable to cope. One result from this would be every level of government would need to find additional resources to cover the increased demands that would follow just as sure as the sun rises in the east. State employee unions would be demanding sweet deals covering health, life, education and other packages as well as increased wage demands. This could very well lead to higher property taxes, State income taxes, sales taxes, State fees for services, gasoline taxes and every other manner of revenue generation. This would work to kill any recovery which we may be feeling and very possibly force another downturn in the economy. The affects would not be immediately felt, but would sneak into the machines that are the governing sections of American society and eventually reach a tipping point in one state after the next. This coming recall election for Governor of Wisconsin is one we should watch and watch with great concern.

Beyond the Cusp

May 2, 2012

GSA and Secret Service Why Such Total Corruption?

Before diving into the irresponsible and tawdry actions by government employees which was plastered on the front pages of the news of late, we need to first off recognize that those caught partaking of these misadventures are not indicative of government employees in general. The vast numbers of government employees are dedicated professionals who work diligently giving 100% efforts. Those who we refer to in what follows are the few bad apples in the barrel. Despite the joke about a substandard performance at a task as, “close enough for government work,” does a disservice to those who toil away, often thanklessly, in the services of the many layers of government. Most tasks performed by government employees are required to meet the same standards as similar professions must meet in the private sector, there are entire departments in government which hold their employees to an even higher standard. This editorial is about those government employees who have failed to maintain a high standard of discipline and judgment and have earned any aspersions thrown at them.

With the latest of the malfeasance and misappropriation of our tax monies have many questioning how could such actions have been committed and with such disregard for allowing it to become public knowledge yet nobody even seems to feel the slightest guilt. Granted, some of the Secret Service did pay for their sins with their jobs, but that was more for their breaking protocols established for securing the President and others whose lives they are held responsible for guarding more than it was for such poor judgments and misconduct. As some of the agents involved will remain in the department, the sin was not in the act but in the poor judgment to allow these actions to have taken place in their rooms within what was presumed to be a secured environment. And how many heads were placed on the chopping block from the GSA extravagance? The count thus far is the chief of the General Services Administration Martha Johnson resigned, two of her top deputies were fired and four managers were placed on leave. Perhaps that was sufficient but I question why those who did the actual planning of this disgrace were not also shown the door along with the compliant chiefs as they were the ones who presented the initial arrangements and had they done their jobs responsibly instead of making a lavish joke out of what was supposed to be a working conference, then none of this could have transpired. This is one of those times where the underlings were just as guilty as were those who as supervisors should have refused their plans.

But the question which often asked is how can the amount and expanse of corruption of the Federal Government in Washington DC be so extreme and beyond that found at almost any other level of government in the United States. Believe it or not, I have a theory on this; what a surprise, huh? When you consider the corruption we find from our elected Senators and Representatives we need to keep something in mind; these are not simple, ordinary politicians, the majority are true professional politicians. These are the product of years of holding public offices. Many started as township, city, or county office holders who then graduated to state level offices and after a decade or more they finally make it to the big show, the United States House of Representatives and eventually even into the Senate. These are people who have been living in the make-believe world of politics where they have the power to solve most of the problems brought before them by the lesser, little folk simply by having a staffer place a phone call or send off a memo to some bureaucrat whose salary they control through their power of appropriations. They attend lavish parties thrown by those seeking influence and as they get higher up the ladder the parties get more and more lavish. By the time they get to Washington DC their taste has been refined to caviar and champagne, and not the cheap stuff. Many of these lifetime politicians have ten, fifteen, even twenty years of experience of being pampered, primped, perfumed, and treated as almost royalty and it has often gone to their heads. They honestly feel they are above the people, above the law, above reproach, basically above everything they see before them and that is what creates the problem which leads to the graft, corruption, and excesses of virtually any kind.

The corruption in many of the elite levels of the upper ranks of the Civil Service personnel have the same track record except they simply held government jobs moving up regularly and eventually they are at what I call the convention level. This is the level that invents reasons to hold training sessions or hold a convention for some legal sounding excuse and it is almost always held in Las Vegas, Hawaii, Bermuda, or other vacation Mecca, possibly even the French Riviera, if your GS Level is at a minimum of twelve. Such is more often an inter-department event where almost everybody is a GS 15 or higher. These are the true professional people whose ability to make expenditures is of the highest orders and quite beyond the imagination of mere mortal taxpayers. These are government employees who have government provided chauffeurs driving them around in a Lincoln, Cadillac or even a Mercedes. By the time you get to the highest level of our Federal government you have been rewarded and rated as exemplary at your job for so many years and for levels of work that are often the butt of jokes for comedians performing in the Nation’s Capital. Actually, after having been raised in the suburbs of our Nation’s capital, I am surprised that there are not far more instances of such extravagant and over-the-top malfeasance by our highest level miscreants, sorry, government employees. The sorry thing is many actually do attempt to work diligently and competently, but the ones who are along for the ride give the whole a bad name. The only thing I can recommend we, the tax paying public, can do is to thank those who work in the government at any level when they treat their job and the public they serve with respect and show diligence. Complaining about the others will usually not accomplish anything except supply the water-cooler circle with grist for their comedic mills.

Beyond the Cusp

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