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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What has happened to being respectful of others?

Sitting in a fancy restaurant with a fine meal, at the next table two kids are playing loudly with their phones and Nintendo, the mom is talking loudly on here call phone and the father is checking e-mail.


Does anyone have civility, the good sense to pay attention to the environment they are in and the need to be cautious to others.


The sad part is that that family could probably afford the dinner more than I could, so to them it was just taking the kids to dinner, whereas for me it was an expensive night of fine dining.


Have we lost all ability to be courteous, to know etiquette and to pay attention to our environment?

African Americans, Low Income and the Repulican Frontrunners

www.rawstory.com
Speaking to Republicans in Iowa on Monday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) said his administration would reform welfare to the point that it would offer no welfare at all.

A Gathering Storm

 ‘Right to Work’ in Indiana


A.J. Mast for The New York Times
Brian C. Bosma, the speaker of the Indiana House, says the state is at a disadvantage when competing for jobs.
INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly a year after legislatures in Wisconsin and several other Republican-dominated states curbed the power of public sector unions, lawmakers are now turning their sights toward private sector unions, setting up what is sure to be another political storm.

A protest at Indiana's statehouse last February over collective bargaining

The thunderclouds are gathering first here in Indiana. The leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature say that when the legislative session opens on Wednesday, their No. 1 priority will be to push through a business-friendly piece of legislation known as a right-to-work law.


If Indiana enacts such a law — and its sponsors say they have the votes — it will give new momentum to those who have previously pushed such legislation in Maine, Michigan, Missouri and other states. New Hampshire’s Republican-controlled Legislature was the last to pass a right-to-work bill in 2011, but it narrowly failed to muster the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto by the Democratic governor; an Indiana law would re-energize that effort.

Right-to-work laws prohibit union contracts at private sector workplaces from requiring employees to pay any dues or other fees to the union. In states without such laws, workers at unionized workplaces generally have to pay such dues or fees.

Many right-to-work supporters say it is morally wrong to force unwilling workers to contribute to unions, while opponents argue that it is wrong to allow “free riders” not to support the unions that represent them in negotiations and arbitrations.

Right-to-work is also a potent political symbol that carries serious financial consequences for unions.

Corporations view such laws as an important sign that a state has policies friendly to business. Labor leaders say that allowing workers to opt out of paying any money to the union that represents them weakens unions’ finances, bargaining clout and political power.

Organized labor has vowed to fight the Indiana bill, which it says would turn the state into the “Mississippi of the Midwest.” If the legislation passes, Indiana would become the first state to have such a law within the traditional manufacturing belt, a union stronghold that stretches from the Midwest to New England. Right-to-work laws exist in 22 states, almost all in the South and West, with Oklahoma the most recent to pass one, in 2001.

Right-to-work supporters say they can win quick passage because Indiana’s Republican governor, Mitch Daniels, backs the bill and Republicans have large majorities in the House and Senate.
Democratic and union leaders say they hope to block the legislation, in part by flooding the statehouse with thousands of protesters — exactly as unions did last year in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana in an attempt to defeat legislation that limited bargaining rights for public sector workers. Democratic lawmakers in Indiana have also hinted that they might once again flee to Illinois, as they did last year, to block votes on anti-union bills.

Indiana’s Republican leaders are eager to pass the bill — and end any related commotion — before Feb. 5, when the national spotlight turns to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl.
In heading the legislative push, Brian C. Bosma, the Republican speaker of the Indiana House, argues that not being right-to-work is a big handicap when Indiana competes for jobs.

“Local economic development officers testified that 25 to 50 percent of companies looking to create employment, whether through expansion or locating a new facility, just took Indiana and other non-right-to-work states off the table,” he said in an interview. “This is stopping employers from coming to Indiana. We need to deal with that.”

Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, praised the bill as a low-cost way to improve the business climate. “It’s not like we’re going to spend a billion dollars on tax incentives,” he said. “It’s free.”

But opponents say the talk of improving Indiana’s business climate is just a pretext.

“It’s a political attack on what the Republicans see as one of their main opponents — organized labor,” said Jim Robinson, the top United Steelworkers official in Indiana. “They want to weaken unions to help assure continued Republican majorities.”

In Indiana, 8.2 percent — or 178,779 — of the state’s private sector workers belong to unions, compared with 6.9 percent nationwide. That is down from more than 20 percent three decades ago as many unionized factories have closed and largely nonunion industries like finance and retail have expanded.

After Governor Daniels eliminated the ability of state employees to bargain collectively in 2005, Indiana’s public sector unions grew weaker. Over all, organized labor here does not have nearly the electoral or lobbying clout that it has in states like California and New York, where unions remain powerful.

Thomas McKenna, who headed Indiana’s Department of Commerce under a Democratic governor, said it was absurd for the bill’s supporters to suggest that even one-quarter of companies ruled out Indiana simply because it does not have right-to-work status.

He said that the legislation’s supporters had repeatedly refused to cite the name of any company that has taken that position. “I think they’re making it up,” he said.

Many studies have assessed the impact of right-to-work legislation, although much of the research is from years ago, when right-to-work was a hotter issue.

Henry Farber, a labor economist at Princeton, said right-to-work laws, by allowing “free riders,” shrink union treasuries. One study found that the portion of free riders in right-to-work states ranged from 9 percent in Georgia to 39 percent in South Dakota.

In another study, David T. Ellwood, the dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and Glenn A. Fine, a former Justice Department official, found that in the five years after states enacted such legislation, the number of unionization drives dropped by 28 percent, and in the following five years by an added 12 percent. Organizing wins fell by 46 percent in the first five years and 30 percent the next five. Over all, they found, right-to-work laws, beyond other factors, caused union membership to drop 5 percent to 10 percent.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce said that if Indiana had become right-to-work in 1977, its per capita income would be $2,925 higher because more factories and jobs would have come to the state. Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economist and the main author of the chamber’s study, said economic growth had been faster in the 22 right-to-work states and the law was a major cause.
Martin Wolfson, a Notre Dame economist, disputed those findings. He disagreed that right-to-work laws increase incomes, and said there were other, more important causes for right-to-work states’ faster economic growth, including the boom in oil prices and the influx of immigrants into Texas and Florida.

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-backed research center, found that in right-to-work states, wages were 3.2 percent, or $1,500, lower per worker each year, after accounting for the cost of living and other factors.

John Sampson, president of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, an economic development group, said companies were attracted to right-to-work states not because of lower wages but because the weakened role of unions means that companies get greater operating flexibility, which lowers their costs.

“Some people will say this is about bashing organized labor,” Mr. Sampson added. “From my point of view, there’s nothing better for labor than to create increased demand for jobs.”

From the New York Times, to read more click here.

Iowa’s razor-thin result indicates a fierce battle for conservatives is ahead


Click photo to view more images. (Credit: AP/Charlie Riedel, left image, Reuters/Rick Wilking)
Click photo to view more images. (Credit: AP/Charlie Riedel, left image, Reuters/Rick Wilkin)

DES MOINES, Iowa--Iowa may not pick presidents. It may not even pick Republican presidential nominees. But Iowa most certainly resets the nomination contest, something its voters did again on Tuesday with the state's closest caucus vote in history. 

With Mitt Romney's razor-thin, eight-vote victory over Rick Santorum, Iowa has created a new pecking order for the primaries to come in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and beyond. And, as is often the case, it will be a campaign for the soul of the party.

Romney leaves Iowa in a stronger position to win his party's 2012 nomination than any of his competitors, but weaker than he would have been with a clean win. He will now have to contend with an intense round of questions about the limits of his support inside the base of the Republican Party.
The contours of the reshaped contest began to become clear in the hours before the caucuses and immediately after while the votes were tallied.  Santorum will take a two-pronged approach against Romney: He will sell himself as not only the more conservative candidate in the race, but also the one more likely to win over working-class Reagan Democrats with his blue-collar background.

"Game on," Santorum said as he took the stage at his victory night celebration in Johnston, Iowa.
"What wins in America are bold ideas, sharp contrasts, and a plan that includes everyone," he said. "A plan that includes everyone across the economic spectrum."

But as he moves on to New Hampshire--whose first-in-the-nation primary will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 10--as one of the top two candidates in the race right now, Santorum will have a huge target on his back. The Romney campaign is prepared to portray him as a Washington insider with no business experience--what Romney calls "the real economy."
In Iowa, Santorum rode a late wave of support, especially among evangelical Christians and the most conservative caucusgoers, to victory--but his road was made far easier because Romney chose not to lay a glove on him.

According to the entrance poll conducted by Edison Research for the television networks and the AP, 46 percent of caucus attendees made their decision in the last few days, and Santorum won 33 percent of those voters. He also received the backing of a third of the caucusgoers who identified themselves as "very conservative," and the support of 30 percent of Tea Party supporters.

Evangelical Christians showed up in similar strength as they did four years ago. Fifty-eight percent of the electorate said they were evangelical Christians, and 32 percent of them voted for Santorum.
New Hampshire, however, is home to a decidedly less socially conservative electorate, and Romney has an enormous advantage in the public opinion polls in his adopted home state.

Ron Paul showed huge growth from the support he received during his presidential run in 2008. He more than doubled his share of the vote and did so by bringing a lot of first-time caucusgoers into the process. Many of Paul's voters identified themselves as independents, which may prove problematic for the libertarian-leaning congressman as the nomination calendar moves ahead to contests that are open only to Republican voters.

Romney put together his coalition in part by winning 38 percent of Iowa's non-evangelical voters, as well as the bulk of those Republicans who placed the presumed ability to defeat President Barack Obama in a general election as the most important trait for their candidate.

Despite Newt Gingrich's distant fourth-place showing, the former House speaker made it clear that he intends to stay in the race and will start making sharper contrasts with Mitt Romney. In his speech before his supporters on Tuesday night, Gingrich congratulated Paul and Santorum for their performances at the caucuses, but he left Romney unmentioned. He is apparently still smarting from the barrage of attack ads from Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC that wiped him out of contention in Iowa.

Gingrich said "a great debate" will now take place within the Republican Party before they can take that debate to President Obama.

And the field may be one person smaller when the candidates convene Saturday for the ABC News/Yahoo News debate in New Hampshire.

"I've decided to return to Texas assess the results of tonight's caucus determine if there is a path forward for myself in this race," Rick Perry told his supporters.

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Close call leads Romney to ditch telepromter, deliver familiar lines: Scenes from the caucuses
Yahoo! readers say: More economy talk, please! Also, Bachmann, bow out
Paul slaps Hunstman on Twitter, with regrets?

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