Despite Public Bravado, Labor Sees EFCA on Life Support

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, who in 2007 voted to invoke cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), came out yesterday and said his vote will be “no” this time around. That leaves the Democrats–Labor’s mouthpiece and sometime lackey–with 58 (59 if and when Al Franken arrives) votes to end a sure Republican filibuster. Unfortunately, 60 votes are required.

There’s another way to get it passed through the Senate through a process called reconciliation, which is generally reserved for budget matters. Reconciliation chokes off the filibuster option.

However, using that for such a controversial piece of legislation would be the equivalent of nuclear war–it could be enough to cost the Democrats dearly in the next election.

This leaves the Costco-Starbuck’s-Whole Foods compromise looking more and more like what will finally emerge–so long as sane minds prevail and the House and Senate act (for once) like adults.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Deja Vu All Over Again With Health Care Reform

Two admittedly left-leaning columnists, a married couple (he a pollster, she a lawyer), have produced a comparison of polling results then and now. “Then” refers to the Hillarycare hubbub in 1993-1994, and “now” refers to the Obamacare hubbub in 2009-?.

Results are a bit different than you would expect if you listen to or read what our left-leaning media have to say about health care reform.

Surprise, surprise, there was more public support then than now!

You can read through the nitty-gritty polling numbers in “A New Day or Groundhog Day,” but let me focus on just one of the results to show you why Obama and the Democrats are going to stuff health care reform down our throats whether we like it or not.

A poll in 1993 when Hillarycare filled the air found 66 percent agreeing with the statement, “I would be willing to pay higher taxes so that everyone can have health insurance.” Just 30 percent were opposed. A poll released March 1 of this year found just 49 percent agreeing and 45 percent disagreeing.

But wait–here’s where it gets interesting. When those who agreed with the statement in 1993 were asked how much they’d be willing to spend a month so that everyone could have health insurance, just 25 percent said $50, 40 percent said $30, and 61 percent said just $10.

The same breakdown isn’t available for 2009, but I bet you’d find few people willing to pay $50 more a month in this economy. I’m not even sure you could get a majority to commit to $10 (unless they thought that they would then get health care for free, an extraordinarily popular delusion in this day and age).

That in a nutshell is why the Dems are rushing to pass “reform” before anyone can sort through the details (which in any case won’t be fully available until the thing is published as law). They know the nation can’t afford it and taxes will be flying at everyone (and not just the rich) right and left to try to fund so-called reform (to say nothing of the long lines to see doctors, waiting lists to get hospital treatment, and medicines and procedures banned to save money).

Medicare is already on the fast track to go bankrupt in 10 years or less, and somehow our sleight-of-hand artists in D.C. are trying to get us to believe that spending more money actually saves money (in the long run, they add as a disingenuous qualification).

Welcome to life in our Brave New World, where deficits result in savings and less health care is better health care.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Chinese Use Card Check to Unionize All PRC Wal-Marts

I’ve written previously about the card-check union organizing provision in the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) now before Congress. It turns out that this is the same method, gathering signatures, that Chinese workers used to set up unions in every Wal-Mart branch in China.

This was fairly revolutionary for the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which had been accustomed to being co-opted for a price. Generally, the union would approach the management of a company and strike a deal for one of its own to be given a mid-management position to oversee the union branch, and in the bargain would receive two percent of all wages for its operations. That two percent, naturally, would go to the main union, but it would also be used to buy presents for the workers at Chinese New Year’s and so on. Workers’ rights would hardly be considered.

Wal-Mart, however, balked at this process and wouldn’t accede to hiring a union rep or to paying the two percent. It pointed to Chinese law, which said that the workers had to request a union. This was anathema to the ACFTU, which had never had to organize and by law couldn’t even strike. ACFTU had no experience in grass-roots mobililzation.

Surprise, surprise, however, came when workers at the Jinjiang Wal-Mart in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, met in the middle of the night and collected the 25 signatures necessary to form a union. Wal-Mart at first threatened to fire anyone who joined the union, but as branch after branch went through the “card check” process, Wal-Mart accommodated the ACFTU and is now unionized nationwide.

So, you can see why American unions thirst for EFCA and card check.

Somehow, though, I think unionization would cost Wal-Mart U.S.A. more than two percent of its payroll. That’s why its opposition to EFCA is so ferocious.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Business Group Offers Alternative to Employee Free Choice Act

Starbuck’s, Whole Foods and Costco have floated a proposal to level the playing field, as they term it, in union organizing. The group rejects two prongs of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)–the card-check and binding arbitration provisions–and keeps in place the current system of secret balloting.

What they do retain from the EFCA is the provision for increased penalties on employers who obstruct the unionization process or who otherwise threaten, intimidate or outright terminate activist employees.

What they offer in place of card check and arbitration are an expedited election process and equal access for the union to employee gatherings held pre-election for informational purposes, meetings which unions claim are currently used by employers to spread disinformation and scare employees into voting no.

The proposal was instantly rejected by Congressional sponsors of the EFCA as “written by CEOs, for CEOs.” An AFL-CIO spokesperson said it was “simply not an alternative.”

The three companies found little comfort in the business world either, where a line of no compromise has been drawn in the sand.

It appears that friends and foes of the EFCA alike have adopted an all-or-nothing appoach. Time will tell if one side or the other eventually blinks–or if both do.

(For the record, Costco is the only one of the three companies to be unionized, and it is just partially unionized through a handful of locations that were organized by the Teamsters when they were Price Clubs. Costco does, however, give all its employers the same wages and benefits that it negotiates with the Teamsters every three years. Whole Foods actually once had one unionized location in Madison, Wisconsin, out of 300 or so total outlets. The company’s co-founder, John Mackey, has routinely blasted the “intellectually bankrupt left” on his blog and derided unions as “like having herpes.” In fact, Mackey discovered an online community on Yahoo devoted to Whole Foods and contributed nearly 1400 comments over seven years using the pseudonym rahodeb, a variation on the name of his wife Deborah. This activity of his came into play when Whole Foods made an offer to purchase Wild Oats, and the SEC discovered that Mackey had used the online communities for Whole Foods and Wild Oats to game the deal. Whole Foods, to its credit, does provide all employees with free health insurance and competitive wages, factors which have helped stave off unionization at all locations save that one. Starbucks has been in and out of hearings and courtrooms in the past for alleged union-busting activities, and late last year was found guilty by a National Labor Relations Board judge and ordered to reinstate three employees with back pay. There is a Starbucks Union Web site, but its account has been suspended, which hosting services will do for unpaid bills, overuse of bandwidth, violations of terms of service, and other reasons. Even if I had the time, I doubt I’d be motivated to find out why the union’s site has been suspended–unless I can discover some kind of scandal hidden therein.)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Top Ten States in the Foreclosure Sweepstakes

You can call this my corollary to the GovRegs blog posting on “Top 15 Companies With Cash on Hand.”

‘Cept this one ain’t so pretty–it’s a list of the top 10 states in terms of foreclosures. I’ll list them in reverse order to save the winners for last. The number in parentheses represents the ratio of foreclosures per house in the state; for instance, 1-500 means one in every 500 homes is facing foreclosure. Here goes:

Ohio (1-451)
Oregon (1-448)
Georgia (1-389)
Illinois (1-369)
Michigan (1-360)
Idaho (1-358)
Florida (1-188)
California (1-165)
Arizona (1-147)
Nevada (1-70)


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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The ‘Human Monster’ Rick Berman Is At It Again

The man whose very son called him “despicable” and a “human molestor,” labor antagonist Rick Berman, is spreading the word again–the word against the EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act.

At least he’s come up with interesting anti-EFCA studies, though one can never know the extent of the bias (if any) built into these things.

First, he cites Princeton economist David Lee, who studied the effect of unionization on companies’ stock valuations.

According to Berman, Lee found “substantial losses in market value following a union election victory–about a 10 percent decline, equivalent to about $40,500 per unionized worker.”

Should EFCA pass, the Human Molestor concludes, “Lee’s data suggest that the market value of firms will decline by as much as 11 percent.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which he also cites, chimes in that EFCA will cost the nation 600,000 jobs in the first year.

Here’s more labor molestation:

In a 2002 study, economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway calculated the burden that labor unions had on American economic productivity. They found that between 1947 and 2000, ‘the economic cost of unions’ in cumulating lost income, investment, and output was $73 trillion. That’s more than the gross world product last year.

Dunno, but that sounds awfully inflated or made up to me, and I’m no fan of the EFCA.

Berman gets in some licks of his own, of course, but he doesn’t reveal his source when he claims that the top ten most unionized states achieved just two-thirds the job growth of the top ten least unionized states from 1997-2007.

This is all good stuff in the arsenal of weapons to be used against the EFCA, but I doubt any Democrats will be listening in Congress.

Are you listening, filibuster-killer Arlen Specter?


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Study Ranks States on the Freedom Scale

The Mercatus Center of George Mason University has released the “first-ever” freedom rankings for all 50 states, rating each state in terms of fiscal policy, regulatory policy, economic freedom and personal freedom.

We develop and justify our ratings and aggregation procedure on explicitly normative criteria, defining individual freedom as the ability to dispose of one’s own life, liberty, and justly acquired property however one sees fit, so long as one does not coercively infringe on another individual’s ability to do the same,” explain the authors, William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens.

Where does your state stand?

The freest states are New Hampshire, Colorado and South Dakota. NH scored a plus .432.

The least free states are New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, California and Maryland. NY scored a minus .784.

Living in California, I had a pretty good idea my state would bilge out, as would New York.

If you want more details or wish to track your state, here’s the report in PDF format.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Which U.S. Companies Have the Most Cash on Hand?

The top one probably isn’t too hard to figure out (think gas pump gouging), but here’s a list of the top 15 firms in the U.S. in terms of hoarded cash:

  1. Exxon Mobil – (XOM) – Total Cash: $32.007 Billion
  2. Cisco Systems – (CSCO) – Total Cash: $29.531 Billion
  3. Apple – (AAPL) – Total Cash: $25.647 Billion
  4. Berkshire Hathaway – (BRK.A) – Total Cash: $25.539 Billion
  5. Pfizer Inc – (PFE) – Total Cash: $23.731 Billion
  6. Toyota Motor – (TM) – Total Cash: $23.151 Billion
  7. Microsoft – (MSFT) – Total Cash: $20.298 Billion
  8. Google – (GOOG) – Total Cash: $15.846 Billion
  9. Royal Dutch Shell – (RDS.A) – Total Cash: $15.188 Billion
  10. Wyeth – (WYE) – Total Cash: $14.54 Billion
  11. IBM – (IBM) – Total Cash: $12.907 Billion
  12. Johnson & Johnson – (JNJ) – Total Cash: $12.809 Billion
  13. Intel – (INTC) – Total Cash: $11.843 Billion
  14. Hewlett Packard – (HPQ) – Total Cash: $11.255 Billion
  15. Oracle – (ORCL) – Total Cash: $10.646 Billion

NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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WalMart Set to Cash in on EHR Boom

You don’t get to be the world’s largest retailer without having some chops.

Evidently reading the Obamaic tea leaves during the 2008 campaign, WalMart set in motion a plan to market Electronic Health Record (EHR) computer systems to physicians, and in so doing has come up with a system that shaves 50 percent off the price of its competitors.

Using its Sam’s Club operation, the Arkansas giant will pair Dell computers with software from eClinicalWorks and will throw into the mix installation, maintenance and training.

Cost will be $25,000 for the first physician in an office and $10,000 for each additional. Yearly upkeep fees will run $4,000 to $6,500.

Recall for a moment how the recent stimulus package (also called “porkulus” by many commentators) included $19 billion in subsidies for EHRs, and you’ll see how savvy WalMart was in preparing for an upcoming opportunity.

With McDonald’s, WalMart has also been about the only bright spot on the economic front since the Great Crash of September 2008 when Timothy Geithner and Hank Paulsen let Lehman Brothers go under (while paying the bonuses for AIG, Merrill Lynch and scads of other institutions they did decide to save), so you have to give the much-maligned (by Obama’s very own supporters) company some credit.

“If Wal-Mart is successful, this could be a game-changer,” observed Dr. David J. Brailer, former national coordinator for health information technology in the Bush administration.

Like I said at the top, you don’t get to be Top Dawg without having some chops–and using them to eat up your competition.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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The Curious Case of Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball, or MLB, has enjoyed a federal antitrust exemption since 1922 due to a Supreme Court’s ruling that the sport did not engage in interstate commerce. Quite curious because even back then, teams had to cross state lines to play each other, but the ruling has nonetheless stayed on the books, so to speak, ever since.

The ruling was reaffirmed in 1953 and again in 1972 in the Curt Flood case that did away with the infamous reserve (slavery) clause that MLB teams had used to keep its players in tow, underpaid and under wraps. In this latter case, however, at least the high court noted that the ruling of no interstate commerce was an “anomaly” but left it to Congress to deal with if it so chose.

Of course, Congress has wielded its antitrust bludgeon on quite a few occasions, most recently when dragging in owners, players and baseball executives to testify about steroids use.

Now, and here’s another curious aspect, since baseball does not engage in interstate commerce, it technically doesn’t fall under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) that regulates working hours, minimum wages, overtime day and child labor. (Of course, most states have similar or stronger laws on the books, so this may be a moot point.)

I guess that’s how teams get away with working their batboys till the wee hours, right?


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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