Friday, May 27, 2005

When You Lie Down With Dogs....

Teachers, firefighters, nurses--all of us should be embarrassed, upset, and concerned by the participants in Wednesday's rally. I'm not talking about the teachers, nurses, and firefighters themselves, who were for the most part very well-behaved, but rather the "outsiders" who were allowed in as part of the rally--the Stalinists, the socialists, and various assorted other lefties. What was billed as a rally to protest specific policies of Governor Schwarzenegger turned out to be an anti-American, anti-capitalist, far-left-wing gathering.

And union dues, my union dues, helped foot the bill for it.

Now come on Darren, you're thinking. You think everyone who doesn't agree with you is a communist! And while that is somewhat true, it's also true that International A.N.S.W.E.R., an organization with a tent set up within the perimeter of the rally, is an anti-American Stalinist group. Who says? That bastion of conservative media, the New York Times. The Instapundit links to a New York Times article on them here. A.N.S.W.E.R. is not the type of organization we should want to be associated with.

And what about the socialists? I don't understand the appeal of socialism--it's certainly not what made America great, it makes a mockery of the federalism the Founders created, and it should be an affront to anyone who works hard. The extreme socialism of the Soviet Union caused that country to collapse economically, Chinese communism/socialism is giving way to capitalist tendencies, and socialism is choking economic development in Europe. I guess some people don't understand the difference between a utopian theory and lousy practice, but socialism is an example of both. Yet here were avowed socialists, carry signs and handing out newspapers at this rally. These are not the type of people we should want to be associated with.

Unions don't usually admit to being PACs of the Democrat Party, despite the fact that everyone knows they are. The last time I was in the CTA office in Citrus Heights, a calendar from the Democratic National Committee was hanging on the wall. Has the CTA every recommended a Republican for President or Governor? Still, you'd think they'd want to at least maintain the charade of non-partisanship, have some believable deniability. But apparently not. There was the local Democrat machine, registering voters at the rally. I saw no such tent for the Republicans, that's for sure.

Dozens of buses showed up, bringing in people from across the state to attend the rally. There were plenty of people from the San Francisco Bay Area, about 2 hours from here. For a rally that started at 4:00 they had to leave at 2 pm or earlier. Did their schools have minimum days? Did they all get subs? This couldn't have been a wildcat issue--there had to be coordination between those local unions and their respective school districts. Something about that just doesn't sound kosher to me.

http://rightontheleftcoast.blogspot.com/2005/04/where-arnold-made-his-mistakes-and.html
The Governor made some mistakes, no doubt about it. I addressed them in the post identified here, but to summarize, he crafted his proposals to attack teachers and nurses instead of just their unions. That might turn out to be a strategic error, as it gave the unions something around which to rally the troops.

And then the unions chose to associate themselves with the ilk mentioned above--ardent leftists, socialists, and Stalinists. Let's read again what the NYT said about A.N.S.W.E.R.:

Answer, whose name stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, was formed a few days after Sept. 11, 2001, by activists who had already begun coming together to protest policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Some of the group's chief organizers are active in the Workers World Party, a radical Socialist group with roots in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The party has taken positions that include defense of the Iraqi and North Korean governments and support for Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugolav president being tried on war crimes charges.


As the Instapundit said here:

Antiwar protesters aren't Communists by definition.

But A.N.S.W.E.R. and the WWP basically are. (And of the extra-nasty Stalinist variety.)

Communists are, in my opinion, as bad as Nazis: mass murder, totalitarianism, etc. (And calling them "Marxists" instead doesn't fool anyone.)

Going to a march organized by Communists doesn't make you a Communist, any more than going to a march organized by Nazis makes you a Nazi.

But knowingly going to either one makes you icky. And calling it McCarthyism when people point that out, or point out that the Communists really are Communists, makes you either dishonest, or stupid.

And allowing these people at your rally is not just poor form, it's poor thinking. When you lie down with dogs, you're going to get fleas.


To see the pictures from the rally, click here and (depending on the date you do this) either scroll down to May 27th or go to the May 2005 archives and scroll down to see the pictures.

Update, 5/28/05 10:32 am: In my May 21st post I commented on the flier I received about the upcoming rally, and also predicted what kind of rally it would be. How prescient were my words! Here is a snippet:

That'll rally people to our cause, whatever our cause is. "Bring your own sign or poster. Keep to Alliance message." What is the Alliance message? I guess it's just anti-Schwarzenegger--or, more likely, anti-capitalist/anti-Republican/anti-American.

Could I have been any more accurate? And I'm glad I followed this advice from the flier:

"Do not be provoked by taunts or insults."


Update, 5/31/05 6:37 pm: I wrote here about the CTA's socialism. I'm not making this stuff up, folks--go look at the pictures posted on 5/27. Read the quotes that I quote. See the CTA for what it is, and stop it before it's too late.

23 comments:

thc said...

I just don't understand why any able teacher would be opposed to some sort of pay for performance. Isn't the CTA just saying "we've gotta protect all the crappy teachers"?

Andrew said...

I think the problem is rooted in how very, very subjective "performance" is.

"And what about the socialists? I don't understand the appeal of socialism--it's certainly not what made America great, it makes a mockery of the federalism the Founders created, and it should be an affront to anyone who works hard. The extreme socialism of the Soviet Union caused that country to collapse economically, Chinese communism/socialism is giving way to capitalist tendencies, and socialism is choking economic development in Europe. I guess some people don't understand the difference between a utopian theory and lousy practice, but socialism is an example of both. Yet here were avowed socialists, carry signs and handing out newspapers at this rally. These are not the type of people we should want to be associated with."

And yet you're still a public school teacher.

In my opinion you still haven't given a satisfactory answer as to why you facilitate a supposedly crooked system (heck, a clear definition of socialism from you would be lovely in and of itself). All I've gotten out of reading the blog and listening to you in-class is that it's convenient to your schedule (which I'm not exactly prepared to believe as a primary motive) and the answer you gave me after school on Friday (which I'm not prepared to believe at all).

So basically, the only apparant possibilities are as follows:

*) You don't believe in the system but it's convenient so you don't care.

*) You don't believe in the system so you use your position as teacher as a soap-box lest we all lapse into sheep-like submission to the doctrines of socialism.

*) You don't believe in some aspects of the system but do believe in others, though you often denounce the system in its entirety.

Bah, I'm just trying to make some sense of this all.

Darren said...

Andrew, you bring up some interesting points.

I don't think it's necessary to give a detailed definition of socialism. Excessive state control over the major life activities, as shown by governments in Canada, Europe, and the communist/socialist governments of China and the former Soviet Union, suffices for a working definition of socialism.

My greatest concern with what you wrote was your comment "And yet you're still a public school teacher." What did you mean by that? Did you mean that teachers are just supposed to be socialists, because that's what teachers are??? Or did you mean that because I work for a bureaucracy, it's hypocritical of me to disagree with government control (socialism)? Since neither of those is a strong argument, I'll assume you meant something else that I haven't yet determined; please enlighten me.

When you ask why I facilitate a broken system, do you mean why I remain a union member or why I remain a school teacher? I only wish I could remember what answer I gave you after school on Friday!

I enjoy teaching. I became a teacher because it allows me to be a good father. When my son is out of school, I'm out of school. We get to go places, do things together. And I just like the job.

I didn't become a teacher to indoctrinate young minds. In fact, that never crossed my mind until I saw and heard all the lefty tripe that students are subjected to. The few minutes I spend discussing non-math-related topics in class, I consider that "equal time".

As for being a union member, I have only a couple options. I could pay 85% of the current union dues and get nothing in return--not even the ability to vote on my own contract! Or I could pay the entire union fee, be a member, and have a voice in the union. That's pretty much it. The only option for not paying anything to the union is if I have a religious conviction against doing so, which I don't--I have a political conviction. Even if I did, I'd have to donate full union dues to a union-approved charity!

As for your final comments about not believing in "the system", I'd need to know which system you're referring to.

You make excellent comments--I enjoy reading them :-0 Have a good holiday.

Andrew said...

"I don't think it's necessary to give a detailed definition of socialism. Excessive state control over the major life activities, as shown by governments in Canada, Europe, and the communist/socialist governments of China and the former Soviet Union, suffices for a working definition of socialism."

That'll do, that'll do. :-)

So tell me this, Mr. Miller, where is the line between excessive and acceptable and on which side of said line are say.... current truancy laws?

Personally, I'm inclined to think it would be consistant with your beliefs that current truancy laws that would allow for a student's parents/guardians/caregivers to be punished as a result of that student not showing up for class on a regular basis err on the side of "excessive state control."

(The above being a single facet of what could overall be considered and excessively controlling system... not that I care, the whole "education" deal seems to come in handy every so often.)

If I'm right in that assumption, then you are in fact facilitating an inherently socialist system.

(I think my first post should make a little more sense now.)

Walter E. Wallis said...

The goons love to run off everyone but the sheep. Once they neuter the sheep, they have no controls on their excesses left at all. Someone has to keep the goons honest. A pity you have to pay the price to do it.

EdWonk said...

My chief concern with CTA will always be the fact that they will not allow the dues paying rank-and-file membership to elect their own leaders. And yet they continue to force us to pay dues to them.

A truly democratic organization need never fear its own membership.

Darren said...

Here's an interesting paragraph from Mark Steyn, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.

And it's the willingness to subordinate individual liberty to what Hutton calls "the primacy of society" that has blighted the continent for over a century: Statism -- or "the primacy of society" -- is what fascism, Nazism, communism and now European Union all have in common. In fairness, after the first three, European Union seems a comparatively benign strain of the disease -- not a Blitzkrieg, just a Bitzkrieg, an accumulation of fluffy trivial pan-European laws that nevertheless takes for granted that the natural order is a world in which every itsy-bitsy activity is licensed and regulated and constitutionally defined by government.

Polski3 said...

Darren,

Thanks for going to this rally and representing those of us who oppose CTA and its leftist theology. I liked the comment about CTA on your sign. :-) I agree with you 100% that those "other" organizations that were allowed to be part of this rally showed us which beds CTA leadership is sleeping in. Just fleas? I think there are more than just fleas in those beds.

Anonymous said...

Darren,

I was a little shocked at this:

"I don't think it's necessary to give a detailed definition of socialism. Excessive state control over the major life activities, as shown by governments in Canada, Europe, and the communist/socialist governments of China and the former Soviet Union, suffices for a working definition of socialism."

as a Brit living in the US, I don't remember anything that I would describe as "excessive state control over the major life activities". I find it particularly shocking that you would put Europe & Canada in the same descriptive bucket as China and the former Soviet Union.

Could you cite some examples to illustrate what you mean?

Regards
Duncan

Darren said...

We can start with nationalized health care, a nanny state, and go to some of the major European authorizations of mandated vacations and even, in the case of Germany, taxpayer-paid time at schwimmbads.

You lived in britain and didn't see excessive state control? How about the BBC tax?

As for comparisons to the Soviet Union and China, obviously the political systems are somewhat different, but socialism is still socialism. I could throw in Cuba as well.

Anonymous said...

Darren,
you're citing examples of higher taxation and funding for public services, plus some business regulation. None of that justifies comparison with the "socialism" of China, Cuba, or the former Soviet Union.

Note, I'm not suggesting that Europe, in general, has a system of taxation and public spending close to the US - rather that you're lumping together of Europe with the aforementioned communist regimes is at the very least a little hyperbolic.

Your final paragraph here is a good summary of what I'm objecting to:

"As for comparisons to the Soviet Union and China, obviously the political systems are somewhat different, but socialism is still socialism."

I couldn't disagree more. In the European context, "socialism" means progressive taxation to fund services like road construction, welfare benefits and public schools (and yes, typically also healthcare).

In the context of China and the former Soviet Union, "socialism" is a euphemism for communism. By that, those regimes mean (or meant) a Marxist philosophy of "common ownership of the means of production and distribution" ie the state owns all of the manufacturing and service industries, pays all of the wages and (at least in the purest incarnation found in some of the eastern European formerly communist states) - doesn't actually *need* to collect taxes. They just don't pay you the money in the first place. Lest we forget, it also includes *no democracy*. Oh, and secret police monitoring for any possible "unorthodox" political views. And internal and external travel restrictions, the need to produce identification on demand, and so on.

Putting European nations like the UK into the same category on the basis of taxpayer funded healthcare and a tax on television sets seems a little extreme.

Regards
Duncan

Darren said...

Duncan, I so appreciate it when someone can disagree with me and use examples, logic, and courtesy to make a good point. Thank you!

Let me assure you that as an ardent anti-communist, I was in no way implying that the Europeans are communists. Instead, as I said, "socialism is socialism". If you want to argue merely the degree of socialism, that's fine; I'm sure there's an argument to be made that the United States is a socialist country (at least when compared to itself of 100 years ago), and again the difference in opinion might only be of degree.

I would like to think, however, that we could agree that there is enough of a "social safety net" in Canada and Europe to justify the use of the term "socialist" to describe those countries, at least when compared to the US.

Anonymous said...

Darren,
I'm fine with that definition of "socialist", if that is what you mean - but if that is the definition, China and the former Soviet Union (or the former eastern European communist states, or Cuba) are no more "socialist" than the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is actually "democratic".

What occured in those states (and still does in those surviving) is truly shocking. It certainly isn't "socialist", though.

Regards
Duncan

sheepishkaputnik@yahoo.com said...

I've never understood the American fear of communism and socialism. Both are inept forms of government. They get their appeal from their links to Christianity -- you know, nearly every word out of Jesus' mouth was about taking care of the poor and those in prison, not about building ones portfolio. But they are inherently inefficient and doomed as a form of government. You just can't beat the open market.
Having said that, the problem with our ideological war against the big S and C stems from the dichotomy of a legitimate economic and political disagreement that is masked by personality conflicts. We've all read how many people have died under the boot of socialist and communist regimes, but try to name one that wasn't headed by a crackpot. Maybe genuis crackpots, but crackpots nonetheless. So we really don't have any good data on this experiment called Communism, as we still really haven't seen it in its pure form.

Darren said...

And I'd like to keep it that way.

One of the problems with socialism is that it's being tried in Europe on a grand scale and is failing. Slowly, to be sure, but failing. Magna Europa soon won't be able to afford to cash the checks it's writing, yet is held up by the "intellectual elite" as the model for the US.

That concerns me.

Duncan said...

sheepishkaputnik,
to answer your second question - it kind of depends on exactly how you define "crackpot". If you're going to say that anybody who is a communist leader is, ipso facto, a crackpot, then obviously I can't think of any rule breakers :-). However, if you actually require at least a little bit of insanity to qualify as a crackpot, I can think of quite a few examples of non-crackpot communist leaders.

We could start with Leonid Brezhnev, or Nikita Kruschev. You could easily add recent Chinese administrators - not to mention Vladimir Lenin. Sure, most of them weren't (or aren't) particularly nice people as far as I can tell, and they made strategic errors at one time or another. Nonetheless, I don't think they qualify as crackpots per se.

There have been plenty who qualify as crackpots, obviously. I'd think Kim Jong Il and Josef Stalin probably fit that description for starters.

Then again, in their case the bounds of crackpottery are mostly that they are/were brutal, ruthless and a little bit paranoid.

Here's the problem I see in your argument: you're saying that "pure communism" has "never really been tried", because it has only been tried in specific cases where crackpots run the system. I would argue that this is more than mere coincidence; the communist systems of government *have* been tested, many times, in their purest forms - and the results of those tests are that brutal, ruthless and slightly paranoid people tend to end up running the regimes.

Also worth pointing out - all but a very small number of surviving communist regimes have eventually collapsed due to economic ruination which was a direct result of the communist system - and for no other reason. This was certainly the case in the Soviet Union and eastern European former communist states (the level of economic ruination was quite astonishing to see).

Regards
Duncan

Duncan said...

Darren,
I'm a little confused by your remark about Europe...

What are the checks you're referring to? Isn't the US running a bigger deficit as a percentage of GDP than the European average?

Regards
Duncan

Darren said...

Pick a time period--5 years, 10 years, 20 years--and compare US economic growth to that of the EU and see which is greater. Let's face it--the EU isn't a business-friendly environment and the US is. To some people that's horrible news, but to them I say that no poor man has ever offered me a job.

Duncan said...

Darren,
if that's what you mean, then I completely agree - US growth is typically higher than the EU.

However, I didn't interpret your post to mean that - the EU is economically entirely viable, and it is certainly in no danger of any sort of economic collapse. Your comment that it was "writing checks it could not cash" led me towards that interpretation.

Regards
Duncan

Darren said...

From what I read, the EU isn't economically viable at all. It's collapsing under the weight of its own policies, just as did the Soviet Union.

Darren said...

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/0522robb22.html

Free registration required, but this guy hits the nail on the head.

Barbara said...

Darren, the bottom line is that states and school districts without unions have poor pay and benefits for teachers in most cases.
An example here in California is the Snowline Joint Unified District. It is a small, good district but the pay tops out at 54,000 dollars a year, what I "make" now after 5 years as a teacher in LAUSD. I take home 2/3 of my actual pay due to takeouts for STRS retirement, taxes and a dental FSA. Imagine me trying to get by up there. The bottom line is that unions professionalize teaching.
Another example is the air traffic control situation. Since their union was broken by Reagan they recently had their starting pay cut by 25% by Congress which now controls their contract. What this means is that Air Force people who would have naturally been air traffic controllers are not joining them and there is s dangerous shortage. They cannot depend on getting regular shifts- hence they can't go to their kids' soccer and baseball games. Many are retiring as fast as they can. This poses a very dangerous situation for air travelers. There has been increases in near misses at LAX recently and I can't help but wonder if the shortage and low pay is causing these problems.

Why not pay for performance? Because I never know what type of student I will get. Last year I had some of the most reliable students who came from stable homes. This year, attendance is horrific and work ethic even worse. Many home phones are disconnected. Also the lack of middle class jobs - due to lack of unions and our politicians selling our jobs overseas- means that many parents work several low paying jobs- just like the Republicans like it. They want us to return to a feudal system where working people have no power and a few Enron type companies have all the power.

You are playing right into their hands. And if you supported Reagan you can blame him for the immigration mess. He helped to destabilize several central American economies and supported death squads in El Salvador hence the increase in immigration. He also backed big business which wants the cheapest labor possible.

I came from the private sector and teaching is my second career. Even though money is still tight, my quality of life is so much higher with a union than without.
For people who support Republicans, it is a race to the bottom economically for working people and we won't stand for it. The Progressive resurgance is on its way. The Republicans would have been smart to take a more middle ground position instead of making their contempt for the working class so blatant. They will pay in 2008.

Darren said...

Barbara, I don't see how unions "professionalize" teaching, and you certainly didn't explain how they did. And LA Unified has problems at every level--I'm not sure you want to use it as an example of *anything* good going on in teaching.

You didn't mention Clovis school district here in California, a district in which the teachers and administration work *collaboratively* and it's the *teachers* who keep the union out. That's right, in California there exists at least one district where the teachers don't want a union!!!

I, too, came from the private sector, after a stint in the army (no unions there, either). If you think that having your union commiserate with International A.N.S.W.E.R. makes you more professional, have at it--I do not.

I'm not quite sure what amnesty has to do with this post, but ok. Reagan erred in his immigration amnesty, and we're paying for it now. I don't think we should make the same mistake again, as President Bush was trying to do. Appeasing liberals has never worked for Republicans, and trying to do so is what will cause the Republicans problems in future elections. For all you who subscribe to the "race to the bottom" theory, perhaps you can explain why the Republican party gets far more donations from individual Americans than the Democrats do. The Dems wouldn't even be a party were it not for unions, special interests (trial lawyers), and corporate donations.