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by Paul Krugman, NY Times

In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.

You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and Read the rest of this entry »

By Thomas Sowell

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The biggest myth about labor unions is that unions are for the workers. Unions are for unions, just as corporations are for corporations and politicians are for politicians.

Nothing shows the utter cynicism of the unions and the politicians who do their bidding like the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act” that the Obama administration tried to push through Congress. Employees’ free choice as to whether or not to join a union is precisely what that legislation would destroy.

Workers already have a free choice in secret-ballot elections conducted under existing laws. As more and more workers in the private sector have voted to reject having a union represent them, the unions’ answer has been to take away secret-ballot elections.

Under the “Employee Free Choice Act,” unions would not have to win in secret-ballot elections in order to represent the workers. Instead, union representatives could simply collect signatures from the workers until they had a majority.

Why do we have secret ballots in the first place, whether in elections for unions or elections for government officials? To prevent intimidation and allow people to vote how they want to, without fear of retaliation.

This is a crucial right that unions want to take away from workers. The actions of union mobs in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere give us a free home demonstration of how little they respect the rights of those who disagree with them and how much they rely on harassment and threats to get what they want.

It takes world-class chutzpah to call circumventing secret ballots the “Employee Free Choice Act.” Read the rest of this entry »

By Marshall Kirby, Policy Analyst

As a citizen, the debate over budget cuts and the fiscal crisis has permeated throughout the media.  The one thing all sides agree on is that something will need to be done to shore up America’s fiscal position sooner rather than later.  It seems hard to believe that a decade ago discussion of the US deficit raised little concern even from well respected “deficit hawks.”  However, over the last ten years, our country has consistently spent far more than it received in revenues.  This has led us to the point where even those analysts who believed that America’s fiscal position was strong have now raised their eyebrows with regard to our country’s long term budget sustainability and solvency.

Right now, Republicans and Democrats both acknowledge the situation and the need to produce meaningful budget cuts.  However, Republicans have seized momentum from the political wind and have put forth a budget in the House of Representatives which puts through deeper cuts in non-defense discretionary spending than the President’s own budget.  Both the Administration’s budget and the one put forth in the House have received a lot of criticism with a mix of praise.  Deficit hawks and Tea Party supporters have praised the House budget, and less hawkish analysts also concerned with education and infrastructure have been sympathetic towards President Obama’s.

I’d venture a guess based on polling numbers from various news agencies and organizations that the average American is fairly concerned with America’s and their own state’s deficit problems.  At the same time most are more deeply concerned about the economy, growth, and employment.  Coming out this week in the Washington Post (article can be viewed here) was a report by Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s which has predicted that if the House budget were to become our nation’s budget 700,000 jobs Read the rest of this entry »

By Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

Almost everyone knows America is facing a fiscal and budget crisis.  Years of spending more than was brought in have now caught up with us, with some help from a recession.  You’d be hard pressed to find an economist or policy analyst who would argue that this is not a major concern for the economy and nation as a whole.  However, you do find debates in the policy solutions legislators propose.  Should we make serious cuts in budgets to reduce the deficit, or do we make gradual cuts given that we still are in the midst of high unemployment and economic uncertainty?  There are serious and sound arguments that each side can make.  But when it comes down to it, there needs to be a sound strategy of what we can realistically cut without producing negative short, mid, and long term implications for the economy at large.

This is where many people get frustrated (including myself).  There are a lot of things that the government spends on that are wasteful, just as there are many valuable programs that promote growth and important social causes.  However, this does not help in quantifying these areas – in fact we live in a highly partisan time and each party’s anathema is the other’s idea of a successful program.  However, it seems in the past few weeks that Democrats and Republicans have found some bipartisan common ground – albeit with a frightening proposal.

Senators Mary Landrieu and Olympia Snowe both on the Senate Small Business Committee, have formed a cross party alliance and have drafted a letter already sent to Small Business Administration head Karen Mills.  The leaders request that Ms. Mills come up with programs which can be “cut” or “eliminated” without hampering the ability of the SBA to operate and serve the Small Business Community.  Both Senators in the past have been avid supporters of the SBA and of promoting small business interests.  It seems even stranger in that the previous decade was marked with reductions in the budget.  In 2006, the budget was $440 million, down from 2001 when it was $674 million.  To President Obama’s credit, he restored some of the SBA’s funding in 2010 bringing it $687 million (this is a nominal increase, but when accounting for inflation, it represents still a lower proportion of funding than in 2001).  The stimulus bill did provide additional money for small business loans, but with that funding drying up, the future is uncertain for the types of programs and loans it will be able to deliver to business owners and entrepreneurs. Read the rest of this entry »

The following article was published by Entrepreneur.com and attempts to rank U.S. Presidents according to how they helped the typical small business owner.  The list is certainly not definitive, nor is there a consensus on the rankings, but what do you thin about the top 5?  As an example counter-point, many scholars today say that FDR’s policies prolonged the Great Depression, which certainly would not have helped the entrepreneur.

Presidents Day is a holiday for Americans to honor the nation’s past and present leaders. But which presidents should small-business owners pay homage to?

The gulfs between the interests of small businesses often can be vast — a measure that helps one business can often hurt another. Some business experts would add that presidents themselves have only a marginal — if any — impact on the climate for small businesses. Congress, some say, typically has taken the lead role. And just about every president would say that they were pro-small business during their tenure in office.

Despite their wide-ranging job duties — from tamping down terrorism to reunifying the country — some presidents have managed to put small business and encouraging entrepreneurship front and center. To find out which U.S. presidents did the most for small business, Entrepreneur.com asked three people who have studied the subject: Doug Wead, a presidential historian, bestselling author and advisor to two presidents; Zoltan Acs, Read the rest of this entry »

by Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

President Obama recently announced a move which has garnered significant attention in the political and business communities.  The announcement amounts to a review of current regulations which the Federal government has placed on businesses and the way they operate.  This move has come as a bit of a surprise, but was not entirely unanticipated.  With the Democrats losing control in the House of Representatives and losing several seats in the Senate, and with the White House facing low approval ratings, most political insiders and commentators have expected Obama to adopt more centrist policies and work harder at improving a sputtering economy.

Since entering office, President Obama has been hit repeatedly from conservatives and the business lobby over concerns of higher taxes and a more encumbering regulatory environment as a result of health care reform and the proposed cap and trade legislation.  Last year, the Administration engaged in a very public battle with the US Chamber of Commerce over legislation with the US Chamber of Commerce accusing the President’s policies of being job killing and unfriendly to business.  Tom Donohue, the President and CEO of the US Chamber even went so far as to say that US based businesses were facing a threatening “regulatory tsunami” (Wingfield, Brian). Read the rest of this entry »

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