Freedom isn’t easy


America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”. – President Andrew Shepard (Michael Douglas) in The American President

As I watch events in Michigan today I can’t help but think that some people just don’t understand how freedom and democracy are supposed to work. Both sides claim freedom as one of their basic principles, but far too many people on both sides think “freedom” means “freedom for me but not for thee”.

The issue is not whether labor unions are a good thing for the country. That’s debatable. The issue is freedom of association. Everyone should be free to join a union. No one should be required to pay dues to a union they don’t support.

The flip side of freedom is responsibility. We have the freedom to make choices. It is our responsibility to make wise choices. The freedom to choose makes us accountable for the choices we make.

But despite what the libertarians believe, we are not a bunch of independent sovereign nations. We are all citizens of a single nation. The founding document of this nation lays out what was then a radical notion as its raison d’être:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

Freedom isn’t easy. Some people will use their freedom in ways we don’t like. But our freedom is not unlimited. The eternal question is how much infringement on our freedom is necessary and desirable. Some things should be prohibited, some things should be allowed, some things should be encouraged and other things should be required.

Democracy is the method by which we decide which is which. But freedom and democracy don’t always produce the outcomes we want. Stupid people get to vote for bad candidates. Good laws get voted down or are declared unconstitutional. Bad laws hang around. The other guys win way too often.

Democracy is a crazy, messed up system that’s only redeeming quality is it works better than any other system that’s ever been tried.

If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you. – Larry Flynt

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53 Responses to Freedom isn’t easy

  1. HELENK says:

    It is messy, but I would not want to live under any other system.

  2. Freedom isn’t easy. Some people will use their freedom in ways we don’t like.

    True. For example, Republicans are exercising their freedom to lash back at people who targeted them as the enemy. And unions exercised their freedom to go all in with Democrats and target the GOP before that. Now they want protection from the consequences of their actions. If they had been smart, they would have cultivated a working relationship with both parties, so they could be protected all around. Other core Democratic constituencies will soon feel the unions’ pain, because that’s the price of allegiance to groups instead of ideas.

    • DeniseVB says:

      In my perfect world, unions would be banned from donating to politicians. Millions being thrown at a crap table, and certainly not helping the worker-bees while the union officers make 6 digit salaries.

      • myiq2xu says:

        In my perfect world campaigns would be publicly financed and television stations would be required as part of their license to air campaign commercials for free.

        But that wouldn’t work either.

        • DeniseVB says:

          Corporate tv/radio depends on those political ads to stay on air, our local radio talkers thank every election season for their jobs. PSA’s would be the demise of a.m. radio. You’re right, wouldn’t work. 😉

      • Would there be a corresponding rule against capital’s donations? Because that’s the only way that works. I’m all for draining the money swamp, but how do we fund campaigns? I certainly don’t want public funding. That’s just more opportunity for corrupt people to misuse my money. It’s difficult to come up with a workable system, for sure.

        • votermom says:

          My idea is to tax the political contributions on the donor side. Of course no politician would ever craft that bill, much less vote for it.

        • myiq2xu says:

          WMCB had the answer – remove the incentive.

          Corporations, individuals and unions donate huge sums of money because it is profitable for them to do so. Campaign donations are a business investment.

        • DeniseVB says:

          2012 was a 2 billion dollar election. How do we fix that in the future? Not sure it was a fair fight, Obama had his incumbency, media and personal Winnebago (AF1). What a load. My Potted Plant should have beat him, how did we lose?

          Sidebar: I’m looking to January, we need a new FB page 😀

  3. 49erDweet says:

    Well said, myiq. Looks like the lorazapam is working. 🙂

  4. DeniseVB says:

    Cont’d from the last post ……… in this case the teachers’ union appears to be performing poorly in the Michigan classroom (primarily Detroit). 7% reading proficiency among 8th graders tells me teachers have bigger problems than taking days off to protest.

    Reminds me of the story in California where a first year teacher won the state’s Teacher of the Year only to get laid off because she wasn’t senior enough….cough, per union contract, cough…..that needs to be fixed.

    • Unions aren’t the only problem with public education, but they’re one of the biggest.

      • elliesmom says:

        Unions keep school systems from being able to attract the best and the brightest and from keeping them once they have them. Schools cannot offer premium pay for positions that are hard to fill. Unions prevent schools from varying the school day or the school calendar to the varying needs of children of different ages. Every teacher in the system must have the same hourly commitments because it doesn’t matter what grade or subject you teach, if you have the same number of academic credits, and the same number of years on the job, you must be paid the same salary and so you must be required to work the same number of hours. In some school systems, each teacher is allocated the same number of dollars to outfit her classroom every year. Doesn’t matter if you need to equip a science lab or just buy a few posters. And it doesn’t matter if you have 20 years worth of classroom materials stashed or if you’re brand new to the job and have nothing .A new teacher at the bottom of the pay scale, who wants to do a good job, often spends hundreds of dollars out of her own pocket to outfit her new classroom. Everybody focuses on the union’s preventing schools from getting rid of bad teachers, but a more pressing problem is how the union prevents schools from hiring and keeping the good ones.

      • DeniseVB says:

        I think inner city public servants deserve combat pay not sending union leaders on tropical vacations and living La Vida Loca.

        My daughter taught figure skating for a Harlem (NYC) public program for inner city kids. Thanks to funding by the likes of The Donald and other Richie Riches, she made $60/hr just for showing up. The program was free to those kids who maintained B averages in school. More donations to the program brought in tutors to help the kids maintain their averages. Truly a community effort, now I wonder how programs like this will suffer if Obama takes away the charitable deductions?

        • Erica says:

          Gee, I wonder if the Donald would be interested in funding pediatric doctors in urban/inner city California. Wouldn’t cost a penny more than figure skating teachers.

  5. HELENK says:

    this is ugly.

  6. elliesmom says:

    As someone who could only have the job she loved if she joined a union she hated, I say hats off to the Michigan legislature. If the unions are worth joining, people will join without coercion. Having a members who hate being part of your union isn’t all that helpful to the union if the union is really trying to represent the people who want to be there. I know I thwarted them every opportunity I got. And the more senior I became, the more havoc I could cause.

    • Good points. Why aren’t unions subject to the same conditions as their employers? You know, marketing persuasion… If they were pleasing their members, this wouldn’t even be a problem.

      • Propertius says:

        Sure, as long as non-members don’t receive the benefits the unions have negotiated. 😉

        • elliesmom says:

          I would have been happy to give up the “benefits” the union negotiated for me. The second year I taught, the union “negotiated” a cut in pay for all teachers with less than five years and a raise for everyone with over 25.

    • myiq2xu says:

      Why do you need a full time union anyway? You elect some reps to negotiate a contract, After you get a contract everybody goes to work until next time.

      No dues necessary.

      • elliesmom says:

        But the union gets involved in a lot more than contract negotiations. When I was teaching in a big city high school. I was required to have two “duty periods” a week. Another teacher who taught the same courses I did and I each signed up for two study halls a week. Both of us showed up all four days because it allowed us to work together on lesson planning, and it meant one of us could schlep off to the copy machine or go to the bathroom and the classroom was still covered. The kids saw us working together and asked if they could work on homework together, too, and we said as long as the noise level was low, they could. We also didn’t care if they listened to music if they had headsets. Our study hall became very popular and the kids wanted to come the 5th day, too. Kathleen and I didn’t care because we were in the same place on that day, too, and the kids didn’t disturb us. But, you see, that meant the teacher who should have had study hall that day had an extra “free period”. When another teacher noticed that, she reported the 3 of us to the union. Kathleen and I were comfortable telling them to stuff it, and they knew it, but when the union threatened to fine the other teacher for not doing her “duty”, she turned all of the kids in for cutting class. When Kathleen and I tried to sign up for study hall the next semester, the union assigned us to bathroom duty instead. So we collaborated together outside the bathroom in the hallway instead, and the kids got hall passes to come see us there. They finally banished us to cafeteria duty where we could no longer collaborate on our lessons. The next year the union had a “professional day” about our new contract negotiations and the importance of schools setting aside time in the day for teachers to work together, We called in sick and went shoe shopping.

    • 49erDweet says:

      (very tardy) HONK! HONK! Or better yet, Oogah, Oogah.

  7. Constance says:

    Speaking of freedom of speech is that Egyptian Christian immigrant guy who made the youtube video that Susan Rice blamed the Benghazi attacks on still in jail?

  8. yttik says:

    I’m really cynical. I don’t believe any of this is about freedom. The national debt has driven up the cost of living so high, that many people are better off just going on welfare. Why work 50-60 hours a week, giving 30% of your wages to the Gov in SS, medi, L&I, property taxes, sales tax? People can’t afford to put a roof over their head with what’s left over. Businesses also have to pay taxes and comply with regulations, so they can’t afford higher wages either. So the Gov keeps borrowing money which is like a hidden tax on the cost of living which makes it harder and harder for us to provide for ourselves. Rather than facing this fact, many in Gov blame corporations, businesses, “the rich,” and pretend as if a union is the solution. It used to be, but you reach a certain point where, how much is enough? With the Gov racking up 16 trillion in debt, how much do we have to earn to be able to pay the interest on that debt and still be able to provide for ourselves? Some people estimate that it’s about four times what most of us are earning now. But with the Gov just continuing to spend, there really is no end in sight. We’re going to need more and more money just to pay for the increased cost of living that the interest on all all that debt creates.

    So freedom, forced unions.,freedoms from unions, all that is just a distraction from the truth that nobody wants to deal with. We can’t earn enough money to pay for our Government’s spending habits and our own basic needs, too. It doesn’t matter if we all join a union or get more education, or find better jobs. The spending has to stop, the debt has to go down. We’re creating a situation where nobody is going to choose to work because it simply isn’t cost effective anymore.

    • elliesmom says:

      You don’t have to be on welfare to find it’s not cost effective to work. I stopped working at 60, and we honestly didn’t notice the cut in pay much, and I was bringing home a decent salary. Between taxes, fees, the cost of maintaining a professional license, and the money it costs just to go to work everyday, I was actually working for peanuts. People with low paying jobs must be losing money everyday.

    • Constance says:

      I agree with your thoughts on this and I feel that there is also going to be a huge generational conflict soon. Currently the young are lulled into a Liberal stupor of government solutions to everything but at some point they are going to wake up and figure out they are getting screwed and will never get a return on their taxes. Just today I had an argument with a co worker who is younger than I am and told me people deserve full social security and medicare because they have been pre paying for it for all of their working life. Well when Social Security was started life expectancy was under 65. Now people are retiring and collecting Social Security for 30 years and you can’t tax the young high enough to cover that. People are not even paying in a third of what they take out. Medicare will pay to prolong the life of someone who has lived uncomfortably long and is ready to go but won’t pay for them to be in hospice. Sometime soon the young are going to have to revolt.

      • elliesmom says:

        Actually, people retiring today will collect less in social security payments than they paid in. For the average worker, it’s a “lousy investment”.

        • Constance says:

          Interesting, it does work out for two people earning a low average income and paying in for their entire working life. Strangely I know a bunch of people who have earned high incomes part of their life and didn’t contribute to the system for part of their life as well as people with disabled relatives who have never paid in and almost any situation other than two people of low average income has people taking much more than they paid in. I have no problem with people getting what they paid or people who are disabled getting a check. But I know a lot of people who have lost career jobs and are going to take early benefits, which is still a barely livable amount and yet will be well over what they paid in by the time they reach 90. I think we are going to have to build dorm communities for elders because how else can you live on $1,500. a month and there isn’t any more to give them.

    • swanspirit says:

      Why not ??, he is short in so many ways , short sighted , short of stature , short a few brain cells .. I could go on … /double snort

      • myiq2xu says:

        Speaking from personal experience, clowns make lousy leaders. It is a lot easier to sit on the sidelines and criticize than it is to get out there and play the game.

        • swanspirit says:

          I think Colbert is too short on talent to be a real clown . He might have been funny in the past , but now he and Stewart are no more than shills for Obama , and not funny .

  9. swanspirit says:

    School Bus Drivers Slam the Brakes on Teamster Union Rights Violations
    Union officials charge nonmember workers more than full dues to keep their jobs

    Spring Grove, PA (October 25, 2012) – A local Teamster union is facing federal prosecution after violating the rights of two local school bus drivers.

    The case stems from federal charges filed by two school bus drivers, LeeAnn Schorner and Brenda Wiseman, with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

    Schorner and Wiseman refrain from formal union membership in the Teamsters Local Union 776 and object to paying full union dues. Because Pennsylvania lacks a Right to Work law, workers can be compelled to pay union fees as a condition of employment.

    However, U.S. Supreme Court precedent guarantees that employees have the right to refrain from union membership and the right to opt out of paying for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as members-only events and political lobbying. Teamster union bosses are further required to provide an independently-audited breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures.

  10. HELENK says:

    per Fox news

    Michigan governor signed right to work law

  11. myiq2xu says:

    I hung up 1/2 my Christmas lights. Stepped in cat shit. Taking a beer break and watching original Home Alone.

    • Somebody says:

      If you’re hanging Christmas lights you should be watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!!

      But hey the original Home Alone was the best one, enjoy!

  12. Somebody says:

    I don’t have a problem in the world with right to work. People should be free to decide on their own whether they want to join a union. My husband belongs to a union because his union offers protection that his employer refuses to offer. He can be personally sued should he make an error, an error that most likely might result in loss of life. Thank goodness he’s never needed legal representation or litigation/settlement assistance of any kind, but you never know.

    He does have a choice as to whether he’s a union member or not though. He has issues with many of the politicians they support and he feels their seniority policy discourages employees from seeking other positions; but those particular battles have been fought multiple times and the votes although close came out in favor of keeping said policies.

    I don’t agree with all out union bashing. Unions have done plenty to benefit workers across this country, whether they were union members or not. Companies are interested in profits and as our history teaches us and China currently shows us most aren’t too concerned about working conditions. Everybody that has two days off a week should thank unions.

    Do I think many unions have gone too far? You bet your ass I do, the latest twinkie debacle is a classic example. But unions certainly have their place. I also don’t agree with not allowing them to make political contributions. The Supreme Court held that corporations have the right to lobby, so too should unions. That being said I’d love to find a way to eliminate the money and corruption that follows it from our electoral process, but I doubt that will ever happen.

  13. 49erDweet says:

    No argument with your POV. It’s the forced unionization and forced political contributions that cause the problems. Good luck on solving the money in politics issue. I’d argue it’s the withholding of money that’d help but there are obviously too many intellectually dysfunctional voters out there for that to work.

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