September 24, 2006
Humour Break: What happens when "Collectivists" are calling the shots?
NEW LEGISLATION FROM CONGRESS – THE AMERICANS WITH NO ABILITIES ACT
WASHINGTON DC - Congress is considering a sweeping new law which will provide special benefits for many Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislation by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.
"Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society," said Senator Barbara Boxer, D-California. "We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers simply because they do a better job, or have some idea of what they are doing."
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, pointed to the example of the U.S. Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 84 percent of all postal employees lack job skills, making this agency the single largest employer of Persons of Inability in the country (with the single exception of the U.S. Congress, which has a higher ratio at 86 percent).
Private sector industries with good records of nondiscrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement "warehouse" stores (81%). At the State level, the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles also has a great record of hiring Persons of Inability (63%).
Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million new "middle man" positions will be created. These jobs will have important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance for the up-and-coming Unskilled.
Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation also provides substantial tax breaks to corporations which maintain a significant level of Persons of Inability in middle positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.
Finally, the AWNA Act contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Nonabled, banning discriminatory interview questions such as, "Do you have any goals for the future?" or "Do you have any skills or experience which relate to this job?"
"As a Nonabled person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them," said Mary Lou Gertz. Ms. Gertz recently lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan due to her lack of notable job skills. "This new law should really help people like me." With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens can finally see hope for a bright future ahead.
Said co-sponsor Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, "It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her inadequacy or lack of ability, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation."
A breath of fresh air for our Aboriginal policy...
By: ROY MacGREGOR
From: The Globe and Mail
FORT McMURRAY — The man with the PowerPoint presentation is miffed.
He is speaking to a large aboriginal conference and some of the attendees, including a few who hold high office, have straggled in.
"I can't stand people who are late," he says into the microphone.
"Indian Time doesn't cut it."
Some giggle, but no one is quite sure how far he is going to go. Just sit back and listen:
- "My first rule for success is 'Show up on time.' My No. 2 rule for success is follow Rule No. 1."
- "If your life sucks, it's because you suck."
- "Quit your sniffling. Join the real world — go to school or get a job."
- "Get off of welfare. Get off your butt."
"People often say to me, 'How you doin?' Geez — I'm working with Indians — what do you think?"
Now they are openly laughing... applauding. Clarence Louie is everything that was advertised — and more.
"Our ancestors worked for a living," he says. "So should you."
He is, fortunately, aboriginal himself. If someone else stood up and said these things — the white columnist standing there with his mouth open, for example — "You'd be seen as a racist." Instead, Chief Clarence Louie is seen, increasingly, as one of the most interesting and innovative native leaders in the country — even though he avoids national politics.
He has come here to Fort McMurray because the aboriginal community needs, desperately, to start talking about economic development and what all this multibillion-dollar oil madness might mean, for good and for bad.
Clarence Louie is chief — and CEO — of the Osoyoos Band in British Columbia's South Okanagan. He is 44 years old, though he looks like he would have been an infant when he began his remarkable 20-year-run as chief. He took a band that had been declared bankrupt and taken over by Indian Affairs and he has turned in into an inspiration.
In 2000, the band set a goal of becoming self-sufficient in five years. They're there.
The Osoyoos, 432 strong, own, among other things, a vineyard, a winery, a golf course and a tourist resort, and they are partners in the Baldy Mountain ski development. They have more businesses per capita than any first nation in Canada.
There are not only enough jobs for everyone, there are so many jobs being created that there are now members of 13 other tribal communities working for the Osoyoos. The little band contributes $40-million a year to the area economy.
Chief Louie is tough. He is as proud of the fact that his band fires its own people as well as hires them. He has his mottos pasted throughout the "Rez." He believes there is "no such thing as consensus," that there will always be those who disagree. And, he says, he is milquetoast compared to his own mother when it comes to how today's lazy aboriginal youth, almost exclusively male, should be dealt with.
"Rent a plane," she told him, "and fly them all to Iraq. Dump 'em off and all the ones who make it back are keepers. Right on, Mom."
The message he has brought here to the Chipewyan, Dene and Cree who live around the oil sands is equally direct: Get involved, create jobs — and meaningful jobs, not just "window dressing" for the oil companies.
"The biggest employer," he says, "shouldn't be the band office." He also says the time has come to "get over it." No more whining about 100-year-old failed experiments. No foolishly looking to the Queen to protect rights.
Louie says aboriginals here and along the Mackenzie Valley should not look at any sharing in development as "rocking-chair money" but as investment opportunity to create sustainable businesses. He wants them to move beyond entry-level jobs to real jobs they "earn" — all the way to the boardrooms. He wants to see "business manners" develop: showing up on time, working extra hours. The business lunch, he says, should be "drive through," and then right back at it.
"You're going to lose your language and culture faster in poverty than you will in economic development," he says to those who say he is ignoring tradition.
Tough talk, at times shocking talk given the audience, but on this day in this community, they took it — and, judging by the response, they loved it.
"Eighty per cent like what I have to say," Louie says, "Twenty per cent don't. I always say to the 20 per cent, 'Get over it. Chances are you're never going to see me again and I'm never going to see you again. Get some counselling.'"
The first step, he says, is all about leadership. He prides himself on being "a stay-home chief who looks after the potholes in his own backyard" and wastes no time "running around fighting 100-year-old battles."
"The biggest challenge will be how you treat your own people."
Blaming government? "That time is over."
Another opinion on the UN...
Sent: September 22, 2006 8:38:36 AM
Subject: RE:(cyf-talk) New poll for cyf-talk
The UN is doing exactly what it was built to do – serving as a place for communication that we can all confirm that Chavez and Ahmadinejad are on the warpath. That the majority of Americans are too ignorant of the alliance between the extremist left and their conquering hardcore Jihadists is their own damn fault. The UN works fine the way it is, it allows for dialogue and maintains the current list of nation-states. Sometimes it even allows for joint statements and joint missions. The UN is also somewhat effective with joint “collective professional programs” such as the World Health Organization that can be called on by nations if assistance is needed so long as they are only in a “support” role with no real power.
Beyond that… how can one expect the UN to be a defender of human rights when everyone is allowed a seat at the table? The UN does not in any way shape or form require or even promote democracy let alone free markets, etc. The idea that it is a defender of associated rights is downright silly. The idea that it is a proponent of collective security is even more laughable in its failures to prevent genocide and to include all sides in an open war. In Korea the UN worked to the point that its force was attacked by two Security Council members! The only UN mission that really was a success was ironically enough the first Gulf War - after which the UN oil for food program ripped everyone off and killed countless Iraqis in the resulting embargo. This should be the expected result when the UN tries to be something it is not.
If we want an alliance of democratic free states then one should look to alliances of democratic free states (i.e. NATO). I hope that eventually a SEATO replacement will come about in the Pacific.
The good UN reform agenda which once was to allow for stronger professional programs (i.e. World Health Organization, etc.) and collective security after the Cold War has been hijacked. UN reform is now used by the left in an effort to remove the U.S. veto so that the UN can be hijacked by an influx of unstable, dictatorial regimes (easy to create lots of them quickly), and end up using the International Criminal Court as a tool against the U.S. by threatening to bring to court anyone that stands in their way. Let’s not go there.
Yeah, we're always a leader for democracy...
Canada often sends observers and advisers to emerging democracies to help them run free and fair elections, but our own procedures for conducting federal elections are not as good as we may think. Indeed, countries such as Mexico, which more recently have revised their procedures, are in better shape than we are when it comes to making sure that only those who are entitled to vote actually do vote.
A contemporary example of electoral hanky-panky in Canada was the hotly contested riding of Edmonton Centre, where former Liberal deputy prime minister Anne McLellan narrowly won elections in 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2004 and then was defeated in 2006 by Conservative Laurie Hawn. In the last week of the 2006 campaign, Mr. Hawn's campaign gave the Edmonton Journal evidence of numerous irregularities, including voters registered at business premises in the riding, addresses that did not exist, and purported residences at commercial mailbox establishments.
These did not seem like random administrative errors. They looked like an attempt to exploit weaknesses in electoral procedures to allow people living outside Edmonton-Centre to vote in that riding. But whether or not these hundreds of discrepancies were intentional, they illustrated weaknesses in electoral rules. So what went wrong, and what needs to be fixed?
High on our repair agenda would be the National Registry of Electors, which is updated every year from federal income tax returns. Tax filers can tick off a box authorizing the Canada Revenue Agency to provide their names, addresses and dates of birth to Elections Canada. The problem with this policy is that everyone, including landed immigrants and visa workers earning income in Canada has to pay taxes, but only Canadian citizens have the right to vote. The current procedure is an open invitation for non-citizens to get on the federal voters list.
Two questions should be added to the income-tax form: Are you a Canadian citizen? And do you reside at the address listed on your income tax return? Also, the penalty for declaring false information should be mentioned on the form. These simple measures would go a long way toward cleaning up the voters list and reserving the franchise for Canadian citizens.
Elections Canada also needs to adopt more stringent identification policies for voters who are not on the National List of Electors. The current policy requires that they present "one valid official document showing your name, address and signature (such as a driver's licence); or two valid official documents, one showing your name and address (such as a telephone or electricity bill), and one showing your name and signature (such as a health card or a library card)." Astonishingly, there is no requirement to show government-issued photo identification.
Photo ID is hardly a rarity in today's world. You may have to show it to board an airplane, cash a cheque, rent a movie or buy a six-pack of beer. Is it too much to ask that you identify yourself clearly before exercising the solemn privilege of voting for members of Parliament?
Of course, there are people who have neither driver's licence nor passport, so Elections Canada may have to devise some back-up procedures; but surely photo ID should become the norm if we are serious about running clean elections.
Honest elections should not be a partisan issue, and the current minority government presents a unique opportunity for all four parties to work together to improve our electoral system. We were pleased to see signs of such co-operation this spring in a report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which is responsible for considering the Canada Elections Act. Members of all four parties united to support asking about citizenship on the income-tax form and requiring voters to show photo ID at the polling place.
Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley is already on record as favouring the change to the tax form, and we don't see why he should oppose a requirement for photo ID.
The ball is now in the government's court. If it comes forward with these and perhaps other amendments to the Canada Elections Act, the prospect for passage looks very good.
Because of the Adscam scandal, Parliament and voters are in a reforming mood. Let's take advantage of it to get rid of anachronistic embarrassments such as those reported in Edmonton-Centre. Maybe we can catch up to Mexico.
Tom Flanagan is a professor of political science at the University of Calgary and former Conservative campaign manager.
Jonathan Denis is a lawyer with the Calgary firm Chipeur Advocates LLP. He has a special interest in electoral law.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2006
Perhaps evil may be even closer to home...
From: The Wall Street Journal
In Chávez's Crosshairs
By: MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
September 22, 2006; Page A11
Fidel Castro is not far from death. That's one conclusion to draw from his failure to get out of bed for the summit of the non-aligned nations held in Havana last week.
The other telling sign that the long-winded tyrant is not coming back, despite Cuban claims that he is on the mend, was Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's performance at the United Nations on Wednesday. Clearly the revolutionary baton has been passed to the kook from Caracas, Castro's wealthiest and keenest protégé.
After this week, Americans are likely to be focused on the nexus between Venezuela and Iran, whose president rivaled Mr. Chávez as the scariest speaker at the General Assembly. Yet there is an equally pressing threat from Venezuela right in the U.S. backyard. The battleground is Bolivia, which Mr. Chávez badly wants to control so he can seize that country's natural-gas reserves and become the sole energy supplier in the Southern Cone. In doing so, he hopes to seriously damage the Brazilian economy and crush Brazil's geopolitical ambitions as the leader in South America. In its place he wants to plant the flag of Venezuelan hegemony. If he gets away with it, Argentine and Chilean sovereignty would also be diminished and continental stability lost.
To avoid this grim outcome and preserve Bolivian democracy, the U.S. could start by studying Mr. Chávez's path to power, which included help, both passive and active, from Washington.
Theatrics aside, the Venezuelan's verbal assault this week against the U.S. was hardly a news flash. Mr. Chávez has been spouting this stuff for eight years while Venezuelan democrats have been begging the world to take note of it. Democratic Congressman William Delahunt, former Republican Congressman Jack Kemp and the Washington law firm of Patton Boggs all worked to give Mr. Chávez an image makeover in the U.S. so that Venezuelan cries for help might be ignored even as the aspiring dictator was consolidating power.
It seems to have worked too. Let's not forget what happened when Venezuelans tried to remove Mr. Chávez in a 2004 recall referendum. The European Union refused to act as an observer, citing lack of transparency. But that didn't stop Jimmy Carter or the Organization of American States, both of which went along to "observe" a vote cloaked in state secrets. When OAS mission director Fernando Jaramillo cried foul at the many government pre-referendum pranks and Mr. Chávez complained about him, OAS chief César Gaviria yanked Mr. Jaramillo from the country just ahead of the vote.
Exit polls showed that the Venezuelan president was badly beaten in the contest but the chavista-stacked electoral council declared him the winner. Mr. Chávez refused to allow independent auditing of voting machine software or a count of paper ballots against machine tallies. Mr. Carter together with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Roger Noriega and the OAS, rushed to endorse the vote despite the lack of transparency and many testimonies to state-sponsored intimidation and dirty tricks. In the heat of the battle, the National Endowment for Democracy cruelly threatened the country's most important independent electoral watchdog that if it didn't accept Mr. Chávez's victory, NED would pull its support.
Mr. Chávez now boasts that he was democratically elected and foments hatred against his neighbors, including the U.S. Wednesday's Castro-esque message claimed that the "non-aligned" movement intent on going nuclear has only pure motives, while the U.S. president is the devil.
Still Hugo knows that rhetorical bullying from the U.N. pulpit can take him only so far. Both Mexico and Peru rejected Chávez proxies this year in presidential elections. While he might still get a foothold in Nicaragua if Daniel Ortega wins there in November, what he really wants to do is knock Brazil down a few notches. And there is no better way to do that than to hit its energy supply. This explains the blitz the chavistas are now putting on in Bolivia to make that country a (hydro) carbon copy of Venezuela.
Mr. Morales rose to executive power by first using violence to bring down two constitutional presidents and then forcing a new election, which he won. He dreams of an indigenous, collectivist Bolivian economy under the thumb of an authoritarian government. Never mind that most native Bolivians are highly entrepreneurial.
His power is boosted by his support for Bolivian coca growers against U.S.-mandated eradication efforts. He is also being coached by Mr. Chávez. He has nationalized investments in the natural-gas industry and he ruled that agricultural land be redistributed to peasants. He has purged the military of its highest ranking professionals and he has arrested or threatened to arrest some 150 of his political opponents. Bolivia is now blanketed with Cuban doctors and teachers. Cuban security detail protect the president while Venezuelan energy advisers are said to be setting policy in the natural-gas sector.
Yet there is serious resistance in the eastern states and some admission from La Paz that the country is too poor to cut itself off from the world. Last week Mr. Morales had to fire his energy minister after Brazil threatened to exit the country when the minister announced the seizure of two more Brazilian owned refineries.
Such acquiescence toward Brazil has to be frustrating Mr. Chávez and any chance to defeat those in his way now lies with the rewriting of the Bolivian constitution. But there is a problem there too. Mr. Morales's party has just over 50% of the constitutional assembly seats. That means that in order to steamroll the opposition the government must force a change in the approval requirement to a simple majority from a two-thirds vote, which is now the law.
Seven of the nine state governors have objected to this but Evo's side is again threatening violence. Bolivia could use some help from the international community. One thing the U.S. could do to weaken Evo is end insistence on coca eradication, which while failing to reduce drug use has alienated peasants. What is clear is that doing nothing while Mr. Chávez seizes power on the continent is not an option.
The UN and its future...
Sent: September 21, 2006 6:40:43 AM
Subject: (cyf-talk) Re: New poll for cyf-talk
While I must admit that I find the United Nations to be an almost completely useless organization when it comes to global security and the promotion of democracy...
While I find it revolting to listen to Iranian and Venezualan bigots and murderers get podium time to tell more lies than Pinocchio told that time he needed to save Jiminy with his nose...
While I find that the security council is a body where various vested interests generally act to keep the UN from sanctioning missions with probable net positive results (as it did re Iraq)...
...I still think that a United-Nations type of international body may serve some purposes on humanitarian and (with sizeable reform) on other fronts too.
The biggest problem we have is that major member countries rarely turn their attention to UN reform. The Aussies started, but it's unclear where it will go without more attention...
In any discussion about any major conflict or geopolitical incident on this planet, I find many Canadians have a tendency to use the U.N. as the magic legitimacy cloak... When they get flustered, they defer to the wonderful hand-in-hand sing-in-harmony-70s-Coke-commercial view of what the UN is ... they think it's a marvellous organization above reproach where people come together to make peace.
I'm surprised such ignorant people don't also believe that our UN amabassador attends meetings riding on a unicorn with a company of Christmas elves to help pay out our UN dues in lollypops...
Most or many of the armchair smarmy somewhat-politically-interested Canadians want to believe the very worst of our neighbors ot the south, and the very best of anything with the words "United Nations" attached to it. Facts are but a small hindrance that they quickly dismiss with platitudes.
I made the mistake of watching the Iranian president speak while using one of the cardio machines at the Cavendish Club here in St. John's. I nearly tore it to shreds listening to lie after lie. If that wasn't enough, some vacuous moron next to me started to say "that doesn't sound too bad..." I felt like showing her a photograph of the Canadian reporter who was beaten and killed by that government or some of the other regular activities of the government of Iran...
The UN needs to be reformed and de-mistifyed. It's not "the magic-stamp-of-legitimacy." It's not "well-designed." Its buracracy needs to be downsized. Unlike NATO and other such alliances, it has no moral compass. View it as a meeting place for techincal negotiations, not a place of worship...
This is definitely something for all concerned Canadians to check out.
By: Link Byfield
For: The Calgary Herald
Thursday, September 14, 2006
At the end of this month, this city will host an unusual national event -- a grassroots assembly called the Calgary Congress: Restoring Responsible Government.
It's the brainchild of a policy group I chair, the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy. Attendance at the Congress is open to anyone who believes in reforming federalism.
Though similar in some ways to the historic 1987 Western Assembly in Vancouver which launched the Reform party, the aim is not to start a new party. We've been down that road before.
The Calgary Congress will create a new vision of how Canada should work, and to debate the basic ground rules to make it possible.
Pie in the sky? Not at all. Some of the most successful politicians in the country will address the Congress -- including our own premier -- and many of Canada's most insightful economic and constitutional policy experts.
Greetings will be brought from the federal government by Calgary MP Jason Kenney, parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The federal government has not taken an active role in the Congress, but is interested in the subjects it will debate. The Harper government has already taken the first small steps in most of them.
The Congress will debate:
- Should there be a constitutional restriction on federal spending?
- Should provincial parties and interests control a reformed Senate?
- Should provinces appoint all judges within their borders, as happens in almost all other federations? Should there be term limits on Supreme Court judges?
- Should a reformed Senate, not the courts, hold ultimate power to demarcate the boundaries of national and provincial responsibilities?
It is important for citizens and policy experts to now speak, loudly, freely and clearly, thoughts that elected politicians fear to speak.
Such as the historic reality that Canada was not built on the principle of regional sharing -- quite the opposite. It was a way for Ontario to escape the high cost and low productivity of Quebec. This was stated openly and frequently at the time.
Such as the likelihood that if English Canada had not centralized power in Ottawa in the 1950s and 1960s, Quebecers would not have started electing separatist governments in the 1970s.
Such as the fact, often demonstrated and always ignored, that federal regional transfers are just as bad for the provincial economies that receive them as they are for the provincial economies forced to provide them. And that rather than uniting us, they breed economic torpor, regional resentment and irresponsible government.
Such as the fact that in the last election, the Liberals and NDP ran almost entirely on platforms of even greater intrusion into provincial responsibilities, beginning almost every campaign promise with, "We will work with the provinces to . . . " This is Ottawa-speak for "Whether provinces want it or not, we will force all Canadians to pay for . . . "
Such as the all-important fact that Ottawa's entire equalization transfer goes, in effect, to paying the interest on provincial debts that were incurred because of the equalization formula itself.
For too long -- half a century too long -- Canadians have allowed vague and false bromides about compassion and national unity to substitute for clear principles of federal union. We have forgotten what once made us strong -- a system of responsible and accountable government, with clear lines of division between the powers and responsibilities of Ottawa and the provinces.
There is today a new and harder tone coming into federal discussions. It's no accident that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is taking a hard line against expanding equalization. The cost of the federal system is steadily killing his province.
And it will kill Alberta, too, notwithstanding our giddy but temporary financial surpluses. No province can afford to donate five to 10 per cent of its economy every year to federal programs that perpetuate a needless and fruitless demand for more.
If money is to be shared, it should be done in ways that increase productivity in weaker provinces, not lower it.
To learn more or to register for the Calgary Congress, visit www.CalgaryCongress.ca or call 1-866-666-6768.
Link Byfield is chair of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, co-chair of the Calgary Congress, and an Alberta senator-elect.
For the sake of open debate...
By: GEORGE W. BUSH
To the people of Iraq: Nearly 12 million of you braved the car bombers and assassins last December to vote in free elections. The world saw you hold up purple ink-stained fingers, and your courage filled us with admiration.
You've stood firm in the face of horrendous acts of terror and sectarian violence — and we will not abandon you in your struggle to build a free nation. America and our coalition partners will continue to stand with the democratic government you elected. … Working together, we will help your democracy succeed, so it can become a beacon of hope for millions in the Muslim world.
To the people of Afghanistan: Together, we overthrew the Taliban regime that brought misery into your lives and harbored terrorists who brought death to the citizens of many nations. Since then, we have watched you choose your leaders in free elections and build a democratic government. You can be proud of these achievements. We respect your courage, and your determination to live in peace and freedom. We will continue to stand with you to defend your democratic gains.
To the people of Lebanon: Last year, you inspired the world when you came out into the streets to demand your independence from Syrian dominance. You drove Syrian forces from your country and you reestablished democracy. Since then, you have been tested by the fighting that began with Hezbollah's unprovoked attacks on Israel. Many of you have seen your homes and communities caught in crossfire. We see your suffering, and the world is helping you to rebuild your country . . .For many years, Lebanon was a model of democracy and pluralism and openness in the region — and it will be again.
To the people of Iran: The United States respects you; we respect your country. We admire your rich history, your vibrant culture, and your many contributions to civilization. You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential. The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons. . . .
To the people of Syria: Your land is home to a great people with a proud tradition of learning and commerce. Today your rulers have allowed your country to become a crossroad for terrorism. In your midst, Hamas and Hezbollah are working to destabilize the region, and your government is turning your country into a tool of Iran. This is increasing your country's isolation from the world. Your government must choose a better way forward by ending its support for terror, and living in peace with your neighbors, and opening the way to a better life for you and your families.
The world must also stand up for peace in the Holy Land. I'm committed to two democratic states — Israel and Palestine — living side-by-side in peace and security. … Earlier this year, the Palestinian people voted in a free election. The leaders of Hamas campaigned on a platform of ending corruption and improving the lives of the Palestinian people, and they prevailed. The world is waiting to see whether the Hamas government will follow through on its promises, or pursue an extremist agenda.
And the world has sent a clear message to the leaders of Hamas: Serve the interests of the Palestinian people. Abandon terror, recognize Israel's right to exist, honor agreements, and work for peace. … Freedom, by its nature, cannot be imposed — it must be chosen. From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom. And the nations gathered in this chamber must make a choice, as well: Will we support the moderates and reformers who are working for change across the Middle East — or will we yield the future to the terrorists and extremists? America has made its choice: We will stand with the moderates and reformers.
Recently a courageous group of Arab and Muslim intellectuals wrote me a letter. In it, they said this: "The shore of reform is the only one on which any lights appear, even though the journey demands courage and patience and perseverance." The United Nations was created to make that journey possible.
Together we must support the dreams of good and decent people who are working to transform a troubled region — and by doing so, we will advance the high ideals on which this institution was founded.
Canadian workers should take this lesson to heart...
Fun Union Facts
September 19, 2006; Page A20
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney boasted recently that the union consortium intended to pour millions of dollars into this year's Congressional elections -- hardly a shocker. What is news is that this year, for the first time, rank-and-file union members are getting a look at precisely how much of their mandatory dues money is going to fund Mr. Sweeney's political causes, and plenty of other interesting details as well.
This month marks the deadline for the last of the nation's unions to file newly expanded disclosure reports, known as LM-2 forms. LM-2s have been around a long time, though until Labor Secretary Elaine Chao issued a rule requiring an expanded form in 2004, unions got away with providing the skimpiest details. This proved useful to union bosses who wanted to mask their political spending, or in some cases their corruption.
They are now being dragged into the sunshine. Whereas unions used to lump millions of dollars of disbursements into such vague categories as "sundry expenses," the new regime requires them to provide a detailed breakdown of who or what received union money: issue advocacy groups, political consultants, polling outfits, even hotels at which their members stayed.
By our calculations based on the filings, the AFL-CIO spent at least $2.7 million alone on T-shirts, flyers, telephone calls, Web site hosting, and other support for 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry. Groups that received AFL-CIO money included Citizens for Tax Justice, an organization devoted to higher tax rates; the Economic Policy Institute, a think-tank that campaigns against Social Security privatization and tax cuts; and the Alliance for Justice, a ferocious opponent of President Bush's Supreme Court nominees.
Dues-paying workers of the world might want to ask: Why is Mr. Sweeney spending more of their money trying to raise taxes, or fighting for the cultural left, than he is on collective bargaining?
The IRS may also want to inspect these forms. That's because, prior to the new LM-2 disclosure rules, at least a dozen large unions had told the tax agency that they spent nothing on politics. The National Education Association's 2004 tax return, for instance, left blank the line for "direct or indirect political expenditures." Yet according to its LM-2, the NEA spent $25 million on such activities from September 2004 to August 2005. Eliot Spitzer could sure have fun with that one -- if he didn't have the NEA's endorsement.
The forms also offer a glimpse at union chief salaries. At least three union heads took home more than a million dollars in compensation in their last fiscal year -- though two were admittedly the heads of the NFL and NBA players unions. The third-fattest union cat was Martin Maddaloni, the chief of the Plumbers and Pipefitters, who took home $1.3 million last year. The Plumbers' "director of training" -- a fellow named George Bliss -- somehow managed to make $456,644 in 2005. Now we know why plumbers are so expensive: They have to make enough to pay the dues that keep their union reps in Armani.
The LM-2 forms show that some 1,015 paid union officers and employees devoted more than 90% of their time to political activities. Combined, these folks took home compensation worth nearly $53 million. Some 1,755 union personnel spent at least 50% of their time on political activities and lobbying.
As for financial management, let's just say some of these union chiefs are having fun in their jobs. United Auto Workers Local 14 reported it spent $67,000 at an amusement park. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers spent $124,000 at a hotel resort. And the Plumbers forked over $225,000 on NASCAR advertising.
A couple of other fun facts: Of the 100 highest paid union executives, 93% are men. We hope some class-action lawyer isn't looking to sue for gender discrimination. And, believe it or not, unions report that they spent $624,000 at largely non-unionized big box retailers across the country, including Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco and K-Mart. They apparently know a low price when they see one.
Unions should have the right to spend whatever they want on politics, and we've defended that right against McCain-Feingold and other campaign-finance limits. At the same time, however, union members who don't like the way their coerced dues are spent have the right under the Supreme Court's Beck decision to ask for the political and grant portion of that money back. May these illuminating LM-2 disclosures be spread far and wide.