Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Yesterday morning during my white knuckled drive through the blizzard, I turned on the radio to learn about the snow storm. I could not believe what I was hearing on the talk show.

The UAW in Michigan has forced Day Care providers that accept state vouchers to join their union. Whether they want to or not!

According to a 2008 state law, it does not matter if you are a woman that provides in home day care for a one child or a large day care with 100 rug rats. If you provide day care needs for any low income families that pay for the service through vouchers, a union rep will be visiting you to make certain you sign on the dotted line.

Not only is this the law in Michigan, it is the law in 14 other states including New Jersey and Ohio.

A year ago in December, 2008 more than 40,000 other home-based day care providers within Michigan were suddenly informed they were members of Child Care Providers Together Michigan—a union created in 2006 by the United Auto Workers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The union had won a certification election conducted by mail under the auspices of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. In that election only 6,000 day-care providers voted. Most of the other 40,000 plus Day Care providers were unaware of any new referendum that was being voted into law.

When you consider many of the Day Cares employ anywhere from a handful of people and in some instances only one person and the staff is essentially working for the parents, who does one go to with their demands? After all is not the purpose of a union to provide better working conditions through collective bargaining?

So for a homemaker who is a sole proprietor and opens her home to watch four or five kids and finds herself a union member, who does she collectively bargain with?

Though I am not familiar with New Jersey’s situation, in Michigan and Ohio the States Department of Human Services broke the good news. Each State had separately established a union known as Child Providers Together.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland
in center looking gubenatorial

This public employees union has minimal staff, no control over the state funds and no supervision of rules for the day cares. In essence they are a shell union created for the purpose of funding itself. This was created through the states use of a ersatz employer and an ersatz collective bargaining agent to create and ersatz union for the sole purpose of organizing. By state law the providers must join the union or shut down.

In Michigan last year, $3.7 million was paid to the Department of Human Services as union dues paid by these Day Cares. However the Day Cares have no actual benefits.

Is this legal? Does it violate one’s Constitutional rights? The freedom of association clause within the Constituion prevents compulsory unionism. Courts have determined the only exeption is when unionism is necessary for labor peace due to rioting. The basis for the Day Care unions is to siphon off State provided money from vouchers to provide the UAW and AFSCM with money. Something just doesn’t ring true with this scheme. It is reminicent of the method Britain used several centuries past of recruiting sailors. I believe it was called Shanghaiing.

My doctor takes medicare and medicaid. There are attorneys that are paid through legal aide. Hospitals accept vouchers for low income patients, they will even provide a cab voucher to get a person there and back. Some apartment and property rental agents accept HUD funding to offset rent for low income families. Are these folks going to be roped into joining a union because they accept state funds?

I seriously doubt it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Captain Phil Harris

One of my favorite TV shows is Deadliest Catch.  My wife and I both enjoy this show.  

We were saddened to learn that Captain Phil Harris, whose fishing adventures off the Alaska coast were captured by the Discovery Channel has died at the young age of 53.

It was reported that on January 29th, Captain Harris had a stroke while unloading his boat in the Alaskan port at St Paul Island.  Harris, who was based out of Seattle, suffered the stroke during an offload of crab. He was found unconscious in a stateroom and airlifted to Anchorage for 12 hours of surgery, then placed in a medically induced coma. He'd shown signs of improvement last week, squeezing hands and even telling his doctors and nurses, in his signature gruff style, to not screw things up.

Last year Harris was unable to pilot his boat after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and told by his doctors to retire.

On the show's Web page, where updates on Harris' condition had been posted since his Jan. 30 stroke, sons Jake and Josh Harris gave notice of their father's passing;

"It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad -- Captain Phil Harris. Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end. For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down. We will remember and celebrate that strength. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers."

For those  unfamiliar with the Deadliest Catch, it follows several crews working the Bering Sea during the area's crab fishing seasons.  This may not sound interesting, however every show is an adventure.

The crew is on the deck of an 80 foot boat traversing the icy sea in sub-zero weather. They withstand the elements, are perputually soaked from the waves and risk their lives to harvest Alaskan King and Snow Crab.

The words hard work do not even begin to describe what these men do for a living. However for a few months work, the rewards can be incredible, depending upon how much crab is caught.

The Cornelia Marie is one of four boats in the permanent fleet.  The other boats are the Northwestern, with Captain Sig Hansen,  Captains Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand piloting the Time Bandit, and the Wizard, with Keith and Monte Colburn as Co-Captains. 

When the crab are running, the crew members work day and night, up to 40 hours at a stretch. They haul 800-pound pots in 30-foot waves and 60-knot winds, with seas cresting over the deck.  The crew must bait and toss the pots overboard into the sea and mark them with a bouy.  They then return to port in Dutch Harbor Alaska, hopefully with a large catch.

While in high school it was suggested by a friend to take a job on a crab fishing boat.  The guy told Phil that he had made enough money to pay off his car. 

Harris stated that on his first trip on the crab boat, he worked for two months without pay, just to prove himself. " A guy got hurt on the boat and I took his place and I made $135,000 in a month."  After that Harris was hooked.

The show has lived up to its name. In its first season one of the featured boats, the Big Valley, sank, drowning all but one of its crew. The rescue by the Coast Guard and the search by the other boats and Captain were dramatic and touching.

Captain Harris joined the search. His rescue efforts brought him to the attention of the show’s producers.

Captain Harris fit the profile of a sea captain. He was husky, six feet tall, with hair down to his collar and tattoos from his shoulders to his elbows. One arm showed grizzled pirate on and the other bore a Harley-Davidson emblem.

Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, is watched by about three million viewers a week, making it one of the top-rated programs on basic cable.

The show’s theme is the sometimes monotonous, extremely physical and always dangerous job of fishing the icy waters of the Bering Sea and how the boat's pilots, the Captains, face the intense and extremely stressful job of protecting their crew from the dangers of life on the Northern Sea in the course of doing their job. 

The show likewise deals with the way the crew handles a job in which they are continually living on the edge in a brutal enviroment.

Captain Harris will definitely be missed by all of us. May God bless him and his family.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Haiti is Awash in Christian Aid, Evangelism

I cannot imagine the sheer horror and strife of living in Haiti after the earthquake. (This is a link to the MSNBC story by Kari Haus ) 

An old friend, Brenda Gillfin works for a missionary organization called Youth With A Mission. Gilly lived in Haiti for over a year in the 1990’s before moving to the shanties in Brazil to work with the poor and minister. She told me of the time she spent living in Haiti and described the deplorable conditions within within the country during that era. Now with so much of the infrastructure gone, it has to be beyond the pale.

An estimated 1700 Christian missionaries were living in Haiti at the time of the earthquake.

The controversial arrest of 10 missionaries from an Idaho church has taken the emphasis off earthquake news and placed these unfortunate and na├»ve folks as the center of attention.

I realize my opinion of the situation isn’t worth a tinker’s dam, however I am of the opinion the government of Haiti is corrupt and a few greased palms would be all it would take to put this story behind us. I also believe these missionaries acted with good intentions, but unfortunately did subvert the law. As my wife is fond of saying, “No good deed will go unpunished.”

Aside from that story...
MSNBC’s headline that ran on Monday, 02/08 and Tuesday 02/09 screamed;

“Haiti Is Awash in Christian Aid, Evangelism." 

The news article bemoans the fact that Haiti is plagued with heaping great multitudes of Christians of all denominations running amuck, attempting to feed and clothe the poor and minister to their needs. After all Jesus said we gotta’ do that.

Some of these groups have been involved with missionary support for years and years.

The article disparages the Catholic Church for sending support and aid, since Haiti threw off the chains of Catholicism in 1804 when they showed the French the exit door.

This news article implies that Haitians are all anti-Catholic. What do I know? They may all be anti-Catholic, however if I was in a similar situation I would be glad for any assistance.

MSNBC's reporter also addresses Voodoo and Christian effort to win converts from this superstitious and preposterous practice. It seems that attempting to disuade Haitians from that practice is politically incorrect as this would be eliminating an indigenous culture and tradition that has been handed down and adapted from their ancestors.

In the early days of the United States, medical doctors commonly used leeches and blood letting as a course of treatment to eliminate the bad humors that caused disease for our ancestors.

I for one am delighted that my doctor has never advised me, "Marc, I think if we have three courses of leeches and one course of blood letting, this would cure all your ailments." 

Thank God, this is one indigenous practice that has been eliminated.  It's just my opinion, but I think Haiti would be just fine without the voodoo that they do.

The article mentions UNICEF and aid from U.N. workers, which are two non-Christian groups that do good work. But the piece also gets its digs in regarding two missionaries from a Colorado church that were implicated in child molestation as a point that some missionaries are bad

But you know what, two bad apples don’t spoil the whole bunch, especially when the article states there were approximately 1700 permanent missionaries there when the earthquake hit.

The article laments the fact that different church groups plant different churches according to the dogma of each church.

In all fairness the article implies that the better mission groups express their faith through deeds such as digging wells, medical and dental programs and teaching soil conservation techniques to farmers.

They point out one church that send people to install water filtration systems and build cafeterias for school children, create playgrounds and clinics.

It also acknowledges that 15% of children in Haiti are orphaned or abandoned. Some of these children are susceptible to abuse, slavery and the sex trade. Many of these become restaveks, a Haitian word that means slaves of the lowest order. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the 10 missionaries attempted to get thirty-three children out of Haiti and move them to an orphanage in Santo Domingo.  Heck, the Haitian government has allowed this form of child slavery to go on for years and years.

The article mentions the Peace Corp, but fails to mention the Red Cross. Neither does it mention the Mormons. Although I do not agree with Mormon belief, I acknowledge they are always at the forefront of any disaster to provide aid.

I might have overlooked it, but to my knowledge it has not been reported by any news agency that disaster assistance coming from any Middle Eastern charities or providers. I also have failed to hear any information about Atheist organizations banding together to send food, shelter and  relief. Neither do I find any news about Wicca or any occult groups lending their support.

So why must you folks at MSNBC knock the Christians??!!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Moody's Investor Service Threaten to Lower US Bond Ratings

In the investment world the bond credit rating assesses the credit worthiness of a corporation's or a nation’s debt issues.

It is analogous to credit ratings for individuals.

Businesses are assigned by credit rating agencies such as Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch.  The organizations use letter designations (such as AAA, B, CC) which represent the quality of a bond. Bond ratings below BBB/Baa are called junk bonds. Depending upon what ratings system a bond uses, the classifications and determining factors are slightly different. The credit rating is a financial indicator to potential investors of debt securities such as bonds.

On Wednesday Moody’s issued a press release announcing the United States triple A (AAA) rated bonds would be reduced unless the nation’s leaders did not take more stringent efforts to take action on the country’s budget deficit.

The Financial Times Newspaper (FT) reported that Steven Hess, senior credit officer at Moody’s said the deficits projected in the budget outlook presented by the Obama administration outlook this week did not stabilize debt levels in relation to gross domestic product.  Mr. Hess added;

“Unless further measures are taken to reduce the budget deficit further or the economy rebounds more vigorously than expected, the federal financial picture as presented in the projections for the next decade will at some point put pressure on the triple A government bond rating,”

This is due to “intensified” concern among investor that the trajectory of debt growth is “clearly, continuously” spiraling upward
Although Moody's Investor Service has issued this threat in past years, particularly during the Carter presidency when inflation was out of control, this is the first time the threat has been worded so strongly.