Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Run In with the Labor Lobby

The panel
Terre Haute, Indiana -My mother likes to visit libraries, and, I found out recently, library websites. On one of them, she discovered a notice that at one particular library here in Indiana, there was going to be a “Cracker Barrel Session” where you sit around and ask state congressmen questions. I was expecting a quiet, almost sleepy little session which no one, including the congressmen, were overly interested in. I was wrong.
When we arrived, underneath a tent outside, a Democratic State Senator was screaming about how our Governor Mike Pence, a man who is widely popular here, and about whom some are whispering for the presidency, was shutting down public schools. (He’s not; he’s simply allowing people to go to the school of their choice, or homeschool.) It seems the teachers association, along with the labor unions, had gathered together to do their best to annoy the four Republican congressmen who were there for the session, and cheer for the two Democrats. The story made the news.
I got inside past the signs and screaming, and secured a second row seat to the drama.
Recently, in a story that is even making national news, Governor Pence decided that the only Democrat who was elected in the statewide elections last year was making a mess of things in the department of education, and a lot of people agree. A bill is passing through the state legislature in Indianapolis to lessen her hold on power.
But the teacher’s didn’t like that…at all. And as for the unions? Unions have done a great deal of good in the history of this country, procuring the eight hour work day down form ten hours and in some places even twelve. But these union members apparently wanted everyone in the state in the unions, whether they wanted to be or not.
The moderator from the beginning was unable to keep peace. (She was a woman probably in her seventies, and could not talk over the yelling.) As one congressman came in, the crowd began jeering and booing. It got worse. Screaming, catcalling, yelling, and asking State Congressman Morrison if he had a guilty conscience; Morrison shot back that it was real brave for the man who had said that to then walk away without waiting for a reply.
One teacher came up and began to complain that most teachers in Indiana only make about 49,000 dollars a year. According to Census.gov, that is the average median income in America for a family of 2, for any job.
It was an interesting glimpse for me into the distortion of the facts by these activists. And their inability to be quiet when others were talking. At one point the moderator threatened to have the police men who were around to remove the loud mouths. She never did.
People who were given the microphone were told to hold their comments, (it was supposed to be questions, they were mostly comments) to 3 minutes. But when told to stop, they would just keep going.
The screaming was constant, when the Representatives tried to speak, they were forced to stop and wait for the room to reach some sort of calm. Some “commenters” from the floor, when they had the microphone even tried to tell them when they could speak and when they couldn’t.
At the end of the session, the panel of legislatures (the two Democrats, every time they spoke, which was rarely, were wildly applauded,) was allowed to give closing remarks. This ignited choruses of screams from the audience, and a young man went to the microphone, trying to take over the meeting, saying the people should have their say, not the legislatures, the crowd yelped that they wanted to hear him speak, not the congressmen.
The moderator held fast for once, and told him no. He still stood there. She told him no again, and he tried to start speaking. Finally she told him no one more time-the congressmen could speak, not him. Curse words flew from the audience, and suddenly well over a hundred teachers and union members got up and walked out with the young man, (he was a member of neither group) to hear what he had to say.
It turns out, (I collared him later to ask) what he had wanted to talk about all along was that the teachers were saying they cared so much about children, (and I believe almost of all of them do, and deeply) but many of them also back abortion, which kills children. When he started his talk outside, the small crowd that had gathered from the walkout ran for their cars.
But what was the outcome of all of this screaming? Nothing, not a single blessed thing. Most of the people in that room were Democrats, but in Indiana the Republicans control a supermajority of the legislature, and the governorship. The state for the most part supports school choice; they even support ousting the Democrat in the Department of Education.
The state is Red, and looks destined to remain that way. Most people here in Indiana would have supported the legislatures in that room, and have been appalled at the disrespect shown. But unfortunately almost none of those people were there.
The reason? They have families, and jobs, and farms, and normal lives. Most of them do not have time to hold up a sign and scream that they support something. And so their voices are not heard. And the organized minority of yellers sometimes gets their way. Not all the time. I am sure Pence will be able to pass his bill and oust the Democrat, but over time, pressure builds, as it has in this country in recent years.
And when all the legislatures see is screaming, yelling groups of people supporting left wing principles, somehow they begin to think they had better support this, or get voted out of office, and the farmer in his pickup truck soon realizes his taxes are rising to pay for someone else’s social program, programs which many times do not even work.
And so the liberals are there, and they are organized. They get out and march, they get out and vote. Let’s make sure that in our communities, when we have an opportunity, we should do the same. Always remembering of course to walk softly, and carry a big stick-and that stick should be the facts.


Andrew C. Abbott

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