Top Democrat Blocks Legislation Aimed at Preventing School Shootings

Top Democrat Blocks Legislation Aimed at Preventing School Shootings

Top Democrat Blocks Legislation Aimed at Preventing School Shootings

By Zachary Stieber

May 26, 2022 Updated: May 26, 2022 The Epoch Times


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Commentary

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) blocked legislation on May 25 that proponents say could help prevent school shootings.

The legislation, known as the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a clearinghouse on the best school safety practices after consulting with education, justice, and health officials.

“It’s pretty simple. It just creates a clearinghouse of information of the best practices for school safety. It ensures that parents, teachers, school officials, and other stakeholders have input into what those best practices are. It doesn’t allow the clearinghouse to mandate any school to take any certain action. Maybe most importantly, it publishes the available grant programs and federal resources available for school safety,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said on the Senate floor in Washington.

The bill is named for Luke Hoyer and Alex Schachter, who were both killed when a man with a gun opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in 2018. It’s backed by the parents of the boys.

“It’s a good idea. It could save lives. It is an action, when people are calling for action following this tragedy,” Johnson said.

He asked for unanimous consent for the legislation. That enables a bill to pass with no recorded vote, but also opens up the possibility that a single senator could block the request.

Schumer blocked it, referencing the mass shooting that took place this week in Uvalde, Texas.

The “sad truth” about that shooting is that “hardening schools,” or ramping up prevention techniques and strategies, “would have done nothing to prevent” the shooting, Schumer said.

“In fact, there were guards and police officers already at the school yesterday when the shooter showed up. One was a school police officer, two were from the Uvalde Police Department. The shooter got past all of them, with two assault weapons that he purchased. They couldn’t stop him,” Schumer said. “The bill would not have protected those children. More guns won’t protect our children. That is the wrong answer.”

He said he was open to adding the bill’s language as an amendment to a bill he supports, but only if Republicans voted for it.

Johnson responded, saying that he would “not engage in partisanship, other than to say it is just sad.”

“It is just sad that this body can’t pass this bill, when about a month ago, they passed an identical bill that applied to churches. This one applies to schools, and yet it’s inappropriate, according to the majority leader, to pass this nonpartisan bill by unanimous consent,” he said.

The Senate is in negotiations on different measures regarding guns, but with its 50–50 divide between Republicans and Democrats, few of them, if any, are expected to be approved.

Max Schachter, Alex’s father, denounced the blocking of the bill.

“I hoped after 21 were murdered in Uvalde, partisan politics would be put aside,” he wrote on Twitter. “I WAS WRONG.”

 

Biden’s Big Lie: ‘Green’ Energy Doesn’t Save Money, It’s 4 to 6 Times MORE Expensive

Biden’s Big Lie: ‘Green’ Energy Doesn’t Save Money, It’s 4 to 6 Times MORE Expensive

Biden’s Big Lie: ‘Green’ Energy Doesn’t Save Money, It’s 4 to 6 Times MORE Expensive

By Stephen Moore, The Epoch Times May 25, 2022


Solar Panel Range

Commentary

President Joe Biden keeps claiming that wind and solar energy are going to save money for consumers. But more government subsidies to “renewable energy” is a key feature of the White House anti-inflation strategy recently announced by Biden.

He probably got that idea from John Kerry, the administration’s climate czar, who recently claimed that “solar and wind are less expensive than coal or oil or gas.” Pete Buttigieg, the Biden Transportation secretary, makes the same claims about the thousands of dollars that motorists can save if they buy electric cars.

This couldn’t be more wrong.

Proponents of “green” energy boondoggles are often masters at playing with the numbers, because that is the only way that wind and solar electricity generation make any sense. Advocates such as Kerry love to focus on the low operating costs of solar and wind since they don’t require constant purchases of fuel. Ignoring the relatively short lifespan of solar and wind components, as well as the high initial investment, can make it appear as though solar and wind operate at lower costs than fossil fuels or nuclear power.

Let’s get the facts straight. The cost isn’t just what you pay at the retail level for gas or power. It also includes the taxes you pay to subsidize the power. A 2017 study by the Department of Energy found that for every dollar of government subsidy per BTU unit of energy produced from fossil fuels, wind and solar get at least $10.

That’s anything but a money saver.

The reason the subsidies are so high is that solar and wind have additional costs compared to their more reliable competition. “Green” energy sources are non-dispatchable, meaning their output can’t be changed to match demand. The wind doesn’t blow harder, and the sun doesn’t shine brighter, just because electricity use is peaking.

Conversely, fossil fuel entities—such as a coal plant—can ramp up generation when we need it most and ramp down when demand falls.

Widespread adoption of solar and wind generation would necessitate expensive batteries on a large scale to ensure that people still have power when the wind stops blowing or when the sun stops shining—like it does every single night.

So, unlike reliable and flexible natural gas, solar and wind require large-scale storage solutions: massive banks of batteries that are hardly environmentally friendly but are also extremely expensive. And since batteries don’t last forever, they add to both the initial expense and maintenance costs during the life of a solar or wind energy generating station.

The same problem exists with electric cars. The sticker price on EVs is considerably higher than for conventional gas-operated cars, and the so-called savings over time assume that the electric power for recharging is free. But it isn’t and power costs are rising almost as fast as gas prices.

Factors such as these are consistently ignored by Kerry and other “green” energy activists.

To genuinely evaluate dissimilar energy sources and provide an apples-to-apples comparison, the U.S. Energy Information Administration uses the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and the Levelized Cost of Storage (LCOS). These measures consider the initial costs, the lifespan of generation and storage systems, maintenance and fuel costs, decommissioning expenses, subsidies, etc., and compare that to how much electricity is produced over a power plant’s lifetime.

The numbers don’t lie: “green” energy is a complete waste of resources.

The LCOE and LCOS for solar and on-shore wind farms are four times as expensive as natural gas. But offshore wind takes the cake—it’s six times as expensive as natural gas.

Imagine paying four to six times as much every month for the same electricity! That’s the green paradise world that the Biden administration wants for America.

Yet, it’s even worse than that because electric power costs greatly affect the cost of producing nearly everything else. In the case of producing aluminum, for example, a third of the total production cost is electricity alone.

Imagine what quadrupling electricity prices would do to the prices of all the goods and services that people buy. If you think inflation is bad now, just wait until the nation is dependent on wind and solar—then you’ll see REAL price increases.

And despite official government data contradicting their own claims, the Biden administration—including Kerry—continues spouting simple untruths on wind and solar. They hope that no one will check their fantastic facts.

To the left, wanting it to be true, makes it true.

All the while, the middle class is being crushed by $4-a-gallon gasoline and businesses everywhere are buckling under $5-per-gallon diesel. The Wall Street Journal warns that electric power blackouts could be coming because of overreliance on wind and solar power.

At some point, if this push for green energy continues, the whole nation will start to look like California, where gas is $6 a gallon, the lights go out, and electric cars are stranded because of rolling blackouts.  If that’s our “green” future, then Americans should want nothing to do with it.

Stephen Moore is a distinguished fellow in economics at the Heritage Foundation, and E.J. Antoni is a research fellow in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis. Moore is a co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, where Antoni is a senior fellow.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or Zero Hedge.

 

CDC Lowers Speech Standards for Children

CDC Lowers Speech Standards for Children

By Naveen Athrappully

February 22, 2022  Updated: February 22, 2022  The Epoch Times

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lowered its standards of childhood speech development, a decision that has many people worried about the way milestones are measured in kids.

CDC added two new child development milestones at 15 and 30 months. Earlier, children aged 24 months were expected to know about 50 words. But in the new update, the CDC raised the time period to 30 months, lowering the established standard of speech development. In the update, the CDC linked to research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that influenced the organization in setting up the modified benchmarks.

“Application of the criteria established by the AAP working group and adding milestones for the 15- and 30-month health supervision visits resulted in a 26.4 percent reduction and 40.9 percent replacement of previous CDC milestones,” reads an abstract of the AAP study, published on Feb. 8.

“One-third of the retained milestones were transferred to different ages; 67.7 percent of those transferred were moved to older ages.”

The AAP, based on recommendations from the CDC, convened experts and revised child developmental checklists. The original milestone followed standards that only 50 percent of children were expected to achieve, the organization said. These guidelines were deemed unhelpful to families who were worried about their kids’ development.

Milestones were updated to ensure that at least 75 percent of kids are able to achieve them, according to Jennifer Zubler, an author of the study. Because many children were unable to achieve the previous milestones, it was decided to establish new, lower milestones.

Literacy advocate Karen Vaites points out that, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, children speaking fewer than 50 words by 24 months is still a worrisome situation. She had previously spoken against forcing kids to wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the negative effects that the masks have on speech and learning.

“Masks impede language development, and they also impede the process of kids learning how to read,” Vaites said in a Jan. 18 tweet. In another Twitter thread from late July, she shared her experience of observing a kindergarten room during a reading class; in the thread, she insisted on the importance of children seeing the movement of a teacher’s mouth and vice versa.

In some situations, parents and clinicians choose a wait-and-see approach regarding children’s development, which ends up delaying diagnosis.

“The earlier a child is identified with a developmental delay the better, as treatment as well as learning interventions can begin,” Paul Lipkin, a member of the AAP Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and Council on Children with Disabilities, said in a statement. “At the same time, we don’t want to cause unnecessary confusion for families or professionals. Revising the guidelines with expertise and data from clinicians in the field accomplishes these goals.”

Lea Themea, who has practiced speech pathology for close to three decades, believes that the CDC guidelines have been updated to better clarify what parents should look for as developmental progress in their kids.

“I think these guidelines look at how the language is used, because you could have a 2-year-old that can label all their colors and count to 10, but they’re not saying them to actually communicate,” she told ABC6.

Dr. Nicole Saphier, a Fox News medical contributor, drew parallels between the CDC quietly lowering speech standards to an incident from last summer, when the AAP began “deleting stuff” from its website about the importance of facial recognition in childhood development while also pushing masks on children.

Saphier insisted that face masks were “negatively impacting children” and cited studies conducted in the UK, United States, and the Netherlands to point out that kids during the pandemic are performing poorly on “gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and overall communication.”

Source: https://www.theepochtimes.com/cdc-lowers-speech-standards-for-children_4290136.html

 

Rep. Jordan: Durham filing shows Trump was right about being spied on

Rep. Jim Jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Jordan: Durham filing shows Trump was right about being spied on

By Mark Moore, New York Post

February 13, 2022 3:42pm Updated

 

The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee said Sunday that a blockbuster new federal filing proves ex-President Trump’s claim he was being illegally spied on and the Russian collusion tale is a hoax.

​​Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio noted Special Counsel John Durham alleged in Friday’s legal filing that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign paid an Internet company to “infiltrate” servers at Trump Tower and the White House to try to tie Donald Trump to Russia.

“Yep, there was spying going on, and it was worse than we thought because they were spying on the sitting ​p​resident of the United States,” Jordan told “Fox & Friends.” “And it goes right to the Clinton campaign. So God bless John D​urham​.

“​His investigation is taking a long time. But we’re getting to ​now what we all suspected,” Jordan said. “The only thing we didn’t understand was it was worse than we thought​.”

In May 2019, Durham was tasked by Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, with investigating the origins of the FBI’s probe into allegations that the then-president colluded with Russia to win the election.

Rep. Jim Jordan claimed that Special Counsel John Durham’s filing proves that former President Donald Trump was being spied on.Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA Press

Rep. Michael Turner ​(R-Ohio) ​said Sunday that Durham’s investigation uncovered a “whole new level of corruption and is of grave concern.

“I mean, this is a threat to our democracy itself,” Turner said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”​ “It doesn’t matter really which political campaign this is or which political party this is. This is so wrong and allegations of such ​a ​level of illegal activity that goes directly to our faith in our own government that the truth must be found​.”

Turner predicted that Durham’s probe​ could implicate former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former FBI Director James Comey.

“I think that what we see is not just political shenanigans or opposition research that you would see in the normal campaigns where people are trying to find information out about their opponents​,” Turner said. ​

According to a filing from Durham, Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid a company to “infiltrate” servers at Trump Tower and the White House.AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File

“This is where ​the ​government is being used, where information that’s political opposition research that is false is being made up, is trying to be placed into the government, into the FBI, to undertake criminal investigations that are absolutely false​,” he cont

Trump seethed in a statement Saturday that Durham’s filing “provides indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.​

“​This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution,” said Trump, who beat Clinton to score the White House in an upset in 2016.

“In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death​,” he said, suggesting that the Clinton campaign’s action​ amounts to treason.

rump claimed in a statement that those who were involved in the alleged “spying operation” should be “subject to criminal prosecution.”AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

​Jordan said Trump is right that Durham’s filing provides “indisputable evidence” that he was being spied on.

“We’ve never seen anything like this in history,” Jordan said. “So President Trump’s statement yesterday, I think, is right on target. This is truly unprecedented, truly something that has never happened in the history of our great country.”

Durham’s motion Friday was related to the case of Michael Sussmann, a former Clinton campaign lawyer who has been charged with lying to the feds.  Sussmann allegedly told the FBI that he wasn’t working for the Clinton campaign when he handed the agency documents that purportedly linked the Trump Organization to a Kremlin-tied bank two months before the 2016 election, according to Fox News.

Sussmann has pleaded not guilty in his case.

​In Durham’s Friday filing, he said Sussmann “had assembled and conveyed the allegations to the FBI on behalf of at least two specific clients, including a technology executive (Tech Executive 1) at a U.S.-based internet company (Internet Company 1) and the Clinton campaign​,” according to Fox News.​

The document adds Sussmann’s “records reflect” that he “repeatedly billed the Clinton Campaign for his work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations.”​

In the filing, Durham said the tech executive in July 2016 worked with Sussmann, an investigative company retained by Law Firm 1 for the Clinton campaign, ​cyber researchers and workers at a number of internet companies to “assemble the purported data and white papers.

“In connection with these efforts, Tech Executive-1 exploited his access to non-public and/or proprietary Internet data,” the filing ​says. “Tech Executive-1 also enlisted the assistance of researchers at a U.S.-based university who were receiving and analyzing large amounts of Internet data in connection with a pending federal government cybersecurity research contract.”

“Tech Executive-1 tasked these researchers to mine Internet data to establish ‘an inference’ and ‘narrative’ tying then-candidate Trump to Russia,” Durham states in the documents, according to Fox News.

“In doing so, Tech Executive-1 indicated that he was seeking to please certain ‘VIPs,’ referring to individuals at Law Firm-1 and the Clinton campaign.”​​

Post requests for comment from several people associated with the Clinton camp were not immediately returned Sunday.

Source: https://nypost.com/2022/02/13/rep-jordan-durham-filing-shows-trump-was-right-about-spying/

FBI confirms there was no insurrection on Jan. 6

FBI confirms there was no insurrection on Jan. 6

by Conn Carroll, Commentary Editor, August 20, 2021 12:16 PM

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “insurrection” as: “an organized attempt by a group of people to defeat their government and take control of their country, usually by violence”

By that definition, there was no “insurrection” at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the FBI. Reuters reports :January 6, 2021

The FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result, according to four current and former law enforcement officials.

"Ninety to ninety-five percent of these are one-off cases," said a former senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. "Then you have five percent, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages."

This report is a devastating blow to President Joe Biden and Democrats, who have attempted to make the existence of an “insurrection” on Jan. 6 a key issue in the 2022 midterm elections. Reuters does note that some “cells of protesters,” including members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, did coordinate to “break into the Capitol,” but the FBI found “no evidence that the groups had serious plans about what to do if they made it inside.”

None of this excuses the violent riot that happened on Jan. 6. The FBI has arrested 570 rioters and each and every one of them should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But that is what the event was: a riot, just like so many other riots. Trying to politicize it and turn it into something it wasn't won’t make the Capitol any safer.

 

 

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Second Amendment Protects Concealed Carry of Firearms

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Second Amendment Protects Concealed Carry of Firearms

Ken Blackwell 26 APR 2021

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will decide a core gun rights issue: Whether the Second Amendment requires states to give permits to law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons.

Concealed Carry
The Second Amendment protects “the right to keep and bear arms.” The Supreme Court held in its 2008 landmark decision District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment guarantees that right for private citizens. In its 2010 follow-up case McDonald v. City of Chicago the Court held that the right to bear arms applies against state and local governments the same way it does the federal government.

But both of those cases involved a law-abiding citizen who wanted to keep a single handgun in his home for personal protection, which would be the absolute floor of what the Second Amendment could possibly provide. It left all other issues for future cases as to how far the right to keep and bear arms extends.

Perhaps the most heavily debated follow up issue is what a citizen’s Second Amendment rights are when he leaves his home. Given the popularity of concealed carry permits, one of the questions concerns carrying weapons as people go about their daily lives.

Most states provide permits to all qualified applicants. However, a few states claim the authority to require citizens to prove special circumstances to qualify for a permit, such as having an abusive ex-spouse or being a prosecutor who fears retaliation from the criminals he is prosecuting.
New York has such restrictions. In Monday’s order, the justices granted review in a constitutional challenge to New York’s law, with the petition arguing that the Second Amendment entitles them to concealed-carry permits for purposes of general self-defense only, without any special circumstances.

Second Amendment supporters have been trying for more than a decade to get the High Court to weigh in on this issue. The Court has repeatedly denied petitions from various challengers. Given both Heller and McDonald were 5-4 decisions, experts suspected that moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy and moderate-conservative Chief Justice John Roberts were the reasons gun-rights supporters did not have the votes to tackle this issue.
The is the first major petition on the Second Amendment to be considered since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the seat formerly held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Evidently Second Amendment supporters now at least have support from the necessary four justices to grant review, though it is not yet clear whether they have the additional support for five votes to prevail in the case.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement is representing the challengers. Clement also argued before the Court in the Heller and McDonald cases, and is regarded as one of the top litigators in the nation on this issue.

The Biden Administration has not yet expressed a view on the case. It will likely be argued late this year, with a decision expected by June 2022.
The case is New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, No. 20-843 in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ken Blackwell is the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and is currently on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association and also the Distinguished Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council.

 

WSJ Opinion: An American Epidemic of ‘Covid Mania’

WSJ Opinion: An American Epidemic of ‘Covid Mania’

The problem isn’t only the overreaction to the virus but the diminution of every other problem.

By Joseph A. Ladapo
April 19, 2021 6:30 pm ET

What are the lessons of Covid-19? It depends who you ask. Some believe politicization of the pandemic response cost lives. Others believe a stronger U.S. public-health system would have reduced Covid-19 deaths significantly. Still others say lockdowns should have been longer and more stringent, or that they were ineffective. But one lesson that should transcend ideological differences: Don’t put one illness above all other problems in society, a condition known as “Covid mania.”

Illustration: Chad Crowe

The novel coronavirus has caused suffering and heartbreak, particularly for older adults and their loved ones. But it also has a low mortality rate among most people and especially the young—estimated at 0.01% for people under 40—and therefore never posed a serious threat to social and economic institutions. Compassion and realism need not be enemies. But Covid mania crowded out reasoned and wise policy making.

Americans groaned when leaders first called for “two weeks to slow the spread” in March 2020. Months later, many of these same Americans hardly blinked when leaders declared that lockdowns should continue indefinitely. For months Covid had been elevated above all other problems in society. Over time new rules were written and new norms accepted.

Liberty has played a special role in U.S. history, fueling advances from independence to emancipation to the fight for equal rights for women and racial minorities. Unfortunately, Covid mania led many policy makers to treat liberty as a nuisance rather than a core American principle.

Covid mania has also wreaked havoc on science and its influence on policy. While scientists’ passion for discovery and improving health has fueled research on the novel coronavirus, Covid mania has interpreted scientific advancements through an increasingly narrow frame. There has only been one question: How can scientific findings be deployed to reduce Covid-19 spread? It hasn’t mattered how impractical these measures may be. Discoveries that might have helped save lives, such as better outpatient therapies, were ignored because they didn’t fit the desired policy outcome.

A prime example is mask research. However one feels about wearing masks, look at the evidence from California. Despite a mask mandate imposed last April and steady, high rates of compliance, California experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases over the winter.

Mandating masks may help in some settings, but masks are not the panacea officials have presented them as. In September, then-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield declared that “this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine.”

The statement was remarkable because he made it before seeing vaccine trial data. Those data and data from people who have recovered from Covid clearly demonstrate that this statement is false. Immunity is far more effective than whatever efficacy masks may offer.

Covid mania is also creating new conflicts over vaccine mandates. The same people who assured the public that a few weeks of lockdown would control the pandemic now argue that vaccinating children, for whom no vaccine has yet been approved, is essential to end the pandemic. Children account for less than 0.1% of Covid deaths in the U.S. Is enough known about vaccines to conclude that their benefits outweigh potential risks to children?
“Yes” is the answer of a salesman, not a scientist. Mandating a vaccine for children without knowing whether the benefits outweigh the risks is unethical. People who insist we should press on anyway, because variants will prolong the pandemic, should be reminded that a large reservoir of unvaccinated people in the U.S.—and in the world—will always exist. We cannot outrun the variants.

The good news is that recent state legislative efforts in Utah, Tennessee and Ohio to ban vaccine passports may burst the Covid mania bubble. If passports are banned, then risks from Covid must be assessed in the same way other risks—such as playing a sport or starting a new medication—are considered. In many places throughout the country, zero has become the only tolerable risk level. Why else are people who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid still asked to wear masks? Reasonable policies cannot sprout from unreasonable levels of risk tolerance.

The pandemic has been devastating for many Americans, but policies grounded in Covid mania have compounded the harm and delayed a return to normal life. The challenges ahead require rational decision making that considers costs and benefits and keeps sight of the countless things in life that matter.

Dr. Ladapo is an associate professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Climate Czar Exposes His Ignorance

Climate czar and intellectual midget, John Kerry, told Climate Summit John Kerryattendees that “… we have to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.”
 
Here’s what would occur if all CO2 was removed from the atmosphere:
 
– All trees and plants would die and therefore, there would be no photosynthesis and no oxygen sources.
 
– Without plants, the main source of food in the food chain, no food would exist whatsoever and everything would die of starvation.
 
– Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas that helps to trap heat in our atmosphere. Without it, therefore, our planet would be inhospitably cold.
 
Below is an explanation of photosynthesis for middle schoolers. Obviously, this is above Kerry’s IQ level.

How to curb public unions’ out-of-control power

How to curb public unions’ out-of control power

Philip K. Howard

Special to USA TODAY

It’s time to rethink the role of public employee unions in democratic governance.

Public union intransigence has contributed to two of the most socially destructive events in the COVID-19 era. Rebuilding the economy after the pandemic ends also will be more difficult if state and local governments have to abide by featherbedding and other artificial union mandates.

Public employee unions are politically impregnable, but their corrosion of first principles of democratic governance may leave them open to constitutional attack.

The lack of accountability imposed by union contracts has corroded democratic trust. The nearly nine-minute suffocation of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, every second shown on video, touched off protests around the country and social anger that may impact race relations for years.

But Chauvin should not have been on the job, and he likely would have been terminated or taken off the streets if police supervisors in Minneapolis had the authority to make judgments about unsuitable officers. Chauvin had 18 complaints filed against him and a reputation for being “tightly wound,” not a good trait for someone carrying a loaded gun.

But police union contracts make it very difficult to terminate officers. Of 2,600 complaints against police in Minneapolis since 2012, only 12 resulted in any sort of discipline and no officers were terminated. A 2017 report on police abuse nationwide revealed that union contracts make it extremely difficult to remove officers with a repeated history of abuse.

Teachers unions wield similar power. Dismissing a teacher, as one school superintendent told me, is not a process, it’s a career. California ranks near the bottom in school quality but is able to dismiss only two out of 300,000 teachers in a typical year.

Because of COVID-19, teachers unions have adamantly refused to allow teachers to return to work for a year, harming millions of students.

Because many parents can’t work if children are not in school, teachers unions are also impeding our ability to reopen the economy.

Yet most parochial and private schools in the U.S. have reopened, without serious consequences, as have schools in Europe. It is safe to reopen schools, according to the Centers for Disease Control, as long as teachers and students follow certain protocols. Unions now say they’ll put a toe in the water, starting in the Spring, when another school year is almost over.

The bottom line is inescapable: Public employee unions do not serve the public’s best interests.

How did public employee unions turn into public enemies? Until the 1960s, collective bargaining was not lawful in government. It’s hardly in the public interest to give public employees power to negotiate against the public interest.

As President Franklin Roosevelt put it: “The process of collective bargaining… cannot be transplanted into the public service…. To prevent or obstruct the operations of Government …. by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.”

Public union power is largely an accident of history, one of the many unintended effects of the 1960s rights revolution. The first shoe to drop was Executive Order 10988 in which President John F. Kennedy, as payback for political support, permitted collective bargaining for federal employees.

Public unions soon demanded similar rights from states. Without any serious debate, New York in 1967 permitted collective bargaining, followed by California in 1968.

Unions gained strength with every new administration. The rhetoric was virtuous: Who can be against the rights of public employees? But the velvet glove of rights barely disguised the political iron fist.

Public employees represent almost 15% of the work force, probably the largest organized voting bloc. For more than 50 years, generations of political leaders have promised whatever it would take to get their support, including shields against accountability and rich pensions and benefits. In Illinois, a state now actuarily insolvent, 20,000 public employees enjoy pensions of more than $100,000 per year.

A political solution is almost impossible. Union contracts have long tails, tying the hands of successive political leaders. Their political power also is different from that held by other interest groups; political leaders are powerless without their cooperation.

As labor leader Victor Gotbaum once put it, “We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss.”

Public unions wield this power not just to get benefits, but to dictate how government works. After 80 meetings trying to cajole teachers back to work, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot concluded that “they’d like to take over not only Chicago Public Schools, but take over running the city government.”

Democracy can’t work if elected officials lack the ability to run government. As James Madison put it, democracy requires an unbroken “chain of dependence… the lowest officers, the middle grade, and the highest, will depend, as they ought, on the President.” By shackling political leaders with thick contracts, and eviscerating accountability for cops and teachers, public unions have removed a keystone of democratic governance.

Public unions are not a problem anticipated by the framers of the Constitution. But Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution provides that “the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Known as “the Guarantee Clause,” the provision has never been asserted in this context.

The history of the clause suggests that, by guaranteeing “a republican form of government,” the framers meant to ensure that government would be accountable to voters and not to a monarch or other unaccountable power.

Public unions have severed a key link between voters and governance. They are immune from accountability, collect tribute in the form of featherbedding work rules and excessive pensions, and control what they do day-to-day instead of what voters need.

Philip K. Howard is founder of Campaign for Common Good.