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Public employee unions, thoughts on teacher pay

Recent comments on this page from readers (they continue this week) about unionized government employees prompt one to ask how we got to this point.

As we enter an age of shrinking public revenues amid calls for a drastic reduction in the role of government in our republic, we find ourselves debating over whether governors should be trying to bust up public employee unions, or greatly reduce their power to hold taxpayers hostage.

Remember that FDR himself, the patron saint of intrusive government, declared that public workers should never be allowed to form unions. Such a system is fatally flawed, reasoned this liberal icon, because public unions aren’t really bargaining with management.

FDR was fine with private sector unions, except when they threatened national security, and reasonable people concur that, despite the corruption endemic at the leadership level, labor unions cleaned up a lot of messes in the private sector.

The natural tension at the bargaining table when representatives of the workers meet with management representing industry owners and stockholders carries with it a certain grudging honesty.

When public employees bargain with agency management who are also paid by public funds, guess who’s not at the bargaining table?

You guessed it; the taxpayers.

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Political ads on TV … They lyin’

The onslaught is coming. Grab your kids and take cover. And whatever you do, make sure your DVR is working properly.

After Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, and then South Carolina, we’re next. My inbox at the office is already bursting at the seams with political junk mail from all of the Republican nominee hopefuls. Save one.

Mr. Reasonable himself, Jon Huntsman.

This poor guy doesn’t have a chance in the presidential primary. He’s too pragmatic, logical and calm to get the base’s blood pumping. And he’s not dogmatic enough to win over any of the large conservative constituencies: evangelicals, libertarians or free marketers.

He might have been able to corral the war hawks, but now they’re all Democrats who get giddy when they hear that President Obama’s killed more terrorists than any president before him, thanks to Predator drone strikes and more surgical attacks by US special forces.

Maybe that’s a stretch, but you get the point.

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Things he doesn’t want to see in 2012

It is around 6 am on January 2, 2012 as I write this column. Why in the world am I up so early on a day that is supposed to be a holiday where all I do is sit and watch football and eat junk?

Simple.

My good luck 2012 meal didn’t agree with me.

My wife is convinced that eating collard greens and black-eyed peas on New Years Day will bring me good fortune. The only way I can explain this superstition is that from that moment on, the year can only get better.

Other good luck foods include grapes (at least 12 for each month of the year), long lo mein noodles, lentils and pomegranates.

Like everyone else, I am hoping that the new year is better than the last and that the Mayans were mistaken.

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Closing in on the ‘pill doc’

For my money, the News Story of the Year in 2011 was the closing down of Dr. Charles Scarborough’s Macclenny office in October.

Mind you, none of the allegations that this amiable physician grossly abused his obligations under Florida law have been proven. Those allegations include that he allowed untrained and unqualified office clerks to write prescriptions for narcotics, that he signed blank prescription orders and he failed to examine patients before allowing them to leave with addictive drugs, among others.

There’s still a process here. The Department of Health made the allegations as cause for temporary suspension of his license to practice. Dr. Scarborough has requested a hearing, presumably to give his side.

We’ll see, but between you and me, he’s in trouble.

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