LIBERTY: A CAPITAL IDEA 6
! Y R O T C I V . pg
PUBLICATION OF THE FREEDOM wea case: AwHAT’S NEXT 9 EVERGREEN ACRONYMS OFFOUNDATION DOOM 141
0) 9 S( E L RU
RT U CO E EM R JULY 2007 UP S . S . U
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Leaders: Then and Now by Jonathan Bechtle
n April 1776, John Adams penned his “Thoughts on Government,” a treatise used in the formation of many state constitutions. In it, Adams called for annual elections for executive offices, arguing that yearly elections “will teach [elected officials] the great political virtues of humility, patience, and moderation, without which every man in power becomes a ravenous beast of prey.” If America’s founding fathers came to visit on July 4th in the midst of our parades, fireworks and barbeques, would they enjoy our Independence Day celebrations? I think so. They wouldn’t see commercialized, prepackaged gifts or baskets as at other holidays, just ordinary Americans celebrating the freedom we enjoy. The holiday is still about celebrating the liberty gained by their sacrifices. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the other fathers of our country would be less pleased, however, with the quality of those who have taken their mantle as America’s leaders. Presidential hopefuls for the 2008 election are already crisscrossing the nation, promising “new leadership” for a government that seems mired in ethics scandals, useless debate, debt and war. Whether or not they can follow through on their promises to change this, the candidates are right about one thing. The kind of leaders Adams describes in his “Thoughts on Government,” those with humility, patience and moderation, are in short supply in our country. Instead, we have leaders like William Jefferson, a U.S. congressman from Louisiana made famous two years ago when federal investigators found $90,000 in frozen cash in his freezer. Now he’s being charged with having used his position to obtain half a million dollars in bribes and to seek millions more, yet indicates that he has no plans to step down from his office unless forced. By his actions Congressman Jefferson shows a lack of personal integrity—a trait our founders saw as essential. George Washington
called the “character of an honest man” the “most enviable of titles.” Or we can look at the lack of moderation by Congress. The last ten years have seen an explosion in the growth of “earmarks,” or local pet projects, slipped into the federal budget to help congressional leaders gain favor back home. Despite the major impact this issue had on the change of power in the last election, both Congress and the White House are doing little to end the practice, with 32,000 earmark requests already submitted this year. It’s hard not to conclude that these politicians care more about enhancing their own reputations and careers then they do about the good of the country. This is in marked contrast to founding fathers such as John Adams, who twice put aside momentous opportunities for personal advancement in order to strengthen the fledgling republic. He nominated George Washington, a Virginian, as the commander of the rebel army gathered around Boston instead of proposing someone from his home state of Massachusetts. His selfless recommendation probably saved the Revolution.
He also insisted that Thomas Jefferson be the one to pen the Declaration of Independence, explaining, “I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular.” Disregarding the likelihood that writing the Declaration could have changed all that, he gave up the opportunity to author America’s founding document because he felt Jefferson’s writing would be better received. The success of the founding fathers, however, went beyond just their personal integrity. They turned the world upside down because of their passionate dedication to liberty and the rule of law. In contrast, our leaders too often show more passion for short-term gain. Susette Kelo can testify to that. Last month, on June 15, she was forced by the City of New London to vacate her home of ten years in order to give it to a private developer who would put it to “better use.” The city used its eminent domain power to seize several homes, including hers, a decision Kelo fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. America’s judicial leaders on the Court decided to ignore her property rights, ruling in the city’s favor. Continued on page 3
NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE
OLYMPIA, WA PERMIT #462
LetterLET fromTER Lynn FROM LY NN by Lynn Harsh
Hands off the snooze button, please. “Action arises only from need, from dissatisfaction….Its ultimate end is always to get rid of a condition which is conceived to be deficient—to fulfil [sic] a need, to achieve satisfaction, to increase happiness.” ~ Ludwig von Mises
e practice hundreds of acts of exchange in our everyday lives. The sum of our satisfaction is in play every time we choose between one action and another. What informs your choice as to whether or not you will watch a particular event on television or mow the lawn? If you are more dissatisfied with an untidy lawn than not watching the Mariners play the Yankees, you will fire up the mower. Or, you may choose between baseball and a crew cut for the lawn based on whether the quality of your life suffers more if your spouse is unhappy than if you are unhappy. Perhaps it is a critical, one-time game, and the lawn…well, it will still be there tomorrow. Did you hit the snooze button this morning? If so, you decided that an extra ten minutes of sleep would bring you more satisfaction than using that time to prepare for the day. Or that it doesn’t make a significant difference to your work for the day if you are ten minutes late. Perhaps previous unpleasant experiences with your family have taught you that waking up more slowly makes you a nicer person to be around. Many of us have faced the difficult decision of helping someone decide what life-saving treatment they will choose. As hard as it is, we discuss the trade-offs, satisfaction and quality of life issues. Our actions reflect what brings us most and least satisfaction in life, and the choices are rarely simple. They always have consequences. Think about the economic and civic condition of America today. Economist Joseph Schumpeter argued decades ago that capitalism sows the seeds for its own destruction because of the choices people make. Limited government is necessary to become prosperous, but he describes how, along the way, prosperous people create bureaucracies (in corporations and government) that cause them to demand more of government. A once free society becomes petrified with regulations and bureaucrats, leading inevitably to socialism. Hayek counters this argument in The Road to Serfdom. He wonders why government planners are so willing to submit to circumstances as if they are out of our control, as if, “the only choice left to us is between control of production by private monopolies and direction by the government.” I respect Schumpeter’s analysis in the sense that it is a warning of what will happen if government is left alone and citizens are not educated to understand the true consequences of the choices that are theirs to make. I embrace Hayek’s unvarnished description of socialism’s conflicting and destructive aims and his optimism about a society’s outcome if the citizens make longerterm rational choices. Regardless, we can hearken back to Thomas Jefferson’s description of this tension: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
If the natural progress of If Representative Slimjim is things is to lose liberty, then conscientiously and effectively we must engage in unnatural working toward restoring libactions to reverse the disinerty, the most natural thing for tegration. But we won’t do it us to do is ignore him. The most unless we feel the need; unless unnatural thing is for us to write we believe that our overall a note of thanks, send a contrisatisfaction will increase if bution, doorbell for a day, host liberty replaces our regulatory an event in our home, and so society, and if the regulatory on. society is a cause of our disIf Representative Slimjim is a satisfaction. socialist rat, why does he keep Few people will engage in getting re-elected? Obviously the unnatural actions I suggest people in his district have made in this letter. The most natuthe choice that they 1) don’t have ral thing is for us to expect the time to figure out who the “someone” else to take leadbest candidate is and his name ership in changing our sociis familiar, or 2) they like the ety from its regulatory state benefits he brings home to them. to one that embraces liberty. Either way, people are satisfied This someone else is smarter, that he is the best choice. well-connected, has more When we make a choice, it time, and maybe more money. is because the consequences It is unnatural for us to assume resulting from that choice sata leadership role ourselves isfy us more than the alternative. when we feel less adequate That’s true whether it’s politics, than “someone else.” our children’s education or hitWhen our children are ting the snooze button. poorly educated and know Here at the Evergreen Freealmost nothing true about the dom Foundation, we believe too American founding and the many people are hitting life’s economic system it generated, snooze button when it comes the most natural thing for us to to policy choices and freedom. do is ignore it or complain and They won’t change until we hope it all works out in the end. explain how the status quo less – Thomas Jefferson It is an unnatural thing for us satisfying than what they could to put aside our comfort, time enjoy. Our aim, to quote von and money to make different Mises, is to “get rid of a conchoices for them and for the dition which is conceived to be future of the next generation. deficient.” That would be a regWhen Representative ulated, bureaucratic state. To do Slimjim asks for our support, this, we have to help people see it is natural to write a check if that the end result will signifiwe like him or if he subscribes cantly decrease their satisfacto the same the political party tion. In its place we promote the we do. It is unnatural for us to exceedingly preferable state of break the accepted pattern by freedom, and we tell people why asking questions like, “Please freedom is to their advantage. tell me what you believe the Our job is large, but we are proper role of government certainly not alone. You stand is in specific matters like… with us, as do thousands of col(education, transportation, leagues around the country. We free speech, corrections/incarare becoming a more winsome ceration, business regulations, bunch, as indicated by the backetc.). “You say you believe in limited government, so lash from our ideological opponents. To quote another tell me a couple of specific ways you will work toward famous person: “This is a good thing.” reducing its size and cost if we elect you.”
“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
America’s Leaders continued from page 1. . . James Madison would have been horrified by the decision. In 1792 he wrote an article for the National Gazette in which he proclaimed that “government is instituted to protect property of every sort,” and he defined a just government as one “which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own….” We’ve come a long way, in the bad sense, from our founders’ ideals if private property can be seized merely to increase a city’s tax base. In 1776, the United States faced internal and external crises just as perplexing and difficult as illegal immigration or war in the Middle East. They were faced with fighting the world’s greatest empire, plus a civil war, with a federal government that had little money and even less authority. But leaders like George Washington, John Adams and James Madison had the character and vision to see the issue through to a successful conclusion. Can Mitt Romney, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or the other presidential candidates provide the same kind of leadership? Will they face
our current issues with personal humility, moderation and patience? Will they put the rule of law and personal liberty above short-term gain? As I said before, I think the founding fathers would enjoy our Independence Day celebrations, but they
“Can Mitt Romney, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or the other presidential candidates provide the same kind of leadership?” might suggest adding a sobering note. In 1811, Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, lamented to John Adams that at Philadelphia’s Fourth of July celebration that year, “Scarcely a word was said of the solicitude and labors and fears and sorrows and sleepless nights of the men who proposed…and subscribed the Declaration of Independence.” Rush asked, “Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence
“Quote” “Families must continue to be the foundation of our nation. Families—not government programs—are the best way to make sure our children are properly nurtured, our elderly are cared for, our cultural and spiritual heritages are perpetuated, our laws are observed and our values are preserved. Thus it is imperative that our government's programs… never be allowed to jeopardize the family.”
– Ronald Reagan
VOLUME 17, Issue 7 EFF’s mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.
Publisher: Booker Stallworth Editors: Amber Gunn Katie Buccola Layout: Joel Sorrell Dan Steele
Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 email@example.com • www.effwa.org
which pervaded the house when we were called up…to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our death warrants?” As you celebrate Independence Day with your family and friends, remember the men who signed
that document, who had the courage to put their lives on the line for the liberty of their countrymen. And as you consider who America’s next president should be, ask yourself, “If this candidate had been with Benjamin Rush in that room, would he or she have signed?” If the answer is no, then they are not fit to lead the nation our founders entrusted to us.
This Issue 2 5 6 7
2 Letter from lynn HANDS OFF THE SNOOZE BUTTON, PLEASE 5 GOOD NEWS FOR SCHOOL CHOICE ACROSS THE COUNTRY (eXCEPT IN wASHINGTON) dOES THE GOVERNOR’S NEW P-20 COUNCIL BRING ACCOUNTABILITY? 6 LIBERTY: A CAPITAL IDEA ELECTION REFORM INITIATIVE ON THE BALLOT 7 PROFILE IN CIVIC COMMITMENT: MICHAEL DUNMIRE ALWAYS REMEMBER: FREEDOM MATTERS! 8 U.S. SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF TEACHERS TEACHERS VS. UNION EDITORIALS 9 WHAT DOES OUR VICTORY MEAN AND WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
8 9 10 12 13 14 15
10 POINT / COUNTERPOINT: IMMIGRATION 12 APPLYING THE ECONOMIC WAY OF THINKING TO HEALTH POLICY: THINGS TO AVOID SUPPLY-SIDE ECONOMICS’ CREATOR ASSAILS PROPERTY TAX 13 ONGOING MEDICAID DRAMA: CAN WE GET SOME CLARIFICATION HERE? SHOW ME THE JOBS 14 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR ACRONYMS OF DOOM 15 TARNISHED BRAND
GOP MUST RETURN TO CORE PRINCIPLES
want to invest in the
Evergreen Freedom Foundation.
Dear Friend of EFF, While we welcome every gift, our greatest need is reliable monthly support. It is imperative for reaching our goals. Please consider monthly giving as a way to invest in the cause of freedom. Our secure e-Giving System ensures that more of your contribution goes directly to our work. Cordially,
Please mail or fax in this form (fax 360-352-1874) or call 360-956-3482. We will send you a confirmation letter for your records. Bank Debit/Credit Card Donation Authorization I request my bank or credit card company to transfer funds in the amount of $ each month until further notice. I understand that I am in full control of my donation, and that I can decide to make any changes or discontinue the service at any time by calling 360-956-3482 or writing to EFF. Please indicate your preferred withdrawal date:
...Because Freedom M atters!
I would like to give a one time gift of $ Signature (required for bank and credit card donations)
Checking Accountâ€“e-Giving Systems (Attach a voided check) Savings Accountâ€“e-Giving Systems (Attach a voided deposit slip) VISA
Credit card #
Personal Information Name
City, State, Zip
Your Donations to EFF are Tax Deductible!
Out of the Box
Out of the Box: Innovations in Education is a multimedia production of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. Through film, radio and print, Out of the Box will highlight outstanding programs in education that are getting great results using innovative methods to bring out the best in our kids. For More information, email Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Good news for school choice across the country (except in Washington) by Steven Maggi
he season for legislative sessions has come and gone, with enough time passed to allow a thoughtful consideration of its results. In the area of school choice, it seems to have sowed many promising programs enacted by both parties, including the nation’s first universal voucher program enacted in Utah. Even though the legislative session closed at the end of this spring there has already been encouraging news for advocates of education reform. On May 18th, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship bill into law. The bill, sponsored by Senator Eric Johnson, creates a state-funded scholarship that will allow students with disabilities to attend the public or private school that best meets their educational needs. The parents of these students are now empowered to send their children to public schools outside of their own school district or to enroll them in a private school. The voucher program will pay either the amount of money used for the student in his or her assigned district or the total cost of tuition at the private school—whichever is less. The school must, however, meet the safety and nondiscrimination requirements of the state. Georgia is not alone in making progress toward school choice through vouchers; the Nevada legislature has also been considering this issue. On May 24th, the Nevada State Senate unanimously passed a special needs scholarship bill sponsored by Senator Barbara Cegavske. While there was not sufficient time for it to complete the committee process and be passed by the Assembly, this
marks the greatest success a school choice bill has seen so far in the Silver State. On a slightly different note, the Democratic Governor of Iowa, Chet Culver, recently expanded the Individual School Tuition Organizational Tax Credit. He signed a portion of the state budget into law that raised the 2008 tax credit cap from $5 million to $7.5 million, allowing more families to use this program.
“It is up to us, the citizens of this state, to demand these changes. Our parents
and students deserve to have the same opportunities that these other states are now enjoying.” The School Choice Demonstration Project report, conducted by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, indicates that parents in Washington D.C. are extremely pleased with their city’s voucher program, the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). The report affirms that parents are becoming increasingly confident and wellinformed. Furthermore, they are actively utilizing these skills to find the best schools for their children.
Since they began participating in the OSP, parents report being more involved in their child’s education, particularly in helping with homework, attending parent-teacher conferences, and increasing communication with their child. Also, they say that the OSP has resolved their concerns about financial policies and student confidentiality during its initial year of implementation. A majority of parents are pleased with this school choice option and about 90 percent of the parents plan to continue the program for another year. Now their main concern is gaining or maintaining eligibility for the program! Unfortunately, Washington State has made no major changes in the school choice arena this year. We can only hope that our legislators will note the steady trend toward more and better school choice programs across the nation, giving heed to the various records of success. This success can and should be emulated in the educational lives of our own students. However, it is up to us, the citizens of this state, to demand these changes. Our parents and students deserve to have the same opportunities that these other states are now enjoying. If we demand these changes, perhaps soon we will be able to rank Washington State among the list of victors who are stepping out of the mainstream “traditional” public school system and into a new world of innovative educational options.
Does the Governor’s new P-20 Council bring accountability? by Steven Maggi
ost Washingtonians would agree: our school Education Coordinating Board, the Workforce Trainsystem has needed an overhaul for a long time. ing and Education Coordinating Board, the state Board However, one of the main hindrances to education of Community and Technical Colleges, the Council of reform is the lack of accountability between the schools Presidents, the Independent Colleges of Washington, and a tribal education leader. While and the state government. Apparently, Goverthe P-20 Council will originally only nor Christine Gregoire is now attempting to include members of the educational fix this age-old problem. bureaucracy, Gregoire says that repreRecently, Governor Gregoire signed an sentatives of consumer groups such as executive order creating the P-20 Council, business interests may be added later. which intends to track public school reforms Gregoire’s effort to keep the reform and keep the state accountable for changes to process accountable is certainly laudthe education system. Gregoire’s action was able. She appears determined to see spurred by the Washington Learns report, that disputes do not erupt between the which identified a need for smooth transitions heads of various educational departfrom each stage of the educational system to It seems to us ments and halt the process. Accountthe next. that P-20 may ability is definitely a step in the right Gregoire wants the P-20 Council to conbe nothing more direction toward effective changes. sider the educational process from preschool One question remains: will this through college and graduate school as a single than educational council be simply another layer of seamless track. The council’s task is to exam- bureaucrats bureaucracy? P-20 may be nothing ine early learning (PreK-12) and higher educa- regulating more than educational bureaucrats tion sectors, as well as the transitions within themselves regulating themselves while condiand between these sectors. Afterward, it will while conditions tions for students remain relatively determine whether the quality of the results for students unimproved. It also seems to be quite a is acceptable—is the outcome beneficial or remain relatively reach, expanding oversight to include detrimental to students?—and then present unimproved. pre-school and college. More governannual reports. ment is never the answer. The eleven members of the P-20 Council Bureaucracies rarely regulate themselves. Instead, will include Governor Gregoire, Superintendent of Education Terry Bergeson, and the heads of the Department they tend to expand, often forgetting why they were of Early Learning, the State Board of Education, the created in the first place. The best improvement for this Professional Educational Standards Board, the Higher council—adding representatives of consumer groups
Will this council be simply another layer of bureaucracy?
and business interests—was suggested by Gregoire herself. The business community, perhaps with experts in education reform, could then examine Washington’s educational system honestly and frankly, providing the type of accountability that our state so desperately needs. Still, one can hope that Governor Gregoire’s decision is indeed a step in the right direction, and that the P-20 Council will truly help instead of hurt our parents and students. But history makes us skeptical.
n last month’s edition of Living Liberty, we asked readers to share what they were thinking in 1957 when they heard that the U.S.S.R. had launched Sputnik, the world’s first satellite. The response was great…but we want more. If you (or a friend) remember that era, please contact us at P.O. Box 552, Olympia, WA 98507, or call us at 360-956-3482.
Liberty: A capital idea
by Matt Manweller | Special to The Times
uring a recent visit to Seattle, I encountered a young woman standing on a street corner demanding that President Bush take action to stop the genocide in Sudan. When I asked her if she thought Bush should send troops to the region as he did in Iraq, she responded with a blank stare. It was then that I realized she had not thought that far down the road. Although she wanted to use American power to stop genocide, she did not want to get her hands dirty accomplishing the task. Dilemmas like hers are why I often remind my students and colleagues that only the impotent and the naïve have the luxury of self-righteousness. After our five-year experience in Iraq, Americans are also learning this lesson. As a nation, we have messianic tendencies. We want to make the world a better place, but we often recoil at the real-world consequences of pursuing such policies. Our experience in Iraq requires us to re-examine the practicality of our goals and tactics, and ask ourselves what we might do differently in the future when we will most assuredly be needed to again intervene abroad. I want to start with a relatively controversial premise. Despite the continual barrage of attacks from the blogging left, the neoconservatives got one core argument correct: Killing Osama bin Laden will do nothing to stop terrorism. If we want to stop terrorism, they correctly argue, we need to bring hope, social and economic mobility, and the rule of law to the places that foster terrorism. The mistake the neocons made was assuming that democracy would foster such an environment in the Middle East. There are two reasons why initiating democracy early will not bring economic, social or political stability to the Middle East. First, democracy only works in places where it doesn’t matter if you lose. Second, democracy does not bring about liberty. Liberty, though, may bring about democracy. Let’s start with the first argument. Democracy works in America because our lives are not dramatically altered in any way if our preferred candidate loses. Would my life really be that much different if Al Gore had won in 2000 or John Kerry in 2004? Not really. My taxes would be a little higher. The regulatory state would be a little bigger, and heath care would be a little more bureaucratic. But the more fundamental aspects of my life, such as my job, my religion and my personal security, would be the same. American elections don’t lead to violence because although we fight so hard, we fight over differences that are minimal. I care if my taxes are 33 percent instead of 39 percent, but I won’t kill someone over it. Can we say the same thing about democracy for the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda or the people of Nigeria? Democracy doesn’t work in some of these places because it matters if you lose. If you lose, you may have all your property taken, or worse, you die. Turkey is currently learning the same lesson. As long as they only had secular candidates on the ballot, it didn’t really matter who won or lost. Turkey would still be Turkey. Only life on the margin would change. When an Islamic candidate made the ballot, however, the Turks realized it would matter if the secular party lost. Their entire way of life might change. So they stripped that candidate from the ballot. Democratic? No. Good idea? Yes. On the second point, the neocons assumed that democracy fosters liberty. They got it exactly backwards. Democracy doesn’t foster liberty. Liberty, from time to time, fosters democracy. Democracy does not cultivate liberty because democracy trades tyranny of the one for tyranny of the 51 percent. It does nothing to limit the power of government, protect the rights of minorities, or establish the rule of
law. Democracy ends up looking just as ruthless as a dictatorship because it transfers ultimate and unchecked power from one to anyone who can create a coalition of 51 percent. In such a democracy, the other 49 percent usually pick up a gun. Take Afghanistan for example. The Taliban keep losing elections, but these losses do little to stop them from killing people. The neocons were correct to start with their initial premise: Liberty will nurture an environment hostile to radical Islam. From there, however, they should have done a better job finding the variable that actually creates liberty. If they had looked harder, they would have found capitalism, not democracy. Although there are always exceptions to the rule, history has shown that capitalism (more so than democracy) does an excellent job of fostering property rights, independent courts, the rule of law, and dispersing power to multiple stakeholders — particularly in countries that have few cultural predispositions toward civil society. We political scientists refer to these characteristics collectively as limited government. And a government with limited power is the government with the limited ability to kill its citizens, strip them of their resources, and deprive them of their liberty. By comparing the development of Africa to Asia, we find support for this thesis. Africa’s revolutions ushered in democracy overnight. They also ushered in ethnic fighting, genocide and civil war. Africa got democracy, but it couldn’t find liberty. Asia, on the other hand, developed “authoritarian capitalism,” which has slowly moved South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia toward stable democracies. But capitalism and an independent, stable middle class that demanded limits on the reach of majority rule came first. Russia and China offer an ongoing test of this process. Which one will be a freer society in 10 years? My money is on China. Russia hurried headlong into democracy. Now it has little more than a kleptocracy. China, which has moved to capitalism but not democracy, is emerging as the freer society. My mother often repeats the phrase, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” I think that would be good advice for us all as we assess where we are in Iraq, what we did well, and what we should do better if there is ever a “next time.” On the left, there should be acceptance that America does have a role in promoting environments that deter the development of radical and hostile ideologies. No nation that claims to walk in the light can ignore cultures that use children as bombs. In confronting these cultures, we may need to get our hands dirty, even act unilaterally, and especially have the patience to pursue foreign policies that bear fruit over generations, not 24hour news cycles. On the right, however, there must be an acceptance that democracy is not the panacea we would like it to be. The difficulty facing the next president will be rallying the citizenry to a new noble cause, and then having to convince people that the noble cause may initially require an economic solution, not a political solution — a task made more difficult by the fact that democracy holds a softer spot in our hearts and is more amenable to lofty and passionate rhetoric than something so pedestrian as economics. Matt Manweller is an assistant professor of political science at Central Washington University in Ellensburg and chairman of the Kittitas County Republican Central Committee. This column was adapted from a speech he gave at the Mainstream Republicans gathering in Wenatchee in May. He can be reached at manwellerm@ cwu.edu
“...they should have done a better job finding the variable that actually creates liberty. If they had looked harder, they would have found capitalism, not democracy.”
Election Reform Initiative on the Ballot
or those of you in King County, this November you’ll have the chance to cast a vote on several major election reforms. On June 19 the sponsors of Initiative 25 turned in over 74,000 signatures, more than enough to qualify the initiative for the 2007 general election ballot. If passed, the initiative would make two major changes to King County elections. First, it would make the Elections Director a nonpartisan elected position. Second, it would pull the elections functions out from among marriage records and dogcatchers in the Records, Elections and Licensing Section, creating a stand-alone elections department. These changes, if adopted, will be a big step forward for election integrity. The elections director will become accountable to the people, rather than to a highly partisan executive. Also, with the creation of a new department, the new director will be able to choose a new management team. Right now, King County elections are run by virtually the same managers who oversaw (and helped to create) the fiasco in the 2004 gubernatorial race. EFF’s 501 (c)4, the Evergreen Freedom Action League, made substantial contributions to the initiative and will continue to help support it to a hopefully successful conclusion at the polls this November.
Former Washington State Legislator Toby Nixon is interviewed by National Public Radio at the I-25 signature turn-in.
the sponsors of Initiative 25 turned in over 74,000 signatures, more than enough to qualify the initiative for the 2007 general election ballot.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
P RO F I L E IN CIVIC COMMITMENT :
Michael Dunmire by Amber Gunn
“Doer, Not a Talker”
“Mike Dunmire is a friend and a mentor. He’s a doer, not a talker, who views his initiative donations as an extension of his other philanthropic projects,” said Eyman. “Taxpayers will benefit for decades from his instrumental support for I-900’s performance audits, which have become a national model. His commitment to providing voters with a greater voice in their government is truly inspirational.” Dunmire said his support of performance audits “was a way for me to give back to the [citizens of the state] some of the success I have enjoyed.” State Auditor Brian Sonntag is thrilled by the authority granted by I-900. “Citizens expect openness and transparency from their government,” Sonntag said. “They deserve this level of accountability.”
Booker Stallworth / EFF
n November 2005, Washington State voters restored the state auditor’s authority to conduct independent performance audits of state and local government. Lawmakers in the 1960s had removed that authority after a performance audit documented waste and abuse in the executive and legislative branches of state government. In a state of almost six million people, one man was pivotal in the voters’ approval of the 2005 goodgovernment initiative. Michael Dunmire, an investment fund manager, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to promote Initiative 900, which dedicates 0.16 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue for the state auditor to conduct performance audits. Last year Dunmire bankrolled Initiative 917, a measure to limit motor vehicle registration fees to $30 a year, which just missed qualifying for the ballot. Both I-900 and I-917 were sponsored by perennial initiative promoter Tim Eyman. results, whether I manage a group of 10 employees or as many as 600,” Dunmire said. “This is much of the reason for my involvement in politics. There is no management in government. Results are not measured, goals and strategies are usually poorly done, if at all, and accountability is nonexistent.”
Dunmire believes performance accountability in Washington will generate encouraging results if legislators take advantage of the opportunity that performance audits represent for improving the overall effectiveness and efficiency of government. The initiative process, Dunmire believes, compels legislators to consider the people’s feedback and has resulted in legislation more in line with the citizenry’s
Decade of Work
The passage of I-900 was the culmination of more than a decade of effort by the state auditor and other concerned citizens and groups advocating more transparent and efficient government. When asked whether he still believes his high level of support for initiatives is a good investment in light of I-917’s fate, Dunmire said, “Giving up is not an option. I felt that $30 tabs were a commitment made by the governor and legislature. Reneging on the pledge ‘$30 tabs are here to stay’ is a breach of trust with the people. “There are few things worse than a lack of trust between those being governed and those in political power,” Dunmire continued. Dunmire noted the initiative process in Washington is under attack by several groups that would like to eliminate the direct voice of taxpayers.
“People’s Only Voice”
“The initiative process is the people’s only voice in the state and important to protect,” Dunmire said. “Washington State is full of politicians conveying favors [rather than going about] the people’s business. Legislators spend an inordinate amount of energy to destroy the initiative process under the guise of making it better.” Dunmire said the initiatives he has supported identify and address what he considers major problems for the state: “unfettered spending, lack of transparency, and lack of accountability.” He believes initiatives represent democracy at its best. Supporting initiatives that benefit the citizens of Washington State is one of the ways Dunmire enjoys making a difference. “Probably my biggest passion is being creative and solving issues using a unique approach to get better
desires. His financial support is a way of helping that feedback get heard. “While my involvement may or may not directly impact [policy], it has helped me knowing I did not sit idly by complaining. I cannot control the response of legislators, but I will love Washington regardless,” Dunmire said. Groups hoping to bring more accountability to state government laud Dunmire’s efforts. “Thanks to the civic commitment of individuals like Mr. Dunmire, Washington State finally has meaningful performance audit authority for the state auditor,” said Jason Mercier, director of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s Economic Policy Center. “If more Washingtonians follow Dunmire’s lead, state officials will pay closer attention to the demands for an accountable and transparent government.”
Always remember: Freedom Matters!
by Victor Joecks
aving overthrown tyrannical British rule, our Founding Fathers wanted to ensure that the government they established protected, not hindered, the rights endowed by the Creator. The challenge is that “government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master, never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action,” as President George Washington said. His words were echoed in Federalist 51: “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” These additional protections included the separate branches of government, a series of checks and balances, and, most importantly, the limitations of governmental authority spelled out in the Constitution. Our state constitution also recognizes the tendencies of the individuals in governments to overstep their bounds, beginning with these words: “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.”
History has shown our Founding Fathers’ warnings to be prophetic. This session, bills to give hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to sport teams were introduced with emergency clauses. Bills were written by unions and introduced by beneficiaries of union campaign contributions that would allow unions to spend non-members’ money on politics. The governor’s own budget office even admitted that her budget will lead to future deficits. This is not what our Founding Fathers wanted, but certainly a possibility they envisioned. The good news is they set up a system in which political power is inherent in the people and the people can check their government. As individuals we can • contact our elected representatives; • write letters to the editor; • volunteer at civic organizations we believe in; • join EFF’s Citizen Action Network; • keep track of legislation at WashingtonVotes.org; • educate our children with an understanding of America’s history and unique economic and political structures; and • talk with friends and neighbors about why freedom matters. Remember that you stand up for what is right today for the same reason as the great leaders who came before us ...because freedom matters!
9-0editorials Teachers vs. Union
U.S. Supreme Court
Upholds First Amendment Rights of Teachers by Michael Reitz
Newspapers all across the country are hailing the unanimous ruling in Davenport v. Washington Education Association.
Wall Street Journal editorial Protecting your paycheck
Orange County Register editorial Public unions reined in
In a rebuke to the coercive tactics of Big Labor, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that states may require unions to get permission from nonmembers before using their dues money for political activities.
Unions have no constitutional entitlement to the fees of nonmember employees,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the primary opinion. Chalk it up as a victory for common sense and for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an Olympia-based free-market think tank that had fought this battle for a decade.
Washington Post column Dues and Don’ts by George F. Will
n June 14, 2007, the United States Supreme Court issued a 9-0 ruling against the Washington Education Association in our case to defend Washington’s paycheck protection law. The ruling, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, is a powerful rejection of the Washington State Supreme Court’s argument that the union’s rights are violated by a requirement that they ask first before taking employees’ money for politics. “We are so thankful for the Supreme Court using its power to rule on this,” said Gary Davenport, a former Seattle teacher and the named plaintiff in the case. Attorney General Rob McKenna, who argued the case, hailed the ruling as an “important victory.” The case involved a law that requires unions to get “affirmative authorization” from nonmembers before using their dues for political activity. The Washington Education Association was found guilty of intentionally violating the law. The Washington Supreme Court ruled that the law was an “undue administrative burden” on the union’s free speech rights. “It is undeniably unusual for a government agency to give a private entity the power, in essence, to tax government employees,” wrote Justice Scalia. Washington’s requirement to get permission for political spending is “simply a condition on the union’s exercise of this extraordinary power” because “unions have no constitutional entitlement to the fees of nonmember-employees.” Justice Scalia noted that states have wide latitude in aggressively regulating public-sector unions. “Washington could have gone much further, restricting public-sector agency fees to the portion of union dues devoted to collective bargaining. Indeed, it is uncontested that it would
Continued on next page
Democracy is rule by persuasion, but the unpersuasive often try to coerce the unpersuaded. ... The WEA’s complaint -- a notably brazen example of the entitlement mentality -- was against the supposedly burdensome “opt in” condition placed on its exercise of that power. With understandable asperity, Scalia said: “The notion that this modest limitation upon an extraordinary benefit violates the First Amendment is, to say the least, counterintuitive.”
Chicago Tribune editorial What a union is due The 1st Amendment is a vital guarantee of the right of Americans to speak, write and worship freely. But it has often been distorted by those attempting to use it in ways never intended by the framers of the Constitution. It would be harder to find a less plausible claim than the one addressed last week by the U.S. Supreme Court, which was less about free speech than about union power.
Seattle Times editorial Slapdown of WEA
Washington Times editorial Unions, dues and activism
Thursday’s ruling says, in effect, that respecting workers’ rights may be a burden, but that’s just too bad. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for all his colleagues, including the court’s liberals, dismissed “the mistaken rationale of the Supreme Court of Washington” by saying the money, and the rights, belong to the worker.
In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Supreme Court corrected an attempt by the Washington State Supreme Court to turn the First Amendment on its head for the benefit of union political activism.
Investor’s Business Daily editorial Workers get to say no to union bosses
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously and correctly ruled on Thursday that states may force public-sector labor unions to get consent from workers before using their fees for political activities. The Washington Education Association limped out of this woodshed unrepentant and defiant. But the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, which has long challenged the teachers’ union, hailed the ruling as a resounding victory for workers…
While labor bosses scheme to keep alive a practice that Scalia called an “extraordinary benefit” to unions, fair-minded lawmakers across the country now have an opportunity, based on the Supreme Court ruling, to pass legislation to strengthen nonmembers’ right to make sure their dollars aren’t used for political purposes.
The Columbian editorial Victory for teachers
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Supreme Court continud from page 8 . . . be constitutional for Washington to eliminate agency fees entirely.” The Supreme Court also addressed the Washington Legislature’s action to amend the law at issue (House Bill 2079). The amendment, said the Court, does not render the case moot. “It still matters whether the Supreme Court of Washington was correct to hold that that version was inconsistent with the First Amendment.” The
Court’s analysis, wrote Scalia, “is not affected by the amendment.” This is an important victory for the First Amendment rights of public-sector workers, particularly those who have refused to join a union. Here’s what the case means right now: it is constitutional to require unions to ask first; state legislatures can adopt similar laws or even go beyond Washington’s law; “ask-first” laws that already exist in other states will be protected; and the Washington Education Association will be held accountable for its past violations.
The ruling paves the way for other states to require unions to get permission from workers before spending their mandatory dues on political activity. Congratulations to Attorney General Rob McKenna for winning his first case before the Supreme Court; to Milton Chappell of National Right to Work and Steve O’Ban of Ellis, Li & McKinstry for successfully representing teachers in the Davenport case; and to all the teachers who worked so hard to bring this issue before the Supreme Court!
The Olympian editorial Think tank’s win... The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank in Olympia and the nemesis of the state’s largest teachers union, scored a major victory last week when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the union must get permission from teachers before using their monthly fees for political activities.
Attorney General of Washington McKenna wins first case before US Supreme Court This is an important victory for the First Amendment rights of workers in Washington,” McKenna said. “Thanks to the great team of attorneys on this case, we were able to present a persuasive argument in favor of protecting workers’ political freedoms.”
What does our victory mean
and what happens next?
he recent 9-0 ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court (Davenport v. Washington Education Association) is a powerful rejection of the Washington State Supreme Court’s argument that the union’s rights are violated by a requirement that they ask first before taking employees’ money for politics. Liberals and conservatives on the high court all agreed that our state court got it wrong! Union officials and their lawyers would like to make it seem that this case and the decision rendered is complex. It’s not. We asked the high court if the “ask first” policy is constitutional, thus protecting the free speech rights of individuals over those of organizations, and the justices unanimously said “yes.”
by Lynn Harsh
This is an important victory for the First Amendment rights of public-sector workers, particularly those who have refused to join a union. Here’s what the case means right now: 1) it is constitutional to require unions to ask first; 2) any state legislature can adopt similar laws or even go beyond Washington’s law; and 3) ask-first-type laws that already exist in other states will be protected; 4) the Washington Education Association will be held accountable for its past violations. This case has significant national impact, not only because of the actual language of the ruling, but because
of the 9-0 decision. Regardless of who holds the political reins over the next decade, a 9-0 decision is unlikely to be overturned. It forms the launching pad for state legislatures to move more aggressively, if they choose. Justice Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, acknowledged that unions are given a special privilege to collect dues. “It is undeniably unusual for a government agency to give a private entity the power, in essence, to tax government employees.” Given that legislatures grant the right to collect dues, the “modest requirement” of asking first is permissible. “The constitutional floor for unions’ collection and spending of agency fees Continued on page 16
by Daniel T. Griswold
by Thomas Lifson
Continued on next page
Continued on next page
No Grand Schemes
President Bush is threatening to revive the failed comprehensive immigration bill in “improved” form. He is wasting his and our time. No amount of improving can make the comprehensive approach the best path for America to solve its immigration woes. Instead of a big bang approach to immigration reform, we need to adopt a different sort of change strategy for America, a step-bystep, or iterative approach, learning as we go, passing reforms in a logical sequence, and learning from mistakes along the way. Immigration affects every aspect of life, and the ramifications of even minor changes can take a long time to make themselves known. It is foolish in the extreme to believe that we can scope out the entire problem and choose the right course for years to come, all at once in a deal hammered out by horse-trading pols. The public does not believe that any new law will be enforced any more rigorously than the existing immigration laws. So it sees any compromise deal as another in a series of empty promises like those made to sell earlier amnesty programs that only made matters worse. The politicians do not seem to realize how completely they have lost the confidence of the American people when it comes to stemming the flow of illegals across the border. The government must earn credibility by performing the basics of guarding the border and registering those without papers, before the people will trust it to manage any new path toward permanent residence or citizenship for a group of people whose number we cannot estimate to the nearest three million.
Illegal Immigration: Will Congress Finally Solve It?
If Democratic leaders can work with President Bush and their Republican counterparts to enact comprehensive immigration reform, one of the most vexing issues facing our country could be solved. Few people on either side of the immigration debate are happy with the status quo. Today an estimated 12 million foreign-born people live in the United States without authorization, with the number growing by half a million each year. Those immigrants fill an important and growing gap in the U.S. labor market. The U.S. economy continues to create hundreds of thousands of jobs each year for lower-skilled workers in such sectors as cleaning, food preparation, landscaping and retail. At the same time, the pool of Americans who have traditionally filled such jobs continues to shrink as native-born workers become, on average, older and better educated. Yet our immigration system offers no legal channel for peaceful, hardworking if low-skilled workers to enter the country to fill those jobs. Large-scale illegal immigration will end only when America’s immigration system offers a legal alternative. When given the choice of paying a smuggler $2,000, risking robbery and death in the desert, and living a shadowy existence in the underground U.S. economy, unable to leave and return freely to visit home, or entering the United States through a port of entry with legal documents, enjoying the full responsibility and protection of the law, and the freedom to visit home without fear of being denied re-entry, the large majority of potential entrants will chose the legal path. We know from experience that legal immigration, if allowed, will crowd out illegal immigration. In the 1950s, the Bracero program allowed Mexican workers to enter the country temporarily, typically to work on farms in the Southwest. Early in that decade, illegal immigration was widespread because the program offered an insufficient number of visas to meet the labor demands of a growing U.S. economy. Instead of merely redoubling efforts to enforce a flawed law, Congress dramatically increased the number of visas to accommodate demand. The result: Apprehensions of illegal entrants at the border soon dropped by more than 95 percent. If the goal is to curb illegal immigration, any temporary worker program must offer a sufficient number of visas to meet the legitimate demands of a growing U.S. labor market. The fact that 400,000 to 500,000 foreign-born workers join the U.S. labor force illegally each year indicates the general magnitude of how much demand exceeds the supply of available, legal workers. A temporary-worker program should offer at least that number of visas to allow the revealed demand of American employers to be met legally. To be effective, an expanded visa program must also be flexible enough to respond to labor-market signals. Union leaders are pressuring Democrats to require that temporary workers be paid “prevailing wages”—that is, artificially high, union-level wages rather than market wages.
By and for the political class Why are the media and the leadership of both parties so insistent on an all-or nothing comprehensive approach? A wide-ranging deal solves several problems for the political class. They appear to “get something done,” and can claim to have led the nation. They can then take the subject off the table, at least until problems require more congressional hearings. For President Bush, a comprehensive program is his major domestic agenda item. Putting it all together in one big package means that troublesome issues which might embarrassing to either oppose or advocate openly, can be shunted to obscure passages in a bill running to many hundred pages. This works well for both the president and congress. Congress gets to become the gatekeeper in any comprehensive deal, determining what goes in and what stays out of the legislation. The art of the deal particularly empowers the leadership of the two parties, as they put together the final version of the complex law, engaging in complex wheeling and dealing and making themselves the hub of influence. The big bang approach avoids genuine debate, which is one of its primary advantages for the powers that be. The bill is so complicated, the deal so fast-changing, always subject to last minute rewriting in conference, that the public does not really know what is being passed and what is not. This information vacuum helps account for the appallingly low quality of the political debate over the immigration bill so far.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Will Congress solve it, continued from page 10. . . That would be a recipe for failure, since many of the jobs filled by immigrant workers are low-skilled, low-wage jobs that would simply not exist in the legal economy if union-level wages were mandated. Adding cumbersome labor rules will only perpetuate the underground labor market that has been created by the current system. Demands for restrictive wage rules are based on false fears that increased legal immigration will drive down the wages and working conditions for a broad swath of American workers. But only a small and declining share of the American work force competes against immigrant workers. According to “The New Americans,” the authoritative 1997 National Research Council study of immigration, the only two groups of Americans who face downward wage pressure from immigration are other recent immigrants and native-born Americans without a high-school diploma. The wage impact on American workers is small. “The weight of the empirical evidence suggests that the impact of immigration on the wages of competing nativeborn workers is small-possibly reducing them by only 1 or 2 percent,” the NRC study concluded. More recent studies confirm the small impact of low-skilled immigration on competing American workers. If Congress fails to reform America’s immigration laws in a way that reflects the reality of our market economy, the problem of illegal immigration will only grow worse. Without comprehensive immigration reform, Congress and the administration will waste billions of dollars more trying to enforce an unenforceable law. Daniel Griswold is director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies.
No grand schemes, continued from page 10. . . A false dichotomy has been foisted on the American people by the political class and its media handmaidens: either pass a monstrosity “comprehensive bill” or do nothing. In the process, the necessary larger debate on several important aspects of policy is short-circuited when the only two alternatives entertained are a comprehensive deal or nothing. George W. Bush: “If you want to kill the bill, if you don’t want to do what’s right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people. Or you can show leadership and solve this problem once and for all.” What the powerful want A consensus exists among the powerful and politically connected of both parties that the 12-20 million illegals currently in residence must be given some sort of papers, if only to protect the businesses, large and small, which depend on their low cost labor. Democrats see a future voting constituency, charities and government agencies see more clients and more funding for their services, and some unions see more members. Republicans fear harming the economy with labor shortages and futilely hope to avoid being branded racists. But the American people are in no hurry to reward law breaking, and are willing to live with employers suffering anxiety attacks over their undocumented workforce, and continued difficulties for those who crossed the border improperly. There is no particular sense of urgency about solving the problems of the law-breakers, only a sense of urgency over stopping further law-breaking. Certainly, there is no widespread conviction that we know enough now to design in advance a wellfunctioning complex set of changes. A Strategy versus a Framework There is no advantage of a grand plan over the step by step approach unless there is some real wisdom and experience guiding it, and making a whole more than the sum of its parts. Instead of a detailed strategy passed into law with far reaching legislation, we need to start with the basics: secure the border and start registering those without papers for further investigation and processing. The framework we embrace would then provide a basis for further discussion of other important and detailed questions, such as details of possible residence permits and other avenues to screening and regularization of the illegal population, limiting the role of litigation and appeals. There is already in place legislation authorizing a fence over about a third of the mileage of the southern border. For both practical and symbolic reasons, the fence needs to cover the full border, both as a sign of resolve and to remove fears that border crossers will be driven into even more wild and dangerous country, but still keep coming. While some may worry that Mexicans will take offense, others hope that Mexico will understand that America is finally serious about ending the export of its social and economic failures. The media may not choose to dwell on it, but the booing of Americans, our national anthem and flag at soccer matches and beauty contests has taken its toll on the American public’s willingness to serve of bogeyman for Mexico’s corrupt political economy. Should President Bush and Congress continue to breathe life into the dead issue of comprehensive immigration legislation, they will find themselves at the business end of a popular revolt. Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of American Thinker.
Have an opinion on the immigration debate? Please send your comments about immigration policy to email@example.com. We want to know what you think.
Applying the economic way of thinking to health policy: Things to avoid
by John C. Goodman
t is the season for health insurance reform, and that’s dangerous. The odds of doing something bad are much higher than the odds of doing something good. Here are four things to avoid. 1. Do not turn a tax subsidy into an entitlement. The primary way the government encourages private insurance is through tax subsidies. Many reform proposals would completely change the nature of the subsidies; e.g., by creating a refundable tax credit. The risk is that the new tax subsidy could become an entitlement. Medicare and Medicaid entitlements are already on a course to crowd out every other government program. We cannot survive creating more health care entitlements. That means: government’s commitment must be defined contribution, not defined benefit. Tax subsidies are going to grow roughly at the rate of growth of national income. Health care spending is
growing at twice that rate. The new system of tax subsidies must also grow with national income, not with health care costs. 2. Avoid mandated coverage and mandated benefits. Proposals to require everyone to have health insurance increase the likelihood that the government subsidy will become an entitlement. It makes no sense to mandate a benefit package if the cost of the package is going to grow at twice the rate of the subsidy. By keeping the subsidy restrained, you will force health plans to curtail costs somehow - with HSAs, restricting payments to evidence-based medicine, HMOs, etc. Pay-or-play is much better than a mandate. Since you will never be able to enforce the mandate anyway (and rigorous attempts at enforcement would cost far more than they are worth), let people choose whether to be insured or not. If they choose to be insured, give
“Medicare and Medicaid entitlements are already on a course to crowd out every other government program. We cannot survive creating more health care entitlements.”
them a subsidy; if they choose not to be insured, make them pay a tax penalty and put the unclaimed subsidy (or the tax penalty) into the safety net. Also, with pay-or-play you do not have to define a mandated benefit package, vulnerable to cost-increasing special interest measures. 3. Don’t create perverse incentives for health plans. Insurance pricing restrictions create perverse incentives. If people can switch plans annually at premiums that are unrelated to expected costs, the plans will seek out the healthy and avoid the sick. Once people are enrolled, the plans will over-provide to the healthy and under-provide to the sick. A much better idea is to give plans an incentive to compete for the sick. 4. Don’t encourage people to forgo private coverage by expanding public coverage. There should be no expansion of Medicaid and SCHIP in a way that encourages people to drop their private coverage in order to get free public coverage. Instead, the incentives should work the other way. We should use public money to encourage private insurance. John C. Goodman is the President of the National Center for Policy Analysis
Supply-side economics’ creator assails property tax
by Jeremy Redmon | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
eorgia should eliminate property taxes to make the state more attractive to businesses looking for a new home, says the nationally known economist who is behind a radical proposal to overhaul the state’s tax code. Arthur B. Laffer, widely known as the “father of supply-side economics,” faults Georgia for having multiple layers of authorities that can raise taxes on homes regardless of a person’s income. The state is also guilty of “double-taxation,” Laffer says, by taxing homes and other assets on top of income. “It is about as arcane and inefficient and terrible as any system I have seen,” Laffer said. “Not that the other states aren’t pretty bad, too. But it’s outrageous.” Laffer is advising House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram) on his sweeping proposal to wipe out taxes on everything from cars to homes in favor of a flat income tax-sales tax combination. No other state has adopted this approach, although several states are considering some form of property tax reform. Laffer served on former President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board during both of his terms and is the inventor of the “Laffer Curve,” the theory that lower tax rates can stimulate the economy and generate more revenue for governments. Richardson’s plan draws on that theory, Laffer said. “What I think it would do is allow a lot more revenues to come in because you are going to attract a lot more business,” said Laffer, 66, of Laffer Associates, a Nashville-based economics research and consulting firm. At the end of the legislative session in April, Richardson proposed a constitutional amendment to wipe out most taxes in favor of a flat 5.75 percent income tax and a flat 5.75 percent tax on goods and professional services. Georgians essentially pay a 6 percent income tax and 4 percent sales tax now. Richardson, however, has made several changes to his plan in recent weeks to simplify it for voters. He now wants to reduce the income tax rate to 4 percent and keep the sales tax rate at 4 percent. To make up for the lost property tax revenue, the state would scrap its estimated $9.8 billion in sales tax exemptions on
everything from church bells to food. Georgians, however, would be able to claim a credit on their state income tax returns for groceries. Critics say Richardson’s plan would favor the rich at the expense of the poor, a charge the speaker and Laffer deny. “That is [...],” Laffer said of the criticism. “The biggest thing that is going to happen is there is going to be more jobs, more output and more employment. ... The best form of welfare is still a good high-paying job.” Richardson previously called his proposal the “fair tax,” but now he is calling it the GREAT plan, which stands for Georgia’s Repeal of Every Ad valorem Tax. He wants the Legislature to take up his plan when it meets in January. For it to pass, it will need two-thirds support of the General Assembly and approval by voters.
“The biggest thing that is going to happen is there is going to be more jobs, more output and more employment. ... The best form of welfare is still a good high-paying job.”
“If we get it on the ballot, we will win in a landslide,” predicted Laffer, who also served as an economist in former President Richard Nixon’s administration and ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat in California in 1986. But it will be tough getting it through the Legislature. Richardson faces critics within his own party, some of whom prefer a slower approach when it comes to major tax reform.
“I don’t think anyone should radically change the tax system. It needs to be a slow process,” said Rep. Chuck Sims (R-Ambrose), vice chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, which will consider the proposal. “We refer to it in Ways and Means as ‘like a cat eating a grubbing hoe.’ You have got to do it a little bit at a time. You can’t just do it all at once.” Along with Laffer, the speaker has hired Donna Arduin, a former fiscal adviser to several governors, including Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Jeb Bush of Florida. Richardson’s political action committee, MMV Alliance Fund, is paying Laffer and Arduin’s firm the initial $50,000 cost of its study through private donations. Arduin and Laffer are also advising Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-West Miami) on property tax reform. In Georgia, Laffer and Richardson already have started taking their plan on the road, hoping to build support before the Legislature gets back to business in January. Last month, the two pitched the idea before the Georgia Chamber of Commerce board of directors on Sea Island. Richardson said he plans to make more such presentations in the coming months. Meanwhile, county officials are worried about losing local control over taxation and abolishing property taxes, which they say are a steady source of revenue for growing schools. Laffer says local governments would be guaranteed the same amount of revenue, adjusted for population growth and other factors. “There are still a lot of unanswered questions about it right now,” said Houston County Commissioner Tom McMichael, who is also president of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. “For me personally to be in favor of it, it is going to need a lot of tweaking.” “We would be opposed to anything that does away with the local boards’ authority to levy property taxes,” said Don Rooks, director of legislative services for the Georgia School Boards Association. “Sales tax is wonderful, there is no doubt about it. But the property tax is reliable. And even in times of downturn in the economy, the children keep coming. The local boards need that revenue stream.”
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Ongoing Medicaid drama: Can we get some clarification here?
by Amber Gunn
ast year, the state auditor (SAO) released the 2005 audit of Washington’s Medicaid program, identifying 28 audit findings against the state. These findings resulted in nearly $1 billion out of $6.2 billion in Medicaid spending being “questioned” by the state auditor. SAO cited millions in questionable payments for non-emergency medical care of illegal immigrants and problems with double-payments or overpayments to various vendors. This May, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a report in response to a federal review of the state’s Medicaid audit. The report has not resolved the lingering disagreement over “questioned” costs in Washington’s Medicaid program. Unfortunately for taxpayers, that means we’ll probably see repeat findings this year and more wasted dollars. A little background on the problem might make things more clear. In June 2006, the state auditor sent the governor a letter indicating that “the amount of questioned costs as defined in federal regulations is being revised from the approximately $950 million we reported in our Medicaid Accountability Report to approximately $80 million.” The $80 million in “questioned” costs were reported in the federal audit of Washington’s Medicaid program. The difference between the two dollar amounts is due to different definitions of “questioned” costs. SAO issues two Medicaid audits each year, one state focused and one federally focused. “Questioned” costs in a federal audit refer to money that may have to be repaid to the federal government. “Questioned” costs in a state level audit refer to money considered “at risk.”
A lingering disagreement over the definition of “at risk” dollars has put SAO and CMS at an impasse. A federal review of Washington’s Medicaid program by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) resulted in 100 percent concurrence with SAO on violations of the law. The federal review corroborated SAO findings, deeming nearly every finding a “material weakness and a material instance of noncompliance.” OIG also recommended that “procedures be developed and implemented to ensure the unallowable costs be determined and returned.” Last week’s report by CMS revealed the agency’s continuing disagreement with OIG and SAO on several findings, begging the question of who holds the trump card. On May 21, State Auditor Brian Sonntag sent a letter to Governor Gregoire requesting her office’s cooperation and support in calling for a resolution to the conflicting interpretations of the federal rules. SAO told the governor, “We believe this clarification is necessary to ensure an efficient and effective audit process for the Department, our Office and the state’s citizens.” EFF also sent a letter to the governor on May 22, supporting Auditor Sonntag and requesting that the governor and SAO write a joint letter to CMS demanding clarification of the federal government’s position concerning the state’s Medicaid audit findings. Corrective action should have been taken within six months. EFF and SAO have been requesting clarification of the conflicting rules since last year.
Show me the jobs
by Amber Gunn
itizens of Washington, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Boeing has a new $30 million “backup” pier for its 787 Dreamliner, courtesy of you and me. Taxpayers chipped in for half the cost of the pier as part of a $4 billion “incentive package” in tax exemptions and infrastructure projects aimed at keeping production of the 787 in state. The port has a barge-to-rail transport facility that was designed to receive large parts for the 787. The trouble is, Boeing decided early on to fly in parts using modified 747s. As a result, the port has essentially become an “insurance policy” for the company, i.e. a colossal waste of taxpayer money. You may be asking yourself why in the world lawmakers would be willing to spend $15 million to benefit a private company. For the jobs they bring to the state, of course! But where are the jobs created by this $15 million expenditure? Where are the performance expectations for Boeing? Shouldn’t a company receiving public subsidies have to prove that the public actually benefited from those funds? Unfortunately, spending millions of taxpayer dollars with little or no performance expectations attached is not a unique facet of Washington’s economic development strategy. Each year, local governments and businesses throughout Washington receive millions in tax dollars for economic development in hopes of creating jobs. The money is funneled through the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED), which has a combined operating and capital budget totaling just over $1.5 billion. Recently, key legislators involved in creating a $100 million job development program admitted to the Seattle Times that the program was a failure. About half of the program’s funds went to projects that did not document the economic benefits or number of jobs created. The
remaining funds went to projects more likely to generate tax revenue than jobs. In an ideal world, government would not be involved in choosing private sector winners and losers. States that must offer tax breaks and other incentives in order to attract businesses are most likely plagued by bad tax policy and a burdensome regulatory climate, which is ignored at that state’s own peril. Given the unfortunate reality that certain lawmakers refuse to address a fundamentally bad business environment with anything other than a patchwork of handouts and special privileges, they should at least commit to being responsible to taxpayers for the results of these deals. If state government insists on being involved in economic development, it should do so solely on the basis of strict performance contracts with real penalties for failing to deliver the promised economic impact. Texas recently enacted a policy that requires the governor to write a contract containing specific performance targets for businesses receiving government assistance. This is already generating the desired accountability. Last year, Texas demanded a partial refund when outdoor retailing giant Cabela’s fell short of its job creation goal by more than 200 jobs. Cabela’s had promised to employ 400 people in exchange for a $400,000 economic development grant. Washington should follow Texas’ example and implement similar performance contracts using a combined carrot-stick method to ensure taxpayers are getting the promised return for their investments. As long as governments distinguish among employers based on the power of their lobbyists to secure preferential treatment, there should be protections for taxpayers based on delivered performance. Every dollar dedicated to economic development must come with performance expectations. Lawmakers can start with one simple request: “Show me the jobs.”
Should SAO issue repeat audit findings, the state may be vulnerable to legal action against the Office of Financial Management for failing to correct the problem within six months as required by law. Another year of repeat findings due to conflicting federal standards is unacceptable. The governor needs to use her bully pulpit to raise the pressure on the federal government to clarify the rules.
Senior Assistant Attorney General honored with leadership award from the Governor
OLYMPIA—Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Shinn was recently selected for the 2007 Governor’s Award for Leadership in Management. The award gives special recognition to managers who have demonstrated excellence in carrying out their responsibilities. Created in 1985, the Leadership in Management program recognizes those managers within state government who have demonstrated excellent performance. Shinn was honored during a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion. Shinn has taken extra steps to ensure the consistency of the legal services provided by the Regional Services Division. Approximately 100 attorneys and professional staff in seven offices throughout the state offer legal services to the Department of Social and Health Services, Department of Labor and Industries, Employment Security Department, Department of Licensing and numerous educational institutions, including Central Washington University and Western Washington University. “Michael has faced the difficult challenge of using limited resources to address the escalating juvenile litigation caseload,” Attorney General Rob McKenna recently said. “In doing so, he did not dwell on those limitations, nor did he remain satisfied with the status quo. He took active, creative steps to increase the efficient handling of juvenile litigation cases. Michael exemplifies the very best qualities in an effective manager and richly deserves this award.” Shinn began his career with the Attorney General’s Office in the Everett Regional Services Division and worked in three different divisions in Seattle before moving to the Vancouver Regional Services Division in 2003. He served as section chief until December 2005 until he was promoted to his current position as division chief for the entire Regional Services Division. Shinn graduated from the University of Washington Law School with honors and served as associate editor of the Washington Law Review. He has won numerous state and national honors, including Best U.S. Supreme Court Brief from the National Association of Attorneys General in 2003 as a co-author of the petitioner’s brief in Locke v. Davey. For more information, contact J. Ryan Shannon, Media Relations Manager for the Attorney General’s Office, at (360) 753-2727.
Letters to the Editor Budget 101 Dear Amber, Your Budgeting 101 story almost convinced me but the second half pulled the plug on any authenticity. From the inset on page 9 of the last issue of Living Liberty I read, “I would cut Natural Resources by 50% and DSHS by 50%....” Natural Resources is capitalized. Could you mean the Dept of Natural Resources? Then you use the acronym DSHS which everybody recognizes. All the money DNR makes from managing land and timber sales goes to run the outfit... and weed control is a legal obligation set forth by legislation. You cannot rent cattle grazing land with Tansy Ragwort... nor sheep grazing land with Sheep Ragwort. Ironically, where you can find Tansy is on public thoroughfares... they don’t enforce their own rules on themselves. But I am not sure you mean DNR, so I may be jumping to conclusions. (Where we really need weed control is in the legislature.) You may have spent a painful amount of research on the state budget but you haven’t convinced me that you did your best work on this article. In rationalizing for you, I think “deadlines” or maybe there is too much to report in such little space. I agree totally with our take on DSHS and the EFF mission however. Loyal supporter, David R. Wytko David, Thanks for your feedback on my article. It was meant to be a satirical and simple idea rather than a serious policy solution, hence my reference to P.J. O’Rourke. You’ll find most of my newsletter articles dripping with sarcasm, as this is where I have more flexibility to incorporate some fun and get people interested in our state’s budget and tax policy—not an easy feat. Thanks again for your comments. Amber Gunn, Policy Analyst
PRISON REFORM June 6, 2007 As a retired 20 yr. veteran of the Federal Prison System, I would like to offer a few comments from someone who worked closely with all categories of inmates. Let’s face it, the majority of inmates are going to eventually be released back into society. Of course, if an inmate serves his or her full sentence, there is no guarantee he or she will not re-offend. Most of the newer federal prisons were costly to build, but they were necessary for humane treatment of all inmates. McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary, where I worked for six years, was a hell hole, and yet it did not prevent many inmates from returning upon release. Some couldn’t find jobs, some thought they wouldn’t get caught, some felt
the need to be taken care of (institutionalized). Washington State, and indeed all states’ current mentality is to warehouse inmates of all categories. Prisons are absolutely necessary for violent offenders, and a few other types, but for the most part, non-violent offenders should be handled in other ways. It is a waste of humanity, and a burden on taxpayers to continue incarcerating non-violent offenders. An appropriate government think tank should consider alternative treatment of these offenders, such as, paying restitution, community service, electronic monitoring, [counseling], and other more creative methods. Looking to the future, there needs to be a movement to reinforce in our young people the realities of right and wrong behavior, and the consequences they could face. Gang activity and drug use will continue to cause our young people to break the law, and must be addressed soon. I certainly do not have all the answers, but I feel very strongly about the necessity for some kind of prison reform. George W. Cripe
June 6, 2007 Your piece on prisons was great, I have been trying to formulate a good letter to the editor for some time but yours said it very well and with stats I couldn’t have got[ten]. My point was going to be attacking the Dems in power in Pierce County who have said nothing about everyone dumping their ex cons in Pierce County. I cannot understand the lack of [conscience] someone must have to allow future victims of repeat criminals. If their sister was raped, their mother robbed, their best friend’s child abducted, their father fatally shot, would it change them? I wonder. Kurtis Spitzer
-tirw seceip ycilop ot dnopser sredaeR nnuG rebmA tsylanA FFE yb net
Thanks for taking time to respond. You are absolutely right that the prison system needs reforming. As you know though, it’s very difficult to get anyone to agree on a solution. I agree with you that in many cases nonviolent offenders could be handled in more appropriate ways other than incarceration. The legislature must change sentencing laws for that to happen. Parents are the ultimate teachers of right and wrong to our young people. I would hope that the new movement you speak about would come from them, and I agree that it is desperately needed.
Letters, not exceeding 250 words, must include your full name, address and telephone numbers for verification. This information will not be published. Letters become the property of Living Liberty and may be edited for clarity, brevity or grammar prior to publication.
Thanks again for your feedback. Amber Gunn, Policy Analyst
Send letters to: Living Liberty C/O Evergreen Freedom Foundation Attention: Booker Stallworth Address: PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 Fax: 360.352.1874 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Acronyms of doom
GASB 45 + OPEB spell “Big Trouble” for state and local governments by Amber Gunn
’ve always thought of acronyms as one of the banes of my existence. They are messy; they are in caps; and each letter could represent any number of words and combinations. Whenever I see a new one I don’t know whether to jump up and do the YMCA or obsessively scribble all over my forearm to make sure I don’t forget it. Thanks to GASB 45, state and local governments will be jumping on the acronym-dread bandwagon. A new report from investment bankers Credit Suisse has uncovered an estimated $1.5 trillion in unfunded Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB) liabilities for state and local governments. For those not fluent in government-speak, that means a whole lot of trouble ahead. Credit Suisse ranks Washington’s OPEB unfunded liability in the “more than $10 billion category,” reserved for the most egregious offenders. The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) sets accounting standards for the public sector. Acronym dread sets in with GASB 45, a new accounting rule that goes into effect this year and changes accounting procedures for OPEB (retiree benefits other than pensions, such as life insurance, healthcare, disability, etc.) from pay-as-you-go to an accrual basis. So why is everyone rustling their petticoats over an accounting rule? Because state and local governments will be required to determine “Actuarial Accrual Liability” (AAL)—a fancy phrase for “how much do you really owe?” Many governments will be measuring this obligation for the first time.
The current pay-as-you-go method recognizes cash going out the door for benefits paid to current retirees who have long since performed their service. The problem is that this method ignores promised benefits for current employees. As new obligations are accrued, the cost of deferred compensation is not reported anywhere in a government’s financial statements, nor is it disclosed. Thus, the true liability is vastly underreported. The old rules made it very easy for governments to promise employees OPEB benefits during retirement, since doing so had no effect on their balance sheets. Costs were not reflected in the budget until benefits were paid to retirees years later, long after the politicians who had made the promises were no longer in office. The good news for taxpayers is that GASB 45 “shines a big, bright light” on these OPEB liabilities, as the Credit Suisse report notes. Once the sticker shock wears off, governments will have to start doing something about these liabilities. Credit Suisse highlights several actions state and local governments might take to fund their enormous OPEB obligations. First, some costs might be passed off to retirees. For example, they may be required to pay increased retiree contributions to premiums, higher co-payments, or higher deductibles. Governments may also put caps on the plans, or close them to new employees. But a heavily unionized workforce could make those options difficult in Washington. Continued on next page
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Tarnished Brand GOP must return to core principles by Lowman S. Henry
also know that government efforts to regulate the free market economy will make the problem worse, and not better. Congressmen Dent, English, Gerlach, and Platts are all intelligent, thoughtful men and they know that as well. It is disappointing they chose to stoop to a vote which was essentially a political stunt that has short term PR benefits, but will harm the U.S. economy in the long run. Rather than passing more laws to try and regulate the cost of gasoline, Congress might try repealing a few. Specifically, it should repeal or loosen those laws which have prevented the construction of any new refinery capacity in this country since Hector was a pup. Pelosi and her ilk claim they want America to achieve energy selfsufficiency. If that is true, then open up the Alaskan National Wildlife Preserve (ANWAR) to exploration and production. America lacks energy self-sufficiency, and prices are spiking at the pump not because oil companies are making too much money, but because of government policies that prevent the opposite from occurring. If Congressman Boehner and his fellow Republicans in Congress truly want to return to majority status they must return to the core free market principles that most Americans believe in and have in the past elected Republicans to office to implement. The GOP votes cast for price control make it crystal clear that lesson has not yet been learned.
mong the many problems confronting the national Republican Party is how to restore some sort of brand image among voters. After reclaiming control of Congress in 1994 on a reform platform, Republicans managed to squander their mandate by essentially acting like the Democrats whom they had replaced. A series of scandals coupled with out-of-control Congressional spending turned voters off on the GOP Congress. As for the Bush Administration, even the architect of the 1994 revolution, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has become critical of its failure to run the government effectively. Discontent has seeped all the way down to the grassroots. The Republican National Committee had to shut down its telephone fundraising operations recently because small donors, aggravated by the President’s stand on illegal immigration, are literally refusing to give. House Republican Leader John Boehner, among others, is looking for ways to rebuild the GOP brand. The difficulty they face was illustrated by a recent vote on a proposal by House Democrats to pander to voter anger over the rising price of gasoline. The bill, introduced by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) would - as the American Conservative Union (ACU) put it, place “socialist style price controls” on oil and gasoline. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has worked herself into a liberal lather over the high cost of gasoline. Never mind, as George Will observed in a recent column that in inflation-adjusted dollars the cost of a gallon of gasoline is less now than it was in 1981. Pelosi and her fellow travelers feel something has to be done to collar what they claim are excessive profits being made by the oil companies. Pelosi conveniently forgets the fact, pointed out by the ACU, that oil companies make about 13 cents profit per gallon of gasoline while the federal government reaps a “windfall” of 18.4 cents per gallon
in taxes - and that does not include state gasoline taxes. So Pelosi and company are attempting to legislate a more equitable marketplace, passed by a one-vote margin what is essentially a price control bill and have sent it along to the Senate, where hopefully cooler heads will prevail. Most disconcerting about passage of the House price control bill is that 56 Republicans joined with Democrats to approve the measure. They violated a core Republican principle of belief in the free market. Four Pennsylvania Republicans joined in the apostasy: Charlie Dent of the Lehigh Valley, Phil English of Erie, Jim Gerlach from suburban Philadelphia, and Todd Platts from York County. Unfortunately, on a number of issues, they have run roughshod over Republican Party orthodoxy, thus contributing mightily to voter confusion over exactly what makes Republicans different from Democrats. Having paid over $55.00 the last time I filled my truck with gasoline I agree the recent spike in prices puts a dent in the family budget. But, I
Acronyms continued from page 14 . . .
Eventually, the problem would have caught up to governments in the form of ever-higher benefit payments, especially as the population ages and healthcare costs inflate faster than revenues. OPEB payments would have continued to grow and consume larger portions of government revenue. Thanks to GASB 45, this problem can be dealt with sooner rather than later. Perhaps not all acronyms are so bad after all.
Between $1 Billion and $10 Billion
Estimated State Government OPEB Under Funding
Less than $1 Billion
A more likely outcome in our tax-happy state is that you and I will get stuck with the bill in the form of higher taxes. This is clearly not a win for anyone other than public retirees. One other interesting possibility, and the only one that has the potential to create winners all around, is that governments may sell or lease certain infrastructure assets to fund OPEB liabilities. The Credit Suisse report pointed to New Zealand as an example, which sold off telecommunications, airlines, irrigation schemes, computing services, railways, bus services, etc. and achieved a 66 percent reduction in the size of government measured by the size of employees. The country began running surpluses, which were used to pay off debt. State and local governments could take the same kind of action to pay off unfunded liabilities. Besides, the report points out, government assets “could provide some much-needed supply of long-duration assets that the market has been craving.” If those options sound like too much work, our legislature could always follow Texas and declare the new rules don’t apply. The state claims retiree health benefits are not contractual obligations but bi-annual appropriations “changeable at the will of a legislative body,” i.e. we could get rid of them any time we want. But don’t be fooled by such pontificating nonsense. The Texas legislature has no intention of changing anything because they do, in fact, view employee benefits as an obligation. Washington cannot be allowed to go the way of Texas. GASB 45 is a rude awakening for many governments, but it also brings transparency and some much-needed fiscal discipline. For the first time, they must account for large promises for which they have set aside little or no assets.
Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is: lhenry@ lincolninstitute.org.
Over $10 Billion
Source: Credit Suisse, You Dropped a Bomb on Me, GASB
What happens next, continued from page 9 . . . is not also a constitutional ceiling for state-imposed restrictions.” “We hold that it does not violate the First Amendment for a State to require that its public-sector unions receive affirmative authorization from a nonmember before spending that nonmember’s agency fees for electionrelated purposes,” wrote Scalia. Here’s what the decision means for the future: As already noted, Scalia left room for state legislatures to regulate the collection of dues even more aggressively, as “unions have no constitutional entitlement to the fees of nonmember-employees.” Washington state, he said, “could have gone much further, restricting publicsector agency fees to the portion of union dues devoted to collective bargaining. Indeed, it is uncontested that it would be constitutional for Washington to eliminate agency fees entirely.” The Court also rejected as “misguided” the state Supreme Court’s reliance on the Boy Scouts v. Dale case to argue that the WEA has a right to force nonmembers to associate. What about HB 2079, the action by the legislature and governor to protect union interest in light of this ruling? Justice Scalia also acknowledged the Washington Legislature’s attempt to undermine the case. That action, he said, does not moot the Davenport case. “It still matters whether the Supreme Court of Washington was correct to hold that [the law] was inconsistent with the First Amendment. Our analysis of whether §760’s affirmative-authorization requirement violates the constitutional rights of respondent is not affected by the amendment….” Given the state Attorney General’s vigorous objections about the constitutionality of HB 2079, we believe it will be challenged when the WEA cases are remanded back to state court. Did the ruling go far enough? The justices rendered a decision precisely along the lines we asked them to consider. Scalia’s opinion makes it clear that we would not have received favorable consideration from the U.S. Supreme Court had we tried to use this case as a vehicle to end, once and for all, a union’s coercive power to collect agency fees.
This case stands for the simple proposition that unions should ask before using money for politics. Paycheck protection is not intended to artificially suppress union political spending, and any criticism of the policy for its failure to do so is misplaced. The goal of paycheck protection is to ensure that every dollar the union spends on political activity is from a voluntary donor. Is paycheck protection enough? It is a starting place, not the ending place. We want true voluntary unionism—where affiliation, membership and payment is up to the individual worker; where unions are as strong as the voluntary support behind them, but no more; where workers can represent themselves or form competing unions; where unions cannot be shielded from market forces. Davenport is an important victory along the way, and can be used as a platform to launch other reforms. What’s next? First, in whatever way is necessary, we will challenge HB 2079. Second, this court decision clears the way for a case currently on hold against the NEA. We will now review that case. Third, since we know union officials are willing to manipulate the law, and the majority of politicians are willing to let them, we will work toward reforms to strip union officials of their coercive power over the lives and paychecks of working men and women.
What’s next? First, in whatever way is necessary, we will challenge HB 2079. Second, this court decision clears the way for a case currently on hold against the NEA. We will now review that case. Third, since we know union officials are willing to manipulate the law, and the majority of politicians are willing to let them, we will work toward reforms to strip union officials of their coercive power over the lives and paychecks of working men and women.
Note: For all of you who have stood with us over these years, a hearty thank you! For the teachers who have risked reputations and careers to take this case to the highest court in the land, we are awed by you.
Contest Rules: Letters must be written by the named author and published as a letter to the editor in the opinion section of a general circulation newspaper that has at least one printed edition per week for the entire period from June 1, 2007, through January 1, 2008. If the same letter is published by multiple qualifying newspapers, each different publication shall be counted as a different letter. Letters must in some way advocate for indi-
The Citizen Action Network will award one thousand dollars in cash prizes to the best and most prolific writers of letters to the editor from June through December of this year. Authors must be CAN members or associate members (membership is
vidual liberty, free enterprise, or limited, accountable government. Letters may be submitted by non-members, but only those who are associate members or members of the Citizen Action Network on or
free, sign up now at www.effcan.org).
before December 1, 2007, will be eligible to
Prizes for the most letters to the editor published between June 1, 2007 and January 1, 2008:
First Place: $500 Second Place: $150 Third Place: $50 Prizes for the most persuasive letter to the editor published between June 1, 2007 and January 1, 2008
First Place: $100 Honorable Mention (four awards): $50
win. Apply online for associate membership at
To enter the contest, send your published letters to the editor to: Letter Contest Evergreen Freedom Foundation P.O. Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 Or email a link to an online version of your letter to tengland@effwa. org (letters must also appear in print, verification may be required).
www.effcan.org or call 360-956-3482 to request a CAN application form. Membership is not automatic, and application processing time varies. Approved associate members will be notified of their status and are eligible to become full members by completing the First Principles of Freedom training course. Prizes will be awarded by January 31, 2008. The “most persuasive” letters will be selected by a panel of judges chosen by the Director of the Citizen Action Network. All letters must be accepted by the Director of the Citizen Action Network.