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Travis Rowley: Taking Care Of Babysitters

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Regrettably, lies and falsehoods – even weak arguments – may triumph if they are repeated more often than the truth. This is the ultimate frustration for conservatives who decide to engage in political disputes. Conservatives aren’t required to just win the arguments. They have to win the same arguments again and again and again.

The famed economist Milton Friedman once put it this way: “The battle for freedom must be won over and over again.”

Echoing Friedman’s observation, I attempted to explain several months ago, “The Left just keeps on coming.”

The Left doesn’t have principles. It has an agenda. Its political culture is profoundly anti-intellectual – one marked by an elitist outlook, brutish intimidation, and political correctness. To the extent that liberals ever really debate, they do so while on a military march toward a totalitarian state. So how well can they really be listening?

It is under this premise, and also for the sake of repetition, that I must bring attention to the column written this week by establishment journalist Scott MacKay – a column so riddled with poor arguments and a shocking incomprehension of the simplest of concepts, that it immediately became clear to me that Mr. MacKay must not be an avid reader of my weekly columns. And he certainly didn’t take Travis’ Challenge.

If he had, he could not have written something so utterly weak and confounding – a column that could make one wonder if this progressive veteran has even the slightest grip on basic issues concerning organized labor.

The sections below represent clarifications to each of MacKay’s argumentative shortcomings.

Democracy and Force

Concerning the recent controversy over bestowing collective bargaining rights to “680 state-subsidized child care workers,” MacKay contends that “[c]onservatives…love to call this ‘forced unionization’ but of course it isn’t.”

Of course, it is. And demonstrably so.

MacKay argues, “First off,…opponents of this union drive had plenty of opportunity to contest and lobby against the measure as it was working its way through the General Assembly. The Assembly approved it and the legislation was signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee.”

Exactly what kind of logic is MacKay employing here? Are we to accept the notion that legislation that requires workers to transfer a portion of their paychecks into SEIU coffers isn’t truly “force” if one considers the fact that critics of that policy had the opportunity to implore the rabble of union-bought legislators dwelling within the Statehouse?

For decades conservatives begged liberal Democrats not to transform Rhode Island into one of the highest-taxed states in the nation. Now that Democrats have ignored the warnings, should we stop calling your payments to the state government “taxes”?

 “Secondly, no child care worker is being forced to do anything,” reasons MacKay. “What’s sorely missing in the right-wing and media arguments against unionization is that the workers VOTE on whether they want to join a union or not. If a majority reject the union, there won’t be union representation.”

Just another progressive worshipping at the altar of “democracy” – often defined as “two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”

Apparently, MacKay doesn’t consider it to be “force” when workers who voted against unionization are required to fund the SEIU.

Yet, it remains true: Democracy is force. That’s why progressives love it so much. That’s why they spend most of their time “organizing.”

Furthermore, the unionization of the State’s child-care providers doesn’t even require the approval of 51% of all 680 of them, but rather 51% of a minority of workers who will be ushered to the ballot box one day by radical labor activists. In reality, that’s how it all goes down.

“What could possibly be fairer than allowing these workers the opportunity to vote on their future? Isn’t that what democracy is all about,” MacKay wonders with a shockingly high level of political naiveté.

Perhaps it would be “fairer” if the union was ever forced to run for re-election. However, particularly in states without Right-To-Work policies, once unions have won the day, the host company will forever be under the grip of organized labor.

Union activists only like elections when they can benefit from them.

Contrary to what MacKay would have everyone believe, choice and freedom are what progressives despise. Power and control are what are required to implement their terrible ideas.

Since Wisconsin passed Act 10 two years ago – legislation that made the payment of union dues voluntary – “most [public-employee unions] have lost between 30% and 60% of their members in the past two years.”

You see – Good products, helpful services, and sound ideas don’t require force.

Does Scott MacKay Know the Definition of Hypocrisy?

Of course, a good progressive screed is never complete without a personal attack that seeks to discredit the conservative opposition, and limit the amount of people who are allowed to voice their opinion.

MacKay didn’t want his readers to overlook the “hypocrisy” of Mike Stenhouse, the “[CEO] of the conservative Freedom & Prosperity group” – the organization spearheading the challenge to the public unionization of private child-care providers.

“We should also note the hypocrisy of Mr. Stenhouse and others of his ilk on unions,” MacKay suggests.

What makes Stenhouse such a hypocrite? He used to be in a union!

As MacKay points out, Stenhouse “receives a pension because he belonged to arguably the nation’s strongest labor union, the Major League Baseball Players Association.”

The progressive journalist couldn’t help mixing in some speculative, irrelevant, and mindless class envy as well: “One wonders about a ballplayer who argues that teacher pensions are too large and constantly slams attempts to unionize child-care workers, but has no problem with pampered, unionized athletes with multi-million dollar salaries getting pensions and generous health care retirement plans.”

That is as sophisticated as it gets for progressives: If you have ever been a member of a union (Especially a union that represents rich people!), then you are barred from ever standing against the efforts of organized labor – no matter the place, the details, or the circumstances.

MacKay’s charge of hypocrisy would have informed readers exit his column under the impression that he is entirely oblivious to the significant differences between government unions and private unions – such as the Major League Baseball Players Association.

While there are plenty of negatives to discuss regarding private unions, there is a natural check on their thuggery, recklessness, and economic illiteracy – as their host companies may go out of business if their demands prove to be unaffordable.

Not only is there a built-in incentive for labor leaders to be realistic, but people (taxpayers) are also left free to decide whether or not they wish to continue patronizing those private companies.

This has proven not to be the case within the government sector, where an inherent conflict of interest exists between the unions, the government (management), and the taxpayers – who are incapable of escaping the lavish benefits and the corrupt bargains orchestrated by the union-Democrat alliance.

I’m not sure how MacKay could miss it, but this has been the primary focus of conservatives’ criticism regarding the unionization of the state’s child-care workers. As former Governor Don Carcieri explained several years ago, “Being licensed, regulated or subsidized by the state does not and should not qualify these independent businesses to become ‘virtual’ state employees. This legislation would turn that principle on its head, and would open the door to thousands of independent businesses to form unions and negotiate as if they were state employees.”

No Principles But Progressivism

The only legitimate point MacKay makes within his column is one that he has made before – that is, his regret that the term “babysitters” has been used to “denigrate” the State’s child-care providers, who are now a group of political agents suddenly fighting for legal leverage over Rhode Island taxpayers in order to siphon more money out of them.

Of course, we should consider the possibility that MacKay isn’t offended at all by this quick insult.

After all, can anyone recall MacKay – a relentless critic of the Tea Party movement – ever acting appalled whenever prominent Democrats and left-wing media personalities referred to Tea Partiers as “teabaggers” – an explicit sexual reference?

Because I can’t.

And then there’s this gem: “Tea Partiers are for little more than turning the cultural clock back to a time when blacks were Ralph Ellison’s invisible men [and] women were relegated to the kitchen…That’s what many of them mean when they say ‘We want our country back,’ ” MacKay once exclaimed.

Progressives are so sensitive. That is, when it’s politically convenient.

That, my friends, is hypocrisy.

Again, for the sake of repetition, I’ll repeat something I’ve written more than several times: All liberal ire is ironic and/or phony.

And, if I have to, I’ll say it again.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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