American Elephants

Do Little Boys Play Army Anymore? by The Elephant's Child

Remembering D-Day, June 6, 1944. Here are 42 pictures from D-Day, many that I have never seen before, that were published on on June 7, 2010. The unavoidable and inevitable invasion of fortress Europe was successful at enormous cost. It was 68 years ago, and far beyond the memory of most people alive today, and it slips further and further into a dusty category of remote stories. We concentrate our memories on just one of the invasion beaches — bloody Omaha, but it was not the only one.

It was an enormous undertaking, and there was no guarantee of success. Some of these pictures are familiar, many are not.  Give a thought to those desperate days, and be sure that you and your children and grandchildren know what happened. It changed the world and is still changing it today, or did you think the crisis in Europe is unrelated to history?

(pics via @marychastain)

The Wisconsin Win is a Very Big Victory. Here’s Why. by The Elephant's Child

Yesterday was election day in Wisconsin, and the newscasts were full of “the neck-and-neck battle, too-tight-to-call, a close race,” but the intrade numbers were over 90 in favor of Gov. Walker. Polls suggested that it was not close at all. That undoubtedly explains Democrat anger and astonishment that Governor Walker had won handily. One recall supporter was nearly in tears screaming that it was “the End of Democracy in America.”During the entire battle, the unions were not shy about using some extreme language to describe their position. “First they came for the Jews…”

Wisconsin had a budget deficit of $137 million — in a state required to have a balanced budget. The relationship with the public-sector unions had deteriorated into a cozy arrangement where the unions lobbied the legislators who gave them ever increasing benefits, whereon the unions then voted the legislators back in, who were then willing to give the unions more benefits. A sweetheart deal to say the least. Wisconsin could not afford it. No money.  Collective bargaining in the public sector does not work.

Even after Walker’s reforms, public workers are still overpaid.. Union members’ are having to pay more for their health care and pensions, but far less than average.  The whiny, screaming union members after Gov. Walker’s reforms are better paid than comparable workers in the private sector, pay less for health insurance and pay less for their pensions. Jobs have been saved (the teacher’s union was ready to get rid of them). And the unemployment rate is now lower than the national average.

  • Before Act 10, Wisconsin state workers received health benefits about 2.3 times as valuable and pension benefits about 5.7 times as valuable as what workers in large private firms receive. After Act 10, Wisconsin state workers still receive health benefits nearly twice as valuable and pension benefits more than 4.5 times as valuable.
  • Before Act 10, Wisconsin state employees received total compensation (salary and benefits) about 29 percent higher than comparable private-sector workers. After Act 10, the compensation premium is about 22 percent.
  • In dollar terms, the average Wisconsin state worker after Act 10 receives total compensation including benefits equal to $81,637, versus $67,068 for a similarly skilled private worker.

Union workers are far better off that comparable workers in the private sector, and a state  that is in financial health is more apt to retain their jobs. They are suffering far less than the rest of the country where unemployment is much higher. It is a hugely important victory, not just for good government but also for fair treatment. (That item the Left claims as their goal). It does prove, however, that with political courage, the corrosive effect of public sector unions and outrageous benefit packages can be defeated. And that is the source of all the hate.

Wisconsin is far from the only state with overly generous pensions, overpaid union members, and benefits the state can no longer afford. Scott Walker stood up to enormous pressure and hate. But he provides an example for the rest of the states.

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