Yesterday I shared news that union membership in the U.S. stood at 11.3% in 2011 … the lowest level in 76 years. And in Kansas, union membership dropped from 10.1% in 2011 to 8.4% in 2012.
That started me thinking; where do we see the most union jobs in Kansas?
Airplane-making and other big manufacturing is driven by a union work force. A total of 3.2 million … one in six U.S. manufacturing jobs … disappeared between 2000 and 2007.
I have never been a union member. Over the past 30 years my profession … radio personality … has seen about an 80% drop in workers, thanks to new technology and the consolidation of ownership. Mine is a profession with very little union involvement.
I will hazard a guess that if the economy continues to improve … if Americans go back into the factories and begin making things again … the number of union jobs will increase. It makes sense to me.
Our thought for today is from Don Marquis:
“When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: ‘Whose?’”
I know many of you simply don’t care for labor unions. You believe they are too powerful … they encourage poor work attitudes … they impose petty rules in the workplace … and they hamper a company’s effort to make a decent profit.
Well, I have good news for you. The union movement is just about dead, it seems.
The percentage of American workers who belong to unions tumbled to 11.3% in 2011 … the lowest percentage in 76 years. The total number of union members fell by nearly 400,000 … from 11.8% of the workforce in 2011. The rate of 11.3% was the lowest level since 1936, when Franklin Roosevelt was president.
Almost half the losses in the last year were in the industrial Midwest …Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan … where states with Republican-controlled governments have led an assault on unions.
Here in Kansas … a big drop in union membership; from 10.1% in 2011 to 8.4% in 2012.
Our thought for today is from the U.S. Supreme Court:
“Long ago we stated the reason for labour organizations. We said that union was essential to give labourers opportunity to deal on an equality with their employers.”
Kansas Day by Steve McIntosh,posted Jan 29 2013 1:03AM
This is Kansas Day. On this date in 1861 Kansas was admitted to the union as the 34th state.
Today is also the birthday of a man who was about as “Kansas” as anybody I ever met; my father. Mark Grant McIntosh was born in 1920 and died at the age of 79. He would have been 93 today.
He was from the southeast part of the state … son of two Methodist ministers … with a brother and five sisters. He served in World War Two and spent most of his working life with Standard Oil and then sold insurance. He loved to travel and he loved sports. He was my first coach, advising me in baseball to throw strikes when pitching and when hitting, always swing “like you mean it”. My brothers and I played several sports, and dad was there for many of our games.
He gave me plenty of good advice, most of which I ignored.
He was a good father … “Kansas” through and through.
Our thought for today is from Charles Wadsworth:
“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”
According to government estimates, our national public high school graduation rate has reached its highest level in 40 years. Based on numbers from 2010, an estimated 78% of students across the country earned a diploma within four years of starting high school.
Students in Maryland had the highest graduation rate at 82.2%. Nevada had the lowest rate at 57.8% … just a bit lower than the District of Columbia at 59.9%.
The latest Wichita public school graduation rate was 74.1% … below the national average … but up by 11% over the past two years, according U-S-D 259 spokeswoman Susan Arensman.
Asian students had the highest grad rate nation-wide in 2010 … 93%. The rate for white students was 83%, and African Americans 66.1%.
The national dropout rate was 3.8% for boys and 2.9% for girls.
The most recent approval rating for Congress I’ve seen is 18%. If your boss or mine gave us an 18% approval rating we would also receive an invitation to work elsewhere.
Our elected representatives have shown no interest in improving their job approval rating … as long as the campaign money keeps rolling in and they’re re-elected.
For his part, President Obama seems to prefer finger-pointing to consensus-building. He apparently thinks he has “the people” behind him on all issues and feels little pressure to actually work on the nation’s biggest problem, which polls show “the people” think is the economy and jobs.
From everything I’ve learned, the Obamas don’t go out and they don’t entertain.
Washington politicians don’t drink or dine with other politicians. They apparently maintain a social distance from their own party members and the opposition.
And that may be the problem. It’s difficult to be a stubborn, my-way-or-the-highway player when you know the other guy’s spouse and kids.
Our thought for today is from Isaac Newton:
“Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.”
We love our sports heroes. We probably demand a little too much from human beings who are uniquely gifted athletically. That’s why it was tough for some folks to hear Lance Armstrong confessing that he had cheated by using dope in his world bicycling championships. He also admitted that he’s lied about it consistently over the years, and he’s bullied people to keep quiet.
I’m sorry to see this because I believe Armstrong has done good work in the area of cancer awareness and fund-raising.
A sports hero from my youth died recently, his reputation completely unblemished. Stan Musial played 22 years with the St. Louis Cardinals, won seven national League batting titles, and was named to the All-Star team 24 times. “The Man” averaged .300 or better 16 straight seasons.
In retirement, he was a champion for the Cardinals, St. Louis, and baseball.
He was a modest, friendly man.
Stan Musial was a true hero in every sense.
Our thought for today is from Benjamin Disraeli:
“Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”
I recently read “Mornings on Horseback” by David McCullough … one of my favorite history writers … about the young life of one of my favorite presidents, Theodore Roosevelt.
The book covers young T.R.’s youthful battles with asthma, his family’s world-wide travels, and his shooting and studying every wild animal he sees. We read about his college life, entrance into New York state politics, his first marriage, and his time in the West after his wife and mother died on the same day, in the same house.
At his father’s suggestion, young “Teedy” built his body through exercise, concentrating on boxing at Harvard.
My favorite passage in the book is about Roosevelt during his “ranchman” days. In a Montana bar a drunken cowboy with a gun in each hand decided to make fun of Roosevelt’s glasses. Roosevelt knocked him out cold with one punch. He later explained that the cowboy had made the mistake of standing too close to him and with his heels close together.
Our thought for today is from Theodore Roosevelt:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
It’s my belief that most Americans support sensible federal spending and taxing in theory, though we haven’t seen it in reality. Who is responsible for unbalanced budgets? Many say “the president”.
Let’s look at Article 1, Section 7 of the United States Constitution: “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills”.
Section 8 says: “The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States”. Congress also has the power “to borrow money on the credit of the United States”.
Of course, any president may suggest spending and revenue, and may veto any measure not to his liking. But clearly, it is up to the House and Senate to raise the money to pay for the budget.
Our thought for today is from John Adams:
“In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.”
Millions of Americans are enjoying a federal holiday, but do you know much about the man we honor?
Martin Luther King Jr. was actually born January 15th, 1929. He was a Baptist minister who became the leader of a movement to encourage the United States to make good on the promise of racial equality that was won in our Civil War.
King used non-violent demonstrations to make his point. He was widely loved and hated by many, and he had a huge impact on our society. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Racial equality before the law is a fact in the United States today. Still, racial prejudice exists … between the several races that occupy this great “melting pot” of ours. Some hearts and minds will never be changed.
But we have that “equality before the law”, and that’s a wonderful thing indeed.
Our thought for today is from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”
The Kansas Legislative session begins this week with about sixty new lawmakers. They face the challenge of learning how to get around and how things work. They also face a number of challenges, including the 800-pound gorilla, education.
Education spending takes up about 60% of the annual state budget. Recently, a Shawnee District Court panel of three judges ruled the legislature is not funding education adequately, a similar ruling to one back in 2005. Lawmakers boosted spending then … but began cutting the budget because of the recession.
This year the legislature plans to spend $3,838 per student. But the judges ordered lawmakers to go back to the spending level of 2010 -- $4,492 per pupil – to begin to remedy the situation.
This comes after the legislature has approved huge cuts in income and business taxes.
What will our elected officials do? Will they challenge the court?
The state begins with a projected shortfall of more than $200 million this year.
Where will lawmakers find the money to balance the budget?
Stay tuned …
Our thought for today is from Cullen Hightower:
“There’s always somebody who is paid too much, and taxed too little … and it’s always somebody else.”
Eric Johnson died the other day when his car went off I-35 and hit a bridge post about four miles from Lebo. He lived in Overland Park, but he grew up in west Wichita.
I first met Eric in the sixth grade at Peterson School. I don’t remember how we met, but even when Eric was a kid he was someone you could not ignore.
He liked to talk … a lot.
He was a big kid and became a fixture on athletic teams in the Westurban Little League, at Hadley Junior High School, and Wichita West High. Eric and I were teammates on eight basketball and football teams. We were often in the same car pool … our parents driving us to and from practices, often before sun-up and after sun-down.
Later … as adults … we were teammates again … on a softball team.
I hadn’t seen Eric much the past few years. He came to a couple of school reunions.
I wouldn’t call him a close friend, but he was a teammate and that means we knew each pretty well.
Like I said, Eric was a guy you could not ignore.
Our thought for today is from Yogi Berra:
“When you’re part of a team, you stand up for your teammates. Your loyalty is to them. You protect them through good and bad, because they’d do the same for you.”
Recently on the Steve & Ted in the Morning Show I commented that former Republican Nebraska Senator and Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel is a political conservative. A listener called our producer to correct me, saying Hagel is in fact “a liberal.” Really?
He has a lifetime rating of 84% from the American Conservative Union and consistent A and B grades from the National Taxpayers Union. He voted for the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, against No Child Left Behind, against Bush’s Medicare prescription drug bill, and against McCain-Feingold.
As a wounded combat veteran, Hagel has first-hand knowledge of war and he doesn’t care for it. He voted against troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Chuck Hagel may be independent, but he’s nobody’s definition of a liberal.
I have a son in the military. I have no problem with a combat veteran, independent conservative as Defense Secretary.
Better him than the usual R-E-M-F … which is a military term that I cannot share on radio.
Our thought for today is from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.:
Stricter gun laws, background checks, psychiatric diligence … put them all together and you still won’t eliminate the risk of a crazy person somehow getting a gun into a school. You might lower the risk, but you won’t completely remove it … in my opinion.
I believe most school districts are doing whatever they can now to keep the guns out. A classroom ought to be one of the safest places on earth.
Regarding arming teachers; I don’t see it as an answer … either for stopping a shooter or deterring one.
Would you honestly be more comfortable knowing a teacher had a gun in your kid’s classroom … or your grandchild’s. Personally, I would not.
I also wonder what the liability insurance will cost for the first school district that allows teacher guns?
If the math teacher’s shootin’ iron accidentally falls out of his pocket and shoots one of my grandkids, my first call after the hospital is to a lawyer.
Thank about it.
Our thought for today is from Ramsey Clark:
“There is no conflict between liberty and safety. We will have both or neither.”
Last Friday the broadcast networks carried big stories about the flu outbreak, with Kansas one of the states most seriously impacted. “Get a flu shot”, they said … and that there is plenty of flu vaccine available.
Saturday morning I took off for my grandson’s basketball game, planning for a flu shot on the way, at my doctor’s office in west Wichita. They were out of vaccine, had been out for two days.
At a national chain drug store the young pharmacist spent about 10 minutes on a computer to determine if my company insurance would pay for the shot. It would not. When he told me the shot cost 48 dollars, I left. At a Dillons store nearby I got the shot … quickly and professionally … for 25 bucks. They had only a few doses left.
If price is a concern, make a few phone calls before you get the shot … and to make sure they even have the vaccine.
Our thought for today is from Jackie Mason:
“It’s no longer a question of staying healthy. It’s a question of finding a sickness you like.”
The guy makes a decent salary … about $190,000 a year. But Wichita City Manager Robert Layton also carries plenty of responsibility in the position he’s held the past four years. He has a contract that says he is supposed to get a raise every year, but he’s turned those increases down during tough economic times. This week the city council decided to fix that.
City council members and Sedgwick County Commissioners have gone without raises. And in the fiscal cliff fix, even Congress turned down a pay raise. That’s right … even Congress!
It’s nice that politicians and government employees want to demonstrate that they feel the pain of private sector workers. Over the past few years businesses have dealt with slow commerce in the way they always do, by limiting and reducing expenses. That means some workers have not seen pay increases for a time.
Of course, that is preferable to having no pay check at all.
Our thought for today is from Thomas Jefferson:
“Never fear the want of business. A man who qualifies himself well for his calling, never fails of employment.”
The book is “The Man Who Saved the Union … Ulysses Grant in War and Peace” … by H.W. Brands.
Grant is a fascinating figure. There was not much in his young life to suggest future excellence, but after graduating from West Point he found some success in the war with Mexico. Then came a low point in the Army until the Civil War. Grant rose rapidly to the rank of general and after winning several big battles in the west, went east to become Lincoln’s favorite general.
Grant’s two presidential terms were devoted to dealing with reconstruction in the south and the Indian problem in the west. The violence against blacks and Republicans in the south continued for years after the war, and Grant enforced laws to keep the union together. It was not a done deal.
His administrations were plagued by a number of money scandals.
This book filled in a few gaps in my knowledge about Grant, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Our thought for today is from Ulysses S. Grant:
“It is men who wait to be selected, and not those who seek, from whom we may expect the most efficient service.”
For some reason, anniversaries are important to me … and I like to share them with you listeners. This week I mark my 15th anniversary at K-N-S-S. I started working here January 5th, 1998.
That first year I served as morning show host and station program director. We won the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Radio Station of the Year.
During my time at K-N-S-S I have worked with some great people … including Ted Woodward, Mike Kennedy, and others I have worked with off-air … people whose names you wouldn’t recognize.
This commentary has aired every day during the past 15 years, and I know my words have pleased and displeased many of you. But those words have always come after honest thought and preparation.
I’ve worked at K-N-S-S longer that at any station during my 42 years on the air … and longer with Ted Woodward than any other personality.
It’s been a terrific experience!
Our thought for today is from Henry J. Kaiser:
“When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.”
He wasn’t the only one saying terribly partisan things during the fiscal cliff negotiations, but I found President Obama’s swipes at his opponents highly disturbing. At a time when our nation needed true leadership, true maturity, I only seemed to see it coming from a few Republicans and Democrats talking about working things out … as the president and the fringes continued tossing childish language at each other.
I remember a co-worker I didn’t like when we first met years ago. Over the course of several years of working together toward the success of our radio station, the two of us became very good friends. We were also instrumental in achieving terrific success for our company.
My first impression of a man I worked with on a church committee was also quite negative. Two meetings later we became close friends.
The point is, working together toward a common goal can sometimes bring understanding and even friendship. It’s called growing … or should I say, growing up?
Our politicians ought to try it sometime.
Our thought for today is from Norman Mailer:
“Every moment of one’s existence one is growing in to more or retreating into less.”
It was reality T-V at its best. The greatest nation in the world faces the possibility of going over a fiscal cliff … with dramatic tax increases for its citizens and draconian spending cuts for its government. The nation had been slowly climbing out of recession, and lack of action might have meant a sharp downward plunge back into economic misery.
Add to the mix a recently-re-elected president and a House of Representatives sharply divided on the issue, with fringes of both parties whining and complaining during tough negotiations.
And the deadline that had been talked about for two years suddenly approached over the holidays to end 2012.
Many members of a Congress with a 10% approval rating realized they had better do something … and at the last minute they did.
The minute-by-minute drama played out with network personalities keeping score and providing “color”.
It was impressive reality T-V. It was government at its worst.
Our thought for today is from Garrison Keillor:
“I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.”
The politicians really had no choice. After doing nothing for years, the deadline arrived … and at the last possible minute, they passed legislation to avoid plunging over the so-called fiscal cliff. Ever heard the saying, “Do something … even if it’s wrong”?
This legislation was necessary to avoid tax increases back to the pre-Bush tax days. That might have had a terrible impact on the nation’s economy, which is slowly limping back toward full recovery after several years of doldrums.
The Dow Jones Index responded by jumping more than 300 points … a sign that investors approved of the anti-cliff legislation.
But there are potentially more “cliffs” ahead. Congress and the president must still address the federal debt limit and deficits and debt. That will be another mighty struggle over the course of our nation’s fiscal future.
Let’s fight it out and find a solution … now!
For goodness sake, don’t give us another last-minute fiasco.
Our thought for today is from Bill Cosby:
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
A change in the way the federal government measures inflation could cut the deficit by 211 billion dollars over ten years. It has faced political opposition … mainly from liberals … though its impact on the average American would seem to be minimal.
A recent editorial in U-S-A Today says many economists believe the consumer price index does not accurately measure consumers’ behavior as prices rise and fall. A so-called “chained C-P-I” would be more accurate, they claim.
The proposed new version would raise 62 billion dollars as certain tax breaks pegged to inflation would grow slightly slower. On the spending side, the new formula would slow annual cost-of-living increases for various programs, including Social Security. The average recipient would see a few dollars-a-month difference.
My wife and I do not receive any federal benefits now, but will likely draw Social Security checks in the future … after a life-time for both of us in the work place. We have no problem with switching to the “chained C-P-I” to help with our nation’s fiscal problems.
Our thought for today is from Charles DuBois:
“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”
January 2nd, 1971 my life changed dramatically. That was the day my son Scott entered this world … the day I became a father. Wow! That is a lot of responsibility. I took it on seriously and with high hopes.
He was a quiet child. He could play by himself or read for hours without requiring any attention whatever. We checked on him from time to time anyway.
He grew up healthy and strong … after childhood asthma and devastating injury as a teen. He played sports, loved to swim. But his heart and soul were in two places … history and the military. He was an outstanding student, from grade school through three college degrees.
His career in the United States Air Force has been impressive, as an intelligence officer and teacher. He is married with three beautiful children.
I’m not a dad who claims credit when a son turns out to be so terrific. But I don’t mind asserting a little fatherly pride.
Our thought for today is from Meryl Streep:
“You don’t have to be famous. You just have to make your mother and father proud of you.”