‘Right-to-work’ means freedom and choice – Jeff Jacoby – Townhall Conservative

‘Right-to-work’ means freedom and choice – Jeff Jacoby – Townhall Conservative.

SOON — PERHAPS AS EARLY AS TODAY — Gov. Mitch Daniels will sign legislation making Indiana the nation’s 23rd right-to-work state. Labor unions angrily oppose the change, but their opposition has no legitimate or principled basis.

Labor unions vehemently oppose right-to-work laws. What principled reason can they have for doing so?

State right-to-work laws, authorized by the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, are not anti-union. They are pro-choice: They protect workers from being forced to join or pay fees to a labor union as a condition of keeping a job. In non-right-to-work states, employees who work in a “union shop” are compelled to fork over part of each paycheck to a labor organization — even if they want nothing to do with unions, let alone to be represented by one. Laws like the one Indiana is poised to enact simply make union support voluntary. Hoosiers can’t be required to kick back part of their wages to the Republican Party or the Methodist Church or the Animal Liberation Front; the new measure will ensure that they don’t have to give a cut of everything they earn to labor unions, either.

Most Americans regard compulsory unionism as unconscionable. In a new Rasmussen survey, 74 percent of likely voters say non-union workers should not have to pay dues against their will. Once upon a time, labor movement giants like Samuel Gompers, a founder of the American Federation of Labor, agreed. “I want to urge devotion to the fundamentals of human liberty — the principles of voluntarism,” declared Gompers in his last speech to the AFL in 1924. “No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion.” Those words can be seen chiseled on Gompers’s memorial in Washington, DC.

But far from rejecting compulsion, Big Labor now fights tooth and nail to defend it. And no wonder: Unions have long since squandered the affection of the American public. In the years right after World War II, more than one-third of the US workforce was unionized; now the union membership rate is just 11.8 percent, and most of those members are government employees. In the productive economy, Americans continue to flee from organized labor. Last year only 6.9 percent of workers at private companies belonged to unions.

So as a matter of by-any-means-necessary expediency, it is easy to understand why Big Labor long ago embraced what liberal scholar Robert Reich (who served as Bill Clinton’s secretary of labor) dubbed “the necessity for coercion.” In order “to maintain themselves,” Reich said in 1985, “unions have got to have some ability to strap their members to the mast.” Or, as Don Corleone might have put it, to make them an offer they can’t refuse.

But is there any ethical reason — any honorable basis — for the union shop?

Great labor leaders once championed freedom and choice. “No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion,” insisted Samuel Gompers, the first and longest-serving president of the American Federation of Labor.

Labor and its allies are ruthless, and usually quite effective, in beating down right-to-work bills. Indiana will be the first state in more than a decade that has succeeded in banning labor contracts that oblige all employees to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. (A similar bill in New Hampshire last year was vetoed by Governor John Lynch.) No-holds-barred vehemence in defense of principle might be understandable. But what legitimate principle are the unions defending?

To hear them tell it, they only object to “free riders.” Labor leaders claim it would be unjust to allow employees to avoid paying for the unions that negotiate benefits on their behalf. “There’s always going to be a certain amount of the population that will take something for free if they can get it for free,” says Nancy Guyott, head of the Indiana AFL-CIO.

That’s not a principle, it’s a shameless pretext. Unions demand monopoly bargaining power — the right to exclusively represent everyone in a workplace — and then insist that each of those workers must pay for the privilege. This is the “principle” of the squeegee-man who aggressively wipes your windshield when you stop at a red light, then demands that you pay for the service he has rendered you.

By the union’s “free-rider” logic, shouldn’t all voters be forced to subscribe to a daily newspaper, since all of them benefit from its journalism? And shouldn’t every company be compelled to support the Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies on behalf of business whether individual firms ask it to or not?

The passion with which Big Labor fights right-to-work helps explain why so many Americans have abandoned unions. The labor movement was born in freedom and choice. That’s not what it stands for anymore.

KNIGHT: Voter ID terrifies Democrats – Washington Times

KNIGHT: Voter ID terrifies Democrats – Washington Times.

Justice Department seeks to undermine our elections

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s 2005 photo ID law, which the Democratic Party and several interest groups had challenged as a “severe burden.”

But, as American Civil Rights Union attorney Peter Ferrara noted in the group’s friend- of-the-court brief:

“No one has been denied the right to vote by the Indiana Voter ID Law. The record clearly establishes without challenge that 99 percent of the Voting Age Population in Indiana already has the required ID, in the form of driver’s licenses, passports, or other identification. Of the remaining 1 percent, senior citizens and the disabled are automatically eligible to vote by absentee ballot, and such absentee voting is exempt from the Voter ID Law.”

Does that sound “severe” to you?As Mr. Ferrara notes, “the slight burden of additional paperwork for a fraction of 1 percent, to show who they are and thereby prove their eligibility to vote, cannot come close to outweighing the interests of all legitimate legal voters in maintaining their effective vote.”

A bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform in 2005 chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III found no evidence that requiring photo IDs would suppress the minority vote. The panel recommended a national photo ID system and a campaign to register voters.

In a 2008 column, Mr. Carter and Mr. Baker cited a study by American University’s Center for Democracy and Election Management that echoed the election commission. Among other things, researchers found that in three states – Indiana, Mississippi and Maryland – about 1.2 percent of registered voters had no photo ID.

Since the GOP took a majority of governorships and legislatures in 2010 and continued enacting voting safeguards, you can feel the panic in Democratic strongholds.

The Obama administration is playing the same race card that Democrats have played for decades. But this is not about race; it’s about whether legitimately cast votes will be wiped out by illegally cast votes.

In Chicago, a federal investigation of the 1982 gubernatorial election estimated that at least 100,000 illegal votes had been cast and that voter fraud had been routine for many years. In 1960, Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Chicago Democrat machine almost certainly sealed John F. Kennedy’s presidential election by delaying reporting by Democratic-controlled precincts and counting them for Kennedy.

Vice President Richard M. Nixon, the Republican candidate, had a compelling case for a challenge, but chose not to do so. The media would have crucified him as a sore loser without seriously investigating fraud allegations.

Conversely, in 2000, when Democrat Al Gore challenged George W. Bush’s razor-thin victory in Florida, the media flogged Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris because she refused to overlook “hanging chads” and other questionable vote counting.

The stakes are enormous, and the Obama administration is quite aware of the danger posed by an aroused electorate on a level playing field.

With the economy in a ditch, their only hope of stemming the conservative tide might be to rig the returns, especially where political machines still prevail.

Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.

RealClearPolitics – Why Americans Support Voter ID Laws

RealClearPolitics – Why Americans Support Voter ID Laws.

By Jack Kelly

The state chairman of Indiana’s Democratic Party resigned recently as a probe of election fraud in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary widened.

State law requires a presidential candidate to gather 500 valid signatures in each county to qualify for the ballot. Barack Obama may not have met it. Investigators think 150 of the 534 signatures the Obama campaign turned in for St. Joseph County may have been forged.

Yet Democrats say that measures to guard against vote fraud are racist Republican plots to disenfranchise minority voters.

Republicans “want to literally drag us back to Jim Crow laws,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla, chair of the Democratic National Committee.

The NAACP has asked the United Nations to intervene to block state voter ID laws. It may have an ulterior motive for opposing ballot security measures. An NAACP official was convicted on 10 counts of absentee voter fraud in Tunica County, Miss., in July.

Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, who is black, said vote fraud is rampant in African-American districts like his in Alabama.

“The most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African-American community is the wholesale manufacture of ballots at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt,” Mr. Davis said. “Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too mentally impaired to function cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights.”

Laws requiring photo IDs suppress minority voting, Democrats charge. The facts say otherwise. In Georgia, black voter turnout for the midterm election in 2006 was 42.9 percent. After Georgia passed photo ID, black turnout in the 2010 midterm rose to 50.4 percent. Black turnout also rose in Indiana and Mississippi after photo IDs were required.

“Concerns about voter identification laws affecting turnout are much ado about nothing,” concluded researchers at the universities of Delaware and Nebraska after examining election data from 2000 through 2006.

You need a photo ID to get on an airplane or an Amtrak train; to open a bank account, withdraw money from it, or cash a check; to pick up movie and concert tickets; to go into a federal building; to buy alcohol and to apply for food stamps.

Most Americans don’t think it’s a hardship to ask voters to produce one. A Rasmussen poll in June indicated 75 percent of respondents support photo ID requirements. Huge majorities of Hispanics support voter ID laws, according to a Resurgent Republic poll in September.

This year there have been investigations, indictments or convictions for vote fraud in California, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland. In all but one case, the alleged fraudsters were Democrats.

In none would the fraud alleged have altered a major election, Democrats note. But in the Illinois gubernatorial election in 1982, 100,000 votes cast in Chicago — 10 percent of the total — were fraudulent, the U.S. attorney there estimated.

Fraud of the magnitude which swings elections typically combines absentee ballot fraud and voter registration fraud. At least 55 employees or associates of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now have been convicted of registration fraud in 11 states, says Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center, who’s written a book about ACORN.

Of 1.3 million new registrations ACORN turned in in 2008, election officials rejected 400,000.

“There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of a state’s interest in counting only eligible voters’ votes,” wrote liberal Justice John Paul Stevens for a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision upholding Indiana’s ID law, the toughest in the nation.

In a speech Tuesday at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library at the University of Texas, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a full scale assault on the laws the Supreme Court said are constitutional and necessary.

Mr. Holder — who apparently won’t prosecute violations of the Voting Rights Act if the victims are white — picked an appropriate venue for his attack on the integrity of the ballot. LBJ stole his first election to the Senate, according to one of his biographers.

A recent Gallup poll indicates why Mr. Holder is trying so hard to gut ballot security measures. Mr. Obama trails in all swing states. Democrats fear they can’t win next year unless they cheat.