Labor Union Suicide

Labor union workers – indeed workers of all stripes (including teachers) are in danger of pricing themselves out of a job. Finding and filling road potholes is well within the capability of a one-person automated machine, and will be within the capability of a fully automated machine (autonomous) in just five years or less.

Anyone who has seen the DARPA Autonomous Car Race has a full appreciation of the capabilities of the new vehicles. I attended one just three years ago in Victorville (fewer than 50 spectators), where the Stanford University entry won a $2 million prize.

It is not in the best interest of labor unions to push for more “benefits’ or even violently defend their current treasure trove.  Perhaps the Republican push for corralling the labor unions is premature, and perhaps Republicans are overreaching…but…

The progress since my binary programming days is impossible to explain, but it is within the technological capabilities of government and corporation to automate ALMOST EVERYTHING,. They only lack the incentive to do so, and labor unions could provide that incentive.

Ray Kurzweil is a genius who has been at the forefront of artificial intelligence, OCR and voice recognition for decades, and is the subject of a new documentary, “Transcendent Man” (available in DVD this week. Although I have not seen the hour-long DVD, I have followed him, and his accurate technology predictions for decades.

Moore’s Law, which says that the number of transistors that can be squeezed onto a chip doubles every two years, is the functional equivalent to saying that computer power doubles every two years, and it has not yet run out of steam. Ray predicts that a computer will pass the Turing Test by 2029. (The Turing Test is a test to decide if the communicator at the other end is a human or a computer, and was devised during WWII – even with Watson, we have a long way to go. But think of Watson either halving its size, or doubling its capabilities every two years!)

Ray predicted very early that a computer would beat the world champion chess player by 1998, and it actually happened (as I recall) in 1997, so his prediction about the Turing Test will also probably come to fruition.

We have recently seen on TV the spy plane with the size and agility of a Hummingbird, and robot technology of all stripes is far, far advanced.

In 1968 I wrote the first Artificial Intelligence (AI) program for the US Navy, a program designed to alert a Commander of a Destroyer group which destroyer was best prepared to replace a recently damaged Vietnam fighting ship – taking into account armament, fuel state, training status, repair cycle, and hundreds of other measurable criteria.

Not that the Commander did not intuitively know the answer, but the program permitted him to take personalities and friendships out of the picture. A computer can also evaluate and take tenure out of the analysis for retention.

To say that my binary program was less than true AI, would be an understatement – it was all artificial and used precious little intelligence. It was a weighted values program, without an inference engine., the heart of modern AI.

But it was a start.

Current labor union practices are self-defeating against technology. Those of us who plodded in the fields never had the foresight of Ray (or Steve Jobs), but we can still see well enough to note that labor unions are committing suicide.


Federal Union Workers Have No “Collective Bargaining Rights!”

One of the reasons that the president may be relatively silent about Wisconsin union worker “rights” is that his own 2,000,000 workers have almost NO “collective bargaining” rights! In fact, the federal government is a “Right to Work” environment, so federal workers do ot even have to JOIN a union, and if they do, there are MANY things the union may not do — including bargain for pay, retirement, and a host of other things.

If the Wisconsin Governor gets EVERYTHING he wants, his workers will STILL have more “collective bargaining” rights than do President Obama’s workers!

A union digest is quite lengthy, but the following explains the wholesale items reserved for government “management”: (and denied to workers )

“Rights reserved to management under Section 7106(a)(1) governing general management practices include the authority to determine the agency’s mission, budget, organization, number of employees, and internal security practices. Reserved rights under Section 7106(a)(2) governing employment practices include the authority to: hire, assign, direct, lay off, retain, suspend, remove, reduce in grade or pay, or take other disciplinary action against employees, assign work, make determinations with regard to contracting out, determine the personnel by which agency functions will be performed, make selections from among properly ranked and certified candidates for promotion or any other appropriate source; and take whatever action may be necessary to carry out the agency mission during emergencies.”

We already know that pay in Civil Service is in “GS” steps, and each step is locked in pay–so that is not negotiable under “Collective Bargaining” and neither is retirement time or amount negotiable. That is locked, also, nationally in published “steps.”

When you read the other matters that are reserved to “management”: “hire, assign, direct, lay off, retain, suspend, remove, reduce in grade or pay, or take other disciplinary action against employees, assign work, make determinations with regard to contracting out, determine the personnel by which agency functions will be performed, make selections from among properly ranked and certified candidates for promotion”

You see that there is nothing for Unions to “bargain” except discipline matters.

The entire article is interesting, including that a union gets recognized with only 30% of a unit joining, but that then the union represents everyone. (But no one must join–federal government is “right to work”)

Civil Service is so structured, with standing grievance committees, there is no need for collective bargaining.

And although they may use the words, you can see the unions have no power to DO anything with “collective bargaining!

Just Trying To Help Out Here

I know that some things that have little interest to me cause orgasms among the Eco-Freaks, so when I run across a nugget they may have missed:

A company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Joule Unlimited, has announced a breakthrough in bioorganisms with a product they say can “grow” 15,000 gallons of fuel an acre at a cost per delivered fuel of $30 a barrel.

If they can “scale” their lab process to industrial size, this is indeed serious news – and four times what current processes claim, and actually would be a good threat to foreign oil.

For good but different reasons, we should cheer them on.

Liberals Are in a Snit

The Compulsory Christians are a bit testy these days — the favorite drug they dispense for the coin of adulation, public money, is being cut off and their stash raided.

The money runners are being interdicted between Washington and their favorite state capitols, and things are getting desperate among those the pushers have so addicted to the dole, because both pushers and addicts can see public money drug supply drying up, and no new sources of the public money drug are evident.

There is angst among the entire network, and they are lashing out in their death throes — cause “nobody gets it if there ain’t any.”

The pushers see that they are unable to charge as much adulation because they have less predictable product to dispense. You can see the fight among them in the newspapers Letters to the Editor — some pleading for parks, some for Planned Parenthood, some for senior centers, some for public transit – and each willing to throw the other under the bus if there is JUST enough money for their Special Interest.

It is ugly, and going to get uglier.

The Obama Silence is Stunning, But Expected

you mentioned the debate in Wisconsin.

Know why Obama is not cheerleading in Wisconsin?

Because his employees, federal employees, do not have the right to bargain for pay, or benefits or pensions, nor do they have the right to strike!

In fact, federal workers do not have to join a union at all– under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democrat President–Jimmy Carter. The federal government is a “Right to Work” environment!

And these are enforced by President Obama.

Filed Under: About Time!

(Headline) The Downside of Control-Freak Philanthropy

By Robert Frank

“Venture philanthropy has been heralded as a much-needed revolution in the business of giving. Gone are the days of rich people writing checks to nonprofit groups that can spend it as they please. Today’s venture philanthropists (a k a social entrepreneurs or philanthrocapitalists) give big but want big returns. Specifically, they want results, accountability and, often, control.

This doesn’t always sit well with nonprofit groups–especially universities.”

Comment: Are you saying that investors in philanthropy want results?


Decades ago, the WSJ ran a series of articles about how capitalists donate money and set up foundations, then liberals take over the foundations and use the money in ways that the initial donor would NEVER have agreed with.


Filed Under: Healthcare is popular, RIGHT?

(Headline) Gallup poll: Obama’s approval ratings fell across U.S. in 2010

(Subhead) The Gallup survey says President Obama’s approval rating is above 50% in a dozen states, and in 10 states his approval rating is lower than 40%.

By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau

“President Obama suffered an across-the-board decrease in popularity throughout the country in 2010 according to state-by-state data released by Gallup on Wednesday.”,0,651888.story?track=latiphoneapp

Richard Riehl Column in NC Times

The US Department of Education just last month published the results of their testing of 300,000 students nationally on the subject of science. (Google: National Report Card)

California finished ahead of just one state: Mississippi.

The previous announcement was for testing of math and writing, 4th and 8th grades. California finished 46, 47 and 48 among states. In overall testing for the past decade we have finished on every subject with, and below Louisiana!

What good does it do to argue an=bout Poway (PUSD) being “better” than Escondido schools, if they are both bad, nationally, and if nationally we are far behind MANY other nations?

We are arguing about who is the Best Dressed man in Rainbow, for God’s sake – making comparisons against a diminished standard!

So, if it not the teachers union that opposes stringent teacher entrance exams, what?

So, if it not the teachers union that opposes merit pay for good teachers, what?

So, if it not the teachers union that opposes firing bad teachers, what?

So, if it not the teachers union that opposes examining the relationship between student results and teachers, what?

Beard-Scratchers of the World, Unite! You have nothing to lose…

Did you catch the above-the-fold story on the local section of the NC Times, about the local Cal State beard-scratcher going to Wisconsin to act in “Solidarity” with the workers? “Professor Joins Wisconsin Protest”

Actually, the beard-scratcher joined 160 other California union supporters, “professors, teachers. Healthcare workers…longshoremen etc.” and chartered a private plane.

Back in the old days it would have been a bus, but the “workers” these day complain about their union pay and benefits while chartering private planes!

The Beginning of “human life” Controversy

Re: Abortion: The subject of the beginning of life is a religious question, and has no bearing in politics. In fact., not all religions have the same beginning point of life, so more appropriately the subject of life beginning at conception being proposed for abortion is a Christian religious belief.

We have already determined through consensus that human life ends with the cessation of a cognitive brain wave, and the only rational solution is the acceptance of the cognitive brain wave as the beginning of human life.

To argue otherwise is to introduce a specific religious belief into politics, and has no more rational support than to introduce Jewish dietary habits into governmental requirements.