Tuesday, January 03, 2006

You pay your money and they takes their chances 

I admit to being a bit of a jerk with my union. I frequently send email to the St. Paul office asking whether this or that expenditure comes from fair-share dues (what they charge nonmembers for the 'privilege' of having their wages bargained by someone else). It has spent, for example, over $81,000 in the years 1998-2004 in campaign contributions in Minnesota. Its contributions chiefly benefit DFL candidates. (For example, it gave $6800 to DFL candidates and party organs last year, versus $2880 to Republican.) The FY 2005 expenditure on lobbying was $30,113; I do not think this counts the cost of our lobbyist.

In today's WSJ we learn that the IFO is small peanuts compared to the National Education Association.
The NEA gave $15,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights." The National Women's Law Center, whose Web site currently features a "pocket guide" to opposing Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito, received $5,000. And something called the Fund to Protect Social Security got $400,000, presumably to defeat personal investment accounts.

There's been a lot in the news recently about published opinion that parallels donor politics. Well, last year the NEA gave $45,000 to the Economic Policy Institute, which regularly issues reports that claim education is underfunded and teachers are underpaid. The partisans at People for the American Way got a $51,000 NEA contribution; PFAW happens to be vehemently anti-voucher.

The extent to which the NEA sends money to states for political agitation is also revealing. For example, Protect Our Public Schools, an anti-charter-school group backed by the NEA's Washington state affiliate, received $500,000 toward its efforts to block school choice for underprivileged children. (Never mind that charter schools are public schools.) And the Floridians for All Committee, which focuses on "the construction of a permanent progressive infrastructure that will help redirect Florida politics in a more progressive, Democratic direction," received a $249,000 donation from NEA headquarters.
Thank goodness for flashlights to shine on this behavior, which were fought vigorously by the unions. Some readers might be interested in getting information on Education Minnesota. Well, step right up and enter the name of the payer. Bonus points for finding the date when the union gave $5,000 towards the building of the Wellstone Memorial.

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