Archive for June 14th, 2010

Here’s a depressing story from the Columbus Dispatch that shows the government’s ability to be incompetent and wasteful at the same time. A labor dispute that never should have existed (but did, thanks to the incestuous relationship of unions and government) eventually led to nine employees getting paid for an entire week to take naps and have a coloring contest:

A group of Postal Service employees in Columbus spent five days in late May and early June being paid to do no work. A supervisor told them to stay in an area of the processing and distribution center near Port Columbus. The nine men played cards and took naps. One of them brought in coloring books, and they had a contest to see who could make the prettiest picture. They all earned their regular wages, $20.58 to $26.34 per hour. This was the latest move in a labor tangle that began with the Postal Service trying to save money. …Months of negotiations and legal filings followed. In May, a Postal Service attorney argued to a board administrative judge that the appeals were now moot. The truck drivers had been given their driving jobs back, the attorney wrote. Except that was true only on paper, say Kidwell and the eight other drivers. They weren’t driving trucks. They were playing cards and having a coloring contest. They spent a few days training to be letter carriers, a job they wanted even less than mail handler. But they never drove trucks. Letters from the Postal Service to the drivers also make it clear that they would be “drivers” for one, two-week pay period only. Then, “you will be placed into the Letter Carrier Craft,” said the letters, signed by Marvin B. Coleman, the manager of labor relations for the Columbus Postal District.

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Faithful readers will remember that my recent speaking tour of Europe for the Free Market Road Show featured stops in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

As part of a venerable Washington tradition of taking credit for things even when your role is too small to even measure, I’m delighted to report that my speeches must have had a big impact. The parties sympathetic to free-markets and limited government prevailed in the recent Czech elections. Then, just this past weekend, the pro-market parties won a majority in the Slovak elections.  When Dan Mitchell speaks, people listen.

On a more serious note, the Slovak elections are particularly important since the victorious parties include some remarkably good people such as Ivan Miklos, Richard Sulik, and Martin Chren. Here’s a blurb from an election summary in the Wall Street Journal:

Preliminary results showed the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union, or SDKU, with 15.4% of the vote, followed by the liberal Freedom and Solidarity Party, or SaS, with 12.1%, the Christian Democratic Movement KDH with 8.5%, and the Hungarian minority party Most-HID with 8.1%. Final election results are expected late Sunday. The new parliament will thus be dominated by right-of-center parties led by the Christian Democratic SDKU, and the Hungarian minority party Most-HID. This coalition of four that will also include the Christian Democratic KDH and the liberal Freedom and Solidarity Party, and will hold a total of 79 parliament seats, compared with 62 seats to be held by Smer. The remaining nine mandates will be in the hands of the extremist Slovak Nationalist Party, or SNS. The Freedom and Solidarity Party was formed last year by Richard Sulik, an economist who designed the flat-rate tax system introduced by the previous SDKU-led governments that ruled in 1998-2006.

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A former intern of mine does a very good job of showing how minimum wage laws cause joblessness in this new video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

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