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    Used to be Perris Valley Skydiving
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  1. In the AFF jumpmaster course, I got to make my last certification jump with Rick. I still remember the grin on his face right before I tracked off, knowing that I'd just passed the course. He didn't make anything in the course easy but I always appreciated his dedication to making sure that I was as prepared as possible when I got my rating. I felt sad when I learned that he had passed away. Blue Skies.
  2. Agree. When it comes to teachers, police, firefighters, and prison guards, it's in society's best interest to have a well trained workforce. I think that, as taxpayers we tend to underestimate the cost of such a workforce. When my wife gets laid off from her counseling position, which will happen again this year, she goes back to teaching high school math. The requirements to teach high school math are a Bachelors's degree in Mathematics or pass the CSET in Mathematics plus a teaching degree (after looking at the material for the CSET, I'd opt for the Bachelors's degree). When we got married, she owed $30,000 in student loans. Before all of the teacher layoffs, there was a shortage of math teachers (I'm not certain whether this is still true). I don't see how taking away pay, benefits, collective bargaining rights, etc... is going to bring in highly qualified people to these positions. I think the role of unions, minus the corruption of politicians, in negotiating pay and benefits can have a positive effect on convincing people to train for these positions. I'm not saying that I agree with everything that's been negotiated because I don't. But negotiation takes two or more parties and I don't think eliminating one party (unions) is the answer. I think we'll just have to disagree about whether unions should have a right to exist in the public sector. Thanks for the interesting discussion.
  3. Thank You. So, eliminating the influence of unions would effectively only impact Democrats while eliminating the infuence of both unions and corporations would impact Democrats and Republicans although it would have a greater impact on Democrats. I have no problem with the second scenario even though it would diminish fundraising more for Democrats than Republicans. Just to clarify, I don't see this as a Democrat versus Republican issue but more as a labor versus corporation issue.
  4. There are far more corporations than labor unions. Most of the unions in the list have workers in many different corporations or organizations. If we were to combine AT&T with all other telecommunications companies or Goldman Sachs with all other financial institutions, we may be able to come up with a similar comparison but not likely. Since most of the unions represent workers from many different corporations or organizations, comparing an aggregate (unions representing employees from many corporations) to a single corporation is not an accurate comparison. A more accurate comparison would be to compare all union contributions to all corporate contributions but I'm not sure that could even prove your point that unions are worse, or even that corporations are worse. The total amount of money contributed may be more from corporations or may be more from unions but with the data provided, and the way that it's presented there is no way of knowing for sure. Plus, I'm not sure that it even matters. Either way, it wouldn't change my view that that we shouldn't eliminate the influence of one without eliminating the influence of the other.
  5. Nice data, but if you're going to compare union contributions to corporate contributions, I think you need to include all union and all corporate contributions not just the subset of the top ten. But, even if it were to show the same thing, I think money corrupts the system regardless of whether it goes to Democrats or Republicans or whether it comes from unions or corporations. Plus, things are likely to look quite different in 2012 with the Citizens United ruling. I'm against eliminating the influence of labor, especially in the public sector, while leaving the influence of corporations in place. I'd like to see the influence of both eliminated.
  6. I agree with much of what you said but they don't all get unreasonable pay and benefits. Unfortunately, some are able to "game" the system and there are examples of unresaonable pay and benefits that reflects on all public employees. For the most part, teachers need at least 5 years of education and their average pay should be about the same as the average in the private sector with similar education (not the private sector as a whole like most people quote). As far as pensions are concerned, I don't think the states (taxpayers) should be liable for shortfalls in pension funds but my wife pays 8% of her salary into her fund and I don't think all of the money she's paid into it over the years should just disappear. There are also examples of conflict in the private sector such as utility and energy companies where we are effectively forced to pay money to them that they contribute to candidates that pass legislation benefitting them. A libertarian may say you can always go somewhere else or do without, but energy effects everything we use and buy including food. The financial sector is another example but I think I'd just be inviting argument and hijacking the thread. Again, I'd like to see all special interest money out of politics since it corrupts the system.
  7. So, special interests (public employee unions in this case) contribute to candidates (Democrats in this case) that will vote in the special interests' best interest. Therefore, public employee unions must go. Maybe we should apply this logic to all special interests including corporations. Or better yet, figure out a way to get all special interest money out of politics, not just the money that benefits Democrats.
  8. You're saying that the money a teacher, etc... earns is somehow not really their money at all and therefore the dues they pay to the unions is actually taxpayer money, not their own money. By that logic, our house is not actually our house at all but actually belongs to the taxpayers since they pay the taxes that allow my wife to get paid for the work that she does which goes into our house payment. I'd actually like to see big money out of politics altogether and that goes for corporations newly empowered under the Citizens United ruling as well as unions but that's a subject for a new thread.
  9. Sounds to me like the politicians that agreed to these deals, both at the state and local level didn't perform their duties during the bargaining process.
  10. I never said the freedom that was being taken away was the guarantee of a government job. I also never said they can't try to find a job elsewhere if they don't like the deal they're getting. The freedom being taken away is the freedom to bargain collectively. I believe that if a group of people want to bargain for wages and benefits collectively instead of individually, they should have that right.
  11. Coming from a family of teachers, I can say that your image of some union steward forcing an employer to pay by threatening a strike doesn't hold true, at least not for teachers (maybe unions should only be abolished in the private sector?). I can't ever remember my mom's school district threatening a strike, and I'm almost 50. In my wife's district, the union negotiates with the district and then the teachers vote on it. Usually, there are several different elements of the proposal that can be voted on and they've never failed to come to an agreement. There are a lot of things that I don't like about unions like laying off based on seniority (that cost my wife her counseling position) and my point wasn't that there isn't a lot to not like. I also don't believe that anyone should have to join a union in order to work somewhere. My point was that a freedom was taken away from a group of people and it seems to contradict the philosophy of the greatest supporters of taking away this freedom - the tea party.
  12. My wife has been in education as a teacher and counselor for 17 years, My understanding is that collective bargaining doesn't give the unions any power other than to bargain pay and benefits for the teachers as a group. The school district doesn't have to agree to anything and are free to offer what they think is fair. Also, the teachers have to vote on whether to accept the agreement. During the past 3 years, my wife's union has negotiated pay cuts resulting in about $8,000 less pay than 3 years ago and it's not like she was making more, or even as much, as someone in the private sector with a Master's degree and 7 years of college. I fail to understand why allowing people to bargain collectively as a group is such a problem for the tea party people and why it should matter whether they are public or private employees. I thought the tea party was about less government control over our lives, not more.
  13. I come from a family of teachers. My mom is a retired teacher, my sister is a special education teacher, and my wife taught for 11 years before becoming a school counselor – only to get laid off and return to teaching and then get rehired as a counselor. My mom paid into her pension fund for all of the years she taught but had to choose between collecting my deceased father’s social security or her pension. The social security actually paid more so she chose to collect social security, thereby losing all of the money she put into her pension fund. In California, teacher’s do not pay into social security and pay 8% of their pay into a pension fund. Neither my sister, my mom, nor my wife have become wealthy as teachers despite having Master’s degrees and at least 6 years of education. If you compare their salaries to that of an average worker with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, their pay is probably at the lower end. I’m not unhappy with my wife's pay because she likes her job and knows that she’s doing something worthwhile. During the last 2 years, her pay has been cut by approximately $8000. She’ll likely take another pay cut next year. The union has agreed to the cuts since they basically have no choice, even with collective bargaining rights. Plus, the teachers have to vote on the cuts, which they did in order to avoid more layoffs. The following is a typical day for my wife as a teacher: leave the house at 6:45 AM and return home around 4:30 PM, spend a couple of hours with the kids and eat dinner, then work from 7:30 until 11:00 PM grading papers. Then, on the weekends, do lesson planning for about 5 or 6 hours. About once per month, she would spend most of the weekend grading and planning. She gets 2 1/2 months off for summer which is nice but by that time she has worked the equivalent of more than fifty 40 hour weeks. I know that a lot of people have been hit hard by the recession and are upset about the benefits and outrageous pensions that some public employees have been able to get by manipulating the system. But the teachers didn’t cause the recession and they have been affected just like everyone else. It’s not like once they get laid off, they can just go out and find a position at another company. I don’t expect this to convince anyone, but I don’t think that most people have any idea about what it takes to be a teacher since the media only reports the more outrageous things because that’s what sells.
  14. For those of us who started before the Cypress was available, an AAD wasn’t really an option. If you had one (FXC, etc…) people wouldn’t jump with you. Therefore, when we went through AFF or static line, we were aware that the minute we were off student status, we had to pull or we would die. There were probably many people who decided that this was an unacceptable risk and decided not to continue jumping. Today’s students aren’t faced with this added risk after getting off student status and some who probably wouldn’t have continued in the sport have continued jumping. I guess my point is that different people have different thresholds of acceptable risk. Does this make them reliant on the Cypress? Maybe. The number of Cypress saves today certainly appears to higher than the number of low-pull/no-pull fatalities in the past. Maybe the answer is better education about the consequences of a low-pull/no-pull situation and the possibility that the Cypress may not save you! I’ve always believed that if you have a Cypress fire, you’re theoretically dead anyway, so you can’t jump anymore.