Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some good news and some bad news

What’s new Today

Our #1 story shows that the Occupy Movement has evidently overstayed its welcome even in liberal San Francisco.  #2 in the meantime shows that Americans are a very generous people volunteering over 8 billion hours.  Everyone seems happy with this except Unions.  #3 tells you a dilemma most companies would love to grapple with.  This company has too much cash on-hand. #4 lets you lose the guilt.  Next time you see a PETA sign, ad, or demonstration reread this article and feel smugly superior.  #5 gives us at least on gauge of how the Obamacare mandate for birth control is being accepted.

1.  OWS loses San Francisco

Last weekend, a 67 year-old Berkeley, California man calmly phoned the police, requesting protection from an aggressive trespasser that had confronted him and his wife in their garage. The call was "queued for dispatch", but then ignored because the police were shorthanded at the time. The San Francisco Chronicle explains why:

In a statement Tuesday, police Lt. Andrew Greenwood confirmed that "only criminal, in-progress emergency calls were to be dispatched, due to the reduction in officers available to handle calls for service" as a result of the Occupy protest. [On Wednesday, unnoted, the Chronicle removed the word "Occupy" from the online version of its story]

Sadly, less than 13 minutes after the police call, the mentally ill trespasser returned and attacked the man in front of his home, dragged him into the bushes and beat him with a large flowerpot, while the victim's wife watched helplessly. The man died later.

Is it fair to blame the Occupy protestors for the man's death? Probably not, though many did. Others theorized that the Berkeley police were staging a slowdown, responding only to urgent calls in order to create a public outcry for more taxpayer funding. Most likely, though, it was just fate. According to the Chronicle story, "sources" said that it would have taken up to ten minutes for the police to arrive anyway, and by then it easily might have been too late.

The most intriguing aspect of the tragic story though, is the 250-plus comments. Presumably, the Chronicle's audience consists primarily of demographically leftist Bay Area readers, so one might expect most of the comments to defend the leftist OWS movement. According to my informal count, nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the comments blamed the Occupy protestors for the homicide. In fact, more comments blamed the Occupy protestors than defended them. Even more remarkable, 40 comments recommended that Chronicle readers arm themselves with guns to avoid a similar malady.

Granted, those results aren't statistically valid, as trolls might have flooded the story's comment section. Still, according to the real polls, a negative view of the Occupy movement is growing nationally, so even leftist San Francisco might be disenchanted with OWS. Last month Rasmussen reported that 51 percent of likely US voters think the movement is “a public nuisance” Only 39 percent approve of it….

The Occupy movement hasn’t worked out the way the left had hoped it would. 

2.   Volunteers irk Unions

More and more every year, a large part of what we do is volunteers,” says Archie Matthews, Yakima’s director of neighborhood development services, “It saves us a ton of money.”

Matthews says begging for volunteers is not beneath him. And to his surprise, he usually gets them. Once signed up, they do a variety of tasks, including construction work for low-income housing, painting over gang graffiti and keeping senior centers from having to close their doors.

Mary Lizotte, 74, volunteers eight hours a week at a senior center, where the paid staff has been trimmed to just three employees.

“We’ve been faced with cuts in the budget and threatened to be closed down a couple of days a week,” Lizotte said. “It’s not only good for them, it’s good for us volunteers.” The center is able to stay open seven days a week with volunteers doing everything from clerical work to preparing and serving the food.

According to a Volunteering in America study, last year 63 million Americans volunteered more than eight billion hours. When you calculate average wages and benefits for city employees, local governments saved $173 billion.

In many places churches are leading the way. “We’re at a time when, as citizens we need to be giving ourselves away freely to serve our communities,” says Dave Edler, pastor at Yakima’s Foursquare Church which held a park cleanup with several hundred volunteers recently.

But not everyone is thrilled about the civic spirit. Some unions are pushing back, fearing volunteers are cutting into their territory. “They’re eroding the number of hours for our people,” says Ian Gordon of Laborer’s Union 1239 in Seattle. “It’s of great concern that they might be doing further work that we would normally do.”…

The old WIIFM is front and center here at least for the public unions. 

3.  Apple has too much cash

Apple CEO Tim Cook says he believes the world's most valuable company has more money than it needs. His next challenge is to figure out whether Apple should break from the cash-hoarding ways of his predecessor, the late Steve Jobs, and dip into its $98 billion bank account to pay shareholders a dividend this year.

During a question-and-answer session Thursday at the company's annual shareholders' meeting, Cook indicated he and the rest of Apple’s board are nearing a decision.

The board and management are "thinking about this very deeply," Cook said. "This isn't a case where 100 percent of people are going to agree with what we do."

The question of how to handle Apple's cash stockpile is a touchy one, partly because company co-founder Jobs had steadfastly brushed aside suggestions that the company restore its quarterly dividend. Apple stopped making the shareholder payments in 1995 when it was in such deep trouble that it needed to hold on to every cent.

Things got so bad that Apple turned to rival Microsoft Corp. in 1997 for a $150 million infusion to stay afloat. Microsoft came to the rescue at the same time Apple named Jobs as its CEO -- a decision that turned out to be one of the smartest business moves ever made.

Haunted by memories of Apple's grim times, Jobs kept accumulating cash even as the company's fortunes soared during the final decade of his life….

This is a great problem to have if you are a business, too much cash.  But to put it in perspective, if the government took all of Apple’s cash it would be able to zero out the deficit for just under 25 days. 

4.  PETA Hypocrisy

Documents published online this month show that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization known for its uncompromising animal-rights positions, killed more than 95 percent of the pets in its care in 2011.

The documents, obtained from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, were published online by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a non-profit organization that runs online campaigns targeting groups that antagonize food producers.

Fifteen years’ worth of similar records show that since 1998 PETA has killed more than 27,000 animals at its headquarters in Norfolk, VA.

In a February 16 statement, the Center said PETA killed 1,911 cats and dogs last year, finding homes for only 24 pets.

“PETA hasn’t slowed down its slaughterhouse operation,” said Rick Berman, CCF’s executive director. “It appears PETA is more concerned with funding its media and advertising antics than finding suitable homes for these dogs and cats.”

It’s always fun to find hypocrisy in self-righteous movements.  Well at least they didn’t eat them!

5.  Representative Kathy Hochul booed at her own town hall meeting

Representative Kathy Hochul (D - 26th District) was booed at her own town hall meeting on Friday morning in Lancaster.

The packed crowd was critical of Hochul for supporting President Obama’s to require religiously affiliated employers, such as hospitals and schools, to provide full contraception coverage to female employees.

The plan was later altered. It now calls for those workers to get free contraceptive coverage from health insurers, thus sparing religious based groups, morally opposed to paying for birth control, from having to do so.

Even though Hochul's town hall meeting was open to any topic, the large crowd focused on the contraception coverage issue.

When Hochul spoke in support of the President, the crowd booed. Many in the audience carried signs, including one that read: "Kathy why have you betrayed our Catholic institutions?" One woman in the crowd told Hochul: "This President has lied to us repeatedly when he proclaims support for conscience protection in his infamous speech at Notre Dame as well as in the executive order he signed following passage of the health care law. He is not worthy of your support in this matter." Another man shouted "It's an insult to the Catholics in this country to even listen to that gibberish. It is an absolute insult and Catholics deserve better. We were taking care of this country's sick long before the government got involved in it."…

This is not a winning issue for the Democrats or the President.  Time to cut bait and surrender. 

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