Jackie Mason | October 2, 2004
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Kris Weberg | October 2, 2004
C'mon, I'm in grad school. We make the "Left" look like Birchers.

Steve West | October 2, 2004
I'm in banking. We make the Birchers look like socialists.

Anna Gregoline | October 2, 2004
I work at a law firm - and I would assume there's a good mix of both, since we're a huge company.

Erik Bates | October 5, 2004
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Melissa Erin | October 6, 2004
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Jackie Mason | October 6, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | October 6, 2004
I think it's strange - in states like Carolina and Kentucky - I know they are considered Southern but I never think of them as such. I always think of them in the "middle."

Melissa Erin | October 6, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | October 6, 2004
Weird that politics should even enter into it, I mean, jeez.

Scott Hardie | October 6, 2004
It wouldn't be a problem to talk politics among a group of colleagues who all shared the same views; who's going to get offended? The problem is that once the lid has come off, it's pretty hard to put it back on when someone of opposing views joins the circle. Find an outlet for your political expression, like TC, and spare your coworkers and friends. :-)

Jackie Mason | October 6, 2004
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Jackie Mason | October 7, 2004
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Melissa Erin | October 7, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | October 7, 2004
I can see what you mean about organizations speaking for everyone in it, but don't most organizations endorse one candidate or another? It seems fairly commonplace. And an organization would endorse the candidate (it seems) that would do the best by their organization law-wise - and education-wise, that would hopefully be Kerry, as Bush's programs aren't doing as well as he promised, since he cut funds for them.

Examples. Examples.

Yes, I know it's Kerry's site. But those are facts, not biases. I've read them many other places. So I can imagine that perhaps educational organizations might be wanting to try someone new.

From the second link, caught my eye:

Math Class vs. Sex Class
President Bush proposes some important new expenditures for Education: $100 million for reading programs to help middle and high schoolers who still struggle to sound out Seuss-simple words; $40 million to help professionals in math and science make the transition to teaching; $52 million to bring Advanced Placement classes to more high schools. Yet all these added together would be eclipsed by the $270 million the president would devote to a school program promoting sexual abstinence, despite there being little evidence that such programs reduce teen sex or pregnancies. LA Times Monday March 08, 2004

Kris Weberg | October 7, 2004
Actually, uh, isn't the notion of a few people speaking for the rest of us, pretty much the basis of any organization, including the govenrment?

Melissa Erin | October 7, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | October 7, 2004
Right, to YOU, but what's most important to an educational organization? An organization like that has lots of members with lots of different ideas and opinions, sure, but those people don't usually directly affect what the organization does or stands for - the organization does that themselves and the people join afterwards. They will need a candidate that will help with what their organization stands for. So it makes perfect sense for them to try and get a person who will help them out in office.

Melissa Erin | October 7, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | October 7, 2004
I can understand not wanting your money to go to someone you oppose - but your money goes to support the organization - and the organization can choose to do with it what it wishes. Now, if enough people in the organization were appalled by their choices, and made a stink, I'm sure they would stop or change their tune, instead of risking losing members - but that doesn't seem to be the case. I can only assume that the majority of the education organization also agree with the organization's decision to endorse a candidate that will do the best by their organization and the professions of their members.

Kris Weberg | October 7, 2004
Melissa, it's really not possible for an organization that size and with that level of economic interest not to end up speaking politically, and rather often at that. Officeholders affect funding for schools, regulations on education, federal and state curricula, and a whole lot more.

Look at the "No Child Left Behnd" Act, which profoundly affected the ways in which schools receiving federal funds operated, and it becomes clear that candidate choice seriously impacts the interests teachers' organizations are designed to look out for. An organization liek this one that doesn't endorse candidates in support of or in exchange for policy considerations is not doing its job. By supporting the candidate the organization's leaders or majority membership believes will most benefit the profession, the group fulfills its stated mission.

How could a teachers' union fail to endorse or work with candidates and politicians and still have any impact on the laws that are passed to regulate education and its function?

Kris Weberg | October 7, 2004
The same goes for police organizations -- remember when, say Bill Clinton decided to send more funding to police departments? This was a case where a particular politician affected the police that the organization is meant to represent and fight for.

Candidates and politicians generally have opposing plans for things like funding of the police, and even more often, they have the power to pass and propose the laws the police will be asked to enforce, or the regulations the police must abide by. How can a police organization avoid favoring one suhc plan over another, if they really are trying to work for the betterment of their members? Thye make a judgement on which candidate will help them the most, or which seems most inclined to listen to them, and throw their support there. That's part of the way it works.

In fact, it's almost the only way it can work, given that politicians only listen to money, endorsements, or raw votes. Fail to rpovide one of those things, and no one is going to work for you when it counts.

I also fial to see the harm done. It's not as though your father was deprived of the right to donate his own money tot he candiate of his choice, or to work for that campaign either officially or unofficically by voicing his contrary personal opnions, nor was his vote int he real election -- the thing that really matters -- affected.

Anotehr way to think about it -- you buy products from a corporation because they fill a particular need or want, but in so doing, you are funding their lobbyists and the donations and endorsements their stockholders and executives are likely to make. The fact that, when you bought the product, you weren't intent on doing that is irrelevant -- you got what you wanted from your money, but the organization you gave that money to in exchange for goods or services then did what it felt best with the money.

Taxes work similarly as well, but people have some sort of inexplicable moral revulsion at the government taking their money instead of the numerous private organizations that would have to do the same thing to provide the same services were taxation eliminated. (In fact, given that the government is allowed to lose money, it can often provide services aqt a loss, something a corporation could never do and remain in existence -- and some services would simpyl be too expensive, like road maintenance, if you and I had to pay private developers directly to perform them. But this is well off the topic.)

Jackie Mason | October 7, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | October 7, 2004
"Anotehr way to think about it -- you buy products from a corporation because they fill a particular need or want, but in so doing, you are funding their lobbyists and the donations and endorsements their stockholders and executives are likely to make."

Which is why it's important to be conscious consumers and not support products and companies that donate their money or support organizations that you disapprove of. I know it's a tangled web, but it's important for people to be informed and do their best. For example, I don't shop at WalMart because of many of their unfair labor practices, etc. And I wouldn't ever join or encourage anyone to join Curves (work-out place) because I hear they send lots of money to militant anti-abortion groups (haven't substantiated that yet cause it's not pressing, but I keep meaning to check).

Kris Weberg | October 7, 2004
My point wasn't that we should all be consious consumers -- an excellent idea, and one I support wholeheartedly -- but that the act of giving money to anyone, anytime, means that you don't control the way that money is spent, and that, in the absence of guarantees to the contrary, money can be used for political purposes once it's no longer yours. That's the definition of "giving money" or "paying money."

That, and given the fact that union endorsements of candidates make headlines during elections -- remember the big question during the primaries regarding which Democratic candidate the AFL-CIO would support? -- I'm geneuinely flabbergastd that someone could be shocked! shocked! at a union making a political endorsement. Not all Teamsters will vote Kerry; but AFL-CIO endorsed and funded him because they believe he'll look out for the profession better than Bush will. This is no different, and without either eliminating the role of these groups entirely, or at the least seriously undermining their political efficacy and right to free speech, you can't take that right away.

And that said, there's no legal prohibition against founding an alternative professional organization. It's very difficult, usually requires a set of contacts in government so that you'll actually have some kind of influence, and is a steep uphill battle given that massive and successful groups already exist in your arena of interest, but it can and has been done. And the difficulties facing it are no different than the difficulties inherent in starting a new company or political party in a crowded field.

Again, no one's rights have been stepped on, no actual confidence has been violated, and there are avenues -- granted, not very satisfactory or likely alternatives -- to most professional organizations should such a disagreement arise, so I'm not sure what the moral or legal problem here is.


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