Saturday, May 14, 2011

A U.S. Catholic university stands up to a lying Leftist

But not on principle -- only in self-defense

The Catholic University of America (CUA) may have thought that AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney’s May 2nd speech on campus would be non-controversial. But Sweeney, a Catholic who doesn’t hide his commitment to socialism and a progressive takeover of the Democratic Party, promised controversy from the start. He attacked conservatives, in particular Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and told the event that opponents of organized labor were out-of-step with the teachings of the church and Jesus Christ Himself. Then, however, Sweeney unloaded on the sponsors of his appearance, attacking university officials as union busters.

Perhaps Sweeney thought his comments would go unanswered, out of deference to the fact that he was a featured speaker and was showered with praise by the liberal organizers of the event as a brilliant labor organizer. But CUA officials struck back, issuing a statement basically accusing Sweeney of lying and having the statement read aloud as Sweeney sat in stunned silence.

In fact, a recording of the event turned up and demonstrates that the statement issued by CUA officials takes issue with almost everything said by the former labor boss and accuses organized labor of manipulating and abusing workers at this institution of higher learning.

The two-day conference was sponsored by Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (IPR) and titled “120th Anniversary of Rerum Novarum: Church, Labor, and the New Things of the Modern World.”Rerum Novarum, a papal document on labor and capital, is behind much of the “social justice” teaching that animates “progressive” Catholics these days who support Obama and want to overlook his anti-Catholic record on matters such as abortion and homosexual rights.

“Earlier this year,” said Sweeney, “politicians began taking America’s anti-union, anti-worker crusade a step even further by trampling the rights of public employees and boldly trying to eliminate their unions altogether. I’m sure most of you are familiar with what happened in Wisconsin, where a newly elected conservative governor forced state as well as municipal unions to concede health care and pension benefits, and then outlawed collective bargaining.”

In order to “restore Catholic social teaching to the center of the American Church—a position it still holds in Church doctrine—and renew the partnership between the Church and labor,” Sweeney said that the organized labor movement must become “what amounts to an action arm of Catholic social teaching.” Threatening confrontation, he said, “We need the help of every Catholic leader as well as every Catholic parishioner, not just in matters of public policy, but in direct action that we from time to time must undertake.”

“But I am concerned that the Church’s support for workers and unions has become muted and even confusing,” he said.

Sweeney had said, “I’m reminded of the time not too many years ago when we scheduled a demonstration here at this university over a dispute between the workers’ union and the administration. The then-president of CUA called a certain member of the hierarchy, who then called me and asked me to cancel the demonstration in exchange for a promise to deal with our issues. I canceled the demonstration. But I never heard back from either of them…I share that little story not to disparage our esteemed leaders—my calls for help from the hierarchy have most often been answered.”

But the “esteemed leaders” and the hierarchy ordered Schneck to read a statement taking issue with almost everything Sweeney had said about them and the union problems at CUA.

Keeping in mind that CUA President John Garvey had introduced the conference and has emphasized intellect and virtue during his inaugural year at CUA, Schneck read a university statement that essentially accused Sweeney of abandoning those values:

“During his remarks about a labor issue at Catholic University that began in 1999, he implied that the then-president of the Catholic University refused to engage in a dialogue with him about the matter. In fact, the president of the university along with one of his vice presidents met face to face with Mr. Sweeney to discuss the labor issue.

“Mr. Sweeney also stated that the conflict was between the university administration and the workers union. In September 1999 approximately 130 CUA custodial and maintenance workers were involuntarily transferred from one union to a local of the Service Employees International Union. They protested their incorporation into SEIU not just through the university administration but also to the National Labor Relations Board and petitioned the latter to decertify SEIU.

The university adopted a position of neutrality over the matter of union representation, stipulating only that the workers have an opportunity to make a free choice by a secret ballot election. SEIU opposed this position, pressuring the workers to accept their forcible incorporation. Eventually when SEIU concluded that the university would not be swayed from its position, it agreed to a secret ballot election conducted by a neutral third party. The election was held on February 2, 2001, and SEIU lost.”

In an understatement, the university officials went on, “Our recollection of events differs from Mr. Sweeney’s.”

Not only were there different recollections, the controversy suggests that someone was lying—and that someone, according to CUA, was Sweeney. Significantly, Sweeney had nothing to say in response to the scathing CUA statement that was read aloud in front of him.


The Screwed Generation

Alan Caruba

June is famous for weddings and graduations. Both are filled with great expectations and both are subject to great disappointments.

Today’s college graduates are thoroughly screwed. According to Matthew Segal, the president of a non-profit membership organization called Our Time, “With 85% of college graduates moving back home and an average debt of $22,900 per student, thousands are staring at a bleak economic future.” You think?

Aren’t these the eager, besotted youngsters who, at age 18, voted for Barack Hussein Obama as if he were the Second Coming? In the words of Herman Cain, a GOP presidential contender, how did that work out?

“New college graduates,” said Segal, “are entering an economy with an almost 17% unemployment rate for Americans under the age of 30.” Despite that and other horrible statistics, Segal insists “We know there is still a bright future out there…” Oh, yeah? High unemployment. Having to move back home. Graduating with a huge debt. That’s not my definition of a bright future.

I graduated college in 1959. When I got out, what awaited all able-bodied young men was the Draft. Before I could think about utilizing my precious diploma, I had to get two years in the U.S. Army behind me and to my surprise it was some of the best post-graduate education one could imagine. And it was mandatory.

My “career” didn’t take off until I joined the staff of a weekly newspaper and, since the editor left within three months or so, I became the editor! Here again, the education I received was invaluable. All small towns and cities pretty much have to deal with the same political, educational, policing, and other issues.

I “graduated” to a daily newspaper and, after a few years concluded that there was no real money to be made. In this respect, I was way ahead of my time as the Internet would decimate newspaper circulations, decimate editorial staffs, and affect the writing craft to the point that rendered it a very bad career choice.

For those graduating from college at age seventeen or eighteen this year, it means they were born in 1990 or 1991. They were eleven or twelve years old on September 11, 2001; old enough to know that something terrible had happened, killing thousands of Americans who probably thought they were not at war with militant Islam. Since then, this generation has not known a day of peace.

For most young men, though, the option to avoid service—an all-volunteer military—had been made by Congress in 1973. So, Generation X, born 1965-1980, and Generation Y, born 1981 to 1995, and the current generation were largely spared serving in the military. You tend to pay closer attention to what is happening in the real world if it means you may have to fight a war. The miracle is that we have a million men and women in uniform who somehow absorbed the values of earlier generations.

A subject of growing contention is the way the nation’s educational system has been “dumbed down” since the 1960s or the growth of “political correctness” that thwarts addressing issues involving ethnicity, ancestry, religious faith, and gender. Nor is there much discussion of the way colleges and universities have become sausage factories squeezing parents and working students for every dollar, pushing them through, and conferring degrees that, with the exception of the professions, often have dubious value.

This new generation is very “connected” in ways earlier ones could never imagine. Facebook, MySpace, and all manner of other Internet machinery have transformed how they perceive themselves and the world. It has not, however, significantly educated them in the traditional sense of the word.

They will doff their caps and gowns and go home to mom and dad. A friend of mine graduated from Georgetown University in 1982 after working his way through. He recently calculated that it cost $232,000 to graduate today. What teenager could ever take on such a burden and why should their parents be expected to shell out the kind of money that could purchase a second home?

Today’s graduate is not likely to see any return on the money he or she pays into Social Security or Medicare. The dollars they earn will have diminished in value from those of my time or my friend’s.

It can be argued that it was no picnic for earlier generations, but they at least had a Constitution that wasn’t being ignored and dismembered.

They had, despite the occasional short-lived recession, a healthy economy, a rational national debt, and presidents who, with the exception of people like Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, didn’t see their job as plundering the public treasury for so-called “social justice” and environmental programs based on liberal pipedreams.

Welcome to the world of faltering economies from here to Greece and back again. Welcome to outsourced jobs. Welcome to rapacious bankers making money on housing loans they knew were bad for those in search of the American Dream. Welcome to useless pat-downs every time you fly. Welcome to “reality TV” and vulgar “entertainment”.

In these and so many other ways, this new generation is thoroughly screwed.


British private schools fire a warning shot at new charity rules

Attempts to force private schools to provide more free places for poor children could have “potentially catastrophic consequences”, according to school leaders. Schools may be required to impose huge fee rises for existing parents to fund more bursaries – pricing out middle-class families and even forcing some to shut altogether, it was claimed.

The Independent Schools Council said it was an “ironic consequence” of the rules that “smaller, poorer” private schools struggle the most while rich institutions are relatively unaffected.

The comments are made in documents submitted to the High Court before an unprecedented legal challenge against guidance drawn up by the charities regulator. Next week, the ISC will present its case to a judicial review of guidelines governing schools’ charitable status that could ultimately lead to them being scrapped altogether.

Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, has also backed a review of the rules after admitting they created “uncertainty as to the operation of charity law in the context of fee-charging schools”.

In a document submitted to the High Court, Matthew Burgess, ISC deputy chief executive, said the guidance had “potentially major unintended consequences” for schools and parents, including pricing out middle-income families.

“Trustees must consider whether fee increases for all are required to fund bursary places for the few with the inevitable result that many families who have, not without sacrifice, managed the fees up till now will be pushed out in favour of the very rich who can afford the fees no matter how expensive and the very poor who will win the few very places subsidised by others,” he said. He added: “For many schools, this will require the trustees to embark on fee strategies which might prove not to be economically viable, with potentially catastrophic circumstances.”

Under Labour’s 2006 Charities Act, fee-paying schools are no longer automatically entitled to charitable status. They must prove they provide “public benefit” to effectively remain open and hang to tax breaks worth around £120m a year to the sector.

The charities regulator issued guidance in late 2008 telling schools how they could meet the new requirement. It said they could theoretically pass the test by offering range of services, including access to swimming pools and concert halls, A-level master classes and running one of the Government’s academies.

But the document made it clear that providing more bursaries was the most straightforward way of satisfying the rules. The ISC claim this constitutes a “gross misinterpretation” of the law. The judicial review starts next Tuesday and is planned to last 10 days.

In statement submitted to the court last year, Mr Burgess said the focus on bursaries would lead to schools’ “limited resources” being concentrated on fee-subsidies, at the expense of other schemes to widen access, such as striking up partnerships with local state schools. At the most extreme end, the rules could also place the future of some schools under threat, he added.

A series of trial “tests” of the public benefit requirements saw two out of five schools fail. The two were both small preparatory schools that failed to provide enough bursaries, it emerged, although they later passed after finding more subsidised places.

“It is an ironic consequence of the commission’s approach as revealed by the public benefit reports that the richest schools have little difficulty in showing generous bursary provision: it is the smaller, poorer schools which struggle,” said Mr Burgess.

The Charity Commission has defended its guidance, insisting that schools can pass the public benefit test without providing bursaries. In a submission to the judicial review, Kenneth Dibble, one of the commission’s executive directors, insisted that it did not “wish to prescribe minimum or maximum thresholds for the amount of means-tested fee assistance that should be provided by charitable schools in general, or by any particular school.”

He added: “The commission made it clear that it was for the charities to produce plans in response to the commission's initial public benefit assessments, and that the commission did not insist that the plans, whether in relation to the provision of bursaries or otherwise, should take any particular form.”


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