Response to Nathan Benefield on The National Popular Vote Plan

Nathan Benefield of the Commonwealth Foundation calls the National Popular Vote Plan "A radical shift in Elections" and urges the Pennsylvania Legislature to reject the agreement.The National Popular Vote Plan is an interstate compact, whereby participating states would agree to allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the National Popular Vote. The compact would take effect when enough states (constituting the requisite 270 electoral votes required to win the Presidential election) agree to participate.Benefield then warns that the plan "could result in disputes over who won the Presidential election." Ironically, this scenario is actually more likely to be triggered under the current winner-take-all electoral system. The organization Fair Vote conducted a study of 7,645 statewide elections from 1980-2006. They found that only 23 of these elections resulted in a recount. That is a ratio of just one recount for every 332 elections. Over 90% of these recount elections resulted in the original winner maintaining the win.On the national level, under the current winner-take-all electoral system, there are 51 potential recounts. To date, there have been 2,135 statewide Presidential elections.

Under the National Popular Vote scheme, recounts would occur far less than under the present winner-take-all-system.Benefield incorrectly calls the Plan "a way to circumvent the Constitution." This is a red herring argument. In actuality, there is no provision in the U.S. Constitution mandating that the President must be selected by a particular electoral method. Accordingly, there is no need for a Constitutional Amendment to change the method that states use for the awarding of electors. The Founding Fathers could not come to a resolution as to how to award electoral votes at the Constitutional Convention. They decided to delegated "plenary authority" to the states to award their electors, as reflected in Article ll, Section 1, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution, which states: "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors." Accordingly, each state has autonomy to select electors in any way that they see fit.The Founding Fathers did not advocate or mandate a monolithic method for the states to award their electoral votes. They respected Federalism and delegated the power of awarding electors to the states. In 1789, most states only allowed property owners the right to vote. This gradually changed, not by a constitutional amendment, but through a state-by-state process. The winner-take-all approach of awarding electors was a scheme devised by partisan parochial interests to maximize their political advantage. It was not the grand design of the Founding Fathers. In fact, there is no mention at all of the winner-take-all electoral system in the Federalist Papers and no mention of it during the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention.Mr. Benefield incorrectly argues that the National Popular Vote Plan would supplant the Electoral College. This is a fallacy.

The Electoral College would still exist under the National Popular Vote Plan. On the Monday following the second Wednesday in the December after the election is held, electors representing each state and the District of Columbia will still cast their Presidential ballots. On January 6, the Vice President will declare the winner to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. This process would remain exactly the same.Benefield correctly asserts that the U.S. is "not a pure Democracy but a Constitutional Republic." However, this point is irrelevant to this issue. The National Popular Vote Plan in no way transforms the U.S. into a Direct Democracy. Wisely fearing unsustainable "mob rule," the Founders conceptualized a constitutional republic for the colonists based upon the Roman Republic, wherein the American people would only be indirectly involved in the governance process. Under a Direct Democracy, the American people would vote on all of the issues themselves. If the National Popular Vote Plan were to be adopted, Presidents would be elected the same way every other magistrate in the U.S. is elected from Cemetery Commissioners and County Coroners to Governors and U.S. Senators.Benefield states: "The National Popular Vote would allow candidates to focus on regional issues, or votes in population centers, rather than making a broad national appeal." If Benefield wants candidates to disseminate a nation-wide message, he should support the National Popular Vote Plan. Under the current electoral system, Presidential nominees tailor their messages to voters in only about 15 swing states, relegating the majority of Americans to the electoral sidelines. Under the current electoral system, Presidential candidates spend an inordinate amount of time cultivating support in strategically crucial states. They must appeal to retirees in central Florida, steel workers in Western Pennsylvania, and ethanol growers in Iowa.

Unfortunately, they have no incentive to hear the concerns of New England fishermen worried about the affects of federal regulations on their livelihoods, South Central Los Angeles residents concerned about gang violence, or workers in the Louisiana sugar industry concerned about the affects of lower tariffs on their jobs.Benefield ends his column by branding the National Popular Vote Plan "a radical, dangerous, and ill-conceived shift in our election process." However, this rather hyperbolic description begs the question about how treating every voter with equal reverence can be labeled "radical, Dangerous, or ill-conceived. In addition, if Benefield actually believes this then He must explain why it is acceptable to support a system where a Presidential candidate has incentive to treat a voter in Marblehead, Ohio as hegemonic to a voter in Marblehead, Massachusetts, simply because of his/her geopolitical location. Ohio is a showdown state, while Massachusetts is a safe state.The National Popular Vote Plan would make every vote equal. Under this plan, it would be foolhardy for a Presidential campaign not to devise a strategy to assiduously cultivate support and get out the vote in literally all regions of the nation.

The Governor of South Carolina is Trying to Sell The State

It's a great day in South Carolina, and if you didn't believe it, asked the governor. On September 27 the governor ordered the 16 directors Cabinet agencies under the direct control to change the way their employees answer the telephone. So now when phoning, save the Department of alcohol and other drug abuse services or Department of employment and workforce, callers are supposed to hear the cheery greeting saying: "It's a great day in South Carolina. How may I help you?"The governor says the new greeting will boost the morale of state workers and help to sell the State. It is part of the who I am campaign she says. As hokey as some people think it is, it I'm selling South Carolina as is great, new, positive state that everybody needs to look at. The blogosphere has been inundated with people mocking the new salutation and proposing alternative greetings. One suggestion was "It's still better here than Mississippi. How can I help you?" another was more explicit suggesting that when answering the phone employees should say "Thank you for calling South Carolina where unemployment is high, morale is low and political leaders are very busy wasting resources. How may I direct your call?"The irony is that nothing is particularly great in the Palmetto State at the moment. The unemployment rate stands at 11.1%, the fourth highest in the country.

State workers have not received cost of living increases in four years and no merit-based raises since 2001. Cuts to their pension plans are now being discussed. Health insurance premiums for 410,000 public employees, retirees and family members are going up by 4.5% in January. Medicare payment rates to physicians were cut across the board by 3% in April which is expected to lead to reduced services for the poor and disabled in rural areas.And so it goes on. This year the state's public schools missed out on more than $144 million in federal stimulus money earmarked the teachers because the Gov and her education chief refused to apply for funds which would mitigate a teacher layoffs. The money was then redistributed to the other 49 states which did want it. The new order has gone out that South Carolina and to do not possess a government issue photo identification card who tend to be black and poor will no longer be able to vote.For a clincher, racial hostility seems to be alive and well.

One employee who recently left Sandy Cooper, a state-owned utility of the largest power providers in South Carolina has filed a complaint with the equal opportunity employment commission alleging that in late 2009 the man supervises sense and employees a text message with an image of a gallows from which from the noose and a sign saying for sale near swing set. The complaint is under investigation. Some state agencies have obediently begun complying with the Gov Sonny directive and others apparently not yet got the message. Or are they perhaps indulging in some daring bureaucratic resistance?

Enabling The Rural Poor to Rise Above The Shackles of Chronic Poverty

Employment Guarantee Scheme is designed to minimize the administrative costs and the effects associated with targeted transfers. The EGS guarantees that every individual who wants a job in the rural areas will be given one. There is however the pre-requisite of the worker willing to do work on a piece rate basis. If the EGS provides an employment guarantee it will tend to increase the prevailing level of agricultural wages. The EGS is implemented through a three tier set up comprising committees for planning, direction and co-ordination at the state. India is one of the few countries in the world where all sorts of anti poverty programmes have been tried out. Apart from the Central government sponsored schemes, state governments have tried out various types of poverty alleviation programmes. The EGS operations are driven by a sense of purpose and in the absence of employment insurance in India the EGS can act as an insurance for workers. It can be proved by research that the EGS has performed better than other poverty schemes in India. Ministers such as Nitin Raut have played a significant part in ensuring employment among rural masses.

The Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Scheme has been a subject of much research, much of the deliberations and decisions for and against the introduction of this scheme remains untouched. The Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Scheme is often held up as a model for rural works programmes for other states in the country. Like the MEGS the NREGS is expected to create productive assets to then ensure development of rural areas through unemployment of unskilled labor. The MEGS was set up to those who cannot find work so as to provide a basis level of subsistence. Therefore the main objective of this scheme is to reduce distress and not to enable people to escape from poverty. One of the objectives of the EGS is to create durable community assets for long term development. Assets are created on public resources mainly related to land and water. There has some been criticism about the quality of the work done -the usual problem associated with most public works programmes this scheme has been ineffective for various reasons. The issue of poor monitoring and lack of strong support by social and political groups is also another important reason as to why this scheme cannot be completely effective. Funds are especially collected and ear marked for the scheme through a levy of special taxes on profession, trades and employment. It helps families to escape from the firm grip of poverty that are caused due to low levels of wage rate and spells of unemployment.

Cruse And Associates Uaw Wants Volkswagen Workers to Seek Union Election

The United Auto Workers union has begun passing out cards to employees of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga to determine whether there is enough support to hold a union representation the cards are not the official instruments the union would have to collect from at least 30 percent of the plant's hourly workers to force a union vote, said Gary Casteel, director of the UAW's District 8, which includes Tennessee."We have not started an official organizing campaign," he said, refuting some national media reports."What got some people up in arms is that we passed out some cards, but they were never about setting up an election," Casteel said. "The cards were just gauging the level of support."That characterization was confirmed by Volkswagen spokesman Guenther Scherelis at the plant, which has about 2,700 workers employed directly by the German automaker to build the midsize Passat sedan."We heard that they had distributed those cards, but it is an initiative of the union and not omething that Volkswagen is involved in," Scherelis employees said they had seen the cards or were aware of the union's interest in organizing the plant, but there seems to be no clear consensus on whether there would be enough support to force a union election, much less on whether the UAW could win that vote if it occurred.

While it takes only 30 percent of the workforce to sign cards requesting a union vote - which would then have to be held by secret ballot within 40 days - the UAW has said it would want to see a much higher percentage than that before calling for a vote.In recent years, unions generally want at least 75 percent of a workforce to sign cards before a vote is scheduled. The success rate for union referendums drops significantly when lower percentages of workers sign ballot cards, according to statistics of the National Labor Relations Board, which conducts such votes.Pay disparity existsVolkswagen's hourly pay begins at about $14 and can range to nearly $20 an hour. New workers at UAW facilities such as the General Motors plant in Spring Hill begin at about $17 an hour, and experienced workers make about $29, plus the VW plant, older workers are more supportive of the union than younger employees are. Some younger workers fear they could lose some of their current benefits if the union negotiates a contract with Volkswagen.One of those benefits is a popular vehicle leasing plan through which workers can get a new Volkswagen or Audi vehicle every six months and finance it via payroll deductions. Volkswagen announced in July 2008 that it would spend more than $1 billion to build the Chattanooga plant, which began building the new American-only version of the Passat midsize sedan in April 2011.Sales have been so robust that Volkswagen announced March 22 that it would begin hiring an additional 800 workers and open a third shift to meet consumer demand.

UAW President Bob King has said the union's goal is to organize at least one of the South's foreign auto plants within the next couple of years, with hopes of expanding to others if the first union drive is successful. Industry experts say the UAW's survival is at stake, as its membership has dropped to only 390,000 nationwide from 1.5 million in 1979. Volkswagen, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, has 62 production facilities worldwide, and Chattanooga is the only one that isn't unionized. If Volkswagen workers go union, it would be a first among the foreign-based automakers that have built operations in the South, starting with Nissan in Smyrna in 1983.Other nonunion, foreign-owned plants are operated by Japanese automakers Nissan in Mississippi; Toyota in Kentucky, Alabama, Texas and Mississippi; and Honda in Alabama; German automakers Mercedes-Benz in Alabama and BMW in South Carolina; and South Korea's Hyundai and Kia in Alabama and UAW failed in two efforts at organizing Nissan's Smyrna facility in 1989 and 2001. Unionization drives also have failed at other plants, including the Mercedes-Benz factory near Tuscaloosa, Ala.Cruz & Associates OverviewCruz & Associates is one of the nation's leading labor relations firms, helping businesses manage change in the workplace. We are experienced forward-thinkers who combine hands-on success solving difficult human resources and labor and human resources challenges, with new strategic solutions for keeping the workforce connected to the goals of the organization.Change is the watchword of the future.

Old boundaries are gone. Markets are moving faster than ever before. While organizations can't predict the future, they can be ready for whatever it brings by using the best communications and human resources practices to educate, motivate and align their employees to new operating realities.Cruz & Associates has helped hundreds of clients from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations achieve employee buy-in for new business realities, often in come-from-behind situations. To better serve our clients' needs, we have become more versatile in our capabilities. While we continue to offer the most effective labor relations and campaign management services, we have integrated them with communications strategies, interactive workplace skills, and change management solutions. We too have changed by recruiting top-ranked management professionals and expanding our network of alliance partners.