Archive for Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Letter: Civics lesson

March 6, 2013


To the editor:

It’s ironic that a “Celebrate Freedom Week” bill (HB 2280) passed the Kansas House last week. The bill requires, among other things, that public schools offer additional lessons about constitutional rights.  

HB 2280 was sponsored by 30 representatives. Twenty-eight of these legislators also voted in favor of HB 2023, which includes the following language: “It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employee organization to endorse candidates, or spend any of its income … to engage in political activities.”

Rather unimaginatively disguised as “paycheck protection,” HB 2023 simply legislates away a sizable chunk of First Amendment rights for targeted groups of people. If anyone needs a lesson about the Bill of Rights, it is the 68 Republicans in the Kansas House who voted in favor of HB 2023.

I’m a science teacher by trade but I think this civics lesson is simple enough, so here goes. House GOP, listen up: The rights of free speech, press, assembly and petitioning of the government do not come with a footnote excluding public employees or groups of public employees. The U.S. Supreme Court agrees. In “Citizens United,” the court ruled that corporations — including labor unions — may spend their own money for political activities.

Passing frivolous laws with catchy names may be cheap catharsis for hypocrites, but as a celebration of freedom, it’s shameful and pathetic. If lawmakers wish to celebrate freedom, they must lead by example. True freedom fighters stand against efforts to silence and disenfranchise any group of citizens.


jafs 1 year, 1 month ago


You only have that freedom to make that choice because of the 4th amendment, without which you wouldn't have a choice.

Similarly, if people have the choice to belong to a union, and choose not to make that choice, fine. But it's clear that the right is trying to eliminate them in a variety of ways (and has largely succeeded).

Since there's no obligation on the part of employers to bargain with unions, and employers can fire people "at will" in KS, there's really no need to try to get rid of them, as far as I can tell, except that they generally provide better wages and working conditions (historically) for labor.

Also, if people stop exercising their freedoms (read: rights), there's a real danger that the state will overreach, even though they're theoretically prohibited. For example, you let the police search your car without a warrant, and they "find" evidence that wasn't previously there.

Our courts have bent and weakened 4th amendment protections way out of shape, much too far for my comfort, already, with "exigent circumstances" and "warrantless" searches routinely upheld, even by the SC, in ways that seem completely inconsistent with the founders' intent.

I saw an interesting lecture by a defense attorney, in which he said categorically that talking to the police without a lawyer will never do you any good, and often do you harm, if you're brought in for questioning. Obviously, he has an incentive to say that, but a police officer he brought into the conversation agreed with it. That's a good example of how not asserting your rights may harm you, even if you're innocent.

He provided a number of very reasonable sounding examples and scenarios showing how that happens.

And, people who don't have much contact with law enforcement, etc., like generally law abiding citizens, may think it's perfectly fine to do it, since they haven't done anything wrong. Did you know that police are allowed to routinely lie to suspects, and threaten them in ways that aren't realistic?


rockchalk1977 1 year, 1 month ago

Nearly 312,000 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in back taxes. Yet Obama has closed the People's White House due to "budget cuts".

We need to grow the economy... not the government.


Mike Ford 1 year, 1 month ago

gotta love kansas going back a century to fool it's simple citizens.....


Paul R Getto 1 year, 1 month ago

"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose,"

With this bunch of "small government" types we will continue losing.


Dan Eyler 1 year, 1 month ago

kansasfaithful has big shoulders, and clearly has others attempting to explain the facts. Everyone wants a bang for their buck. We freely write checks to the organizations we like because we think they will do some good. The public sector unions should have no worry about their members writing a check each payday? I imagine we will are going to find out soon enough. But you will get no argument from me regarding from those who will soon have to make that decision.


handlon 1 year, 1 month ago

Kansasfaithful is embarrassing.


sciencegeek 1 year, 1 month ago

I find it interesting how so many people think that public employees should work under conditions that would never fly in the private sector. Private unions may negotiate any number of items, but public bargaining units, with far less ability to influence anything than their private counterparts--those are bad. Somehow, if you work for the public, it's okay that you have to buy your own office supplies, work in sick buildings because OSHA rules don't apply, have your salary made available to the public, have weaker workers' compensation protection, aren't allowed to accept as much as a keychain from vendors (while politicos get wined and dined ad nauseum), and go for years (at least 7 for state employees) without a raise.

Instead of the slightest empathy, let alone support, the too-common response is "Then get a job somewhere else." Oh, yeah? Then who's going to arrest the bad guys, teach the kids, put out the fires, fix the roads, pick up the trash, treat the water, fight the wars, stock the lakes, treat the sewage, and all the other things required to make life possible in this state?


George Lippencott 1 year, 1 month ago

Well let me restate my point. - If I can not have a union why the heqq do you get to have one?


Stain 1 year, 1 month ago

"Passing frivolous laws with catchy names may be cheap catharsis for hypocrites..."

Very well said. Beware of this. It's a Karl Rove era tool.


scaramouchepart2 1 year, 1 month ago

Don't look now, but your constitutional rights are being REVOKED! As corporations become people we become slave labor. The state is ringing the constitutional trigger right and left. If you want to keep your fundamental rights you must speak up before you no longer have that right.


George Lippencott 1 year, 1 month ago

Some government employees get to organize. The Military is still without representation - and take it in the ear regularly. I wonder why??


Agnostick 1 year, 1 month ago

It's simple, really. The public sector unions just need to follow the Citizens United ruling. Set up a shell LLC for $99, and let that LLC do the fundraising. Simple, legal, and Constitutionally sound. :)


JohnBrown 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow. License plates. Wow....................gee.......................................gosh


rockchalk1977 1 year, 1 month ago

It's even more ironic that 'Freedom’ license plates are banned in Washington DC. Hypocrites indeed. You know where the door is Mr. Reber.


Dan Eyler 1 year, 1 month ago

I don't support public unions. No issues with private sector unions however. But the thought of a government employee providing funding to its union through payroll deductions before the funds even hit the employee's checking account is shoudn't be allowed. These funds are then used to directly influence legislation and the direct elections of candidates that supports the views of public unions is unacceptable. To get around this only requires a government employee write a check to their union after their money is deposited, just as I would do for a candidate or organization of my choice and hope for the best. In all reality the single issue that the public unions are concerned about is that individuals belonging to these public unions won't write that check. The public unions would much prefer to have it withdrawn from the unions members pay long before it is deposited to the employees checking account which assures a constant flow of cash for their cause. The unions clearly understand that convincing the government employee to write that check isn't going to come easy. Funny how often good intentions compete with new tires, doctors bills, groceries and such. The cash for the unions is still there, they just have to provide enough value to the government employee that convinces the teacher to write that check. According to those like the author of this letter, it should be a slam dunk.


handlon 1 year, 1 month ago

Well said Mr. Reber. Thank you!


Richard Heckler 1 year, 1 month ago

" HB 2023, which includes the following language: “It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employee organization to endorse candidates, or spend any of its income … to engage in political activities.” Rather unimaginatively disguised as “paycheck protection"

This bill and anything labeled as Right to Work are steps taken toward NOT paycheck protection but instead lower wages and zero benefits.

The rt wing believes that workers want to work for less money. That makes these thinkers the Rt Wing Libertarian Neocon Fundamentalist Tea Party for Economic Terrorism...... very very far removed from the fiscally responsible republican thinkers.


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