More on the Kaus – Box(er) Debate
As promised here is a more detailed account of the debate between California U.S. Senate candidate (and my brother) Mickey Kaus and an absent Barbara Boxer, represented by a box.
Mickey was surprisingly convincing on his key points: the need for the Democratic Party to shake free of organized labor and the need to secure the border before addressing amnesty. he also was well informed on issues that are not the basis of his campaign, like North Korea and Israel.
A key question concerning Mickey’s campaign is why in the world is he running. Mickey explained that he believes that whatever income inequality may exist, all people are entitled to equal dignity, which requires public institutions that facilitate such equal treatment. Right now, California, and most governmental bodies, are unable to provide appropriate services because their resources are taken up paying unaffordable pensions to workers who retire in their 50s. As the party that considers the government to be the appropriate source of solutions in society Democrats have a special interest in making government work, something that cannot be done if the public employee unions call the shots.
Concerning unions more generally, Mickey is not against workers organizing, but he is against unions such as the UAW, that in his view broke Detroit, prevented the innovative work rules at Fremont’s NUMMI plant from being more widely adopted and then saw to it that the NUMMI plant was then a casualty of the financial crisis.
A tape of Senator Boxer expressed her support for teachers unions and expanding school budgets. Mickey believes that the contracts negotiated by teachers unions have prevented public schools from improving. The worst teachers cannot be fired. in the L.A. unified School District, which employs 33,000 teachers, only 4 teachers have been fired in contested proceedings in the past 10 years and an average of 21 are let go each year for incompetence. Moreover, when there are budget cuts, the newer, more innovative teachers must be let go, not the ones with poor performance, Charter schools and other innovative ideas need to be tried. California will never receive “race to the top” funds from Washington because the unions won’t agree to the required reforms to the California education system.
On immigration, Mickey sees amnesty without securing the border as an invitation for another 12 million immigrants to come across. If we allow open immigration, Mickey asserted, L.A. will be like Rio, with vast areas of abject poverty. He believes that such a flood of cheap labor depresses wages at the bottom of the ladder to the detriment of Americans seeking entry level jobs, people whom the Democratic Party should be serving. He is not against a path to legalization, just not until we are sure that those already here will be the last such group for whom amnesty must be considered.
In the absence of Senator Boxer, Mickey took questions. The first question asked Mickey’s views on North Korea. Somewhat surprisingly, he had some, complete with statistics. He believes that if we are tough, North Korea will back down and the present crisis will be defused.
Regarding Israel, he deplored the continued building of settlements to serve a fringe group and urged the United States to demand that Israel take the steps necessary to move toward peace. The Arab world has to see the United States as an actor independent of Israel.
On more familiar territory, Mickey asserted that as a way out of our budget dilemma, social security needs to be indexed, so that those with ample income receive less.
All in all Mickey did an impressive job. In another universe, Senator Boxer would have shown up along with television cameras and reporters, and the public would have a choice. I am not so sure that they would not pick Mickey.