Thursday, April 9, 2009

The "Conscience Clause"

I want national health insurance. I want it so bad I would cut off my left arm to get it. I want everyone to have access to medically necessary health care without having to worry about going bankrupt. I want President Obama to work on this as a national priority, but today's news makes me fear this will never happen. You see, I am against abortion. I don't believe the government should mandate that doctors perform abortions, and in many states there are "conscience Clauses" that allow doctors morally opposed to abortion and fetal stem cell research to practice their life saving skills without having to endanger their immortal souls. President Bush, who said he was pro-life, waited until the end of his term to promulgate a conscience clause order. Now Obama intends to rescind it. The problem is that by taking that action he is amalgamating the enemies of free universal health care.

For centuries the church has been at the forefront of efforts to care for the sick. Note the names of so many hospitals: "Lutheran", "Saint Mary's", etc. These people and institutions of faith have put their money where their mouths are to bring health care to our nation. What will they do if they are mandated by federal law to perform abortions? That fear alone is enough to cause all people of faith to decide that, even though the need for universal health care is great, we cannot attain it at the cost of government dictates forcing violations of the sanctity of life. How many doctors does Obama want to drive out of the medical profession? Don't we have a shortage of health care professionals? What if all the church run hospitals and clinics close rather than accede to the dictates of the government? I beg you President Obama, don't do this. Work for what we really need. Work for free universal health care for the sake of the children, the old, the sick, and the poor and bankrupt. Do this as your legacy, but don't cripple the effort at the start by raising the specter of federal tyranny.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Social Security News: How Many Employees Will Social Security Hire And How Will They Be Hired?


I am vice president of Local 1346 of the American Federation of Government Employees. Although I retired from my job in September 2008, I was just re-elected for a new term. I am glad of this because I want to continue helping my union fight discrimination in the federal government. You would think that federal employment would be free of illegal discrimination, but you would be wrong. You would also think that since the public pays for the governments employees the process for getting a job would be open and above board. You would be wrong again.

Our union is trying to fight what I consider insidious nepotism and cronyism in the Social Security Agency's hiring, but I want to make it clear that any opinions expressed here are my own. Rather than follow established merit based hiring practices, Social Security is exploiting a loophole in the law called the Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP) to hire about two-thirds of all new employees, and guess what, lots of those hired are relatives, friends, and children of the managers. One manager hires another managers kid and promotes him quickly up the ladder. If this keeps up government jobs will be the "property" of a selected few families and friends. Under this "FCIP" program, managers don't have to make a public job announcement (so that any qualified and talented American can apply). They can find the job "candidates" any way they want, and they can hire them secretly and with no consideration of merit. Is this the American Way? Apparently the Management of Social Security Administration in Wisconsin and elsewhere thinks so. Here is a bit from a letter our national union president sent to the commissioner of Social Security:

"AFGE also received a number of reports from employees complaining that managers have used FCIP to hire their relatives, friends, neighbors, fellow church members, etc. Examples are the FCIP hire of Ryan Kulinski, son of Milwaukee Downtown District Manager Mark Kulinski or the FCIP hiring of Mark Fansler, nephew of Seattle Area Director Steve Dymale. Both Kulinski and Fansler were not only FCIP hires but they were quickly selected at the first opportunity to higher graded positions instead of highly qualified veteran employees who were not related to management."

No, the commissioner has not replied. I have been told that both Kulinski's are mad about this publicity, but you would expect that. If you don't think this is right, call or write the commissioner of Social Security, Michael Astrue to tell him what you think. If you live in Wisconsin, you can contact the Area Director, Robert Pagan, who has presided over this hiring binge and speaks approvingly of it as "Legacy Hiring".

At our recent semiannual union meeting several employees of Mr. Kuklinski's Milwaukee Downtown office came to express fear that their boss would retaliate against them for our president bringing his cozy little arrangement for family job security to a public forum. Mr. Kulinski also apparently sent an employee who is his buddy to the meeting to try to shout down our local president when she tried to explain that we are seeking fairness and equal opportunity in federal hiring. Several managers have apparently told their employees that they can forget seeing any of their friends or relatives hired if the union wants to make an issue of this. Don't all American citizens have a right to compete for government jobs, even relatives of current non-management employees? I think they do so long as all citizens have access to apply, and current employees do not try to influence the hiring process.

It is amazing what kind of trouble you can get into when you expose these kinds of things. I am retired, but not knowing the extent of the insider network in the federal government, I cannot say that I will not be targeted. There is no doubt that those still working are at risk if they oppose the illegal acts of others. If you doubt that the events I have just described are illegal you can look it up online at the website of the Federal Government's Office Of General Counsel: And so the fight goes on for truth, justice, and the American way.