I’m stunned by the tragic death of Phil Hoffman. We went to high school together, but few of us had any idea he would become such a star.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman in "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman."  (Photo credit: New York Times)

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman in “Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.” (Photo credit: New York Times)

Lynn and I just heard the news of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, apparently of a heroin overdose. We feel so sick and so sad. Grieving for him. Grieving for his family. And his friends. We are praying for each of them to find Christ’s comfort at this hour. Praying they experience what the Apostle Paul calls “the peace that passes all comprehension” in Philippians chapter four. When we were growing up in the same town in Upstate New York (Fairport), we all knew him simply as “Phil.” We were in the same graduating class of about 575. I remember seeing him in the Fairport High School senior year drama in “Death of a Salesman.” He played the lead, Willy Loman, and he was phenomenal. It was stunning how good. Phil had always been a class clown. I had no idea until then he could act at all much less so well. We all knew at that point that he could be a breakout, but did any of us in the Class of ’85 really know how huge a star he’d become? Indeed, after graduating from New York University, he became one of the most impressive and celebrated actors of our generation. Oscar award winner. Tony award winner. You name it, he won it. A few years ago I took Lynn to see Phil play Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman” – but this time on Broadway. He’d been amazing in high school, but he was, of course, even far more effective after years of training and experience — which made a sad and tragic play 1000 times sadder. I remember seeing him first in Scent of a Woman. Twister was fantastic. Hunger Games, too, and so many other of his films and TV shows. My favorite has to be Mission Impossible when Tom Cruise disguises himself as Phil Hoffman! I sat in the theater blown away. Suddenly, Cruise (the biggest box office star of our time) was gone. It was just Phil vs. Phil on the silver screen. Though we grew up in the same town and went to the same schools, I never knew him really. But I’ve prayed for him often, and for all the Raiders of ’85. I am heartbroken he struggled so much to find hope in this world and that he is gone so soon, and so tragically. Good bye, Phil. You will be deeply missed.


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

A Brief, Illustrated History of the Public Sector Unions That, Together With The Democrat Party, Are Waging War on the Taxpayer

Throughout American history — and as recently as the 1950s — there were no unions for government workers. Public-sector employees were expected to earn a bit less than their private-sector equivalents. The reasons they did so included an interest in public service, job security and reasonable benefits.

But that changed in the late fifties with New York City Mayor Robert Wagner’s cynical appeal to the votes of city workers. He signed an executive order authorizing them to unionize, and soon other local and state Democrat legislators around the country followed his lead.

These efforts culminated in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy granted federal employees the right to collectively bargain. Since then, public sector union membership has skyrocketed while, in the private sector, unions have fallen out of favor.

In 2009, private sector union members were outnumbered for the first time by their public sector counterparts.

The historical basis of unions revolved around workers receiving a reasonable share of a company’s profits. But that tenet is nonsensical when applied to public service. Governments don’t make profits; they simply assess taxes.

The aims of public sector unions conflict directly with the interests of taxpayers.

And because it has been exceedingly hard to fight public sector unions, the salaries and benefits of public employees have skyrocketed in recent years. Since the election of Barack Obama, the number of federal employees making over $ 150,000 a year has more than doubled to over 10,000.

In 2009 government salaries jumped 2.4%, approximately twice the increase earned by private sector employees. In fact, the average salary of a federal worker is now $ 71,000, about $ 22,000 more than the average private sector employee.

Worst of all, public sector unions have negotiated pension plans that are proving financially untenable. Many allow workers to retire at age 55 at around their full salary in their final years of employment. These pensions often include inflation adjustments as well as lifetime free health care.

These plans are so outrageous that state retirement systems, for example, are currently underfunded by about a trillion dollars.

So how have public sector unions achieved these amazing results? The answer is the hundreds of millions of dollars that unions have donated to federal campaigns since 1990. Almost every single dollar went to Democrats or Democrat causes. In the 2008 election alone, some estimates put public sector union contributions to Democrats at $ 60 million.

These unions are also astroturfing for Democrats, providing slush funds to help liberal causes. An example is ThePartyIsOver.org, a faux populist website designed to discredit TEA Party activists.

The Democrats’ health care bill, the ‘Employee Free Choice Act’ and the $ 800+ billion stimulus bill all contained payoffs to public sector unions. In fact, while the private sector has shed 8,000,000 jobs since the recession began, the number of public sector jobs has risen nearly every month — led by President Obama’s various spending programs at the federal level.

Public sector unions are killing our economic system and the American taxpayer. The debt unleashed by their outrageous benefits plans simply cannot be paid. The union bosses have lied to their members about lifetime benefits and they have betrayed the American people. Public sector unions must be disbanded and outlawed before more of our country begins to resemble Greece, Spain and other European countries.

Those countries are teetering on the brink of economic calamity, thanks to unions just like ours. And please observe that the union bosses and the Democrat Party could give a rat’s behind about American taxpayers — 20 percent of whom are currently unemployed or underemployed. They still want theirs.

Based upon: Amy H. Laff, StateBrief. Linked by: Mark Levin, The Washington Examiner, Ace o’ Spades and TigerHawk. Thanks!


Doug Ross @ Journal