Teacher Wins Right to Withhold Union Dues Because of Beliefs
by Erin Roach

Just as the left-leaning National Education Association geared up for its annual meeting in Philadelphia, a teacher in Ohio won the right to withhold her dues because her religious beliefs conflict with the labor union's political positions.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost ruled June 22 that an Ohio law violated the First Amendment rights of Carol Katter, a Roman Catholic mathematics and language arts instructor who opposes abortion.

The state law had limited the category of employees who may opt out of unions because of religious beliefs to those who have "historically held conscientious objections," including Seventh-day Adventists and Mennonites. But Frost said the law discriminated against Katter because of her religion.

With 3.2 million members, the NEA has for some time been known for its support of a liberal agenda, including abortion on demand and homosexual activism, and the group's more conservative members have sought to change the leadership direction or withhold their mandatory dues.

"There are a lot of employees and teachers who do not know about this and have always thought that they just had no choice but to pay their dues," Katter told CNSNews.com. "I'm thrilled about what it means for us to have the freedom not to support something we object to on moral grounds."

A group of pro-life educators peacefully picketed the opening day of the NEA convention July 1 in Philadelphia, where nine thousand delegates were expected to meet until July 5, and similar groups protested NEA affiliates at their state capitals the following day.

"We are taking to task the leadership of America's largest and most socio-politically meddlesome union, for essentially misrepresenting many teachers on the abortion issue," Bob Pawson, coordinator of Pro-Life Educators and Students, said in a news release. "…We resent having our dues monies and good names used to misrepresent us on moral, social, or political issues."

The NEA, Pawson said, should cease its involvement in political issues and focus on collective bargaining and classroom conditions. He wanted to call attention, he said, to the fact that a resolution adopted by the educators' union in 1985 and reaffirmed at each subsequent annual convention promotes "the right to reproductive freedom."

In 1990, the NEA adopted another resolution opposing "any legislation which will erode the status of Roe v. Wade," and the group worked with Planned Parenthood and similar organizations to hold pro-choice rallies in Washington in 1989, 1992, and 2004.

"The NEA leadership is one of Planned Parenthood's primary advocates," Pawson told The Evening Bulletin in Pennsylvania.



Lotteries: A Regressive Tax on the Poor
by Michael Foust

State-run lotteries are a regressive tax that disproportionately burdens poor Americans, a new study by the Tax Foundation asserts.

The forty-page report by the Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan organization argues that lotteries fail the test "of sound tax policy" and allow legislators "to increase spending while claiming credit for keeping taxes low." However, the July 3 report says, lotteries indeed are a form of tax collecting — just as are taxes on other voluntarily purchased goods such as alcohol and tobacco. In fiscal year 2005, the report says, an average of 30.1 percent of every dollar spent on lottery games was kept by states to fund various projects — whether it be education, parks, and recreation projects or simply placing the money in the general fund.

"The only difference between the lottery tax and sales or excise taxes [on alcohol, tobacco, and other goods] is that the lottery tax is built into the price of the ticket, rather than reported separately," the study said.

The average American in fiscal year 2005 spent $177 on lottery games. When including only residents of lottery states, that figure jumps to nearly $200, the study said. In fact, the average American spent more on lottery games than on reading materials ($130) and on movies ($32.55 — admission fees only) combined, the study said.

Much of the profit states reap comes from the poor, the study said. The lottery is regressive because the poor "spend more on lotteries as a percentage of their income." Lottery proponents sometimes counter by citing data showing that the poor in certain states spend less on lotteries than do the middle and upper classes. But such an argument is misguided, the study said, because a "true measure of regressivity" must take into account the percentage of income.

"Five hundred dollars worth of lottery tickets in one year may be a drop in the bucket to an upper-income individual, but it is a significant portion of a poor person's income," the study said. "Taking into account only the dollar amount spent misses the point."

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