Three tomatoes are walking down the street — a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooshes him ... and says, “Ketchup!”

Catching up on a couple of items left over from before my Christmas vacation:

• Detroit public school teachers backed away from the brink, ratifying a concessionary (to put it mildly teachers will be effectively floating loans to the district!) contract by a fairly comfortable 64-36 margin. A few days before the result was announced, I opined that a strike should not be allowed to succeed. Fortunately, that possibility has been foreclosed. There is still a lot of work to be done in the Detroit Public Schools though, of a sort that is likely to make union partisans very uncomfortable.

• In a December 22 blog post, Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes describes Michigan state government as “the revenue-gathering arm of public-sector unions”. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but state law does guarantee government employee unions a peculiar set of priveleges that have distorted the incentives for lawmakers and given union officials almost a veto power over a lot of spending and policy decisions. What union officials have done with these privileges, and whether or not they should be continued, is a question that needs far more attention than it has gotten so far. One simply cannot understand the state's politics, and its current economic woes, without accounting for the role played by government employee unions. Kudos to Howes for recognizing the outsized influence of government employee unions.