Archive for Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor unions adjust to new reality

September 5, 2011

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In the early days of the Obama administration, organized labor had grand visions of pushing through a sweeping agenda that would help boost sagging membership and help revive union strength.

Now labor faces this reality: Public employee unions are in a drawn-out fight for their very survival in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states where GOP lawmakers have curbed collective bargaining rights.

Also, many union leaders are grousing that the president they worked so hard to elect has not focused enough on job creation and other bold plans to get their members back to work.

“Obama campaigned big, but he’s governing small,” said Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Labor remains a core Democratic constituency and union leaders will stand with Obama in Detroit this Labor Day, where he will address thousands of rank-and-file members during the city’s annual parade today.

But at the same time, unions have begun shifting money and resources out of Democratic congressional campaigns and back to the states in a furious effort to reverse or limit GOP measures that could wipe out union rolls.

The AFL-CIO’s president, Richard Trumka, says it’s part of a new strategy for labor to build an independent voice separate from the Democratic Party.

Union donations to federal candidates at the beginning of this year were down about 40 percent compared with the same period in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Last month, a dozen trade unions said they would boycott next year’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., over frustration on the economy and to protest the event’s location in a right-to-work state.

“The pendulum has swung a long way,” said Ross Eisenbrey, a vice president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute. “In the next year, I think all unions can really hope for is to keep more bad things from happening and to get as much of a jobs program enacted as possible.”

Unions fell short last month in their recall campaign to wrest control of the Wisconsin Senate from Republicans. That fight was a consequence of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public-employee unions as a part of a cost-cutting effort. Now they are spending millions more in Ohio, where they hope to pass a statewide referendum in November that would repeal a similar measure limiting union rights.

It’s a far cry from the early optimism unions had after Obama came into office. Back then, unions hoped a Democratic-controlled Congress would pass legislation to make it easier for unions to organize workers. But business groups fought that proposal hard, and it never came to a vote.

Union leaders grew more disappointed when the president’s health care overhaul didn’t include a government-run insurance option. Then Obama agreed to extend President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy.

Obama came out in favor of trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that most unions say will cost American jobs. Despite campaigning in favor of raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50 an hour, Obama hasn’t touched the issue since taking office.

Comments

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

Republicans aka RINO's are against good wages,excellent working conditions,40 hour work weeks,paid vacations,time off for new babies,sick leave,pay raises and retirement benefits. Without unions none of the above would be in existence.

Republicans aka RINO's do support golden parachutes,obscene CEO wages,putting shareholders ahead of good worker wages and reckless management.

designdiva 3 years, 8 months ago

Because your brilliancy is shining through.
Providing evidence that refutes merrill's statement would validate your point. Can't do that, can you?

DeckDoctors 2 years, 10 months ago

Merrill, you haven't a clue as to what you're talking about, but at least your post is not 5,000 words long this time. You don't understand the title 'RINO'.

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

This article could have been titles "Unions not able to blackmail enough Americans for the privilege of working." Unions need to be protected because the constitution says so, but every state needs to be right-to-work. I'll starve before paying a third party so I can get a job and I specifically buy American non-union products when available.

Now this... Merril, you'll like this because it's delicious copypasta. You must eat it.

"Vittorio Hernandez – AHN News Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – The financial hemorrhage of the U.S. Postal Service has turned from bad to worse as the agency approaches default on a $5.5 billion payment due this month. ... Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe warned that unless Congress initiates emergency action to provide stability to the post office’s finances, the agency may be forced to close.

Years of the agency making contractual promises to unionized workers have caused the service’s labor cost to soar to 80 percent of total expenses. In comparison, similar private shipment businesses have lower labor costs at 53 percent for United Parcel Service and 32 percent for FedEx."

http://gantdaily.com/2011/09/05/u-s-postal-service-close-to-default/

How many more jobs are we going to sit back and let unions kill?

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if they have a labor day in china where most of our manufacturing resides because semi-literate man-apes got together and refused to stamp out sinks for less than $25/hour plus cadillac benefits. Is there a video about that?

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 8 months ago

Please tell us all about the CEO's pay scale, won't you? Do they get any cadillac benefits?

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

The CEO negotiates a pay rate. The BOD accepts or doesn't. Are you against negotiating rates of pay?

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

Why would I say that?

Look, it's simple. Unions are protected by the 1st amendment. They should be allowed to do (legally) what the group decides as a consensus. If that means bargain, OK. If that means walk out, OK.

OTOH, I don't believe a person should be required to pay money to any group in order to work. It is patently unfair. I realize it is legal, so I think the laws should change.

The individual can negotiate his pay, accept an offer... or accept some number that those of his occupation are paid at that business.

How could you have made such an error in predicting my answer?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuEnSaZC_kA

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 8 months ago

How? I wonder if it has anything to do with the animosity you've displayed for all the world to see, i.e. "...because semi-literate man-apes got together and refused to stamp out sinks for less than $25/hour plus cadillac benefits."

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

Did I say the semi-literate man-apes should be prevented from bargaining, or did I say it was forcing jobs overseas?

You'll find I display animosity towards lots of things I think should be protected.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ii-h1pHL9ss

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

1st amendment.

"or the right of the people peaceably to assemble"

If you are going to take over, at least get to know the reasons your going to have to kill us to do it.

avarom 2 years, 10 months ago

Unfortunately, they are going to kill them all......they want all the people who's tenure is almost pension eligible...so they don't have to pay them. Then they will let them go by giving them pink slips or letter of termination by lay-off. After they let them go.... no more pension is required for the company to pay off, so they are off the hook.

avarom 2 years, 10 months ago

This was spammed....... it should read Unfortuantely, they are going to kill most of the UNIONS off, to save Pension Money Pay out !!

avarom 2 years, 10 months ago

Most Unions and the hiriing companies NOW... want the eligible pensioners to be canned, then they can hire new force at a cheaper hourly rate and change all the Company Rules!! Horrible and Sad for all the dedicated company workers who believe Unions protect the Employee. If you think about it....how many long term employees that are wither pension eligible or collecting now... did they get really get the monthly pension they were promised 20 or 10 years ago?? Probably not, so Where did all the Union dues you paid into really go?? That's the question that needs to be answered...where the Heck is all the money you hard working Union People contributed??? Money you count on when you retire....suddenly is less, and less, and less. Now most companies are hiring at less money, no pension, no benefits, and at Minium Wage, or contracting to India, Phillipines, Vietnam, China, Mexico etc....etc...etc...where they pay $1 a day.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"Despite campaigning in favor of raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50 an hour, Obama hasn’t touched the issue since taking office."

Amazing considering the fact that we already have a surplus of labor (aka high unemployment). However, since we are assured that raising the price of labor never results in less of it being demanded, Obama should raise the minimum wage to $5,000 an hour*. $2 here and there is for pikers. Everyone deserves not a living wage, but a living large wage.

  • on the other hand, if he did, everyone would be a millionaire and then would have to vote Republican. I think that's in the Constitution somewhere.

Godot 3 years, 8 months ago

Here is the introduction union boss Jimmie Hoffa gave Obama at his Labor Day address.

""We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They've got a war, they got a war with us and there's only going to be one winner. It's going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We're going to win that war," Jimmy Hoffa Jr. said to a heavily union crowd.

"President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong," Hoffa added."

Is this what the president means when he says we need to set partisan politics aside and work together to solve our problems? Since Obama did not denounce Hoffa's language, I must assume he endorses it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Regardless of what you may think of Hoffa, he didn't make any declaration of war. He merely noted the state of reality over the last thirty or so years-- that the wealthiest Americans, and the corporations they own, having been waging a war on workers and workers' rights, and led by the Koch brothers, they've recently upped the ante (and probably overplayed their hand.)

Mike Ford 3 years, 8 months ago

america...where economic darwinists clobber hard working people and the dumblicans and plantation working southerners of all races work hard for the carpet bagging car companies and the plantation owner/governors like Richard Shelby and Haley Barbour take the credit and work the kickback system. More sinister than anything the dumblicans can make up...where's Norma Rae's job now...China...Malaysia? why did it leave? workers were treated like garbage and complained and the owners with help from state's rights governors took the jobs elsewhere to make more money without trickling it down....just like now...do you think no one is watching???

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

Do you think we should make it illegal for companies to move their operations overseas? How do you plan on stopping them, with a wall?

I suppose you could try. This will give you a pretty good idea on how to build it:

http://berlin-wall.org/bilder/b_mur5.jpg

Godot 3 years, 8 months ago

The minimum wage was last raised to $7.25 an hour in 2007. The job losses began then. If unions wanted to see the loss of jobs come to an end, they would lobby for a repeal of the minimum wage law altogether, and to have all states be "right to work."

The reason corporations are moving factories out of the country is a combination of US taxes, US regulation, and unions.

Godot 3 years, 8 months ago

You are using my stated opinion in another post to misdirect and delay answering my query for proof of your declarative statement that our current state of high unemployment is due to low demand. Or maybe your sarcastic and uncivil response is really just an opinion. Which is it?

Godot 3 years, 8 months ago

"if unions wanted to ....." is an opinion. I cannot "prove" a future event.

You, however, implied that past and current job losses are the result of a lack of demand. If this is true, there are statistics and studies to support the statement. I suggest you cite them, please, or kindly retract your statement.

Godot 3 years, 8 months ago

My dear Bozo, can you please tell me how it is hypocritical to say that an opinion of the future (aka hope and change) must be proved, while a statement of fact about the past, must not? I politely implore you to explain your uncivil personal attack.

Godot 3 years, 8 months ago

What a joke! After Labor Union Boss declares war on Republicans, and Obama agrees, Labor (Union advocate) Secretary Hilda Solis says, "The presidents needs everyone to be on board....." Riiiiggghhhttt.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 8 months ago

Hoffa wants to bust some heads. The Mope in Chief sits there and smiles. "Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa had some profane, combative words for Republicans while warming up the crowd for President Obama in Detroit, Michigan on Monday. "We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They've got a war, they got a war with us and there's only going to be one winner. It's going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We're going to win that war," Jimmy Hoffa Jr. said to a heavily union crowd. "President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong," Hoffa added. Obama addressed the crowd shortly after Hoffa." http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/09/05/jimmy_hoffa_at_obama_event_on_gop_lets_take_these_son_of_bitches_out.html That new civility sure didn't last long, did it?

Godot 3 years, 8 months ago

Jimmie Hoffa, the face of the militant socialist army.

ThePilgrim 3 years, 8 months ago

“Obama campaigned big, but he’s governing small,”

The guy is delusional if he thinks that this statement is true.

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

Kick it up a notch. Say something about capitalist swine.

on a related note, 4 legs good, 2 legs better.

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

I can't tell. The message is the same as bozo's or tushies, just with more honesty and bravado. Sarcasm or not, it's pretty funny.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

If a product or service can't be delivered while paying employees a living wage, it means a combination of one or more of the following-- people really don't want that service or product badly enough to pay what it really costs; management isn't doing their jobs very well; or, there are competitors out there willing and able to exploit their employees' inability to demand and receive a fair wage for their labor.

Unions aren't perfect, but if it weren't for the screwed up, highly hierarchical, oligarchic economic system we have, there would be no need for them.

And in the words of ole Abe Lincoln-- if it weren't for labor, there would be no capital.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Being repetitive doesn't make your post any less idiotic.

voevoda 3 years, 8 months ago

It was labor unions that transformed the face of American industry for the better. It was unions that demanded that workers be given a living wage, so that they could afford to buy the products they manufactured. It was unions that insisted that full-time paid work should be accompanied by health insurance, so that employees would not be one injury or one illness away from destitution. It was unions that demanded improvements in working conditions, so that employees did not risk their lives and their health just in order to a roof over their family's head and food on the table, and did not have to put up with arbitrary and demeaning treatment by bosses. Those are all good things for employees and for America. Unions have a vested interest in keeping industries open in the US and profitable, so it is completely wrong to blame unions for undermining American business.
Most of the anti-labor talk on this forum and out in the public seems to arise from three sources: 1) employers who resent having to pay their workers more and have less left over for themselves, even though they still are much wealthier; 2) employees who don't have the benefits of union labor (higher wages, health insurance, protection against arbitrary treatment) and resent the fact that other employees do; 3) misguided persons who assume that unions are the same as "socialism" (wrong!) and that the rights of free assembly guaranteed in the Constitution apply only to wealthy business people and not to working stiffs.
The solution is for more employees to unionize. If all workers receive a living wage, then the market for goods will increase, and that will create more business and therefore a healthier economy. It happened nearly a century ago and we can make it happen again.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

You mean the class warfare that started with Reagan, and has seen a massive redistribution of wealth to the already wealthy, thanks in large part to a concerted campaign of union busting?

bevy 3 years, 8 months ago

It would be true if most of our manufacturing jobs hadn't moved overseas. You are right that unions made things a lot better for ALL workers - not just the union ones. But it is naive to think that (sometimes ridiculously high) union wages have nothing to do with the fact that so many companies have moved their manufacturing ops overseas. Of course union greed ain't got nothin' on CORPORATE greed...

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

There is plenty of evidence that the higher wages promote a stronger economy throughout any community. It is strange that so many posters believe making less money is a good idea.

It is my belief that corporate america has obligations to keep america employed full time because they are so willing to accept tax dollar assistance in many forms from the people they are screwing aka the USA workforce.

USA corporations were not going broke. The USA was going strong with what union wages brought to the table.

A minimum wage of $7.25 per hour such that Wal-Mart loves to pay increases taxes. Why? Because $7.25 per hour does not pay the bills nor supports any economy due to lack of expendable cash. Spending creates new business, new jobs,new economic growth and new wealth for a country = grow grow grow.

A minimum wage of $7.25 per hour such that Wal-Mart loves to pay increases taxes. Why? Because it increases the need for state sponsored social services. Wal-Mart educates their low wage employees about these services.

If unions and their many wage and benefit packages disappear tons of other white and blue collar workers will see their quality of life go down the tubes. Yes the standard of living will drop considerably.

Unions set the stage for good wages,excellent working conditions,40 hour work weeks,paid vacations,time off for new babies,sick leave,pay raises and retirement benefits.

If corporate america had set the stage for the good quality of life Unions would not have surfaced.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"There is plenty of evidence that the higher wages promote a stronger economy throughout any community."

If forcing wages above the market rate by law is good for the economy, how about a $5000/hr minwage then? What do you expect the results would be of that, Merrill?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Is that a rhetorical question?

OK, I'll bite-- It would be highly inflationary, but eventually, things would probably level out.

But there are actually folks who get $5000 an hour. Sure, there's no rational explanation for it, but what are the results of that?

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

No, it's not rhetorical, and yes, it would be inflationary - for the person who saved forty years for retirement, their money would buy a half-year of dog food. That's what it means for things to "level out."

But that's not the only effect. We would also see a massive reduction in employment - after all, a million bucks a year is a lot to pay that third-shift pizza guy. We would also see a massive reduction in output (at least in America), as more and more companies forgo domestic production for inflation-based speculation. Those that continued to produce would hire cheaper labor elsewhere. We would also see a massive increase in imports (at least while the dollar holds any value), as people buy cheaper products from elsewhere.

The interesting thing would be that, once things "leveled out," there would be no net gain for the worker - sure, a million bucks a year is a lot of money, and it will buy a cab ride in Zimbabwe.

This little rhetorical exercise illustrates what would happen if labor rates are forced up with no change in the efficiency necessary to support it. Look around, and tell me which ones are not happening today.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

I didn't say when it would level out, but neither did I say that it should happen.

But the fact is no one recommends that the minimum wage be set at $5000 per hour, which means your "little rhetorical exercise" is wholly pointless.

And you also failed to address my other question-- Why should anyone get $5000 per hour?

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't know why anyone should get $5000 an hour. You'll have to ask the people who pay them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

So, you're willing to throw up straw-man arguments about how a $5000 minimum wage would distort the economy, but you have no opinion about how very real stratospheric wages for those at the top affect it.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

You didn't ask me what the effects would be, you asked me why anyone should get $5000/hr. I can only answer the questions you ask, dear Bozo, I cannot read your mind.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Actually, you said you didn't know why they should be paid $5000.

But I'm curious why you're willing to propose a minimum wage of $5000, and then speculate about how horrible an idea that would be, but you're unwilling to speculate about what the effects on the economy are from those who get that wage (and more) right now.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"Actually, you said you didn't know why they should be paid $5000."

That's because you asked me, "Why should anyone get $5000 per hour?" Are you reading the same conversation as I?

I was willing to 'speculate' about a minwage increase because I was answering Merrill's post about its increase and the original article about its increase. I did not speculate about the money CEOs make because that was not part of the original post. I already admitted in response to your question that it distorts the economy. But it's your fetish, not mine.

If you would like to address Merrill's first (and valid) point that higher wages are good, I'll be happy to do so. My argument is with raising wages by law without simultaneously raising the number of things those wages are supposed to buy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

" Are you reading the same conversation as I?"

You're doing too much dodging of topics you find inconvenient to really call this a "conversation."

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

Then ask me a specific question. Don't make a statement that you presume I agree with and dare me to defend it. Don't wave your hands and accuse me of ignoring you. The only specific question you have asked in this thread is "Why should anyone get $5000 per hour?" I answered it. The only question in the other is "But that doesn't distort the economy, right?" which is not really a question, though I admitted it does distort the economy.

So it seems to me that your accusation of 'dodging' is just a little silly, Bozo. If you want me to answer a question, just ask the specific question you want answered. It's not really a difficult process.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yup, that's what I thought.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

I did ask you a fairly direct question at the very beginning of this exchange. And you still haven't answered it--

"But there are actually folks who get $5000 an hour. Sure, there's no rational explanation for it, but what are the results of that?"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

I agree that raising the minimum wage to a true living wage might cause some decrease in overall employment numbers, (though that's hardly the only effect, merely the only negative one. Is why it's the only one you mention?)

But paying people at a wage that isn't even close to a subsistence wage creates its own problems-- problems you seem to believe are preferable to having employees get paid wages they can actually live on.

Please explain.

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm not sure a person can't live on minimum wage. It may not be a great life, but still livable.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

Damn I should have provided clarification to prevent extreme thinking.

Hey let's think at least $17.50 - $25.00 per hour IF some are truly concerned about workers economic sustainability and keeping the cost of social services contained.

$5,000 per hour = Koch Family and Wal-Mart Familiy and EXXON-Mobil family and Medical Insurance Industry CEO's etc etc etc yet it is this group that wants USA workers at $7.25 per hour.

Yes keep supporting the $5,000 per hour boys and girls and soon YOU should be among the $7.25 per hour boys and girls. Better keep a close eye on those white collar jobs going to India by the millions = here come the $7.25 per hour USA white collar jobs.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"Damn I should have provided clarification to prevent extreme thinking."

Extreme thinking, also known as "following arguments to their logical conclusions," is exactly what is necessary on occasion to ferret out likely (if much, much smaller) results. Tripling the minwage without any increase in productivity will have the same kinds of effects as multiplying it by 1000 times: it will increase prices, it will reduce employment and production, and it hurts widows and orphans.

The worst part is that, as Bozo insightfully notes, things "level out." Prices rise (rather, purchasing power falls) to meet the new reality, resulting in no net gain for the worker anyway.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"Tripling the minwage without any increase in productivity will have the same kinds of effects as multiplying it by 1000 times: "

Wages for the wealthiest of the wealthy have increased very dramatically over the last 30 years, but there is no indication it's because they are any more productive. CEO pay and benefits have increased more than ten-fold, while shifting jobs overseas to workers that make less than a dollar an hour.

But that doesn't distort the economy, right?

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"But that doesn't distort the economy, right?"

Why would you assume that?

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

You asserted ( I assume facetiously) that such wages did not distort the economy. I would disagree with that assertion.

jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

Then it would follow logically that you oppose such high wages, wouldn't it?

If your argument is that high wages distort the economy and are bad for it.

voevoda 3 years, 8 months ago

Actually, ksrush, merill is making good sense here. You haven't refuted anything merill and I have said; you just dismiss it as nonsense. That's often what defeated debaters do.

Godot 3 years, 8 months ago

View this, the perfect example of the kind of folk with whom Obama and Solis want us to "get on board."

Mike Ford 3 years, 8 months ago

I'd like to nominate ksrush or kspillboy as the voice of those being led by the am radio dial who don't live in the real world and makes ends meet. Those people who let a fired employee of the Kansas City Royals tell them what to think of others based on reagan era stereotypes. Those people who will go to the grave in denial of the failure of supply side tax cuts and the huge deficits they created. After all, a Reagan appointee, David Stockman, said these very words a year ago as the clowns ramped up their I'm Angry volume and marched out this same nonsense. I became a voter in the 1980's and I remember how it didn't work. I remember Charles Keating, John McCain, and Neil Bush and Silverado Savings and Loan....is real history upsetting your made up reagan history apple cart???

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"Obama and Jobs: Why I Don't Believe Him Anymore"

by Matt Taibi

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/obama-and-jobs-why-i-dont-believe-him-anymore-20110906

"I was in an airport in Florida yesterday and was forced into a terrible, Sophie's Choice-type choice.

I was hours early for a flight and stuck in a relatively small terminal crammed with people. Only one area in the whole wing had empty seats; an unused gate that contained a TV blaring the CNN broadcast of Obama's Labor Day speech at full volume.

So it was either sit underneath a full-volume broadcast of our fearless president bellowing out his latest hollow promises, or the hellish alternative: retreat to gates full of screaming five year-old children, all of them jacked up on sugar and bawling their eyes out because it was the end of Labor Day weekend and their cruel parents were dragging them home from Disneyworld.

I ended up choosing the screaming children. The one open seat in a nearby gate was next to an extended family of Indian tourists. A four year-old boy from that group wearing a cape and brandishing a plastic light saber thought it was funny when he kept saber-swiping at my knees. But sitting through that was better than having to listen to Obama drape himself in Harry Trumanisms and talk about "shared prosperity."

Obama hasn't been a total disaster on labor. Most notably, he stepped up in the Wisconsin mess and at least took sides in that debate, calling the push to end collective bargaining rights an "assault" on unions.

But I remember following Obama on the campaign trail and hearing all sorts of promises before union-heavy crowds. He said he would raise the minimum wage every year; he said he would fight free-trade agreements. He also talked about repealing the Bush tax cuts and ending tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.

It's not just that he hasn't done those things. The more important thing is that the people he's surrounded himself with are not labor people, but stooges from Wall Street. Barack Obama has as his chief of staff a former top-ranking executive from one of the most grossly corrupt mega-companies on earth, JP Morgan Chase. He sees Bill Daley in his own office every day, yet when it comes time to talk abut labor issues, he has to go out and make selected visits twice a year or whatever to the Richard Trumkas of the world.

Listening to Obama talk about jobs and shared prosperity yesterday reminded me that we are back in campaign mode and Barack Obama has started doing again what he does best – play the part of a progressive. He's good at it. It sounds like he has a natural affinity for union workers and ordinary people when he makes these speeches. But his policies are crafted by representatives of corporate/financial America, who happen to entirely make up his inner circle.

I just don't believe this guy anymore, and it's become almost painful to listen to him."

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

Bozo: "But there are actually folks who get $5000 an hour. Sure, there's no rational explanation for it, but what are the results of that?"

1) higher tax revenues. 2) lower returns (dividend yields and capital gains) for shareholders. 3) higher giving for charitable organizations and colleges. 4) spoiled kids who have never worked and will probably never work in their lives, so long as Daddy is smart enough to put his estate in trust and not give it to his kids. 5) Paris Hilton (perhaps redundant, but worth saying) 6) Conspicuous consumption that exacerbates class envy today just as it always has. 7) Intense competition for position and place within the piratical class itself. 8) incentives to create, develop, market.

Any that I missed?

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

Less money available for others in the business.

Fewer jobs at lower levels, and increased stress among the working class.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"Less money available for others in the business."

Perhaps, if the business was of marginal profitability. However, since I hear on this award-winning website that we have "record corporate profits," (usually in conjunction with calls for the government to give the callers some of it), and since they are sitting on trillions in cash, there is plenty of money to hire people if they are truly needed. It's more obvious that the pirates are simply taking the profits that belong to the shareholders and pocketing them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

1) higher tax revenues.

Some pay more, most don't, and the trend is decidedly away from the wealthy paying more taxes than everyone else.

2) lower returns (dividend yields and capital gains) for shareholders.

Maybe. Can you document this? My guess is the major investors get taken care quite nicely, incestuous lot that they are.

3) higher giving for charitable organizations and colleges.

Again, maybe. But even if you're right, any increase is much less than what has been diverted away from much more effective government programs, all to finance tax cuts for the wealthy.

4) spoiled kids who have never worked and will probably never work in their lives, so long as Daddy is smart enough to put his estate in trust and not give it to his kids. 5) Paris Hilton (perhaps redundant, but worth saying)

Agree-- and the permanent stratification of American society into haves and have nots make that a much more common scenario.

6) Conspicuous consumption that exacerbates class envy today just as it always has.

It also diverts resources away from meeting the needs of the many to the needs of the few-- "class envy" is merely a whining reaction from those defending the excesses of the wealthy.

7) Intense competition for position and place within the piratical class itself. 8) incentives to create, develop, market.

I'll comment on these last two together. Much of what is considered "creative" by the ruling classes these days is really little more the sociopathy and narcissism. They do what they do because they can, and they've sucked so much of the oxygen out of the room, better alternatives never see the light of day.

"Any that I missed?"

Most likely.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"They do what they do because they can, and they've sucked so much of the oxygen out of the room, better alternatives never see the light of day."

That's why I call them 'pirates' and think that late-stage, sclerotic capitalism (and our petroleum-based economy) is no more sustainable than does Merrill, and probably for a number of the same reasons. All this time you have accused me of defending such piracy and lauding its value. Actually I find very little value in it at all and have never defended it. I do not own stock in a single company* where the CEO earns more than $300k (Gary C. Evans of Magnum Hunter Petroleum and Richard D. Dole of Double Eagle Petroleum are both within $6k of that number; all the others are far less. And yes, I know every number). I would rather see CEOs struggling to make mortgage payments like the rest of us. It builds character. But I also realize that guys who have built companies like I own from the ground up already have it.

It's the AIGs, the GMs, the GEs, and the Fannies that are the true pirates. Each is a welfare whore, run by political hacks, facemen, and charlatans, and each has the executive compensation structure to match. But each of these bureaucratic nightmares is beyond political repair: if they go broke, the government just gives them more money. Rage against them all you want, but Obama and his party is as happy to support them as was el presidente pasado and his.

And I must add, if some jihadist deposited a suitcase nuke under the annual meeting of Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, I would shed no tears for them. It would certainly do the nation more good than raising the minimum wage.

  • though capital accumulation in the hands of a very few has had some positive effects. All actions and changes have positive and negative effects, costs and benefits, intended and unintended consequences. ** Nor in a mutual fund that owns stock in any such company.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Finally something we can largely agree on.

But I don't see why you think the current minimum wage does anything but work in the favor of the "pirates."

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

Boz:o "But paying people at a wage that isn't even close to a subsistence wage creates its own problems-- problems you seem to believe are preferable to having employees get paid wages they can actually live on. Please explain."

You seem to have no idea what the word "subsistence" means. If someone's wage 'isn't even close to subsistence' it means they are dying or dead, not having the means by which to live. Since no one is starving in America - we have the richest, fattest poor people the world has ever seen - you must mean their wages are already more than one needs to live on, which while true is hardly reason for complaint. People in China live on subsistence wages, Americans do not get to claim the Chinese peasants' suffering as their own.

But lay out the problems, amigita, let's hear them. Then we can decide which group is preferable.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

And you clearly have no idea what it means to the vast majority of folks to be a wage slave.

Do we have it as bad as the average Chinese does? Not yet. Not yet.

But if your vision for this country prevails, we'll be there soon.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"And you clearly have no idea what it means to the vast majority of folks to be a wage slave."

Mostly because I don't consider myself the slave of anything, though I have worked for minimum wage and even less, and grew up eating creamed peas on toast. Tell it someone who glories in being a prole. I for one have never bought the idea that poverty or faux oppression provides moral capital.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

What's your point? That because you "made it" on some level those who are stuck in a cycle of low-wage jobs are somehow deserving of that fate?

I'm glad you "made it," if that's what you're trying to say, but if you need to revel in the misery of those who haven't been so lucky (and making it in this country is always quite dependent on luck of one sort or other) in order to feel good about yourself, I feel sorry for you.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 8 months ago

"Obama and Jobs: Why I Don't Believe Him Anymore" Some of us didn't believe him to start with.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

Bozo: "(though that's hardly the only effect, merely the only negative one. Is why it's the only one you mention?)"

It's not remotely the only one I mentioned. Besides increased unemployment, I mentioned reduced domestic production, inflation eating the living standards of the retired, increased financial speculation, offshoring, a higher trade deficit, and the fact that as soon as things 'leveled out,' the more money that fewer people were making would still only buy them what it bought before. What I did not mention that the nothing that more people were making would put them in even more dire straits, due to the rise in prices.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why progressives insist that these are good things, unless it's Red October's assertion that once things really get bad, people will go socialist. Nothing like helping the inevitable revolution along.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"I mentioned reduced domestic production"

This is is your (ideologically based?) guess. It's hardly a forgone conclusion.

"inflation eating the living standards of the retired,"

Ditto my comment above.

"increased financial speculation,"

By whom? To what end?

" a higher trade deficit"

Talk about speculation.

"and the fact that as soon as things 'leveled out,' the more money that fewer people were making would still only buy them what it bought before."

Leveled out to what? A situation where the wealthy have orders of magnitude more wealth than anyone else? (like we have right now) Is that your idea of utopia?

What do you think people would do with higher wages if they got them? Here's the short answer-- they'd spend it. And what happens when they spend it? Production goes up to meet the demand. When demand goes up, more people get jobs to meet that demand. When more people work, they have more money to spend.

But in your world, only money spent by the wealthy has any positive economic impact. Spending by the working classes is purely inflationary.

When you start applying the same logic to working people's paychecks that you do to those of million/billionaires, that's when I'll start taking you seriously.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"This is is your (ideologically based?) guess. It's hardly a forgone conclusion."

Nope, it's a historically-based necessity, shown to anyone who can see our own experience or historical experience, or who has a grasp of mathematics. Drive up our production costs, and the prices of others become more competitive, resulting in decreased exports and increased imports. Why do you suppose the Swiss today tied their franc to the Euro? I know, I know, they're morons, too.

"inflation eating the living standards of the retired,"

What do you suppose happens to those on fixed incomes when prices rise (which you already admit would happen)? Bozo, your confident "nuh-uh"s don't fool anyone.

"By whom? To what end?"

It probably surprises you that a greater percentage of our economy today than ever before is dedicated to finance, insurance, and real estate - in short, speculation rather than production. Have you ever wondered why people would rather move money around than creating things? Wonder and learn.

"Leveled out to what? A situation where the wealthy have orders of magnitude more wealth than anyone else?"

"Level out" were your words. What did you mean by them? When prices adjust to take into account the higher wages that go into to making them, those wages will not buy any more than they did before. Unless wages are increased due to increased production, there is simply no more to buy with those wages than before.

"Production goes up to meet the demand. When demand goes up, more people get jobs to meet that demand."

Please tell us all why tax cuts, refundable tax credits, unemployment insurance, Cash for Clunkers, mortgage rebates, and a dozen other programs, going back to Bush, have failed to achieve exactly that. If my answers are driven by ideology, at least they do not fly in the face of recent experience.

"that's when I'll start taking you seriously."

I haven't the slightest interest in you taking me seriously, my dear.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"Drive up our production costs, and the prices of others become more competitive,"

Paying the people who actually produce enough to live decently does not raise production costs one whit. It merely recognizes the true costs of production, rather than just ripping off those who do the producing.

"Why do you suppose the Swiss today tied their franc to the Euro?"

Who cares? I doubt that it's really at all relevant to the discussion at hand.

"It probably surprises you that a greater percentage of our economy today than ever before is dedicated to finance, insurance, and real estate - in short, speculation rather than production."

Thanks for explaining what you meant. But if folks want what the producers produce, paying them what it really costs to produce it would mean less money for speculation, not more.

"What did you mean by them?"

You know exactly what I meant. Your choice of $5000 an hour as a minimum/living wage was absurd. I still don't know what point you were trying to make with it. Regardless, for a company to remain competitive once they start paying something besides slave wages, they'll clearly have to reduce costs elsewhere-- maybe by reducing obscene pay and benefits at the top? Just a suggestion. At any rate, I'm willing to let the market do its job. If a product or service can't make it while paying its employees a living wage, then it really isn't all that necessary, is it? Let it go away, and put that productive power to work at something people are willing to pay for.

"Please tell us all why tax cuts, refundable tax credits, unemployment insurance, Cash for Clunkers, mortgage rebates, and a dozen other programs, going back to Bush, have failed to achieve exactly that."

Actually, they all "worked" on a pure Keynsian level. That doesn't mean they were good policy, led to worthwhile projects, or were the best way to put money in circulation, but economic activity is better right now than it would be if many if not most of those things had happened. The problem with such spending when it's not spent on useful things is that it merely postpones the day of reckoning.

A massive spending program on things they we really need, while simultaneously slashing things we really don't need (i.e. the War Dept.) would turn things around dramatically, and quickly.

"I haven't the slightest interest in you taking me seriously, my dear."

Nighty-night, sweetums.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"It merely recognizes the true costs of production, rather than just ripping off those who do the producing."

Aaah, the Labor Theory of Value," how 19th Century. Please tell us all how the value of what the worker produces is in any way tied to how much he would like to earn.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Aah, the economic theory of slavery. Why pay the producers what it actually costs to produce when you can coerce it for practically nothing. How early 19th century.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"Who cares? I doubt that it's really at all relevant to the discussion at hand."

Well, the European markets care, and it is quite related. The relative increase in value of the Swiss Franc raises the costs of production vis-a-viz, say, the Greeks, whose labor is priced in Euros. That (relative) increase in the value of the currency acts as a wage rise, because a Swiss worker can now afford more goods from the rest of Europe on the same salary. Nominal wages are irrelevant; all that matters is how much you can buy with what you make.

But, alas, that same relative increase in buying power makes up a large part of the costs of everything the Swiss produce for the international market, which makes their goods cost more in euros. Since this raise is a currency event rather that does not result in an actual increase in the number of things to buy, Swiss exports decrease and Swiss imports increase. The Japanese have been 'weakening' the yen for 2 decades for exactly the same reason.

I know you don't care. What's more important, you have no interest in understanding, which is why I don't care if you take me seriously.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

So the relative value of currency is of major importance-- except when it comes to paying those who do the actual work.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

The relative value of currency is of major importance-- because it is what you pay those who do the actual work.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

But if the money you pay them doesn't allow them to have sufficient food, clothing and shelter, among other things, are they not subsidizing a) the profits/income of the employer and/or b) the end user of the product or service?

OK, that was a rhetorical question. Clearly, they are doing both. And you seem to be OK with that.

Fossick 3 years, 8 months ago

"But if the money you pay them doesn't allow them to have sufficient food..."

How many workers in fat@ssed America don't have sufficient food, Bozo? How many workers come to the salt mines draped in rags?

Your proletarian hyperbole doesn't fly here because it is demonstrably not true. That doesn't mean you won't continue to spout it obviously, but it is a little clue as to why no one else buys it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Actually, the vast bulk of government employees' wages gets spent on exactly the same things that everyone else spends money on. You know, evil things like food, mortgage/rent, their kids.....

Oh, those evil bastards, living normal lives. How arrogant of them!!!

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

You keep repeating yourself. We all know how government employees spend their money. That's not the problem. It's where does the government get the money to pay them. That's the problem.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

So taxes are always evil, and therefore government employees who get paid with tax money are also evil? Are the services that government provides also universally evil?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

Don't put words in my mouth. Not all taxes are bad and not all services government provides are bad. They do tend to be inefficient, thereby necessitating overtaxation in exchange for under productivity. But your point that government employees spend their wages therefore having government employees is good for the economy is circular reasoning to an extreme. Yet you repeat yourself, over and over and over and ......

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"They do tend to be inefficient, thereby necessitating overtaxation in exchange for under productivity."

This is baseless assertion, the meme of those opposed to government for ideological reasons. All bureaucracies tend to be somewhat inefficient, but they exist for good reason-- somewhat ironically, because they are more efficient than the alternatives.

"But your point that government employees spend their wages therefore having government employees is good for the economy is circular reasoning to an extreme."

By definition, economies are circular to the extreme. Workers get paid money to do a job, and they then spend that money to obtain the goods and services they need. To that extent, a government job is precisely the same as a job in the private sector. Them's just the facts.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

Taken to it's logical conclusion, according to you, we could have a society where we are all government workers, right. They're all the same, workers that is, whether private or public. How'd that work out in the past? There is a tipping point, Bozo. When the size of government becomes too big and becomes a drag on the economy as a whole. Private industry supports the government, not the other way around. What is the exact tipping point? Well, we can ask 100 economists and get 100 different answers. But there is a tipping point just as surely as there was a Soviet Union. I'm not opposed to government, no matter how many times you suggest that I am. I am opposed to it getting too big, and too costly, and too burdensome. That's when it gets in the way of an economy that can grow. Yes, economies can grow. They are not totally circular, they grow and contract. And government can grow and contract in proportion. As the economy grows, so can government. But as economies contract, as our's is now, so should government. It's cyclical, not circular.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"Taken to it's logical conclusion, according to you, we could have a society where we are all government workers, right."

That's a conclusion-- it's logic is rather debatable. But, yes, it's theoretically possible.

"But there is a tipping point just as surely as there was a Soviet Union."

Let me get this straight. You're saying that any government employment is nothing but a slippery slope to becoming the Soviet Union?

"It's cyclical, not circular."

Did you get that from the Synonyms and Redundancy Dept.? Governments, and the spending they do, are just as much a part of an economy as the private sector. They derive their funds somewhat differently, but the money they collect and spend doesn't just go poof into thin air.

Does that mean that all taxation is fair, or that all spending is sensible and worthwhile? No, but the same can be said of prices charged by the private sector, and the way they spend their income.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

It's difficult to carry on a conversation with you when you twist what I say, over and over again. "Let me get this straight, You're saying that any government employment is nothing but a slippery slope to becoming the Soviet Union?". No. No. No. I said nothing of the sort and for you to come to that conclusion from my posts is beyond reason. I clearly said government can grow and contract with the economy. I said there is a legitimate role for government and a legitimate role for taxation. Please read my posts for what I say, not what you think I might mean, or for what you think I say. Or is your misinterpretation of my clear statements deliberate? I don't mind having these conversations, but I can't continue if you can't (or don't or won't) interpret my words correctly.

gr 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow. Looks like another union encroached upon their turf. "One sergeant was threatened with baseball bats and retreated, Duscha said."

So why do some object when unions are compared to the mafia? One commenter said, "Labor has been reduced to street gang intimidation. " Another said, "Will he stand up and accept blame for his incendiary remarks and his demonization of political opponents, his use of mafioso-union thuggery as an illegal private army? Will he?" Another, "Al Capone would be proud...Jimmy Hoffa, Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Rahm Emanuel, Richard Daly...the Chicago mob is back baby!"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 5 months ago

So, any bets on who's spamming this thread and for what purpose? (and it appears it ain't the only one they're doing it to.)

tbaker 2 years, 10 months ago

If labor unions want to grow and prosper, they need to offer value to the customer. When they don’t, all they bring to the table is increased labor costs. Who needs this pointless additional expense when non-union workers can provide the same capability at considerably less cost?

Of course the whining will start about the workers being exploited, but even if this does happen it won’t last very long. If allowed to function, the free market will correct this very quickly. Labor moves to where the money is. Abusive employers will quickly find themselves without employees.

Speaking of exploitation, every time the minimum wage is increased, there is a corresponding increase in unemployment. It hurts the very people it is supposed to help. What a stupid law.

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