Dems: Time For Radical Economic Solutions

Filed in National by on January 8, 2014

I’m throwing this out there after much thought, but also just before leaving town for a week.  So I won’t be able to respond right away.  The  economic incrementalism  we Democrats are doing with supposed economic solutions to a broken capitalistic system isn’t working.  Jim Hightower and many other fellow populists told you they wouldn’t work and he was right.  It is time for radical solutions on behalf of the people.

47 million of us are unemployed, underemployed and in poverty as a result.  Some small share of them will not be able to participate in a repaired economy because of infirmity, under education and other social maladies we might not be able overcome.  But we can make things right for the huge majority of those in this situation.

Band aids are not working; major rehabilitation of  the economic system is the only solution requiring sacrifice by the privileged class.  And it is high time that both our local parties and the DNC step up to the task of offering remedies that will get most of America working in life sustaining employment and back in the middle class that was once the envy of the world.  Democrats must now address this genuine crisis.  Our viability as a society depends on it. Now, not later.  Fully, not partially.  Here’s what many economic experts propose as the solutions.  No, austerity,  well and long tested here and in europe prove without any doubt that is not the solution.  You can fight over the details.  Details do matter.

l.  Create the Nixon proposed guaranteed annual income for all American’s.  Pay for it by taxing corporations  and the very wealthy who will then see the return of the funds in increased sales and purchases.  Create a baseline income for a family, below which the guarantee kicks in by some means, like a tax credit or outright cash.

2. Restore public jobs, especially teachers, paid for by both state taxes (you figure out what kind) and for federal jobs, federal taxes.  Those salaries will come right back into the economy.

3. Launch a Marshall Plan to fix those broken public schools in inner cities and rural America with state of the art teaching techniques and highly trained teachers prepared to deal with poverty stricken children as well as great classrooms, equipment and spaces.

4. Re-tool our job training programs to address needed skills in our workforce.  Yes, fund them heartily, paid for by the very companies who need these skilled employees.

5. Incentivize and yes punish in some cases multi-national companies shipping jobs overseas to get those several million jobs back here.  Include incentives to “buy American”.

6. Launch a massive green public works renewal program to address failing roads, bridges, the grid, high speed communications and all dilapidated infrastructure.   Hire private contractors to do much of this.  Finance through public banks.  Make one of the roles of the public bank is to loan money to new industry start ups, especially green industries. All this money will flow back into the economy.  Fund in part by a massive reduction in the military budget, including converting military contractors building weapons of destruction  into contractors of planet restoring green products.

7. Toughen worker safety and health standards and require robust retirement and health care benefits to contractors.  Restrict temporary employment among contractors and for other users of temps, require minimum standards of benefits to be set aside for employees of temp agencies.

8. Revolutionize laws empowering re-unionization of the workforce and severely  penalizing companies restricting organizing activity.  Require unionized workforces for any federal contractors.

9. Lower recipient age for social security to 55 and restructure cap on s.s. tax upward.This will move retirements earlier and make way for new workforce participants.

10.  Increase the  minimum wage to $15/hour, affecting 28 million people.

All this should be a 20-25 year program with the promise to those seeing their taxes increase, including corporations, that after the rebuilding era, congress would be required to revisit and reduce taxes if the renewal is working.

 

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  1. kavips says:

    Everything single one of those can be accomplished by raising taxes on the one percent.

    That is all we have to do.

    And none will occur until that happens first.

  2. xyz says:

    Absolutely. The 1 % that already pays around 35% of all income tax paid in the US should pay more. Just because.

  3. Liberal Elite says:

    @xyz “Absolutely. The 1 % that already pays around 35% of all income tax paid in the US should pay more. Just because.”

    And what fraction of government largess do the 1% receive??? It’s a heck of a lot larger than 35%…

  4. xyz says:

    Here’s the problem with your argument. I can provide data to back my assertion up. Can you?

  5. puck says:

    We could accomplish something similar by simply cutting off their heads and nationalizing their estates. But I think a small tax increase is more reasonable.

  6. puck says:

    “5% of all income tax paid in the US”

    Wake me when they are willing to pay the same tax rates as their secretaries. Until then, soak the rich.

    Preferentially low taxes should not be the reward for scooping up all the income.

  7. Liberal Elite says:

    @xyz “Here’s the problem with your argument. I can provide data to back my assertion up. Can you?”

    If you concede:
    1. that government spending going to large corporations and beltway bandits (i.e. large government contractors) are indeed enriching the 1%
    2. That social security is not government spending (i.e. an independent program)
    3. That special tax breaks (e.g. oil depletion allowance) are a gift to wealthy corporate owners,
    4. That interest paid on the national debt is primarily paid to the wealthy

    …then sure. It’s an easy case to make. The amount is in the 60-80% range.

    The bottom line is that it’s the the wealthy that primarily benefit from the operation of the government, both in terms of services provides (e.g. the DOJ) and in direct receipt of funds and tax breaks.

    So they SHOULD pay more in taxes… just because.

    Do you really want a government that serves to increase income inequality???

  8. xyz says:

    Still waiting for your data. Just because you read it in a Daily Kos post or heard Rachel say it doesn’t make it true.

  9. Liberal Elite says:

    Aren’t you the least bit embarrassed??

    It’s blatantly obvious. And sorry no visits to Kos. And I don’t watch TV.

  10. xyz says:

    Why should I be embarrassed? I’m not the one who is babbling like an MSNBC host.

    What’s blatantly obvious is the lack of data to back up any of your bullshit.

  11. cassandra_m says:

    The 1 % that already pays around 35% of all income tax paid in the US should pay more. Just because they’re the only ones with any money.

    There. Fixed that for you.

  12. radef16 says:

    So, just because my spouse & I each work 60 hours/wk running the family business, which we risked our life savings to start, pay our 30 employees a good wage, pay a fortune for our own health insurance plus insurance for them and manage to eek out $250K/year in profit, we are part of the “1%” and therefore deserve to pay more in taxes.

    Plus, you want to force my workers to join a union.

    No thanks, I’ll take my 30 good paying jobs & go elsewhere.
    So will all of my suppliers, sub-contractors & fellow small business owners.

    Wait, why bother, we can just kick back & collect the “guaranteed annual income” and let someone else take all of the risks & create jobs.

    Hope you realize that your well funded pension plan makes most of it’s money being a major shareholder of those evil corporations.

  13. SussexAnon says:

    If you are allegedly paying your employees a “good wage” with insurance and benefits, you don’t have to worry about a union forming in your shop now do you?

    Good luck with the tremendous expense of moving a business and setting up all over again. As someone who has done that, I can say it is no fun.

    As long as there is demand, there will be someone looking to fill that demand. Tax policy be damned, people will find a way to make money. Tax rates were much higher decades ago and entrepreneurs existed.

    Economic trade policy of this country has been virtually non-existent. Not only should business not get a tax break to move out of the country, their products should be taxed coming in at a level that would make it cost competitive to manufacture it. Yeah, its a trade war, but we are already in one. China is kicking our ass on trade agreements.

  14. kavips says:

    radef16, Thanks for bringing that up.

    Hire yourself at $60,000 and your wife at $60,000 and report $130,000 as profit to your LLC and bingo, you avoid paying extra taxes of the 1%.

    if you were well read you would already know the wealthiest 300 Americans made $524 billion before tax this year. Even if under the tax rate (50%) of Ronald Reagan, that would give us $262 billion in revenue this year alone. Since today’s “real” tax rate is between 8% and 14% at that income level, we are probably only going to net between $41 to $73 billion

    It is realistic to expect that much of that $524 billion would instead be put into capital investments and not be reported as income, in order to lower the tax burden.. Those capital investments are what create jobs.

    And I seriously doubt you and your thirty employers and sub contractors and vendors would all move out of the country because the rates of your taxes go up a couple of tics… That is one of the silliest threats I’ve seen on this blog’s pages…

  15. Liberal Elite says:

    @r “…manage to eek out $250K/year in profit, we are part of the “1%” and therefore deserve to pay more in taxes.”

    Not even close. You just might squeak into the top 2%, though.

    If you’re a businessman, how do you manage to run things and make a profit with total ignorance about taxes and such?

  16. puck says:

    “No thanks, I’ll take my 30 good paying jobs & go elsewhere.”

    Which third-world country would you care to bless with your presence? Where did you live during the Reagan years of the 50% top rate?

    The libertarian paradise of Somalia beckons. As a plus, there are no unions there and labor costs are much cheaper. Your $250K will go much further. Drop us a note once in a while on the days you have electricity.

  17. Steve Newton says:

    Going back to original statements in this thread by DelDem:

    I’m not so certain this is radical. Radical to me would be taking on the concept of fictitious corporate personhood, and returning to the days when corporations were chartered for a specific period of time, to do a specific kind of business, and had to come back to the government that created them for recertification.

    Radical to me would be actually pursuing a constitutional amendment to clarify the fact that rights vest in individuals and not business organizations.

  18. Dana says:

    PP suggested:

    Create the Nixon proposed guaranteed annual income for all American’s. Pay for it by taxing corporations and the very wealthy who will then see the return of the funds in increased sales and purchases. Create a baseline income for a family, below which the guarantee kicks in by some means, like a tax credit or outright cash.

    OK, if this is a serious proposal, flesh it out for us. How much should this guaranteed annual income be, and does it apply per person, per adult or per family? Should adults with children have a larger guaranteed annual income than those without? Should this be an amount sufficient to survive, or something which is a supplement only?

  19. Steve Newton says:

    As an historical point I thought George McGovern first proposed the guaranteed annual income via the Negative Income Tax and that Nixon ridiculed him for it in 1972.

  20. cassandra_m says:

    Nixon didn’t call it a Guaranteed Annual Income (sorry for the eccentricity of this page’s look), but did propose a minimum level of benefits that the Fed would pay for and states could add to. Basically it looks like he was trying to bypass the aura of “handouts” that spook so many people.

  21. Steve Newton says:

    I haven’t time to look for it today, cassandra, but I vividly recall Nixon in 72 lambasting McGovern over the concept (perhaps ala Romney vs Obamacare?). I’ll try to find the reference later. Thanks

  22. Dana says:

    Here’s the story:

    Guaranteed income’s moment in the sun
    Original Reporting | ByMike Alberti, Kevin C. Brown | Alternative models, History

    In August 1969, in the eighth month of his presidency, Richard Nixon delivered a speech proposing the replacement of AFDC with a program that would benefit “the working poor, as well as the nonworking; to families with dependent children headed by a father, as well as those headed by a mother.” In case the point was missed, he continued: “What I am proposing is that the Federal Government build a foundation under the income of every American family with dependent children that cannot care for itself — and wherever in America that family may live.”

    Guaranteed annual income had arrived. From the margins of economic thought just a generation earlier, the GAI was now at the heart of President Nixon’s domestic policy agenda in the form of the “Family Assistance Plan” (FAP).

    Nixon himself refused to call the FAP a guaranteed annual income, saying that “a guaranteed income establishes a right [income] without any responsibilities [work] …There is no reason why one person should be taxed so another can choose to live idly.” But, despite Nixon’s rhetorical distinction, many conservatives opposed the president’s plan for just those reasons: they worried not only about cost, but also about the creation of a large class of people dependent on “welfare.”

    Rhetoric aside, the FAP was indeed a form of GAI. The President’s Commission certainly thought so, writing in their letter submitting “Poverty Amid Plenty” to Nixon, “We are pleased to note that the basic structure of the Family Assistance Program is similar to that of the program we have proposed…Both programs represent a marked departure from past principles and assumptions that have proven to be incorrect.”

    Nixon’s FAP was very moderate: it only applied to families with children (childless couples and individuals were out of luck), included a work requirement for householders considered “employable,” and would not have increased benefits for AFDC recipients in states providing relatively high benefit levels.

    For a family of four without any other income, the FAP would provide $1,600 (2013: $10,121). But a family that did have income from employment would get a declining amount of FAP dollars until family income reached $3,920 (2013: $24,798). A family of four that had been earning $12,652 in 2013 dollars would have had its income increased through the FAP to $18,725. Ultimately, the vast majority of benefits would have gone to the “working poor,” a significant departure from then-existing programs that denied welfare benefits to those who were employed.

    The FAP sailed through the U.S. House of Representatives comfortably, 243 to 155, but stalled in the Senate.

    More at the link.

  23. Calvin Sparks says:

    Right on, This is exactly what our nation needs. All of us Democrats need to come together to so we can make these goals a reality!

    Calvin Sparks
    Vice Chair
    15th/29th Democratic Club

  24. puck says:

    A GAI is not a bad idea as long as you think of it like “unemployment benefits on steroids.” The main thing is to get GAI, you would have to remain available for work and take the next available job. But instead of maxing out at $300/wk like UI, GAI would provide a livable income. Unemployment would then become a bump in the road rather that a family-destroying catastrophe. No corporation should be able to do that to people.

  25. Davy says:

    In general, your policy prescriptions ignore incentives and their power to shape decisions.

    (1) Nixon and then Ford pushed the Earned Income Tax Credit, which the government adopted in 1975. The EITC married conservative and progressive ideas: the two parties poured liberal wine into conservative bottles. Back then, we did not ignore the power of incentives: the government tied the EITC’s payout to, among other things, the recipient’s income. We should expand the EITC, but we should not change its basic structure.

    (5) Protectionism is not an answer. This prescription deserves ZERO attention. You sound like Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs.

    (7) If we require more benefits, then employers will lower salaries and provide more benefits. In fact, employers originally offered benefits to circumvent salary maximums.

    (8) We do not need traditional unions. Monopolies in labor hurt direct and indirect consumers. The Clayton Act exempts unions from U.S. antitrust laws. We should remove this exemption; in other words, unions are okay until they act to reduce competition. [Note: Paying a "good" wage is often insufficient to prevent organizing. Because the U.S. has exempted labor from antitrust laws, an employer must pay (i) the market-clearing wage plus (ii) at least the difference between the economic rents gained from reducing competition and the cost of reducing competition.] Unions are best as labor collectives that find jobs for their members and train them.

    (9) Lowering the retirement age is downright silly. Today, people can (and do) work longer thanks to better health care. If we lowered the age at which people became eligible for social security, then we would be paying human capital to exit the labor market–the broken window fallacy at work! Instead, we should base eligibility on life expectancy, which itself is a function of lifetime earnings. People who earned more during their lives and thus have a higher life expectancy would be eligible later.

    Your basic thesis is that our people deserve better. That is fine, but at least try to develop workable policies.

    Note: I avoided “tax-and-spend” prescriptions and the minimum-wage prescription.

  26. Jason330 says:

    (5) Protectionism is not an answer. This prescription deserves ZERO attention. You sound like Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs.

    There is a difference between protectionism and industrial policy. NAFTA wasn’t always with us, you know.

  27. Davy says:

    @Steve Newton:

    Milton Friedman pushed the negative income tax in the 1960′s. Friedman devoted Chapter 12 of his best-known work, Capitalism and Freedom (published in 1962), to a negative income tax and guaranteed minimum income.

    Nixon proposed a guaranteed minimum income before McGovern proposed his plan. Congress never passed Nixon’s Family Assistance Program. Conservatives complained that the Program was too generous, and Progressives complained that the Program was too stingy. Progressives also disliked the work requirement.

    The Earned Income Tax Credit, which has a work requirement, is the ideological successor to the Family Assistance Program.

    In all, Friedman–a libertarian–pushed for a guaranteed minimum income (although he later opposed most proposed implementations).

  28. Davy says:

    @Jason330:

    Only because protectionism is merely one choice of industrial policy. I suggest that you learn about others.

    Protectionism may increase nominal wages, but we should expect decreases in our standard of living as goods and services become more expensive. Protectionism is populism–conservative or liberal–at its worst.

  29. Steve Newton says:

    Davy, thanks–I am aware that Friedman pushed the negative income tax. There is a strong libertarian case to be made for it as better than a lot of the alternatives.

    The point I was raising is purely one of historical interest: I recall Nixon attacking McGovern’s NIT to create a GAI, and I had forgotten Nixon advocated it first.

  30. kavips says:

    As a reminder of what protectionism does, the Smoot_Hawley act dropped foreign imports into the US from a 1929 high of $1,334 million to just $390 million in 1932, and… U.S. exports to Europe fell from $2,341 million in 1929 to $784 million in 1932. Overall, world trade declined by some 66% between 1929 and 1934…

    Today just with China alone, the US imports $324 billion and exports $122 billion. If (just as an arbitrary figure) were international trade to drop 66% as it did during Smoot Hawley, our imports would tumble to $110 billion and our exports dip to $41 billion..

    Whereas Smoot Hawley aggravated the Great Depression, doing such here would probably undo all the good done so far in the recovery… Except this time, the Middle Class is less buttressed against collapse.

    So, it seems like protectionism is out for now… other avenues to achieve the same results should be perused. For example pushing for stronger labor laws and environmental laws in China for one; making the cost of business more expensive there, or equaling the playing field, would make American manufacturing competitive again. As a secondary consequence, as the Chinese workers became wealthier, they could fund their own recovery, allowing us the option of bringing manufacturing back to America.

    Of course this is decades away. But change is possible. Global Warming started with the depletion of the Ozone layer 4 decades ago.. (if any of you are old enough to remember.)… and just now, 2012, has made fools out of all those deniers…..

    Not sure how to begin, but we should be pushing for the unionization of the rest of the world, .. instead of breaking down unions here to try to stay competitive. . .

  31. Davy says:

    Unions as monopolies of labor are bad.

    And as the demand for a good becomes more inelastic, the good’s consumers suffer more from union malfeasance.

    What goods are most inelastic? Necessities, especially low-cost versions. That is, the poor and middle-class suffer more. Do you think Wal-mart’s workers should unionize now?

    Unions are NOT progressive.

    You need new ideas–just as much as many Republicans.

  32. cassandra m says:

    Unions are monopolies in the same way that employers are monopolies. The age of unions was the best time in US economic history for middle class people. Why? Unions balance the power scale some — asking employers to share the fruits of worker productivity. It is the gap between the incredibly increased worker productivity and current wages that is the reason for the vast destabilization of the middle class.

    Unions are not perfect — but then, what employer is? But there is still some lessons learned that they could internalize. WalMart workers should unionize now — Walmart profits are still quite good, Walmart is a major drain on local food stamp and Medicaid coffers and if you are working to help the Walmarts make a ton of money you should not be relying on the government safety net.

  33. Davy says:

    @cassandra_m:

    (1)

    A firm is a monopoly if the firm is the only seller of a good. A firm is a monopsony if the firm is the only buyer of a good.

    Is Wal-mart the only buyer of unskilled labor? The answer is clear: no.

    Is Ford the only buyer of labor that is skilled in automotive engineering? What about General Motors and Chrysler?

    Is United Airlines the only airline that needs pilots? I hear pilots also fly planes for other airlines.

    Very, very rarely does an employer have a labor monopsony.

    (2)

    Wal-mart and other firms can pay their employees less because welfare programs exist.

    (3)

    Your argument is that employers should have shared recent gains in labor productivity. I think that you misunderstand what labor productivity is.

    Labor productivity is the value of goods produced in a period of time, divided by the hours of labor used to produce the goods. Labor productivity can grow even if workers have not improved. Labor productivity can grow just because technology has advanced. Computers are cheaper and easy-to-use than ever before. Capital, not labor, has driven recent growth in labor productivity.

    Consider a supermarket.

    Years ago, the supermarket needed a cashier to checkout every customer. An employer could operate only one checkout lane.

    Today, the supermarket does not need a cashier to checkout every customer. The supermarket can install technology that allows customers to checkout themselves. An employee can now operate multiple self-checkout lanes.

    In this example, labor productivity has grown because technology has advanced, not because workers have improved.

  34. puck says:

    Productivity has grown because employers have laid off workers.Not all were replaced by technology. The remaining workers perform over capacity to make up the difference, Labor hours are in the denominator, so productivity goes up immediately. Yes the workers have improved – they are doing their job plus somebody else’s.

    The old factory bosses would call it a “speed-up:, when you run the assembly line faster and fire anyone who can’t keep up. It is a short-term game; workers burn out and vow to find a better job as soon as the labor market improves.

    So if productivity has gone up, thank an unemployed person. They are the ones who took the hit for your productivity stats.

  35. cassandra m says:

    A firm is a monopsony if the firm is the only buyer of a good.

    I haven’t said a thing about monopsony. This is you changing the terms.

    Labor productivity as a statistic measures the output of goods and services per hour of labor. There’s no doubt that there is increased productivity due to technology (which in many industries required new, different skills workers are not being compensated for). There is also increased productivity because there is no one else to do the work. Employers getting more than 40 hours/week labor that they do not pay for is routine.

    Payment for actual productivity used to be how the labor market worked. Now, pretty much all of the gains from productivity redound to shareholders, not to workers.

    Is United Airlines the only airline that needs pilots?

    Oh! And you *do* know that the United Airlines pilots are represented by a union, right?

  36. Tom McKenney says:

    Payment for actual productivity used to be how the labor market worked. Now, pretty much all of the gains from productivity redound to shareholders, not to workers

    Unfortunately much of the shareholder money is paid to management, if they are effective or not

  37. Davy says:

    @cassandra_m:

    You accused employers of being a monopoly. I noted, among other things, that United is not the only airline that needs pilots. United is thus not a monopsonist.

    “Monopsony” is the term for a monopoly on a market’s buy-side. You should take a course on economics.

    The beneficiary of productivity gains is (usually) the person who funded the productivity gains. Why should an employer compensate an employee more just because the employee’s new computer runs programs faster?

    How have employees contributed to recent productivity gains?

  38. radef16 says:

    “Payment for actual productivity used to be how the labor market worked.”

    The only way to have employee pay gauged to actual productivity is piecework.
    Unfortunately, piecework based pay was widely abused by employers and today has a very negative connotation.

    If properly implemented, for example, base pay for a minimum average output plus additional pay for extra output, piecework is extremely fair to both employee & employer. Novice employees can make the base pay. As they gain experience their pay goes up essentially at no cost to the employer.

    IMO enacting laws to properly define & regulate piecework would go a long way toward making the US more competitive in the world market.

    (Now I get to to see how many of you rip me to shreds)

  39. cassandra m says:

    I do know what a monopsony is, Mr. CRA Caused the Housing Bust. And your characterization isn’t quite correct.

    Anyway If you are having trouble with your stupid metaphor being thrown back at you, you should say that instead of embarrassing yourself further. You were trying to use the term monopoly to characterize union activity when it is no such thing.

    Your characterization of who gains from the production of goods and services is emblematic of how thoroughly contemptuous your party is of people who work for a living. Everyone else exists to make sure you get wealthier and the rest be damned. There’s always food stamps and medicare and you’re working at getting rid of these so there is more money to hand over to the lords of the manor.

  40. Dana says:

    Davy wrote:

    The beneficiary of productivity gains is (usually) the person who funded the productivity gains. Why should an employer compensate an employee more just because the employee’s new computer runs programs faster?

    That was phrased pretty poorly. It isn’t so much that the computer runs faster, but that the computer reduces the skill level required of the employee.

    A job that required a welder fifty years ago is now a job that is performed by a computer-operated welding robot. It may still require a human operator, but not only does the robot weld faster, more efficiently and more consistently, the robot also increases throughput; it will weld more units per hour than would a human being.

    On the other side of that equation is an employee who no longer needs to be a welder himself, but is a computer operator, someone who can learn his trade much more quickly. This increases the size of the available labor pool, because there are a lot more people who can run a computer than there are who can weld skillfully, and that means a decrease in wages.

    Unions were able to demand higher wages in the heavier production industries because they co-opted the skilled personnel needed to perform specific industrial tasks. The company could not go outside the union and find a large pool of men who were good welders, and thus the union had an advantage. With so many production tasks computerized, the available labor pool is large enough that the companies aren’t stuck with only the population of union members.

  41. Geezer says:

    “In this [supermarket] example, labor productivity has grown because technology has advanced, not because workers have improved.”

    In truth, labor productivity in this example has grown not because technology has advanced — the machinery used in self-checkout lanes is the same used by cashiers. It has grown because the supermarket has made the customer check out his own order, and has not decreased prices to reflect the off-loading of labor from the supplier to the buyer.

    Instead of taking economics courses, perhaps you should go to the fucking supermarket while your head isn’t up your ass.

  42. cassandra_m says:

    but that the computer reduces the skill level required of the employee.

    For production employees — people building stuff — skill levels increased or definitely changed. In my own business, equipment operators who have GPS training and some basic AutoCAD are highly prized. This story of not being about to get the right workers for manufacturing jobs is fairly routine. The computers may change the nature of the work, but they also require people with better skills to get it done.

    So your guess on what computers do to unions is just plain wrong. Again.

  43. Dana says:

    Cassandra wrote:

    So your guess on what computers do to unions is just plain wrong. Again.

    Yet, oddly enough, private sector unions have been in a steep, steep decline. Perhaps you have another explanation?

    I don’t know how long it takes to train someone to operate the computer which operates the welding robots, but, as someone who can stick two pieces of steel together, I can tell you it takes years to become a top-notch welder. Even if it took just a long to train the computer operator as it does to become a skilled welder, the robots can weld faster and with fewer errors than the human, so one welding robot computer operator will have more units pass through the line per shift than a human welder. That fact alone reduces the number of employees needed.

  44. socialistic ben says:

    “Yet, oddly enough, private sector unions have been in a steep, steep decline. Perhaps you have another explanation?”

    yes, companies can get the same work done in China,Indonesia, Bangladesh, etc (or anywhere else human rights are no big deal) for 1 cent an hour and our government gives them tax incentives to do so.

  45. cassandra_m says:

    Private sector unions are not in decline because of a decrease in workers, they are in decline because the legal and regulatory thumb is on the scale for the businesses who don’t want to deal with them.

  46. Dana says:

    Cassandra wrote:

    Private sector unions are not in decline because of a decrease in workers, they are in decline because the legal and regulatory thumb is on the scale for the businesses who don’t want to deal with them.

    But how can this be? The party of the working man has controlled at least one House of Congress or the Presidency for every year but 5½ since the early 1950s.

  47. puck says:

    The modern conservative movement has been extraordinarily successful in scapegoating unions in the minds of voters (i.e., “Reagan Democrats”). This is a rhetorical achievement and is NOT based on logic or facts. The 20th century union movement was born of real deprivation and sacrifice, but the energy and motivation of those times has passed from living memory. But for most workers it is just one or two paychecks away.

  48. Dana says:

    When I wrote that, “The party of the working man has controlled at least one House of Congress or the Presidency for every year but 5½ since the early 1950s,” I erred; it was 4½ years. The first half year of the younger President Bush’s term, then the Congresses elected in 2002 and 2004 are the ones in question.

  49. Geezer says:

    “Perhaps you have another explanation?”

    We can start with a variety of laws that favor employers over unionized labor. My workplace once voted in a union. Our corporate overlords spent 10 years refusing to bargain in good faith — in 10 years, we never had a contract offer, even though the union was willing to use current pay and conditions as a starting point.

    So yeah, you can, as we like to say, go fuck yourself. Smug asshole.

  50. Davy says:

    @cassandra_m:

    (1)

    Please re-read my first post. I noted that U.S. antitrust law should apply to unions. Unions are fine until they behave anti-competitively or monopolize a market.

    Not all unions are monopolies, but some are. The Clayton Act should not exempt them from scrutiny.

    (2)

    I do not have a party. I have not voted since 2004. I have not contributed to a political campaign (ever). My views are simple. Facts and reason are paramount.
    I dislike anyone that ignores reality.

    OUR reality is that WE have not invested in human capital properly.
    In other words, OUR schools are failing OUR children. Even you recognize that
    OUR schools are below par.

    The problem is not business. The problem is not the “one percent.” The problem is not greed. The problem is education (or a lack thereof).

    Fix our schools, and productivity gains will benefit workers again. You want to fix our schools, which I admire.

    (3)

    Your contempt for me is sad. You dislike me because I see things differently. I also believe that you dislike me because I am smart and well-educated. That is, I do not fit your narrative that the “other side” is dumb and racist.

  51. cassandra_m says:

    There’s no monopoly when you are living with a collective bargaining agreement. Because those agreements require both workers and employers to agree to terms. Sheesh.

    It is always sad for the people on the outside looking in to the reality-based community. Your sadness is your problem, as is the fact that you still aren’t ready for prime time. And this:
    I do not fit your narrative that the “other side” is dumb and racist.

    At least half of this is quite right, but thanks for ending this on the usual conservative signoff when facts have failed them.

  52. LeBay says:

    Davy-

    You have no idea what you’re talking about. Again!

    You made an ass out of yourself w/ your bullshit “insurance 101″.

    You should have stopped while you were behind, since you’ve only gotten further behind w/ your most recent bullshit.

    BTW, based on your posts here, you are neither smart nor well-educated.

  53. LeBay says:

    There’s no monopoly when you are living with a collective bargaining agreement. Because those agreements require both workers and employers to agree to terms.
    -cassandra_m

    THANK YOU, cassandra_m!

    The conservative narrative that “unions killed the American auto industry” is complete bullshit, but it’s parroted on an almost daily basis.

    Conservative nitwits should google “collective bargaining agreement”.

    Hint to nitwits: It’s an AGREEMENT between labor and management. Both parties must AGREE to the terms of the agreement.

    If a union is fucking your company over, it’s only because you (management) signed an agreement that said you liked it from behind.

  54. LeBay says:

    Dana said:

    A job that required a welder fifty years ago is now a job that is performed by a computer-operated welding robot. It may still require a human operator, but not only does the robot weld faster, more efficiently and more consistently, the robot also increases throughput; it will weld more units per hour than would a human being.

    On the other side of that equation is an employee who no longer needs to be a welder himself, but is a computer operator, someone who can learn his trade much more quickly. This increases the size of the available labor pool, because there are a lot more people who can run a computer than there are who can weld skillfully, and that means a decrease in wages.

    Said a guy who has apparently never operated even a simple MIG welder or a CAM controlled welder.

    Did you see cassandra_m’s comment above about GPS/CAD qualified equipment operators being in high demand? The same principle applies to weldors. An ex-con can earn an excellent living as a weldor. Convicted felons can earn $70k/year as weldors, perhaps more if they’re union & are eligible for a TWIC card.

    Note that welders are machines & weldors are the men and women (Flashdance!) who do the welding.

  55. Pencadermom says:

    I’ve got a welder here looking for a job. He’s got a job. But if you know whose hiring at 70K a year, let us know! thanks.

  56. Pencadermom says:

    ps can be spelled with an ‘e’ or an ‘o’

  57. Tom McKenney says:

    Management seems to get a complete pass for ineffectiveness, whether it is in business or schools.

  58. Davy says:

    @cassandra_m & LeBay:

    No educated person would deny that unions wield monopoly power. They are cartels dealing in labor.

    U.S. law recognizes that unions are cartels and wield monopoly power. How? Congress enacted the Clayton Act, which explicitly exempted unions from U.S. antitrust law. See Title 15, Section 17 of the U.S. Code.

    Under U.S. law, an employer must negotiate, in good faith, with its employees’ union.
    A collective bargaining agreement is the product of a successful negotiation during which the union could brandish and use its monopoly power.

    The question is whether we should permit unions to brandish and use their monopoly power, not whether they have it. The answer is a matter of policy.

    I’m now done banging my head against the wall. Nothing above is politics. Only the unanswered question involves politics. If you disagree, I’ve overestimated your intelligence.

  59. Dana says:

    Mr Geezer wrote:

    We can start with a variety of laws that favor employers over unionized labor. My workplace once voted in a union. Our corporate overlords spent 10 years refusing to bargain in good faith — in 10 years, we never had a contract offer, even though the union was willing to use current pay and conditions as a starting point.

    Did you strike?

    The only real power that unions have is to withhold the labor of their members. It’s quite possible that the company said that if you struck, they’d simply hire replacement workers, and leave y’all on the street. Depending upon the skill level required for the jobs you held, and the external availability of labor with those skills, such a threat can be effective or not.

    If the company did not negotiate in good faith, it is most probably because they did not want to deal with a union at all; they do, and should, have that right.

  60. Dana says:

    Davy wrote:

    No educated person would deny that unions wield monopoly power. They are cartels dealing in labor.

    No, they try to wield monopoly power, as the only source of labor for a given company. They come closer in states which allow closed shops, and have less power in right-to-work states.

  61. Dana says:

    LeBay wrote:

    Hint to nitwits: It’s an AGREEMENT between labor and management. Both parties must AGREE to the terms of the agreement.

    If a union is fucking your company over, it’s only because you (management) signed an agreement that said you liked it from behind.

    I have no problems at all with private sector unions. Such unions must be partners with the company, in that they must measure their demands with what the company needs to stay in business; if the company goes out of business, then it doesn’t matter how great the workers had it under the contract, because they’re out of a job. A lot of times the companies and unions get it right, and can remain in business; a lot of other times, they get it wrong, and you wind up with idiocies like the Hostess Brands closure of a year ago.

    I do have a problem with public sector unions, because the discipline of the marketplace does not exist. Since the government cannot go out of business, but can, if necessary, simply increase its revenues to cover expenses by raising taxes, the restraint that is on the private sector unions is not one they face. I have something of a problem with government workers being paid more than the taxpayers they are supposed to be serving earn.

  62. Geezer says:

    “If the company did not negotiate in good faith, it is most probably because they did not want to deal with a union at all; they do, and should, have that right.”

    That’s a matter of opinion. I am of the opinion that they should not have that right, and in many countries they don’t. That’s exactly what I was talking about, because the question I was answering involved why unions are declining.

    I forgot to add that wealth-worshiping people like you are the reason those problems exist in the first place.

  63. Dave says:

    “I have something of a problem with government workers being paid more than the taxpayers they are supposed to be serving earn.”

    While you and I could find some agreement on public sector unions, your blanket statement regarding pay suggests that you are equating all government jobs with typical private sector jobs.

    Next time you get on an airplane, think about who ensures that it takeoffs and lands safely and doesn’t collide with other planes vs those private sector employees who land at the wrong airport. Or even consider the scientists at the Centers for Disease Control, or the first U.S. government worker killed in Afghanistan who hailed from Centreville VA, and was a government worker working for the CIA, or the State Department government worker killed in Benghazi or the … well I could go on ad nauseum but I won’t.

    I know you didn’t mean those government workers, but that’s what you said. Those who enter the public sector are not necessarily looking for just a paycheck. They are looking to make a difference. But more importantly they desire the responsibility that comes from doing unique work in less than ideal conditions. Ask around and find out when the last time someone’s Social Security check did not arrive on time. While it is easy to examples of someone gaming the system, you miss out on thousands believe and live the oath they took.

    In some cases government workers may be over compensated but you ignore the other side of the coin that in some cases they are undercompensated. That’s not to suggest that it evens out but it should tell you that you cannot make binary statements about any group of people.

  64. Geezer says:

    “I have something of a problem with government workers being paid more than the taxpayers they are supposed to be serving earn.”

    That’s because you’re an asshole. Fix that and the rest is easy.

  65. Dana says:

    Mr Geezer wrote:

    That’s a matter of opinion. I am of the opinion that they should not have that right, and in many countries they don’t. That’s exactly what I was talking about, because the question I was answering involved why unions are declining.

    OK, now why should the companies be required to negotiate in good faith? “Good faith” is, rather obviously, in the eye of the beholder, but if a company is willing to risk a strike, or even to simply shut the doors, rather than deal with a union, why shouldn’t they have that right?

    Serious question: do the workers “own” their jobs, or does the company which employs them?

  66. Dana says:

    Mr Geezer wrote:

    “I have something of a problem with government workers being paid more than the taxpayers they are supposed to be serving earn.”

    That’s because you’re an asshole. Fix that and the rest is easy.

    While Dave tried to make a reasoned response, you have failed that test.

    Now, can you tell me why a family earning $40,000 a year should see their taxes increased to give a public sector employee a raise to $50,000? You see, all of those taxpayers are doing their best to earn a living, and it hurts when the government raises taxes, when the government takes food off their table, to give it to someone else.

  67. puck says:

    The 40K family shouldn’t see a tax increase for any reason. Tax increases should fall on those who have benefited from income inequality, not their victims. Start phasing in the tax increases at about $250K – that way no food is taken off anybody’s table.

  68. Dana says:

    Puck, for most government jobs — state and local, not federal — the taxes available to the governments don’t have the flexibility that you seek. Most schools, for example, are financed through property taxes.

  69. liberalgeek says:

    I have personally paid for the services of plenty of people that make more than I do. Accountants, plumbers, electricians, etc. I pay them their rate because that’s what they’re worth. In what screwed up universe is the income of a person determined by the income of a customer/employer?

  70. Dave says:

    “I have personally paid for the services of plenty of people that make more than I do. Accountants, plumbers, electricians, etc. I pay them their rate because that’s what they’re worth. In what screwed up universe is the income of a person determined by the income of a customer/employer?”

    I was going to excerpt this, but it’s worth repeating since it’s the best answer of all.

  71. camptown lady says:

    Can are dear prez do this by degree, or does he need a law passed by the house of congress? And the min wage needs to raise to 15 a hour like in where my brother lives in S.F. Here in wilm. the jobs aren’t good and now Fisker is closed. I will always vpote Dems and these points raiseds need to be law.

  72. camptown lady says:

    And one more thing, remember when that guy Alec Pirez that has those places like Rudder and the irish place Bottle of Cork and lots of Dewey beach? He sued on behalf of many African Amer farmers (tobaco) who got millions. Why not drop taxes on cigarets here in Wilm DEL for us. And aslo, Pirez should have sued the Indians here who addicted captan John Smith and others to ciggarets in the first place?

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