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Nine Years of Discussion
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Why did Sarah Palin resign?

Personal scandal
 5 (17.2%)
Probable indictment
 7 (24.1%)
Just plain craziness
 3 (10.3%)
Looooong lead up to 2012
 4 (13.8%)
Something else
 2 (6.9%)
Some combination of the above
 8 (27.6%)

Total Members Voted: 29

Author Topic: The Thread on Politics  (Read 422975 times)

Stand under my Umbrella ella ella, aye!!

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2007, 04:04:17 PM »
nah.  jefferson should be put on some sort of probation, with a stand in until this stuff is settled - especially if he is/was indicted by a grand jury.  90 thou in the freezer is ridiculous. 
The Tragicomic: Itís embodied in the blues, jazz, (HIP HOP, CORNELL <<one slight deserves another!!!!<< REALLY MISSED THE BOAT ON THAT ONE!!!) and the African experience in the New World -- the ability to withstand terrorism, embrace oneís worst enemies lovingly and bear the unbearable in song.

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2007, 09:27:30 PM »
What if he's ultimately acquitted?  I think the legal system should do its job before people jump to conclusions.  What's the point in having a judicial system if we don't believe in the legitimacy of the process?

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2007, 09:33:58 AM »
Bill Easing Organization Of Unions Passes House

By Dale Russakoff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 2, 2007; A04

In the most contentious clash between business and labor groups of the new Congress, the House yesterday passed legislation that would make it easier for workers to organize unions -- a measure that President Bush has promised to veto and that Senate Republican leaders have vowed to filibuster.

Continuing in the populist tone of its first 100 hours, the House's Democratic majority pushed through legislation to remove the right of employers to demand secret-ballot elections and to require employers to recognize unions once a majority of workers sign cards saying they want to organize.

Democratic and labor leaders argued that the existing system has become so tilted in favor of employers that it no longer protects workers' rights. Republicans accused Democrats of trying to eliminate a cornerstone of democracy -- the secret ballot -- as a payback to "union bosses" for the labor movement's support in the 2006 election.

"The Employee Free Choice Act puts democracy back in the workplace so the decision to join a union can be made by the workers the union would represent," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told colleagues. "This is the standard right that we routinely demand for workers around the world. We should accept no less a standard here in America."

The measure would represent one of the most significant revisions of federal labor law in 60 years. It is the top legislative priority of the labor movement, which represents a record low 12 percent of the workforce, compared with 35 percent in the 1950s. Major business lobbies have mobilized against it to a level not seen since the fight over Bush's 2001 tax cuts, according to a Chamber of Commerce official. Yesterday's 241 to 184 vote was largely along party lines, with 13 Republicans voting for the measure and two Democrats opposing it.

Republicans took issue with every aspect of the bill, including its name, the Employee Free Choice Act, which they called "mischievous," "misleading" and "Orwellian." Republican Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) suggested it be called, "The American Worker Compulsion Act," arguing that union organizers could bully workers into signing cards.

The White House took the same tack in promising a presidential veto, should the bill pass the Senate. "It is a fundamental tenet of democracy that individuals are able to vote their conscience, privately, free from the threat of reprisal," its statement read.

The vote fell short of the two-thirds majority required to override a veto.

The lobbying campaign leading up to the vote featured AFL-CIO ads highlighting workers who were fired during union-organizing campaigns, and who waited years to get jobs back or to receive back pay.

In yesterday's debate, Democrats cited National Labor Relations Board statistics showing that more than 31,000 workers were awarded back pay in 2005 for unfair labor practices. The numbers have risen steadily in the past three decades, from 7,393 in 1975 to 18,434 in 1985 and 26,197 in 1995, according to NLRB annual reports. The House measure would also impose stiff penalties on employers for unfair labor practices and would require federal arbitration to reach labor contracts if newly certified unions and employers do not reach agreement within 90 days.

The business community's campaign was led by a coalition of 300 business organizations in all 50 states, calling itself the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. The group aired radio ads calling the legislation anti-worker and antidemocratic, and said its efforts generated 27,000 contacts of House members from within the targeted districts.

Democrats and labor leaders hailed the vote yesterday as an answer to the declining fortunes of middle-class workers and the growing income divide. "Because of today's vote, the future looks a little brighter to all Americans who have watched corporations celebrate record profits but have themselves been shut out of the party, left with stagnant wages and facing soaring costs," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said.

Business leaders and Republicans argued otherwise. "Organized labor is not winning [union-organizing] elections because they're not able to articulate a fundamental value proposition to the vast majority of American workers," said Michael J. Lotito, a lawyer who represents employers in labor relations cases. "They're trying to change the process to increase their market share."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/01/AR2007030100692.html

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2007, 09:34:56 AM »
I like this two-party system.  The Dems do something stupid, but the Republican President can veto it.

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #24 on: March 02, 2007, 02:52:59 PM »
Elucidate.

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2007, 03:07:29 PM »
No, that argument is attenuated.  Voters are more akin to shareholders than to workers.  If the shareholders don't like the decisions of the board of directors, they can vote them out.   Similarly, if voters don't like the decisions of Congress, they can vote them out.  There isn't really a corporate structure that has the same parallel relationship as Congress and the President.  The board can overrule the corporate management, and the shareholders can overrule the board.

Collective bargaining is like OPEC forcing U.S. citizens to pay more for gas.

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #26 on: March 02, 2007, 06:24:35 PM »
Hm. Maybe. Of course in practice shareholder revolts are as rare as electoral revolts.

In any case, the key idea is the benefit of a carefully calibrated check and balance structure that benefits the health of the individual company, the sector/industry, and the economy as a whole.

How?

1) Unions operating across multiple firms deter employers from seeking to gain advantages purely by slashing wages in a race to the bottom and instead encourages them to compete on innovation.

2) Partly because wages are taken out of competition, multi-firm unions have pioneered cooperation between firms on investments in "public goods" such as worker training and other services that improve productivity at all firms.

3) With a union, workers can gain a voice to improve production without worrying that they are merely contributing to their own loss of a job.

4) Lowering turnover and improving skills. Compare, for example, the total labor costs of Walmart and Costco, two otherwise similar firms. Walmart famously pays very little and Costco famously pays very well, and yet Walmart doesn't have a labor cost advantage because it pays an extraordinary amount due to the employee turnover that their labor practices induce.

4) Higher wages paid to union workers encourages firms to invest in better technology and more capital to make the high wages pay for themselves. And higher productivity, of course, is key to growth across the economy.

5) Raising incomes of workers and thereby raising aggregate demand for goods & services, fueling a virtuous cycle of growth.

There are probably additional advantages, but these alone show* the benefits of counterbalancing the otherwise myopic decision-making of corporate managers and short-term shareholders with the collective bargaining ability of unions.

Too much managerial power is not good for the company/industry/economy; too much labor power is not good for the company/industry/economy. Balance is key, and, in this country at least, balance is best achieved by fairly-matched countervailing forces negotiating the conditions of work.

*these are not speculative benefits: they are well-documented in rigorous panel studies. I can dig up cites, if you'ld like them.

I don't buy it, but I don't have time to look up stats for the other side.  That said, if unions are so good, then why aren't heavily unionized sectors (e.g., U.S. automotive) and heavily unionized countries (e.g., Germany) leading the way for us all?

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2007, 06:33:21 PM »
Oh, and blah to government-run healthcare.

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2007, 06:53:33 PM »

I don't buy it, but I don't have time to look up stats for the other side.  That said, if unions are so good, then why aren't heavily unionized sectors (e.g., U.S. automotive) and heavily unionized countries (e.g., Germany) leading the way for us all?

It's balance that counts: Japan, Sweden, Norway, US in the 1950s & 1960s, etc did lead the way and have maintained an excellent balance for decades. [West] Germany -- a heavily unionized country -- had [still has] the highest wages and the highest productivity among industrial workers anywhere in the world. And for the reasons cited in my last post. 

You might consider the consequences of a lack of a middle class [a true middle class] on the prospects for social mobility in this country, particularly for minorities. Unions really did build the middle class; without them what we'll see is a two-tier system with high-income people working in the symbol-manipulation sectors on one end, and low-to-minimum wage people on the other end.  In other words, a feudal country.


Yeah, I find the social arguments more compelling than the economic ones.  For me, the problem is mainly one of inertia: interests become entrenched, inhibiting the ability of companies to adapt to changing environments.  Rather than facilitate collective bargaining, I would rather the government provide more education subsidization so that people can compete better in the service/information economy.

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Re: The Thread on Politics
« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2007, 07:11:13 PM »
Yeah, I find the social arguments more compelling than the economic ones.  For me, the problem is mainly one of inertia: interests become entrenched, inhibiting the ability of companies to adapt to changing environments.  Rather than facilitate collective bargaining, I would rather the government provide more education subsidization so that people can compete better in the service/information economy.

I'm the opposite: I find the economic arguments much more compelling, esp when they are substantiated by proper data. 

Companies, needless to say, are also interests that do become entrenched, thereby inhibiting the ability of the labor market to adapt to changing environments, which, in the current time, is the competition from cheaper labor abroad.

Rather than government subsidizing education for jobs that don't pay well, I'd rather create an enviroment in which the existence of well-paying jobs provide an incentive for workers to upgrade their skills: a demand-led, market-oriented strategy that's good for both workers and their employers.

etc.

That sounds nice ostensibly...who doesn't want an environment full of well-paying jobs?  But I'm not convinced such an environment can be created so that there is a net benefit to our economy.  Higher wages --> higher prices --> more consumer spending --> higher wages to maintain standard of living.  Seems like a big circle to me, although the analysis is obviously simplistic.