Posted by: danielfee | September 18, 2011

2012: Will be a Watershed Year – Part 2

 Part 2: TEA/Republican Party Agenda

Although it will not be framed this way in the political advertising and speeches, the choice confronting voters in the 2012 election will be between two very different economic models. The Republicans, and its far right wing TEA Party contingent, will continue to follow a supply side trickle-down theory. They will continue to push for more deregulation, tax cuts, and lowering of the top tax rates for corporations and the wealthy. Because under their theory, these are the job creators, and when they have less governmental regulation and more money in their pockets, they will spend it, expand their businesses and hire others and some of this prosperity will trickle down to the middle class.

There are some that will argue that the TEA Party and Republican Party are two different entities with differing agendas. They are not. The TEA Party is the fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party. They both promote the same political ideology of supply side economics, deregulation, smaller government and lower taxes. The only difference between the Republicans and the TEA Party is that the Republicans propose to continue implementing these changes in an incremental fashion, while the TEA Party is impatient and wants to implement these changes in a sudden dramatic shift. At heart, the TEA Party members are nihilists, seeking to blow up government and the financial system so that they can be remade from the ground up. In short, the TEA Party is looking for a revolution.

It is apparent from recent debates on raising the debt ceiling that the TEA Party wing has seized control of the Republican Party. The incrementalist Republicans, like Speaker of the House John Boehner, had a Democratic president and Democratic-controlled Senate in a position to put entitlement program cuts into a grand bargain and reduce the deficit by over $4 trillion in the next ten years. However, the fundamentalist TEA Party would not go along with this incrementalist approach, even though it is something the Republican Party has desired for decades. The primary objection was because the “grand bargain“ closed a few corporate tax loopholes, which was interpreted as a tax increase by the fundamentalists.

Therefore, when we are comparing the two party’s agendas for America, we cannot dismiss the TEA Party as the radical fringe and think the choice is between more moderate Republicans and Democrats as it has been since the 1950’s. Following the 2010 mid-term elections, we have been given a preview of the coming events should the TEA/Republican Party gain control of Senate and presidency and retain their control of the House. Although the TEA Party never clearly defines for the American public what would fill the vacuum created by their vision of smaller less intrusive government, in general their answer is the “free market” would provide these necessary services with no explanation of how this would be accomplished. An examination of the actions they have taken since being elected at both the federal and state levels may allow us to draw some conclusions.

At the core of the TEA/Republican party agenda is their goal of privatization of any and all governmental assets and services. It is based on a fundamental belief that private sector corporations can do everything better and cheaper in a complete laissez-faire free market system. Government therefore would be reduced to essentially a conduit vehicle for funneling money collected from taxpayers into these corporate coffers. But if this proposition was put clearly and directly in a referendum before the American people, it would be overwhelmingly rejected. For example, when the Republican House passed the Ryan budget, which proposed to change Medicare from a public administered guaranteed benefits program into a private insurance program with governmental premium support (a.k.a. vouchers), the public reaction was solidly against the proposed change. At the first electoral opportunity to show their dissatisfaction, voters in NY’s 26th District, a heavily Republican district for most of the past 100 years, voted in a Democrat.

But to obscure the goal of privatization, you will often hear the argument that America is a constitutionally restricted representative republic which is limited to the “enumerated powers” of the Constitution. While on the surface this sounds like a plausible argument, it has never been the case that the powers of the Federal government have been restricted to the specific enumerated powers. One of the early examples of an expanded view of the Constitution was when Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton proposed to establish the First Bank of the United States. Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State, strongly opposed the bank’s charter and argued in a February 1791 letter to President George Washington that the enumerated powers of the Constitution do not permit the creation of the bank. Jefferson lost the argument when Washington sided with Hamilton and the bank was established. So you have three of the founding fathers that disagreed over what the Constitution permits and does not permit by the enumerated powers. In fact, some of them even had their own personal internal conflicts as did Thomas Jefferson, who in 1791 opposed the creation of the bank, but in 1803 Jefferson authorized the Louisiana Purchase, even though there is no “enumerated power” for the acquisition of territories in the Constitution. Another example is the Marbury v. Madison decision of 1803 in which Chief Justice John Marshall and the Supreme Court gave themselves the role as final arbiter of what laws are constitutional, even though there is not an “enumerated power” in the Constitution giving this authority to the Supreme Court. So from the very beginning of the republic, the founding fathers did not have a restricted view based on the “enumerated powers” of the Constitution.

However, it is impossible to convince todays so-called “strict constructionists” that their interpretation of the Constitution has never and will never exist, but their real purpose is not to debate how the Constitution has been applied; it is to use the Constitution as a tool to dismantle government and privatize its functions. With a weak and ineffective Federal government, the financial elites and large multi-national corporations will be left to their own devises, with taxpayer money to support them to boot. What is odd is that the TEA Party activists are the same people who most often complain about their opponents wanting to create a “new world order” and destroying America as we know it. But the reality is that financial elites and multi-national corporations, the ones the TEA Party activists are advocating on behalf of, are the ones who will benefit the most from the tearing down of national borders, trade policies, monetary systems and are at the forefront of creating the “new world order” which eliminates the nation-state.

To a degree, the “new world order” is already in place, and in 2008 we witnessed the financial destruction it can bring about to the economies of the world. Focusing on just the financial industry, deregulation began in earnest during the Reagan administration in the 1980’s, continued through the Clinton administration when the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 was finally repealed, and culminated during the G.W. Bush administration with a financial industry run amuck with lax oversight from what remained of the regulatory agencies. Thirty years of the supply-side economic theory of tax cuts, deregulation and reduced government oversight brought the U.S. economy to the edge of total collapse and created recessions around the world. But just as it was about to result in a system-wide shut-down and massive failures and bankruptcies across the financial sector, these supply-side theorists and free market advocates had a quick conversion to Keynesian government intervention economics. They nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and they passed the TARP legislation to bailout the financial system. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson arranged for shot gun marriages between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo and Wachovia. AIG, the worlds largest insurance firm, was nationalized. Rather than allow their supply-side theory to end in the only manner in which it logically can end – a total collapse – they turned to the government and the taxpayer to save them from their own destruction.

An effort is now underway to rewrite history and place the blame for the 2008 economic collapse on Keynesian economic policies. Recently, on his Morning Joe TV show, Joe Scarborough attempted to make the argument that George W. Bush was the biggest Keynesian in history because of his level of deficit spending. What Joe was leaving out of his argument was that Bush followed the Reagan supply-side economics play book by cutting taxes twice and increasing defense spending on two wars. Contrary to Joe’s argument, the Bush administration continued to push for the deregulation of many industries. If Joe’s argument was correct, then Ronald Reagan would have been the biggest Keynesian since FDR because his deficit spending increased the national debt by 186%, where George W. Bush only increased it by 106% during his two terms. The Bush administration was unabashedly supply-side supporters right up until the time it crashed the economy and then they flipped to a Keynesian economic model to bailout Wall Street from its mistakes. The true motto of these supply-side free market advocates is “privatize the profits, but socialize the losses.”

When you understand the strategic goal is to privatize everything you can, it becomes easier to understand the tactics that are employed in every debate over every issue. Most people still assume that a person chooses to go into public service with the best of intentions to solve problems and make things better for everyone in society. At one time this was true, when big government infrastructure projects like the Hoover Dam or Interstate Highway System were being built. Or the rural electrification plan, GI Bill, or Medicare program were being implemented. But that is no longer the case. Have you ever paused to ask the question, if a person believes that “government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem”, why would one choose to go into government? It can’t be to make government better, because government is not the solution. So it must be to eliminate the problem by eliminating government.

Why wouldn’t the TEA Party members agree to a debt ceiling deal that would reduce the deficit by over $4 trillion? Because the goal is not deficit reduction; that would be a governmental solution. The real goal is governmental collapse. Grover Norquest famously said his goal was to shrink government to a size that he could drown it in a bathtub. This is the same Grover Norquist who has gotten every elected TEA/Republican to sign a pledge that they will never vote for any tax increase. In 2010 the total revenues collected by the Federal government dropped to 14.9% of GDP, well below the historical average. It appears that Mr. Norquist is well on his way to achiving his goal. Rush Limbaugh, a leading spokesman and advocate for the fundamentalist TEA Party movement, on his show the day following the announcement of the debt ceiling deal, made it perfectly clear what the real goal was. He said the Republicans chickened out, they backed down, but that if they had stuck to their guns, we could have hung this [default] on Obama. They didn’t want a government solution; they wanted a default.

Leading up to the 2010 elections, every TEA/Republican running for office claimed the number one issue facing America was jobs. Their rhetoric was correct; but if job creation is the number one goal, why haven’t they passed any jobs legislation since being elected? Why would a routine extension of an FAA funding bill contain an anti-union provision that would count all non-votes in a union election as a “no” vote? They obviously knew that Democrats would never support this type of an ideological provision inserted into a routine funding bill, therefore it could only lead to a temporary shutdown of the FAA, which is what ultimately happened. But the goal is not job creation or even job retention, when 70,000 workers are laid off because of the lack of FAA funding or 200,000 governmental employees lose their jobs. As John Boehner famously said, “if some government workers lose their jobs, so be it.”

Another of the TEA/Republican Party purported goals is deficit reduction, but the temporary FAA shutdown also resulted in adding to the budget deficit in two ways. First, the airline taxes applied to each ticket could not be collected so revenues were reduced. Second, the delay in construction projects resulted in increased cost as the projects were shut down and then restarted. The FAA funding bill and the debt ceiling debate have clearly shown that the real goal is neither job creation nor deficit reduction, but it is to utilize must-pass routine legislation in order to push ideological positions that a majority of Americans do not support.

However the obstructionism is not just limited to a few issues like the debt ceiling or FAA funding, but it is across the board in every aspect of government. During the first two years of the Obama administration when the Democrats controlled the House, Senate and White House, the Senate saw a record number of filibusters by the Republican minority in the Senate. Now in the third year of his Presidency, Obama has appointed fewer federal judges than any of his predecessors and there are a record number of vacancies on the court which is impeding their ability to function properly. There are federal agencies without directors or assistant directors because their confirmations are held up by a minority in the Senate.

A good example is the noble prize winning economist who was nominated for the Federal Reserve Board, only to be blocked by an Alabama Senator who didn’t think he was qualified. Or Richard Cordray, the nominee to head the new Consumer Protection Agency, who the Senate minority leader McConnell has vowed to block. It was nothing personal against Mr. Cordray’s qualifications. After two long years of a legislative process to reign in some of the worst abuses by Wall Street, the banking reform bill was passed by a majority in both the House and Senate. They even broke the filibuster in the Senate, and it was signed into law by the President. But now a small minority in the Senate is blocking the nomination of anyone to head this agency because they believe the agency should not exist. If your belief is that government cannot work and the goal is to prove that you are right, then what better way than to disable government at every step and tie its hands by blocking appointments and defunding departments? It is a very cynical approach to politics, but they know that ninety-five percent of the people will not know that the dysfunction is due to their actions when they are campaigning next time about how dysfunctional government is.

But to get the full picture of what the Federal government might look like if the TEA/Republican party should win majorities in both the House and Senate and win the Presidency in the 2012 election, the party’s agenda is on full display in several states where the Tea/Republican Party have obtained full control of the legislatures and governors office. Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Florida come to mind and all of these states will be very important in the 2012 national elections. In Wisconsin, shortly after the 2010 elections, they quickly passed new tax cuts and special interest spending which created a deficit in the state’s budget. As a result they needed to introduce a budget repair bill to address the newly created budget shortfall. The proposed bill went far beyond fixing the budget and included the stripping of unions collective bargaining rights and gave the governor the authority to privatize the public utility plants without requiring competitive bidding and providing for no oversight by anyone. In Michigan, they passed an expansion of their emergency financial manager law which provided this governor appointed manager with unilateral powers to make every decision on behalf of a local government or school board, regardless of what the local elected officials have voted to do on behalf of their constituents. In Ohio they pushed through Senate Bill 5 stripping public unions of their bargaining rights. In Florida they have cut unemployment benefits, slashed education funding, refused Federal funding for infrastructure project and imposed mandatory drug testing on state workers and the unemployed receiving benefits. It should be noted that Governor Scott has ownership interest in a chain of medical clinics that provides drug testing.

Following the 2010 elections, in the states where TEA/Republicans made substantial gains, there was a surge in new legislation that started appearing very quickly which all looked very similar. An investigation by the American Association for Justice has shown that the reason this new legislation in areas such as: restricting voters right, stripping union’s bargaining rights, imposing new abortion laws, and privatizing governmental functions, is because draft legislation was provided to each of these states from a group named ALEC (American Legislative Executive Council). ALEC is a conservative front group that has been ghostwriting the legislation on behalf of corporate America for many years. ALEC is self-described as a non-partisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers who share a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberties. Elected officials pay a nominal membership fee of $50 for two years while corporations pay a minimum of $5,000 per year in addition to making other corporate contributions sponsoring events. It is at these events where the elected officials are treated to wining, dining and golfing over a multi-day retreat and then ALEC provides them with “model bills” that can be introduced when the elected officials return to their home state. ALEC is the conduit for corporations to introduce their special interest legislation around the country and the reason we are seeing similar legislation appear in the Republican controlled states.

This cozy relationship between the elected officials and their corporate benefactors has lead many in the Republican Party to use the analogy comparing America to a corporation and many others have come to accept this premise. However, this is not an appropriate analogy because of two basic principals. First, the government was not formed to make a profit and the profit motive is the main organizing principal of a corporation. Second, corporations are not representative democratic organizations. They are top down dictatorial organizations where policies are established by the CEO or a small group at the top. The government operates on a majority rule system and if the majority doesn’t agree with the actions of their elected representatives they have the ability to replace them. As an employee of a corporation you have no say in replacing the top management of your corporation.

But for all of the professing you will hear from the TEA/Republicans about their love for free-market capitalism, what they really support is a privatized rigged system, which is often referred to as “crony capitalism”. This type of system benefits the few, those who will pay to play, while hurting the majority. It will result in a continuation of the deterioration of the middle class and an expansion of the wealth gap. Based on what we have seen occurring around the country in various states, it appears the real goal is to establish an authoritarian capitalist system, or if you prefer, a more corporate style top-down management system at the federal level for America. If they are successful in 2012, then America may be run much more like a corporation, to the detriment of democracy.

This will be one alternative that voters will have in the 2012 election.

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Responses

  1. Question: do you think that many right wingers find themselves rejecting what they see as a wasteful, pushy government? What I mean is that “on the ground” many of us have first-hand seen the typical poorly run government office in action. Having two parents who worked for the post office, hearing their stories, was probably a pivotal motivator for my own political leanings, despite the fact that they were both card carrying union democrats their whole lives. What I heard on a daily basis growing up was complaints about lazy coworkers who got away with murder because the union protected them. My own mom, who herself was a very motivated, hard working lady, got a huge culture shock during her first months at the post office—she was pulled aside on numerous occasions and asked to “go slow” and “stop making the rest of us look bad.”

    Now I’m not knocking the unions, every union is different, every workplace is different. Also I don’t espouse the view at all that everything should be privatized (good lord, I mean especially military operations, but that is an entirely different story.) Everyone has either worked for or knows someone who has worked in these sort of bloated government office situations, we all know there is a tremendous amount of waste. I just think that if the government would get its act together a lot of right wingers would not be turning in droves to what they might think of as the lesser of the two evils. In other words, we need more options than A or B. We need our leaders to actually have dialogues. And we need to have dialogues rather than defending our points. I’m not much for always citing the founding fathers, but the one thing they really had going for them was they really seemed to have been much more broad minded and eager to work together for a common goal than people do today.

    I say all of this thinking of much better run governments, Germany comes to mind. I like the Germans because they seem open to using the best idea regardless of where it came from.

    • Shannon,
      To answer your question, no, I don’t think that most right-wingers find themselves rejecting what they see as a wasteful, pushy government because they have first-hand seen the typical poorly run government offices in action. Any big organization is bound to have poorly run departments. We have all seen that first-hand in both private and public sector organizations, but right-wingers only seem to place blame on the government. Ever since the founding of the country, we have had poorly run government offices. Sometimes it is better, other times it is worse. Since department heads are appointed by each new administration, this is to be expected with continual turnover and changing directives. I think that right-wingers have totally bought into the old Reagan quote, “government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem”. When you start with this basic premise, then every time you observe a problem the response will be that government can’t do anything right.
      Your example of the Post Office is a good one to look at. It doesn’t surprise me that you would hear complaints from your mom and dad about their coworkers. You don’t think that happens in private sector corporations also? It doesn’t matter if it’s government or private sector, there will always be office politics. You were just never exposed to the private sector since both worked at the Post Office. I was exposed to the other side with my dad being in management in a private sector corporation. I have no doubt that there are lazy, slow and unproductive people at the Post Office but step back and look at the big picture. The Post Office is a very successful government organization. You can send a letter from anywhere in the country to anywhere else in the country for $0.44 and it will get there in a few days. Fed Ex won’t deliver to many rural areas, and where they will get it there overnight it will cost between $20 to $30. I would say the Post Office is a well run organization and good value. Their current financial problems are all caused by Congress. Back in 2006 Congress changed the law on the Post Office and mandated them to pre-fund their health care and pension programs based on 75- year projections. No private sector corporation does this. So a big chunk of their annual budget is going into the trust funds for these accounts which leaves them with an operating budget shortfall. Congress won’t approve a rate increase so now they are talking about cutting back service. This is a legislative problem not an operational problem. But this goes back to my point about people who choose to go into government office with the attitude that government can’t work and then sabotage efforts to make it work. Look at how badly FEMA performed during Katrina with “heck of job” Brownie (a horse show judge) in charge. He had no experience in disaster management, but he was put in that job to steer contracts to cronies in the private sector. Now that you have a disaster management professional (from Florida) in charge of FEMA you see how much better it operates.
      The military is another good example that you picked. We have been privatizing too many of the functions that used to be done by military personnel. I think we had around 140,000 troops in Iraq and there were 170,000 contractors (numbers fluctuated, but the point is there were more contractors). It wasn’t cheaper and the contractors were not held accountable for their actions. More that a dozen U.S. soldiers died of electrocution in the shower because of poor electrical work by KBR (a Halliburton subsidiary). Did anyone get prosecuted? No. But if army personnel had done this faulty work, heads would have rolled. Also take Abu Ghraib where there were many private contractors involved in the torture of prisoners. But who got prosecuted? The low ranking guards. My point is that privatizing government or military functions is not cheaper nor provides more accountability. The goal should be to make government work more efficient and cost effective. Every organization needs to do this all the time. But government is not going to be able to get its act together if right-wingers keep voting in people who are trying to tear it down and then enrich themselves and their friends in the process.
      I agree we could learn a few things by looking at Germany. But if you want to see a right-wing freak-out, just try to implement some of those German “socialist” programs here. Compare the German health care system to Obamacare, which would be considered a right wing policy in Germany. Making people buy their health insurance from private companies is not very socialist, is it? It sounds more like making people take personal responsibility.
      Dan

  2. it’s funny, I kind of think any entity that gets large becomes something of a boehemoth. Like Plato said, 5000 for the city-state. How do you get a billion people to agree? I guess my larger point is the average tea partier is just frustrated. They may not know what the answer is, so they flock together. (I’m not a tea partier, I’m sure you guessed.) Also the German system, to my understanding, is somewhat privately run. The insurance companies are privately held, but are run as not-for-profit entities, much like a credit union. They compete for the business, but the payroll is limited. It seems like a happy melt of good ideas from all sectors.
    To repeat what I said before: I do not believe ANY military operations should be privatized. Health care is a harder beast to wrangle, with many viewpoints and inherent problems. I guess my point is that IMO many on the right have legitimate points to make, yet they are dismissed completely by left wingers. I am treated like some kind of mental midget with many of my liberal friends who would rather take a hard line on every issue than even give me an inch. Take the post office example, I don’t think you are getting my meaning. Dad was there for 30 years, Mom for about 10, he worked for a total of 5 different stations, she for two—it was across the board, accepted practice to “go slow.” When my mom got a promotion to a supervisory position, thus pulling her out of the union, her former friends and coworkers treated her so crappy that she gave up the position after just a few months because the workers were that hostile to the management. New ideas were criticized. Nothing ever changed. I’m not saying for one second that I think the PO would be any better private, rather they need to clean their own house and not let the unions dictate the way they do. And quite honestly, on a personal note, when my mother was sick in the hospital, before we knew she was dying, I called her supervisor to tell her what was happening. I was told that I had to go into the automated phone system to call her off sick, so that she wouldn’t get in trouble if she woke up. I didn’t have the proper passwords, and called back to explain my mother was comatose and couldn’t give me her passwords. I had to talk/cry to a total of eight different people , who spoke to me as if they couldn’t care less, over 2 1/2 hours because no one knew what the hell to do or whose responsibility it was to deal with me. (To be fair, the union guy had a couple of useful names to get some help.) I have never in my working life in the public sector dealt with anything that even remotely came close to that experience. I know/hope that my experience is anecdotal, but if it happened to me, I can imagine similar has happened to others. I guess my point is they need to clean their house and fix it. If a private sector company is poorly managed, it needs to be allowed to fail.

    • You can’t get 10 people to all agree, let alone a billion. That is why a democracy with majority rule, as Churchill said, is the worst form of government except for all of the others that have been tried.
      Can you please explain to me why the tea partiers are so frustrated. It started as a tax protest (Taxed Enough Already) TEA Party. But federal taxes are low as they have been since 1950. They claim that government is too big, but 544,000 government jobs have been eliminated since 2009. In 2008, 90% of all Americans (not just Tea Party members) were opposed to the bank bailout (TARP) and thought that we needed to do something about the too big to fail banks. But now the Tea Party is opposed to regulations (Frank-Dodd) to reign in the big banks. So what is it that they are frustrated over? A Democrat won? A liberal won? A black-liberal Democrat won? Everything I hear from their arguments are contradictory. I serious do not understand these people. They just want to be angry and blame someone else and the conservative media provides them with their scape goats. It is always the fault of liberals, or Democrats or those other people. You should read more about the scapegoating that was done in Germany in the 1930’s. The German economic problems were the fault of the liberals, the homosexuals, the Jews according to their conservative nationalist of the day.
      My understanding is that Germany has a universal health care system in which 85% are covered by a basic health insurance plan provided by law and that 15% opt for private insurance that provides additional coverage. Obamacare is not getting anywhere close to this type of a system. However, this is the type of system many on the far left have been advocating for years. Personally, I wanted to see a provision that permitted people under 65 to buy into Medicare. Joe Lieberman (hardly a liberal Democrat) had proposed this option a year before the health care debate started and as soon is was introduced as an amendment he flipped and opposed it. I think it would have gone a long way solving the Medicare funding problem if younger healthier people were allowed to buy in to the system. I would also be OK with a not-for-profit privately operated insurance program like Switzerland (this might be what you were think of). But the administration of Medicare is not the real problem. It operates at only a 3% overhead. The problem is the cost of health care itself, no matter who is administering the payment system. But again, Obamacare is not even close to either the German or Swiss systems and look at how the conservatives flipped out. Conservatives and Tea party members are the loudest when it comes to telling everyone they must take individual responsibility, but when they are told they must contribute towards their own health care insurance they flip out. Why, explain this one to me?
      We are in agreement on the military, no privatization. What we have now is the military industrial complex (on steroids) that Eisenhower warned us about. Until we get the money out of politics I don’t see how this trend gets reversed.
      I am not sure what issues you are talking about when you were referring to your liberal friends. But it is not right to treat anyone like a mental midget. You can argue issues without being condescending, especially if your talking with someone who is willing to deal with facts and reason. Based on your emails you fit this description. I have talked to right wingers who are living in an alternate reality where facts don’t matter. You can give them the facts and real numbers and they just ignore them. These folks are a lost cause. They have picked their team and no matter what they are sticking with them and they are impervious to facts. Maybe you need some new friends 🙂
      I think I understood your point about the post office and what you described is the age old problem between management and labor. I am sorry that you had a bad experience with their bureaucratic system when your mom was in the hospital. Many people can be very insensitive when others are going through a traumatic experience ( I confess that I am not very good in this area), but the point I was trying to make is that this is an operational problem. All organizations have these issues and they need to work on them constantly. There will always be people who are schmucks in both management and labor. But if you look at the macro impacts of the P.O. union (or all unions), not just the micro operational issues the positives far out weigh the negatives. If you have never encountered something like your situation in the private sector you are lucky. I know of many stories where people have had to fight with and be denied coverage by their private health insurance companies while their loved one was in the hospital and dying. I take it you didn’t have to fight with an insurance company. As I understand it, the P.O. has a good health insurance plan. This is the type of thing that the unions negotiate as part of the compensation package for employees. In the past unions also negotiated an end to child labor, the 40 hour work week, weekends off, over time pay, etc. Growing up back in the 1970’s and into the 80’s I was not a big fan of unions because the only exposure that I had to them was the negative publicity that some of them got in the media. But as I got older and learned more about history and economics, it is clear that unions had a big impact on creating a middle class which had leisure time and disposable income. This created a huge consumer base that lead to the big economic boom for everyone in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Then in the 80’s the reversal began and union busting was the new wave. If you look at the economic data since the 80’s you will see that wages for the middle class have stagnated and union membership has dropped from over 30% to about 8%. I think you can draw a correlation. For corporations productivity is way up, profitability is up but the workers are not getting a share. The stats show it is all going to the top and we are seeing a widening in the wealth gap. As individuals people cannot negotiate with these large corporations. So union do serve an overall beneficial purpose even if they have some internal operational issues. I believe that if we continue to see this union busting we will look like China in a few more years.
      Finally, for the most part I agree that a poorly managed private sector company should be allowed to fail. However, based on the conditions that a lack of regulations have allowed develop, such as too big to fail companies, it is not easy to say let them fail and have them take the entire economy with them. The bank bailout is an example. By deregulating and allowing them to become so big and integrated, and allowing them to create these exotic derivative products, with no regulatory oversight, that were sold around the world, then when one company like Lehman Brothers fails it takes the entire market and economy with it. Then what do you do? Businesses that were not even related to Wall Street are affected when capital freezes up. You know that I had suggested in earlier posts, an alternative would be to establish a true national bank and reclaim the governments authority to create the money supply. Then you could let the Wall Street banks fail. But politically we are not ready for that yet. After the next collapse (which is coming soon and will start in Europe) maybe more people will be open to this possibility.


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