20 March 2009

Unions & The Europeanization of America

In addition to the usual cast of people who want America to turn into Europe--President Obama, unions, leftists--add people whose only familiarity with the continent is time spent on the back row of America's poly sci classes.

This is the group of people who have been persuaded Europe's arguments against "income inequality" and universal everything for everyone. What they don't seem to understand is that Europe's welfare state is both unsustainable and not a true equalizer.

The demographics of Europe are such that the only way to fund at current levels would be massive inflows of new, young immigrants--and tax increases on everyone.

But even then, the Euro-model is about appeasing the underclasses--give them enough free things and hope their riots stay in their part of the city--and not breaking down the structural barriers that prevent American-style movement from one income bracket to the next. If you are poor in Europe (while not nearly as helpless as, say, Africa), the chances of you enjoying a lift-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps success story is very slim.

In America, 1st generation immigrants take what might seem to us to be bad jobs and more importantly, they send their kids to school. Armed with at least a high school diploma (not all, but far more than their parents generation), they get better jobs. Some of them attend college and do even better.

As in education where teachers' unions are students' worst enemies, such is the case with workers. In the WSJ op-ed that inspired this post, the best worst examples of the deleterious effects of unions are the auto & steel industries.
In the last session of Congress, Democrats tried to: Raise the notice period required for certain layoffs at private companies to 90 days, extend health benefits for laid-off workers for up to a decade, and increase penalties for noncompliance (the expanded WARN Act); reclassify certain managers as employees who can be unionized, forcibly in non-right-to-work states (the Respect Act); facilitate class action suits for alleged gender-based pay discrimination (Paycheck Fairness Act); and much more. None passed, but now they might.

In the Obama revolution, unions are the vanguard force. Contrary to promises of moderation, the Administration has so far sided firmly with the union left. On the day after the Inauguration, the Department of Labor stopped the implementation of new union financial disclosure rules that provide greater transparency about union finances. A fortnight on the job, President Obama issued four executive orders, on federal contracting and political spending, demanded by Big Labor. Mr. Obama this month endorsed card check and vowed that it "will pass."

In case you think it can't happen here, well, it can.

Fortunately, I think people are starting to understand this--some got it all along. Branden B. sent me an email that sums up the frustration many have with the current administration.
If you read the top 5-10 opinion pieces on today's WSJ website you will realize that the leadership in our government right now SUCKS. I can't capitalize that word enough. It is unbelievable. Why could we not elect a group of real men to lead this country and not a bunch of slimy, spineless, uneducated losers that seem to occupy every power wielding position within our government? It is just unbelievable. Who were the people that decided that Frank, Pelosi, and Dodd had the capacity to do anything? I would not trust them to clean my house. I am just beside myself with this whole mess. I mean these people seem to be hell-bent on running the most successful economy of all time into the ground. Please tell me. How is it not obvious to EVERYONE right now that all of these people are incompetent and doing the exact opposite of anything that would make sense. It is hard to believe that the Dow is above 4K. How is it not obvious to again EVERYONE that Obama and Co. have not done a single thing that would be beneficial to our economy. I mean if you asked economists what would be the top ten things you could do to ruin the economy Obama has done 1-8 and is actively trying to cross off 9 and 10 (protectionism and strengthen unions).
It's gotten so bad, even the NYT is writing op-eds (I'm loathe to link them, but oh well) urging the President to avoid the protectionist elements of his party. And the Unions are going to keep fighting.

Prepare yourselves, it's going to get ugly.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.