Looking for a Few Honest Congresspeople

June 25th, 2009

I’ve always been an anti-union guy, mainly because unionization all but eliminates individual incentives to achieve. The concept of providing the biggest raises and bonuses based on performance is a basic (and necessary) concept for any business that wants to be successful — this makes unionization a formula for failure.

I know that back when unions were first conceived and formed they were necessary because working conditions in many shops were beyond disgusting — they were dangerous, and many people ran their businesses like slave-owners ran their plantations. In truth there are, without a doubt, still some (possibly many) businesses that provide sub-standard wages and terrible, dangerous working conditions. The people who work in this kind of place are usually either so unskilled they have few other choices or are, in some other way, locked into working there. These people do need unions but will never get them without walking out and refusing to work until the pay and conditions are improved.

Beyond these special situations, however, unionization is the most counter-productive step a business can take. A look at what the unions have done to the auto industry should be all the proof you need.

To me, what is most reprehensible about unions is their ability to buy politicians — and that is not an exaggerated claim. This Investors Business Daily Editorial about the proposed National Health Care plan supports this notion of unions having politicians “in their pockets.” A key excerpt:

Spending a trillion dollars as a down payment for a government takeover of health care is a dream of many Democrats. The current plan in Congress would create a government insurance plan that would drive out the private ones.

The problem, though, is the cost. Even moderate Democrats are having second thoughts about that, as well as all the quality problems associated with socialized medicine. Even so, health care nationalization’s biggest boosters are cooking up bad new plans.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., both would like to slap a tax on private health plans to pay for a new government one.

But they’ve carved out one very big exception: unions and their gold-plated benefit packages. This effectively gives Big Labor an advantage in the market and forces nonunion workers to subsidize unions for their share of this bad idea.

The logic behind this tax giveaway is that union health plans, which are lavish, would be subject to higher taxes than those of workers with regular private sector health care plans.

According to news reports, if unions get a special tax break for themselves on health care taxes, they’ll gladly muscle “their” Congress members into supporting a “public option” health care bill.

In short, it’s little more than a political payoff to unions for spending $400 million in campaign cash to elect Democrats to Congress and the White House last year. As if the outrageous favors they’ve received from the auto bailouts aren’t enough.

This article, pointing out the unions influence on “their” congresspeople is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg. Literally hundreds of special interest groups are owed favors by those in the House and Senate (Republicans as well as Democrats) who accepted their generous “donations,” and those favors are being granted daily — by us — through the use of our tax dollars. While on the subject, let’s not forget our president, who is eagerly “paying back” unions for helping to get him elected by pushing “card check.”

Having crooks and lowlifes in the seat of government with their focus primarily on winning their next election seems to me to be a very stupid way to run a country.

(This article was also posted at My View from the Center.)

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5 Responses to “Looking for a Few Honest Congresspeople”

  1. Larry |

    Unionization is neither a sure fire formula for success nor is it a guarantee for failure. The notion that unions stifle individual incentive is not completely true. In fact in many cases, without unions, nepotism is the rule. The Joe nobodies have little chance of getting above starting pay scale no matter how long he works in an atmosphere where all upper management are related or share the same last name. Instead Joe gets the title of associate and a gold star on his time card. For many years GM kept all its apprentices on the so-called merit system. While many apprentices including me were subjected to intense interrogation at evaluation meetings, there were others that never met with the evaluation board. In 1973 the practice was abandon. The day of son, grand son and son in law special treatment was over.
    The union put to rest once and for all the “Bull of the woods” style of work force management. It was a management style that simply forgave the boss man of any and all indiscretions.
    The UAW is equally guilty of many issues that I and many other members are totally outraged about. The use of membership money to support only democrats is a long festering sore and one of those issues.
    The UAW of today is the Leonard Woodcock/Doug Frazier rendition. A far cry from the Walter and Victor Reuther model. The political angle is an advent of the last 35 years. By using clout brought on by civil rights legislation the UAW was able to bring pressure of a different kind to bear on the Detroit Three. The union now had the Fed’s as a silent partner. The threat of Federal intervention caused the corporations to be “Gun shy” in many areas where they should have prevailed.
    It’s all now a mute issue. The Big Three is now the Big One. The good old boys are still running the minimum wage sweat holes where Joe is still a “Gold Star Associate” with no benefits and little hope of living long enough to draw Social Security. He worries about the tax and spend President and whether he’ll have any of his paycheck left after taxes. He thinks about how good it all sounded in the beginning. Change, yesiree thats what we really need.

  2. Edisto Joe |




  3. Brian Bagent |

    Unionization monopolizes the labor market (or at least tends to), placing that commodity (labor) in the hands of union bosses and their politicians. The Sherman Anti-Trust act has been used to deprive business owners of their legal property. Why is it not used to separate union bosses from property to which they lay claim and receive benefit, but do not own?

  4. Tom |

    I come from a union family, and I’m pro-union. I’ve seen too many examples of working people and their families who benefit from unions to feel otherwise.

    I know there have been excesses over the years, and in some cases unions have had a negative impact on our economy and on society in general. One need look no further than the UAW and the auto industry. However, over the years the Big Three signed the union contracts, seeing that as the best of the alternatives they faced. So, unions alone aren’t the villains. They’re joined by businesses who are acting in their best interests, as are workers represented by unions.

    The way I see it, unions share at least one characteristic with governments — sometimes they’re so bad it’s tempting to think that life would be better without them. But just as the disappearance of government would reduce us to a state of nature and survival of the fittest, the disappearance of unions would take us back to the early days of industrialization — and no one should want that.

  5. Brian Bagent |

    Working people and their families may benefit, but what about the businesses that are forced to use union labor? What about the consumers who buy things from those businesses? Do they benefit? Do you and I benefit when the cost of doing “union” business for Detroit is 20% of the sticker price that we pay? Labor is a cost of doing business. Unionization ALWAYS forces that cost up, which of course is passed along to us.

    Unions all but destroyed American steel companies in the 70s and 80s. They’ve all but destroyed the automakers, though with people like Bob Nardeli at the helm (of Chrysler), it probably didn’t matter very much.

    Last time I looked, the states with the lowest numbers of unionized labor had the highest employment rates for those labor markets. And, for what it’s worth, the largest union segment in this republic represents government employees. I’m not really sure how that benefits anyone at all except the government employees.

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