Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Are Unions So Evil?

This discussion began last night as an extension of a post in FaceBook. A link was posted to sign a petition to overturn the recent Supreme Court ruling concerning the Corporations "Free Speech" and limits on spending in support of issues and candidates. The petition is sponsored by some group calling itself Move to Amend. The petition has three main talking points.

  • Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.
  • Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.
That's where this began ....

Petitions are good things in regards to allowing people to vent their dissatisfaction. How much impact they have in the decision making process is questionable at best. Camp X-Ray is still in operation in Cuba. We are still engaged in hostilities with insurgent forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The street level economy is still limping along on broken legs while the media touts the gains on Wall Street, and banks still fail. Going as far back at the Reagan era, PATCO was still broken by the Reagan Administration. There was at the time a snow storm of paper dumped on the White House against that action. In the end Reagan fired "11,345 striking air traffic controllers."* Petitions serve as a general mechanism to allow a public catharsis about a given issue. That is about their minimal effect.

The following discussion ensued from the original post. It was ported here as it contains some of my more personal views on the whole issue of debating politics on the internet.

Facebook Friend: Interesting idea. So then...unions lose that same right too, right?

Cliff Potts: Not too concerned with that myself, James, I know of no Union who could out spend the likes Google, Microsoft, Apple or Wall-Mart. If they could then you would be working in a union shop there at Apple. I don't see that happening any time soon. The Unions are all but dead thanks to the lobbying and influence of the Corporations in Washington ... and Austin.

FbF: Well, speaking for me personally...I wouldn't be working in a union [shop] because I can't, at the moment, foresee a circumstance in which I would do that. I'm a huge fan of right-to-work.

As for unions vs corps...I tend to view things conceptually. For the discussion of "artificial right of human-hood" they are equivalent. If one loses it, the other should. The SEIU contributed at least $150 million in the last election.

CP: ... I guess it boils down to, who do you trust ...?

FbF: Well, the sad thing is...we can't really trust our politicians or this wouldn't be an issue. Anyone could contribute whatever amount they wanted to get someone elected and that "someone" would still do the right thing even if it was contrary to the wishes of whoever made the contributions.

Just to be clear...I don't think either organization ... See More should be limited. Both are essentially an entity made up of humans and as such, have the right to lobby for which ever person or party they believe best represents their interests.

CP: In that, you and I are in agreement. I don't mind passing along this petition and pointing out something that is flawed in the perceptions of the nature of the corporations, but equally, I am of the opinion that they should be allowed to "go for broke" and "come out of the closet." Given time they will hang themselves.

This is where the discussion became personal and worth taking out of the Facebook realm to be examined here.

FbF: And maybe the first question I should have asked Cliff is...are you the kind of person that can have an opposing debate and not take it personally? I am but I'm always hesitant because I can get a little passionate about things and I wouldn't ever want to ruin a friendship/relationship because of a difference in opinion.
In the opening paragraphs of Conspirators, Confederates and Cronies I addressed just how caustic political discussion had become.

The Dallas singing sensation, the Dixie Chicks, has also fallen from grace. Group member Natalie Maines publicly criticized President George W. Bush in 2003. The group has since lost audience, lost air play on the radio, and has received very specific death threats.

A woman with a Kerry sticker on her car was fired from her job. Her employer said that if she wanted to support Kerry, she could work for the presidential candidate. Kerry was also called the Anti-Christ by fundamentalists during the 2004 election campaign.**
During the 2007 - 2008 debates on U4Prez (a political debate site) I reported what I was seeing on the street. The debates degenerated from "You don't know what you are talking about, Potts" to "Go to work and die!." Somewhere in the middle was the statement that I should go out and commit an atrocity to gain publicity for the books I have written. Mind you, before the election came to pass in 2008 the economy of the U.S. slid into the worse recession since the Reagan Recession of 1982. Both veterans of the U4Prez debates, I will add, are on Facebook, and they are not on my friends list.

The level of Corporate influence and reprisal has risen to unprecedented levels. Yet, somehow, we are to fear the unions. The unions that were broken with the Reagan action in 1981. At no point since then have the Union exerted undue control over the workplace save for some isolated locations. Moreover, one's political leaning in disagreement with the union leadership does not automatically disqualify one from union membership. Conversely we see that ones political opinions are grounds for termination in the private sector. Again proved by the 1981 decision and observations from the 2004 election cycle. It is not the unions who should be feared. And the issue raised in this argument are superfluous at best. At least for right now ....

As far as the unions are concerned, I will repeat what I said: The unions are all but dead. If they ever regain the power as democratic organizations in existence to oppose the actions of the some of the corporate entities, it will be because there is no alternative to the abuses of those corporate entities.

All corporations are not evil, however. Some strive to do right like Apple (you can stop laughing now), and some are simply myopic with blinders and don't see the long term ramifications of their actions. Microsoft, Google, Wall-Mart all come to mind for the latter. Give them enough time and this short sightedness will become apparent. I think we have already seen that with the bailouts of AIG, Citi Group, Bank of America, and the bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors. These guys, by the nature of the market, are not in it for the long term. They are going to grab what they can for themselves ... at the expense of the nation if necessary.

*Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (1968). (2010, January 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:00, January 26, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Professional_Air_Traffic_Controllers_Organization_(1968)&oldid=337114113
** Potts, C. A. (2008). Conspirators, Confederates and Cronies . Dallas: WordTechs Press.

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