Category Archives: Labor

Labor Day Thoughts, by the Zman

The unproductive managerial class grows at the expense of the shrinking productive class. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:

One of the consequences of the neoliberal order is that labor markets in Western societies are at war with themselves. On the one hand, the relentless competition within the managerial class, the so-called meritocracy, results in a relentless, passive-aggressive struggle for status. Within that class of people it is a state of constant anxiety, as these people worry that one small misstep will cause them to lose their standing within the managerial class. Everyone is miserable.

On the other hand, the math of the managerial system means pitting worker against worker, usually relying on foreign mercenaries, to suppress wages and prevent class solidarity. In order to support the swelling army of otherwise useless people in the media, academy and government, it means extracting ever more from the laboring classes and their private employers. The typical private sector worker is under relentless daily pressure to do more with less.

Compounding this is the natural response to these pressures, where workers accumulate in areas shielded from competition. Government grows, as a jobs program and as a way to maintain support for government. The massive growth in government, education and now health care are responses to the relentless competition within the so-called private sector. Skip to the bottom of this post, where there is a graph showing the growth in administrators within the American health care industry.

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“We Are Going Up In Flames”: New Jersey In “Worse Shape Than Any Other State” Senate President Admits, by Tyler Durden

It looks like New Jersey, rather than Illinois, may be winning the race to the fiscal bottom. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

For years, it was conventional wisdom that the most financially-challenged state in the US – whether it comes to overall debt burden, outlays, tax collections, underfunded pension and retirement obligations, or simply credit rating – was Illinois, followed closely by New Jersey in second place.

However, according to New Jersey’s Senate president, conventional wisdom is wrong. In an interview with Bloomberg, Senator Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, said that that credit-rating companies may be underestimating the severity of the state’s financial strains by giving it the second-lowest grade after Illinois.

“We are in worse shape than Illinois,” Sweeney said. “We are not investing in education, we are not investing in the areas that we want because all the money is going to pensions and health care.”

As Bloomberg notes, these comments underscore the persistent fiscal pressure on New Jersey, a high-tax state contending with massive debts to employee pension funds after years of failing to set aside enough to cover the $212 billion of benefits that have been promised. As extensively discussed in the past, New Jersey’s retirement system had about $82 billion of assets in 2018, only 38% of what it needs to cover checks that are owed in the decades ahead. That’s lower than any other state system in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The state’s obligation for retirees’ health care benefits adds another $90.5 billion. The state’s solution? Raise expected pension fund returns from 7.0% to 7.5%!

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The Obama Film American Factory Backfires, by Peter C. Earle

The Obamas’ first film had the opposite effect on at least one viewer than what was intended. From Peter C. Earle at aier.org:

Higher Ground, the production company founded by Michelle and Barack Obama, has released the first of a planned seven-film series on Friday. American Factory chronicles the opening of a Chinese factory near Dayton, Ohio, where a GM plant closed in 2008. It’s reasonable to suppose that the point was to alarm us about the wiles of global capitalism. Oddly, the film might have the opposite effect on many viewers. It certainly did for me.

The documentary opens with a prayer on the day the plant closes as tearful workers see the last vehicle come off of the production line. A few years later, Fuyao Glass announced its intent to open a glass-production facility in the shuttered facility. One of our first glimpses is of a question and answer as American employees of the Chinese firm speak about the goals of the firm to prospective employees: they plan to employ several thousand people in all capacities, but mostly blue-collar work of the type that disappeared when the local GM plant shut down. One prospect asks if this will be a union shop. No, he is told. The plan is to be non-union.

Perhaps because of their proximity to widespread unemployment, everyone who heard that answer nods in agreement. This new factory is the only game in town, and the best news most of these out-of-work machinists and factory hands have heard in years.

Initially, most of the senior managers are Americans, but alongside the American workers are a group of Chinese workers. Also initially, most of the U.S. workers are deeply appreciative of the new opportunity. We follow one who, since the closing of the GM plan, has been reduced to living in her sister’s basement. Others have been out of work for some time, barely getting by on part-time work and odd jobs.

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Wages War, by John Stossel

It’s been said over and over again: minimum wage laws price the lowest skilled workers out of the labor market. That never stops such laws from being enacted. From John Stossel at townhall.com:

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign was just disrupted by campaign workers demanding the same $15 per hour that Sanders demands the government force all employers to pay.

It serves him right.

Years ago, the activist group ACORN faced the same problem. After fighting for a higher minimum wage, it tried to convince a judge it should be granted an exception when paying its own workers, since it was involved in such important and productive work.

Government telling employers what to pay people creates nasty side effects.

Five years ago, Seattle won fame by becoming the first American city to mandate a $15 per hour minimum.

“Fifteen in Seattle is just a beginning. We have an entire world to win! Solidarity!” vowed City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

New York state and many cities followed in Seattle’s footsteps.

But now the results from Seattle are in:

Some people who already had jobs are being paid more. They’re the winners under the new law.

But the losers are needier people: people who are looking for jobs.

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Hollow Words, by Eric Peters

The Declaration of Independence embodied a concept of federalism, with the states being independent sovereigns, that is now a dead letter. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

We go through the motions – often, because it’s the easiest thing to do. Inertia. We celebrate anniversaries without meaning. Wedding days in marriages gone cold.

And, of course, the Fourth.

That vapid day is coming ‘round again. People will drink beer and cook out and go through the motions. Some will launch illicit fireworks – real ones being mostly illegal now.

But only a cognitively dissonant American celebrates his “freedom” – which for the record isn’t even what the day is supposed to commemorate.

Read the words penned on that yellowed piece of parchment drafted by Massa Tom sometime. Few apparently do anymore. It is the “Unanimous Declaration of the ThirteenUnited States of America.”

Not the Declaration of the (redacted) United States of America. It is an important distinction.

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How the UAW Will Kill the Big Three, by Eric Peters

The UAW is pushing against its own members’ interests, pushing the car companies to adhere to costly Obama administration mandates. From Eric Peters at ericpeftersautos.com:

The United Auto Workers (UAW) almost killed the American car industry once – back in the ‘70s and ‘80s – when it succeeded in making American cars too expensive (and too poorly built) relative to the Japanese competition – by demanding high wages and benefits for low-quality work.

Now comes its second opportunity.

Today, the union – which represents workers from GM, Ford and FiatChrysler – will tell Congress it opposes President Trump’s efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on the companies which employ the union’s workers and the car buyers which support them. It will tell Congress it wants the Obama-era fatwas defining carbon dioxide as an “emission” – and thus a “pollutant” – to remain in force and be enforced.

And for the public to be forced to spend more money on cars that are more “efficient” – regardless of the cost.

The UAW does not put it quite that way, of course.

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“Europe Will Not Be Europe”, by Guy Millière

The outcome in the European Parliamentary elections will do nothing to alter what now appears to be Europe’s inevitable transformation. From Guy Millière at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • In the United Kingdom, the Brexit Party victory at 31.6% of the vote was a remarkable achievement that showed the persistent willingness of millions of Britons to leave the European Union. The “populist” positions — the defense of national sovereignty and European civilization, refusal of uncontrolled immigration and diktats of Brussels technocrats — have gained ground.
  • The parties that have ruled Europe for decades obtained weak results, but, with rare exceptions, did not collapse — and will continue to dominate the European Union.
  • The Greens may gain more influence – along with its consequences. To anyone who read the Greens’ programs, it is evident that they are essentially leftists with an environmental green mask. They support unrestricted immigration and multiculturalism. They are…resolutely hostile to any defense of Western civilization, to free enterprise and free markets. They are often in favor of zero growth. Most of them support an apocalyptic vision of climate change and say that the survival of humanity will be at stake around the corner if Europe does not take drastic measures to “save the planet”. All of them are in favor of authoritarian decisions imposed from Brussels to all of Europe.
  • A European parliament placed under the influence of the Greens will almost certainly accelerate the slide towards more power given to the unelected members of the European Commission, and a phasing out of nuclear energy and fossil fuels. Policies favorable to still more immigration already are in preparation.
(Image source: iStock)

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