Thursday, November 22, 2012
Twinkies and golden eggs
Union demands have served to decrease number of jobs
By THOMAS SOWELL
Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is one of those fairy tales with a heavy message that a lot of adults should listen to. The labor unions that have driven the makers of Twinkies into bankruptcy, potentially destroying 18,500 jobs (subject to court-ordered mediation), could learn a lot from that old fairy tale.
Many people think of labor unions as organizations to benefit workers, and think of employers who are opposed to unions as just people who don't want to pay their employees more money. But some employers have made it a point to pay their employees more than the union wages, just to keep them from joining a union.
Why would they do that, if it is just a question of not wanting to pay union wages? The Hostess Brands bankruptcy is a classic example of costs created by labor unions that are not confined to paychecks.
The work rules imposed in union contracts required Hostess, which makes Twinkies and Wonder Bread, to deliver these two products to stores in separate trucks. Moreover, truck drivers were not allowed to load either of these products into their trucks. And the people who did load Twinkies into trucks were not allowed to load Wonder Bread, and vice versa.
All of this was obviously intended to create more jobs for the unions' members. But the needless additional costs that these make-work rules created ended up driving the company into bankruptcy, which can cost 18,500 jobs. The union is killing the goose that laid the golden egg.
Not only are there reasons for employers to pay their workers enough to keep them from joining unions, there are reasons why workers in the private sector have increasingly voted against joining unions. They have seen unions driving jobs away to nonunion competitors at home or driving them overseas, whether with costly work rules or in other ways.
The legendary labor leader John L. Lewis called so many strikes in the coal mines that many people switched to using heating oil instead, because they couldn't depend on coal deliveries. A professor of labor economics at the University of Chicago called John L. Lewis "the world's greatest oil salesman."
There is no question that Lewis' United Mine Workers Union raised the pay and other benefits for coal miners. But the higher costs of producing coal not only led many consumers to switch to oil, these costs also led coal companies to substitute machinery for labor, reducing the number of miners.
By the 1960s, many coal-mining towns were almost ghost towns. But few people connected the dots back to the glory years of John L. Lewis. The United Mine Workers Union did not kill the goose that laid the golden eggs, but it created a situation where fewer of those golden eggs reached the miners.
It was much the same story in the automobile industry and the steel industry, where large pensions and costly work rules drove up the prices of finished products and drove down the number of jobs. There is a reason why there was a major decline in the proportion of private sector employees who joined unions. It was not just the number of union workers who ended up losing their jobs. Other workers saw the handwriting on the wall and refused to join unions.
There is also a reason why labor unions are flourishing among people who work for government. No matter how much these public sector unions drive up costs, government agencies do not go out of business. They simply go back to the taxpayers for more money.
Consumers in the private sector have the option of buying products and services from competing, non-union companies-- from Toyota instead of General Motors, for example, even though most Toyotas sold in America are made in America. Consumers of other products can buy things made in non-union factories overseas.
But government agencies are monopolies. You cannot get your Social Security checks from anywhere except the Social Security Administration or your driver's license from anywhere but the DMV.
Is it surprising that government employees have seen their pay go up, even during economic downturns, and their pensions rise to levels undreamed of in the private sector? None of this will kill the goose that lays the golden egg, so long as there are both current taxpayers and future taxpayers to pay off debts passed on to them.
The Horrors of FEMA Disaster 'Relief'; the Glory of Private Efforts
"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'" -- President Ronald Reagan
Those wise and yet haunting words spoken by one of our nation's greatest presidents couldn't ring more true -- especially today, as winter sets in on an estimated 130,000 of our fellow Americans who are still struggling without power. Many live without heat, hot water or inhabitable homes and question the government's efforts to alleviate their condition.
Amid the election frenzy, several mainstream media outlets instantly praised the Obama administration's response to the Hurricane Sandy devastation in the Northeast. But let's look beneath the congratulatory headlines to see the real and horrifying picture of what's happening.
Right now, homeless Americans are literally freezing, wrapped in blankets and trash bags as they struggle to survive in FEMA tent cities such as New Jersey's "Camp Freedom," which reportedly "resembles a prison camp."
"Sitting there last night, you could see your breath," displaced resident Brian Sotelo told the Asbury Park Press. "At (Pine Belt), the Red Cross made an announcement that they were sending us to permanent structures up here that had just been redone, that had washing machines and hot showers and steady electric, and they sent us to tent city. We got (expletive)."
Sotelo said Blackhawk helicopters patrol the skies "all day and night," and a black car with tinted windows surveys the camp while the government moves heavy equipment past the tents at night. According to the story, reporters aren't even allowed in the fenced complex, where lines of displaced residents form outside portable toilets. Security guards are posted at every door, and residents can't even use the toilet or shower without first presenting ID.
"They treat us like we're prisoners," Ashley Sabol told Reuters. "It's bad to say, but we honestly feel like we're in a concentration camp."
Snow and icy slush seep into living areas through the bottoms of the government tents.
Meanwhile, officials are said to be banning residents from taking pictures and even cutting off Wi-Fi and power access.
"After everyone started complaining, and they found out we were contacting the press, they brought people in," Sotelo said. "Every time we plugged in an iPhone or something, the cops would come and unplug them." He added: "Everybody is angry over here. It's like being in prison."
In New York, residents of Gerritsen Beach have banded together to survive. "With all due respect to the federal issue, we're used to taking care of ourselves," Doreen Garson, the acting volunteer fire chief, told The Washington Post as area residents received hot meals outside a trailer. "I don't know what FEMA is really doing for anyone."
Some citizens say FEMA has distributed checks to fix their homes, but bureaucratic hurdles mean relief amounts are determined inconsistently and may be insufficient to cover damage. In some cases, the rebuilding funds are distributed even when reconstruction doesn't make sense because the destroyed homes are located in high-risk areas.
FEMA's bureaucratic tape is such a mess that states have had to hire consulting firms just to navigate the paperwork, with consultants earning as much as $180 an hour -- all of which is billed to American taxpayers.
Meanwhile, FEMA -- which previously provided trailers to victims of Hurricane Katrina that made residents sick from toxic levels of formaldehyde -- will now bring more temporary homes to New York and New Jersey. The government assures us that this time the homes have been approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, FEMA failed to have bottled water and other supplies ready for storm victims -- a week after the storm hit -- and was forced to seek help from private vendors to meet residents' needs.
While generous citizens fill trucks with donations and goods for hurricane survivors, FEMA is reportedly demanding they stop -- because the federal agency has "strict rules on what can and can't be accepted."
To make matters worse, FEMA now expects Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to appear before Congress and request a taxpayer bailout for FEMA flood-insurance operations while it burns through $200 to $300 million a day.
Where did we go wrong? The moment we began looking to government to fill the role of caretaker, provider and savior.
What happened to the days when communities and churches were the places Americans turned to for help? We need to get back to basics, where Americans care for our brothers and sisters and help them in times such as these.
In one brilliant example of communities banding together, Staten Island residents organized their own citizen-led team of volunteers and started a donation drive, bringing massive trucks of aid into their community from Virginia. They've worked with local churches, VFW posts and businesses to bring in needed supplies and help with cleanup efforts.
In yet another stunning example of private efforts, veterans of both the Israeli army and U.S. military descended on New York to help with rescue operations and relief assistance when the government was said to be absent.
Churches and businesses are reaching out to people who've been displaced, packing U-Haul trucks and 18-wheelers with food, diapers, blankets, toiletries and other needed goods.
"We decided that it wasn't enough for us to simply declare the gospel; we've got to demonstrate it," pastor Jerry Young said from New Hope Baptist Church in Mississippi. "What we're trying to do now is demonstrate the gospel."
Just as these grassroots volunteers have been sacrificing so much to help displaced citizens and clean up storm-ravaged areas in the Northeast, I urge America's citizen volunteers, churches and businesses to follow their examples.
Let's stop making the mistake of expecting government to be our savior in times like these.
We are told eight times in the Bible to love our neighbor. This Thanksgiving week, America has an extraordinary opportunity to do just that. Let's band together and show our fellow citizens that we care and we won't leave them to the "mercy" of the government in their time of need.
Bakery union set to crumble: "Bankrupt Hostess Brands Inc. and its striking union agreed to enter into mediation to try to resolve their differences, putting the baking company's planned liquidation on hold for now. At a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing Monday in White Plains, N.Y., the 82-year-old company sought permission to start shutting down its business. Instead, Judge Robert Drain urged Hostess and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union to consider mediation. Both sides agreed to try to work through the conflict, which could preserve more than 18,000 jobs. Those include 550 positions for workers at two bakeries and seven retail stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties, as of the start of the year."
UN: ending AIDS epidemic is "feasible": "An end to the worldwide AIDS epidemic is in sight, the United Nations says, mainly due to better access to drugs that can both treat and prevent the incurable human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes the disease. Progress over the past decade has cut the death toll and helped stabilize the number of people infected with HIV, the U.N. AIDS program said in its annual report on Tuesday. 'The global community has embarked on an historic quest to lay the foundation for the eventual end of the AIDS epidemic. This effort is more than merely visionary. It is entirely feasible,' UNAIDS said. ... Deaths from AIDS fell to 1.7 million in 2011, down from a peak of 2.3 million in 2005 and from 1.8 million in 2010." [They're going to stop homosexuals from sticking their member where the sun doesn't shine??]
We need to end the drug war!: "To save our children, we need to get drugs out of our schools. The only way to do that is to take the profit out through re-legalization. You don't see pushers selling tobacco and alcohol in the schools because there isn't the profit margin that prohibition brings. If we're serious about saving our kids, we have to stop the pushers by slashing their profits."
Let's hear it for scandal!: "I can't abide the sort of Beltway scold who looks down his nose at political scandals as distractions from 'the business of governing.' Ringside seats at the latest --'gate are among the few redeeming features of life in this miserable company town. At a minimum, scandals serve as a useful reminder that we're usually led by people of questionable competence, miserable judgment and a flexible relationship with the truth. At their best, they can even provoke much-needed reforms."
Last surviving Mumbai gunman Mohammed Kasab executed in India: "Mohammed Kasab, the sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has been hanged in an Indian prison. Kasab was executed at 7.30am (0200 GMT) at Yerwada jail in Pune in the western Indian state of Maharashtra after India's President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his mercy plea earlier this month, local media said. The Pakistan-born Kasab was one of 10 gunmen who laid siege to the city in attacks that lasted nearly three days and killed 166 people. Kasab was sentenced to death in May 2010 after he was found guilty of a string of charges, including waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts. During the 2008 attacks, the heavily armed Islamist gunmen stormed targets in Mumbai including luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a hospital and a bustling train station. "
California leads the way: "Under the federal government’s new measurement of poverty, California is in last place — or at the top of the state rankings with a 23.5 percent poverty rate. This state, now under a super-majority of Democratic leadership so Republicans cannot stop any new schemes, is excelling in all the wrong areas and continues to sink in areas of growth and prosperity. Unfortunately, poverty isn’t the only area where the Golden State reigns supreme. California has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation at 10.2 percent. The state faces an unfunded liability of $100 billion in its Public Employees’ Retirement System and $65 billion in its State Teachers’ Retirement System. Furthermore, the state has a roughly $16 billion budget deficit."
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena . GUN WATCH is now put together by Dean Weingarten.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:19 AM