Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kelly plays the Nazi card

I don't know how many wars are going on right now, beyond the three we are involved in. There have been wars going on since there has been writing to record them. Yet which war, which theater and army did Jack Kelly today choose use as a metaphor for the state of unions today? World War II, the Russian front and the Wehrmact. Kelly chose to compare American unions, public service unions including the police, fire personal and emergency medical technicians who ran into the twin towers to the Nazis. Actually, it must be a delicious comparison, the Nazis and communists killing each other.

All right, so maybe I am going a bit overboard there. But in all of Kelly's column today, he never once mentions that the unions he is talking about include public service unions we used to consider heroes. Police, fire, emergency medical services and teachers. Either we think they are doing important work (sometimes heroic) or not. At the very least, I take exception to comparing police and teachers to Nazis (OK, so I didn't like some of my teachers, but they weren't that bad).

Now, I have admit the collective bargaining model appears to have some problems. Unions have certainly shown the tendency to act in their own interest over their employer, and to some extent to act in the interest of their most senior members over the membership as a whole. This can be particularly problematic when the employer is the taxpayers of a city, county, state or the nation.

That said, I think that if governments, local or national, made promises in the past, even if they were merely passing the buck to the future, we need to honor the promises. They won't last forever. For current public service employees, we do need to transition to defined contribution in health and retirement benefits. And although I am not sure what this would means for collective bargaining, but possibly salaries for public service employees need to be tied in some fashion to local salaries in private industry for people with similar qualifications (in experience and education). Of course, doing that might bring the salaries up for teachers, but if that's fair?

Kelly may be right, that public service unions are in danger of being dismantled, and thus the Democrats may lose a lot of funding. And I guess since Kelly seems to have bought into the Tea Party ideology, he thinks having just one party would be just fine. We could call the party the Nationalist Capitalist party.

Watch out, Sudetenland.


Heir to the Throne said...

You know who defended and tries to keep on the force bad cops like Anthony Abbate who beat a woman bartender for not serving him on tape?
The Police Union

Who believes that Police misconduct is so rare it should be illegal to record on duty Police.
The Police Union

Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police...
"You have 960,000 police officers in this country, and millions of contacts between those officers and citizens. I’ll bet you can’t name 10 incidents where a citizen video has shown a police officer to have lied on a police report," Pasco says. "Letting people record police officers is an extreme and intrusive response to a problem that’s so rare it might as well not exist. It would be like saying we should do away with DNA evidence because there’s a one in a billion chance that it could be wrong. At some point, we have to put some faith and trust in our authority figures."

Police Union Intimidating Derrick Foster’s Supporters

EdHeath said...

First of all, HTTT, your comment is almost entirely off topic. I personally think the economics of the situation are important. Personally I am somewhat insulted that you make a comment that has nothing to do with the economics. I think people's livelihoods are important (both public service employees and taxpayers), so I think a discussion on that topic is relevant.

All that said, I don't think I offered a categorical defense of unions, police or otherwise. As far as the stories you linked to, I would actually probably agree with the points raised in the reason article. I don't think that cops performing their duties have much of an expectation of privacy, even if their union wants to protect them. On the other hand, I think there is something to the point raised by a union person, that the video's shot by civilians do not conform to the chain of evidence, and theoretically could be altered after having been shot.

By the way, your second link is messed up. I was able to find the story myself, and I wonder if there was a racial element (not mentioned in the Reason Article) in the whole incident. Again, my personal opinion, it would not be a total defense, but it should matter. Actually, a place where a civilian video might have been informative.

Heir to the Throne said...

You hit a nerve with the police, fire personal and emergency medical technicians who ran into the twin towers. That we should apply that one noble example to the police as a whole.

I remember a union flack (Jack Shea?) who used the brave actions of the police on 9/11 to defend the Police Union.

Are the police always willing to charge in so bravely?
Capt. Robert Vignola acknowledged that a half-hour passed between the time police first learned of the break-in, and the time they saw the two accused murderers, Steven Hayes, 47, and Joshua Komisarjevsky, 30, run out of the house, get into the Petit's car, and try to escape. It was only then that police noticed the house was on fire. ... Vignola said there was no sign of activity inside when police arrived, and that they set up a perimeter around the Petit house, in accordance with standard procedure. He said that if he had known what was going on inside, "I would have been the first one through that door,"

EdHeath said...

Again and still, HTTT, not on topic.

But OK, so you say I hit a nerve by referring to 9/11. So first you damn all cops with the actions of a few by talking about the civilian videos showing misdeeds, and the thing in Cincinnati. Now you want to brand all cops as cowards by pointing to the actions of a few in Connecticut. Yet even the part of the story you cut and pasted said "they set up a perimeter around the Petit house, in accordance with standard procedure" (emphasis mine). Before you suggest cops are cowards, you might want to look at established procedure in whatever situation.

Again, I am not suggesting cops should get a blanket pass. But consider, no one was expecting a terrorist attack on 9/11. The cops, fire and EMS personnel showed up at random, they acted on instinct. To the extent they were chosen at random, so to speak, they are somewhat representative. Somewhat. Think about that when you claim this hits a nerve.

And if you don't like me suggesting praise for all cops because of the actions of a few on 9/11, then why are you accusing or slamming all union police because of the actions of a few cops? You know, it's like it's not fair to blame all Republicans for Paul Ryan's bogus budget plan, but all the House Republicans voted for it. That gives support to the idea that all Republicans are not serious about economics.

Bitter Clinger said...

Union-management relationships, when they are negotiating salary and benefits are a “zero sum game”. This means that if management is fulfilling its responsibility to maximize revenue and gouging the customer to the best of its ability, then all the salary and benefits gained by the union come directly from the pockets of management and the shareholders. If the union is also negotiating for work rules this becomes a less than “zero sum game” because giving up its ability to redesign the work destroys the competitive nature of an enterprise. There is no synergy between management and the union if you are negotiating for salary and benefits; there is negative synergy if you are negotiating work rules which are bad for the company, bad for the community, and bad for society. I think about in my lifetime, the coal miners vs. the mine owners; featherbedding railroad workers against the railroads; and steel worker unions against Bethlehem and US Steel. I think about the airline pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, and baggage handlers that got Northwest Airlines renamed Delta. And of course, we have the UAW that with the help of President Obomba screwed the stockholders, the bondholders, and the taxpayers for $89 Billion to takeover what was in my lifetime the greatest most productive automotive corporation in the world. My point is that in all of union history, the unions have never built anything, but destroyed every industry they have touched. They are cancers destroying the vulnerable industries for their own and their member’s personal gain. Can you name any union organization that is as dynamic and competitive as its non-union competitor? The NEA produces the same kind of student that the UAW produces automobiles. (For a fuller explanation see Unionized medical workers kill more people by accident each year than the US military, fighting in three wars, tries to kill on purpose. I worked in a union environment for thirty-two years and you have no idea how tired I got of hearing “It’s not my f”en job” “You need an f’en electrician for that” “You can’t f’en do that!” “I’ll file an f’en grievance” It is NOT the wages or pension benefits that destroy union dominated industry but the work rules; the protection of the thugs, the stealers, and the incompetent. You are not stupid, so I will bet you don’t drive a union made car and never have. Do you think that the UAW is able to build a Honda CR-Z or a Toyota Prius? No, they are building the coal burning Chevy Volts. We will see how that works out for them.

EdHeath said...

Well, BC, first of all you are also not exactly on the topic of the post, but ... whatever. I think I indicated that I have mixed feelings about unions, but I can not subscribe to your absolutist interpretation. The world is not black and white that way. Certainly in the last thirty years most American private sector unions have not adapted well to a changing economic market, but arguably neither have most American non-union shops. And by the way, the unions have, as I understand reality, unions have nothing to do with the design of a car.

It has been pointed out that for teachers, for example, if they had studied business or law or medicine for an equivalent period of time, would be making more in the private sector than they make teaching. If you privatize primary and secondary education, then more kids will not get an education, which will further undermine democracy and freedom in this country.

Also, by the way, the labor market here (and everywhere) is far from perfect, far from efficient. The fact the CEO and other top corporate officers are paid so much more than regular workers, and the workers salaries have at best stagnated (if not fallen in real terms) over the last thirty while productivity has increased dramatically (and by the way union participation has dropped) indicates how badly the labor market functions right now in the US. Private sector union membership has dropped since the middle of the last century. Yet American manufacturing companies are doing worse, not better. Unions may have problems, but they aren't the problem in the American economy.