Are Unions Still Relevant?

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby Griffin » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:52 pm UTC

But is there any particular reason you and the bars you want to play at can't just ignore the union? I mean, the most they can do is deny you union business, no?
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby drkslvr » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:40 pm UTC

OllieGarkey wrote:A tax that isn't flat or progressed but is based on assets rather than income. If you have, as a group, 5% of the assets, your 1% should pay for 5% of the burden, whatever percentage of income that happens to be.

That's fair, wouldn't you say?

And it's easy to lower your own taxes. Just make sure that the wealth for another group goes up by a few percentage points. If you create new wealth, not only is the entire country richer, but your taxes are lower.
We've had one too many debt crises in my lifetime for me to think that this is a good idea. Again, as long as you're underwater, you would never have to pay income tax. This is not what we want to be encouraging. Besides, it does make it "easy to lower your own taxes". Just go out and get a pointless loan. Put the money under your mattress. Or in a bank somewhere. As long as the interest on the loan is less than the tax rate (which is virtually guaranteed) you make money on the deal.

Griffin wrote:But is there any particular reason you and the bars you want to play at can't just ignore the union? I mean, the most they can do is deny you union business, no?
Yes, but the unions could threaten to boycott anyone who hired non-union musicians. It's not illegal. It's not really even "unfair", depending on how you look at it. But it does represent how the unions could make it hard for him to get gigs without paying dues.

Ninja edit: I can't spell. lawl... XD
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby zmatt » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:50 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:But is there any particular reason you and the bars you want to play at can't just ignore the union? I mean, the most they can do is deny you union business, no?


That's basically what they do, and a majority of older and more experienced musicians in town are part of it. So if you hire some non union kid to do a show then you loose a bunch of people who normally would. This doesn't apply if you don't pay them though. You can play for free as much as you want.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby drkslvr » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:08 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:This doesn't apply if you don't pay them though. You can play for free as much as you want.

Ha! I guess they figure if you'll play for free you aren't really competing in the same niche they are. XD
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby zmatt » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:10 pm UTC

I suppose, but I shouldn't have to pay some 3rd party to play some music in town for extra money.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby Vaniver » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:24 pm UTC

mosc wrote:I would also point out the absurdity of some people's "anti-union" arguments when they talk about the unions handcuffing corporations ability to be function. The unions have the largest vested interest of any group imaginable in the success and well being of their company. If their company goes out of business, they're out of work. And not on some golden parachute like many of the people on the other side of the negotiating table. No, I would argue the "best interests" of the company are better represented by the employees than the ownership. Ownership answers to their own salaries. In the case of a publicly traded company, that interest is in short term stock value, not in long term company survival. Anecdotal, which person do you think is more affected if GM goes under: the 50 year old assembly worker at GM or the CEO? Which do you think would be more affected if they lost their job, benefits, retirement money, and life insurance tomorrow? Which person's personal interests are better aligned with the survival of GM?
Funny, when unions ran GM into the ground the government rewarded them with a disproportionately large share of the ownership, above the secured bondholders (who, contractually, should have been paid out first).

The unions have an obviously less vested interest than ownership (do you know what vested means?). You also seem to be confused by the difference between ownership and management.

OllieGarkey wrote:The bottom 20% of earners, which is most of us, have 8% of the wealth.
Emphasis mine. You may want to become more familiar with math before getting involved in a debate like this.

Zamfir wrote:Perhaps a modern advanced economy can function without such a concentration of power, but we haven't seen that yet in practice. For better or worse, capitalist economies really do seem to have a rough division between capitalists and non-capitalists, even if that doesn't lead to eternal suffering for the workers.
Can a modern advanced economy function without such concentration of power? What would it look like, and how would it be sustained?

Envy is better suited to a time of zero-sum games than a modern advanced economy.

Zamfir wrote:In that situation, I find it weird to find people who complain about the power of unions, but who appear to have far less problem with individuals who sometimes own and control literally the entire other side of a unions's negotiation. It seems very reasonable to me to think (like zmatt above for example) that unions sometimes can have enough power to distort the economy in their favour. But if unions can have such power, with their need to coordinate action between large numbers of people, than surely employers with their far smaller numbers have at least as much power of distortion.
Right. Smith makes this point in The Wealth of Nations, at a time when the weight of the law was heavily on the employer's side. The optimal approach is for the government to be as impartial as possible, but I think it's clear that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of supporting the unions.


The worst tragedy of unions, in my mind, is their ability to divert the discussion. Most unions have professional managers- i.e., people who are simply agents for the workers, are paid out of union dues, and negotiate with management for workers. Regardless of whether their impact on workers is positive or negative (it can be both), it's rarely mentioned that they're distinct groups. The central mechanism of unions, though, is not negotiation but exclusion. It's telling that they hate scabs more than they hate management, and unions pushing to remove employee secret ballots can't be honestly reported as anything but predatory.

For example, this talk about concentration of wealth. What do capital distributions have to do with the proper way for labor to be distributed? Are we just supposed to get so frothy with anger that we don't realize that we're having an entirely separate discussion?
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby Zamfir » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:21 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:What do capital distributions have to do with the proper way for labor to be distributed? Are we just supposed to get so frothy with anger that we don't realize that we're having an entirely separate discussion?

Nope, no frothing required. Just a realization that in imperfect markets, prices are partially determined by bargaining strength. And that an economy is shaped by many political choices without an obvious best answer, so that political power will influence the shape of an economy. Of course, you can claim that your vision of the political economy is the obvious choice and all other views distortions, but that's what everybody can claim.

So if capital owners and labour work together, the resulting division of gains is to some extent determined by the ability of sides to coordinate as a block. That strengthens their bargaining position, and their political influence. If capital is far more concentrated, it is easier to coordinate. In many companies, capital is supplied by a small number of controlling shareholders and by bond holders and banks that already have a strictly defined claim on the gains. That makes coordination a lot simpler.

So yeah, this introduces something like zero-sum in the economy. Or perhaps more exactly, cooperation to a positive gain usually comes with a front of pareto solutions, without a clear single optimum. So everyone involved agrees that they should cooperate to get to a pareto solution, but they do not agree to which solution. Movement on a pareto front behaves a lot like a zero-sum game, even if every solution is a net positive for all.

Of course, everyone involved likes to pretend their preferred pareto-solution is the only ethically and efficent solution.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby Vaniver » Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:13 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Nope, no frothing required. Just a realization that in imperfect markets, prices are partially determined by bargaining strength. And that an economy is shaped by many political choices without an obvious best answer, so that political power will influence the shape of an economy.
Ok. But I still don't see the relevance. Does increasing or decreasing union power change the distribution of capital among owners? I doubt many of the 400 richest are heavily involved in unionized industries. If we are opposed to consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few, shouldn't we be bothered that unions consolidate working hours in the hands of a few?

I agree with you that surplus is often partitioned by negotiation, and that bargaining strength matters. But I think the methodology used to improve bargaining strength matters. Collective bargaining is well and good, but when you prevent strikers from being fired the primary losers are the people who would have been hired to replace them. (If Tom hires Joe to do something for $5, and Joe strikes, demanding $6, and Tom is prevented from hiring Bob to do it for $5, Tom is losing out on $1 but Bob is losing out on $5.)
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby PAstrychef » Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:44 am UTC

And if Bob will do it for 5 then Jim will do it for 4. The only way to keep wages higher than a minimum (where would the floor be if not for government mandate?) is to require that people not work for less.
I love the way people are told "Well, go get a different job" if they complain about bad practices, but are also told that they are keeping others from having a job at all by demanding better pay.
And it would be interesting to see how hard Caterpillar had it when their workers were out on strike for over a year (Article above in thread). After all, they had a huge drop in demand for their products. So having the workforce on strike meant:
1) they didn't have to pay them
2) they didn't have to contribute to their unemployment costs
3) they didn't have to come up with shit for them to be doing whilst the machines were idle.
So, in effect, by walking out the strikers helped the company cut operating costs.
And when the union ended the strike, it did so without a new contract. So the company, in effect, won.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:31 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:And if Bob will do it for 5 then Jim will do it for 4. The only way to keep wages higher than a minimum (where would the floor be if not for government mandate?) is to require that people not work for less.


And Frank, seeing all the cheap labor that makes $7, will hire Jim and Bob for $5, while Joe is unemployed demanding $6.

If Bob and Jim are, for the previous examples, plumbers, and they see that they are earning their boss $50 an hr but only being paid $20, then Bob and Jim will form their own plumbing companies and keep the money themselves. Unless of course there are barriers to entry; a giant plumbers guild union that limits number of plumbing certifications a year or something.

Complex industries can abuse their workers; you might be a good factory worker but you can't design the machines, you don't own the patents, you don't know the regulations, etc, so there is little risk of you forming your own job. But in less complex industries, a worker could easily form his own business if he/she felt like it, so there is absolutely no need for a union.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby drkslvr » Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:57 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Complex industries can abuse their workers; you might be a good factory worker but you can't design the machines, you don't own the patents, you don't know the regulations, etc, so there is little risk of you forming your own job. But in less complex industries, a worker could easily form his own business if he/she felt like it, so there is absolutely no need for a union.

Perhaps this is also why there are no unions for most professionals. CPA doesn't like his job, there is very little barrier to him going rogue. All he needs is a couple of clients.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:57 am UTC

drkslvr wrote:Perhaps this is also why there are no unions for most professionals. CPA doesn't like his job, there is very little barrier to him going rogue. All he needs is a couple of clients.


Except for, according to this thread, a Plumber's Union and a Musician's Union.

Down in NY, my best friend is a Magician. From what I understand, he is part of a psuedo-union. If you don't hire one of their members, or at least pay the same rates, you will not be able to hire any of them ever. It might not be a big deal for someone hiring for a birthday party (I doubt his "union" will blacklist a single household), but if you are a large organization, it can be a big deal.

Can we please stop calling these as anything other than guilds? I'm not truly anti-union, but a union ceases being a union when it exists across an entire sector (e.g., Ford, GM, Chrysler workers all belong to UAW) instead of just 1 business.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby drkslvr » Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:11 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Can we please stop calling these as anything other than guilds? And how are they not in violation of the anti-trust acts?

They probably are in violation of the anti-trust acts. We just don't have Teddy Roosevelt here to bust them. Try on this Anti-Trust statement for size. All professional organizations have to have one. In fact, most read them at the start of every meeting. How many ways do these "unions" violate it? Let's try and count:

As participants in this meeting, we need to be mindful of the constraints of antitrust laws. There shall be no discussions of agreements or concerted actions that may restrain competition. This prohibition includes the exchange of information concerning individual prices, rates, coverages, market practices, claims settlement practices, or any other competitive aspect of an individual company’s operation. Each participant is obligated to speak up immediately for the purpose of preventing any discussion falling outside these bounds.

In short, you're not even allowed to discuss what the going rate is at your firm. If you do, you can be held in violation of the anti-trust laws, even if no explicit agreement for setting prices is made or even discussed.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby Eowiel » Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:59 am UTC

In your quote they speak about "any other competitive aspect of an individual company’s operation". They clearly mention "company". I don't know much about US anti-trust laws, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were only applicable to companies, and unions aren't companies.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby zmatt » Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:21 pm UTC

I dunno if they are incorporated then technically they are a company.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby Vaniver » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:13 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:But in less complex industries, a worker could easily form his own business if he/she felt like it, so there is absolutely no need for a union.
But that's why incumbents want unions (and licensing requirements, which are more opaque but function similarly). Otherwise, too many people would move in and drive prices down, and then the only person that wins is the customer!

drkslvr wrote:They probably are in violation of the anti-trust acts.
Up until the 1920s, they were. The US Government was biased in favor of capital, and so most of the anti-competitive behavior they tried to stamp out was labor unionization. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 was one noteworthy turning point, and current anti-trust laws specifically target companies, while other laws aid unions in anti-competitive behavior (and that's not saying anything about the collusion between unions and the politicians they support). Neither situation is a good one, but there are few people pushing for a balanced position.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby nitePhyyre » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:00 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Collective bargaining is well and good, but when you prevent strikers from being fired the primary losers are the people who would have been hired to replace them. (If Tom hires Joe to do something for $5, and Joe strikes, demanding $6, and Tom is prevented from hiring Bob to do it for $5, Tom is losing out on $1 but Bob is losing out on $5.)
Anti-scab laws aren't about giving unions more power. That is most definitely a (unfortunate) consequence, but isn't the goal. Anti-scab laws exist only to limit violence. Getting rid of anti-scab laws won't get Bob a 5$ job. All you will get is a dead Bob and a burned down factory.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby Dark567 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:05 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote: Anti-scab laws exist only to limit violence. Getting rid of anti-scab laws won't get Bob a 5$ job. All you will get is a dead Bob and a burned down factory.
That doesn't exactly make me want to support unions.....
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby VMhent » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:46 pm UTC

Our issues with unions really result from a history of poor labor relations in our country. If you have time, this is a fascinating radio story roughly regarding the subject: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/403/nummi

Unions, good or bad, are really just a symptom of American classism on both sides of the spectrum. On the one hand, labor always feels trodden on by rich management who they feel could always afford to pay them more. On the other, management feels prodded and antagonized by poor labor, who they feel are really ungrateful. Neither perspective is entirely true, yet as long as this dynamic persists, the argument about unions will continue. So yes, they're relevant. They shouldn't have to be though.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby drkslvr » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:41 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote: Anti-scab laws exist only to limit violence. Getting rid of anti-scab laws won't get Bob a 5$ job. All you will get is a dead Bob and a burned down factory.
That doesn't exactly make me want to support unions.....

Me neither. It's sort of like saying we should keep Gaddafi in power otherwise people might get hurt. The solution here isn't to beef up the bad guys so no "unfortunate accidents" occur. The solution is taking them out.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:13 am UTC

Anti-scab laws exist only to limit violence. Getting rid of anti-scab laws won't get Bob a 5$ job. All you will get is a dead Bob and a burned down factory.


WHAT?!

Give me an example of a time when a union burned down a factory, please?

Citation very needed here.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:58 am UTC

OllieGarkey wrote:
Anti-scab laws exist only to limit violence. Getting rid of anti-scab laws won't get Bob a 5$ job. All you will get is a dead Bob and a burned down factory.


WHAT?!

Give me an example of a time when a union burned down a factory, please?

Citation very needed here.


Worker strike turned ugly
The archetype of union corruption
More on the mafia and IBT

Unions and the Mafia have a well known history. Don't kid yourself, unions can be just as vicious and underhanded as the corporations they oppose. Also, unions hate volunteers. The end result of that story was the head of the union had to step down to a huge amount of public backlash.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:22 am UTC

Nothing you provided was an example of unions burning down a factory which is what I requested.

I'm not pretending that unions aren't violent in defense of their class. I'm also not pretending that certain unions haven't been infiltrated by other organizations.

Mr. Hoffa is dead. The Haymarket massacre was a massacre of people by the police in a time when most of the dying was done by union folk. Yeah, they threw a bomb. Considering the time, and the nature of pinkerton agents, I don't blame them. The police massacred the crowd after the blast, and I'm not very surprised that's what happened.

But that is not evidence of a union burning down a factory.

I'm not pretending that unions are sunshine and daisies and butterflies, but they're not what they're being made out to be by certain folks here.

I'm really not sure what you were trying to prove with your citations.

Also, your article about volunteers comes from a website owned by the John Birch Society.

They're hardly a reliable source! That's like quoting Glenn Beck! That's like me linking you to Democracy Now! or SocialistWorker.org.

Please, let's keep our citations reliable, people.

Edit:
From Wikipedia, John Birch Society:
One of the founding members[21][22][23] was Fred Koch,[24] founder of Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in America.


You're seriously going to say that these guys are a reliable source about organized labor? When Koch Industries is the one of the largest anti-union forces in the US?

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:07 pm UTC

OllieGarkey wrote:Nothing you provided was an example of unions burning down a factory which is what I requested.


Missing the point entirely.

Unions have harassed and threatened management in the past, threatened violence, etc. Besides, I agree they wouldn't actually burn down the factory; especially when there are ways to steal it.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:23 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
OllieGarkey wrote:Nothing you provided was an example of unions burning down a factory which is what I requested.


Missing the point entirely.

Unions have harassed and threatened management in the past, threatened violence, etc. Besides, I agree they wouldn't actually burn down the factory; especially when there are ways to steal it.


I think you're the one missing the point. I don't have a problem with unions operating in active defense of the middle class, even if it isn't pretty.

Nationalization isn't theft, either.

You do not own the plant. The plant and the land it resides on is the sovereign property of the people of the United States (if we're in the US.) What you own is entitlement to the plant and the land that it is on, through titles and deeds. You do not own the sky above the plant. You do not own the minerals below the plant. You can buy entitlement to mine those minerals or to build something high into that sky if such entitlements are for sale.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:55 pm UTC

OllieGarkey wrote:I think you're the one missing the point.


The original point was that Unions do nasty things too, and that the law isn't what is "right" but what is "best". You complained that the other guy's specific example wasn't true, so I responded with some real examples that more or less validate his point.

OllieGarkey wrote:I don't have a problem with unions operating in active defense of the middle class, even if it isn't pretty.


The ends justify the means?

OllieGarkey wrote:Nationalization isn't theft, either.


You mean the government that didn't build the industry, didn't risk millions or even billions in capital, didn't spend countless hours doing the research, didn't take the huge risks, didn't spend many sleepless nights building a customer base, etc, coming in and seizing the industry isn't theft? Do you even know what theft means?

Though I'm against privatization as well, as it is anything but the polar opposite of nationalization; it's more the government fencing the stolen goods to the highest bidder, or at least to the bidder paying the best bribes.

OllieGarkey wrote:You do not own the plant. The plant and the land it resides on is the sovereign property of the people of the United States (if we're in the US.) What you own is entitlement to the plant and the land that it is on, through titles and deeds. You do not own the sky above the plant. You do not own the minerals below the plant. You can buy entitlement to mine those minerals or to build something high into that sky if such entitlements are for sale.


I don't know what country you come from, but in the US, if you own something, you own something. You don't have the "privilege" to use it; you have the "right" to use it. If I buy a piece of land, I own it. I have to pay taxes to the local government, and in exchange I get various protections, the most important of which is that the government will enforce my claim that I own it. I am, within the bounds of the law, allowed to make improvements on my land. If I build something that creates wealth, that land and wealth doesn't cease to be mine.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:15 pm UTC

The ends justify the means?


No. But when neither side are the good guys, I think we have to listen to what Von Clauswitz said about morality in warfare.

And if the wealthy want unions to go away, they should stop waging war against the middle class. It's that simple.

You mean the government that didn't build the industry, didn't risk millions or even billions in capital, didn't spend countless hours doing the research, didn't take the huge risks, didn't spend many sleepless nights building a customer base, etc, coming in and seizing the industry isn't theft? Do you even know what theft means?


Property != Sovereignty. You're defining those terms identically. And the government did build the industry, if it's in the US. There isn't a single industry that didn't get a significant piece of its pie from the government, from DARPA, from public universities, from research grants, from congressional earmarks, from local governments granting tax abatement, from state government offering 0 corporate taxes, despite the fact that corporations put a massive strain on infrastructure.

The corporation did not educate the scientists who made the discoveries, it did not build the infrastructure which connects its plant with vital resources such as electricity, water, and transport, it did not protect itself from risk, but was protected by the government via the FDIC and other federal institutions, if the company had failed, it would likely have been bailed out, or protected by the government under chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Company did not fight wars to sieze the land from native peoples. It did not protect the land from foreign warfare on multiple occasions. It did not purchase the land from the French, or Russians, or from the Mexicans at gunpoint. The government did.

It owns its entitlement, which cannot be lost except for due process of law. The people, through the government, own the land. Oh, and Eminent Domain.

The idea of a corporation spending sleepless nights building a customer base is hilarious by the way. "GM isn't doing too well. It hasn't been getting enough sleep."

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:16 pm UTC

OllieGarkey wrote:
The ends justify the means?


No. But when neither side are the good guys, I think we have to listen to what Von Clauswitz said about morality in warfare.

And if the wealthy want unions to go away, they should stop waging war against the middle class. It's that simple.


What does that even mean? The wealthy aren't waging war against the middle class. The wealthy hire accountants, visit doctors, contract with architects, hire managers, visit mechanics, etc.

Here's a hint for you; one of several reasons Marx was wrong was because the industrial revolution brought the wealthy people closer to everyone else, not further apart. Wealth and power became earnable, rather than coming out of the right vagina. A person may be poor now, but so long as he works hard he can improve his lot in life. Take, for example, Bernard Kerik. He started out as the bastard son of an alcoholic whore. If there is a more humble station in life, I don't want to know what it is. Through hard work, he became NYC's chief of police, and then one of Bush's main advisors. A person may be powerful and rich now, but if he breaks the law, as long as the justice system is working, he will end up on the bottom. Take, for example, Bernard Kerik...

OllieGarkey wrote:
You mean the government that didn't build the industry, didn't risk millions or even billions in capital, didn't spend countless hours doing the research, didn't take the huge risks, didn't spend many sleepless nights building a customer base, etc, coming in and seizing the industry isn't theft? Do you even know what theft means?


Property != Sovereignty. You're defining those terms identically. And the government did build the industry, if it's in the US. There isn't a single industry that didn't get a significant piece of its pie from the government, from DARPA, from public universities, from research grants, from congressional earmarks, from local governments granting tax abatement, from state government offering 0 corporate taxes, despite the fact that corporations put a massive strain on infrastructure.Eminent Domain.

The idea of a corporation spending sleepless nights building a customer base is hilarious by the way. "GM isn't doing too well. It hasn't been getting enough sleep."


Eminent domain has been a joke for years. The NY Times building was built on property seized through eminent domain, from people who didn't want to sell. The NYT won because it would "improve the taxbase". It just happened to be right next to Port Authority; the third best spot in all of NYC for any office building (right after the Financial District and Penn Station). Repeat; a the city forced people to give up their property not for the public good such as a school, but for private business that could've been built anywhere. The irony being, if a giant newspaper does something this monstrous, where do you go to let people know? (This was before the tubenet.) It's hard to feel sorry for landlords, especially when they "only" got a few million dollars (for property worth much much more), but it's proof that even the rich are at risk of legalized theft.

As for the education, etc, that belongs to the people who received it. They paid for it through loans or other means, etc. It is their right to sell their time and expertise to someone else at whatever price they negotiate. You are not the property of the government. Just because the government subsidized it does not mean the government owns it. The reasons for the subsidies is that the government expects increased taxes from a more educated workforce; this does not mean they own you.
Last edited by CorruptUser on Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:27 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:27 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:What does that even mean? The wealthy aren't waging war against the middle class. The wealthy hire accountants, visit doctors, contract with architects, hire managers, visit mechanics, etc.

Here's a hint for you; one of several reasons Marx was wrong was because the industrial revolution brought the wealthy closer to everyone else, not further apart.


You know, it's not relevant to this thread, so I'm going to write a big class-warfare thread about the assault on the middle class. It's gotten so bad that patent theft and suppression is now a business model.

And Marx was wrong because he thought that labor had intrinsic value. No matter how hard you work, you'll never turn gravel into gold. Labor creates no value there. Poor labor, however, can ruin goods and lead to a loss of value.

Wait, were you under the impression I was some kind of Marxist? That's cute.

OllieGarkey wrote:Eminent domain has been a joke for years. The NY Times building was built on property seized through eminent domain, from people who didn't want to sell. The NYT won because it would "improve the taxbase". It just happened to be right next to Port Authority; the third best spot in all of NYC for any office building (right after the Financial District and Penn Station). Repeat; a the city forced people to give up their property not for the public good such as a school, but for private business that could've been built anywhere. The irony being, if a giant newspaper does something this monstrous, where do you go to let people know? (This was before the tubenet.) It's hard to feel sorry for landlords, especially when they "only" got a few million dollars (for property worth much much more), but it's proof that even the rich are at risk of legalized theft.


Hey, I'm 100% with you on this one. I'll be the first one to admit that the US Government has been one of the greatest perpetrators of injustice in history, and those violations continue.

We need a constitutional ammendment that says that properties siezed under imminent domain can never be sold to a private interest. If the government no longer needs the land, it should be returned to the original property holders or their heirs.

As for the education, etc, that belongs to the people who received it. They paid for it through loans or other means, etc. It is their right to sell their time and expertise to someone else at whatever price they negotiate. You are not the property of the government. Just because the government subsidized it does not mean the government owns it. The reasons for the subsidies is that the government expects increased taxes from a more educated workforce; this does not mean they own you.


Now there you go putting words in my mouth. When did I say the government owned people?

I said that the corporation did not create what it created in a vacuum. It's successes are based on the toils of individuals and the support of the government.

Pretending that it was a lone actor is absurd, yet that's what you seemed to be arguing.

All governments have the right to sieze property. Be thankful that in the united states, entitlements cannot be rescinded without due process of law. That's a constitutional right guaranteeing a reasonable hope that once property is purchased, the purchased entitlements remain in the purchaser's hands.

That does not mean that the factory and the land it is built on are not within the sovereign domain of the United States.

Again, you are defining property as sovereignty. That's a false equivalence.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:04 pm UTC

We need a constitutional ammendment that says that properties siezed under imminent domain can never be sold to a private interest. If the government no longer needs the land, it should be returned to the original property holders or their heirs.


(discussion is tangential but)

What if none of the heirs want to re purchase the property? This would be an especially bad problem if you were dealing with a good number of people. It seems much simpler to ban eminent domain claims for private reasons, and put a restriction on how quickly public land can be resold(as in 20 year limit).
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby OllieGarkey » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:08 pm UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
We need a constitutional ammendment that says that properties siezed under imminent domain can never be sold to a private interest. If the government no longer needs the land, it should be returned to the original property holders or their heirs.


(discussion is tangential but)

What if none of the heirs want to re purchase the property? This would be an especially bad problem if you were dealing with a good number of people. It seems much simpler to ban eminent domain claims for private reasons, and put a restriction on how quickly public land can be resold(as in 20 year limit).


I said returned, not sold.

I.E. if you make a stupid immenent domain claim, you lose the value of the property. It punishes the authority which made a stupid claim.

And if it ends up that this is a building in downtown new york, and there are 500 heirs, let them sort it out in the courts.

It's another situation where a bad imminent domain claim creates a mess for the government.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:31 am UTC

And... back to unions.
As I was pondering this thread, the thought of one union in particular crossed my mind-the NFL players union. Here are a bunch of highly talented guys who have very little say over what happens in their professional lives. There is no free agency, so if your team owner wants to swap you, you have to move to another city. Your career is very short and usually leaves you with massive medical problems. There are very very few job openings in your field at any given time, and there's a steady supply of newcomers ready to take your slot.
And yet, you play for maybe 2 dozen games a year but you make hundreds of thousands of dollars. You're seen as larger than life, as somehow extra special because you can play this game particularly well. Most folks would assume that you were the master of your own destiny.
How much is a football player worth? More than a teacher? Is their training more difficult than that of most factory workers, given the role that innate talent plays?
And what recourse do they have if the owners decide to screw them over? Their only leverage is their willingness to play.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby Le1bn1z » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:31 am UTC

Unions can do bad things.

They are still eminently relevant and useful. Because for all they do for mess things up for workers trying to do well, they do way more for them.

I think that Team America World Police's moral applies.

Unions are dicks. Management are a**holes. Workers, with so little bargaining power in a world-trade economy where labour is a buyers market, are pussies.

Yes, with their labour restrictions, unions can **** workers.

However, they also **** management, whenever management tries to take a dump all over the workers. And lets face it, given the opportunity, there are few multinationals that won't take a dump all over their employees.

In fact, the market demands that they do.

The fundamental reality is that capital is more dear than labour, which means those who offer labour, that is, working people, can easily slip into poverty unless they are able to pool their bargaining power. Unions demonstrably lead to better income and quality of life for middle class and lower class workers.

Lack of Unions demonstrably lead to better income and living standards for the upper-upper crust.

To me, despite some terrible, terrible judgement calls in my current city (Toronto) by public unions, they are a necessary defense against a corporate class that has demonstrated that it really doesn't give a rat's ass about anyone who makes less than a hundred-grand a year.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby nitePhyyre » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:04 pm UTC

drkslvr wrote:
Dark567 wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote: Anti-scab laws exist only to limit violence. Getting rid of anti-scab laws won't get Bob a 5$ jorb. All you will get is a dead Bob and a burned down factory.
That doesn't exactly make me want to support unions.....

Me neither. It's sort of like saying we could keep Gaddafi in powwer otherwise people might get hurt. The solution here isn't to beef up the bad guys so no "unfortunate accidents" occur. The solution is taking them out.
Actually, in this example, Gaddafi would be the factory owner. The civilians protesting would be workers protesting. Oh, and the mercenaries Gaddafi brought in to end the protests would be the scabs.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby drkslvr » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:49 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
drkslvr wrote:
Dark567 wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote: Anti-scab laws exist only to limit violence. Getting rid of anti-scab laws won't get Bob a 5$ jorb. All you will get is a dead Bob and a burned down factory.
That doesn't exactly make me want to support unions.....

Me neither. It's sort of like saying we could keep Gaddafi in powwer otherwise people might get hurt. The solution here isn't to beef up the bad guys so no "unfortunate accidents" occur. The solution is taking them out.
Actually, in this example, Gaddafi would be the factory owner. The civilians protesting would be workers protesting. Oh, and the mercenaries Gaddafi brought in to end the protests would be the scabs.

It wasn't the factory owner you were suggesting would murder innocent civilians.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby nitePhyyre » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:58 pm UTC

Read it again, therre aren't any innocents in this scenario at all.
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby zAlbee » Sat Apr 02, 2011 1:12 am UTC

As expected, I see people holding the belief that unions are evil, and therefore, should be removed.

Unions are not inherently evil, any more than corporations are inherently evil. You could argue they hold too much power and you could be right. If there is only one union holding a monopoly on labour, but more than one consumer of that labour, then there is an imbalance in negotiation power. In cases where it is one union vs one employer, I don't see any imbalance.

On the other hand, if unions hold more power than the employers, eliminating them won't suddenly bring things into balance. It should be obvious that it will tilt the scale (greatly) in the other direction. Note that observing "employee benefits have been great in the past X years that unions have existed" does not mean that unions are not needed anymore. It reminds me of a story of a smoothly running company thinking that "wow, all our projects are going really well, these managers obviously aren't needed, we can lay them off to save money." Turns out they were an important part of why things were so smooth.

To have actual balance, I imagine one solution would be giving employees a choice of more than one union to join. If one union is holdinga monopoly, another union should be able to spring up and undercut their prices (wage requirements). In other words, corporate anti-trust laws applied to unions.

This may be not practical, but it is a nice thought experiment of what an efficient labour market could look like. The idea of abolishing unions is not. It is merely playing one side of the "unions vs corporations" war.

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Re: Are unicorns Still Relevant?

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Apr 02, 2011 1:45 am UTC

zAlbee wrote:Filters in SB are dumb.
Screw you. I made this thread *so* much better with just a single wordfilter:
zAlbee wrote:As expected, I see people holding the belief that unicorns are evil, and therefore, should be removed.
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Re: Are unicorns Still Relevant?

Postby Dark567 » Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:05 am UTC

zAlbee wrote:To have actual balance, I imagine one solution might be giving employees a choice o' more then one unicorn to join. If one unicorn is holdinga monopoly, another unicorn could be able to spring up and undercut Thor's prices (wage requirements). In other words, corporate anti-trust laws applied to unicorns.
Currently the Anti-trust laws don't apply to unions(they did before the 1930's). You mention the case of one employer vs. one union, but the reality is that the original laws are supposed to prevent either party from having a singularly position over the market ever. Thats what antitrust attempts to do, prevent singular employers and singular employees.
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Re: Are Unions Still Relevant?

Postby drkslvr » Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:10 am UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:Read it again, therre aren't any innocents in this scenario at all.

So if someone who needs a job to feed his/her family finds a job and crosses a union line to do that job and they get killed for it, they got what they deserved?

EDIT: My grammerz no is much good.
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