Sunday, December 16, 2012

Where We Are

Way more true than I like:

... Today, in most of America, unions have it bad. And part of the reason it’s bad is because we no longer know how to organize. Imagine trying to organize workers in your call center or warehouse, or your software gaming firm or your human rights NGO, as they’re doing at Amnesty International. The pressures against you — from worker cynicism and colleagues’ fear of losing their jobs, to personal relations with your boss and superiors, the bills you have to pay, and simple questions like "how do I organize" and "how do I know I won’t be screwed" — not to mention the inevitable appearance of company snitches, provocateurs, and just run-of-the-mill assholes and idiots... I’m not even talking here about your company’s ability to fire you, demote you, abolish your department, slash your pay, pretty much whatever the Hell they want ever since Reagan busted the air traffic controller’s union... This is the lot of American labor organizers in 2012 , except for in a few remaining pockets of America where union power and memory is still strong and tightly woven into the local cultural DNA.

Michigan is one of those places, which is why crushing labor power there would be as inspiring to the rightwing oligarchs who just got creamed at the polls as, say, the rise of the Tea Party was in early 2009. ...

The moves in Michigan shouldn't surprise anyone. Strangle labor. Shut down abortion clinics. Cut the social safety net. It's what the Party of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower (the best American President during my lifetime) now does.

And of course the shooting up of schools and malls continues. (As Will Rogers used to say: "Ah. The season's started early this year.")

And no doubt we'll have more politicians bemoaning the fact that the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School wasn't packing heat. (Just today a conservative friend shared this:)

Why Israel Doesn't Have Shootings in Schools:


It's a fine photograph, and I would be in favor of doing these things that Israel does, as long as we did Israel's other gun things:

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Israel are required to prove genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example, self-defence, hunting and sport

The minimum age for gun ownership in Israel is 27 years and 21 years if served in the military

An applicant for a firearm licence in Israel must pass background checks which consider health, mental and criminal records

In Israel gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every 3 years

In Israel, authorities maintain a record of individual civilians licensed to acquire, possess, sell or transfer a firearm or ammunition

A licensed firearm owner in Israel is permitted to possess a limited quantity of ammunition ...

(And there's the small point that Israel, in addition to having teachers who tote rifles, also has universal health coverage.)

But back to reality, American style: Regarding guns, the shootings will continue, and no new legislation will be forthcoming.

And regarding "Right to Work": There will be more push to get rid of pesky labor unions, and unions will push back (with mixed results.) If we're lucky, we'll hang onto Medicare and Social Security and a few other programs the population claims to favor. And if we're not, then we'll eventually be back in the cultural times of Calvin Coolidge, and not liking it much.

Add On: Here's how the the next bit of history target="_blank" about weaponry in America will go:

... We all know how the "national conversation" on guns will happen, with liberals saying there are too many guns, and conservatives yelling that we're politicizing it and also, too, arm the kindergarten teachers and the problems will be solved.

And then nothing will happen, and sadly we'll do it all again.

Ronald Reagan supported the Brady Handgun Law, but that fact has been swallowed up in the dark folds of time. I long ago stopped being actively involved in working for or against gun control legislation. Over and over, it's gone the way Duncan Black describes above. George W. Bush supported a ban on automatic weapons, but when the law lapsed no renewals were forthcoming. Barack Obama's administration has okayed carrying weapons in the national parks.

I mostly don't think much about the issue anymore, since I consider it a waste of time. But then, twenty six-year-olds and several adults are blown away by a deranged person, and you're sort of forced to think about it.

37 comments:

Oswald Cox said...

Steve, I have a message for you:

"It's the Leverage, Stupid"

^Your own words. Michigan voters used their leverage. You can't begrudge them that with the statement you made above. A philosophy as it were, that you elaborate upon here.

So spare the members your hypocrisy of bemoaning anyone else using the tool you praise.

Reagan was a man who was instrumental in helping build the union system you work in. Don't be so misinformed to try to paint him as the bad guy. He
understood what I have been trying to explain to you - the massive difference between public sector unions and private unions.

Let me make one thing plain. I respect the right of workers in the private sector to strike. Indeed, as president of my own union, I led the first strike ever called by that union. I guess I'm maybe the first one to ever hold this office who is a lifetime member of an AFL - CIO union. But we cannot compare labor-management relations in the private sector with government. Government cannot close down the assembly line. It has to provide without interruption the protective services which are government's reason for being.

-Ronald Reagan August 3, 1981

Steve Hulett said...

Good old Oswald. My faithful reader. Nowhere above do I slam Ronald Reagan. (I voted for the man, so why should I?)

And nowhere do I say Governor Snyder and his allies do not have the right (they obviously have the leverage) to do whatever they want of a legislative nature.

But I certainly have the right to dislike what they do, even as you have the right to dislike what Governor Brown and the California Labor Federation does. (And say so.)

And I mean what I write, up above. I have no problem with mimicking Israel. But let's be real here: when conservatives post pictures showing Israeli teachers with guns slung over their shoulders, they are only buying in to part of the Israeli package.

They're certainly not in favor of Israel's health care system (universal) or Israel's gun laws (stringent.)

But you and I are agreed (at last!) on one thing: It's the leverage. However, we also have a difference. When someone pushes a position you don't like, you deem them "immoral." (Me, for instance.)

When someone pushes a position I don't like, I become ... ah ... sardonic.

Because I'm old enough to understand that when someone believes something I don't believe, then that means they believe something I don't believe.

Period.

Oswald Cox said...

I am not inclined to comment on a complicated issue like gun laws or the horrific shooting.

But I know one thing that I keep stating in her ad nauseum (forgive me), the public sector unions are ruining it for all unions. And they are unsustainable.

There is a wonderful rule of economics:
That which cannot continue, won't.

So I'm at a loss as to why you keep defending the public unions. You're asking us to bet on the horse that cannot win the race. Public unions are going down, and they have themselves to blame for years of corruption. All private unions should do everything they can to distance themselves from them. Our union dues should go towards a public ad campaign that tells people how different we are from them.

Celshader said...

There is a wonderful rule of economics:
That which cannot continue, won't.


By your own standards, Oswald Cox, you are overcompensated for your work.

We non-union artists have lowered the bar. We've shown studio executives that a labor force of artists exists that's willing to work for no benefits and ever-lower pay.

I don't see why 839 studios should continue giving you three pensions, health insurance, paid overtime and severance pay when non-union artists will work ever-longer hours for ever-less compensation.

By your own standards, Oswald Cox, your union lifestyle is unsustainable. "That which cannot continue, won't."

Steve Hulett said...

... I'm at a loss as to why you keep defending the public unions. You're asking us to bet on the horse that cannot win the race. Public unions are going down, and they have themselves to blame for years of corruption.

I keep saying and you don't listen: Because unions, private and public, are tied together. The publics perish, we perish.

Oh. And that "Right to work" thingie in Michigan? Snyder and the boys and girls were going after the United Auto Workers. (Private union.)

The police and fire unions? You know, the public ones? They got excluded.

So, at the risk of being called "immoral" yet again, let me repeat (yet again). If you want public unions contained, you have to elect people who will do that. And you have to understand -- you have yet to acknowledge this -- that private unions will be contained (i.e. damaged) along with them.

Steve Hulett said...

I don't see why 839 studios should continue giving you three pensions, health insurance, paid overtime and severance pay when non-union artists will work ever-longer hours for ever-less compensation.

Speaking from the inside, it's been a struggle sustaining this. But if Oswald works diligently, he can help make it all go away.

Oswald Cox said...

You are saying that studio executives will screw us any chance that they can. They are looking out for their own interest and the more they take from us, the better for them and the shareholder.
...I'll buy that for a dollar. Sure.

Then why are public sector unions necessary?

Their boss is the government. Your argument is a complete fallacy Celshader.

To buy into your perspective, I have to invest in the idea that the government is an entity that will screw over you and me at any chance they get. They want to secure as much money for themselves as possible and because of their nefarious intent, public sector employees need unions to protect themselves from such extortion.

The why did Steve rally around a tax increase for this evil government? Why are we all supporting forking over more of our money to the "boss man" who exploits public employee workers?

You are bending over backwards and inverting on the principles you have stated previously in here. Its kind of funny.

And BTW, the private union model, where negotiations are between workers and management are entirely sustainable because each party has skin in the game. That is certainly NOT the case in the public sector where the government is negotiating with voters tax dollars.

You two need to read what Ronald Reagan said again. Or maybe settle for what FDR himself said on the matter:

"Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government....The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service."

Celshader said...

And BTW, the private union model, where negotiations are between workers and management are entirely sustainable because each party has skin in the game.

Tell that to the UAW.

F. Kousac said...

No, America nor the world has forgotten that reagun illegally sold arms to terrorists to illegally fund a terrorist war in Central America. And lied about it. He was a bumbling idiot who makes the likes of g.w. shrub and sarah palin look REALLLY dumb.

Oswald Cox said...

"Tell that to the UAW."

Steve, nothing bums me out more than the spiral of corruption of the UAW has vanished down. They are the exclusion to the rule.

You're talking about a union that used members dues to purchase 1,000 acres of property with world class golf course and resort. The list of daliances their leadership splurge on (radio stations! airline companies! NASCAR sponsorships!) is too long to type out here.

I have to say, I didn't expect a prudent financial mind like yours would jump up to defend the UAW...

Steve Hulett said...

I have to say, I didn't expect a prudent financial mind like yours would jump up to defend the UAW...

Oswald, you are really going to have to get your arguments straight. Because I get whiplash.

You rant about how public unions are bad, and private unions are good. Then, when I point out that Rick Snyder and his Republican troops have excluded two large public unions from punishment there in Michigan, but included a private union (the UAW and others), THEN it's that the UAW is corrupt.

But not a word about how Snyder has sold out Michigan by exempting some immoral public unions. I'm disappointed in you.

But it's clear to me now that it's not private or public unions with you; ANY union you don't like at any given moment can get hoisted onto the Cox shitlist.

Next thing you know, the IATSE will be excluded from your love, since the IA was controlled by the Capone mob out of Chicago for a number of years, and we know what THAT means, don't we?

IATSE = E-vil.

But I get it. Democratic unionism only works for you when it meets your exacting criteria. But about six-year-olds getting offed in New England classrooms? You have no position on that.

Maybe when the Republican National Committee sends you its talking points, you'll come back and enlighten us about your position (or lack thereof) on gun control.

Steve Hulett said...

"Tell that to the UAW."

Steve, nothing bums me out more than the spiral of corruption of the UAW has vanished down. They are the exclusion to the rule....


One last point: You're going to have to learn to read more carefully.

That was CELSHADER writing, not me. So go argue with her.

Oswald Cox said...

Soon you're going to have to leave the partisan claptrap behind because you live in California my friend.

And BOTH parties are going to squeeze the public unions here. Democrats and Republicans. Because we can't conjure up the billions of unfunded liability.

I'm just doing my part bracing you for the inevitable my friend. Your undying and unquestioning support of public unions will have to change in the next 5 - 10 years.

Truuuuuust me Steve. You can't tow this line on them.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-14/californian-s-609-000-check-shows-true-retirement-cost.html

Celshader said...

Speaking from the inside, it's been a struggle sustaining [the 839 quality of life]. But if Oswald works diligently, he can help make it all go away.

No kidding. I know you've covered this ground many times before, Steve, but employee compensation really is about leverage and not fairness. Decent wages and benefits have nothing to do with what is good and right in this world. It's whatever the employees have the strength to demand from their employer.

Steve Hulett said...

And BOTH parties are going to squeeze the public unions here. Democrats and Republicans. Because we can't conjure up the billions of unfunded liability.

Never said anything different Mr. Cox.

Even now, CalPers is trying to force bankrupt California cities to cough up more money into the Pension fund by suing.

Don't think it will work, long term. Our difference is, you want to gut unions, I want to negotiate with them.

But, as ever, it's about leverage. We'll see how events shake out.

Steve Hulett said...

Soon you're going to have to leave the partisan claptrap behind because you live in California my friend.

"Partisan" is just another word for "political," Oswald. And it's all political, as you will discover as you mature.

Oswald Cox said...


Don't think it will work, long term. Our difference is, you want to gut unions, I want to negotiate with them.

I'm calling corruption corruption. You're excusing it because it has been done by unions.

You go on and on about greedy corporations and the robber barons of the corporate state this country. For the most part, I'm on board. But its your naked hypocrisy that is so ridiculous.

Face facts Steve:
Calpers is the largest pension fund in the US, and they returned a measly 1 percent on its investments last year. This marks the third time in five years that the pension fund has failed to reach the benchmark 7.5 percent it needs to fulfill pension obligations.

This percentage rate is used to calculate how much money the fund will need to cover the benefits and how much employers have to contribute. When they don't meet their returns, California drowns in red ink and taxes go up for everyone. See: the middle class.

The fund’s actuary recommended a lower target, but the fund rejected it.

These fund managers are LYING and should be in jail. And they would be if they were a corporation, They are cooking the books. And you excuse them over and over and over again because you are an idealogue. I'm a pragmatist.

^All of my facts are real.

Attacking me as this or that has no bearing on the argument that you are losing. Its called "shooting the messenger". The messenger with unsettling realities to the fantasy you keep building up in here.

Oswald Cox said...

And here's my prediction:

Prop 13 is next. So if you own a home in California, get prepared to shell out much more money for taxes. Because paying the pensions that public employee unions have been spiking to astronomical figures is going to be prioritized over your being able to afford a home in this state.

Steve Hulett said...

Face facts Steve:
Calpers is the largest pension fund in the US, and they returned a measly 1 percent on its investments last year. This marks the third time in five years that the pension fund has failed to reach the benchmark 7.5 percent it needs to fulfill pension obligations.


Some day you must try reading what I actually write instead of what you hear in your head.

Corporations are corrupt. The government is corrupt. Unions are corrupt. And the California Pension system is unsustainable in its present form.

We agree on all these things, I think. The difference is, you want to get rid of the corrupt pieces you don't like, and I want to reform them.


Oswald Cox said...

"I want to reform them."

Steve, you haven't made a single post on this blog about that. Prop 30, which you supported, was an effort to maintain the status quo.

Prop 30 was about forking more money out for pensions that overestimated (laughingly so) the returns on their investment.

And they're going to do it again and again and again - and every time you are going to ask taxpayers (the middle class) to fork out more money because if you don't, you're anti union.

Whens the tipping point? when does the squeeze of taxes - the highest taxes in the nation - eclipse towing the union line? When people lose their houses? Or when you lose your house? Whats it gonna take?

We both know what real reform would be. Real pension reform in California requires repeal of SB400.

If you don't support that, then you don't support reform. You're just giving lip service to your bosses while dues paying members keep feeling the squeeze for the OTHER unions that cooked the books.

Celshader said...

...you are going to ask taxpayers (the middle class) to fork out more money...

Just the middle class? Why shouldn't the corporations who've gotten a free ride for decades off of Prop 13 support the state in which they prospered?

I support closing the corporate tax loophole in Prop 13. Apple, Google and Disney can more than afford it.

Alice Marie said...

"Prop 30 was about forking more money out for pensions that overestimated (laughingly so) the returns on their investment."

http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2012/11/01/10839/prop-30-fact-check-well-never-know-where-money-act/

F. Kousac said...

"Some day you must try reading what I actually write instead of what you hear in your head."

You can't expect far fringe right wingnuts to actually READ or THINK for themselves! Good lord, the guy thinks reagun was worth more than his seat in hell.

Oswald Cox said...

Celshader, what are you smoking?

"California has one of the highest corporate income tax rates and ranked 5th among the states in terms of per capita corporation tax revenues."

http://www.budgetchallenge.org/pages/ca_vs_other_states


LADIES & GENTLEMEN OF THE ANIMATION GUILD,
THE DEBT IN THIS STATE IS $600 BILLION.

WAKE UP.
You think corporations can "pay their fair share" and then everything will be alright? They already pay their fair share.

On top of that, you could seize all of the land owned by corporations in this state and sell it tomorrow and you wouldn't be able to put a dent in that debt. Guess who is going to pay for it fellow middle class, tax paying, Los Angeles residents?

You. You and the rest of the people that live in this state.

You are on the hook for this debt - even though you didn't cause it. The public union and the politicians they extorted into giving into these generous payouts are going to skate away unfettered and all of the peons - you and me - will have less services and much much higher taxes.


You think they are going to just repeal taxes on corporations?!? Bend over. Because the real money is in residential real estate. If you own a house and you aren't worried, you're dumb.

$600 billion... thats federal level debt.


(Way to shoot the messenger Kousac. Sorry you can't handle the facts)

Oswald Cox said...

AliceMarie, your link is not current (Nov.1st?!?) and the verdict is not out on how that money will be spent.

After all, Steve and I (two old geezers) can both attest to the promises made on behalf of the California Lottery initiative that passed in 1988. Oh it was a real boon lemme tell ya.

"a major selling point was that 28 cents of every dollar earned on the lottery, the largest in the nation, would go to public schools and 6 cents to colleges and universities. Fifty cents would go into the pockets of winners, with the remaining 16 cents going toward administrative costs. Lottery sales were spurred by the slogan ''Schools Win Too!

But educators say the figures tell only part of the story. Many educators contend that lottery dollars have begun to supplant regular state aid to education. They say that is contrary to the intent of the lottery law.''


http://www.nytimes.com/1988/10/04/us/california-educators-assert-lottery-has-failed-to-pay-off-for-the-schools.html


I'm assuming you weren't here when we all danced to that tune. Get ready to be let down. If money was diverted in the late 80s....

You can bet your bottom dollar that it will be diverted with $600 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Steve Hulett said...

Oswald, old top. We can all speculate where the new tax revenue will be spent. But that's all it is: speculation.

California is indeed a high-tax state. (No. 4.) 11.2% is what residents pay as a percent of income.

Our neighbor Nevada is a low-tax state. Its residents pay 8.2% taxes in total income.

Three percent difference.

One other big difference, because of Las Vegas and the merriments found there, the percent of total taxes paid by non-residents is 44%, sixth highest in the country.

By contrast, California's percent of taxes paid by non-residents is the lowest in the country: 15.5%.

So. You want lower taxes, drive across the state line and let the tourists in Nevada pay a big chunk of the freight.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2012/10/28/state-taxes-states-highest-lowest/1654071/

Alice Marie said...

Oswald:


"Betting your bottom dollar" that it will be diverted to unfunded liabilities/pensions is a guess, so in that respect, how is that any different from the article I posted?

As for the actual ramifications of prop 30 - it is having very real, current effects on the education system. Without it, many schools would have had major changes triggered because of cuts - even with prop 30 there will be overall funding cuts, but it won't be nearly as bad.

For example, at the CSU level a planned raise in fees was rescinded and 6000 more students than expected are going to be able to enroll on one campus alone.







Oswald Cox said...


"Betting your bottom dollar" that it will be diverted to unfunded liabilities/pensions is a guess,

No, its not. Because the unfunded liabilities is a priority that outweighs schools. Especially to a politician who has to answer to the press corps after crimes are committed and police are laid off.

You do realize that there are giant layoffs looming for LA cops right? Have you been reading the news in this city?

Its a matter of risk management. No politician is going to get bounced from office over school funding being diverted to what he decided were more necessary resources. But their head will be on the chopping block if cuts to the police force affect the safety of city residents and the funds that could have been available were diverted to the CSU system.

EVERYTHING is getting trimmed because of $6 billion in debt. Do you have any idea how much money that is???

Education is not anywhere in the wheelhouse of vital services for a city. First responders, firefighters, untilities, etc.Those come first and those are underfunded.

So don't get too excited for a solvent education system.

Alice Marie said...

No, its not. Because the unfunded liabilities is a priority that outweighs schools. Especially to a politician who has to answer to the press corps after crimes are committed and police are laid off.

Prop 30 is not providing additional funds to schools because the state government had already cut the budget. The funds won't even equal the cuts - the net effect will be that the cut is much less deep than originally planned.

So what you're referring to? Has already happened.

EVERYTHING is getting trimmed because of $6 billion in debt. Do you have any idea how much money that is???

No. I can't count. (Don't you mean 600 billion?)

So don't get too excited for a solvent education system.

I never claimed our education system was solvent. I think there is incredible waste, and bloating at the administration level.

Regarding pensions: right now even when a city is going bankrupt, the courts are ruling the city still has to pay those liabilities. These are past promises - so I don't imagine breaking the public union/reform is going to change that - it'll only change the compensation for new employees.





Oswald Cox said...


"Regarding pensions: right now even when a city is going bankrupt, the courts are ruling the city still has to pay those liabilities."

Yeah, thats according to STATE law. Watch what happens when the issue gets put in front of a federal bankruptcy judge.


Bankruptcy in America is a collective process, where creditors of a distressed company or municipality come together under court oversight and negotiate a plan to share the losses equitably, for the sake of the greater good. Some creditors may stand more toward the front of the line and others at the back, but there isn’t generally one big creditor that gets paid in full without having to get in line at all.

Yet that’s what Calpers appears to be doing.




Read more

NYTimes: Untouchable Pensions May Be Tested in California


(and yes, I meant $600 billion in the above post...)

Alice Marie said...

We'll just have to wait and see.

Steve Hulett said...

Oswald only harps on Public Unions and their greed.

Never a word about banks such as UBS (a lovely Swiss bank) which just paid a fine of $1.5 billion for manipulating world interest rates (Libor), nor will he harp on the massive fraud that large American banks have committed over the last four years, helping homeowners to become renters.

Will anybody go to jail over this massive corruption? Nope. Will anybody be convicted? Probably not. Republicans and Democrats are teaming up to make sure the wrist taps are light.

In Oswald World, it's all about Public Unions.

Alice Marie said...

What's sad is the economic collapse in 2008 didn't need to happen, and it all comes back to greed.

Unregulated capitalism at its best.

Unfortunately I don't think you can jail a corporation.

Oswald Cox said...

Thats because, in case you haven't noticed Steve - this is A UNION BLOG.

Hence the adherence to union issues. If it was a banking blog, then those issues would be front and center. But in here, I would hope, we have union members and union reps who work on tending their own garden. And never was there a post on here DEFENDING corrupt banks.

But there are numerous post by you, our union rep where you try to paint the corrupt public unions as the victim. This begged for a response.

Now that I'm giving a response, complete with facts and sources, you are trying to obfuscate the issue by asking why corrupt banks aren't being mentioned.
Its desperate and not very becoming of you.

I mean, really... are you going to write the NYTimes for the article I linked and ask them
"What about corrupt banks??!"

Please...

Steve Hulett said...

Oswald, old top, we will just never cross that big, gaping divide.

You have a basic emnity for Public Unions and some private unions. I don't. that gets me labeled "immoral" by you, lectured by you, on my stances. I make it clear that I opposed California's anti-union initiative because it would take down PRIVATE unions along with the horrid public ones.

You don't care. (And you clearly don't agree.) I'm still immoral for opposing it. You applaud "right to work" in Michigan, and I don't. Notice how I don't call you "immoral" for supporting it.

Oh. And by the way. This ain't a union blog. Read the notice in the upper right-hand corner. What's written here under my by-line is MY opinion, not the Animation Guild's. I want to write about union stuff, I will. I want to put up Christmas cards, I will. I want to write about general corruption, I will. Kevin Koch and I started this site long ago and the guild has never contributed a penny to it.

And we continue to disagree. You're agnostic about gun control. Fine. You don't want to talk about general corruption and the financial crisis. Ducky. I've written about the latter numerous times.

And I continue to refrain from calling you immoral.

Steve Hulett said...

But there are numerous post by you, our union rep where you try to paint the corrupt public unions as the victim

Like where have I said that public unions are "victims?"

What I've said is that A) I support them (even as I sometimes disagree with them), and B) Public pensions need to be downsized and reformed.

Kindly source where I have said that public unions are victims.

Much thanks.

Oswald Cox said...

Steve, if public pensions need to be "downsized and reformed", you have a curious way of expressing that opinion when you support that sentiment by supporting an initiative(prop 30) that would boost their growth. More public employees will be hired because of Prop 30 passing than would if it wasn't.

It would be a shame if you blocked my posts on the issue. Especially in light of the fact that I correctly predicted the outcome of unpaid liabilities in cities. This news broke last week


Judge denies CalPERS request to force city payment

So Alice Marie doesn't have to wait and see. That which cannot continue, won't.

Happy New Year folks!

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