Tuesday, October 29, 2013

E-Mails ...

We get e-mails, this one about a recent post regarding Clark Gable and harbor pilots.

Hi Steve,

i understand the place from which this article comes from but still, the first thought that came into my head while reading it was, "ugh".

the notion that we have a society in which everything is about leverage and power rather than about right and wrong is everything that's wrong with america right now. and when we attribute this behavior to the 1% we can see the problems immediately.

under the rules that you've established, is there anything WRONG with producers and the 1% exploiting their power and pull with politicians to rig and game the system to suck every every last penny to themselves while impoverishing everyone else?

if it's not about right or wrong, what is the problem with that? they are taking advantage of the perks THAT THEY HAVE THE LEVERAGE to gain for themselves. they have the leverage to exploit foreign workers for pennies on the dollar. and everyone else is powerless to fight back so boohoo for

in no uncertain terms, the principle that you have laid out is: MIGHT MAKES RIGHT.

ugh. ...

the position that you stated is problematic in that it is not presented as an unfortunate reality but almost as an ideal. and in doing that, you gain no affection for labor unions by the general population which is not unionized or fair minded union members like myself not interested in just being another party that is no better or different than the other guy.

in saying what you said, we ARE no better than producers. we're just a different player that is JUST AS corrupt as the other guy and we'll invariably abuse the powers that we have. we are the Republican masses that support the policies of abuse by the 1% hoping that one day, we'll join their ranks and get to use the same loop holes to abuse in the same way.

and the clark gable story you quoted doesn't do our sides any favors. for a well enriched guy like gable to pull something off like that makes him seem like a self absorbed dick and again, does the labor movement no favors.

i'm not familiar with the union action that is the subject of your article but it IS possible for unions to abuse their power. to protect incompetent and even criminal teachers, to protect automotive teamsters getting drunk and high over lunch and yeah... maybe getting a deal that is too sweet because you caught management in a precarious situation.

if you play the game this way, not only will management have plenty of excuse and material to demonize unions with but the citizenry at large will rightly view us with suspicion. we're just another interest group that's playing CYA.

if at its heart, unions are not about fairness and decency and our struggles presented as such, our decline, as well as the decline of everyone else who approaches the world with this strategy, will be well deserved. ...

To which I replied:

Thanks for writing, and actually I'm something of an idealist, but I'm also a classical Cynic. I look at the way things are, and acknowledge those realities. If my presentation of leverage came off as an "ideal," then I was inartful and apologize. I didn't mean it as such. And I'm not establishing rules, but trying to inform people of the way things work.

My perspective comes from being around negotiations and power-leveraging for thirty-plus years and seeing how things work. I think it's fine to havescruples and ideals (I strive to practice these things in my private and public life), but over the years I've grown impatient listening to people complain about "fair" and "unfair."

Most people (me included) think slavery is wrong and awful, but St. Paul in the new testament tells us that slaves should knuckle under and obey their masters. So he's endorsing the institution,

My main purpose in writing the piece was to clue members/people into the WAY THINGS WORK. It's great to have ideals and push to achieve them, but there's no point in bashing your head against thick walls unless there is some viable way to reach the ideal ... or at least get part of the way there. Unions need to be fair and decent, but they also need to understand how the game is played. When members participate, and strategize ways to achieve goals while keeping the real world in mind, then improvements are made.

(The Gable anecdote was simply an illustration of leverage. Had it been me, I would have agreed to an extra half hour in exchange for a half hour less on the following day, because I try and look at the BIG picture. Yes, Clark was being a bit of a dick, but it was still a good example of what I was trying to put across.) ...

To be perfectly clear (as President Nixon so gracefully put it), there is the way the world is, then there are aspirations and ideals.

I would like more peace, more love, more harmony. I would like more wholesome food, and happier children, and lower taxes and good jobs for all. And a pony under every Christmas tree tied up with a ribbon.

Sadly, the world is not how I desire it. Even so, I soldier on, doing the best I can, striving for a better tomorrow. (So, I think, should we all.)


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