Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Blame the victim

Even here in Michigan, the heart of union country, union bashing is still popular. Here's a letter to the Detroit Free Press:
GM is in terrible trouble and needs to close several plants in an attempt to return to profitability ("General Misery," Nov. 22). Of course the UAW, in all its wisdom, wants GM to continue paying people after those plants close. They just don't seem to understand that not working with industry to reach solutions to problems faced in this global economy will continue to drive them off shore. That is not a good thing.

PK, Clinton Township
Note the sympathy and concern for the abstract liability-avoidance entity, General Motors, and none whatsoever for the people who work in its factories (or used to). And suggesting that the UAW hasn't worked with the auto companies is completely bogus--meetings and "innovative solutions" and concessions (especially concessions) have been going on for 25 years. TV ads have boasted about the partnership of UAW-Ford for years. And the car companies haven't been "driven offshore;" relocating plants to first the South and then to other countries has been a deliberate union-busting strategy.

And perhaps the most frustrating thing about that letter is its blind acceptance of the inevitability of the "global economy," which unfortunately is almost universal among our politicians, business leaders, and even workers and the unemployed. Global trade has been a negative far more often than it has been a positive, turning vibrant, multi-faceted economies into single-product (or no-product) exporters which survive or don't on the whims of a few moguls on the other side of the planet. Tariffs and other trade barriers can't solve all problems, but they are not the problem--unlimited and unregulated competition artificially fueled by cheap energy is.

Another letter to the Free Press comes closer, although the writer still insists that "America can compete" as if competing, rather than living well, were the goal:
It seems as though every week there are major layoffs, concessions or job cuts within major industries throughout America. America's backbone, the middle class, is deteriorating and constantly shrinking.

The United States must enact trade policies that will restore the glory of the middle class as well as address the burden of health care for active and retired workers. America can compete, if given the opportunity and resources. The "Made in America" nameplate is slowly becoming a thing of the past, and that has to change if America is to remain as the land of opportunity.

RJ, Southfield
I could babble on indefinitely about this. Instead, I'll refer once again to Dave Pollard's Wal-Mart Dilemma post, which features a cool chart (below) and offers the following suggestion:
If a product can reasonably be produced domestically, then duties and other regulations should be imposed to protect domestic producers. In other words, the alternative to 'free' trade is not no trade, but rather regulated trade, regulated to protect the economy and social fabric of the regulating country.

Pollard explains:
In my biased opinion, the vast majority of people are ahead with the green cycle, and the very rich few are ahead with the red cycle. Guess who's lobbying and bribing governments for untrammeled globalization and 'free' trade? Contrary to what most of us are taught in school, modest inflation is the single most effective way to painlessly redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, because it allows debts to be repaid in 'cheaper' future dollars. There are environmental and social advantages to the green cycle as well. The use of slave labour is discouraged. Lax environmental laws in third world countries are not exploited as much. And if the red cycle gets out of control (some would argue it already has), a possible consequence is deflation, a terrible threat to the whole economy that we need to avoid like the plague.