Comments that Deserve to be Posts: PJ on Utopian Conservatives

Lovingly lifted from the comments section of the post Why do so many union haters want a race to the bottom?, PJ delivers a gem.

In response to this from Denis:

Yes, employees add value to businesses or they would not be hired. Also, the owners risk their wealth with every new hire and would not do so without an expectation of profit. But the free exchange of labor for services is somehow unfair and the employers should pay more and they are all I suppose sitting on piles of cash. But what you fail to realize is that businesses must compete for labor. As such, a skilled employee can leave the tightfisted employer for the more generous one. Unskilled employees are less valued, ie add less value to a business and as such can’t demand the higher wages. The answer to this is not unionization but instead the improvement of skills that increase an employees value to an employer. Unionization is a protection racket for the lesser skilled individuals, but in the end they destroy every business and now government that must deal with them. And that isn’t good for anyone in the long run.

PJ wrote this:

Denis,
No doubt you sincerely believe in the validity of the economic scenario you’ve laid out, and I respect that. Ironically, you’ve also indicated a belief that “Lefties always think they are able to create some Utopian solution when none exists.” Yet it is you have articulated a Utopian schemata.

Your analysis fails to account for the realities of a globalized economy structured to favor limited business interests at the expense of the domestic public interest – the interest of aggregate labor in this country. The model you propose may have had some relative relevance 50 years ago, but in a 21st century hyper-globalized economy your model is sheer fantasy. Businesses do not have to compete for labor in the manner in which you suggest. This is the ridiculous fiction perpetuated by both Democrats and Republicans alike. The idea which insists upon the need for increased skills and education within the labor force may have even been true in the early stages of globalization, but the notion has been proven false not only during the current economic crisis but evidenced by 30 years of domestic market constriction and disproportional valuation of education and skill.

So, if you would please elaborate a little on your point in the event I’m misunderstanding you: Exactly which skills do you refer to in your scenario? To how many economic spheres do these value-added skills apply? Are they channeled into one sector or is it a broad need? How are you measuring skill? What value do you place on experience in relation to skill? Do you think experience has any impact on skill? Is there an assessable combined value to experience and skill?

I would contend that neither education nor experience are applicable to the current unemployment situation this nation is enduring. You’re rounding on a circulatory path back toward “training and education” which does not address the structural realities of a globalized economy – and one which will likely become more deregulated and favorable to foreign corporations and less favorable to domestic public interests if TPP is realized.

What your analysis leaves out is who determines value and why and the value of human capital. Your analysis skews the perspective of economic relations so drastically it’s unrecognizable as a thoughtful response to a supranational economic climate. You seem to reiterate the standard talking points for justifying not only the marginalization of “Big Labor” but the non-existence of “Big Labor” within an economic sphere determined by “Big Business” interests. This suggests you believe in the simplification that what is good for big business is good for aggregate labor. I’d disagree.

Your protection racket analogy is flat out wrong on several counts, and it is an identifiable meme derived from propagandist extremism. I suggest you study what protections rackets are, how and why they function the way they do, how they have evolved over time, and the circumstances under which they operate. Unions are not analogous.

When you use this analogy you insert the idea that businesses are victims of labor – that workers are victimizing their employers. Not only is this not a useful lens for examining the complex issues of our day, it subverts the actual power structure and exploitative relationship that currently exists and which exists in historical precedent.

Union members are not racketeers. Racketeers are not legitimate players within a legitimate relationship. if you thoughtfully examine this metaphor you’ll find the economic extortionist in this country is not citizen labor but big business. If you believe there is some coherently scaled contrast between unions and big business with respect to kickbacks and regulatory capture, please do make the argument.

I’ll grant you this – unions in this country have not adapted well to nor sufficiently resisted globalization. But I would maintain that your antiquated business model doesn’t either. If we accept the current supranational economic structure – and for the record, I do not – then more responsive attitudes and perspectives must be reached. Germany and Spain, for example, have actively opened their economic cultures to the kind of creative thought that is marginalized in this U.S. by the very rhetoric you espouse.

I only wish I were half as articulate as PJ.

34 comments to Comments that Deserve to be Posts: PJ on Utopian Conservatives

  • Cat Kin

    You may not be as articulate as PJ, but you’re a much better writer. If PJ’s arguments are the best America’s unions can do, they can forget it.

       1 likes

    • Cat, I await with great interest your point by point rebuttals. Or did you just want to plop a deuce and leave with a self satisfying smile?

         1 likes

  • Zuma Bound

    @ Cat Kin

    Have you seen those Snickers commercials where a guy is acting all cranky and being unnecessarily confrontational, and coincidentally looks like Joe Pesci? His friend gives him a Snickers, and says, “You know how you get when you you’re hungry”. The guy eats the Snickers, and turns into a friendly, normal looking guy, and starts acting right.

    Anyway, CK, go have a Snickers, “stat”. You couldn’t be more wrong.

    @ Phil

    What PJ said. . .

    AND what you said about what PJ said. . .

    Like I’ve said before, he is truly an AMAZING and welcome addition to the Blogging Blue family.

       1 likes

  • Monica

    When did this turn into a writing contest?

       0 likes

    • I know it might seem like a lot of big words for you, Monica, but do try to hang in there. The worst that can happen is you can learn something. You do want to learn, right?

         0 likes

      • Monica

        Rich…that was just an asshole comment to make. I had no idea you had such hostility towards me…not that I care. Boy…I sure wish Zach could find a real progressive to write on here. Someone with solid values. Someone who walks the talk.

           0 likes

        • PJ

          Monica,
          Your comments are most interesting of all. I shall be paying very close attention to your comments in future.

             0 likes

        • Well Monica, you could have added something substantive to the conversation. Instead you drop a snark comment which was completely dismissive of PJ’s excellently articulated post and indicative of a complete ignorance of what PJ wrote. Only then, when I call you on it, do you pull the asshole card. But really Monica, who was being the asshole? Very well. Game on.

             0 likes

          • Zuma Bound

            My thoughts exactly, Rich.

            Elsewhere on Blogging Blue, Monica’s been throwing around hyper-defensive and unjustified accusations of sexism in “0 to 60 mph in 2 second” fashion.

            I’m beginning to think that she either needs to take some anger management classes or clarify for all of us what her true role here actually is.

            Zuma (a guy, just for the record, Monica, before you rush hellbent into accusing me of being a sexist because I’ve had the “temerity” to challenge you, who has been advocating for women’s rights for more years than you’ve probably been on the planet)

               0 likes

            • Monica

              Zuma…Phil Scarr was the one who posted on sexism and condemned it (the Kilmeade post). Then the next day he partakes in the same sexist wise cracking he was railing against the day before. I pointed it out and Phil Scarr is the one who went from “0 to 60 mph in 2 seconds”…not me. I am consistent on my stance about sexism. It’s not okay whoever does it…whether you are conservative or liberal or Green Party. I would still like to know why everyone else doesn’t seem to mind when sexist comments are made on here?

                 0 likes

              • Zuma Bound

                I respectfully disagree with your assessment, Monica. You’re comparing “apples” (Fox and Friends) and “oranges” (Anderson Cooper and Romney spokesperson, Gail Gitcho) with respect to the reactions here at Blogging Blue to what happened on these two shows.

                It is truly ironic how little you had to say about the brain-dead hosts of Fox and Friends and their obnoxious demonstration of good-old boy sexism, only to lose it when Phil poked fun at the disingenuous and offensive sexism involved in the Romney campaign’s obvious attempt to pimp out Ms. Gitcho on Anderson Cooper’s show based upon the way she looked, rather than provide a spokesperson who actually knew what they were talking about.

                The Romney campaign is built on a foundation of bullshit. I think that Phil was spot on regarding its use of an attractive woman like Ms. Gitcho, whom I have no doubt is an accomplished woman, to cover up the stench emanating from the bullshit the Romney campaign trotted her out to disseminate on the Anderson Cooper Show.

                You overreacted, Monica, plain and simple. And I’m still left to wonder why.

                   0 likes

  • Response to PJ:

    First, I agree with some of the critics above. Lots of big words, not much in the way of a coherent argument. If you are as bright as some think you are, you could dumb down your essay for the rest of us.

    On to content: You claim that “The idea which insists upon the need for increased skills and education within the labor force may have even been true in the early stages of globalization, but the notion has been proven false not only during the current economic crisis but evidenced by 30 years of domestic market constriction and disproportional valuation of education and skill.” Are you really saying that skill and education were more important pre-globalization? Look around you PJ – ours is a service and knowledge based economy. Skills and education are more important than ever.

    Regarding your questions on skill: I use the word skill as a kind of catch all. Skill is anything of value the employee brings to the table, ie education, reliability, experience, timeliness, a good attitude, sobriety etc…. and skills are relevant in any job, obviously. Who should judge the value of said skills? Why the employer of course, who is purchasing said skills.

    At the moment I don’t have the time to write more, but what I am advocating is a less fettered, more free exchange of labor for money. By no means is this a utopian idea as one must account for flawed human behavior. And while the left would rather not admit this, said flaws can and do occur among employees and employee groupings (unions) and not just among management and owners.

       0 likes

  • SuzyMetta4

    TL;DR

    kidding . . . but the blogroll and recent posts sections should be in smaller print and narrower columns so that the main post is not so limited in width.

    Sorry, this is not a substantive critique, I’m still only on my 2nd cup of coffee.

       0 likes

  • PJ

    Denis,
    Gee, I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t rebut your comment in iambic pentameter. Big words? You mean words like laconic or non-sequitur, words with 3 syllables or compound words? I’m looking for big words in my ”essay” – I’m not finding any. If you would be so kind to point them out. Please, please do pick apart my “essay.” Demonstrate my incoherence.

    You may be correct, perhaps I have not looked around me. I might not understand these issues so well. Perhaps you could enlighten me with your salience, you know, so we are both on the same page? Do tell me, what is the Knowledge Economy? What is the Service Economy? Now that you have outlined the two sectors which you believe comprise our economy, I would respectfully ask you once again to answer the questions regarding education, experience, and skill that I asked in my rebuttal. It should be easier now that you’ve identified a context. Demonstrate your coherence.

    Dumb down my essay you suggest? Oh, I dunno Denis, I don’t think I’m going to do that. I’m confident that there are plenty of readers and commenters who, like me, prefer to widen rather than narrow our political discourse. If there are not, there it is.

       0 likes

    • PJ,
      By dumbing down I mean having a point. Here is mine: The best way to improve the economy of the nation and for individuals is to allow a more free exchange of labor for money. This is not a utopian idea as you claim because I acknowledge that people on both sides – employees and employers – will act in their own interests at the expense of the other. The best way to counter this problem is to ensure you have skills that other employers will purchase. Now what is your point PJ?

      Re your questions on skills etc… I maintain that they have always been important in a free society and in an increasingly complex economy driven by significant technological development etc… skills will be increasingly important. That only stands to reason, not that that matters on this site.

         0 likes

      • PJ

        Denis,
        I’m aware that you are making points, but you are not defending them. I politely ask you again to answer the questions I have asked:
        Exactly which skills do you refer to in your scenario?
        To how many economic spheres do these value-added skills apply?
        Are they channeled into one sector or is it a broad need?
        How are you measuring skill?
        What value do you place on experience in relation to skill?
        Do you think experience has any impact on skill?
        Is there an assessable combined value to experience and skill?

        If you choose to include your understanding of how the economy operates by contextualizing your answers within a cogent description of the Knowledge and Service economies it may strengthen your argument.

           0 likes

        • Zuma Bound

          What PJ said. . .

             0 likes

        • I have already answered you questions on skill. I hate to cut and paste what you could easily have read above but here goes:

          “Regarding your questions on skill: I use the word skill as a kind of catch all. Skill is anything of value the employee brings to the table, ie education, reliability, experience, timeliness, a good attitude, sobriety etc…. and skills are relevant in any job, obviously. Who should judge the value of said skills? Why the employer of course, who is purchasing said skills.”

          Or this:

          “Re your questions on skills etc… I maintain that they have always been important in a free society and in an increasingly complex economy driven by significant technological development etc… skills will be increasingly important. That only stands to reason, not that that matters on this site.”

          I have answered your questions twice now but this has become a one way conversation. The style of argument on this blog was at times invigorating but is increasingly just tiresome.

             0 likes

          • PJ

            Denis,

            I don’t know how much more gently I can put this or how more gingerly I can express this, but you have answered none of my questions.

            I asked you to specify which skills pertain to your Utopian scenario. You replied in utterly meaningless generalities that did not tangibly support your theory in any manner, way, shape, or form.

            I asked you this question: To how many economic spheres do these value-added skills apply? You didn’t answer this at all, though you could have had you actually answered the first question.

            I asked you: Are they channeled into one sector or is it a broad need? You did not answer this question. If you had answered one and two with specificity preferably by linking them to a real-world context you would have been able to answer this question with relative ease.

            I then asked you: How are you measuring skill? You somewhat defined skill – poorly, I might add – and you, in effect, claimed that it was not for you to extrapolate how an employer might value skill. My question was not: Can you extrapolate how an employer might value skill? I asked you: How are you measuring skill? You did not answer the question I asked.

            I asked you this question: What value do you place on experience in relation to skill? You did not answer this question either. You might have been able to with relative ease had you answered the question preceding it.

            I next asked you this: Do you think experience has any impact on skill? Had you answered the previous 2 questions this question would have been very easy to answer. But, you didn’t answer the previous two, and you didn’t answer this one.

            Finally, I asked you this question: Is there an assessable combined value to experience and skill? If you had formulated an answer to even a few of the previous questions by contextualizing them within a tangible framework you surely could have answered this question. But you didn’t answer from a real-world context.

            What you did do is respond with how you think the economy should operate and why you think skills are important. Funnily enough you sounded a whole lot like Barack Obama when you did. What you did not do is elaborate on 21st century hyper-globalized economics and how your theory might fit into that context. You did not demonstrate that you have any understanding whatsoever of where the economy is and where it’s going. You demonstrated my point better than I ever could. Your scenario is a Utopian ideal.

            You also remarked (re: skills): “I maintain that they have always been important in a free society and in an increasingly complex economy driven by significant technological development….”

            To this I say simply: Capitalism is not Democracy.

            And with that I yield you the field. You may have the last word. Rip to shreds anything and everything I wrote; this is my last entry as a commenter on Blogging Blue.

               0 likes

            • Zuma Bound

              What PJ said. . .With the exception of the following:

              PJ: “And with that I yield you the field. You may have the last word. Rip to shreds anything and everything I wrote; this is my last entry as a commenter on Blogging Blue.”

              Say it ain’t so, PJ.

              :(

                 0 likes

            • Zuma Bound

              @ PJ

              Please don’t let frustration with a wingnut moron like Denis cause you to walk away.

                 0 likes

              • PJ

                Frustration with Denis? Heavens no. I believe Denis’s sincerity in his beliefs. I’m going back to observer status. I think I make a better observer than participant.

                   0 likes

                • Zuma Bound

                  PJ: “I think I make a better observer than participant.”

                  Zuma’s response: “Not a chance in hell.”

                  In any event, I assumed, apparently incorrectly, that you were having a problem dealing with Denis’s inability to see that his beliefs, however “sincerely” held, were wrong.

                  That said, your articulate and informed voice is important to the progressive cause, not just here, but anywhere you can make it heard. PLEASE don’t voluntarily silence it.

                  Parenthetically, I’d invite you to visit Phil Scarr’s new “home”, and participate there, as well:

                  http://themassesareangry.blogspot.com

                  In all honesty, I think that you and Phil might hit it off quite nicely as collaborators. Why not visit his blog, and explore the possibility?

                  Given what happened with Phil here recently, for what it’s worth, I suspect that I’ll be spending my time over there and elsewhere, rather than here.

                  Take care, PJ. I sincerely hope that you reconsider your “retirement”. I also hope that you will consider voicing your extraordinary thoughts over at Phil’s blog.

                     0 likes

                  • PJ

                    Oh Zuma!
                    No, I wasn’t too frustrated with Denis. As far as I was concerned this little exchange was a preamble. I suspect Denis would be the frustrated one in no time – and then I might have argued his side for him! :) No, truth be told this dust-up affair leaves me pretty soured. I don’t expect deconstructing propaganda, routing subversion, and exposing it for what it is would be consistently civil. That’s what I’d be compelled to do if I continued my participation. Then again, I don’t really need to unravel anything after the recent dust-up do I? Front and center, very ugly business. Divide and conquer in action and at the worst possible time. It’s working.

                    I did visit The Masses first thing. And the literature blog – both look promising. Doubt I’ll be saying much, but I’ll be following regularly. I may be prodded to raise my voice if subversion rears its ugly head in the comment thread. If I see you there, I’ll be sure to speak up and say, “hey.” Until then….

                       0 likes

  • Zuma Bound

    Denis likes to fashion himself a conservative intellectual. And yet, what does he trot out? That well-worn conservative/wingnut complaint about how elitist progressives use “big words”.

    At least, he didn’t include the usual wingnut corallary, to wit, the complaint that elitist progressives always try to lord their intelligence, education levels, and belief that the use of proper grammar and syntax matters over wingnuts who generally seem to be challenged in these areas.

    Hold on. Maybe he did. Let’s roll the videotape, and see what Denis went on to say:

    “Lots of big words, not much in the way of a coherent argument. If you are as bright as some think you are, you could dumb down your essay for the rest of us.”

    Well, there you go. The “correlary” IS there. Apparently, Denis IS nothing more than a slightly more intelligent version of the average wingnut blinded by ideology.

    Your condescension is misplaced, my dear Denis the Menace. Your attempt to passive-aggressively snipe at the elevated intellectual level of what PJ had to say in response to the bullshit theories you espouse was cringe-worthy. In plain and simple terms, Denis, PJ is smarter than you. Just accept that, and cut the passive-aggressive sniping out.

    PJ discredited your “pie-in-the-sky” theories, and did it in a lofty, academic way. While I’m sure that that hurt your feelings, as well as your touchy wingnut sensibilities, and you responded in a way that reflected that, the truth is the truth. Deal with it. In any event, I have a feeling that you love erudition, but only when it comes out of the mouth of a “bloviating ignoramus” like George Will. PJ is kicking your ass. You might as well just admit it. You’re the emperor, and the rest of us can see that you don’t have any clothes on. Preening about, and trying to act PJ hasn’t just kicked your ass, isn’t going to help your case one little bit.

       0 likes

  • Zuma Bound

    “Corollary”, “correlary”, “COROLLARY”, what’s the difference, huh? (*laughing*)

    Yikes!

    Sorry for my spelling handiwork just above. I think we can all agree that the word is “corollary”.

       0 likes

  • Zuma Bound

    (*chuckling*) Yup.

    Nice catch, Rich. Truly a man after my own heart.

    Corollalary. . .(still *chuckling*). . .

       0 likes

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