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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:
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.
Tagged with: labor unions
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