Thursday, April 22, 2010

Democrat Mickey Kaus Asks "What's Texas's Secret?"

Ohio and Michigan, pay attention to this one:
Why is the state of Texas doing relatively well in this recession--losing jobs later, and recovering jobs earlier--than California is? ... Texas has a relatively low rate of unionization--about a third of California's. That means a) fewer rigidities in the labor market, allowing it to adjust to the market more quickly--tiny quick wage cuts for a lot of people, for eample, mean employers don't have to lay people off as quickly b) fewer rigidities in organization structure--they don't have UAW-style work rules at Dell; and c) the absence of the public sector union "death-grip on state and local government" and politics and finances, which has helped produce near-bankruptcy at the state level (and actual bankruptcy in Vallejo). ... When Texas creates green jobs, maybe it's not just a power play by the union representing DWP workers to grab another stream of taxpayer funding, or by the Teamsters to monopolize employment at the port of LA. Maybe they are actual green jobs! ...


Outgoing SEIU union President Andy Stern tells WaPo's Ezra Klein that unions are
the greatest middle-class, job-creating mechanism that we have ever had in America that doesn't cost tax payers a dime.
Needless to say, under Klein's probing questioning Stern had to admit the idiocy of his remark. ... Oh wait. This is Ezra Klein we are talking about. There was no probing questioning. It was left to Klein's colleague Charles Lane to show the idiocy of Stern's remark:
Really? Aren’t unions the main defenders of the Davis-Bacon Act, a certifiable waster of tax dollars and destroyer of jobs? Unions share the blame for the downfall of General Motors and Chrysler, too, don’t they? Last I checked, their bailouts had cost taxpayers more than a dime.

I have also heard that the untouchable pensions and other benefits of public sector unions, including Stern’s SEIU, are pushing California into fiscal and economic disaster. I’m just back from Los Angeles, where the mayor, trying to close a $400 million-plus budget gap, has announced layoffs and service cuts, which can only be avoided if city employee unions accept wage cuts and contribute more to their own pensions. So far, the unions say no. Their counterproposal calls on the city to raise dog license fees and pass out more parking tickets, among other gimmicks and stopgaps.
Not to mention the more basic point that when GM's unions won wage increases, back in the 1960s and 1970s when the industry had the closed, oligopoly structure unions prefer, it was GM's customers who paid the resulting increased prices. And GM's customers were by and large poorer than GM's workers. The fact that they suffered the loss as consumers and not "tax payers" may not have been much consolation.

Stern's soundbite is the sort of BS a leader can only get away with when he is surrounded by yes-men (and yes-journalists). Otherwise somebody would have called him on it long before his "exit interview." ... This insularity helps explain why Stern was such a stunningly ineffective spokesman for his pet let-unions-avoid-the-secret-ballot ("card check") plan, which even Klein admits is now dead --though, of course, Barbara Boxer is still a "strong supporter." ...

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