MEGATRENDS: Beggars Can Be Choosers    
 Beggars Can Be Choosers3 comments
Labor Day: A Time To Reflect On How Unions Help The Economy
By MARC McDONALD

If you listen to George W. Bush, you might be under the impression that labor unions are bad for business and that they hurt America's competitiveness. As usual, though, Bush doesn't have a clue.

Indeed, when it comes to business and economic issues, I'm amazed that anyone takes Bush seriously these days. After all, this is someone who was a miserable failure in the private sector (despite his powerful Bush family name and connections). Bush ran every private sector company he was in charge of into the ground. And now he's well on the way to doing this to America itself.

Republicans, of course, have always been hostile to unions. But it's time to dispel a few myths about unions.

The most outrageous lie I consistently hear about unions is that they're "bad for business" and that they hurt America's competitiveness. America's pampered, grossly overpaid CEOs have long gotten their corporations' propaganda divisions (read: the corporate media) to peddle this lie to the American people.

But it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Germany, for example, has powerful labor unions and strong labor laws---and yet that nation ranks as one of the most competitive economies in the world. For one thing, Germany (with less than one-third America's population) is the biggest exporter in the world.

Take a look at the benefits German workers enjoy: a minimum of six weeks paid vacation (two months is the average). Numerous paid holidays. Free health care. Free university tuition. Powerful unions that make it virtually impossible for workers to get fired. Etc.

Despite such strong pro-worker benefits, Germany is the world's biggest exporter. The nation leads in a wide range of ultra-high-tech industries that have enormous entry barriers for low-wage nations. (Translation: Germany doesn't need to worry about low-wage labor from China any time soon). In fact, China has represented an opportunity, not a threat to the Germany economy as China hungers for the sort of high-tech capital and factory equipment that Germany specializes in these days.

Traditional, free-market Anglo-American economists tend to downplay Germany's competitiveness, though. Indeed, the American business press regularly runs stories that purport to show that America's economy is the "most competitive" in the world. No matter how they try to spin it, though, the fact remains that America's so-called "competitive" economy doesn't produce much that the rest of the world wants to buy these days (hence America's soaring, out-of-control trade deficits).

I find it interesting that the countries that have the biggest exports these days (Germany, Japan, etc.) also have strong labor laws and unions---not to mention average wages that exceed those of American workers.

How is this possible?

Is it possible that America's economic "experts" are clueless about what makes a nation competitive and prosperous? Is it possible that, despite what economists say, unions are not bad for business, after all?

A look at the real world indicates that, far from being bad for business, unions are actually a crucial force in building a nation's prosperity and making it competitive.

How can this be? Well, it's widely accepted that unions were responsible for the rise of the Great American Middle Class. What's not as well understood or known, though, is that unions (along with strong labor laws) essentially force companies to become more competitive.

A big flaw of present-day American capitalism is that U.S. corporations don't take a long-term view. Indeed, they don't look any further than the next fiscal quarter.

Meanwhile, in nations like Germany and Japan, corporations do take the long-term view. And as a result, they increasingly demolish their short-sighted American competition.

Take, for example, the increasingly popular hybrid vehicles that Japan is producing these days. Japan began researching these high-tech vehicles as far back as the 1980s. Meanwhile, Detroit automakers (which have never looked further into the future than the next fiscal quarter) are still highly dependent on gas-guzzling SUVs, which are increasingly losing favor with the American consumer.

In taking a look at this scenario, it's important to not overlook the role of unions and strong labor laws. The latter in effect force companies to take a long-term view. When it's virtually impossible to fire your workers (as is the case in Japan and much of Europe), companies have little choice than to plan well ahead into the future.

As a general rule, companies that have a long-term game plan for survival tend to outperform companies that take a short-term view.

All of this, of course, demolishes the economists' "conventional" wisdom that unions and strong labor laws are "bad" for business. It's clear that the opposite is true. Really, the only beneficiaries of the current U.S. economy are the ultra-rich. The Great American Middle Class is on the verge of extinction. And the U.S. economy (which is heavily dependent on gigantic amounts of foreign capital just to stay afloat) is increasingly resembling a Ponzi scheme that is in danger of collapsing like a house of cards.

from: [link]

Think I'll move to Germany! Looks like they were the real winners of World War Two. Them and the Japanese.



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3 comments

6 Sep 2006 @ 01:58 by vaxen : Fo the fun...
Got this from a legal site and thought it might fit in here... though it isn't exactly Edward De Bono....

How a concerned U.S. Attorney's office "settled" a potentially embarrassing prostitution case by allowing a boat to plead guilty. Lawyers can often find out-of-the-box ways to settle their cases. Here's what the U.S. Attorney's office did.

The U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans was engaged for some time in a series of criminal cases involving a brothel in New Orleans. (A brothel in New Orleans!! As Captain Louie would have said, "I'm shocked, shocked to find that prostitution is going on here.) The Feds originally thought, when they were doing their wiretaps, that they would find all sorts of criminal violations regarding drugs and other heavy federal offenses. Instead, they only found a New Orleans brothel, and no drugs or any other activity they were originally looking for.

After 9/11, the Feds obtained indictments against, among others, a madam, and various prostitutes. They also obtained an indictment against two businessmen whom they charged with prostitution conspiracy. The two faced up to five years in prison because of their alleged roles in hiring hookers to participate in a party on a yacht which one the men owned and which had sailed from Louisiana to Mississippi with the prostitutes. (You're not going to believe this, but the yacht really – REALLY – was named CRIME SCENE.) The New Orleans Times Picayune of April 30, 2003, in a page 1 article, reported the following:

"The trial was scuttled at the last minute when defense attorneys prepared motions to force the publication of the customer list and, perhaps, force the U.S. attorney's office to bow out of the case because of the connections of two of the johns.

"After those revelations, two veteran prosecutors . . . took over and began crafting plea offers that defendants couldn't refuse. The most creative plea bargain was given to the only two customers to be charged . . . Originally facing felony charges for hiring hookers for a party on [the yacht of one of the defendants] as it crossed state lines from Louisiana to Mississippi, the two men were allowed to plead guilty to an obscure maritime law characterized as a ‘petty offense.' Under the unusual arrangement, the boat – a 41-foot Sea Ray named Crime Scene – pleaded guilty to a felony and the corporation that owns the boat was fined $80,000." (There are additional reports in the Times-Picayune, including one in the issue of April 24, 2003.)

It's amazing what creativity even the Feds can come up with when they are too embarrassed to proceed to trial.

It's also really great to know that New Orleans is now vice-free.  



6 Sep 2006 @ 04:21 by jobrown : Dear Vax,
absolutely GREAT article!!! THANK you, once again, for dispelling The American MYTH! (If only the Americans knew how BAD they've been lied to and brainwashed to in order to get a big inflated; SICK ego!... ) The Ammerican Good Corporate Competitiveness is one of those lies. American superiority in ALL Things/Areas in/of Life is another... The American People are wonderful, despite and in and with their Teen-ager belief in their own superiority; which really is an over compensation for feeling worthless!... But the SEDUCERS are nothing but SLIME!
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Seducers are slime. I like that... colorful way of stating the obvious. Interestingly enough I don't think that our sovereignty can be gained (regained?) from a CD. The real battles are yet to come so be prepared... ;) Glad you're back on Earth again. Nice vacation in the stars was it? ;)  



6 Sep 2006 @ 12:49 by rayon : Very interesting
Vax - yes unfortunately if you want to close down a plant in UK, sell it to a US or foreign company who promise big to all, and then 2 years down the line, they issue notices of closure due to unprofitability, all because of the relaxed labour laws. Happened with Rover cars, and others can't recall just now. They try management buy outs which only works some of the time. Oh yes, BAE systems, aircraft engineering systems etc, quite skilled workforces all gone to waste. Sometime back it was evident that the "powers that be" (gnomes of Zur?) decided that the UK would be a Heritage Island and Services only country - ie little industry, with the result that Humanities feature high in university studies with maths/science ability poor. The thing about the "Service" industry is that the UK is a country of ubiquitous help yourself restaurants, and queuing, unlike in France with its gradations of seating according to meal type, engrained in social unwritten code.

Yes exactly, back to your point, just who did win the war?

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"Gradations of seating according to meal type." Good G'd but mind control is pervasive! ;) The writing is on the wall for the so called ''United States.'' It has always been just 'one big lie' faustered by the educational systems ''top down'' eidolon.

What ''they'' are after, and have put in place, is the creation of a unified North America vis a vis Mexico, Canada and the USA as one big not so happy ''family.'' It has already been instantiated but the 'American people,' a polyglot confection to be sure, have been so dumbed down and behavior modded that they still think they are free...

Behavioral Finance...  



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