Support the Free Market? The American Federation of Teachers Wants You to Bugger Off

Common Core doesn't include lessons on preventing fiscal disasters, apparently.Credit: Darkbird77 | Dreamstime.comAs free-market and smaller-government advocates work to save money and restore fiscal stability to states and municipalities by pushing government employees from debt-building pensions to 401(k)-style defined contribution savings plans, unions are obviously going to hit back. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has decided to make it a little more personal by going after anybody who works in the area of retirement asset management who also supports a handful of blacklisted free-market think tanks calling for such changes.

The "watch list" on their "Ranking Asset Management" report (pdf) contains only four nonprofits: StudentsFirst, the Show-Me Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and Illinois Is Broke. The Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes this site and Reason magazine) is not on the list, despite the foundation's involvement in encouraging similar reforms. We even have our own pension policy expert!

Anyway, the AFT warns it's going to be looking at those who support privatizing government retirement funds, particularly asset managers who are "funding or playing leadership roles" in its blacklisted think tanks. The justification in the report for exposing these people is to identify those who make money off pension funds yet also actively support efforts to shift government employees to defined contribution plans. It lists the names of several people who work at investment companies and are also connected to the blacklisted groups. The report states, "The AFT is committed to shining a bright light on organizations that harm public sector workers, especially when those organizations are financed by individuals who earn their money from the deferred wages of our teachers, school-related personnel and other members."

The logic of that argument is a little unclear. It seems to want to indicate some sort of hypocrisy, but doesn’t really do so. If somebody who earns their money from pensions wants to shift to defined contribution plans what does that actually mean? The report, per usual union behavior, claims shifting away from pension plans threatens employee retirements without any actual evidence. Why would somebody who makes a living off retirement funds want to shift to a system that threatens retirements? I suspect the answer to this would be a screed against Wall Street and fund fees, but as Union Watch at the California Policy Center notes, public employee pensions are really not in a position to be complaining about the vagaries of Wall Street:

CalSTRS [The California State Teachers Retirement System] invests in companies and financial instruments they supposedly detest: Skip along in the CalSTRS Annual Report to page 101 and take a look at their "largest equity holdings." They include Exxon Mobil Corp at the #1 position, and Chevron Crop at #5. Go back to page 45 to see where CalSTRS has $22 billion in "Private Equity Investments." How many Wall Street wolves fatten themselves on that rather substantial hunk of fresh meat?

What more does it take to make clear there is a phony war going on between public sector unions and the financial community? This isn’t an ideological battle, it’s an intramural struggle for dominance between two groups who are both elitist and privileged, who need each other far more than they need taxpayers.

"Dark money," or money that doesn’t pass the "smell test," seems to be a favored meme of public sector unions these days. Especially if that money is used to fund challenges to their interests, hence, a new "blacklist." But why does public sector union money, sourced involuntarily, falling into their accounts automatically by the millions and billions, emanating directly from taxpayers, used to intimidate opponents, fund political campaigns and academic studies, organize activist groups, and feed Wall Street financiers, get a pass?

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  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    But why does public sector union money, sourced involuntarily, falling into their accounts automatically by the millions and billions, emanating directly from taxpayers, used to intimidate opponents, fund political campaigns and academic studies, organize activist groups, and feed Wall Street financiers, get a pass?

    The answer is in the question.

  • sarcasmic||

    The logic of that argument is a little unclear.

    That is because there is no logic. It's an appeal to emotion.

    Not only do they want to harm teachers (bad intentions), but they are profiting (stealing) at the same time! They are evil! Get mad!

  • Alice Bowie||

    Support the Free Market? The American Corporations Wants You to Bugger Off.

    Corporations are all for Free Market until it comes to Labor. For that, they went to the third world which was mostly communist and oppresive to obtain labor not because the UNIONs were taking away ALL the profits, but to make better profits.

    In a free market, the worker and the employer negotiate. The employer didn't like that.

  • Sevo||

    See? See? Alice is soooooooo smart! Alice has beaten that strawman silly!
    Fuck off, Alice; tired of the lefty twaddle.

  • gimmeasammich||

    In a free market, the worker and the employer negotiate. The employer didn't like that.

    ...So they went where both they and the worker could reach an agreement. Is this not the free market at work?

  • WTF||

    Don't waste your time. Alice is an idiot.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    In a free market, the worker and the employer negotiate.

    Yes, and when one side feels they are not going to be able to accept the terms in a free market they are free to walk away from the negotiations and seek what they want elsewhere.

    But that's not what you really mean by negotiate, is it? I think you mean that when an impasse is reached one side gets their friends with guns to force one side to give the other side what it wants.

  • gimmeasammich||

    I don't think AB can accept the cold, hard fact that businesses are in it to make money, not to provide welfare.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yeah. Those people in the third world would be so much better off without those oppressive corporations forcing them to work for them. They'd be better scratching out an existence on a subsistence farm. So obviously they are being forced to work for those corporations. Otherwise they would have stayed on the farms if the farms were better. That or they're stupid. Which is it?

    And by going overseas, those corporations are able to produce goods at a lower cost. This means they sell them for less money. That is obviously bad, because people are better off when they pay more for things and have less money left over for buying other things. Right? I mean, that's what happens when you protect American workers. You make foreign stuff more expensive so people have less money to buy other stuff.

    I'm sure that the American manufacturing boom of the 40s and 50s had nothing to do with America being the only country after WWII that hadn't had its industrial base blown to shit. All the credit goes to the unions, right?

  • Alice Bowie||

    Not really unions, but full employment, leisure, and disposable income.

    This is what rocketed us up beyond the point that was not achieved in 1000s of years. A regular guy living good.

    I think that Corporations would had gone to the third world regardless. It's simply cheaper labor.

  • Juice||

    I think that Corporations would had gone to the third world regardless. It's simply cheaper labor.

    Well, duh.

  • Rev Match||

    Not really unions, but full employment, leisure, and disposable income.

    Where, pray tell, does all that leisure time and disposable income come from? Oh, right, from being productive and creating wealth.

  • sarcasmic||

    Talk about missing it. The regular guy living well was the effect, not the cause. The cause was free market capitalism.
    Cause and effect. You've got it backwards.
    Wealth has to be created before someone can live well, and free market capitalism is the engine of wealth creation.
    How can someone live well without first there being the wealth that enables the lifestyle? Magic?

  • Sevo||

    Alice Bowie|4.9.14 @ 12:29PM|#
    "Not really unions, but full employment, leisure, and disposable income."

    Yeah, dipshit, there are all sorts of systems that promise to deliver that.
    See North Korea for one.

  • Alice Bowie||

    You all made the same point. "The employer went elsewhere"

    Not to the west, not to Europe, but to the most oppressive and poor parts of the world for labor.

    This is where we went wrong and this is why you see salary stagnation, the destruction of the middle class, and electing conservative/libertarian executive is becoming more and more difficult for you guys.

    Please. Keep it up. Keep talking about closing public schools, eliminating safety nets, etc. etc. etc. Your public is listening and reacting appropriately.

  • Alice Bowie||

    One more point:

    There's nothing wrong with:
    - The rent going up
    - The gas price going up
    - Healthcare cost going up

    If you believe what you say that "the entire pie get's bigger", there's nothing wrong.

    However, there's one thing not going up. Do you know what that is?

    Being a Conservative/Libertarian is a Luxury that is lost REAL QUICK once booted out of the middle class due to job loss, sickness, and other crap.

  • WTF||

    However, there's one thing not going up. Do you know what that is?

    Well it is definitely your IQ, because that actually seems to be going down in front of our eyes.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    There's nothing wrong with:
    - The rent going up
    - The gas price going up
    - Healthcare cost going up

    Hmm.. I wonder what could be the cause of the cause of these things.. would have to be pretty big, reaching into every sector of the economy and be resistant to normal market forces.. A mystery..

  • Alice Bowie||

    It's not trickling down fast enough. That's why the complaints from the little guy.

  • Jordan||

    And you can thank the Federal Reserve and regulatory state for that.

  • gimmeasammich||

    There's nothing wrong with:
    - The rent going up
    - The gas price going up
    - Healthcare cost going up

    The problem comes when the protectionist policies you have been advocating for make those things increase in cost faster than the pay of the people that have to buy those things.

  • Sevo||

    Alice Bowie|4.9.14 @ 12:22PM|#
    'One more thing I really don't understand'

    Fixed.
    Yes, you understand very, very little so you should really STFU.

  • Vampire||

    Rent, healthcare, hosing, gas.... Keep debauching the currency and these things will happen. You think you are compassionate and care about the poor, but the policies you espouse only work to make everyone poor except the politicians and special interests that collude with them.

    You haven't the balls to go and rob someone. You hide behind your masters and advocate they rob and steal, then have the fall to say your compassionate. The complete failure to deduce economic problems stems from no accountability for your actions, and being shielded from any consequences. One day you will rob no more, and will face consequences for your hidden thirst of violence against others.

  • Brandon||

    Didn't Alice used to at least try to make some sense? Now he's pretty much just Tony, with the exact same straw men.

  • WTF||

    Keep spouting those false premises and beating those strawmen, moron.

  • sarcasmic||

    This is where we went wrong...

    What the fuck does that mean? Who is "we"? What could have been done differently?

    What about poor people around the world being lifted out of poverty by these corporations? Isn't that a good thing?

    What about cheaper foreign made goods leaving more money in American pockets? Isn't that a good thing?

    What about America's having the advantage of an intact industrial base in the 40s and 50s? What effect did that have?

    You're not making a point other than to say it was bad that jobs went overseas. Why were they here when they were, why did they go when they did, and what effect did that have on everyone, not just the American workers? That's the question.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I agree with you that the third world is better. But, the best would had been that their corporations made the profits and employed their people at their pace.

    Companies like Delmonte, Tropicanna, and Best Foods went to the "Banana Republic", made the local governor a millionaire, and fleeced the land, the labor, and everything. Cuba, for example, would had been better off selling their own resources.

  • sarcasmic||

    I really have no idea of what that word-salad means.

    Here's what happens. A country starts off poor. Then it gets some industry. Conditions aren't that great because great working conditions require capital that has not yet been built up. As capital builds and conditions improve, everyone's standard of living improves. That's the pie growing. Eventually those shitty jobs move to someplace poor because they're just not profitable someplace rich.

    In America poor people are fat. In poor countries poor people starve to death.

    I don't know what you are complaining about, unless you want to return to when we were a poorer country where shitty jobs were profitable.

  • KDN||

    Alice exists as proof that shriek isn't quite the bottom of the barrel.

  • sarcasmic||

    Alice exists as proof that shriek isn't quite the bottom of the barrel.

    I guess so.

  • Ted S.||

    She's saying Del Monte should have grown bananas in Detroit. I think.

  • Zeb||

    Pretty sure Alice is "he".

  • Rev Match||

    Companies like Delmonte, Tropicanna, and Best Foods went to the "Banana Republic", made the local governor a millionaire, and fleeced the land, the labor, and everything.

    How can you not see this as a problem of overbearing government and lack of property rights?

  • Sevo||

    "How can you not see this as a problem of overbearing government and lack of property rights?"

    Alice is a lefty ignoramus, that's how. Lefties do not like facts.

  • Rev Match||

    Not to the west, not to Europe, but to the most oppressive and poor parts of the world for labor.

    You DO realize that these people in these oppressive countries only work for companies that offer (yes, offer) jobs there because it is their best option, given that entrepreneurship is a difficult thing in said oppressive countries. Ergo, these people get to do something more valuable than toiling in a field struggling for existence. They get to produce something that others want to buy at a competitive price.

  • robc||

    Europe makes it almost impossible to hire labor.

    Its worse than the US.

    That is why labor is purchased elsewhere.

  • sarcasmic||

    I thought Europe made it almost impossible to fire labor. Same result, since no one wants to hire someone they can't fire if they don't work out.

  • Zeb||

    That was my impression as well.

    And they act surprised when you get a 50% unemployment rate among young people. You want to hire an untested employee who you will not be able to fire if they don't perform to expectations?

  • gimmeasammich||

    Not to the west, not to Europe, but to the most oppressive and poor parts of the world for labor.

    So parts of the world that need jobs the most then?

    IOW, "Fuck those poor people. They can die of starvation for all I care. They should have been born in 'Murica!"

  • Invisible Finger||

    Who is keeping this dope alive?

  • Alice Bowie||

    u have a GREAT MEMORY !!!

  • gimmeasammich||

    It's "you," not "u." You aren't Prince.

  • Alice Bowie||

    ...SORRY REASON... I didn't mean to derail the conversation.

  • Scott S.||

    "Oh, hey, people are actually talking about one of my pension posts?"

    ...

    "Sigh."

  • robc||

    Are you new here or something?

  • robc||

    And honestly, what was to be said about your post.

    In general, if we arent actually talking about the post, thats a good thing. If you write something idiotic, we will pile on, but Im sure you are already aware of that.

  • gimmeasammich||

    "No noose is good noose!"

    - Hangman from Robin Hood: Men in Tights

  • Jordan||

    I LOLed. Well played, Scott.

  • Brandon||

    What pension post?

  • Caden Banks||

    The reason the AFT does not want to switch from defined benefit (DB) to defined contribution (DC) plan is because under a public DB plan, taxpayers are on the hook for market returns and contributions playments that do not match the pension obligation as opposed to a DC plan that puts market and contribution risk with the employee. DB plans however are not consistent with current working benefits and are a dying breed.

  • Sevo||

    "DB plans however are not consistent with current working benefits and are a dying breed."

    And the AFT it going to hang onto them until Detroit is not an anomaly.

  • Pinky||

    That and defined contirbution plans are portable. A portable plan means more flexability for the employee and less control by entities such as the AFT.

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