Labor

Public-Sector Unions Choke Taxpayers

It's time for reform.

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"I thought unions were great—until at Chrysler, the union steward started screaming at me. Working at an unhurried pace, I'd exceeded 'production' for that job."

That comment, left on my blog by a viewer who watched my show about unions, matches my experience. No one ordered me to slow down, but union rules and union culture at ABC and CBS slowed the work. Sometimes a camera crew took five minutes just to get out of the car.

Now unions conspire with politicians to rip off taxpayers.

Steve Melanga of the Manhattan Institute complains that politicians get union political support by granting government workers generous pensions and health benefits. After those politicians leave office, taxpayers are liable for trillions in unfunded promises.

"It's squeezing out all other spending," Melanga says. "Where are we going to get this $3 trillion dollars? … When they're (government workers) allowed to retire at 58 and the rest of us are retiring at 60 and 67—and by the way we're living to 80—it's crazy. The public sector is the version of the European welfare state which, by the way, in Europe, they're actually rolling back."

John Gage, president of the biggest federal workers union, the American Federation of Government Employees, came on my Fox Business show to disagree: "This thing about unions and the public sector and bankrupting America, that's very far from the truth. Yes, we have a problem with pensions. Basically because these pension plans haven't been properly funded."

Melanga's response: "Fund public-sector pensions at a level that we can afford, (and turn) the pension system into a defined-contribution system. Public-sector employee unions and states have refused to do that."

A defined-contribution plan is like your 401(k). Your pension benefits depend on how well your investments do. State and local unions, by contrast, have "defined-benefit" plans, which simply force taxpayers to send retirees a monthly check.

Gage doesn't like Malanga's suggestion: "Can you imagine working 30, 35 years … and (with) what just happened with the (stock) market, suddenly you're left holding nothing?"

I don't think they'd be holding "nothing." Yes, the market crashed, but the Dow is still above 11,000. Twenty-eight years ago, it was below 800. That's up more than 1,000 percent. Over time, 401(k)s provide a decent retirement.

When I said that we in the private sector have such plans, Gage responded, "Only because of the laws in this country which make it almost impossible for private-sector workers to organize and to have a union. … (W)ithout unions, we'd have a 'race to the bottom.'"

But this makes no sense. Do all employers move to Mexico because wages are lower there?

But many viewers side with Gage:

Grover said: "Stossel's take on Unions is nothing but appalling. According to him, workers have no rights. Workers are the ones who make a company profitable, not CEOs. In Stossel's slanted view, worker's are dirt and don't deserve anything."

Jakob wrote: "Are you really this stupid? Do you really want to lower American workers' standards to that of Honduras and China, where democratic unions do not exist? Would you like for us to go back to a time in America before we had unions? When children worked in factories for 14-hour days and health and safety standards simply did not exist?"

These are popular views. But they are wrong. Factories are safer because of free markets. Companies want better workers and must compete to get them. Free markets create wealth that permits parents to send their kids to schools instead of factories. Unions once helped to advance working conditions, but now union work rules mostly retard growth and progress.

Many workers understand that, and that's why only 8 percent of private-sector workers still belong to unions. In the private sector, wage and pension demands are tempered by competition. If one company pays too much, a competitor takes his business.

But governments are monopolies. They face no competition and get their money by force. So they can conspire with public-sector unions to milk taxpayers. That explains the fix we're in today.

Something's got to give.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

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206 responses to “Public-Sector Unions Choke Taxpayers

  1. Unions? That’s not a fucking crisis! What about blogwhoring?

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  2. Oh man… get ready for another exciting session of “Stossel is an idiot!” postings oozing from under the rocks and wall cracks…

    1. 5-4-3..

      Didn’t even reach 1.

      1. His moustache made me do it!

  3. Jakob wrote: “Would you like for us to go back to a time in America before we had unions? When children worked in factories for 14-hour days and health and safety standards simply did not exist?”

    What a load of shit.

    1. Oh, it was so terrible when I was 17 and working 60 hours a week in the factory. I mean I could have done without the car I was able to buy!!!!!!!!

    2. “Would you like for us to go back to a time in America before we had unions? When children worked in factories for 14-hour days and health and safety standards simply did not exist?”
      Pretty sure this in on a poster in *every* union hall in the US.
      And since the wording rarely changes, it’s probably available fro copy/paste on every union web-site.

    3. Do you know what it’s like to fall in the mud and get kicked… in the head… with an iron boot? Of course you don’t, no one does. It never happens. Sorry, Ted, that’s a dumb question… skip that.

  4. “No one ordered me to slow down, but union rules and union culture at ABC and CBS slowed the work.”

    Er, that is the idea dude. I wonder if Stossel thinsk he should not negotiate for vaction time because, you know, that “slows the work.”

    People negotiate with employers to get the sweetest deal they can and vice versa. The only difference with unions is they improve their negotiation power by doing so collectively. Everyone should try to get the best deal they can, no one should sacrifice “for the good of the production” alone. WTF?

    1. Re: MNG,

      Er, that is the idea dude. I wonder if Stossel thin[ks] he should not negotiate for vac[a]tion time because, you know, that “slows the work.”

      That’s not the same, MNG. You’re being totally dishonest. Union rules slow down work by imposing unreasonable limits on who gets to do what and when. They also impose “fair wages” which end up not being fair for the more productive worker.

      People negotiate with employers to get the sweetest deal they can and vice versa. The only difference with unions is they improve their negotiation power by doing so collectively.

      Who said “colective negotiation” is better? What if Jones is a better poducer than James, yet this “collective bargaining” ends up placing Jones and James on the same pay scale with NO WAY for Jones to obtain a better deal?

      It is NOT TRUE that “collective bargaining” is better for workers. It may be better for the less productive, but not for the MORE productive.

      Everyone should try to get the best deal they can

      There’s a way – DON’T JOIN A UNION. One will NOT get the better deal, only the deal the bosses get for YOU. It is NOT the same thing necessarily.

      o one should sacrifice “for the good of the production” alone. WTF?

      Speak for yourself, asshole, if you want to starve. We ALWAYS sacrifice something for the good of production, it’s called the “DISUTILITY OF LABOR.”

      1. ” Union rules slow down work by imposing unreasonable limits on who gets to do what and when.”

        Oh, I see, when Stossel or you negotiates for limits they are reasonable, when a union does it they are unreasonable. Okay.

        “Who said “colective negotiation” is better?”

        On average it is.

        1. Re: MNG,

          Oh, I see, when Stossel or you negotiates for limits they are reasonable, when a union does it they are unreasonable. Okay.

          I don’t negotiate for limits. I simply leave. I can’t speak for Stossel, but he clearly did the same when the limits in ABC were not reasonable for him.

          What a Union does is bully the owners. That’s not negotiating, that’s extorting.

          On average it is.

          Jesus, what an utterly stupid reply, MNG. “You may not get the best grade, Jimmy, because we need to keep the curve, but on average, you’re still OK!”

          1. “What a Union does is bully the owners.”

            What are you talking about?

            “I don’t negotiate for limits. I simply leave.”

            Not a very verbal person I see…Well, many of us can and do talk with employers and work out arrangements.

            “”You may not get the best grade, Jimmy, because we need to keep the curve, but on average, you’re still OK!””

            Yeah, you defintely have some confusion re: the fact that averages apply to groups of individuals…

            1. Re: MNG,

              What are you talking about?

              I’m talking to a post.

              Here:

              http://www.santamariatimes.com…..03286.html

              Yeah, you defintely have some confusion re: the fact that averages apply to groups of individuals.

              Oh, thank you, comrade commissar!

            2. MNG|10.21.10 @ 12:50PM|#
              “What a Union does is bully the owners.”

              What are you talking about?

              What typically happens when a union’s contract is up? They either threaten a strike or walk out. That is bullying. The company has no other recourse than to either settle or try to run their business with non-union labor (who in turn get threatened and victimized by union members).

              How about this? Once a union contract is up the company has the right to enter negotiations with any union not just the one whose contract just expired. Of course should the unions try to get together to set wage rates they’d be in violation of anti-trust legislation just like other businesses. How’s that work for you?

      2. I don’t sacrifice anything “for the good of production.” I trade my time and efforts for things I want more than that time and effort, but I also try to negotiate the best deal I can for myself. Because unlike you I am not part of some strange quasi-alstruistic cult that thinks I should sacrifice for “the good of production” alone…

        1. There’s a fable that speaks to this, of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. While you negotiate the best deal you can for yourself, if you drive the company into bankruptcy, nobody wins, you included.

          1. Of course, no one should kill that goose. That applies to any business deal.

            1. Sure, but the unions have a very poor track record on this front.

        2. Re: MNG,

          I don’t sacrifice anything “for the good of production.”

          LEARN ECONOMICS FOR A CHANGE!! It’s called “Opportunity Cost” You ARE sacrificing something – your leisure.

          I trade my time and efforts for things I want more than that time and effort, but I also try to negotiate the best deal I can for myself.

          Of course you negotiate the best deal. That does not mean you didn’t make a TRADEOFF. You simply ignore this just to look cute in front of the other posters.

          1. Wow, your obtuseness won’t be covered up with all caps OM. I said I trade my leisure, but I don’t just give it away “for the good of production” like you. I get something for it (pay).

            1. Re: MNG,

              I said I trade my leisure, but I don’t just give it away “for the good of production” like you.

              You’re playing games, MNG. NOBODY said “producing for production’s sake.” The fact is, if you don’t produce, you don’t get PAID. There’s no need to say this, it is understood.

              HOWEVER, if you produce MORE, you get MORE. SO, you sacrifice leisure TIME for MORE REWARD, for the “good of production.”

              Did you really need to have this well-understood truism mentioned in the discussion? Who’s being obtuse?

              1. Amazing. I’ve meet some hard-headed people before, but MNG really takes the cake in this instance. Either he’s being extremely naive or he’s just trolling you. Perhaps English isn’t his first language?

    2. Collective! What a pretty word!

      1. It’s just a newfangled word for “corporatism” (in the non-fascist sense).

    3. Buyers negotiate for new cars all the time, too. But one if one dealer had a monopoly protected by law on selling all cars? He could charge whatever the hell he wanted, that’s what, and things would suck for anyone looking for a car, and the market would miss out on lost opportunities.

      Now, I’m not saying the car dealer shouldn’t absolutely do everything that is in his own interest to make money.

      But why is the government supporting his monopoly? This distortion of the market is undeniably bad for consumers. We wouldn’t stand for it, and neither should we stand for a system that leverages the influence of one party in a labor negotiation.

      The existence of a Union is not the primary issue here. As noted in the article, these organizations have subverted our political environment to achieve remarkably unequal leverage. I don’t blame the unions for doing what’s best for them, I blame the legislators who allied with these special interests to undermine our economy. It’s time for us to take back our markets.

    4. I tend to be one of the best paid people wherever I work because I take pride in what I do and strive to be better than my coworkers.

      If I were in a union shop I would have no incentive to do a better job than my coworkers because there would be no monetary reward and possible negative consequences.

      Now if I were one of those people who does below average work who resents people like me who work hard and get paid well for it, then yes I would favor unions.

      But I’m not one of those people.

      1. “I take pride in what I do and strive to be better than my coworkers.”

        Company suckhole! Your work ethic is taking away the need for another comrade and allowing the greedy rich shareholders to make more money.

        1. And I’m proud of it!

          1. You’ll be the first one put against the wall you capitalist pig.

    5. MNG,

      you can mathematically prove that collective bargaining causes structural unemployment and reduced out put. Stop using emotion to argue against basic economics.

      1. Libtards cannot be persuaded with logic and reason.

        1. Because they are programmed to think like women, its why The Governator called CA democrats girlymen.

          1. Women think?
            I thought they had emotional reactions and then used their cognitive faculties to justify that reaction.
            Wait… that’s what liberals do.. never mind.

            1. No, you were right the first time. Oh wait. And the second.

    6. “Everyone should try to get the best deal they can, no one should sacrifice “for the good of the production” alone. WTF?”

      When you talk about PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS that reads to be..

      Everyone should try to get the most out of the taxpayers that they can. No one should sacrifice for the good of the Union except the tax payers. Fuck them!

    7. That’s just nonsense, MNG, and I think you know it. Employers and employees can negotiate for vacation time, and everyone agrees that one does not work on vacation, so it’s transparent what one is bargaining for. That’s not the case when union workers deliberately slow down when they are supposed to be working. They’re using their monopoly power to avoid providing what they have agreed to provide. I don’t think you’d be too thrilled if an employer, having agreed to provide four weeks of vacation to all employees, unilaterally decided that two weeks was close enough.

      1. I think a better analogy with that is that you GET the four weeks, but the company tells you after you’ve signed your contract that you can only use your 4 weeks for 1/2 a day at a time and never on two consecutive days. THAT is what unions try to do: completely violate the spirit of what they’ve agreed to.

  5. “Steve Melanga of the Manhattan Institute complains that politicians get union political support by granting government workers generous pensions and health benefits.”

    Er, that’s true about any interest group. Just replace “pensions and health benefits” with “government contracts,” “tax breaks” or the like…

    1. You won’t find anyone here arguing with that. But this article is specifically about unions. Just because other groups are doing it, does not mean its fine that the unions are doing it.

    2. Public employee unions don’t negotiate. They own the legislature in most states.

  6. The market places a very high value on what we Federal Employees offer – not going to jail for tax evasion. You people will pay almost anything for that service.

    The unions ensure that we Feds make what we deserve. Get over it.

    http://youareproperty.blogspot…..ouble.html

    1. This post is exactly why Public Sector Unions must be brought under control. In a Constitutional Republic, the Citizens control the Government, not the other way around.

      Yes, Public Employees make the argument that they are Citizens too. They are. However, they serve the Private Productive Sector and must realize that thier labor must be fairly valued by the Private Productive Sector.

      1. OK, then tell us, what would you be willing to pay to avoid prison?? We’ll just charge, or tax each and every one of you people that price. The fact that we don’t do so is proof of our working for FAR below our market value.

        We Feds are effectively above the rest of you, and the laws of your country recognize such:
        http://youareproperty.blogspot…..ystem.html

        1. Is Federal Man a satirical post?

  7. i’ve struggled with what to make of unions for a while. As a capitalist libertarian, my instinct was to oppose. But really what is a union but capitalism in action, from the point of view of the worker who provides a product, in this case, labor? Individually, when I receive a job offer, I negotiate with an employer for the best compensation package I could get. As a good capitalist should. A union simply does it collectively. No one however should be forced to join a union to get a job, via government laws however. Government must be neutral completely, neither helping unions nor hindering them. Letthe market work it out, and if people can use the market’s power of their product/labor to get better benefits…good for them. If the employer is able to say, No thanks, we think we can look elsewhere in the market for people who won’t cost as much…well, good for the employer. Either way, let the market for the most part sort it out.

    1. John,

      I agree. When this happens, though, unions go away. Look at the membership in right to work states and see what I mean.

      1. And why do the unions go away in right to work states…probably because more workers refuse to join the unions.

    2. The problem is that the government hasn’t placed union and non-union workers equally. The big 3 car companies would love to get rid of the UAE if the gov’t would let them. My grandfather made $20 an hour for GM in the early 80’s, he swept the floor. Tell me that fits in any capitalist system. I’m sure there was someone else out there that could have done just as good a job for less, but GM was unable to replace him by law.

      1. I always thought the shit jobs were for when you were young and trying to learn about the real world. But, some real fucking lazy people decided it’s cool to do manual, robotic work for the rest of their lives and whine that it doesn’t pay well.

    3. I get what you are saying, and agree to some degree. But realistically that isn’t how it works. Perhaps Stossel and the rest are against the actual unions (and ultimate corruption) than the idea of unions.

    4. Makes sense. But under the current system the unions are basically monopolists. They get a legal monopoly on selling labor to a particular company/factory/whatever. But unlike most government-granted monopolies they are not subject to regulation by something like a PUC.

      If they weren’t monopolists I’d have no problem with them… but then they wouldn’t exist either.

  8. Do all employers move to Mexico because wages are lower there?

    1. Why do union officials hate Mexicans, Chinese, Indians, Malasians and Bangladeshis?

      1. And yet call themselves the SEI(nternational)U?

        1. Remember that Mexican employers were encouraged NOT to take away the secret ballot… by the same supporters of card check.

  9. The problem with unions in a free market is this:

    When a union is recognized for a given work unit, what that means is that the company can no longer employ anyone in that unit except on the union’s terms. There is no freedom of contract between the company and the employees in that unit. The individual and the company cannot agree to either higher or lower pay.

    Its not so much the “right to work” (meaning, right to hold a job in a union shop but not join the union and pay dues) issue. Its the “right to contract” issue that forcibly (by law) requires all employees to be paid the union rate, regardless.

  10. Factories are safer because of free markets.

    And safety regulations. I don’t see any evidence presented that businesses won’t race to the bottom on safety, especially when labor is a buyer’s market.

    Free markets create wealth that permits parents to send their kids to schools instead of factories.

    Come again? I think universal schooling–only available by way of government subsidy–helps to create a lot of wealth too. Cause and effect are kind of fuzzy here.

    Unions once helped to advance working conditions, but now union work rules mostly retard growth and progress.

    The purpose of unions is to advance working conditions, not grow the bottom line. That’s the mangers’ job. They will be in conflict, but in recent decades the managers have been winning, not the unions.

    Many workers understand that, and that’s why only 8 percent of private-sector workers still belong to unions.

    No, unions have been decimated by “pro-business” policies over the past few decades. Workers are not giving their rights up willingly because they want to contribute to the greater good of the company, they are simply being given less of a choice in the matter.

    1. Re: Tony,

      And safety regulations. I don’t see any evidence presented that businesses won’t race to the bottom on safety, especially when labor is a buyer’s market.

      There’s no evidence that they DO, so why are you asking for them to prove a negative?

      Come again? I think universal schooling–only available by way of government subsidy–helps to create a lot of wealth too.

      See, when you make such circular arguments, Tony, you look really foolish. Government’s don’t subsidize anything, because they don’t PRODUCE anything. They TAKE from the PRODUCTIVE to give it to someone else. Ergo, those “subsidies” for universal schooling came from only ONE SOURCE – the one that Stossel mentions: Free markets and productive efforts. You cannot then say that because of government there’s then wealth to pay for schools – you have it EXACTLY BACKWARDS.

      No, unions have been decimated by “pro-business” policies over the past few decades.

      What “pro-business” policies? So far, there’s no DENT on the Federal Registry, and the Wagner act is still there showing it’s really ugly head.

      What has decimated unions is the fact that people don’t want to JOIN. Period.

      1. Useless as usual, OM. You are not going to convince me with appeals to silly first principles about how taxes are theft. And you don’t even feel the need to define “productive” because you simply equate it with “people with money,” those subsidized thereby being “unproductive.” But what could be more productive than public schooling? How wealthy would our society be with 90% illiteracy?

        1. Tony, there is no argument at all that could penetrate your thick skull. You seem to be “wired” to conclusion jump and think in a manner only loosely connected to the real world.

        2. Re: Tony,

          You are not going to convince me[…]

          That’s well understood, Tony. Everybody here knows this.

          appeals to silly first principles about how taxes are theft.

          Now you’re being dense. I didn’t argue through that appeal, I mentioned an incontrovertible fact: GOVERNMENTS don’t PRODUCE, they have to TAKE from PRODUCERS. Whether you call it taxes is inconsequential, that’s what governments DO.

          You cannot then say that BECAUSE of GOVERNMENT “SUBSIDIES” to SCHOOLS, there’s WEALTH. That’s not POSSIBLE – governments have to have a POOL OF WEALTH to draw from *FIRST*, before there can be ANY subsidies. There’s no other way around this, whether we call taxes theft or not.

          If you don’t want to see this, then stick your head in the sand, you will be a happier person for it.

          1. Do you think you could type like a normal human being without all the caps? They give me a headache.

            Governments produce all sorts of things, specifically things that a free market won’t. We’ll stick with education. If there were no public schools, only those who could afford to pay would get educated, leaving a massive underclass of very unskilled people who don’t have the opportunity to produce much except maybe menial labor. Subsidize universal education, and we have an entire population with the chance to produce and generate wealth. Much, much more valuable than the tax dollars taken to pay for it.

            1. Governments may produce things in the context of schools etc but nothing and I mean nothing they do is not backed in full with the money of taxpayers to think anything otherwise is denial. Oh and forgive me if I am wrong but I think the wonderful product they turn out with the money they take is pretty crappie by and large. So we end up with the same underclass of unskilled people even with the government provided schooling.

              Tony if everyone was college material and could pass what would Unions do for employees? Seems the only Union guys I know are all High School drop outs and but for the Union paying them way more than they are worth would fall into that unskilled/uneducated class you mention. That is the facts of the matter.

            2. What about parents who home school? And how did people manage to educate themselves in the early part of this country’s history? There weren’t any public schools then.

        3. Considering it’s at 50% illiteracy (according to the current standards anyway; compared to 100 years ago it’s probably closer to that 90% figure), perhaps you could enlighten us based on current parameters.

        4. “How wealthy would our society be with 90% illiteracy?”

          Wow, and you call MY arguments “strawman”ish…

        5. “You are not going to convince me with appeals to silly first principles about how taxes are theft.”

          Yah, stop confusing Tony silly economics. They make his head hurt.

    2. “unions have been decimated by “pro-business” policies over the past few decades”

      I think he’s right in that unions were at their height of bargaining effectiveness back when they were still legally allowed to murder scabs and bomb non-union work projects. What’s the point of unions if pro-business laws keep the extortion from being backed by material threat?

      1. Give ’em the Clamps?

    3. I implement safety systems as part of my job, and I see companies going way, way beyond what OSHA requires all the time.

      1. Oh, and that’s a union and non-union facilities alike.

    4. Tony have you heard of the axiom better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt? I work for my county government my union doesn’t do anything but collect dues and tell me how wonderful they are. I can leave the union but I still have to pay them dues because it would unfairly raise my salary and all employees weather represented or not must be paid according to the union contract. My union regularly donates money to political candidates I rarely if ever support those candidates but my dues goes to them anyway and my union has never ask us employees weather we collectively support said candidates. Unions supposedly protect us from evil mean employers and yet a majority of union members are government employees. Isn’t it the governments job to protect employees you know with A.D.A and O.S.H.A and all those other guvmnt agencies? why the hell are the public sector unions in the first place?

  11. This column was somewhat less of a retardathon than Stossel’s usual.

    The basic thrust is true: where we need unions the least — the public sector — they are the strongest.

    Unstated is the converse: where we need unions the most — the private service sector (e.g., Walmart, McDonalds) — they are weak or non-existent.

    The biggest problem with public sector unions is not that they constrain efficiency. It’s that that they protect government officials from accountability for gross abuses of power. This is particularly so with police and prison guards. A lot of really sociopathic animals in law enforcement keep their badges and guns even after committing vicious crimes against civilians, and it is because of their union power, combined with civil-service protections. This dysfunction dwarfs problems with school teachers, road gangs, or DMV employees about which we usually hear. A weak math class or a long line for license renewal pales in comparison to getting your head crunched with a sidebar baton.

    1. There is sense in what you are saying; but I posit that they (the unions) also contribute to the gross inefficiency of government bureaucracies. There is no sector on Earth more under-worked, overpaid and over-protected, as a whole, than the public sector. Since this situation is being exposed due to the economic downturn, there is a healthy backlash against them (the public-sector unions).

    2. Wal-Mart doesn’t need unions. People are lining out the door to work for those wages. Everyone seems to forget, wages are determined by how the market demands for that job. If only a few can do the job it can demand a high salary. 95% of of the labor force can work for Wal-Mart. No matter how bad a job it may be, Wal-Mart doesn’t need to pay because there are 10 people to replace the 1 worker.

      1. If people dont want to make Wal-Mart wages, how about the put themselves into a competitive advantage and get a skill. I don’t want to have to pay high prices so a high school dropout can make $15 an hour to check my groceries.

        1. Because that requirzes efforts, and that’s a human rights violation.

    3. The reason McDonalds can afford to give out the same crappy pay as its hundreds of competitors isn’t because they’re all in a conspiracy that only a strong union can break; it’s because they get fed a constant torrent of low-productivity workers who can’t do anything better.

      See your local public high school for details. Putting the bottom achievers in a union isn’t going to suddenly make them more productive, it’s just going to hasten the day when they’re replaced by automatic systems. You might as well just directly hand corporate welfare to all the manufacturers of grocery self-checkout stations.

    4. I don’t need a Walmart Union. I don’t know who this “We” is that you are speaking about either. Do you work at Walmart?

  12. What is the solution to this problem? Like it or not contracts were negoated and the unions are meeting their end of the bargain. Going forward all public sector workers should be getting 403Bs but what can be done about the current debt.

    1. Well there are only 2 solutions to the problem of “what to do about people who are already vested in the system?”. Either keep raising taxes higher and higher or declare bankruptcy (municipalities can, states would need a federal law allowing this). Retirees get in line with the other creditors to get a settlement.

    2. Well just because the public agents who negotiated the contracts gave away the store doesn’t mean that the govt can afford to actually pay it. The reality is the contract doesn’t matter if one party can’t deliver . Promising unions the moon just means they don’t get the moon, which was already the case before it was promised to them.

    3. Here’s what pisses me off. In my city, there is a constant push to expand public transportation. The goal is to compel, via various means, people to give up their cars and use public transportation. Okay fine I guess. But the public transportation workers are all unionized and when they go on strike (as they are once again threatening to do because they all want more money) it paralizes a metropolis of 2 million people. It doen’t fuck me up, but it sure hurts the poor, the working poor,the handicapped, etc.

      1. paralizes? Damn.

      2. I think this is an underrated point when talking about the “green” movement, which is generally linked politically with the union end of the political spectrum. If everyone goes to mass transit in order to minimize emissions and all of the other things that are supposed to safeguard our planet, it places more and more power in the hands of those who control our means of movement. If everyone uses light rail and nobody has cars, everyone is at the mercy of those who run light rail. When they go on strike, they have almost unlimited power to issue demands. This is true any time there is a union monopoly of a needed industry, whether it be transportation, utilities, education, or politics.

        1. You mean like France or Greece?

          1. That’s precisely what I mean.

  13. Oh, and while Stossel headlines with “public sector unions” he goes on to make arguments against unions in general. Typical libertarian corporate whore ploy. You can’t really attack unions on free market grounds, so you tack “public sector” on, even though what you’re really doing is whoring for corporate interests as usual. My labor is a commodity, not a gift. The only benefit I get from an improved bottom line is when the company doesn’t go under–a not insignificant benefit in a bad economy–but in general my immediate benefit is my wages, which I’d prefer to be as high as feasible, and which don’t go up in proportion to profitability for the company (unless it’s run more like a co-op, which I think more should). The fallacy here is that richer CEOs = a better society, where in reality it’s the standard of living of workers that contributes much more to that.

    1. Tony|10.21.10 @ 1:01PM|#
      “Oh, and while Stossel headlines with “public sector unions” he goes on to make arguments against unions in general.”
      Shame on him (or his editor) for not writing a 50 word headline!

      “Typical libertarian corporate whore ploy.”
      Typical brain-dead lefty horseshit.

    2. Missed this gem:
      Tony|10.21.10 @ 1:01PM|#
      “The fallacy here is that richer CEOs = a better society, where in reality it’s the standard of living of workers that contributes much more to that.”
      Well, it certainly is a fallacy. How many more can you make up before the recess bell rings?

    3. Re: Tony,

      My labor is a commodity, not a gift.

      Which is why you get paid for your labor. Duh.

      The only benefit I get from an improved bottom line is when the company doesn’t go under[…]

      Yeah, never mind the pay raises or the upward mobility or the experience. Nah – for YOU, the ONLY benefit from a company’s improved BOTTOM LINE is that you don’t lose your job. What a trooper you are, Tony!

    4. If you improved your skill set and made yourself more valuable to your employer then you might see a return.

      The purpose of unions is for people to get a higher return without improving their skill sets through extortion.

      I can see why you like unions.

      It’s something for nothing.

      1. There is no objective value to a specific unit of labor, so your wages are simply the result of a negotiation between employer and employee, whatever your skill set. The purpose of unions is to give workers a better hand to play in this negotiation. So it may turn out that the CEO makes less and workers make more. That’s not intrinsically unfair, it’s just the arbitrary result of negotiations in which workers’ clout is made somewhat more even with managers’ clout (though managers usually will still have an upper hand).

        And on a macro scale, it’s probably even better for business–that old Henry Ford thing about how it’s good when workers can afford to buy the products they are making. Admittedly, Ford was anti-union, but he did believe in paying the highest possible wages, which is sadly not the case with most business leaders these days.

        1. Re: Tony,

          The purpose of unions is to give workers a better hand to play in this negotiation.

          That’s not true.

        2. Wages are subject to the law of supply and demand.

          Very few people can do the job of CEO, which is why they can command those huge salaries.
          Most anyone can operate a machine with training, so those jobs don’t pay much.

          Computer programmers used to be able to demand a high salary because there weren’t many who could do the job. Now they’re a dime a dozen, and the average salary has dropped.

          Some get around this by specializing. The fewer people in that specialty, the higher the salary.

          For example general practitioners earn less than brain surgeons because there are more general practitioners than brain surgeons.

          Unions are how low skill workers evade the law of supply and demand.

          1. Yes and no. Sometimes the skill set the CEO shows is how to fill the board of directors with your friends regardless of your performance. Not exactly supply and demand.

            1. There are few people with MBAs from prestigious universities combined with the connections necessary to fill the shoes of CEO.

              To fill those shoes one must have that goal early in life, work hard to get into that school, make as many connections as possible while there, and keep those connections through life.

              Not many people do that, so the supply of people who can do the job of CEO is small.

              Whether or not they do the job well is a different subject.

        3. So it may turn out that the CEO makes less and workers make more. That’s not intrinsically unfair

          It is unfair when the government has a hand on the scale.

        4. “That’s not intrinsically unfair, it’s just the arbitrary result of negotiations in which workers’ clout is made somewhat more even with managers’ clout…”

          Good lord, do you marxist all go to conventions where you share talking points. I worked with a leftist editorial writer 15 years ago who used this same logic. I think he was channelling The End of Work, or some other similar commie claptrap.

          “And on a macro scale, it’s probably even better for business–that old Henry Ford thing about how it’s good when workers can afford to buy the products they are making.”

          That argument is so union hall banal that I can’t believe even a Reason troll would bother to trot it out. The car-buying market is bigger than the semi-retards who put doorknobs on Fairmonts and Fiestas. By your logic, Ford should have just hired more employees at ever higher wages, so he’d have an endless supply of customers..

          Good gawd, Tony, how do you function on a daily basis?

    5. And yet your ilk get mad when I, as a physician, want to get paid a premium wage for delivering health care. You use the force of government to dictate my salary and whine and complain about how the AMA makes the market unfair and artificially jacks up prices (even though the AMA represents not even a third of physicians at this point). Which is it, Tony?

      1. I want physicians to be paid well, but I also think that healthcare should be a universally available service. So I’m fine with taxing the rich more to pay you a premium wage.

        1. Except that the “rich” would then be me, so you’d be taxing me at exorbitant rates to pay me my salary, which is essentially a zero sum game. No thank you.

        2. “I want physicians to be paid well”

          I don’t.

          I want to break the AMA’s control over how many people go to medical school, increasing the supply of physicians.
          Assuming no corresponding increase in demand, the price of physicians’ services will drop.

          This will lower the cost of health care for everyone.

          1. The pricing structure in health care is not solely, or even in the main, driven by the AMA or the control over the number of physicians in the workforce. That being said, the lower the reimbursement for physicians becomes, the fewer well-qualified applicants we will see. Even now, to graduate from a private medical school will put you in over two hundred thousand dollars in debt, leaving out what your undergraduate education might have cost. If the job does not pay extremely well, incentive to go through what is not only financially but in all other ways a grueling process to become a doctor will be virtually nil. Physician salaries have actually dropped over the past 30 years when indexed to inflation, with a marked increased in our costs. We’re already getting paid less. Your assertion that decreasing our salaries will lower the price of care is just not factual.

            1. Physicians are overpaid mechanics that work on self fixing machines.

              Those unnecessarily high salaries are one of many factors in the excessive cost of health care.

              I think most of it is the way insurance works.
              If car insurance covered oil changes I bet oil changes would cost $200 instead of $20, and the insurance would be through the roof as well. They might start at $20, but Jiffy would soon negotiate a higher fee with Geico. Geico would pass it to it’s customers, and as long as people pay the premiums everything would keep inching up. What does the car owner care? They only see a $5 copay and the percentage of their insurance that their employer does not pay. At some point oil changes would be $200, insurance would be unaffordable, like health care now is overpriced and insurance is unaffordable right now.

              1. I think your analysis is completely wrong. But then again, I’m one of those overpaid mechanics. I suppose that I could easily insult whatever your job is as being something a monkey could do as well and claim that you’re overpaid for doing it, since of course it is my job to dictate how much you should make for your labor. Inexplicably, after making a gross assertion, you then spend the rest of your post discussing insurance, which was not at all the topic.

                I’m curious as to what you think the appropriate salary for a physician is. Perhaps you’d like to humor me and tell me how much I should make in your enlightened world view? Maybe you should share with us the detailed research that has led you to your beliefs. I suspect there hasn’t been any.

                Just to give you a head start on your research, the average family medicine physician (at the low end of the pay scale) makes $140k per year. The average dermatologist (high end of the pay scale) makes 300k. There were 740k physicians in practice in the United States in 2000. Assuming for simplicity that the average doc makes exactly in between those two averages (though in actuality it would be less, as there are far more making towards the lower end), that gives a total expenditure for physician salaries of 163 billion dollars. The amount spent on health care in the united states in 2008 was approximately 2.3 trillion. In other words, physician salaries (using my likely inflated figure) represent about seven percent of total health care expense. Even if you cut all physician salaries in half, you wouldn’t make anything approaching a dent, to say nothing of the fact that nobody would go to med school, given the amount it costs, the time involved, and the personal liability that our current system produces.

                By the way, most physicians absolutely loathe the current system and would like to see it changed. I agree with you that insurance, as currently mandated to be practiced, is killing health care.

                1. I think it is absurd that some physicians get away with charging thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for performing a single procedure.
                  Absurd.
                  They swear an oath to do no harm, then say “give me an entire year’s salary or die a slow death”.
                  Fuck that.

                  What should those things cost? I don’t know. I’d prefer the market to decide. However the third party payer system doesn’t allow that.
                  When you have one person paying for something else with someone else’s money you are guaranteed the most inefficient use of that money, and that is how physicians are compensated.
                  And when the patient lacks that third party they die.

                  As for any personal information goes I learned to keep that to myself on these forums.

                  1. “I think it is absurd that some physicians get away with charging thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for performing a single procedure.
                    Absurd.”

                    Great. Then don’t get procedures done. You have the right to refuse treatment at any time. But don’t presume to dictate to me how much I should charge.

                    “And when the patient lacks that third party they die.”

                    Now you’ve proven you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

                2. CP, American doctors make more than their international peers and more than people in the most comparible profession (scientist, which has the same training period). This is true even after subtracting off the properly amortized cost of your student loans, which is something like ~30k a year for a family doctor and goes up ~10k per year for each extra year needed for a specialty.

                  Family doctors are only mildly overpaid. The fact that virtually no students want to become one nowadays is proof that the specialities the students are heading to ARE overpaid.

                  1. More people need to be forced to become doctors, and make lower wages afterwards.

        3. Why don’t you donate your own money? I’m sure all of you universal healthcare supporters could easily come up with enough dough. But you don’t really care about universal care; you just care about sticking it to the evil rich.

        4. At what point does wealth redistribution suppress both quality and quantity of output? Were I a physician recieving government mandated wages, I would demand indemnification for medical mistakes (oops, you died or were permanently disabled, too bad) and limit the number of patients I saw in any unit time. (Uh oh, too bad you came at 5:01; office hours ended at 5:00. Those chest pains will subside in a while. See me tomorrow.)

          I have seen this too many times with Union shops; including in Healthcare.

          1. See: Military/VA doctors.

    6. You can’t really attack unions on free market grounds

      Uh, yeah actually you can, considering that unions as they exist today are backed up by government coercion.

      1. We’re living in the aftermath of a couple decades of an anti-union paradigm. Unions have been absolutely decimated. I would say that corporations are “backed up” by much, much more “government coercion.”

        1. Tony|10.21.10 @ 5:30PM|#
          “We’re living in the aftermath of a couple decades of an anti-union paradigm. Unions have been absolutely decimated.”
          No, unions haven’t been “decimated”; they’ve been found to be largely worthless, so their membership has plumeted.
          Except in the case of public employee unions, where the mutually supportive arrangement, no to say interest-conflict, between Democrat legislatures elected with union money has lead to the economic black-hole of public benefits.

          “I would say that corporations are “backed up” by much, much more “government coercion.”
          Yep, those unions are requited by law to negotiate with only that employer, right?
          I’ll presume your statement was, well, a ‘mistake’, rather than a willful misstatement of the facts.

    7. Wow, I think it’s just hilarious that you brought up the rarity of co-ops. Collectivists want the workers to own the means of production, but the beauty of capitalism is that it’s prefectly possible to run a business *just that way* as co-op. There’s no law preventing workers from pooling their resources to start a business where they own the means of production. So why aren’t there more co-ops? Because it’s a fucking shitty business model, obviously. Nobody makes money at it (and since it’s a co-op, when I say nobody, I’m talking about the WORKERS not the management). If collectivism had a chance of working out for anyone involved you wouldn’t have to WISH for more co-ops, there just would be co-ops. They’d be everywhere we looked.

  14. Ignoring the debate about whether unions have a place in the 21st century American economy (I think they still have an important albeit minor role) the question is do public sector unions have a place in 21st century government. The answer to that is not only no, but hell no.

    You don’t like what the government offers, get another job. When enough folks eschew government employment and those jobs are considered necessary, the government raises pay in order to attract them from the private sector.

    The military in the all volunteer force is a fine example. Pay raises throughout the ’70s did not even keep up with inflation leading to lower quality volunteers, many of them mentally and morally unfit for service. By the time Reagan was elected we had figured out that if we want a first class military we are going to have to pay an almost competitive wage. Patriotism will convince a young man or woman to forego much, but being an NCO and eligible for WIC and food stamps was a barrier that Audie Murphy would have refused to scale.

    This same dynamic would apply, sans unions, to cops, park system employees, the sloths at DMV and every other necessary government position. The added benefit is that sans union, the sloths at DMV would have to put in 7 hours of productive work for 8 hours pay vice the 4 hours they put in today to keeep their jobs.

  15. I’m pretty good at contract busting. However, these guys are my pals.

  16. Unions make some sense when workers are like interchangeable parts. For example in a factory filled with identical machines I could see collective bargaining making some sense.
    However as individuals become increasingly specialized, collective bargaining makes less sense.

    As far as unions in the public sector goes, excessive union demands can put factories out of business. But governments don’t go out of business. They raise taxes and take on debt to fill those excessive demands.

    Public sector unions need to be abolished.

    1. sarcasmic|10.21.10 @ 1:19PM|#
      “Unions make some sense when workers are like interchangeable parts. For example in a factory filled with identical machines I could see collective bargaining making some sense.”
      Why would it ‘make sense’ in that circumstance, absent government coercion that the company could only employ those workers?

  17. It’s not just the public sector unions, it’s also the jobs themselves. Especially those in the Departments of Education and Energy, the ATF and DEA, as well as other agencies that need to disppear.

  18. The union problem is more one of perverse incentives for the unions themselves. There is absolutely no motivation for unions to reward better performers, as good employees and bad employees all get the same number of votes in the union.

    For example, a union *could* advocate for performance bonuses for increased production, a higher base rate per units produced, and just overall better compensation.

    However – that wouldn’t sit well with the poor performers. So instead you get a race to the bottom in production quality – promotion based only on seniority, not merit. And general agreements that trend toward increasing security rather than reward.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of pro-worker advocacy, but the general organizational structure of these groups prevents them from assisting in the creation of any sort of efficient system.

    Of course, that’s not the biggest problem with public sector unions. The biggest problem there is that they get to vote on their own raises.

    1. Re: Mike,

      There is absolutely no motivation for unions to reward better performers, as good employees and bad employees all get the same number of votes in the union.

      Hey, as MNG “argued” above: Averages are for groups of individuals…

      NEVER MIND what EACH individual may want or how well he or she performs. Noooooo, everybody gets their “average”…whatever.

      There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of pro-worker advocacy, but the general organizational structure of these groups prevents them from assisting in the creation of any sort of efficient system.

      Indeed, and as a matter of fact, many business are always in the vanguard of new business and safety practices that decrease waste and increase the bottom line – safety MAKES money.

      People like Tony seem to think that businesses only follow rules that are imposed upon them. This is post hoc reasoning – the fact is, regulations are always created post facto, after instances that happen to X factory or Y mine, but that does not mean that factories A, B, or C were following equally shoddy practices. Also, government bureaucrats are not clever enough to come up with rules and regulations before the fact – these are INVARIABLY written by industry lobbyist AFTER a happening and they indicate practices that most businesses follow anyway as a matter of ROUTINE.

  19. I like to look at it as a biology problem. The government is a parasite on the citizens, taking money to feed itself and grow. Government unions are a parasite on the governemnt, deriving all its nutrients (money) from the government.
    Unions came about because profits generated went to the owners, not workers. Since the government itself is a parasite, we certainly don’t need secondary parasites feeding off of it.

    1. Great fleas* have little fleas** upon their backs to bite ’em,

      And little fleas have lesser fleas**, and so ad infinitum.

      * Governments
      ** Public sector unions
      *** Public sector union officials

      1. Indeed. In fact, there is even a Union of Union Representatives****, which represents people who work for unions. Of course, that union has bosses*****… people who are 5 steps removed from the last productive link in the food chain.

        http://hotair.com/archives/200…..the-union/

        **** mites
        ***** lesser mites

    2. Not to mention there’s a conflict of interest that adversely affects the tax payer.

      There’s also a conflict of interest in ideology in that unions typically support democrats and democrats believe government is wonderful, all knowing and fair so why the need for government unions in blue states?

  20. I love the trolls here because the libertarians crush their backwards philosophies every time : )

  21. Eh, unions are like defense lawyers. They definitely prevent some dickery and protect some innocents, but for obvious reasons most of their efforts are spent for the benefit of assholes, so it’s understandable people would despise them, even members (since joining a union is not usually a truly voluntary choice for most people).

  22. Workers should be given the liberty to form unions if they desire. I certainly want to live in a country where people have the right to organize and associate as they see fit. But the government should not be involved in protecting or granting special privileges to those organizations in exchange for votes.

    1. Isn’t that the real purpose of government?

  23. I’m new to this site, love the comment section and after reading through these comments, I got one observation. Tony is economically illiterate or willfully blind to free market principles, either way he can burn in a flood.

    1. Tony is like chewing a Slim Jim too long. Peppery, almost tasteful at first, but chew too long and you’re reduced to the teats, udders, taints and scrotums. Unfullfilling, hard to swallow and tiresome to chew.

    2. I’m not blind to free market principles, I just think they are bunk.

      1. Fuck yeah, Tony. And space.. THAT’s bullshit on a stick.

      2. Tony subscribes to Tony Market principles: If it’s not what he prefers, he’ll demand that the Central State force everyone at bayonet-point to make it so it is.

      3. Tony doesn’t believe in fresh air, because he can’t see it.

  24. Observation from a troll:

    Unlike most here I’ll wager, I actualoly run a business, a small manufacturing company in Michigan’s UP. At aroung 130 – 160 employees mine is one of the major employment bases in an area that doesn’t have many, discounting the pubic sector, ie; prison, highway dept., public school, etc.
    I offer a limited health care plan through the Chamber of Commerce which excludes children. I have a vested interest in my employees health, not so much in his offspring.
    I offer a 401k and profit sharing plan, small ($5k) life insurance policy and compensatory sick leave.
    At one time, when the business climate waned, I offered company workers off- site jobs, either with my cattle operation or community projects. Lawsuits stopped those ventures, now I simply lay them off.
    Every employee knows, and it’s reinforced repeatedly, the day my company goes union, it will be marketed for sale, to any and all comers. It’s profitable and viable, probably mostly to multinational interests, but I’ll not have a business partner that doesn’t buy his shares of stock.
    There has been union talk in the past, never seriously, but the promise is clear. Unionize and I retire.
    Your move.

    1. But, but, West Virginia and Michigan are workers’ paradises! Aren’t they?

      1. UP, we’ll pass a law against you! It’s been bandied about before in Michigan.

      2. Almost as good as the PRC or USSR.

    2. You, sir, are a model American. Close the doors if the unions come. My employer feels the same, God bless him.

  25. Okay, that blue shirt and red tie shows up in every “on the street” opening. I’m beginning to suspect Stossel filmed all his openings on one afternoon.

  26. Chuck Heston was running for president? Or was it Moses?

  27. Look at Welch’s nerdlinger hair cut. Total squaresville. I guess he’s sold out.

  28. Welch is running for president. His dynamic is actually making Angelo younger.

  29. Somewhere David Caruso just quipped while putting on a pair of sunglasses.

  30. A question from John’s Facebook page about Farmville subsidies.

  31. This guy’s wife can’t believe he’s asking this question.

  32. We depend on the good sense of the American people? We’re doomed.

  33. Adhering to the Constitution would be a good start in limiting government.

  34. John should bite the head of that frog. To make some kind of point.

  35. Manhattanites talking about Repukes cutting spending? Surely these people would be lamenting that.

  36. Any other deity’s birthday, we would let the car companies go tits up.

  37. 9/11 reference from Karl. Did not see that coming.

  38. Democrats limit how many red strikethroughs John can use on his list of choices.

  39. Trippi? That’s the name for a libertarian.

  40. Ha, you get to make all your choices on one day in November every leap year. Make it count!

  41. Groaning at the Dean reference. YEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

  42. Trippi’s head is about to explode. He can’t understand individual choice that’s not mandated top down.

  43. We chose our tabula rasa November 2008, but didn’t get to write on it what we wanted.

  44. Stossel: Voters are idiots! Don’t encourage them.

  45. If Boehner would change his name to Boner, everyone would know who he was.

  46. Fund and Murdock, the original odd couple!

  47. “No participation without respiration.”

    Nice.

  48. Franken is a fraud? Say it ain’t so!

  49. Mythbusters is suing Stossel for stealing their bit.

  50. That teleprompter is so damned inspiring!

  51. Booooooo! BURN THE WITCH! I mean frog.

  52. Wow, a shot at the China-men from John from out of nowhere.

  53. I’ll give Congress all of my seed right in the face.

  54. I don’t know about no animals being harmed, Trippi got his ass handed to him.

  55. Liveblog out. Thanks for nothing, cap and methy.

  56. When I was a public school teacher for a year, I declined to join the teacher’s union. It’s probably because my own AP biology teacher back in high school announced to us that his union required his to stop teaching extra hours of biology class without pay.

  57. Over time, 401(k)s provide a decent retirement.

    Wrong, Stossel. You lie, yet again. 401ks have performed like shit, providing no real return to typical investors for two decades

    http://www.slaughter401k.com/w…..he-market/

    1. Chad: More Slim Jim (see above), but even dumber, with more scrotums and taints.

    2. Chad, did you read that link carefully?

      Over the 20 years ending December 31, 2008, equity mutual fund investors had average annual returns of only +1.87% while the S&P 500 Index averaged +8.35% over the same time period.

      All you had to do to get that non-shit-like 8.35% over 20 years was buy the Vanguard Index 500 fund (a common 401(k) offering) and hold on. The 1.87% crappy return came from people panicking and jumping in and out of their funds. A lot of people may have done this, but that’s their fault, not the 401(k) funds. The returns were there if you didn’t panic, even including most of the so-called ‘lost decade’.

      1. Chad only sees what his seemingly pre-programmed mind wants to see. Any relationship to reality is coincidental. He doesn’t want anyone to achieve financial independence.

      2. DTR, did YOU read the article. I don’t give a shit what the S&P “returns”, because most of its returns go to super-computer-wielding vampire squid insiders. I DO give a shit what it returns to typical investors, which is more like 3%. In other words, nothing after inflation. Even Social Security beats that (with far less risk).

        1. Are you including the employer match in that 3%? My employer matches 50% up to 6% of my income. What about the tax deferral benefit? And there is one risk that is rarely mentioned, that of the goverment changing the rules. When social security runs into its inevitable money crunch I expect means testing will come into play. So if you’ve saved money your whole life (whether 401k, stocks, etc) the government will in effect say “you’re all set for retirement, so you’re going to get less (or no) social security but this guy over here who pissed his money away on toys and casinos has nothing so he’ll get the full amount of social security.” How to prevent this? Same as public education or public sector pensions…More funding!

        2. Chad,

          Who said anything about supercomputer-wielding insiders? That 8+% return was available to ANYBODY, including schmucks like you and me, as long you bought an S&P 500 index fund and held on for 20 years. Even during a period that includes three recessions, that wallops Social Security. It also doesn’t include the matching funds MJL mentions that many employers offer, which makes the deal even sweeter compared to the gubmint.

          The article you cited was an indictment of investor behavior, not of 401(k)s. (In fact, 401(k) accounts were barely even mentioned in the link.)

    3. 401(k)s and other private investments should be illegal. That money belongs to the government, after all.

  58. The misstep with unions was long ago, saying that people can combine and assert legal rights against a third party that none of them have individually.

    That’s more than group action. It’s illegal.

  59. I am proud to be NON-union. I worked a number of union jobs early on, and those experiences taught me that the main function that unions provide is as a shield for mediocrity. When promotions and pay raises are based solely on seniority and excelling at your job brings nothing but contempt from your co-workers, it doesn’t take long before the workforce is reduced to comfortable mediocrity.

  60. “Companies want better workers and must compete to get them”

    Not necessarily true. Companies want good, but cheap, workers … at least in my experience. I work in the private sector (in the U.S.A) for one of the largest technology companies in the world. We’re slowly, but surely, moving highly skilled labor (I’m a software engineer with an advanced degree) from the states to overseas operations where the burden rate for software engineers is substantially less than the burden rate in the states. It’s the old “We can hire four of their guys for what we pay for one of you guys” scenario.

    I’m not advocating for unions, but to think that the company has my best interest in mind is pure fallacy. Businesses exist solely to make money for the stockholders; the bigger the business the truer the statement. I work so I can pay my bills and, hopefully, enjoy some of my good fortune.

    The two goals don’t necessarily overlap …

    1. You are confused. Companies do not have the workers best interests at heart, they have profits at heart. If a company does have the workers best interests at heart, they are either a monopoly or soon to fail. That’s how life works. To think otherwise is to ask to suspend the laws of nature. Lofty ideals do not equal lofty results.

  61. [Businesses exist solely to make money for the stockholders]

    But workers work for the exhilerating experience?? They work for the paycheck and will bolt for one higher.

  62. Back in the early 90’s my father was opening an ice cream shop in a small farm town in Illinois. The building was dilapidated, but not beyond repair. My father was very good with wiring, and did the work himself. A few days into the project, a couple union thugs came in and threatened to picket my dad’s business unless he gave the work to union scum. We were a typical middle class family, and there was no way on earth my dad could afford to pay union wages.

    This is why I am steadfast against unions to this day.

  63. Exactly. If you want to be a cop or a fireman, teacher, well, you are either a public servant or a public safety servant. No union for you. Don’t like it? Seek employment elsewhere.

  64. What I learned at Reason today:
    1) We need to stop “Whining” about our trade relationship with communist China.
    2) Labor Unions are horrible.

    I wonder why the middle class is suspicious of libertarianism.

  65. The labor unions are protected by government laws. Write in and tell the feds. to kill the laws that protect the unions. We need them out of our government so it can fuction and then we need them out of manufacturing so that they can fuction and make us some jobs

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