Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You've Convinced Me

Morning posts! Awesome!

How Powerful are the Wisconsin Public Unions?
By Megan McArdle, the nicest, smartest, most popular girl on the entire West Side, no matter what Courtney and Paige said in gym

I've seen some version of this argument on half the liberal blogs I read:

Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state's budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there's not much room for further pay squeezes. So it's not about the budget; it's about the power

There's just one problem with this: if the union hasn't managed to secure anything in the way of extra wages, benefits, or other concessions for the workers--if it is really true that all these things are close to the minimum required simply to attract workers--then who cares whether the union survives or not? What "power" is being taken away?

That might just be the most dishonest argument I have ever seen in my life. After writing a long, long post about how unions have bled the taxpayer dry, after complaining about raises and teachers' pensions and health benefits and days off thanks to those evil unions, McArdle's is now going to pretend that none of those benefits exist?

This argument is supposed to work? This playground taunt, this "Oh, yeah? If you're so smart why aren't you president?" retort, is supposed to be an intellectual argument?

Wait--maybe I should give McArdle the benefit of the doubt. She did, after all, go to the right schools and grow up in the right neighborhood. Maybe she's learned and grown, having admitted to past mistakes such as supporting war and economic ruin.

Trust your elite, my friends! They only have your best interests at heart and they're really smart!


saminbrooklyn 1 hour ago
Umm, perhaps the union exists to prevent the gap with the private sector from being even larger.

McMegan 1 hour ago in reply to saminbrooklyn
But if it could get larger, then it isn't true that it won't save any money to weaken the union.

Weakening the union being the goal here. We must save money in these difficult times, so it's best to keep taxes low for the very wealthiest and corporations, while forcing the middle class to take pay cuts. And to be sure that they take those pay cuts, let's get rid of their union.


Anonymous said...

I don't think she is saying the benefits of unions do not exist; she is saying that the *other* side is saying they don't exist, and if so why are they arguing against breaking up these "ineffective" unions? In other words, she is arguing for her unions-bleed-taxpayers-dry argument by saying, "well, if they don't why would you even want unions?"

it is still a dishonest argument, though, because of course, the other side is not saying benefits do not exist, just that it is not all about wages and benefits. Plus the union has already made concessions that address the current (walker-made) budget crisis, so why the need to bust them?

I think it also showcases McMegan's and the glibertarian worldview: the world is made up of greedy leeches trying to suck as much as they can. Why would a union be desirable if they are not such greedy leeches? In McMegan's world that question is a stumper because she understands nothing about collective goodwill, social responsibility, altruism and so on. Jane Galt indeed.


Anonymous said...

forgot to say, I'm so happy you exist because every time I make the mistake of attempting* to read one of her posts, my blood pressure shoots up. Your take on her is like sweet cooling balm for my heart.

* I say attempt because I find it incredibly hard to get through her dishonest, sloppy writing. This one was mercifully short so I think I read all the words...


Downpuppy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Downpuppy said...

So the LGM numbers were wrong, but

looks like a much more solid view of Union v non-Union states results.

Unknown said...

Libertarians aren't going to be contented until they turn back the economic clock to 1928; though I think they are actually shooting for the 1890's when workers worked 10 hours of day, seven days a week for chump change. They didn't have any social security and medicare, there was no safety net; just a dog-eat-dog world where the fittest (the rich)ran roughshod over the population. That was and is their ideal world. They just don't give a crap whether people can lead normal prosperous lives and have the capability to put food on the table for their families.The sooner people realize that is what these bastards are aiming for, the better off they will be.

nate said...

Bless you, Susan, for having the cast-iron stomach to calmly and logically display the fundamental vapidity and viciousness that underlines every word this horrible, horrible woman writes.

I find the only response that occurs to me is screaming, "F--- You!" which strikes me as somewhat unproductive.

Defiant said...

First off the whole deficit being a bad thing is not entirely accurate. While debt is not great I think we are sensationalizing it way to much Our debt to income ratio as a country is still rather good. Now why all the attack on unions?

Unions were formed to protect people from abuse from their employers. Employers found dealing with unions better than firing everyone and hiring all new employees. Unions created a better quality of life which actually helped with employee morale and work ethic. Also workers were paid more money and could spend more on business which means money was turning faster in the economy. People had safety regulations and health care which lead to prevention of illness and injury which reduced medical costs. Can't deny unions had a hand in all of that. Not a sole hand but a hand.

The other side is unions have intimidated people, bribed political officials, make you join the union otherwise your CAN'T have a job, Eliminated competition by making it so only union organizations could get contracts. Also unions believe in both bad and good workers getting the same raise, some back a transparent merit based system that promotes work ethic, however most support flat across the board equal raise, but not a flat tax oops another topic. I have seen people who really work hard do a great job get the same raise as a person who is lazy and contributes nothing but can't be fired because they are protected.

So that is both sides of the union debate.

Two other things to consider if you only have 100 dollars to spend and and say operating costs are 80 dollars (70 of which goes to payroll). the remaining 20 goes to taxes and profit. Now the union wants 90 dollars is that reasonable? Why stay in business especially in the US then? Finding the right balance is key after all getting in business is about margins and if you can't make better margins than sitting on your money in the bank then why be in business in the first place.

Second is the fact that public employees and public jobs are at the whim of the people. When I look at Switzerland and the fact they vote on whether or not to have taxes every 20 years they take great strides into making sure what is worth the peoples money. They make sure that the laws don't force you to pay taxes on something you don't want. Now we all want cops, fireman, public works, and teachers (in that order too if you were to look at it from Maslow's point of view). However how much leverage should they have over the people is something to carefully consider.

Now why the media and political pundits and politicians themselves distort the issues is beyond me. I think it doesn't matter what they say as long as it's sensational and keeps their own name in the spotlight.

Most people do know what's fair and right and if given clear choices would find a way to make it work. However I think bringing Unions into the picture and rile people up is just for posturing. Are unions beneficial for all sides? Yes. Do unions cause problems and hindrances for all sides? Yes.

Substance McGravitas said...

No link to the McAddled post in your post.

Susan of Texas said...

Thanks, Substance McGravitas.

Defiant, if you trust corporations to do the right thing by their workers then you're right, we don't want unions. I think all the people killed by non-union refineries might disagree, but they were poor and nobody cares.