Establishment Republicans plan to solve wage stagnation and entitlements … on your back

Knave Dave's picture

from The Great Recession Blog by David Haggith

 

Establishment Republicans have a plan to help workers because they hear you after all the clamor that has formed around Donald Trump. That is how they bill it anyway — a plan to help laborers. They have heard through their marble walls that some of you are not happy with wages that have been stagnant for decades. So, they have hatched a brave new plan.

Are you ready to see some innovative thinking now that they have had the better part of a decade to come up with something?

Their creative plan to help the common worker is to make it illegal for unions to withhold union dues automatically “so that you have more money in your paycheck.” That’s it. Boost your pay by stripping as much away from unions as they can. The marvelous creativity here is in how they manage to construe that as being for the benefit of the American worker to such a degree that they even believe it themselves.

Never mind that unions are the only thing that might give you enough unified strength to get your pay or benefits improved against cost-slashing corporations. Never mind that your pay stopped going up as soon as Reagan started breaking unions and as soon as Bush I started shipping factories to Mexico in that great sucking sound to the south.  That is when pay stagnated while corporate profits soared … unless you were working in upper management where your pay rocketed into the Vanderbiltian stratosphere.

What the Republican establishment calls “the Employee Rights Act” (ERA) is just another disembowelment of unions to make sure that the corporate execs and stockholders continue to get the lion’s share of corporate fat. How else will they build up their bonuses and dividends and buy back the company’s own stocks in order to inflate the value of their stock-options? Money going to union bosses could be going to them.

Now, some of you hate unions. I can understand that because unions have used a lot of their own evil tactics to coerce membership. I used to hate unions, too, because of all their goldbricking; but it’s a well established historic fact that — corrupt as they have sometimes been — they are the only thing that significantly forced up wages, working conditions and benefits for decades. Even non-union shops only paid more in many cases because they had to match or beat union shops in order to keep the unions out.

 

The Heritage Foundation has a plan for the working man

 

(And woman. I just wanted that line to rhyme.) Steve Moore, a visiting fellow of the Heritage Foundation, is concerned that union leaders are getting rich and fat off these dues. Maybe they are, but corporate executives also get rich and fat when there are no union leaders, and the Heritage Foundation wants to assure you they have what is best for your income in mind.

According to Moore, “The ERA puts the GOP firmly on the side of working-class Americans and higher pay. (“Stephen Moore: Republicans Can Give Workers a $1 Billion Pay Raise“) You see, the neocons are not formulating their plan for the sake of helping their rich constituents — the one percenters who back both parties. No, they are doing it to put a billion dollars in your pocket. They are glad to do that since all of that money would otherwise go to people who campaign against the wealthy corporate bosses who own the politicians.

If you’re going to give money back to the proletariate, do it by stripping it from unions that seek to diminish the grasp of the one-percenters. Take the money from the one area that might in the long run help workers get more money for their labor because unions just help workers redistribute wealth to themselves. We know the wealth rightfully belongs to the corporate leaders and stockholders and that redistribution to the people doing the work simply appeals to the envy of the working class. It is most important that we keep the wealthy rich so the workers have something to aspire toward. For all those reasons, you can know by the ERA that the GOP is now firmly on the side of the working class.

Why is it that the only plan establishment Republicans can ever come up with to help labor and improve wages is a plan that helps the establishment, such as giving tax breaks to stock investors that put their taxes lower than the middle class. They repeat inanely that those investors are the “job creators” until people believe it is true because it has been said so many times. True, they are the job creators … in Mexico … in China … in India where they moved all of their factories.

 

The “entitlement” trap

 

Have you noticed that governments, whether they are run by Democrats or Republicans, have no problem with underfunding their employee retirement plans? Even the most liberal cities have struggled to find ways to get out of paying the pensions they promised. The only thing that stands in their way is government employee unions. The citizens of those governments (municipal, county and state) had no problem deriving the benefits of new roads and parks, etc., off the backs of government employees by promising them “great government benefits.”

We have probably all talked at one time or another about how so and so that we know got a good government job with great government benefits like that was a good move for them. We probably even recommended a job like that to a friend or two: “The benefits are great, man.” We knew the benefits were the one thing that could drive our neighbors or relatives to take a government job in spite of all the red tape that comes with working for the government.

Will we now insist that our fellow citizens be treated fairly by taxing ourselves what it takes to honor those promises that we knew were being made? I doubt it. For many, those coveted government benefits have turned out to be a lie all along because governments never paid for the program as they went … always figuring some future government would deal with the problem of underfunding, but that never stopped them from continuing to hold out the promised retirement benefits. We’ve known these programs were underfunded for decades now.

Several states and municipalities declared bankruptcy during the Great Recession just so their citizens could escape the higher taxes that would be pushed on them in order to make good on the promises made to those other citizens who served them. Can you believe those nasty employees felt “entitled” to what was made as a promise of deferred gains in their retirement years if they would work below going wages at present? Greedy bastards.

I’m not talking about the wealthy people who serve at the head of local government and who sit on counsels. I’m talking about the gal who mowed your park lawns or sat in a back office drawing up sewer plans or drove the bus. I’m also not talking about the lazy four guys who stood around a hole while one guy leaned on a shovel and sometimes pretended to dig.

We all know those inefficiencies in government existed and were inexcusable, but there are many government employees in low-paying and mid-level positions who worked diligently for benefits for twenty years that they are now being deprived of just as they hit retirement. What about them? Do the bad apples we sometimes tolerated justify shorting our promises to those who worked dutifully at their tasks?

The reason they are said to be “entitled” is because you and I already extracted the work out of them. They are entitled to the benefit because they already paid for it with their labor. Now, surprise, surprise, they want what our leaders promised them for decades. Greedy bastards.

And what about your entitlements?

 

The Social Security slough

 

Nowhere are fraudulent promises more true than in Social Security. Some people who talk about balancing the budget by taking the money from entitlements like Social Security have forgotten that the reason they, themselves, are entitled to those benefits is that it was their money in the first place! They only allowed the government to take it (and very reluctantly even then) based on the government’s pledge of the United State’s good faith and credit that the money would be there for them when they retire or become disabled.

They probably even mumbled that the money wouldn’t be there when they retired, and now here they are. Some of them are such saps they are already willing to lie down and let the government keep that money without a fight, accepting the mantra that it is bad to feel entitled to that which you created and provided in the first place.

Establishment Republicans have a similar answer to solve the federal government’s huge deficit problems. Their solution is to whittle down your retirement benefits under social security because YOU are the problem, not them. Their talking point is targeted at making anyone who expects to receive those benefits appear greedy via a concerted plan of turning “entitlement” into a dirty word.

Before you let them strip you of your dignity, try to remember that you’re “entitled” to those benefits because the money was actually yours in the first place. You’re simply entitled to get your own money back. So, talking about these “entitlement” people as if they are someone other than you and are the problem with America is the same as talking about homeowners as being the problem with real estate because they think they have a right to own the home they’ve been paying for. If they’d just let the banks keep the home, we wouldn’t all have to bail out these miserable banks. Greedy homeowners, feeling they are entitled to retire in the home they have been paying for all these years!

Politicians, however, want to use Social Security funds to balance the budget that both parties have refused to balance for thirty-plus years. Republicans mostly railed against Social Security when it was created as something that was taking people’s money away and redistributing it to government to waste. Now they rail against those who want their money back.

The only difference between Republicans and Democrats on Social Security is that Democrats still think it is the money is owed back to you (though they have no idea how to make the math work after decades of their own profligacy with the money). Republicans think the best thing to do with this money that they kept telling you you would never see once the government got it … is to make certain that you never do see it! They want to fulfill their own predictions.

In the end, who was the greater thief? The group that promised your money back but now doesn’t know how to deliver on its promise and still balance a budget they never tried to balance in the first place? Or the group who kept warning you that, once you let government get its hands on the money, you would never see it again and now wants to make certain you actually never do see it again?

While neither party has shown any will to actually balance the budget, they have no problem finding ways to make the wealthy wealthier. Republicans are concerned, of course, that union dues only make Democrats wealthier — the wrong people — because 90% of union political contributions go to Democrats. Is it any wonder that union contributions go mostly to Democrats when the ERA is the most creative thing the Republican-controlled congress could come up with as an answer for laborers who are finally concerned that their wages haven’t risen against inflation since 1977?

This is their best plan? Give the unions one last stab in the back so that laborers have even less strength in negotiating wages? A little candy now to deprive you of a lot more later?

You see, everyone could have a job if everyone were willing to work for scrap meat as they ought to; but greedy American workers keep thinking they are entitled to some of that corporate revenue so they can live better than their Central American competition. If they wanted to be competitive, they would downsize to corrugated metal shacks. Unions are the reason people don’t have good paying jobs. They keep insisting that the jobs pay better, which forces those jobs to leave the country.

That’s how much establishment Republicans care about wage stagnation. They care enough to make certain it continues so that corporate leaders can keep inflating their overstuffed bonuses and pack their golden parachutes and puff up their stock options. The Employee Rights Act is the establishment’s most creative plan in years to help the flagging economy.

 

The government’s self-created entitlement trap

 

Now, to be sure, there is a lot of greedy entitlement thinking in this world, too — the kind where people feel entitled to assistance just because they need it or want it and where they endlessly suck off the government and give nothing productive back — but what I want to remind people of here is there is also genuine entitlement where you are only receiving something that you personally earned and that was promised to you; it came out of your paycheck in the first place, and it was supposedly held in trust for you.

You are not greedy if you refuse the idea of pushing back your retirement age from what was originally stated and demand the government provide the retirement benefit that it promised you when it took your money that you were reluctant to trust to government in the first place. So, before you let politicians strip away the retirement benefits you already put in your labor for on the basis that it is inevitable now, make certain you strip away every benefit they ever promised to themselves first. (And watch how fast they sue the government they helped create.) Make sure they do a lot of other things first. Don’t make it easy for them to get out of their promises by making “entitlement” a nasty word.

It’s nasty when people feel entitled to other people’s things, and apparently your politicians feel entitled to your things, which they already extracted from you for decades based on a pledge to give it all back. Why bend over and make it easy for them to kick you in the keister? Force them to end every entitlement of every politician alive today, especially those who have already retired, before they touch one cent of yours … for those retired politicians are the ones who made the promises in the first place.

It is one thing to feel entitled to things you never earned; quite another to feel entitled to that which you already did earn.

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are we there yet's picture

True accounting is driven by reality.
Politics is driven by emotion.
Solution is empty distant promises that can not be delivered.
I.e. Lies
This is intrinsic to politics.

objectivist's picture

The involvement of organized crime with unions is quite well documented.  The gov't regulators look the other way because unions contribute to establishment candidates like Clinton (both of them).  Do you want the entire country to turn into Chicago, because that's what happens when unions run amok. 

Knave Dave's picture

No. I agree that many unions ran amok. Not all, but many. Even those that accomplished many good things have done a fair amount of truly bad and corrupt things; but this is the problem with ALL human enterprises. It does not mean that kind of enterprise doesn't serve a worthy purpose. It means it's corrupt, and the corruption needs to be rooted out. 

 

For example, many police forces are corrupt, too. That doesn't mean police forces in general are bad. I wouldn't want to be without them; but I hate the corruption as much as anyone, and it certainly needs to be rooted out and severely punished wherever it can be. Ironically, it takes a police force to do that, making it particularly hard to get rid of police corruption.

 

Still, not all towns are Chicago. Many have fine police forces that appear to be more or less keeping their noses clean and taking care of the business they are supposed to. Hats off to those true public servants who don't abuse their power or get caught up in the corruption they are supposed to be preventing.

 

--David

Mute Button's picture

Don't worry. Diebold has got their reelections sealed up. www.sortedbybirthdate.com

cashtoash's picture

Pensions in private sector, even when they were around never exceeded more than 50% of the final pay [except for CEO's] for almost everyone I know who has a private corp pension.  But most govt employee pensions are >75-80% of their pay, and in some cases as much as they made when they were working.

Knave Dave's picture

Exactly. And that was WHY (often the only reason why) they took those jobs. So, they gave thirty years of their time (and I personally know a lot of government workers who have a great work ethic, even though I've never worked for the goverment). Now that they've given their thirty years solely because those benefits made it worth it to them, we want to balance our budgets by pulling the rug out from under them. I think it is stealing. It's stealing what they already paid for with their labor.

Rikky's picture

i've been saying for the past few years that unions have become the aristocracy of the middle class.  we have our "handlers" but amongst the peasants they are at the top of the food chain and you can see how they play.  mandatory aka extortion of monies to those who run unions who get paid very well for "middle class" folks.  they use those monies to push their own self interests first which typically is whatever politician can provide them personal benefits first then union benefits second.  the whole thing is a scam and should be criminal but isn't because so many practice it its part of doing business.

artichoke's picture

No we're not willing to tax ourselves to pay the government employee pensions.  A lot of those government employees were put there when Clinton moved them from welfare to "work".  They are the least deserving workers.  Let their pensions fail like the rest of us.  For once let them take the serious hit.

Government "service" should not be a protection from the risks of ordinary life.  Otherwise it isn't service.  And if it isn't service, we've had a coup.

csmith's picture

Government "service" should not be a protection from the risks of ordinary life.  Otherwise it isn't service.

 

Absolutely. Sums it up perfectly, and any unionized government employee who says otherwise is playing you for a fool.

foxmuldar's picture

So whats wrong with this plan? I've been working as a member of the United Steel workers and my union has been taking almost $20 a week out of my pay check. I got laid off twice and never got a dime when I was off work. If I wasn't called back I'd have got zero again. I've been working 17 years at this boiler making plant and I extimate the Unions taking about $15,000 from my pay.When I retire I get Zero from the union. How's that for a great deal. That $15,000 would make for a nice IRA account if the union really cared about the workers. Much of my dues has gone to elect Obama twice and many other Demorat candidates. Im all in favor of letting employees decide if they want to pay union dues. As far as Im concerned, Unions have seen its day and today its all about taking more of the workers money to keep the Unions going.

Knave Dave's picture

I can see your point, but what if you were working in an industry where the hourly wage you make, the vacation time you get and the medical benefits wouldn't be half of what they are if the union had not been working for decades to get those things? Then you get someone who comes in recently (after those benefits were all gained) and he sees no reason to pay union dues even though every day he benefits from the work the union has done. So, that person essentially freeloads off the benefits that were derived from the dues of all who came before him. His job might pay half of what it does if not for the union, but he entered at the point where things were fairly good; so he doesn't even realize they are as good as they are because of the union.

 

Not saying that is the case where you work. I have no idea, but it is in some places. For example, I worked awhile for UPS where wages were much better than for most delivery drivers and so were benefits, and that is because UPS is a union shop. The Teamsters (bad as they were in many ways) did a lot to boost those wages and befits over the course of many decades. Because UPS is a union shop, you cannot work there and not pay the dues, and the benefits are still top-drawer. So, if I did work there at that time and didn't pay dues, I'd be derving a lot of good that came from other people's dues while not paying my own dues.

 

When everyone derives the benefits, they should all pay the dues. Now, if the unions starts to fail at its task, you have to look at whether it is because your union is corrupt or has it been defanged by the past thirty years of union-busting legislation to where it now longer has the strength to accomplish much -- been rendered useless. If it's due to corruption or laziness, your argument is valid. If, on the other hand, it is due to all that government has done to curb union power in the last three decades, then my point is valid.

FredFlintstone's picture

Even patents only last 17 years. Can't justify the vig forever, can you? Plus it wasn't just the unions, but the fortunate times that lead to the progress.

sharonsj's picture

The United Steel union website says they will help laid-off workers with the following: 

They also offer Group Rates for Services:

Through www.unionplus.org, USW associate members are eligible for hundreds of discounted services. Money and insurance related services include: credit cards, insurance, college financing, taxes and retirement planning. Under home and technology, there are moving and home improvement services, wireless phones and computers, and information on how to buy union. There are health and auto related services, legal and education services.

So they didn't hand you money (boo hoo) but they did offer other help.  You just didn't take any of it.

Bloodstock's picture

I don't see anything in that list that is worth a crap let alone $15,000. Boo hoo my ass,,,get a clue!

Tapeworm's picture

The majority of union membership is in the public emloyee sector. They now get far higher pay for the same work than do private sector employees.

 Sorry, I do not weep for the Detroit teachers that will strike because we private sector drones "owe" it to them. Look at their pay levels as compared to private sector taxcows.

Knave Dave's picture

I agree that we don't owe them more, and I think they are well paid for what they do, but doesn't your comment speak for the benefit of strong unions to workers. They would not have that good pay or benefits if they had not unionized. 

 

I realize there are a lot of bad unions that have lost their way and others that have done a lot of bad stuff. I'm not arguing in favor of any of that, but they are also why we have paid vacations that never existed before unionization (heck even unpaid vacation barely existed), medical benefits, safer working conditions, a forty-hour work week, instead of the old standard 60-80-hour work week.

 

I'm just saying that crippling them is far from being a gift to labor, and it certainly will do nothing to rectify the enormous imbalance that has grown in recent years between what management makes and what workers make -- an imbalance that has grown to hideous extremes since unions lost their clout (much of which they lost due to their own abuses of power).

Theonewhoknows's picture
Theonewhoknows (not verified) Tapeworm May 6, 2016 7:23 AM

Unions elevated themselves to the circles of 1% with their political deals and endorsements. Now the biggest (image setting) unions are doing really bad job at sustaining the vision of defending workers' rights. To understand why this is happening and how to change it is important to see who is benefiting from this. What I mean is not just '1%' slogan or banksters. Let's give this question a proper research and debate with arguments http://independenttrader.org/global-structure-of-ownership-result-of-4-year-long-research.html

Boris Badenov's picture

Michigan and Illinois both refuse to let the unions go to a reduced payout so as to extend the day of insolvency. That's a good thing, in the sense that the New Hires will be throwing their money away for a far less amount of time. Too bad the fatcat administrators' day of unemployment will come sooner.

And let the current retirees get together and blame The Federal Reserve for diminishing the returns on their investments, namely interest bearing bonds.