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05 September 2006

Union-bashing in high gear in Michigan

The astroturf has really hit the fan here in Michigan.
The degree to which the television airwaves here have been
bombarded with union-bashing ads demonstrates impressively
deep pockets. My own pockets are literally empty,
but it is still possible to post stuff here for free,
so I decided to post some counterpropaganda of my own.
With any luck an audience of some sort will stroll in.

The last of the ads that I've seen is deeply offensive.
It portrays two workers in an apparent public sector setting,
where citizens stand in a long line for some service or another.
The two workers are abusive of the customers, and both are
apparently about to go on break per the just-won agreement,
leaving the folkx in line stranded for some time to come.

To add injury to insult, the astroturf ad also depicts
one of the workers with a noticeable gap between her teeth.
I don't know if this is supposed to be some kind of an
insult to people of less-than-perfect cosmetic dentition.
I think it's an insult to working people in general.

The American workforce has been enduring an aggressive,
systematic program of de-unionization that has been applied
without interruption for decades, having gone into high
gear about 1980. The period 1980-present has been literally
a gift to opponents of the labor movement, whether you
look at political, economic, social or informational trends. Yet the ingrates
piss and moan that it's not enough. The balance of power
between management and labor has already shifted so
dramatically in favor of management that:

  • Virtually every job comes with a contract. Contracts that are not collectively bargained are literally boilerplate.

  • The human resources Establishment has access to a near-total information grid including medical, credit-scoring,
    address history, as well as machine readable (an important distinction)
    feeds from public record sources—usable information in the public domain
    about public corporations is of a very summary or 'low-res' nature, consisting of annual
    balance sheets and income statements in annual reports and prospecta.
    Private businesses are simply black boxes. Sometimes
    they have reputations of some sort, but beyond that
    and gossip, employment applicants are literally in an information vacuum.

  • The role of legal noncitizen residents in America's labor market is tightly managed,
    and on terms agreeable first to the employer (who has veto power over 'sponsorship'),
    second to the government (which has veto power over 'immigration status,' which is contingent mostly on employment and
    sponsorship status)
    and the worker, who is literally an indentured servant.
    The managed migration 'movement,' like the 'right to work' 'movement'
    behind the propaganda in question, threatens to disempower migrants worldwide
    to the even further unfair tactical advantage of management.

  • Underground labor economics as a driver of human migration has gone largely unchallenged by immigration authorities,
    resulting in its degeneration into human smuggling, which is to say, slavery.
    When wages are based on what the market will bear,
    there is no automagically-enforced 'natural law'
    to the effect that persons under duress are not economic actors,
    since it is apparent that many such persons
    function both as producers under indenture, as well
    as as a captive market for underground sheltering
    of so-called illegal persons.

  • The trend from gainful to marginal employment continues worldwide, as well
    as the very real expectation that workers assume more and more of the risks
    inherent in enterprise.

If people in the center-right coalition that controls this country thinks that
the period from about WWII to Reagan was one during which members of America's
unprecedented working-middle-class got more than their fair share
of economic security, they should do the intellectually honest
thing and step up to the microphone and state it explicitly,
or step out of the way of those of us who still dare to be



02-Sep-2006 0230Z

As if Michigan's current multimillion dollar union-bashing astroturf campaign
isn't enough, tonight we got treated to the 60-minute long infomercial
for social darwinism re-branded as 'libertarianism' called 20/20.
So far I have watched the first 30 minutes, at which point I simply
had to dump some bile in my personal containment bucket, which is
to say the present blog.

The first half of the show has been a re-hash of all the cases against
teachers' unions that have been the PR biz' stock in trade for decades.
The 'fact' that competition brings out the best in people, the 'fact'
that without competitive fires lit under their buns, human nature is
for all of us to be lazy and arrogant. This neoliberal 'fact' is almost
as insulting to humans as the neoconservative (Hobbesian or Straussian,
take your pick) insistence that, left to our own devices, we'd absolutely
slaughter each other and revert to something worse than warlordism,
or 'anarchy,' as the main$tream media insist on calling it.

First of all, the reason Belgium blows the doors off Amerika in
academic/intellectual performance is because Belgium is not because
educational professionals there have 'freedom to fail' (about
as astroturf and counterfeit a concept as 'right to work') but
because Belgium is a dramatically less socially conservative
(and therefore less anti-intellectual) society than Amerika,
where even something as core to human rights as the voting rights
act comes (repeatedly!) with an expiration date.

Anyone who's worked in the real private sector (as in 'defense' contractors don't count) knows that free market
competition is a natural meritocracy of salespersonship, manipulation,
kissing up to power/authority and general one-up-person-ship. Its effect
on things we should encourage, such as customer satisfaction, is certainly positive,
but obviously small compared to the effects of competitive pressure on
people's best empirical estimates of whether they have the sheer luxury
of adopting virtually any normatively established variety of 'best practices.'

My own vestigial (so far) career has been well over 95% private, for-profit sector, with
easily a private sector majority in agency/agency-customer customer base.
This is true, I would venture, whether the calculations are weighted by dollar or by hour.
The one job I had that was an exception was the work study job I had
at the university library back when I was a student there, many years ago.
This, not ironically, was the lowest-paid job I ever held.
Also not ironically, it was far more intellectually stimulating,
and I would venture more relevant to the real needs/wants of real people,
than any of the perma-temp or perma-part-time jobs I've done in
the bu$iness sector since then. I am only one person. I would certainly
not advocate concluding based on my experience that the public sector
is more public-spirited than the private sector, let alone more
meritocratic, cost efficient, etc.

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