Sunday wrap

Bam taps anti-capitalist business leaders ... Well-known venture capitalist John Doerr was among 15 U.S. business leaders named Friday to an Economic Recovery Advisory Board created by President Barack Obama. Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, will serve as chairman of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board and Austan Goolsbee will be staff director and chief economist, the White House said. Another high-tech executive, Charles Phillips, president of Oracle Corp., was also named to serve on the board. According to the statement issued by the White House, other board members include: William H. Donaldson, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., president and CEO, TIAA-CREF; Robert Wolf, chairman and CEO, UBS Group Americas; David Swensen, chief information officer, Yale University; Mark T. Gallogly, founder and managing partner, Centerbridge Partners L.P.; Penny Pritzker, chairman and founder, Pritzker Realty Group; Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO, GE; Jim Owens, chairman and CEO, Caterpillar Inc.; Monica C. Lozano, publisher and CEO, La Opinion; Anna Burger, Chair, Change to Win; Richard L. Trumka, secretary-treasurer, AFL-CIO; Laura D'Andrea Tyson, dean, Haas School of Business at the University of California--Berkeley; Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker professor of economics, Harvard University (eetimes.com)

Study: Organized labor boosts economic contraction ... President Obama is a big fan of unions. He should read this interesting study out of Princeton and UC Berkeley concerning the effect unionization has on corporate performance: "We estimate the effect of new unionization on the equity value of firms over the 1961-1999 period using a newly available sample of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representation elections matched to stock market data. ... Event-study estimates using both close and large victories, however, show that new unionization is associated with at least -10% abnormal returns, equivalent to $40,500 per unionized worker. ... An examination of the balance sheets and income statements of both sets of firms reveals that union wins are associated with relatively lower growth ..." (usnews.com)

Andy Stern's power grab taints SEIU brand, rankles rank-and-file ... Service Employees International Union is caught in the position of decrying efforts by breakaway leaders of the new National Union of Healthcare Workers to steal away SEIU members during a critical moment for the labor movement, while at the same time SEIU is meddling in the internal affairs of another union, California Nurses Association. On Thursday, CNA blasted SEIU for “impersonating nurses in a multimillion dollar campaign” to topple current CNA leaders and replace them with candidates closer to SEIU and its incremental approach to health care reform. The charges echoed those by Sal Rosselli and other NUHW leaders, who say SEIU under President Andy Stern has sacrificed member interests and rights in its drive become a national powerhouse that works closely with elected officials and large corporate employers. (sfbg.com)

SEIU-Dem P2P celeb steps out

Local SEIU P2P operatives exposed ... It is really interesting to me that the Service Employees International Union – yes, the same union with ties to Blagojevich – is so very interested in the District 6 election that they are motivated to pore through Ms. Rutherford’s utility bills in an attempt to cast doubt on her residency I want a representative for City Council who cares about me, my neighbors, and returns our phone calls, not someone who is “beholding” to a union meddling in local politics. - Joan McNew Flores, Chattanooga (chattanoogan.com)

U.S. Organizer-in-Chief Gets Right To Work

Unpopular Porkulus: Bam's national catastrophe ... President Obama on Saturday morning warned the nation of a "national catastrophe" if Congress does not move quickly to pass and implement his economic rescue plan, even as he lauded the Senate's movement toward passage of an $827 billion version of the bill. "If we don't move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe. Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes, and their health care. Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold," he said. Mr. Obama's address Saturday, because it was mostly a repeat of earlier talking points, hearkened back to the radio addresses of his predecessor. (washingtontimes.com)

Porkulus paved with good intentions, social justice ... Bravo to Rep. Mary Bono Mack for voting against the so called “stimulus package.” It will do little to stimulate anything except inflation for generations to come with no accountability. The country is broke, yet the government keeps printing money and giving it away. This will not help our economy or our future. Bailouts, entitlements and nonprofits (like ACORN) have put us further in debt. We are headed down a dangerous road to socialism with this administration leading the way. Wake up America! (mydesert.com)

Dem rank-and-file urged to Stop the Porkapalooza! ... The so-called economic stimulus bill should be properly named the "porkapalooza" bill. I am appalled that Democratic leaders in Congress are willing to saddle our children and our children's children with outrageous debt in order to hand out pork to their favorite constituents, including the egregious and corrupt ACORN organization. As for the private sector, it should receive no bailout monies from the government. If the free market is allowed to operate without government meddling, then the wheat will separate from the chaff and the strong, efficiently-run businesses will survive, and those whose practices are questionable will fall as they should. Government money already distributed to the private sector has only served to encourage many businesses who have received such monies to continue the questionable practices which got them into trouble in the first place. Stop the stimulus now! (htrnews.com)

U.S. awakes from Bush-bashing with a big hangover ... President Obama has had, by general consent, a torrid First Fortnight. To put it another way, it has taken precisely two weeks for the illusion that brought him to power to be exposed for the nonsense that it so obviously was. The transformational candidate who was going to sweep away pork-barrel politics, lobbyists and corruption has been up to his neck in sleaze, as eviscerated here by Charles Krauthammer. Despite the fact that he came to power promising to ‘ban all earmarks’, his ‘stimulus’ bill represents billions of dollars of special-interest tax breaks, giveaways and protections -- which have nothing to do with kick-starting the economy and everything to do with favouring pet Democrat causes. And how did the 44th President react to the growing public dismay over the mess he was making? He threw his toys out of the pram -- or perhaps that should read, he got into the pram. For he fled the scene of the disaster and sought the company of seven year-olds instead. As the Telegraph reported: ‘We were just tired of being in the White House,’ he told a group of excited seven-year-olds before discussing Batman and reading them a book. Tired of being President – after two weeks! Tax cheats, pork-barrel politics, ancillary child abuse, incompetence, chaos, treachery and infantilism. America – what have you done?! (spectator.co.uk)

Two-faced D.C. union-organizers exposed ... The EFCA would essentially eliminate secret ballot elections in which employees vote on whether they wish to be represented by a union. Instead, the issue would be decided by whether a majority of employees signed cards authorizing union representation. Under the EFCA, employees could easily be intimidated to sign union cards — particularly since every employee’s view (pro or con) would be known to the organizers. That’s why several Congressmen, including Democratic supporters of the EFCA, wrote to the Mexican government in 2001 encouraging “the use of secret ballots in all union recognition elections” because “we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose.” Similarly, George McGovern, the Democratic nominee for president in 1972, has opposed the EFCA, stating that working Americans should have the right to vote in a secret ballot election “free of intimidation and coercion from all sides.” (hartfordbusiness.com)

D.C. Dems line up captive workers for P2P ... Retailers, restaurants and health care facilities will be in unions' cross hairs if the Employee Free Choice Act becomes law. "Any kind of service industry will clearly be first on the hit list," says bill critic Richard Epstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago who has consulted employer groups on the legislation. The common denominator for these industries, he notes, is that they can't relocate to cheaper labor markets. So if EFCA becomes law, "hotels, restaurants, any kind of industry where mobility is not an option will be forced to deal with wage rigidity and job rigidity." But restaurateur Glen Keefer, 53, worries the law would strain small-business owners already struggling in a weak economy. Mr. Keefer is part-owner of Keefer's Restaurant, a River North steakhouse with 99 employees. He also runs Tavern at the Park, a restaurant near Millennium Park with 80 employees. Mr. Keefer says he and his partners put plans to open a third restaurant in 2009 on hold — partly because they were concerned about taking on more debt and partly because of the uncertainty over costs if EFCA becomes law. "We don't need a third party in between us and our employees who is extracting money from our employees for services that, frankly, they don't need," says Mr. Keefer, who says his workers get health care benefits and paid vacation time. "A third party could disrupt our working relationship and would raise costs for our employees and for us."(chicagobusiness.com)

Job-Killer Act explained ... Although EFCA may make it easier to organize in every state, card check will have most effect on states like Pennsylvania without right-to-work laws where employees can be forced to join unions as a condition of their employment. I know this from personal experience. A “fair share” fee is confiscated from my wife’s paycheck every month. Pennsylvania employers and those in other closed-shop states facing the imposition of EFCA are far more likely to avoid locating or expanding there and may, in fact, decide to move. Saddled by mandatory arbitration awards that raise labor costs, and noncompetitive with similar companies in right-to-work states, an employer’s most logical business decision may be to move or close. Workers, then, are not only denied the right of a private ballot for unionization, but entire businesses may be lost to the unintended consequences of poorly thought-out legislation purchased by unions from bought-and-paid-for politicians like Holden. The migration of companies from the Rust Belt to right-to-work states began more than 30 years ago, frequently motivated by the need to escape union requirements that made companies less competitive. Since EFCA will increase unionization dramatically and bind companies to arbitrarily imposed terms, it’s certain that more companies will consider relocation, perhaps off-shore. Pennsylvania jobs will be lost. You’re deluding yourself if you think it won’t happen. Members of Congress, especially those from Pennsylvania and similar states, should face reality when they vote on EFCA. After all, aren’t all of these liberals pro-choice? (ldnews.com)

Union dues are tax-preferenced ... I am writing this letter in response to Lois Lambert's letter in regards to "why isn't Montana a right-to-work state?" If Montana were a right-to-work state and Lois was making $10 per hour and two people came in and said they would work for $5 per hour, her employer could find a reason to let her go and hire the two for what the company had been paying her and get twice the work done. Lambert stated she has no problem with unions. She just thinks independent Montanans should be able to choose whether or not to join. There are two types of union shops. There is an open shop and a closed shop. An open shop means that you don't need to join the union, but you get all the benefits that a union member gets like health care, paid vacation, raises or anything else a union member gets except you don't pay union dues for their benefits. A closed shop means that you don't need to be a member, but you do have to pay the union dues and your union dues are tax-deductible on taxes when you file your tax return. (billingsgazette.net)

Failed Machinists strike harms community ... The strikers have been camped out on a dirt shoulder of this two-lane country road for nearly six months. Sometimes they picket, but just as often they stand around in their work boots and sneakers, staring at the plywood factory that used to employ them -- and the rising steam that serves as a reminder that work continues inside. There should be little reason for the 114 members of the International Association of Machinists here to feel hopeful about the fight they picked with their employer, Moncure Plywood LLC, in July. The company has had little trouble finding replacement workers in the weak economy. (journalnow.com)

International Collectivism

Green Left lauds benefits of unlimited political power ... Black was referring to an amendment to Venezuela’s constitution that will be voted on in a referendum on February 15 to remove limits on the number of times an elected official can stand for election to a public office. If passed, it would allow President Hugo Chávez to stand in the presidential elections in 2012. According to Black, “We have been educating the public about why you should vote ’no’. The point at issue is to explain to ordinary people and the whole country that indefinite reelection is anti-democratic and a mere personal desire …” Thus goes the constant and repetitive theme of the corporate media’s coverage of the referendum campaign, hammering the same line as the US-funded right-wing opposition. (greenleft.org.au)

Hugo Chávez for life ... When a group of Venezuelan women staged an impromtu protest recently by dropping their trousers in front of armed national guards, President Hugo Chávez cheekily observed that the women were obviously in need of more attention than they received from their opposition husbands. It was a characteristically inflammatory insult from the self-styled revolutionary who once called the former president George W Bush “the devil” and has already labelled President Barack Obama “el negro”. Next Sunday Chávez’s bombastic wit and autocratic presidential style will once again be put to the test in a second referendum on his attempts to remove constitutional limits that prevent Chávez from becoming president for life. After narrowly losing a similar vote in 2007, Chavez has returned with a ferocious crackdown on opposition supporters and dire warnings of plots to overthrow him and hints that evil imperialists want to take over the oil industry, which supplies 93% of the country’s export revenues. Last week he announced that two national guard officers had been arrested after “making contacts with the United States via e-mail [and] preparing destabilising plans against the president”. (timesonline.co.uk)

On any given Sunday ... Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Caracas on Saturday to oppose a constitutional amendment that could allow President Hugo Chávez to run for re-election indefinitely. Marchers waved the nation's flag and peered through glasses framed by the word "No" to encourage people to vote against ending term limits for all elected officials in a Feb. 15 referendum backed by Venezuela's socialist leader. "Everything's gotten worse," said Yraiber Davila, a 24-year-old mechanical engineer who complained of rampant crime, a lack of government services and the difficulty of buying a house with annual inflation running at 31 percent in Caracas. "I have a 10-year-old daughter and she's never seen another president," Davila said. One protester carried a sign depicting Chavez as TV tough-guy Mr. T — complete with a Mohawk hairstyle and long, feathery earrings — beneath the phrase: "Indefinite Aggression." Marchers chanted and wore emblems saying "No is no," a reference to a failed 2007 referendum that would have scrapped term limits and expanded Chavez's power. Chávez was first elected in 1998, and is barred under the current constitution from running again when his term expires in 2012. Polls show Chávez gaining momentum before the vote. (google.com)

Latin leftist earns socialist cred by smacking down Obama ... Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa ordered a U.S. Embassy official expelled on Saturday after accusing him of interfering in the country's affairs, a move that will test ties with Washington. Correa, a leftist, has generally kept good relations with the United States as his socialist allies in Bolivia and Venezuela often clash with Washington over what they say is U.S. "imperialism" in Latin America. "Foreign minister, give this gentleman 48 hours to pack up his suitcases and get out of the country," Correa said during his weekly media address. "We're not going to let anyone treat us as if we were a colony here." A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Quito said the official already left Ecuador last month as part of a regular staff rotation. (reuters.com)

Putin OKs Obama Pay-to-Play deal ... Moscow has agreed to open routes for "non-lethal" supplies. It will provide an important alternative to roads through Pakistan, where locals have frequently attacked convoys. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did not specify whether Russia would provide land or air corridors, but US and other NATO occupation forces have mostly been interested in land routes that would allow them to move bulky cargo more cheaply. Last year, Russia signed a framework deal with NATO for the transit of non-lethal cargo for coalition forces in Afghanistan and it has already allowed some NATO members, including Germany and Spain, to move supplies across its territory. The announcement came on the same day that Kyrgyzstan said that it would not reverse its decision to close a key US air base on its territory despite the fact that parliament has delayed a vote on the decision until next week. (pww.org)
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