Saturday wrap

Economic illiteracy plagues White House ... Unions spur unemployment, and "there is no question" about it. "High union wages that exceed the competitive market rate are likely to cause job losses in the unionized sector of the economy." That is the unvarnished conclusion of one of the country's most admired economists. From 1970 to 1985, a state with average unionization had a rate of unemployment 1.2 percentage points higher than a state with no unions. This represented "about 60 percent of the increase in normal unemployment" in that period. Okay, a finding from several decades ago may be a bit dated. But the phenomenon of how unionization affects unemployment isn't. Nor is the economist--Lawrence Summers, formerly president of Harvard and now President Obama's chief economic adviser. In this week's Fortune, Nina Easton calls him "the mastermind" of Obama's economic policy. His influence has limits, however, for Obama is aggressively promoting unionization at the worst possible time, smack in the teeth of a deepening recession with soaring unemployment. Media attention has focused on the hot button issue of "card check." It would jettison labor's biggest impediment to signing up workers, the secret ballot. Naturally, it's labor's top priority in 2009. And though Obama and the vast majority of Democrats in Congress favor card check, its fate is unclear. But Obama has already taken significant steps to aid unions. Steps that underscore his support for a surge in unionization. "I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem," he told union leaders at a White House event last month. "To me, it's part of the solution." Summers must have winced when he heard that. (weeklystandard.com)

Union-backed, Porkulus-fed fraud group levels U.S. ... Suppose I had a hand in creating a problem like the collapse of the credit market and the national economy, then I protest against the results of that problem. Would you take me seriously? How seriously should we then take the demand by the social activist group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now that Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez declare a moratorium on all home foreclosures? During the administration of President George H.W. Bush, ACORN was in the vanguard of protesters saying banks were not offering enough home loans to low-income applicants, and banks loosened up credit and started making those loans knowing full well many of the people could not afford to pay them. From ACORN's Web site: "ACORN identified and publicized lending discrimination by banks to lower-income and minority applicants for mortgages." Thus ended the "discrimination" that said if you cannot afford it, you cannot buy it. That helped sow the seeds of credit disaster, but as long as the money kept rolling in the banks didn't care, nor did Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Big Mac, Bernie Mac or anyone else. (nwi.com)

Obama's P2P power-sharing lifts U.S. confidence ... But first, the president took time to praise the Democratic-written stimulus bill, saying it will take the initial steps necessary to reverse the country's economic downturn. "Because of what we did together, there will now be shovels in the ground, cranes in the air, and workers rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and repairing our faulty levees and dams," Obama said. "Because of what we did, companies -- large and small -- that produce renewable energy can now apply for loan guarantees and tax credits and find ways to grow, instead of laying people off, and families can lower their energy bills by weatherizing their homes." (thehill.com)

We don't need no stinkin' GOP participation in Congress ... "Last week, Democratic leaders in Congress railroaded through a $1.1 trillion spending bill. As soon as next week, they may bring up a bill that spends another half trillion dollars. And that is on top of the $700 billion in TARP money - and perhaps untold billions more - we're spending to help banks and homeowners. Congressional Democratic Leaders' track record on spending taxpayers' money wisely this year is already lousy. House Republicans offered a plan to help our economy using fast-acting tax relief that would have created 6.2 million jobs - twice the jobs at half the cost of the Democrats' trillion-dollar government spending bill. Instead, the Democrats' bill included money for electric golf carts, billions that could go to scandal-plagued groups like ACORN, and millions more just to renovate government office buildings. Despite promises of openness and transparency, it was written in a backroom and rushed through Congress so quickly that few - if any - Members of Congress read it." (prnewswire.com)

SEIU pickets, protests against free speech ... Over 50 people from the Service Employees International Union and allied organizations held a picket at 2 downtown Burger King locations Thursday. The event was the latest in a series of "Enemies of Change" protests organized nationwide by SEIU in an attempt to stop major corporations from lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act - which is up for a vote in Congress later this year. (openmediaboston.org)

We don't need no stinkin' oppressive employers ... Supporters of the legislation argue it's needed to prevent employers from misleading or coercing their workers to turn them against union membership. That argument ignores the fact that unions can put the squeeze on employees, too, through peer pressure or bullying. The best guard against strong-arming from management or labor is a secret-ballot election, along with strictly enforced penalties for intimidation by either side. The card-check bill has another fatal flaw. It would give a federal arbitrator the power to impose a two-year contract on an employer and union after just two months if the two sides are unable to come to an agreement. Either party could end up stuck with a deal it doesn't want. (orlandosentinel.com)

Stern goes where the money is; SEIU eyes bank takeover ... In his latest column for the New York Daily News, Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez writes, “Last year alone, Amalgamated Bank’s profits provided more than $23 million to UNITE HERE for its everyday operations. Some leaders of the union accuse one of the country’s most powerful labor leaders, Andy Stern, of the Service Employees International Union, of scheming to seize control of the bank in a corporate-style takeover.” (democracynow.org)

ACORN: Breaking & Entering for Social Justice ... A community organization breaks into a foreclosed home in what they are calling an act of civil disobedience. The group wants to train homeowners facing eviction on peaceful ways they can remain in their homes. Derek Valcourt reports their actions are not without controversy. Near Patterson Park, the padlock on the door and the sign in the window tells part of Donna Hanks foreclosure story. “The mortgage went up $300 in one month,” said Hanks, former homeowner. She says the bank refused to modify her loan and foreclosed, kicking her out of the house in September. The community group ACORN calls Hanks a victim of predatory lending. "This is our house now," said Louis Beverly, ACORN. And on Thursday afternoon, they literally broke the foreclosure padlock right off the front door and then broke into the house, letting Hanks back in for the first time in months. (wjz.com)

Forced-tribute is unbusinesslike ... The "fair share" bill is touted by supporters to charge nonunion employees at a union workplace their fair share of the union's cost to represent them. However, Sarah Swisher, Iowa political director for the Service Employees International Union, says the fair-share money will also be used to organize more workers. (Register, Feb. 3). Is that the true intent of fair share? To grow the union? Do unions represent employees, or do they represent unions? Unions are a business. As a business, everyone should have the right to patronize that business or not. (desmoinesregister.com)

No excuse for oppressive IUOE strike ... The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 strike on a Toll Road project isn't being universally observed. A handful of "lab testers" who have voted to join that union someday have continued to cross picket lines and earn a paycheck while dozens of other union workers sit at home without work. "We're not a part of this strike, so we're still working," one of the lab testers told me earlier this week. One insider who's been involved with the three-year project since day one, told me, "This can lead to an economic mess for everyone involved." The 10-mile widening project along that stretch of Toll Road is one of the largest road construction projects taking place in this region, with a due date of 2010. ITR Concession is required to conduct the project as part of its Toll Road lease agreement with the state. However, if this strike isn't settled soon, it can delay the project and cost dozens of strikers their jobs, I'm told. The e-mail from the alleged family member sums up best what I've heard from a couple of other families of striking workers, although they refused to give me their names. "I can understand if rights have been violated, prevailing wages not honored, or benefits cut, but a strike for the sake of a few technical testers working without union cards when 90% of the workers are union, is absolutely ludicrous," the e-mail states. (post-trib.com)

Forced-labor unionism v. Prosperity ... TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: Well, sadly, there is delusion going around. He's drinking water, clearly. When you look at the numbers, states that are non-unionized, where people have the freedom to choose whether to join a union or not, that's where prosperity is and that's where job growth is. And it only makes sense, right? BECK: Right. PHILLIPS: When people have the chance to choose whether or not they're going to join a union over being forced, coerced into joining a union, prosperity results. Jobs are created. When you look at the numbers, they bear this very fact out. BECK: OK. Those are the states that are the free states. Colorado just changed, right? PHILLIPS: Yes. Twenty-two states are free states; 28 states are forced-union states. BECK: OK. PHILLIPS: And when you look at the numbers here, it's mind boggling. Flip to the next chart. BECK: Go to the next chart where are the numbers here? Do you have the numbers? Which numbers are you looking for? PHILLIPS: We are looking for the GDP and the job growth - private job growth. BECK: OK. Private sector - PHILLIPS: When you look at increase in jobs, the right-to-work states are exploding - 39 percent job growth - 39 percent; union states, 29 percent. Yet, unions are the ones who are supposed to be creating jobs, right? Reality does not bear that out. And then the growth is the most stunning thing. Growth is really just measurements of prosperity. Are jobs being created? Are people having a higher standard of living? When you look at those numbers, you see it is almost two-to-one, or really is two-to-one. In free states, right-to-work states, people succeed and grow and have jobs, and that's what we're talking about. BECK: You can - I mean, I just finished a stage show. I did a one-man stage show, and had to do it because it was here in New York, had to do it with a union. PHILLIPS: Right. BECK: I actually had to pay somebody to stand behind somebody who wasn't union all day. I asked for water backstage. I'm not kidding you, in Philadelphia, at the Kimmel Center, it cost me — I think it was $400 or $450 to put water backstage. (foxnews.com)

Will Dems probe Solis over ethics violation? ... Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., will be the first of President Obama's Cabinet nominees to need 60 senators to back her when the Senate votes to move to her nomination on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., scheduled the cloture vote last week after Republicans could not agree on timing, a GOP aide said. In a letter sent to Reid's office last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote that "prior to considering any time agreements on the floor on any nominee" the nominee would have to meet a set of criteria, including answering questions and meeting with members. A spokesman for Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking member Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., has characterized the weeks-long delay of Solis' confirmation as largely procedural. But Democratic aides said it was a "shot over the bow" on controversial card-check legislation that would make it easier to form unions. Labor and Hispanic groups have stepped up the pressure in favor of Solis' nomination in recent days. HELP Republicans have said Solis was unresponsive to questions about card check at her confirmation hearing and sent several rounds of follow-up questions to her. They also raised questions about her unpaid position on the board of the pro-union group American Rights at Work. A committee vote on her nomination was postponed after reports noting her husband paid $6,400 to settle 15 tax liens against his small business in California. The committee approved her nomination last week by voice vote with two Republicans -- Sens. Pat Roberts of Kansas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma -- voting "no." (govexec.com)

International Collectivism

Defunding Venezuela ... Droves of middle-class and well-heeled Venezuelans invested with Texan financier Allen Stanford, who is accused of "massive fraud," because they say they feared their money was not safe at home under socialist President Hugo Chávez. Venezuelan money is estimated to represent more than one-quarter of the $8 billion that U.S. investigators say was invested in fraudulent Stanford certificates of deposit with impossibly high interest rates. The government seized Stanford's local commercial bank, a small operation holding local currency accounts, on Thursday after a run by customers using Internet facilities. The government promised to auction off the bank. Many wealthy and middle-class Venezuelans say they are intimidated by Chávez, who often characterizes the rich as bad people and has imposed tough limits on currency flows and periodically expropriates companies and land. "We love that Stanford man like we love Chávez," one well-dressed young investor said bitterly, smoking at a Stanford office, where hundreds have lined up in recent days seeking their money. (reuters.com)

Chávez leads surge of Latin leftism ... Venezuelans recently voted for a referendum to end term limits, which could potentially extend President Hugo Chávez’s term indefinitely. Chávez is a darling of news headlines worldwide with his colorful, often anti-American rhetoric and socialist agenda, but Worldfocus’ online radio show will look at what the headlines miss: * What do the Venezuelans who elected him want? * Why has trade with China, Russia and Iran has expanded across Latin America? Has the U.S. “neglected” Latin America? * Is Latin America swaying left with elections of seemingly leftist and socialist leaders, like Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil and Evo Morales in Bolivia? (worldfocus.org)

New Prog Era of unlimited Chávismo in Venzuela ... President Hugo Chávez enacted the constitutional amendment eliminating term limits for elected officials and promised citizens "more effectiveness" from the government he hopes to lead "at least until 2019." At an improvised Cabinet meeting held outdoors in a plaza on Caracas' east side, Chavez signed the amendment that will allow him to run for another six-year term in 2012. "I enact, with all my heart and my commitment to the people, and swearing to the people that I will not fail them, the first amendment of the Bolivarian Constitution. Long live the people!" Chávez said upon signing the official document at Thursday's event, which radio and television stations were obliged to broadcast live. "I'm ready to continue commanding the revolution from 2009 at least until 2019, if the people want me to," the leftist president said, having promoted the amendment with the argument that only his permanence in power could guarantee the survival of the process of change that he has led since February 1999. (laht.com)

Chávez makes a surprise visit to Cuba ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez late Friday arrived on a surprise visit to Cuba, where he met with Cuban President Raul Castro. A plane carrying the Venezuelan leader touched down at Jose Marti International Airport at 19:00, officials said. Chávez was met at the airport by Raul Castro and other Cuban officials. (france24.com)
Related Posts with Thumbnails