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  #11  
Old 12-06-2012, 01:28 PM
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The Obama administration has not restored habeas corpus or closed torture prisons and it has significantly extended the undeclared war in Pakistan with unmanned aerial vehicles aka drones. It has also fought as hard against whistleblowers as no administration before.
Progressives who deny these facts in order to support Team Democratic are not merely Third Way pseudo-progressives but also as post-factual as the guys on the right.
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  #12  
Old 12-08-2012, 01:34 AM
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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
The Obama administration has not restored habeas corpus or closed torture prisons and it has significantly extended the undeclared war in Pakistan with unmanned aerial vehicles aka drones. It has also fought as hard against whistleblowers as no administration before.
Progressives who deny these facts in order to support Team Democratic are not merely Third Way pseudo-progressives but also as post-factual as the guys on the right.
The only difference I've seen between Republicans and Democrats over the past 12 years is just in the pretty speeches. Obama is certainly a great orator but nothing has changed. Feigned moral indignation over an opposing party's tactics out of political convenience. Both parties are backed by big money interests (big unions are still part big business as far as I'm concerned and a union boss is just an executive with a populist spin). Obstructionism of new ideas. Half baked solutions that are little more than symptomatic remedies to placate to a particular political base and not actually solving the problem at hand.

The only thing both parties have been able to accomplish with numbers just shy of consensus is banning the use of the word, "lunatic". Now people can say what they want about Texas (Lord knows I've made my share of those jokes), but the only person with enough sense to vote "no" on the strange unthinkable heretical basis that there might be something more important for the legislature to be working on was a representative from Texas.
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  #13  
Old 12-08-2012, 02:13 AM
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In general I agree but I nonetheless view important differences among the two big parties. Sure, the Obama administration is full of Wall Street guys and the Democratic Party accepts corporate money and gets dragged towards the right (in terms of political economy) but it doesn't totally merge with the forces that drag it.
Second, I totally agree that the "oh, these dumb reactionary guys from Texas / from the South" card is idiotic. I rather take a Southern conservative with a heart than a technocratic liberal from the coast as the former might very well care more about the working class than the latter.

Last but not least I totally disagree on unions. On empirical grounds because unionization has been high during the golden age after WWII and in decline since the seventies. On theoretical grounds because unions are not merely interest groups. Sure, they want a larger piece of the action for their members but I fail to see the problem with that. The "natural state" of the economic world is that capital takes a large part of the pie and it takes a lot of effort for labour to counteract this.
Not just economically but also politically and here is where I view unions as important for everybody. They are one of the few players that can actually take political power away from capital. So unions are not just a narrow interest group, they also fight for the interests of everybody. They are not like their business counterparts entirely bourgeois, they are to some degree citoyens, people who care about the common good.
As we have witnessed during the last three decades, too much political power of capital does not merely increase income inequality and undermine free markets (to be fair, unions often oppose free trade so they are not proponents of free markets either) via corporate socialism and non-internalized externalities (e.g. the legal fees that BP did have to pay constituted a tiny fraction of the actual damage of the oil spill) but also undermines democracy. Take the recent election where the billionaire Sheldon Adelson used the money he made in a casino in Macao to influence it. What would McCarthy have said about capital from a communist country influencing an US election?
Unions are a force that can undo this undemocratic influence of corporate power.
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  #14  
Old 12-08-2012, 02:16 AM
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I wasn't intending to cast unions negatively, and I admit that's due to me being very vague and I do believe that unions have an important function. It's just when I look at a business. I look at the business as just a machine through which money and goods/services flow. Unions get money from that machine through its members. Executives also get money from that machine. As a consumer, I look at both executives and unions as in positions to pass additional cost onto me. While I am much more inclined to want a greater portion of what I spend to go to the workers, but at the same time I don't consider that carte blanche for unions to do some of the things that they do. I'm supportive of the write to collective bargaining, but I also believe a person has a right to work. If a person doesn't want to join a union then that's fine with me. If they find they need services that a union can provide then I believe a union should be able charge that person for using those services.

I guess more specifically, I don't care for simple things not getting done because of union rules like mounting a TV on a classroom wall or in my dad's line of work in aerospace, we both take great exception to critical repairs or maintenance that are safety issues not getting done due to people taking advantage of union rules. Especially in my line of work, if the call comes in for search and rescue of a person in the water and we need to get a piece of gear working. If the union wants to sue me, that's fine. If we have someone on hand that can fix it then I'll have them do it rather than waiting on a civilian union technician. Fortunately where I am I don't have to worry about that. But I know that in the Department of Defense, more and more stuff is being done by civilian government workers and it hasn't been without problems. DoD is already comically notorious for being slow at getting things done.

Perhaps it's not so much a union issue, but more of the culture we have these days in the general population where statutes are being used to replace human judgement.

My dad has been a union member for as long as I can remember and I know he's looking at resigning. Of course the union will still have the power to withdraw dues from his paycheck. Currently the veteran engineers like himself are happy to keep their existing contract thar contains the medical benefits. The younger crowd is pushing for something like a 8% raise and are threatening a walkout. Now as far as the veterans and the local union are concernes if the younger folks want to walk out then they're on their own for being in breech of contract. However the boss of the larger nation wide group of unions is throwing his muscle around. For people like my dad who have been in the industry for nearly 40 years, many unions have degenerated to the point where it's no longer the democratic voice of the workers but the whim of a single powerful person. To him a lot of workers have given up their contol of thr unions to the bosses. Union dues intended for retirement funds have been used to fund politics and the paychecks of the union bosses. So between corporate executives and union bosses, the working person still gets screwed.
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Last edited by Akula2ssn : 12-08-2012 at 01:51 PM.
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  #15  
Old 12-08-2012, 03:24 PM
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Of course single unions can very well suck and corruption is a problem in any human institution. Furthermore a union for a small group of workers at a critical and fragile position in production (over here it is e.g. air traffic controllers) can exploit their power to bargain for wages above productivity.
But this doesn't imply that unions in general suck and basically steal from their members. That's just a false generalization based upon the bad experiences of your father. I also don't appreciate the symmetry you imply in your last line, as I pointed out above the union memberships ratio has steadily declined while corporate power has obviously increased. I rather worry about corporations destroying our democracy, our free markets and our ecosphere than about a few bad or corrupt union leaders.
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  #16  
Old 12-08-2012, 10:48 PM
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Any ideas as to why union membership has been declining?
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  #17  
Old 12-09-2012, 10:11 AM
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First, unionization has always been highest in the second sector so it is natural that union membership is declining while services are becoming more important than industry.

Why? It only makes sense to organize yourself in a union if companies are large which is often the case in the second sector whereas the third one is more of a mixed bag, i.e. there are large companies like banks and insurance companies and so on but e.g. a barber or server do not work in large companies.
Furthermore I guess that monopoly rents have been higher in industry back in the days than today (globalization; there is more competition nowadays on output markets) and higher than in the service sector. When there is a profit based on market power it has to be distributed between labour and capital so unionization makes sense to get "a piece of the action". While there is also a lack of competition in the service sector, e.g. in finance, employees directly bargain for a part of these rents as it is hard to imagine unionized financial engineers or traders due to ideological reasons.

And last but not least capital has become more powerful since the eighties and tried to crush organized labour. Just take a look at what Thatcher did in the eighties or what Scott Walker, the henchman of the Koch brothers, did in Wisconsin last year.

So in my opinion unionization has declined partly because of economic fundamentals and partly because of political economical reasons.
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  #18  
Old 12-09-2012, 10:56 AM
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On my top dumbass things I've ever heard anyone say, this was written by a friend on facebook:

"I think next election the Republicans should be allowed to buy votes. The Democrats were giving out free meals. Republicans would never do that because it's illegal. But I think we should level the playing field."

Yeah... That just happened.

Anyways, I voted Obama, first time and this time. I've only been voting democrat because their policies best fit my views. But I would never, NEVER be so dumb as to imply that democrats or republicans or any party for that matter is not guilty of indulging in dirty politics.

I say all this to say that it would not surprise me if my slight fear represented in the original post turned out to be true. My suspicion is that it was far fetched linked to some really bad conspiracy theory.

It's annoying but not surprising that people weren't paying attention, really paying attention, to the debates. On most economic issues there really wasn't that much difference. Obama kept saying, "Um, yeah, we're already doing all the things you say you're going to do." Foreign policies, they're practically identical. Romney said in the third debate that he totally agrees with Obama's use of drone strikes. And yet, somebody else on my friends list posted this:



Yes, more hypocrisy. As if you wouldn't get this same (or even worse) decision making from Romney. Or better yet, thinking that Bush wouldn't make those same decisions if he had the chance.

As good as I think Obama is, he's still part of the political machine and he's human and it's almost standard human nature (not almost, sorry, it actually is) to desire and pursue power. Obama won because he seemed to project, better than Romney, that he's more in touch with the less than rich citizens of this country.

Nothing is surprising me because I see the road America is going down. At this point I almost feel we need to go off the cliff, hit rock bottom before the US goes, "Oh, we need change, REAL change."
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Last edited by MigueldaRican : 12-09-2012 at 11:00 AM.
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  #19  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:09 AM
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What's the deal with Congress trying to ban or remove the word lunatic? There are lunatics in the world. Is this a political correctness thing?
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  #20  
Old 12-09-2012, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omegaman View Post
What's the deal with Congress trying to ban or remove the word lunatic? There are lunatics in the world. Is this a political correctness thing?
Probably. But "lunatic" is lightweight, since I believe the official, scientific diagnosis of a lot of the politicians recently is "batsh*t crazy".
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