Human Resources News & Insights

Obama’s latest push for unionization: The threat’s real


Get the feeling the Obama administration’s pushing for increased union participation? Just wait ’til you hear the latest development.

The National Mediation Board (NMB) — which basically serves as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for railroads and airlines — has just made it easier for employees in those industries to unionize.

The three-member NMB adopted a new rule: If more than half of voting employees approve, the union’s in.

Under the old rule — which had been in effect since the mid-1930s — a union could only be certified if it was approved by a majority of the entire workforce that would be organized. Under that arrangement, workers who didn’t cast ballots were counted as “no” votes.

New appointment is the key

Here’s the backstory: The rule change became possible after President Obama appointed Linda Puchala, a former airline union official, to the NMB earlier this year.

The other members of the board are Harry Hoglander, a former pilot and union honcho, and Elizabeth Dougherty, an attorney and former aide to President George W. Bush.

As you might imagine, Dougherty cast the a dissenting vote on the rule change, which she called “the most dramatic policy shift in the history of the (NMB).”

The shape of things to come

This decision isn’t all that earthshaking — after all, it only directly affects two industries — but it’s pretty clear it’s a harbinger of things to come.

Why? Because of a couple of other Obama administration appointments to the NLRB.

Recently, the president announced he was appointing attorneys Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the five-member board.

Pearce is a practicing union lawyer. Becker has represented the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO.

Becker and Pearce joined NLRB chair Wilma Liebman to give the NLRB a three-member Democratic majority.

Both appointments were bitterly opposed by business groups, so the two became “recess appointments” — made when Congress wasn’t in session — so neither had to go through the Senate confirmation process.

Bottom line: NLRB hearings aren’t likely to be all that pleasant for employers in the foreseeable future.

Sign of the times

It would have seemed impossible just a few years ago, but the potential for companies to face organizing efforts has increased substantially since the recession hit. Job losses, wage freezes and benefits cuts all tend to threaten employees’ sense of security — and unions offer workers what appears to be a measure of protection.

That’s why savvy companies continue to do their very best to keep the lines of communications open and morale high. Workers who feel like they’re getting the straight story — and are part of a team that will eventually be rewarded for hanging in through tough times — don’t feel the need to turn to a union for protection.

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  • NJ

    Unions are outdated and unnecessary as far as I am concerned except in very specific circumstances. With the government mandating minimum wage and now health care, what need is there for them to be not only protected so strongly, but given ridiculously preferential treatment. Stories like this make me want a multi-party system. The parties I have to choose between either blindly support the unions or blindly support big business. But I suppose without the money from one of the two, another party wouldn’t have much of a chance…

  • NR

    NJ you are correct. We don’t have much a choice when it comes to parties and unfortunately this administration just keeps shoving policies like this one through loop holes.

  • m Texas

    It’s ridiculous that he could appoint people that have obviously argued for unions to a committee that is really should be unbiased and independent without some reprecussions. That’s like appointing the CEO’s of McDonald’s and Burger King to a health panel that determines what are considered health foods can be sold in fast food restaurants – it just doesn’t make sense!

  • Lynn

    I can’t wait until 2012 – thanks to all you idots who voted for “hope and change”.

  • November’s coming.

  • John

    Just one more step in becoming USSA. With the current president shoving healthcare, bailouts and now this, the founding fathers must be turning in thier graves.

  • HM

    Ridiculous is not the word. It is amazing that a president — no matter what party — can bully, sidestep and flat out be misleading without reprecussions — elections are too far off. There should be a more full-proof method of putting the brakes on someone who is totally out of the box and wants to act in a dictatorial manner. Unions served a purpose in this country at one time — they are totally outdated for the present workforce.

  • R. B.

    I am sick over what this administration is doing to our country. The people no longer have representation…the president has an agenda, he could care less what US citizens think and he is going to do everything he can to push and cram through everything he can that gives the government more power. I don’t think his agenda is a good one for the people, for businesses or for the US in general. I am fearful of what is to come. I can only hope I’m wrong about where all of this is taking us.

  • John

    Lynn, I agree. Lets “Hope” we have “Change” in our pockets, at the rate things are going,”Change” is all we will have left.

  • Stuart

    This article is so biased, HR Morning is so biased, and the majority of comments on here are biased.

  • Stacy

    This is all employers need to do – What the last paragraph of this article says!

    Unions promise employees what ever they want but it does not mean it will happen and when it does not, employees are more ticked off but Unions get to blame the company which makes things worse.
    Unions mean, paying employees MORE to do LESS ($40/hour to screw in a lightbulb)
    Unions mean not being able to terminate employees who do not perform up to standard.
    Unions mean, Management has little control over what to do in their own companies
    Unions operate like violent street gangs, if you don’t do what they want.

    Do Unions mean that your workers will be more productive?
    Do Unions mean (if you are a manufacturer) that your product will be superior to competitors?
    Do Unions put a strain on the profitability of a company?
    Do Unions mean you will have qualified workers?

    There may be industries that need unions such as Mining as we can see from the recent accident in WV. I have a coworker whose dad got a job at Massey back in the 80’s but turned it down because it was Non-Union. Said he’d never work at a Non-Union Mine. He is an Electrician and before he became supervisor, spent a lot of time underground. He said Massey paid well and a lot of poor families were able to make a living they would not have otherwise, but in the end, was it worth it for the loss of life? Sadly, I think those people will take the first settlement that Massey gives them and then will be broke in a year and Massey is counting on just that. This accident likely won’t deter local people from working there either.

    Seems like with this new administration, Unions have reared their ugly heads.
    Every company needs to train their managers in how to handle potential union organization. So many managers “think” they know and get the company in deeper doody because they actually violate laws trying to “fix” things. My company had training not too long ago and I am glad we did because I know exactly what to do if they ever come around.

  • HRR

    I think the problem with business is that they use workers in a manner that makes them expendable whenever they interfere with the bottom-line or expected profits. There should be more unionized work environments in which there’s greater worker participation. However, I also believe that salary increases, promotions, and overall advancement must be solely based on merit and not seniority.

    The fear of unions in many ways is based on antiquated beliefs that an unionized work environment is detrimental. Both unions and management groups should operate with total honesty and fairness towards each other rather than suspicion and fear. Which brings me to the illegal immigration issue: the way to stop or curtail illegal immigration is by enforcing strong employment rules that prevent employers from hiring those who are not certified to work in our country. If employers were sanctioned and fined $20,000 per each illegal worker then the demand for cheap labor would decrease and the incentive for coming to this country illegally would being diminish. What employer is going to risk such a fine? The real argument must be how to eliminate the incentive to stay illegally in this country. Employers have the obligation to hire only those who are authorized to do so. Just simply filing an I-9 form and looking the other way is not enough, and in fact it’s a sham.

  • Stacy

    HRR: That’s why I do E-Verify for my company. It’s free, it’s fast and every employer should be using it. It takes New Hire reporting a couple of days to notify you of a negative hit as with e-verify, it’s right then and there. Before you can start to use it, it makes you as the Administrator, do a tutorial and then pass a test. If you do not pass, you will not be able to use E-Verify but you can take over until you do pass. You MUST do your E-verification within 72 hours of the hire date and can only do them if you have a completed I-9 form. In the event you get a negative hit, you will know what steps to take, where to send the employee for further verification, the timeline the employee needs to follow, and especially, what NOT to do. Also, you are not allowed to go in and do random SS# checks on current employees, only newly hired.

    On another note, Unions DO complicate things for employers, especially those that already treated their employees fair and just but have a few bitter employees that have a sense of entitlement and would not be satisfied with anything you do.

  • Syl

    With all the labor laws in place, unions are absolete!

    What the government needs to do is enforce the existing laws and leave unions out!!

    This is another way for Obama to take control of the business entities and take away their power.

    Did anyone say “socialism”?

  • DF

    Having worked in both been a union rep and a dept head in several union houses as well as non-union houses if things are done right there is little difference.

    In this economy a unionized work force can have some impact but frequently it is a sham, get a raise and the economy is bad = lay-offs Board of Directors and share holders want more profit and raises are due give up the raise or layoffs, reduced work week less safety awareness more attention to production (Look at BP’s safety record not just the Gulf Of Mexico but the Texas Plant that has several deaths and major problems over the past few years).

    Before comments are made on the current administration someone should audit the past 10 years looking at how the economy crashed, 2 wars, a drowned city that was not helped for days, less regulation and less monitoring in all areas of life.

    What ever works is what is needed but protecting life should always be a priority that had become a lesser goal if it even reached a goal in the past 10 years. Change always hurts but this Administration did not create this mess and it is at least trying to fix things. Unlike so much we have heard against it over the past almost 2 years.

    Unions can be worked with and goals for staff and the organization can match and frequently do read your contracts. The rules are there from out right abusive management look at some of the unregulated part of the mining industry.

    Killing or trying to down play Unions is not going to help things but it will make them worse. In one place where the rules were set up and conducted in a fair manner when the union tried to get in the employees were enjoined to review what they had vs. what the union offered they voted it out in another place the union came in as the administration used terror tactics and did not look after employees. So please I understand Union Reps can be difficult but it could be time to review the treatment of the staff that might unionize and see if they are feeling confident in how they will be treated.

    Just a few thoughts

  • Paula

    HRR, illegal aliens will always get decent jobs because they purchase stolen identities of others so the names and SSNs match when checked. This is the flaw in the system. A fake name and number will be rejected, but if the name and number match, it’s okayed. So fining companies for hiring illegals is ridiculous because as far as most know, they are only hiring legal immigrants.

  • John

    Without unions, there wouldn’t be:

    40 hour work week
    vacation time
    sick time
    safety rules
    etc,etc etc

    The ultraright-worshipers on this board need to remember that people DIED so that we could work and live better. Read and review the contributions your ancestors made to improve the working conditions in the US before you drink the Faux News and neocon propaganda. By the way, these same corporate pirates that battled your ancestors in the early 20th century are subjugating peoples in the 3rd world today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I agree with all comments so far, EXCEPT “Stuart” who must ba a union member and HRR — HRR, have you EVER worked in a union environment? I have. Forget about performance appraisals. For the life of the contract raises are stipulated for every level and the amount of each raise is predetermined based on seniority. Stacy — good post! I would add that:
    UNIONS reward/protect mediocre-poor employees;
    UNIONS stifle/discourage high achievers or outstanding performance (after all, what’s the point)
    UNIONS usually prohibit cross-training of workers without “fairly” compensating them at the higher rate. This usually results in lost training opportunities for workers.
    Unions DO NOT care about their workers and cannot provide any more protection to the overall Bargaining Unit than the Federal/State laws already provide. What they can do at negotiating time is reduce the amount of benefits one currently gets to increase pay, since salary, benefits all of it is on the “table” at the time a contract is negoatiated/renegotiated. If a labor union is trying to organize your workforce, get a good labor attorney that specializes in this field.

  • T Mitchell

    I too have no idea what to do with the current situation. It is beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

    One note to HRR’s comment above. In my opinion the majority of our illegal workforce is compensated in a cash manner. The I-9 is very effective for employers that are in compliance with the employment laws. The I-9 isn’t used when you don’t actually hire someone and treat them as an employee. Like I said this is my opition and others may not agree but they should take a hard look at the industries that attract under the table compensation.

  • Syl


    I don’t think anyone can argue that unions had their time – particularly during and after the Industrial Revolution. This was a time when labor laws were almost non-existent and there was much employee abuse (OT, child labor, working conditions, etc., etc….). Don’t forget that one of the reasons their power was diminishes is because of the union corruption that has taken place over the years.

    Employees don’t necessarily get better benefits when they vote the union in – Unions can make all the promises they want, but are not held accountable if they don’t deliver on their promises. The unions just get richer and more powerful! On the contrary, many companies have fled our country and have left many of our American workers unemployed. We don’t need more government interruption in a free enterprise!

    Also, you may not believe this, but when the ” American corporate pirates” open their doors to 3rd. world nations, they are welcome with open arms!

  • Stacy

    John: There is no doubt that at one time, Unions were totally needed (child labor, poor work conditions, pay practices, discrimination etc) I just think employees are protected by so many labor laws we don’t need them. Employees should know their RIGHTS! Also, I probably couldn’t say the last time I even watched the news, its become a terrible propaganda machine and it gives me a headache. I am so sick of “The Left” The right” “Liberal” “Conservative” “Moderate” “Blue State” “Red State” “Socialism” “Main Street” “Tea Party” “CNN and FOX News”! Where on earth did all this Jargon come from, you gotta take lessons just to keep up with it. Not only that, it’s so much overkill with it. (see, I have a headache thinking about it) New stations no longer seem interested in reporting the facts and most are into entertainment for ratings. Unfortunately there are a lot of “Opinion” shows who I think should be more responsible for the things they say because there are gullible people who don’t have a BS filter and take their words literally. The climate of fear in this country is nuts! I don’t fear Unions, I think there is no need for Human Resources or Managers for that matter if you are going to have them. I am going by my personal experiences with unions and the way Unionized employees “strut” around feeling untouchable and would try to sic union officials on HR for the slightest little thing. They could talk to you nasty and treat you mean but you could not return the favor without consequences. That was in the early 90’s maybe things have changed.

    Paula – With E-verify, if that social security number did not belong to the illegal immigrant, you’d know right away but this is not fool proof either. With every system, there is always a dishonest person 16 steps ahead trying to find a weak spot to exploit.

  • Steve H.

    I’m sorry but our President and the NMB (with the exception Liz Dougherty) are idiots. What more can they do to eradicate all business from the United States?

  • B

    How many of you are aware that the Unions helped put Obama in office? I work in a unionized facility and I personally found literature on site within days of the last union meeting that proves this fact. I find it interesting that this administration can stand in front of cameras and say that special interest groups and lobbyist groups should be controlled. Yet this administration, by way of this article, cleary belives in “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

  • Nik

    Everyone needs to calm down! Just because they made it easier to form unions doesn’t necessarily mean people will!

    We do have to admit that unions DID help us achieve a better work lifestyle back in the early days of unions.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m personally not a fan of unions, but I also realize that people usually invite unions in an environment that employees are not happy with. What does that say to business owners and managers? It says that we have to not allow our work environments to enter into a state where people are underpaid, undermanaged, and non-engaged. WHO are we hiring in the first place? Do we have the type of people who are engrossed in what they do for the right reasons?

    If we’re meeting the employee’s needs on many different levels we typically reap all the rewards as a company. But if we’re hiring people to keep the company’s profit huge and turnover and management is scarce, we also reap the results of a poorly motivated, angry bunch of employees. It’s a balancing act. I’m sure in a few years with a different administration the pendulum will swing the other direction again.

  • Carol

    Majority of those who vote? That was the case for our union election in 2005, and in two previous elections. I am with a New York not-for-profit, and in our experience with three union campaigns over a 9 year period, it was always ‘majority of those who vote’. Therefore it’s in the company’s best interests to get as many employees to vote as possible.

  • NR

    I am going to have to second Syl’s remarks about unions. They were great and resolved a lot of problems from child labor to over worked/under paid employees but nowadays they’re really not needed. There are laws in place to help prevent that and in instances where the law is not followed either organizations such as Worker Defense Project are more than happy to help be the strong arm for those who need it.
    To those brave people who ended up dying so a good case could be made for unions we do owe them a lot. Now a days it is just a legal form of corruption. Pushing for higher pay where it is not warranted. Forcing some companies to take their organizations to other countries where labor is cheaper, etc.

    As far as the last ten years are concerned. No one had given any merit to the previous administration either. That you see ghosts where there are none seems to me more of a deterrent from what the whole conversation is about which is those individuals appointed are clearly going to be bias based on their history with Unions. As someone else mentioned here, you can’t ask the CEOs of McDonald’s and Burger King to be in charge of what healthy food to sell at fast food restaurants.

    So either contribute some relevant information of why the history of these appointees doesn’t matter in this instance or just move on.

  • DF

    UH Huh we do not need government interruption in free enterprise, I guess all the progress made via unions and Government interruption that has been lost over the past few years is just acceptable how many lives lost or ruined at explosions in the gas plant in Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, the environmental damage from the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, the sugar plant in the south and other instances Read the OSHA Statistics on the Chemical and Hazard Safety Board where “Government Interruption” had its fangs pulled in the past.

    Yes in the flow of society power shifts we have seen that through our whole history, but let’s not forget that history the suffering and death that had happened and is happening now.

    Unions have their place if done right just as OSHA EPA and the other regulatory agencies do. Free Enterprise is a good system but MUST BE REGULATED WHO TO PREVENT ABUSE? Possibly GOVERNMENT and UNIONS?

    Just look at the past administration Better environment? Uh… NO! Are we financially valid? UH….. Maybe look if Greece falls it may take Spain then the rest of Europe. If the Euro crashes…. What then of the dollar. Think….When we went belly up it even effected England’s recycling program.

    This is not the fault of the workers but the fault of the top so give me a break I am old enough I have seen at least 3 Inflations and 3 Recessions. And we are in a Depression 10% of our work force does not have work and the new kids from college have little to look forward to.

    This administration has its hands full trying to fix what the last “Conservative” Administration fixed by deregulation….Give me break and the Billions that just disappeared? Remember the first bail out the one before the last president left office? The one no one knows where the money went?

    Yes I have used this as a bit of soap box but I believe many do not think of what has happened over the past 43 years I have worked. I agree over powerful unions tend to breed mediocrity but what then of the people that have been hurt or damaged? What of the abuse mental physical verbal that Unions have averted Yeah I was there when they (The Unions) engaged in that but that also passed. Did any one here have one of my old jobs of unloading 100 lb bales of “Angel Hair” or spun glass to cut the bindings dump it in a shredder in a room where the dust and debris filled the air the seamstresses were sewing the pillow covers in the same room. None of us hand any protective equipment. I did that at 16. We were told the place would close if the union came in the seamstresses nearly had heart attacks as all were supporting families. That was a nightmare and a disgrace…….. Back then I knew no better……..

    My problems are with the current blame and scare game is that it costs lives unless controlled and there are not enough watch dogs or monitors for the watch dogs. Who should be the watch dogs and monitors?…………And who should pay them?

    So all of this fear mongering stuff on Unions to me sounds almost silly and in particular when you look at the cost to human life that an unregulated Free Enterprise System could incur. That is my fear and it is something that all should fear as the only ones exempt are those at the top. Again I have been a Union Rep and a Manager. The Union Rep job I did made me go into management to where I thought I could do some good. Both sides have their benefits and detractions. But there is a way………… that is better if they work together.

  • Sam

    I worked at a company that had a union shop and sold 85% of its products to the government. We had the union workers(?) who said they worked for the union not the company and Defense Contract auditors who were “there to help”.

    Strikes were a joke. The union people lost every time. Between what they paid to the union bosses and lost wages while they were out walking the line, they took it on the chin. Any wage or benefit won over the companies original offer took a many many years to those lost wages, even with the so called strike benefit from the union.

    In the mean time the company was actually more profitable with the engineering staff working along side with secretaries, clerks and other non-union staff. Not to mention the quality of the product was actually better according to reports from the government quality inspectors.

    Dealing with government rules, regulations and the auditors was worse than dealing with a stereotypical Department of Motor Vehicle employee.

  • TH

    This President scares the hell out of me!

  • Mary,
    You are correct about unions not caring for the workers. There is ONE AND ONLY ONE concern of the union hierarchy – that being the collection of dues!

    Biased? In which direction?

    On your list you forgot to mention juristictional issues, wasteful work rules, anti-mangement propaganda, and unrealistic demands, that have driven more jobs overseas than anything else.

  • MS

    I have never read a more ignorant, reactionary and moronic statement on HR Morning. People are idiots because they believed in a message that inspired hope and change? Wow. How did you ever convince your employer that you could work in Human Resources…

    To Nik – thanks for the reasoned, rational response.

  • LindaJ

    For heaven’s sake…….”NO”, I have not had the feeling the Obama administration is pushing unions. Who publishes HR Morning anyway, the Republican Party?

  • Lynn

    Sorry but the “message” of Hope and Change is not what anyone should base their decision on for the highest office in the land. Facts mean more than any fastasy-inspired speech. You and all the others were sold a boat-load. Go back and listen to the campaign promises and you’ll know what I mean. There is no change in Washington, it is worse than before. Thankfully you (and I) still have the freedom (for now) to express what ever opinions we want right here in HR blog land! And no, HR is not my first job as you guessed – it is secondary because WE HAVE NO MONEY for an HR person – get it? And if you were reading all the comments you’d see alot of people here agree with me. Unions = Power and Greed, nothing else. Thanks for your reasoned and rational response! 🙂

  • Jim

    Does anyone remember what Bush did to the Dept. of Labor? Defund and filled with pro bussiness cronies that would not pick up the phone while the mining industry just to name one went to hell and the top got rich and labor got dead.

  • Sam

    The point is that many attempts to unionize a facility were not very successful under the old rules and are trying to change them. The unions original plan was to due away with the secret ballot. It seems that many workers were willing to sign a petition to vote on a union (very Public) but voted the union down in the voting booth (secret ballot). The deck is already stacked against an employer when it comes to labor negotiations.

    One of the lessons I remember from economics is that nothing is inelastic in the long term. In my opinion, the greed of the unions and their workers have sent the steel and auto industries overseas.

  • LindaJ – Surely you jest. SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern is one of the most frequent visitors to the White House and was hugely influential in shaping the health care bill (that I hope is repealed before too much damage is done)In case you are not aware, as part of Obamacare, these union members are exempt from the 40% excise tax on “cadillac plans”! You might also want to read up on the Card Check legislation which takes the secret ballot away (among other things) from employees where a union is trying to get a foothold, leaving those employees exposed to union cohersion to vote the “right” way.

  • Vicky

    Refer to R.B.’s comment – RB is right on!
    MS and Linda and whoever else along those lines – pay attention! Good grief, Linda — HE TALKED ABOUT UNIONS ALL THE TIME! He was totally supportive of them. Where were you when he was campaigning? MS – what does “hope and change” have to do with working in HR?
    Lynn is right about how to choose your president – it’s not about who makes the loftiest and best-sounding idealistic promises with no possible way to pull them off – you should look at the candidate’s history (something everyone has blatantly chosen to ignore about Obama), look at their voting record (Obama’s voting record was mostly “not present” – check it out), and LISTEN to what the candidate is really saying!!!
    Obama got most of his votes from ideologues who desperately wanted to believe in Eutopia. Get real. Eutopia does not exist – it is fantasy. But Obama wants you to believe that HE can make it all happen. (And apparently, you did believe it.) If YOU and the others who had voted for him had been paying attention to what he was REALLY saying, you would have heard him favoring unions, you would have heard how far left he is, you would have heard how he wants to “rule” the nation (he actually said that, by the way – “when my rule begins” — I heard it!), you would have heard how he doesn’t think anyone should make too much money (how much would that be, anyway? — Obama made over $5 million last year; he recently made a comment about how some people don’t need to make so much money, AND he’s repeatedly commented on “spreading the wealth”), and you would have heard him say the government should control health care, and you would have heard him say that we eat too much (yes, he did say that! And that there should be controls on what we eat! And how warm or cool we should be able to keep our homes!); and so on and so forth! And most recently, I heard and saw him in a conversation with John McCain in which McCain was saying how they had both promised more transparent government, and now they were have closed-door meetings and Obama’s response was “we’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.”, In other words, it didn’t matter what he promised – now he’s in and plans to do whatever HE wants (NOT what the American people want). You should PAY ATTENTION!
    But you didn’t pay attention — you just wanted to believe in this HOPE and CHANGE thing. He was cheerleading, and campaigning – and he still is! Did you notice he never really had a PLAN for anything — if someone asked him, he just boviated! He never really answered the questions! And if you had been paying attention, you would have realized that he wants a socialist nation, at best. He has appointed more unqualified and far left people than I could have ever imagined! But then, he hasn’t really had any good experience, has he? He just wants to be in total control. But then, some people would rather have someone take care of them, wouldn’t they?
    About unions – I have personally seen them aggressively go after employees who were NOT unhappy, but the union reps lie and lie to them to convince them they ARE UNHAPPY, and that their employer is going to take advantage of them… and these union reps will actually follow them to their home doorstep! Union employees make a lot of money, while taking large union dues from lower-paid employees. The unions I’ve dealt with either don’t represent their people at all, or they represent bad employees in such a way that it becomes impossible to terminate the employment of a terrible employee.

  • Dave

    Tim has it right. Union expansion is being pushed by Obama because of the support given to the Democratic party. The growth of unions stopped being about doing something for employees a long time ago. It’s about contributions and getting elected.

  • HM

    For Jim — Unions of long ago were corrupt and were not above strong arming those who did not go with the program. Contrary to public belief, they did little for the miners in the western PA coal region. It was not uncommon in the 40’s to have bricks thrown through your window and physical threats made to yourself and your family if you spoke ill of the union or the “union bosses.” FYI — my father was a miner, not a “company” man. We do not live in those times but most likely there are subtle tactics being used to move the union cause along — it’s what they do — call it whatever you like but a leopard does not change it’s spots.

  • Larry

    Wow I’m glad every one remembers where our country was headed. Obama has had a whole two years to work on the mess the Bush left behind. It is not fair for any body to complain about what Obama is doing. I guarantee this country will be in much better shape in two more years. It took Bush eight long years to screw our country up and Obama will fix it in four. By the way the Unions are still strong and they will get stronger. So the cheap companies that don’t want to pay or give any benefits hold on to your butt cause it it going to happen.

  • MS

    I’ve read all the comments and I know that the majority of folks here agree with you, but not all seemed to feel the need to resort to name-calling when in disagreement with others. In fact you may have noticed I complimented Nik who also appears to believe this administration needs to go, but he made his point like he was talking to adults deserving of respect regardless of political differences. Believe it or not I also am not in favor of unions although I’m sure many people in the past have needed and benefited from their intervention. Employers do not always act in the best interest of their employees, which I know from experience. Speaking of fantasy inspired speech, I’m sure you remember one of our former president’s greatest hits; WMDs anyone? not to mention the long-winded pontificating and hysterics from our esteemed republican leadership on the Senate and House floor during the Health Care Reform debates. Judging from the obvious slant of most of these blogs, HR Morning must have been quiet as a mouse during the Bush years since no one had anything to complain about.

  • Astonished

    LARRY — ARE YOU KIDDING ME? And what do you mean “it’s not fair to complain about what Obama is doing”? Did YOU ever complain when Bush was president? Oh, I’m sure not — that wouldn’t have been fair. And after all, it took Bush a full 8 years to clean up much of the mess the Clintons left behind. And so it goes…

    And you, too should PAY ATTENTION! Obama is not fixing anything — he’s putting us into debt we’ll never get out of and he’s taking away our freedoms, one at a time. How do you not see this?

  • steve

    Let’s get something straight about “card check”; it’s been around a long time. Here’s something on it from a recent online CBS report;

    “It’s worth noting that the so-called “card check” option is actually already allowed, but with a crucial caveat – it is up to employers, not employees, whether or not it can be used. Under the current law, employers can choose to mandate that union organization take place not through card check but via a secret ballot and then an election. That option is generally preferred by businesses that would rather not see their employees unionized.”

    Union elections would not be banned, but they would no longer be required. Bypassing a secret ballot election has always been a frequently adopted option in certifying a union but it always required employer approval. EFCA makes this approval no longer necessary and therein lies the real cause of employer opposition. EFCA will make forming a union far easier than it has been in the past by removing employer room for stonewalling NLRB certification. Labor journalist Kim Moody points out, “The AFL-CIO says that between 1998 and 2003, 80 percent of the three million workers who joined unions were recruited outside the NLRB procedures.” He further goes on to say that,

    “Card check allows workers to gain union recognition by a simple majority show of authorization cards. This tactic is usually spelled out in a “neutrality” agreement in which an employer agrees not to attack the union while it recruits the majority necessary to gain recognition. Card check, neutrality, and other forms of voluntary recognition have been considered legitimate since the National Labor Relations Act was validated by the Supreme Court in 1937…A study done in the late 1990s found that when card check followed a neutrality agreement, the union won 70 percent of the time, compared to about 56 percent for NLRB elections.”

    The problem, of course, is that most employers oppose card check and want to force an NLRB election. This is why the fight over EFCA is so heated. The point is that unions are more popular with workers now than ever because of the decline in real wages over the past 30 years. But workers have been subjected to campaigns of intimidation by bosses not unions. A common statistic cited is that an average of one in five pro-union workers who try to organize a union is fired. This is why EFCA is necessary. Unions built the US middle class after WWII and unions can save it once again. America can afford to rebuild its middle class; it can no longer afford the rich who are slowly destroying it.

  • Sam

    Vicky – Very well said.

    Astonished – I second your outrage. However I think you are wasting your time.

  • Nik

    Doom, gloom and drama from many posters on this site! This has turned into a political argument where many people have allowed their emotions to get the best of them.

    As I said before, just because it’s easier to have the unions enter into the workplace doesn’t mean that it just happened! It doesn’t matter what president or party they are affiliated with that we have in office at the time, laws are passed daily that don’t make sense or go against the grain of what our country should represent.

    What do we do from here (we should be asking ourselves)?
    A. We take a serious look at the companies that we represent and use our abilities and leveraging power to situate ourselves so that we don’t have to worry about unions coming into our environments.
    B. We educate the employees that work with us and dismantle any disillusion that unions have the employees best interest at stake.
    C. We do a better job with communicating and understanding employee’s true needs.
    D. We hire the right people in the first place.

    Thanks for the back up MS and good luck to the doom/gloomers that have given up and surrendered themselves to the political climate!

  • Syl

    Linda – Have you been asleep the past couple of years? Obama not only received substantial monetary support from unions, but he also made promises that they are expecting he delivers on!

    Wake up, girl! Obama has his own agenda! Let’s hope the damage is not irreperable after we vote him out in a couple of years!!!

  • Vicky

    Heavy sigh. Nik — you greatly under-estimate the power and deceitfulness of unions. Like I said, we had a group of employees who were fine until the union reps started convincing them how unhappy they were. We worked day and night for weeks to educate that group of employees (several hundred of them) on EACH and EVERY LIE the union reps told them. When it was all said and done, the union didn’t win. Lucky for all us of! But it cost us of thousands of dollars.

    By the way, it is not illegal for the unions to lie to employees and basically stalk them. Empoyers on the other hand, have a whole set of ridiculous rules they must follow once a union makes themselves known to your employees. Don’t misunderstand — we don’t need rules to tell us to be honest with our employees, and to not follow them home and hound them. But these union rules for employers prohibit us in every way possible from defending ourselves against a union.

    Your employees do not have to be unhappy or under-paid, or un-appreciated, or mistreated for a union to come around. Our employees were paid more than most in the area, and certainly had better benefits. So watch out, unions are on the move — it’s not gloom and doom — it’s reality. Saying we just need to educate our employees, communicate more with them, understand their needs (and all these things are indeed very important) is akin to saying “if we just talk with the terrorists and let them know how nice we are, then they won’t hate us and try to kill us”. But doing these things won’t keep unions from trying. (And Obama IS doing his best to make it easier for unions to get in — as mentioned above: Obama owes them.)

    We do not live in Eutopia, remember? Apparently, some people have led a very sheltered life?

  • Astonished

    TH – he scares me too. Like none other I’ve seen! He is more concerned about making his own personal history, about his own legacy, than any other thing. And he’ll use any means to get what he wants. We should all be afraid.

  • Jim

    For HM Nice try! I am not talking about 70 years ago. I am talking about this year in a non-union mine were profits take the front seat over safety and human life. Not unlike the situation in the gulf. Profits over anything. The ends justify the means. Right?

  • Larry


    Unemployment rate when Clinton was in “LOWER THAN IT HAD BEEN IN YEARS. Something he done was Good.

  • steve

    I’ve seen more crocodile tears over workers rights as their allegedly being sacrificed by EFCA on this site than I thought was possible. Most workers want EFCA because card check has been a successful way of getting a union certified; a secret ballot is less important than getting union rights. Employers drone on about secret ballots not because they’re absolutely required by law, which they aren’t, but because card check makes it very difficult to keep the union out. This “concern” about a secret ballot isn’t about worker rights; it’s about union busting pure and simple. Also, EFCA will make it impossible for a small minority of anti-union workers to force a union decertification election as has occured in the past. Bosses hate losing this anti-union tactic as well.

    Anyone who has studied labor’s situation over the past thirty years knows that bosses engage in intimidation far more intensely than do unions. If there is any lying, it is employers and the expensive union busting consulting firms they hire to keep unions out of the work place. I don’t know what all this anti-union hysteria is about anyhow; the US has the lowest rate of union density in the industrialized world at about 12% of the total workforce. Private sector unionization is even lower since about a third of public employees are unionized. Studies by the ILO show a direct correlation between union density and income equality in society. America’s highly unequal income distribution, and consequent decline in middle class living standards, is directly related to low levels of unionization. This is beyond dispute.

    Many of the unions the do exist are quite weak due to high unemployment and are unable to achieve significant real wage increases for their members. But they are better than nothing.

  • Steve (the Steve with all the card check data)
    A few questions.

    1. Just where did you get that fire, one in five statistic? Employers are subject to harsh penalties for the actions you describe. Your statistic “commonly cited” must come out of some AFL-CIO propaganda material.

    2. How can you possibly justify the elimination of a secret ballot?

    3. And finally, Just how can the unions save the middle class. That is one of the most absurd things that I have ever seen printed. My IBEW friends and family members wouldn’t even say anything so absurd. The primary accomplishments of unions in the last thirty years has been to (1) increase the number of Americans on unemployment and (2) send jobs overseas. News Flash – the world (specifically the global economy) is not the same one that existed after WW II. I recommend that you take a basic course in economics – and think it through.

  • Nik

    Well Vicky, as long as your asking, I guess I would prefer my “Eutopia and sheltered life” compared to your panic driven, dismayed, end of the world perspective. Sounds like you deserve that with your attitude. I’m pretty happy, thanks for commenting on that. 🙂

  • MegaWhy

    The Obama administration is sneaky and underhanded. He makes a point of doing things under cover of night to deceive the American people. This has nothing to do with bias to point it out. The facts are clear: All of Obama’s major appointees are Academics or Government people, not one comes from Private Industry. He is appointing the most radical people to the NLRB and will get Card Check implemented by going around Congress. Obama’s administration has bankrupted this country. Obama will push through environmental legislation that will hurt the USAs ability to even protect itself. The vast majority of Job growth, what little there is is in ballooning government jobs that are gearing up to punish the only entities that can provide jobs. OSHA, DOL, IRS, EEOC are going to be out to destroy business. Obama is pro illegal immigration and takes pot shots at the State of Arizona which is doing what the Federal Government has failed to do. Of course all of his people admit they haven’t even read the 10 page law even while they paint it with fsalsehoods.

    Obama is a leftist and he does not support the Constitution and he believes employers are the enemy. He is a Socialist/Secular President that is more like a third world dictator than the leader of the United States of America. He apologizes fro the USA and even in talks with China his administration has pointed out Arizona’s law as wrong and anti-human rights. Anyone, I mean anyone who voted for this man is deluded or hates America.

    All of us need to wake up and tell this administration we will not stand for this evil any longer. We want our country back and if any elected official is not willing to serve the people they will be thrown out of office. No more back room deals, no more lies, no more nanny state telling us what to do.

  • MegaWhy

    HOPE and CHANGE needs to be changed to DOPE and STRANGE!

  • MegaWhy

    MS and Nik

    Political Climate? You mean the bi-partisan Democrats who control every aspect of government have not set the proper tone in Washington DC? You mean they are transparent and haven’t decided to rule rather than govern? It is very clear what the Democratic Party is all about – Socialism, Statism, Limitation of Free Speech, Union Power and Big Government. They are not about the people and think the people are ignorant and that elitists must rule. Just look at how the Democratic Leadership lives..Pelosi, Gore, Obama….not real servants of the people are they!

    I have been in HR for many years and have seen how our profession has been taken down the path of liberal, political correctness to the point that we almost became irrelevant. Well the new HR is about performance and the success of all employees. We need to take back America, take back HR, and serve our employees well!

  • Sam

    steve @ 5:15 – your agenda has truly blinded you to fairness.

    Given, Some employees want to unionize and most employers would rather not have to deal with a union. Both sides have the right to make their pitch to the employees.

    The employee, who votes, should have the right to cast his vote with out fear of retaliation by either side.

    This is not about the right of unions to unionize everything it is about the right of workers to have a choice.

    The fear of a union is a good thing. It has kept many of the idiots I have worked for in non-union shops in line.

    Larry – the first thing the Bush people had to do was restart the fudged economic numbers of the last two Clinton Years.

  • martin

    Told you 18 months ago he would be using unions and Acorn (now with a name change) as his enforcement arm to bully people into accepting his wacko marxist policies…and the proof is all over the place – on tv news, YouTube, speeches by radical communists he appointed to be Czars or undersecretaries (like that moron Possner) and other functionaries…..

    If anyone here still has any doubt (like “Stuart”) that this is nothing more than a takeover that has been orchestrated over some years now, then they are existing in the twilight zone. Most people functioning over a 6th grade level have caught on to the ruse and daily distractions which is why incumbents were voted out in primaries yesterday.

    Nazi’s did it, fascists did it, communists did it, dictators do it all the time…..obama now does it.
    Lying POS – not my president!

  • martin

    Unfortunately it appears at this rate the only way to get rid of him is for a violent overthrow as he is cutting off all chances of doing it democratically. The only way these nuts have been removed in the past is by this method. You should be past “scared” at this point and thinking about saving your butt in short order. Everything you had, have or look forward to is going up in smoke shortly.
    Not an advocate of violence here but look at the trend..he is fomenting it at every occasion and pitching one group of people against another – not at all unifying us like he said – he is a liar and many people fell for his line of crap – and still do because he is supported by corrupt media with an agenda. Now he plans on cutting out free internet, information devices that allow us to learn about his lies and independent talk radio that challenges his agenda…..just like all good dictators do. Ask anyone of his admirers and all they can say is that he is a “good speaker”. So was Hitler.

  • Vicky

    Gee, Nik, I don’t feel that way at all. I’m just in touch with reality and get so frustrated by those who have their heads buried in the sand. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t vote. My only dismay is what is happening to our country at the hands of a dictator-like president, and the blind followers who buy his empty promises of ‘hope and change’. We’re getting change all right, but you can dump any hope down the drain if Obama keeps getting his way. And as long as he can intimidate, bribe, and make backroom deals — he’ll continue to get HIS way. He doesn’t care what the people want. Do you not know what’s good for you? Do you just want to have someone “take care of you” and control every move you make? Really?

    And read what MegaWhy says. Wise up!

  • Astonished

    Yes MARTIN, you were right. Many of us could see it plainly (as is evidenced by the posts above). Many others chose to ignore it (also evidenced by some posts above). They just wanted to be swept up in the wonderful wave of hope and change.

    And didn’t you have the feeling all along that he was the enemy and was planning to destroy the nation from the inside? Just look what he’s done so far.

    Thanks a lot to those of you who helped him get there. I’d say “you’ll be sorry” – but I don’t think you will be sorry. I think you don’t know how to think for yourselves or take care of yourselves, and you want someone to do these things for you. I just can’t relate to this kind of helplessness. I shake my head in puzzlement.

  • Jim

    Martin, are you referring to the Bush administration and (FOX) News corp. the all-star wresting channel of news?

  • MS

    What puzzles me is if so many of you represent “The American People”, why isn’t Mr. McCain or one of your candidates president? I mean, what happened at the polls? are so many people deluded, idiotic, crazy, unable to think for themselves (you name it)…? And for everyone lining up to say yes, yes, and yes, then clearly the problem isn’t one man is it? Please spare me the responses telling me to wise up. I’ve been reading. I got it.
    Comment to MegaWhy – you’ve been in HR for many years and tired of seeing the profession “taken down the path of liberal political correctness.” This just started when Mr. Obama took office? Really?

  • Tom

    Originally posted by VICKY: “what is happening to our country at the hands of a dictator-like president, and the blind followers who buy his empty promises of ‘hope and change’….as long as he can intimidate, bribe, and make backroom deals — he’ll continue to get HIS way.”
    Now I’m confused here. You typed “Obama”…but it SOUNDS like you’re talking about Bush/Cheney.

    Originally posted by VICKY: “He doesn’t care what the people want. Do you not know what’s good for you? Do you just want to have someone “take care of you” and control every move you make? Really?”
    Wow. I think NIK was right; you are allowing your emotions to drive your comments! Not to mention those emotions have driven this way off topic. What an alarmist you are. Leave the political battle for the right time and place; save this forum for discussions about the ARTICLE.

  • HM

    No Jim — 70 years ago life was a lot tougher — my family had many who were coal miners — the unions did absolutely nothing for them or anyone else except collect dues — bribes were what they did best. Tell me you want the SEIU to be responsible for representing the labor force of this country —

  • Mary

    MS – I’ll tell you why McCain didn’t win:
    1. He was unwilling to expose Obama for his politics or his associates. He should have beat the drum on a regular basis with regard to Rev. Wright and Bill Ayres.
    2. He didn’t realize at the time and probably struggles with today, as to exactly how radical and un-American Obama truly is. He saw him as a fellow American running as the Democrat.
    3. The media was in O’s pocket from the beginning and refused to report anything negative fact about him. (I thought Obama was toast after Rev. Wright’s rant about G.D. American was aired by talk radio) The public didn’t care.
    3. McCain, although a war hero and gentleman is not conservative enough, (He really is a RINO) and he didn’t have the “fight” he needed to have to defeat him.

    But, MS, I will agree with you that the problem isn’t just one man. The educational system in this country has been turning out “graduates” for the last 30+ years with no idea about the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, any of the wars fought from the Civil War, Wars I & II, Korean, Viet Nam, etc., which also includes college graduates who cannot spell, have trouble with grammar, etc. In my office no one under 40 can tell me the difference between communism, socialism, capitalism, etc. so it’s no wonder the O was elected.

    Hey, maybe it’s me. I graduated in the 60’s before the indoctrination began. I understand now why so many people who I thought were flakes, home school their kids!

    Maybe the majority in this Country actually want to socialize the USA, but I hope there’s still enough red, white and blue Americans that will vote in November and again in 2012 to keep this Country free.

  • NF

    I am a Democrat who will be changing my party affiliation, and no, it will not be Republican either, look into what is going on in other countries and it will give you a directive of where our’s is headed, we taxpayers just gave to Greece what $8 billion to help them in their bailout, what country is going to bail us out, and by the way read what kind of government they have and mostly ruled by unions – does the truth hurt? certainly, my head has been up my you know what for years thinking, oh no that could not happen to us, this is America, well guess what my friends, not only is this topic going to be problem, but the river ride has just begun, we haven’t gotten to the whitewater section yet.
    And when Ms. Kagan get’s a hold of the internet in her high chair of the supreme court we will not have a voice to even gripe about it on blog’s like this.

  • Tim

    Steve (with the statistics)

    I am not anti-union per se, but you really do need to broaden your horizons with respect to the studies that you read (something other than pro-union studies/propaganda). Why don’t you read a study or two showing how many jobs are estimated to be lost in this country if EFCA passes?

    Your last last paragraph speaks for itself however – high unemployment of union members – not able to acheive significant wage increases. Steve, just stop and think that through for a minute!!!

  • Vicky

    Mary – thank you.

    Tom — how could you wonder for a minute who I’m referring to? Who else but Obama could it be?

    And there’s nothing emotional or alarmist about it. It’s just stating what I see, and I’m just asking sincere questions. I’d really like to hear someone answer these: Do you want someone to take care of you? Do you want someone to control every move you make? Do you want someone else to do your thinking for you? Sincere questions. Nik? Tom? Maybe like Mary said, some of you do want a solialist nation. I can’t relate to that either.

  • steve

    I’m glad the issue of Obama was raised. People like to throw terms like “Marxist” and “socialist” around a lot but of course, they probably don’t actually know what they mean. I do know what they actually mean (I got an MA in political science at the UW-Madison years ago) so I would never apply those terms to Obama whose are actually close to that of a conservative Democrat or even a moderate Republican. I believe much of the insane hollering about Obama’s allegedly being a “leftist” is a kneejerk response to the fact that he’s Black. In essence, it is simply racism.

    In the first place, it is important to note that Obama actually gave bigger tax cuts than did Bush in his first two years in office. Much of Obama’s tax cuts actually went to the middle class and working poor as they should have. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bush’s first two years of tax cuts amounted to $174 billion. Obama’s stimulus package, passed in February 2009, contained $282 billion in tax cuts over two years. He has given tax credits to low income wage earners like the Making Work Pay tax cuts that affect 95% of all income earners and a 10% universal mortgage tax credit which will mostly benefit those at or below the national median income of around $50,000 a year.

    Obama’s stimulus package has created or saved over 2.2 million jobs according to the CBO. In March 2010, the first month since the start of the Great Recession to show a positive net gain in job growth, about 162,000 net jobs were created. Last month this figure rose to 231,000 if we exclude the 66,000 temporary Census Bureau jobs. Remember that Clinton’s record breaking rate of jobs growth averaged about 250,000 per month over the eight years he was in office. With more stimulus spending, we can reach or exceed this number.

    Obama’s health care reform was opposed by many people because it didn’t go far enough. It is a windfall to big health insurance companies and doesn’t control rates or drug costs. Still it is better than nothing. The CBO says it will actually reduce budget deficits over the next ten years by about $138 billion.

    Conservatives don’t like heavy job growth because it tightens labor markets and raises wages. This threatens the profits of the rich. Obama is doing a decent job. He would be doing better if he were actually a progressive Democrat instead of a conservative one.

  • NJ

    Thank you, Tom, for some common sense. This website in general (and, unfortunately, I believe, ourt profession) tends to attract (or possibly create) a lot of over-zealous Republicans (and I say Republicans, because I can respect conservatism, which all of this name-calling, alarmism and hatred of the current administration does not appear to represent appropriately). I wish it was not one of the most updated forums available or I would be more inclined to disregard it for something slightly more balanced and definitely something that did not lead to people spewing this kind of garbage. The rhetoric here is terrifying. We need a violent uprising? Anyone who voted for the president is unintelligent? This is sneaky and underhanded? A dictatorship? He was elected to office and will remain there until the end of his term, just like his predecessors, some of whom scared those on the other side of the political spectrum as much as, if not more than, Obma does. There have simply been more fear mongers in the last three years than I can ever remember. Those in the anti-Obama cult will go down in history alongside Joseph McCarthy. My political leanings average out in the middle (unfortunately for me), which means that on any given day my opinions might be called unintelligent by one side, and cold-hearted by the other.

    I am firmly in favor of strict and fair guidelines for unions, and I believe that this free reign is detrimental (they have plenty of power already, much of it is abused). However, in this country we make the decision to support either a party that allows unions free reign or big business. I don’t think anyone in President Obama’s administration, or the president himself, made any secret about the way this administration would treat unions, and in case anyone was forgetting the panic we were all in before the election, EFCA died a quiet death without the president doing much to save it. I am firmly in favor of strict and fair guidelines for unions, and I believe that this free reign is detrimental (they have plenty of power already, much of it is abused). However, in this country we make the decision to support either a party that allows unions free reign or big business. I don’t think anyone in President Obama’s administration, or the president himself, made any secret about the way this administration (as a Democratic one) would treat unions, and in case anyone was forgetting the panic we were all in before the election, EFCA died a quiet death without the president doing much to save it. I believe the same kind of preferential treatment that would have been given to big business under a Republican administration would also be bad for the country. Thank you to the members of this board for taking away my initial anti-union fire to remind me that even if this is not a piece of legislation I support, there are worse ideologies that could be represented by this administration.

  • Lynn

    Steve, your head has been in the books so long getting your degree you no longer have any common sense. Yeah, yeah, Obama is not a lefty – that’s why he’s so willing to secure the borders, right? Look at the unemployment rate- the stimulus didn’t work. There are still companies threatening layoffs each day. And no Steve, doing something is not always better than doing nothing- I can’t believe liberals can make that statement and really believe it. Conservatives like heavy job growth because that means people are working instead of living off the government. Tax cuts? When the Cap and Trade passes, kiss all those “tax cuts” goodbye – you’ll just be paying them in a different way. Obamacare takes 10 years of revenue for 6 years of expenses – can you do simple math with that fancy degree of yours? The government never runs anything at a profit – just look at the history of ss, medicare, etc.

  • Astonished

    Steve — Haven’t you heard? All those jobs that were supposedly created… weren’t! No they weren’t…it was a BIG LIE. One of many. Like Steve said, check out some real statistics.

    Try this one, for example:;
    or here;
    or here
    There are so many more…

    And RACISM? Are you kidding? I don’t think any of us care that he’s black — we care that he’s incompetent, inexperienced, and just plain ruining the country with his “rule”.

    O’s health care plan didn’t go as far as he wanted it to because so many people opposed it. But still he crammed it through. They didn’t want it to go farther! They didn’t want it at all!

    Obama is NOT a conservative anything. He is not conservative, period. What ARE you talking about?

  • Tom

    “Do you want someone to take care of you? Do you want someone to control every move you make? Do you want someone else to do your thinking for you? Sincere questions. Nik? Tom?”

    What does that have to do w/the article again? (Nothing)

    I wasn’t really confused by the way….I knew that you were talking about Bush, with the above comments that I quoted.

    Piece out, babe. I’m out.


  • Syl

    Oh Steve, Steve – here you go again…..

    Why is it that anyone who disagrees or dislikes Obama is labeled a “racist”. I was waiting for this and was glad that, although various different points of view, no one before you had mentioned this. You had to, didn’t you….

    Well, let me tell you, being a person of “color”, an immigrant who has loved ones who were raised and fled a communist country – to the beautiful & prosperous USA, I can assure you that with all your degrees, you are ignorant! Take the bliders off!!!

    I don’t care what you say or think – Obama is dangerous to this nation! I’ve worked hard in this country for the last four decades of my life. My husband and I have put ourselves and my kids through college. we have lived the “American dream” because of our hard work and dedication.

    Images of the “American Nightmare” are not in the very far distance. I can picture Obama, sitting with Castro, Noriega and Chavez over a beer on the White House Lawn – planning the American future – oh and with the Mexican President as an advisor on immigration laws…..

    Paranoid you say? Just wait and see…. I can only hope and pray that I am wrong!!!!

  • Stacy

    I keep seeing people call Obama a “Dictator”…was the Bush Administration any different?

    I don’t agree with a lot of things the President does, but that doesn’t mean armageddon will be here tomorrow either. Some of you act like any day now, soldiers will be marching down the streets of neighborhoods all over the US with guns and tanks, knocking down doors, and taking prisoner the people who don’t agree with the President’s policies. The President is the least of our worries, it’s CONGRESS, the SENATE and all these other uncessary government positions you should be worried about!!! The US is as far from Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Communisim as you can get. There are very intelligent people in this forum so ask yourselves….Have your liberties currently been altered in any way?? Those Isims NEVER have been in our country and likely never will. I think most of the “fear” in the US is not the policies of the current President, its just that the FACE of who can be President in this country has DRASTICALLY changed. Hey…..I’m just saying…………….

  • NF

    Steve – don’t believe everything you read and hear especially from the CBO, and by the way, you really need to educate your self in regards Marxism IS socialism because it is exactly what is being spewed out – out of Washington, just look at the idea of having all these Czar’s and their ideology that is helping form our present and future government.
    Please help keep out the hateful word of racism – all was well until you put that word into your comment. Obviously when it comes to the representation of this country – racism all ways has to come out not the fact that we want the truth and righteousness and fairness to what is correct – no, that is just plain and simple racism. Not to mention, we don’t have money to pay police officers a decent wage or hire more of them, let’s go ahead and let X amount of criminals out of jail because we can’t afford to keep them or to build more facilities so they can roam the streets to rob, kill and destroy what does not belong to them – but again that is racism because the majority of that population well, you know are not Anglo’s. I better stop, I know some of you are getting what I am trying to say and those that can’t or won’t, well – what can I say. I can see where this country is headed.

  • Jim

    HM you are missing the point again. Non-union miners were told to go work in an unsafe compromised environment and if they did not they would be replaced. Compromised because the company’s desire for expedience and increased profit over the safety of their workers was unchallenged. That miner has a family to feed and his/her choose is to risk their life or their family will suffer the consequences. I anticipate that you will say if they do not want to take that risk then they can quit and work somewhere else. Sounds good but in many of this areas this is the only employer in the area that offers a wage that will allow this miner to support their family There is a place for unions to protect the workers from these kinds of decisions. Nothing is perfect and that includes unions but your argument that all unions are bad and non-unions are good for example is too simplistic. The world is not that black and white. As long as you continue parroting talking points instead of thinking critically, thinking people will continue to marginalize your positions and your voice will be increasingly irrelevant. The answers will be found when we drop the B.S. and start talking to each other instead of zero sum games that are being played by dialogs. Best of luck to you.

  • steve

    In the first place Obama has done much more on the problem of illegal immigration than has Bush. This is a fact. Bush did nothing while Obama made good on his promise to stop illegal immigration. He has deported more illegals in two years than Bush did in eight. In essence, the Obama policy is the Bush policy on steroids.

    As far as health care reform is concerned it was enormously popular as a concept. Even tea partiers won’t give up their Medicare. Most people think that the government should be involved in the health care system and want regulation of insurance companies and cost controls. Many want a single payer system. Most people aren’t happy with their health care policies; how could they be with rates soaring between 18% and 54%. A CNN poll from late March 2010, shows that 59% of those polled opposed Obamacare while 39% supported it (2% were unsure). But when those who opposed it were asked why 16% said it didn’t go far enough while 43% said it went too far. In terms of overall health care reform, the poll shows 55% of Americans wanted either Obamacare or something more radical while most of the rest oppose it. I must say that those people were probably influenced by the millions spent on negative ad campaigns and hysteria generated about “death panels” and “socialism.” Despite all the right wing lies, most still want some form of health care reform.

    As far as I’m concerned the stimulus worked and would have worked even better had it been double the size and spent faster. The private sector isn’t ready to invest because of tight and credit and a lack of effective consumer demand. I trust the CBO stats but not the right wing smears by people like Mr. Issa. The economy is turning around slowly but will take time considering the big hole punched in the US economy by Mr. Bush and Wall Street.

    Disagreeing with Obama is not racist. Drumming up hateful hysteria based on smears, lies and ugly propaganda is racist. Showing up to tea party rallies with pictures of Obama with a bone throught his nose or as Hitler is racist. The GOP has been stirring up violent animosity for some time and they will bear the responsibility for the violence should it break out in earnest.

  • Syl

    Well, if I read the original topic of this posting – it was about the threat of Unions.

    It appears that there is quite a bit of sentiment about our new administration, since we are way off topic now, talking about health care reform, illegal immigration, which BTW, it looks like Steve is in another planet, as he made the comment: “Obama made good on his promise to stop illegal immigration.” – the most ridiculous and ludicrous statement printed on this forum so far – ask any LEGAL, law-abiding resident in Arizona! Watch the news from California, Mexicans are PO’d with Obama because he is not “keeping his promise” to give illegals US Citizenship.

  • Weary

    Steve – “Drumming up hateful hysteria based on smears, lies and ugly propaganda” is NOT racism.

    This is RACISM: 1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others. 2.a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination. 3.hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

    This is DELUSION: a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.

    Heavy sigh.

    And yes, this is way off topic now.

  • steve

    I actually meant that Obama made good on his promise to try and stop illegal immigration; I never said he actually succeeded. Don’t forgot that every problem we have now, including illegal immigration, either began or worsened during Bush’s eight years in office. I believe he is making more of an effort than did Bush. Your statement that “…Mexicans are PO’d with Obama because he is not “keeping his promise” to give illegals US Citizenship.” is an interesting admission on your part that actually proves my point. Rather than accomidate demands for amnesty, Obama is pushing ahead with more deportations and possibly an immigration bill that penalizes employers for hiring illegals and other stern measures.

    By the way, I have never regarded unions as a threat. Unions have done much for our society including built a US middle class whose increased purchasing power and pent up savings from during early 1940s, gave rise to a virtually uninterrupted 30 year post-WWII economic boom. Unions further ensured better safety and working conditions for working people. They also fought for social legislation providing income supports for the poor and unemployed and achieved the eight hour working day.

    Unions gave most Americans dignity as workers and citizens. Unions are a vital part of any democracy. It is naive to assume that it was unions that drove US corporations and jobs abroad. This occured most heavily in the 1980s and 1990s, an incredible time of real wage deceleration and union decline. The best book on this is Kim Moody’s An Injury to All: The Decline of American Unionism. Moody points out that the average wage differential between union and non-union wages dropped from 30% in 1979 to 25% in 1985. High chronic unemployment and the resulting pressures for concessionary bargaining led to this trend. Moody further points out that there was a rapid slowdown in union benefit and wage gains. The gap between union and non-union wages began continued to narrow throughout the 1980s (and thereafter). The most important point Moody makes is that the comparable rates in the growth of employment costs for all workers, both union and non-union, were 24% for 180-83 and 10% for 1983-86. In addition, real average wages fell faster during the 1980s than the 1970s despite a marked drop in the annual rate of inflation. Taking into consideration these facts, it is impossible to blame unions for the shift in jobs overseas. The corporate search for ever cheaper labor and the resulting higher profits is a structural feature of globalization.

  • NF

    Syl ………………….I’m witt u man!…… you are right on the money! on all your comments!
    have a great weekend!

  • Mary

    Steve – you’re as far left as you could be. Not surprising. Although your degree is in political science “UW-Madison law students are some of the most liberal in the country, according to a ranking by the Princeton Review” in 2009 and “The schools that beat UW-Madison (in liberal ranking) are: City University of New York – Queens College, Northeastern University, Lewis & Clark College, American University, New York University, University of Oregon and University of California-Berkeley.” So, as we say in the South, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

    Folks, we waste our breath on Steve and other like-minded liberals because as the elitists they are, they know what’s best for us and that’s more government (and unions) to direct, control and take care of the rest of us who don’t know what’s best for us. Thank you very much Steve and others like him – I’ll take my chances on my own as guaranteed to me by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the freedoms our forefathers foughts so hard to ensure for our generation and the others to come. DON’T TREAD ON ME! Everyone, vote in November and in every election from now on. Remember – elections have consequences – and – FREEDOM ISN’T FREE.

  • NF

    Weary……!!!!!!!!!!!! touché !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • HM

    For Jim — my father was a union coal miner — because many are not exposed to the deception and cruelty of the union element it is difficult to fathom but let me assure you that it did and does exist as much as we would all like to believe that unions are “always” out to improve conditions for the working stiffs. It is my position that there are many federal and state laws to protect workers today — perhaps there are industries that need more regulaton but unions are not the way to go — trust me — I lived through the brick throwing and threats. It’s time to take off the rose colored glasses and understand that many folks who begin looking out for others end up looking out for themselves. Last week I spoke with a young man working in a large chain and what he told me about how great it was going to be when the union took over made me cringe — where he got that clap trap I will never know but it was what he believed. Enjoyed the exchange. Good luck to ya.

  • steve


    You seem to be more interested in labeling, smearing and spewing rage than in actually addressing my arguments head on as others have done and as I have done with other people’s arguments. Using terms like “elitist” is just parroting meaningless tea party buzz words. I also don’t think its especially fair to tell the other people here that I’m a waste of time; from what I can see I’m the only one who really takes the time to post informed and well researched comments. I like good argumentation not mindless, kneejerk and emotional spouting of angry rhetoric. Tell me, are the millions of workers who formed and joined unions “elitists” because they wanted fair treatment and a better life? To me, forming a union or demanding social legislation is an effective way of taking care of one’s self and one’s family. All these rights, unions and the right to seek a decent standard of living, are constitutionally guaranteed; the commerce clause was successfully used to argue for most of these rights by FDR’s Supreme Court. Unions are also protected by one’s right to freedom of association.

    Mary, you’ve seemed to pack more cliches into one short post than I think I’ve ever seen. Instead of reading the Princeton Review’s ranking of universities by ideology, why not read something that’s actually educational?

    PS. The 2009 issue of the Princeton Review is much too updated to give you UW-Madison’s proper ideological ranking for the time that I attended. Back then it would have been further up at the very top along with University of California-Berkeley.

  • Vicky

    Mary – you are right. Thanks, again.

    Hasn’t this been fun!

  • Janny

    Steve – you have been doing exactly what you’re accusing Mary of doing.

    And those aren’t “tea-party” buzz words. Now THAT’s buzzing.

    About your facts — it just depends on your source, doesn’t it?

    A good majority of employees join unions because they have no choice (like my husband, who has been in two because his job was union whether he liked it or not — and he doesn’t like it!)

    By the way — key words in your statement are “the right TO SEEK” — as in the “PURSUIT of happiness” — meaning we have the right to go after those things, but we aren’t guaranteed them. We have to work for them, they are earned. We shouldn’t expect our government to guarantee our happiness and wealth and welfare.

  • DLS

    I’m dead set against unions, but I also agree with Stuart.

  • steve

    By the way, Astonished, according to a recent report by the Illinois Department of Labor, over 50,000 new jobs have been created in the State of Illinois so far this year. That’s quite a few jobs in under two quarters for just one state. That’s pretty good for just one state indicating that many other states also had respectable rates of net job growth. A gradual recovery now seems to underway. Nationwide, I’d say the CBO estimates of over 2 million jobs saved or created is not far off the mark. Do you think the state Labor Departments are lying too?

  • Jim

    HM I see that you have had a personal experience with unions and it was not a good one. I can appreciate that. However, you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. If you have a bad experience with a particular race does that mean that all people of that race are bad. Of course not. If you bought a Ford and it turned out to be a lemon. Does that mean that all Fords are lemons? No. If your only reference point is your personal experiences and nothing else, I can appreciate that but I think we all need to keep growing and educating ourselves and work every day to keep the blinders off. I also enjoyed the exchange. Have a great weekend.

  • Mary

    . . . “500 SEIU goons showed up on the front porch of a house belonging to a Bank of America Executive. The man’s 14 year old son was home alone and, fearing for his life, barricaded himself into a bathroom.”

    Read the rest here:

  • ZS

    Wow – I find it amazing how quickly people forget the Bush administration. I’m not going to remind you about the debt or war or unemployment or anything because you would just pawn it off as someone else’s issue because you have bought the Fear Monger’s rhetoric hook, line, and sinker. Bush had to fix Clinton’s mess? Really? FYI – Medicare and Medicaid were decried as “Socialist plots to overturn America” by the Republican Party when they introduced…. sound familiar?

    Anyhoo – Unions served the purpose of enforcing a “moral code” of sorts – pay people wages thay could live on, provide protective gear, give employees days off…. and it was good that they were there to stand up for workers as there were no other protections. I do question whether or not they are needed now. In this economic climate, is it really the best thing to be demanding raises or increased benefits when companies are struggling to stay viable? Lack of ethics has always been the biggest problem for workers, but with the protections provided now (yes, thanks to Unions) do we still need them? Just like the Electoral College – served its purpose, but not needed anymore.

  • steve

    I read about the protest of 500 SEIU members at the home of Greg Baer. It was unfortunate that his 14 year old son was unintentionally frightened by the crowd. But the protest remained peaceful. Compare this to tea party death threats to elected officials, numerous obscene phone calls to legislators, the cutting of a gas line to the home of Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother, just days after his address was posted online by Virgina Tea Party members (as were the addresses of many targeted elected officials), and the bullets through Eric Cantor’s campaign office window in Richmond, Va and the SEIU protest is pretty civilized by comparison.

    The protesters had legitimate grievances even if their tactics were questionable. From the Huffington Post which was the only source I could find discussing the issues at the protest;

    “Bank of America came to the homes of everyday Americans when you spread predatory loans in neighborhoods across, the country, when you financed payday-lending storefronts, when your reckless behavior sent the economy to the brink of disaster…”

    There was also anger about the banking sector’s frequent refusal to modify the mortgages of distressed homeowners, cap credit card interest rates, obstruction of financial reform in Congress and reluctance to makes loans to small businesses despite receiving hundreds of billions in federal bailout assistance.

    The tea party movement lies. They are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts!! Here are the facts regarding Obama.

    “Obama passed 25 separate tax cuts including $300 billion in middle class tax cuts — one of the largest in history – as part of the stimulus package. Unlike President Bush’s 2001 tax cuts, which went to the wealthiest 2.2%, President Obama’s tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit working and middle class families — in fact, 95% of all Americans.”

    According to a 2008 Drum Major Institute for Public Policy nationwide poll, 68% of those polled, including the majority who self-identified as Republicans, support “card check” and the right of workers to join a union. It seems most Americans still see the constructive relevance of labor unions.

  • HHR

    I fully agree with ZS. It’s funny that people complain about the Obama Administration’s power when the Cheney-Bush administration became one of the most dangerous in recent times. Pallets of billions of dollars shipped to Iraq that suddenly disappeared. No bid contracts mostly all going to Haliburton, neglect of many key programs, etc.

  • Stacy

    I look at Westchester County NY, they are in financial trouble because of Unions but no one will say this out loud. Lots of people who have been employed with the county a long time are making lots of money and make another year’s salary in just OT alone. They pay virtually nothing for their benefits and now they are cutting OT and proposing employees pay a small percentage everyone is crying and the Union is right out front with their demands. Can someone explain to me why Government Jobs are Unionized? That….I don’t get because the Government is supposed to be doing everything within regulation.

  • steve

    I agree with ZS and HHR. Bush was a disaster. He turned the Clinton surplus of nearly a quarter trillion dollars into a deficit and then proceded to double the national debt over the next eight years. Bush lost millions of jobs during his term, the first president to actually do so. Clinton created over 20 million jobs on his watch. No one disputes that Clinton’s economy was superior to Bush’s.

    Clinton also gave tax cuts such as the 1997 Tax Payers Relief Act which cut taxes over five years by $95 billion and gave relief across the board to the middle class and working poor instead of just the upper 10% like Bush’s tax cuts. Clinton’s revision of the rules for taxing home sales, with tax exemptions on profits from the sale of a personal residence of up to $500,000 for married couples filing jointly and $250,000 for singles, made housing the least taxed investment in the country. It did as much to spur the housing market as did Greenspan’s low real interest rates.

    Clinton’s foreign policy was also better. He treated terrorism as a criminal justice issue not a military one. Hence, we avoided two needless, costly wars that we’re still fighting while Clinton’s anti-terrorism efforts led to the capture, trial, imprisonment or death of every terrorist involved in terror attacks during his presidency. Bush allowed 9/11 to occur despite repeated warnings from the FBI and other agencies. He used this event as an excuse to go to war in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11, and allow GOP affiliated multinational corporations to rake in billions in war profiteering.

    I believe that the right wing attacks on Clinton, Obama and other Democrats are based on lies, distortions, hysteria and hatred. People should actually study the facts.

  • steve

    I have just examined the CSEA unit 9,200 five year contract for 2006-20011. I saw nothing unreasonable about it considering how expensive it is to live in NY. They are hardly bankrupting the state. This years pay schedual for lower level employees (C-1 to C-5) ranges from $30,725.00 to $36,520.00. For the mid-range (C-6 to C-10) its $39,485.00 to $56,640.00. And for the upper range (C-11 to C-15) its $60,565.00 to $91.430.00. There seems to be an average 3.5% increase annually for the life of the contract which is slightly above the average rate of inflation although for NY it may be about equal to it. Here is a copy of the contract.

    The union has been quite agreeable. Their pay increases just keep up with the cost of living. The County has a $166 million deficit and is looking to save up to $19 million a year with employee buyouts. An agreement will probably be reached. There were only a small number of individuals which abused the overtime pay to pump up their retirement benefits. Most Westchester County public employees got little or no overtime. It seems to be mostly cops and firefighters working overtime to compensate for understaffing due to budget cutbacks for all levels of local government. These problems exist everywhere.

    Every state in the country has a budget crisis. The total state and local budget deficits in the country reaches into the hundreds of billions. This is not the fault of “overpaid” workers but of a very long recession costing trillions in output and taxable income as well as the cumulative effect of over $2.2 trillion in tax cuts for the rich under Bush as well as the money wasted on two wars. Were it not for all this, there would be little, if any, fiscal crisis anywhere.

  • Janny

    steve – the rest of us believe the other way around. I’m checking out of this pointless discussion, and it appears others have also. Did someone mention DELUSION?

  • steve


    Though it is off topic I wanted to address your remarks about racism. Here’s is the relevant part of your post,

    Steve – “Drumming up hateful hysteria based on smears, lies and ugly propaganda” is NOT racism.

    “This is RACISM: 1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others. 2.a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination. 3.hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”

    This is a very narrow definition of racism. It focuses on discrimination mostly at a systemic level and excludes the possibility that many acts and statements by individuals or groups of individuals, even when subtle, can often be racist or have racist content. No president has endured the hatred and intolerance that Obama has. No other president has had his very legitimacy questioned, even Bush after stealing the 2000 election. The hysterical intolerance of Obama, especially since it is based on so many lies, as I have adequately shown, must be seen to be based on strong racial bias.

  • Mary

    Steve – UNBELIEVABLE. So, Bush “allowed” 9/11 to occur?? How dare you? You have no credibility and are WAY out of touch with the majority of the American public for which you have such disdain.

  • Carl

    wow steve – I hope you’re not doing all this research on work time, or your employer is really getting ripped off.

    You mention hysteria a lot. I think you’re the one who is hysterical. Oh, yes, and delusional, as someone mentioned above. Seriously. And racist too, according to your own definition.

    Furthermore, dislike of a president and disagreement with his policies DO NOT consititute “hatred and intolerance”. If so, I bet that would have been YOU when all the Bush-bashing was happening – I bet you were a big part of that. And none of it has anything to do with Obama’s race – hello! You’re the only one bringing that up. A little sensitive and denfensive, are we? that you can find hints of racism in everything. YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM, steve.

    One more thing – your research isn’t all that credible considering your sources. Anyone can find documentation to back up their own opinion.

  • steve

    “…dislike of a president and disagreement with his policies DO NOT consititute “hatred and intolerance”.

    All other things being equal, this is certainly true. But when you accuse a Black president of being a “socialist” when he continued bailouts for Wall Street Banks and then publically stated that he doesn’t begrudge them their earnings and bonuses because after all we have a capitalist system, then, YES, you are a racist. You are definately a racist!! Never before has there been such violence and hysteria against anyone in office, not Nixon, not Clinton, not Kennedy, no one except Obama. The amazing thing is that absolutely everything he is now doing has been done before with bipartisan support. Fiscal stimulus is not new. Financial reform is not new. We had it for decades and it worked and in fact many of the recent reforms were proposed by Paul Volcker, Reagan’s Fed Chairman. The health insurance mandate isn’t so odd either. It probably wouldn’t be necessary in the first place if the GOP didn’t stupidly oppose the Medicare buyin and the public option. So we go the insurance Mandate as an alternative which the health insurance companies support!! Are they socialists too?? The idea of the insurance mandate is to broaden and diversify the national risk pool to keep costs down. The GOP left people no other alternative. And, yes, there is a health care crisis and it needed to be addressed. We couldn’t do nothing.

    PS. And Bush was negligent regarding the 9/11 crisis. Read Forbidden Truth: US-Taliban Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden. by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie. I believe the 9/11 Commission Report also substantiates my claims to some extent.

  • Vicky

    steve — IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH OBAMA BEING BLACK! IT’S NOT ABOUT HIS COLOR! If he was white and doing what he’s doing, we would all still feel the same way. We don’t care that he’s black! It’s about his policies and actions. Being against socialism is NOT racism! Are you impaired in some way?!

    Like Carl says, you’re the one sounding hysterical. All the things you’re talking about has nothing to do with racism. It seems like you’re just looking to add insult to injury — wait, this would make YOU the one “Drumming up hateful hysteria”. You’ve become one of those who find racism where there is none. And you make up your own meanings to fit what you want it to be. Unbelievable.

  • steve

    No one is understanding what I am saying. It isn’t just a matter of disagreement with Obama. The mere fact that people refer to him as a “socialist” when there is no reason to is an unprecedented smear and absurd. This allegation is clearly false. Also, the birther movement, the accusation that he is a Muslim, a terrorist and myriad other things is also baseless and absurd. There has also been a lot of subtle racial inuendo in attacks on Obama, especially by the tea party which is infiltrated in some places and to some extent by KKK, Neo-Nazis and other extremists. There’s no question that they feed off each other.

    Also, to those who think I was off base to accuse the Bush Administration of negligence on 9/11 here’s something interesting:

    “When Coleen Rowley was an FBI agent in Minneapolis, her office got a lead just three weeks before 9-11: A known Islamic extremist named Zacarias Moussaoui had paid $8000 in cash for lessons to fly a Boeing 747. Rowley’s team arrested him and wanted a warrant to search his laptop computer but Rowley’s superiors at FBI headquarters said “no.” After 9/11, when it became clear that more could have been done, Rowley wrote FBI Director Robert Mueller a letter pointing out that “no one will ever know” the impact the computer search would have had calling his defense of the agency a “rush to judgment to protect the FBI at all costs.” She testified in a Senate hearing a few weeks later. She was chosen by TIME magazine as one of their Persons of the Year in 2002.”

    I strongly disagree with conspiracy mongers that Bush was actually responsible for 9/11; this is preposterous. But I think that it is entirely plausible he looked the other way since his Administration benefited from the political capital derived from the 9/11 attacks allowing him to eventually invade not only Afghanistan (where the chance to capture bin Laden at Tora Bora literally became an aborted mission) but Iraq with its plentiful supply of cheap, easily accessible oil.

    Here’s from a 2008 article in the Washington Post.

    “In the absence of Iraqi supplies, prices have soared three-and-a-half-fold since the U.S. invasion on March 20, 2003. (Last week, they shattered all previous records, even after adjusting for inflation.) The profits of the five biggest Western oil companies have jumped from $40 billion to $121 billion over the same period.”

  • Carl

    It’s not false — he wants this nation to be socialized. And the tea party people can’t control who all “joins” them. It’s not a club, it’s a movement. And there are plenty of wackos to go around for all parties.

    If NO ONE is understanding what you’re saying, could the problem be with you?

  • Mary

    Steve – From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. Karl Marx … the ultimate promoter of wealth redistribution. Obama is MOST CERTAINLY a Socialist.

  • steve

    I just wondered what some of the hrmorning readers thought about this recent study by Kate Bronfenbrenner of the Economic Policy Institute surveying employer reactions to NLRB elections to certify unions in a large number of cases between 1999 and 2003. The study is called No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing. It was published in 2009.

    One of the findings was that, “one-third of employers fire workers for union activity during NLRB certification campaigns.”

    This study covered five years from 1/1/99 to 12/31/03. It involved a thorough survey of primary NLRB documents concerning a random sample of 1,004 NLRB certification elections during this time and a survey of 562 union certification campaigns conducted with that same sample. Some further key findings were:

    “…employers threatened to close the plant in 57% of elections, discharged workers in 34%, and threatened to cut wages and benefits in 47% of elections. Workers were forced to attend anti-union one-on-one sessions with a supervisor at least weekly in two-thirds of elections. In 63% of elections employers used supervisor one-on-one meetings to interrogate workers about who they or other workers supported, and in 54% used such sessions to threaten workers.”

    One of Bronfenbrenner’s most telling and interesting conclusions was that;

    …[A] combination of threats, interrogation, surveillance, and harassment has ensured that there is no such thing as a democratic “secret ballot” in the NLRB certification election process. The progression of actions the employer has taken can ensure that the employer knows exactly which way every worker plans to vote long before the election takes place. In fact, as our data show, many of the employer campaigns were in full swing more than a month before the petition was even filed. Although most of these actions are illegal, the penalties are minimal…”

    Here is the link:

    This is the reason to support EFCA. It would eliminate these problems.

  • steve

    In the first place, Obama never said, or acted as though he believed, that wealth distribution was good or that he followed Marx’s teachings. That is just more tea party lies and hysteria. And though the tea parties certainly can’t control who comes to each and every rally, they certainly don’t discourage fascist elements and even encourage them with their violent rhetoric. Here’s a recent report on how this has gotten so out of hand, it’s put a strain on the FBI and other law enforcement;

    “Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) were threatened with assassination. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) were threatened with bodily harm. Someone told Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) that her throat would be cut. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) was told someone would physically “f—- her up” if she held a town hall meeting in her district, according to the FBI files. There may have been more threats — the FBI won’t release information on investigations that are still open — and there will likely be more this year; Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer says threats against members of Congress were up 300 percent in the first few months of 2010…In fiscal year 2009, dignitary protection was provided at 139 congressional events, a nearly 100 percent increase over 2008.”

    The allegations that Obama is a “socialist” is just more lies believed by low information voters who only watch FOX News. Here is a famous quote from Obama during the Wall Street bailout controversy:

    “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”…His comments come just days after 2009 bonus packages were announced for Dimon [JPMorgan-Chase $17 million bonus] and Blankfein [Goldman, Sachs $9 million bonus].”

    If Obama is a socialist, he’s an awful strange one. Sounds like the only redistribution of wealth he favors is from the poor to the rich. Karl Marx believed that redistribution should move in the opposite direction. I personally believe redistribution of income and wealth would be a good thing; it is equitable considering that they economy has only worked for the rich over the past three decades. Furthermore, highly concentrated economies are slower growing so that redistribution would help create jobs and spur growth. This would lower the deficit by creating jobs, growth and taxable income. In the long run, it would actually lower not raise the federal deficit because growth and output provide more tax revenue. Supply side economics doesn’t work.

    “…if the government borrows to put people to work creating long-term investments that increase the productivity of the U.S. economy, like infrastructure and education, then it is in a much better situation. The income generated by the more productive economy, as well as by the newly employed workers, can help to provide the tax revenue to service the debt.”

    Maybe you guys should try some different sources of information. You might find the progressive thinkers refreshing.

  • Carl

    steve – maybe YOU should try some different sources. Sounds like you’re full of hysteria and hate for fox news and the tea party movement and basically anything that speaks out against your way of thinking. We think your ‘side’ if full of lies and propoganda and deceit, and we can come up with just as much documentation as you can — but gosh, the rest of us are actually working. You can quote all the sources you want, but you lost credibility way up the line. And the main stream media lost it credibility years ago, except for those people who want desparately to believe their lies. Like you. It’s obvious how threatened you all feel by fox news and conservative talk radio and the tea party.

    I really have to stick with work now. You know, so my wealth can be redistributed to the lazy and the illegals.

  • Sam

    steve – You are really amazing! You make your points backed up by data, study’s, and etc. Then you say “I believe much of the insane hollering about Obama’s allegedly being a “leftist” is a kneejerk response to the fact that he’s Black. In essence, it is simply racism.” Your objectivity and ability to think rationally is just totally blown.

    Many , (most) of you liberals simply can not get past the fact that our President is black and your own prejudice against people who did not support him in the election. You conclude that since Obama is black and we don’t like him ergo we must be racist. You ignore the fact that many of us have not supported previous liberal politicians like Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Carter and others because we thought that much of their agenda was socialist. Look, certainly their are people out there who would not vote for Obama simply because of his skin color. There are also those who voted for him only because of his skin color. In my simple mind these are both examples of racist behavior by your definition.

    Mr. Obama’s campaign was not aimed at getting my vote. When I listened to him and evaluated what he was saying I decided that I and people like me would suffer if all of his policy;s came true. It was our little savings that would end up getting redistributed.

    American Citizens have every right to get upset about a “leftist” or “rightist” but I have not seen any negative behavior towards Obama that remotely approaches that of that toward George Bush.

    I support the right of workers to unionize and also the right of companies to campaign against unionization. After all the legal and illegal stuff is done by both sides, it must come down to a secret ballot.

  • MS

    Steve – sorry to discourage you, but it is an excercise in futility to try to have a balanced exchange of ideas in this forum. The fact that no one challenged Martin in his suggestion that ” a violent overthrow” may be the solution to the “problem” of the current administration should have told you all anyone needs to know about the majority of the posters to HR Morning. Of course I’m not referring to those few of you who have stated your positions without resorting to denigrating others who differ in opinion.

    Stacy – whatever else we may disagree about, I appreciate your earlier question for those calling Obama a “dictator” “…was the Bush administration any different?” I also agree that armageddon will not be here tomorrow, nor will there be soldiers marching down the streets relieving us of our rights (or our possesions). After this administration there will be another that may be better (or worst) than what we have now, and after that, yet another and so it goes. We have been through better and we have been through worse as human beings. It’s how we handle the hardships in life that shows our true measure as people.

    Vicky – a word about sounding hysterical. You may want to reconsider the use of all caps in your posts. It is widely regarded by email users as shouting.

  • Vicky

    Sam – thank you. You summed up pretty succintly what others are trying to tell steve.

  • steve

    I don’t know. I’ve never considered Bloomberg News (a big business blog), The FBI, the Washington Post and New York Times and mainstream academic Keynesian economists to be over the top radicals. They are all pretty establishment. But they are educated and quite professional. Most of all, they back up thier assertions with facts, sound analysis and documentation. After all, they do have reputations to protect. Their livelihoods heavily depend on their credibility.

    Fox News and right wing talk radio is not even regarded as professional journalism; it’s “infotainment.” Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the rest don’t have to defend their reputations except as reliable right wing, bile spewing, frenzied haters. They twist facts and deliberately mislead for the desired effect. And of course, the whole thing is driven by money not the desire to be professional journalists. Glenn Beck actually admitted this when he famously asserted, “I could give a flying crap about the political process…We’re an entertainment company.”

    By the way, this quote comes from that most “socialist” of sources, Forbes.

  • NJ

    “Most” of “you liberals” are not any more obsessed with Obama’s race than the conservatives are. However, it takes PSY101 (or reading “The Race Card”- statistically sound political science, presented at a very conservative university, if that gives it any credibility) to know that people have a reaction to race even if it is not consciously acted on. However, when that reaction is “verified” by fear mongering and extreme rhetoric, the reactions are allowed to come to the surface as a reaction to something else. We can see how extreme they can be just by just looking at a news report (be it CNN or FOX). It is not at all that people who did not vote for Obama (or even people who do not like Obama) are racist. Of course it is not that at all. Financial conservatism is to be respected, and many have religious priorities or care more about small governemnt than other issues. It is that the frenzy and disgust in reaction to his actions and policies are out of proportion which leads me to believe that there is something else going on besides a healthcare bill and a stimulus package. Exaggerated lables and talk of a violent overthow on this board of educated professionals is case in point.

    I know I digess and I had very much wanted to be a part of a discussion about union rights, but I felt that someone had to at least attempt to retain some sliver of respect for that particular point of Steve’s. However, I imagine that I have little credibility as I have been promptly labeled as “liberal”… I appreciate those here who are not taking blind party lines and are continuing to be respectful.

  • steve


    There has never been a US President to advocate anything like socialism or pursue such policies. Sarah Palin and her ridiculous sidekick “Joe the Plumber” went around wrongly smearing Obama with the socialist label for pure partisan advantage and a lot of people with low education levels bought it. A socialist doesn’t give billions in bailouts to investment bankers, cut taxes by hundreds of billions across the board or give small business tax credits to stimulate job creation (a supply side measure). The socialist smear was to stir up hate and hysteria and it worked. One reason it worked so well is telling of the incredible extent of racism among those who bought into the tea party smears and lies.

  • Sam

    Steve – Give me a break. Socialism covers a lot of ground. Certainly the change promised fits the definition of socialism far better than conservatism or even liberalism.

    ” A rose by any other name is still a rose” or

    “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck”

    At first I would agree that the bailouts did not sound like a socialist thing to do until you look at the strings attached. Now that may not be fair because I would not want bailouts with out some control, but still the government influence is now being felt with more reform and controls in the works.

    You still can not get past race. Steve, conservatives just do not like politicians with liberal or socialist agendas it has nothing to do with their color.

  • Vicky

    Sam – exactly. Quack!

    steve – You sound terrified — here is just some of your “rhetoric” you keep repeating:

    fear mongering, panic driven, hysterics, hysteria, hateful hysteria, alarmist, insane hollering, kneejerk response, racism, alarmism and hatred, paranoia, stirring up violent animosity, labeling, smearing and spewing rage, parroting meaningless tea party buzz words, Fear Monger’s rhetoric, “right wing attacks, lies, distortions”, hysteria and hatred, hatred and intolerance, hysterical intolerance, racial bias, violence and hysteria, unprecedented smear and absurd, racial inuendo in attacks, conspiracy mongers, “right wing, bile spewing, frenzied haters”, “smear was to stir up hate and hysteria”, racism among those who bought into the tea party smears and lies, incredible extent of racism…

  • steve

    Socialism doesn’t cover as much ground as you think. You don’t actually know what it is anyhow you just mindlessly use it as a smear tactic. The idea that there were strings attached to the bailout money is preposterous!! What strings?? There should have been but there wasn’t. These guys took the money and did exactly what they wanted with it. They voted themselves raises, bonuses and refused to cap interest rates on credit cards, use any of the hundreds of billions they now have in reserves to loan to small business or to engage in meaningful mortgage loan modification to stem the tide of foreclosures and save the economy and the housing market. The fact that you accuse the government of attaching to many strings to the bailout money is absurd. By the way, GM paid off its loan to the federal government and most of the money they got went to upgrade their auto plants in northern Mexico where labor is cheaper rather than to reopen US plants and create jobs here. Guess there was no strings attached there either.

    The government has every right to attach stringent conditions to bailouts just like private banks do with loans to their borrowers. It’s the taxpayers money. Obama has coddled these fat cats to an extent no other president ever did and he’s called a “socialist” for his trouble. The problem was that these businesses were viewed by everybody as too big to fail. That’s why they got the incredible bailout money they got.

    Government influence has never been smaller. During the most of the early post WWII era, federal budgets were about 25% to 30% of the GDP; during Reagan, Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush it went down to between 20% and 25% of GDP (mostly due to the military spending); today Obama’s federal budget is just about 16% of US GDP and would be even smaller if he was allowed to spend more stimulus money to restart growth and output. The CBO has shown that 42% of the current federal budget deficit is due to lost output and the recession, not spending.

    You also made this statement.

    “You ignore the fact that many of us have not supported previous liberal politicians like Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Carter and others because we thought that much of their agenda was socialist.”

    No you didn’t support these white Democrats either but neither did you engage in hysterical, shrill, angry, defamatory smear campaigns against them branding them socialist and holding obnoxious tea party rallies. Interestingly, you just admitted to thinking the four above mentioned white men, all but one from the South, were “socialists,” which is a pretty insane accusation by anyone’s imagination. But if that is true, why no shrill campaign against them? Why no tea parties during Carter or Clinton (who was more pro-Wall Street than Reagan)?

    With all due respect I really don’t think you and your crowd have the faintest idea of what you’re talking about. But you sure are doing a lot of damage to this country in a time of great distress.

  • cmh

    Steve, for what it’s worth, I want to marry you. I NEVER post on these sites, but I’m making an exception. I am amazed at the number of reasonably educated (I would guess they are working professionals in HR with computers) people who can so blatantly persist in their talking points in the face of cited sources and clear information to the contrary. The funniest part of this whole string was your subtle, reasoned, patient, detailed, supported, and relatively emotionless explanations, and then the hysterics crying out “no YOU’RE the one being hysterical” in all caps, etc. Quoting all of yur crazy liberal sources like Forbes and Bloomberg. Quite amusing. Thanks for the diversion at the end of a long day. I only check this forum because I find it so hilariously infuriating.

  • jim

    I have just finished reading all the comments and I can only come to one conclusion. Steve uses facts to make his points (other than the race comment) and the rest of the comments are rooted in opinion. Steve wins hands down. We all have the right to our own opinion but not to our own facts. FOX NEWS talking points more times than not do not fare well in the light of day. The truth will set us free, that is if one truly wants to be free. Too many people do not want to think critically for themselves, it takes hard work. They would rather let someone else tell them how to think. It’s the lazy person’s way of doing thing. Our country is getting lazier by the day. That is why most of the comments were about race and not about the bigger picture. Race always dumb down the dialogue.
    God Bless

  • NJ

    Vicky- Fear is a natural reaction to talk of a violent overthrow in a country that has peacefully changed govenments more times than any other on the planet. Fear is a natural reaction to our legislators of both parties needing protection from angry mobs.

  • Vicky

    NJ — did you notice that everyone else on here pretty much ignored that person and his comment about a violent overthrow. I wouldn’t worry too much about that one.

    steve, there you go again: “hysterical, shrill, angry, defamatory smear campaigns against them branding them socialist and holding obnoxious tea party rallies” You are wearing me out, and I’m to the point where I’m laughing out loud at YOUR hysterical reaction. You and cmh sound like a match made in heaven. (or would that be Eutopia?)

    Have a good Memorial Day weekend, Americans. We’re fortunate to have the freedoms we have. Including the freedom to blast each other on the internet.

  • steve


    “Quack!!” What an articulate way to refute an argument!! I should have tried that one with the thesis committee during my MA thesis defense at the University of Wisconsin 25 years ago but unfortunately it just didn’t occur to me.

    cmh (thanks for the marriage proposal!), jim, NJ,

    Thanks for your kind support. You folks are great!!

  • Mary

    Steve – what a condescending response to Vicky! Again, I hope Vicky and others will join me with apologies to you for not being as well educated (your assumption) or as astute as you with regard to what is happening in this Country. Obviously, our facts are invalid because they do not agree with yours – you have heard of 3 sides to a story – your side, my side and the truth. I will leave it at that.

    I belive the USA is exceptional — head and shoulders above all other countries in the world. I believe in the uniqueness of the individual and thank God that those of us that live in this Country have freedom and the choice to do whatever we choose in the pursuit of happiness. No one is guaranteed “happiness” or “success” – only the freedom to pursue it – something that is non-existant in most other countries. There’s a reason so many people all over the world want to emigrate here. So, on that note, let us all remember this weekend the sacrifices so many have made to keep us free.

    Steve, I’m afraid I will just have to end the conversation by agreeing to disagree with you.

  • steve


    I couldn’t help it. The “quack” thing was just annoying. I guess I just don’t have the depth of appreciation of the old, McCarthy era red baiting cliches like “If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck…” Next think you’ll tell me is that the labor movement is full of commies.

    I do believe that the US is a good country. But we can improve it, especially for millions of people who work hard and don’t receive their just due. I certainly don’t think the US is “exceptional.” It’s better than many other places but there are several other countries that actually have higher standards of living and better conditions for the majority of the people and not just a few. I also don’t agree that opportunity and freedom is non-existant in most other countries. This is an unquestioned myth perpetrated by those who often question the patriotism of those critical of various aspects of US society.

    I agree that many people from all over the world immigrate to the US and with good reason. America is a relatively good place to live. But don’t forget that a country as large and powerful as the US has a determining effect on social, political and economic conditions in the rest of the world. America has greatly affected the economic and political situation in many other countries and regions of the world with military intervention, covert operations against foreign governments, labor displacing direct foreign investment and neo-liberal free trade policies. The US has a quarter of the world’s GDP, half of all global stock market value and the largest military in the world bar none with over 100 military bases scattered around the world. Our global impact is enormous. I believe that this fact plays no small part in the vast waves of immigration to the US. One obvious example is the negative effects of NAFTA on the Mexican economy and its role in causing unprecedented Mexican immigration to the US since the mid-1990s. You can draw your own conclusions.

  • I’m just saying

    I’ve been on vacation for a couple weeks, and am working through emails. I saw this story and thought I might scroll down and comment – and then I saw that there were already 120-some posts. I started reading, and all I can say is wow.

    Mary- Steve will, of course, take your last comment as a victory. Vicky, all Steve’s ranting and “facts presentation” wore me out too, and made me chuckle as I read on down the line. There are none so blind as those who will not see. (old cliche, but so true) I’m just saying.

    Steve, listen, the more you try to convince others of your intelligence and that your point of view is the only correct one, well, the less intelligent and credible you sound. I’m just as educated as you are, but I don’t see things the way you do at all. And I can see it would be a waste of time to try to tell you anything, and that any facts or documentation I would present, well- you would disregard them as made up. (besides, it would only be a repeat of what others have already said above) Apparently you think only your sources are correct and true, and anyone who disagrees with you presents only misinformation, lies, smears and what ever else you call it. And for someone who hates “smears”, you sure did a lot of smearing. I agree with a couple others who say you are the one sounding a bit hysterical. Again, I’m just saying.

    Honestly, I think most of the people above can see what’s really going on in this country, while a couple people took up a lot of posting space trying to convince those with differing opinions that they are stupid, ridiculous, and wrong. Sounded to me like a lot of “bile spewing” coming from those who accuse others of spewing bile.

    I’m just saying.

  • cmh

    Goodness, you little die-hard Sarah wannabe’s need to go find yerselves a town hall meeting. Oh wait, apparently that’s what HR Morning is.

    Steve, make a note: when they start throwing around God’s country and what they think the Constitution says, it is the equivalent of putting their hands over their ears and screaming blah-blah-blah at you. And clearly, when you make salient points about the role of government, what is and is not socialism, and cite credible sources to back up your position, they get all defensive and patronizingly “apologize” for not being as well-educated as you (read: you are just a crazy elitist liberal who knows a lot of words.)

    Let them all go to Galt’s Gulch (if they can find it) and self-govern themselves into oblivion.

    Or go the way of their predecessors who have been hollerin’ about the same crap for a hundred years:

    Go America.

  • steve

    “Steve, listen, the more you try to convince others of your intelligence and that your point of view is the only correct one, well, the less intelligent and credible you sound.”

    This makes no sense. It’s typical of the tea party mentality, but it really makes no sense. I guess the old cliche, “there are none so blind as those who will not see” really applies to you and the other tea baggers, conservatives and haters. I guess what you’re really saying is don’t clutter up my world with facts when I’ve basically made up my mind based on how I and all my friends and family have always been inculcated to think. OK. Fine. Not too open minded though.

    I made my case with data, most of it from unbiased and high quality sources. What little data I saw coming from the other side was biased and intellectually dishonest. I at least was honest. I even refused to quote AFL-CIO statistics on another thread though it suited my argument because they didn’t cite sources or state how they arrived at the figures. In grad school we were taught to respect scientific method and to only deal in scientifically testable propositions, not emotional accusations and rhetoric as the tea baggers have done.

    You have repeatedly claimed that Obama is a socialist. I have disproven that several times by actually pointing out the stark contrast between the real meaning of that term and what it is that Obama has actually done. I have also contrasted the similarities between Obama and other Democrats while also noting the vast difference in the reaction to each by right wingers. No one has ever reacted with such hysteria to any president, even FDR. We’ve got an articulate, dedicated, competent and intellegant president who happens to be Black and a lot of people just can’t handle it. I call it racism.

    Here’s some more proof:

  • Sam

    steve – steve – steve

    Why is it that you define a socialist so narrowly and a racist so broadly.

    You cite many reasons Obama could not be a socialist by things he has done, while ignoring his positions on many issues. Many consider someone who advocates “redistribution of wealth” a socialist.

    However when it comes to who is a racist – the only qualification is to not have voted for Obama.

  • steve


    Of all your ridiculous posts this one is the worst. I never said that voting against Obama was racist; I said the shrill, hysterical lies were racist. Why don’t you look at some of the pictures of tea bagger rally signs in the links I posted above. I think you’ll know what I mean.

    Also, Obama never advocated a redistribution of wealth. NEVER!! He was falsely accused of this by liars and haters and lots of people who don’t watch anything else but FOX News bought into the BS. Also, advocating a redistribution of wealth isn’t socialist in and of itself. I favor redistribution through policies like EFCA, entitlement spending, progressive taxation and public sector full employment programs because I believe they are socially just and economically sound. Mature phase US capitalism tends toward chronic stagnation due to low effective demand caused by a maldistribution of income and wealth. Here is one perspective I found convincing;

    “In Monopoly Capital, Baran and Sweezy described advanced capitalism, exemplified by the United States, as an economic and social order dominated by giant, monopolistic (or oligopolistic) corporations—the product of the concentration and centralization of production described by Marx in Capital. The central trait of the system was a tendency for surplus (value) to rise—a phenomenon made possible by the effective banning of genuine price competition in mature, monopolistic industries, together with continually rising productivity. Under these conditions, the main economic constraint was no longer the generation of surplus, but rather its absorption, i.e., a chronic lack of effective demand…corporations normally refrain from carrying out net investment if expected profits on new investment are weak. Such expectations are affected by the existing level of capacity utilization in industry; the presence of idle plant and equipment deters business from investing in still more capacity. Since a rising surplus tendency, moreover, generally means that real wages are rising less than productivity (i.e., workers are more exploited), wage-based consumption is chronically weak relative to society’s capacity to produce, resulting in increasing excess capacity, and the atrophy of net investment. Under monopoly capital the long-term growth trend is therefore sluggish, characterized by a wide, and even widening, underemployment gap. The economy, in other words, falls far short of its potential growth rate, with underutilization of labor and capital goods. Hence, the normal state of the monopoly capitalist economy, Baran and Sweezy argued, was stagnation or an underlying trend of slow growth.”

    This is a powerful case for stimulus. One reason that deficits can’t be resolved by either political party is that they are necessary given the chronic stagnation of late US capitalism.

    Socialism must be narrowly defined because it is a system, not a policy or set of policies. Capitalism, on the other hand, can be broadly defined as a system of private property and private appropriation of profits from market activities with varying degrees of government involvement in the economy.

  • Mike

    100+ entries for this particular article and I would say little of the responses are actually pertaining to the article and more about political theories espoused by some of the readers. I have formed the impression that some of the readers have a strong need to “hear themselves” (or obtaining some sort of self validation). I think you have achieved this. Unions? Well, I’d prefer less unionization, but, I also know some would disagree with that. I can live with that. I wish everyone a good day (and work hard)!

  • R. B.

    Can we get back to the point? I would hope we could agree to disagree in a manner that is not demeaning, attacking, disrespectful, rebutting, or unproductive, respect the fact that in America we do still have the freedom to express differing opinions and that we are each entitled to our own thoughts, ideas and conclusions. I’m unsubscribing. This has gotten too crazy.

  • Sam


    “Also, Obama never advocated a redistribution of wealth. NEVER!! He was falsely accused of this by liars and haters and lots of people who don’t watch anything else but FOX News bought into the BS.”

    Please listen to this

  • steve

    I didn’t mean to attack anyone or run off on a tangent. I’m just tired of Obama falsely being accused of being a “socialist” (as if its such a bad thing) when in fact he is the furthest thing from it. I felt compelled to make the case that he is not a socialist and to also point out some of the logic for fiscal stimulus which has been used by all US presidents, both Democrat and Republican, to some extent since WWII. I think Obama is doing the right thing. It has been shown that economic expansions accompanied by robust government spending tend to be longer in duration with higher average annual growth levels. According to Mike Kimel,

    “…during recessions most private sector players companies hunker down and cut spending, and they usually don’t start investing and hiring people until they’re reasonably sure there’s going to be demand for their products and services. Meanwhile, individuals cut back too, fearful they might lose their jobs. With everyone waiting until the other guy moves first, there isn’t much of a foundation set down for future growth. But if the government steps in and acts when nobody else is willing to do so, it could create that more stable environment the private sector needs in order to get off the ground.”

    I, too, am equally disturbed by the trends I see in America today. But the things which disturb me are different than the things which disturb most of the people on this blog. Sorry for being so verbose. I’m just trying to get people who don’t normally consider alternative points of view to think about other ideas.

  • Vicky

    Cmh and Steve – wow – got a little contempt going on there? Pretty arrogant and condescending, both of you. Feeling a little superior? A little hostile? You sound extremely hostile to me. And after accusing anyone who disagrees with you of so much HATE, how could you be so hateful? What’s your definition of hypocrite?

    Steve — your links don’t really prove or disprove anything. I mean, it could just be some “hateful liar is creating hysterical, shrill, angry, defamatory smear campaigns” against tea-partiers and others who don’t support Obama. Do you think ‘your side’ would never do anything like that? Besides, anyone can “make up facts” and create a website. Especially like the one called Racist Conservatives. That sight doesn’t prove anything. Or Oliver Willis? Or Youtube? Or Angry Bear blog? You believe these sites are credible sources? (And in regard to the photos contained therein — yes, I know there are some awful people who show up at tea parties, and they show up at other places as well. There are hateful distasteful people everywhere – but they do not represent most of us, you know this, don’t you? So why focus on those few disturbed individuals with particularly twisted signs? But most importantly, couldn’t it be that there are “hateful liars” taking photos of their friends with such signs just to discredit the tea party – just as easily as you claim there are “hateful liars” doing the same thing to Obama?)

    Talk about “shrill hysteria” (which you mention a lot), and haters and liars and all the other similar words you love to use to refer to anyone who disagrees with you (or like Sam said – it seems like that would be anyone who didn’t vote for Obama) — you and CMH are so full of contempt and hate for anyone who doesn’t support Obama that you can’t get over it and now you are the ones shrilling! Listen to yourselves.

    You keep complaining about cliches, buzz words, and tea-party mentality — but look at your own stuff! You keep using the same words and phrases over and over… so when you do it, is it different somehow?

    You speak like you’re the absolute authority, like you’re absolutely correct about everything, like your opinion is the only right one based on ‘true’ facts and documentation, and your websites are the only factual ones, (and, oh, do we have some contempt for Fox News?). According to you, everyone else’s information contains nothing but “lies and smears”. Oh, yeah, and they’re biased. And you’re NOT? Are you kidding me? You’re just as biased as anyone else on here.

    Where have you been? Obama certainly has talked about redistributing the wealth. I’ve heard him. Talk about holding your hands over your ears and going blah, blah… He’s being accused of being socialist because that’s where he’s taking this country and there are a lot of people who don’t want the US to be a socialist nation. You can deny his socialist tendencies all you want, and throw quotes and links out there to ‘disprove’ it, but just look around you at what’s happening in our country. Can you not see this?

    And steve – who gave you the authority to re-write the dictionary and make up your own meanings for words, anyway?

    Steve and cmh – Town Hall meeting here? — aren’t you doing the same thing here?

    You must feel pretty threatened by the Tea Party and Fox News and anyone else who doesn’t agree with your point of view, since you keep trying to discredit them.

    I’ve concluded we don’t need outside enemies – we have enough division, contempt, and fighting right here amongst ourselves. It’s too bad. It’s really too bad.

  • Syl

    Wow! I can’t believe that we’re on the same topic….

    Vicky, totally agree with you – couldn’t have said it better myself. The only problem is that you’re trying to reason with those who are not “listening” – who are “beyond reasoning”. I think at this point, is better to log off and stop giving “these people” any more audience and adding more fuel to the fire….

    My husband was raised in a communist country. Thank God, his family had the common sense to flee to our great (and free) nation, where our children have the freedom to be who they wish to be. Unfortunately, he sees so many “parallels” from his past – scary indeed!!!

    God bless America! Have a great day! Don’t forget to vote!!!

  • steve


    The Youtube video was a crock of BS. It was doubtless put on the internet by anti-Obama teabaggers. It’s a lie. Obama wasn’t shown in an interview with anyone advocated redistributive policies. The teabaggers continue to spout the same lies. If Obama actually advocated a redistribution of wealth don’t you think FOXNews would be playing the soundbites repeatedly. Find me legitimate sound bites and I’ll believe you. Talk about illegitimate sources.


    Your rant was quite long and didn’t say much. You trash me and cmh because you hate what we have to say. Having had six years of higher education I must say that I’ve considered all reasonable points of view from left to right. I’m not narrow minded. I’ve studied everything from Milton Friedman to Karl Marx. Have you opened your mind to a variety of world views? It doesn’t appear to be the case from what you’ve said.


    You just seem to be extremely prejudiced. More than the others who occasionally address the claims of those they disagree with, you simply call people names (like ignorant), declare them unreasonable and ostracize them. And quite frankly, I don’t see what you and your husbands personal history has to do with the issues of American labor unions, Obama’s fiscal policies or the US economy. You obviously like to challenge the patriotism of anyone who politically disagrees with you. This is a despicable tactic.

  • Sam

    steve – That sound bite came from Chicago public radio. WBEZ does not look like a conservative propaganda mill to me. Of course it was put on the internet by those who wish to educate the public about the leanings of our president.

    Vicky – Thanks for “your rant” steve just can’t stand someone who tries to rant like him.

    Folks – We are all trying to reason with those of us who can’t be reasoned with. Some of us look at the current administration with great hope and belief in “The Change”, Others of us see “the Change” as the destruction of America.

    Could any one whose mind was changed by the dialog here please post.

  • Mary
  • Dave

    I think that public unions should be outlawed altogether. What purpose do they serve other than to extort more money from the public who pays taxes for their salaries and benefits. The next conservative president should issue an executive order disbanding all public unions. I can’t think of a stupider way of managing our governmental budhets than having them all as union shops…..I guess the goal is to have them go on strike like they do in France and other European countries….then we can have the AFL_CIO shut down our highways, the metro workers stop the trains and buses, the police and fire locals can go out while the criminals and arsonists have a field day until the extortion get to the point where we say “yes we cannot do without you……we will give you 4% increases for the next 10 years if you promise not to strike….” that is our future my friends. Thanks to all of the people that voted for the jackass in chief we have now…..hope and change you CAN’T live with


    If we have more unions, perhaps we can get rid of FMLA, COBRA subsidy, and all of the other entitlement programs because once you’re in a union, just try to fire me!!

  • Vicky

    Steve – Fox News HAS played those soundbites and others like it as well. But you are unbelievably deluded! Apparently when there’s something you don’t like, you simply declare it’s “a crock of BS. It was doubtless put on the internet by anti-Obama teabaggers. It’s a lie.”

    OH MY! Syl and Sam – you are so right!

    Dave, you’ve got it. LMSCH – that would be true too! We’ve had some really terrible employees that are nearly impossible to get rid of. And some of them we’ve been forced to hire back! And after what those employees had done, I was just stunned! But that’s union mentality for you.

    Mary – Thanks. SHRM has put out some other interesting and informative articles about unions too.

  • Bob

    The bottom line is that O’Bama and his administration are deceptive, misleading full of half-truths (at best), liars and worst of all academic elitists who have no clue about the real world or never held real jobs. I thought Jimmy Carter was bad but they have surpassed his incompetency very quickly. This administration has to be voted out in 2012, they are the worst I have seen since post WWII.

  • steve


    The sound bite came from NPR not WBEZ. And the quote was taken out of context and then distorted. Here is the actual quote.

    “If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement, and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples, so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be okay.”

    “But,” Obama said, “The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, as least as it’s been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted.”

    Obama said “one of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement, was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change, and in some ways we still suffer from that.”

    Obama never advocated a redistribution of wealth. He simply stated the Warren Court never stepped outside the bounds of the traditional interpretation of the US Constitution. This remark has been distorted by every right wing liar to spew nonsense about how Obama is allegedly a socialist. The fact is that he hasn’t done anything or said anything policy wise that is in fact socialist. What he meant by “redistributive change” was most probably giving people opportunities to people previously denied them so that they had the chance to glean some of the benefits of living in America that they helped to create through low paid hard work. I see nothing “socialist” about this and it received bipartisan support in the early years of the civil rights era. Many long existing policies could be said to be redistributive in nature; social security (where the rate of return is higher for the poor than the rich), entitlement programs, union scale wages and public sector job creation. This goes on in every country in the world and none of it is considered socialist. Ronald Reagan saved Social Security with bipartisan support in 1984 by lifting the cap and with a hike in the payroll tax; did this make him a socialist too?

    Once again we have people throwing words around they don’t really understand because they listen to uneducated people with miserable political agenda instead of actually studying political theory. It also doesn’t help matters that they are full of prejudice from the very start.


    It has always been illegal for public sector unions to strike hence they don’t. Also, public sector salaries are only competitive at the middle and lower range of employment. At the upper levels for professionals salaries actually tend to be lower than in the private sector for many areas of employment especially considering the higher average levels of education for public sector workers in these areas.

  • Tim

    What are all you people afraid of? Don’t you believe in democracy? Why is democracy a good thing every where but in the work place. If you are in a “union free” environment, you are employed at the whim of a despot. (Your employer) If you are lucky they are a benevolent despot, but a despot none the less. With a democratic work environment, you can still be fired, you aren’t guaranteed a job, and you are not guaranteed a pay raise, but you do get a say in how the “rules” of your particular work place are made. You get to vote on those rules, rather than have them dictated to you by your employer. That is all a Union is. They have been and continue to be a good thing and certainly nothing to be so afraid of.

  • BLC

    Pardon me for chiming in late, but this topic is near to me and the posts are certainly compelling.

    First, given the business nature of this organization, I hope that we can put away the ad hominem comments and stick to discussing and commenting on the issues. That being said, I must add my comments to the discussion about racism and what it is.

    It has been said that hysterically making up lies about someone is racist. One example given was that of questioning President Obama’s birth place. Following that logic, one who maintains that George Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened, is also a racist. You can find sources for both claims and neither are credible. Short story, that definition is clearly false and would not be extended to its natural and logical conclusion by any reasonable person. It is truly unfortunate that it was used here. It only serves to reduce a really ugly part of humanity to a mere disagreement.

    Getting back to the article, it is very obvious that democrats support and unions and unions support democrats. More than half of the top political contributors for the last two decades have unions and they contribute 98% or more to democrats. On the other side of the coin, democrats vote in favor of unions more than 90% of there opportunities to do so. There should be no surprise that President Obama has stacked the NLRB deck in favor of unions. Just like it was not surprising that President Bush stacked the deck in favor of corporations. It’s politics.

    If one is thinking of a union as anything other than a corporation, they are greatly mistaken. Unions have always been more concerned with their own survival than the employees they claim to represent. Like corporations, unions need profit to survive. Their only legal revenue stream is dues, so union enrollments are required for growth and profit.

    Steve – we have talked before about the effectiveness of unions and I thought we had very reasoned exchanges. Unfortunately, your exchanges here have only solidified my perception that you are extremely left leaning and not at all balanced in your approach or your willingness to find and consider evidence. There are several others posting here that, although opposite you on the issues, are just as slanted. I appreciate your research, and the obvious time you put into your responses. It is too bad that you haven’t applied that time and research to a balanced and honest evaluation of the issues you have raised. That would be really valuable.

  • Sam

    My God steve you do mince words.

    I said – “That sound bite came from Chicago public radio. WBEZ does not look like a conservative propaganda mill to me”

    Your retort – “The sound bite came from NPR not WBEZ.

    Should I have said “That sound bite was broadcast by Chicago public radio station WBEZ.”

    I think it is very clear what he is “talking around”. He certainly was struggling with not using certain words. I don’t think you can listen to a politician and hang on their every word. (That is a good definition of dumb” They use euphemisms to convey concepts so they can get their message across and deny them later.

    I really hate to do this but I will any way.


    I lied. I didn’t hate doing it

  • BLC

    Tim – Aside from safety and fairness, which are covered by law, why do you think employees should be able to set work rules instead of employers?

  • MS

    I had decided not to post again on this particular topic but I can’t resist…
    Sam, we’re on opposite sides of this conversation but you did make me smile. I happened to be looking at the latest AFLAC newsletter while reading your post. I have a feeling those commercials will have a whole new meaning for me from now on (LOL)…

  • steve


    You’ve accused Obama of many things while giving no examples or proof of your claims. Then you use the utterly silly but telltale cliche, “academic elitist” which only means you hate people who had enough brains to get into college and pursue an advanced degree. Obama chief “academic elitists”, Austin Goolsby and Christina Romer, are two thoroughly mainstream economists, one of which teaches at the University of Chicago where Milton Friedman taught. They both have made analyses and recommendations that are well in line with the mainstream of their profession and which have been endorsed by many if not most other professional economists. When you use an absurd cliche like “academic elitist” you destroy your credibility with most intelligent people.


    Of course, FOXNews distorted the 2001 Obama quote and then quoted it our of context with their own twist. Their a GOP noise machine whose sole purpose is to shill for the GOP. They are not professional journalists whose mission is truth; they promote hysteria among those who have long made up their minds already and everyone knows it!! Here is a thorough explanation of the quote and the right wing spin by Media Matters for America, a public interest media watch dog organization.

    “Obama did not say that the mission of the Supreme Court should be changed. He also did not say, contrary to an assertion by the Drudge Report and by Fox News in on-screen text earlier in the day, documented by Media Matters for America, that it is a “tragedy” that the Supreme Court has not addressed wealth redistribution. To the contrary, as Media Matters for America noted, Obama said that the “traged[y]” lay in the civil rights movement’s overreliance on the courts to bring about political and economic justice, when the judicial system is not the appropriate vehicle to effect broad economic change.”

    There was no advocacy of redistribution of wealth by the courts or any other branch of the government. The redistributive measures he is talking about were to come about through extending the same market opportunities to minorities as existed for whites, not through government confiscation and direct redistribution as the right wing falsely claims. Before 1964, Black poverty rates ranged between 30% and 55% according to historic estimates by the US Bureau of the Census despite high levels of economic growth. In the aftermath of Civil Rights legislation, that changed despite the overall economic slowdown and Black poverty rates descended to a “low” of 25% despite a national rate of “only” 12%. This emerged through redistribution of opportunity not wealth. Obama only meant that as important as the courts were for this achievement, other avenues to equality were also important such as such as better wages, opportunities to own and run businesses job promotions and higher education.


    The idea that disputing the 9/11 Commission Report and Bush’s version of events is a form of “racism” which is equivalent to the racism leveled at Obama through the hate campaigns of the far right is too absurd for words. Opinion polls showed that the majority of the American people expressed some doubt about Bush’s version of events with regard to both 9/11 and the Iraq war. I chose a Rasmussen Poll, a highly conservative pollster, to examine. 22% claimed Bush knew about the attacks in advance. 29% said the CIA knew and 52% felt the CIA lied about Iraq. These opinions stretch all across the political spectrum from left to right. This issue is quite different from those who believe Obama is a “socialist” which are fewer in number than those who now believed Bush lied to the American people about both 9/11 and the war in Iraq.

    Pointing out that Democrats and unions are politically allied is like pointing out that large corporations and Republicans are allied. Which has done more damage? Obviously, corporate control of government through bribery. Unions actually helped American workers gain better pay and working conditions.

    Saying I’m unbalanced because you disagree with me is not a legitimate criticism. I address others arguments point for point after careful consideration. The others don’t return the favor. That is the difference between us.

  • Bob

    Hi Steve, I also have brains in the form of a Phd from a well recoginized institition of higher learning. I also stand by my statement of “academic elitists” in the Obama adminsitration. Their collective understanding of the real world is close to zero because they never really ever had to work for a living, it was all handed to them. There is no sense in your responding because it will just demonstate even more your ignorance of the many facts that back up my contention. Good luck to all with Obama and his clan I’m moving to Australia.

  • Kathys

    Wasn’t Obama trying to explain redistribution of wealth to “Joe the Plumber” and the fact he was in total agreement with it on national TV?

  • Jim

    Kathys- Our country’s tax code is progressive. We have redistributed wealth for a long time. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. When you have the top 1% owning 32% of the wealth it is a given we must and do redistribute the wealth. It is not new and if we did not you would be in a much worse place.

  • BLC

    Steve, you have completely missed the point regarding your definition of racism and your thoughtless use of the term. If one extends your definition of racism to its logical conclusion, hysterical and outlandish accusations from the left and right are in every case racist. This is patently untrue. Instead of addressing actual issue, you opted to attack the example. Critical thinking individuals will see through your obfuscation, though I will admit you have a unique talent for it. By the way, according to Research 2000 poll for The Daily Kos, quoted by the Huffington Post (often one of your sources), 23% of Americans either believed President Obama was not born in the U.S. 11% believed that he was not born in the U.S., including 3% of democrats. That has no bearing on your gross misuse of the racism label.

    I assume that you’re a bright enough guy to understand the impact of your word choice. I wonder if you realize that you have become the “hate monger” you decry

  • BLC


    I pointed out the obvious link between Unions and the democratic party because it was the thrust of the original article. I was frankly surprised at how astonished people were that President Obama made the appointments that he did.

    Do you believe that Republicans and Corporations are the only ones engaged in bribery? Since you have a particular skill for research, please provide evidence for your claim of bribery.

  • BLC


    I think I was clear that I believe you are unbalanced because of your limited use of evidence to support your view. I will add that you dismiss out of hand potential sources as biased (FOX News), while accepting without question equally slanted sources from the left (The Huffington Post). In addition, you se to acknowledge any good contribution on the part of corporations, while also refusing to admit any wrongdoing or harm coming from unions. Finally, you dismiss critism of President Obama as right wing hate mongering, and readily accept any critism of former President Bush as fact.

    I disagree with many reasoned and balanced people on both sides of the aisle. You have demonstrated no capacity for unbiased thought. You may have it, you just haven’t shown it.

  • BLC

    Here is a clarification from my post on 5:32.

    By the way, according to a Research 2000 poll for The Daily Kos, quoted by the Huffington Post (often one of your sources), 23% of Americans either believed President Obama was not born in the U.S. or were not sure. 11% believed that he was not born in the U.S., including 3% of democrats.

  • Vicky

    Bob and BLC — it sounds like you have brains AND common sense! Yes!

    BLC – good question for Tim. Why indeed?

    Kathy – Yes, he talked about spreading the wealth. But no doubt someone will state, with absolute authority and complete un-erring knowledge, that this was somehow manipulated by hysterical shrilling bile spewing haters and liars.

    I have heard Obama talk about redistribution of wealth, spreading the wealth, and he’s said that people really only need to make so much money (remember? And how much would that be, anyway?) Millions of us heard him. It’s not anything that could be twisted – he was very plain about it.

    Tim – we are concerned about where Obama is taking our country. I would say he aspires to being a “despot” (a king or other ruler with absolute, unlimited power; autocrat) – perfect word, I think. He seems more concerned about his own legacy and about getting his own way than anything else. He’s mentioned his legacy quite often.

    Steve, steve, there you go again…. you are the one distorting now. BLC didn’t say YOU we’re unbalanced, he said “Unfortunately, your exchanges here have only solidified my perception that you are extremely left leaning and not at all balanced in your approach or your willingness to find and consider evidence. There are several others posting here that, although opposite you on the issues, are just as slanted. I appreciate your research, and the obvious time you put into your responses. It is too bad that you haven’t applied that time and research to a balanced and honest evaluation of the issues you have raised. That would be really valuable.” He said your approach and evaluation were unbalanced. BIG DIFFERENCE! (BLC was very kind.) But, there went the rest of what little credibility you had left. And yet you so quickly and with absolute certainty accuse others of distorting and spouting and spewing and shrilling and so on and so forth… (shrilling, I love that word!) (and apparently, you do too!) Shrilling: betraying some strong emotion or attitude in an exaggerated amount, as antagonism or defensiveness; marked by great intensity. I have to say, you’ve got it perfected. Shrill on!

    Part of the unbalanced approach and evaluation is the fact that you will not accept anything other than your documentation and point of view as valid — you maintain that anything else is a lie. Just like that.

  • Kathys

    Jim- I was commenting on Steves post of June 1st 2:35 when he stated that Obama never advocted redistribution of wealth when in fact he did.

  • Jim

    Kathys- It is a non-issue the government has been redistributing wealth forever. It is nothing new. It is being used as a talking point by the right to bash Obama. All the tax subsidies and tax breaks for the large corporations (oil, coal) are in fact redistribution of wealth. It goes on all the time. Just because FOX and the right want to make it, something that it is not does not make it news. We all need to think for ourselves and resist having someone else tell us what to think. Just look at their record of accomplishment so far, not good. Politicians and bias talking heads have their agenda.

  • Jim

    BLC- the Research 2000 poll for The Daily Kos that you mentioned just shows that if you repeat a lie over and over uninformed people will believe the lie to be true, nothing more nothing less. As for the numbers, if you looked a little deeper you would have seen that the vast majority of the people who believe that Obama was not born in this country are from the right. Unfortunately, for our country they live in the echo chamber of the right. FOX News and their lot are loving it. They make a lot of money scaring people.

  • Mary

    To those of you that think redistribution of wealth is a good thing, has been going on a long time (you’re right) etc. etc. etc. — 47% of people in th is Country PAY NO TAXES! How long will it be before 50%, 60%, PAY NO TAXES?? Where does it stop? From whom will the wealth be distributed when we are all on the dole?? That is where we are headed. This is not a Democrat vs Republican, left vs right issued. This is America. We are all Americans, are we not? Then we collectively must decide — do we remain a Republic or not. Do we believe in the free market system or not. That’s what all this discussion is boiling down to. Corporations are made up of people just like you and me — most of us work for one of them — and provide a service or product to make a profit. They are not evil. OUR Government, derives its revenue from us. Our Government, if not stopped, will squeeze us all to the point that even Government will be crippled because there is nothing left to squeeze. Government can be evil — it can strip you of your treasure, your freedom and even your life. I’ve worked 42 years in both the public and private sector, union and non-union environments, big companies and small. You will find incompetent, uncaring people in all those environments but they are in the minority. We in HR especially, understand this. This discussion has really reinforced the fact that we live in a terribly divided Country. Unfortunately, that is not just a cliche anymore.

  • steve

    Thanks for the help, Jim and welcome aboard!! It was beginning to feel a bit like the siege of Leningrad until you came along to create two fronts for these right wingers to deal with. FOXNews is not a credible source at all. I’m sure they privately admit this to themselves as they laugh all the way to the bank.

    I never heard of anyone accuse Obama of advocating wealth redistribution except for the quote from the 2001 interview. I don’t know what else the teabaggers are refering to unless its something they made up. I wish they’d provide a credible link like I have done many times. I must disagree with the idea that we still have a progressive tax code. We no longer do. Corporations once paid the majority of federal income taxes and now their contribution is about 6% or 7%. The distribution of wealth has skewed to the rich so much that these attacks on Obama are an outrage. The wealthiest 1% of Americans control 25% of the national income and 36% of the marketable wealth. This is unprecedented in our history. We should redistribute wealth but we don’t. Here’s a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

    “The top 400 households paid 16.6 percent of their income in federal individual income taxes in 2007, down from 30 percent in 1995. This decline works out to a tax cut of $46 million per filer in 2007, or a total of $18 billion in tax cuts for these households per year…The decline in effective tax rates at the very top is due in large part to the capital gains tax cuts enacted in 1997 and 2003. The top marginal tax rate on capital gains is now 15 percent, less than half the top tax rate on wages and salaries. The top 400 taxpayers derived two-thirds of their income from capital gains and qualified dividends in 2007.”

    Over the last ten years, about two-thirds of the GDP growth went to the richest 1% of Americans. They benefit the most from tax cuts as well as this report from 2008 shows.

    “Average pre-tax incomes in 2006 jumped by about $60,000 (5.8 percent) for the top 1 percent of households, but just $430 (1.4 percent) for the bottom 90 percent, after adjusting for inflation,
    according to a new update in the groundbreaking series on income inequality by economists Thomas
    Piketty and Emmanuel Saez…But in the three decades since 1976, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of households have risen only slightly, on average, while the incomes of the top 1 percent have soared.”

    Then there is the issue of tax breaks and subsidies for large corporations, what is refered to a “welfare for the rich.” This amounts to billions annually and costs the federal and state governments tons of money. This is one big reason there are deficits at all levels of government. The examples of what I’m talking about are literally endless but here is an article from the slightly right of center US News and World Report:

    Looks like “socialism for the rich” was alive and well under Bush even when there was no national financial crisis. Here’s a prominent example from Bush’s last year in office;

    …”the government has now appropriated $9 billion in bailout funds to some of the richest folks in America. This would be Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity fund that owns majority stakes in GMAC and Chrysler and whose chairman is John Snow – the last Treasury Secretary before the current one, Henry Paulson…Cerberus is a worthy supplicant because of the 35 or so companies that it owns, its two auto-related properties are really hurting…You might think that Cerberus, whose specialty is structuring multibillion-dollar deals, could come up with $9 billion on its own to salvage these two companies – if Feinberg et. al. thought they were worth the investment, that is. But it turns out that big investing clubs like Cerberus have rules preventing money invested in one fund or company to be cross-invested in another. Anyway, it’s all too complicated for you to understand. The good news is, Cerberus has no rules against accepting sweetheart loans from taxpayers.”

    Yes, Jim, we’ve been redistributing wealth for a long time in America…from the poor to the rich!! A sober look at socio-economic trends over the past thirty years is plenty of evidence of that.

  • Tim

    BLC and Vicki,
    I do not advocate for employees alone to set the rules in the work place. I DO advocate for employees to have the right to negotiate those rules through collective bargaining. Doing so “invests” the employees in the success of the business, thus making them more productive, which in turn makes the company more profitable, which benefits the workers, management and shareholders.

    BLC and other posters have tried to say, thanks to current labor laws, Unions are really outdated and no longer needed. While Unions have certainly done a fantastic job over the last 70 years of playing a major role in putting such laws on the books, the reality is the feds and the states do a terrible job of enforcement. (Think, mine safety, oil rig safety, immigration, and for that matter,though off the subject, gun laws.) Here again, Unions should be the “darlings” of the smaller government crowd. With a Unionized workforce, many of the alleged safety, discrimination, wage and hour violations etc are dealt with through a mutually agreed to (negotiated) grievance process.
    This process more often than not results in equitable outcomes that do not rely on government agencies or the courts. All at a fraction of the cost of defending the company against frivolous legal action.

    This string started with comments concerning the President’s administrative rule change as it relates to Rail and Airline organizing elections. The previous rule counted non votes as “no” votes. All he did was mandate that employees wishing to organize must obtain a 50%+1 majority of those who take the time to vote. Isn’t that the way we run our democracy in America? Those that make the minimally required effort of casting a ballot get to decide issues up or down. If you don’t vote, you shouldn’t get a say on the outcome! All this rule change does is bring Railway Act elections in line with NLRB elections.

    More importantly, if you treat your employees as “assets” instead of “liabilities” you won’t need to worry about it!

  • steve

    Many working poor households pay no federal income tax because they owe no income tax. According to the tax code they’re too poor to afford to pay taxes. I thought that you conservatives opposed taxes anyhow. The current system of tax credits relieves poor families of federal income taxes if they have dependants. So what? The millionaires, billionaires and big corporations who hide their wealth offshore to avoid taxes are an even bigger problem and less morally defensible.

    In 2008, according to the Census Bureau, nearly 40 million Americans were below the national poverty line. Many of them work at least part time. This accounts for about 13.2% of the population. I’m less concerned about them paying taxes than unemployment, wealthy tax cheats and the poverty that has resulted from the Bush policies. Want more tax revenue? Let’s have more stimulus to create jobs and growth!!

  • BLC

    Jim – Your response only verifys that you are a left wing ideolog with little, if any, capacity for objective thought. I base my summation on your dismissal of information based upon your predetermined opinion. You obviously believe one direction, and based on your belief, dismiss any contrary evidence as a lie. Do you even understand how much you are limiting yourself by taking that stance.

    In addition, you avoided a reasoned discussion on the topic, in favor of name calling. You are on the left, what you hate on the right.

  • steve


    You make an excellent point. Unions could actually save the federal government tons of money in court costs and regulatory agency costs. If Walmart were unionized it would save the government about $1.5 billion annually according to some estimates because of the costs of public social services for Walmart employees whose low wages and lack of affordable health insurance don’t provide for their family’s basic needs. In this regard, Walmart is shifting a substantial part of its labor costs on to the taxpayers.

    Furthermore, unionization of Walmart would raise the wages of other workers in the retail sector collectively by several billion a year thus providing taxable revenue for government. According to a fifteen year study by the UC Berkeley’s Labor Center, “Wal-Mart actually reduced the take-home pay of retail workers by $4.7 BILLION dollars annually.”

    In addition, there are many instances where labor laws are unenforcable except through a union contract. Unions, as private organizations, actually reduce the federal government’s role in many areas.

  • BLC

    Tim – I can see how you would interpret my response the way you did. Let me clarify.

    I do not think that current laws have eliminated the need for unions. I also agree that Unions have done some very good things for workers, including safer working conditions, better pay, and better benefits. On the flip side, unions have not replaced litigation as form of justice for employees. Nor should they.

    That being said, I do not believe that unions are as helpful to workers, corporations, and the economy as you do. In fact, between unions and corporations, corporations have done far more to benefit the US economy. I think you will disagree. Perhaps we can have an exchange on that thought.

    For now I would like address the article as you have (thank you for bringing us back to that). Although it makes it easier for unions to organize, I agree with the NMB rule change. I believe that employees should have the right to make their own decision about organizing into a union. I further believe that they should be free to do so without intimidation or coersion. The best way for that to happen is by secret ballot.

    I further believe that rules for corporations and unions should be absolutely equal. Would you agree with that?

  • BLC

    Steve – sigh

    Unfortunately, your bating will work on some.

  • cmh

    Steve, Jim, Tim – I just want to chime in and say that I hear you and I get what you are saying, and there are millions of people like me who live in a democracy and understand what that means. And fancy the fact (and sometimes the irony) that we are all Americans.

    Steve, marriage proposal aside, a sincere thanks and appreciation for your diligent efforts here. Unfortunately, addressing this crowd is about as effective as commenting on foxnews (or huffington for that matter- both giant circle-jerks of like-minded people who like to agree with themselves). Here on HR Morning there are swarms of them, armed with talking points, who think they are informed. You would think that on an HR site you might find a less obnoxious and more tolerant crowd with appreciation and consideration for something contrary to their own dogmas (not to mention possibly a little more employee-friendly), but all you are getting is the same old incessant stubborn refusal and denial in the face of clear facts and documented history. I hate to even throw Palin/Beck into the whole mix and give them another hit on Google (along with the sheer brilliance of American Idol), but clearly that’s all you are getting here. And it ain’t pretty.

    As engaging as this whole exchange has been (a delightful mix of amusing and infuriating), you are getting nowhere. I don’t want to sound too vicious by saying this outright, so here you go:

    “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – Martin Luther King, Strength to Love, 1963

  • steve


    You accuse anyone disagreeing with you of being an ideologue as if the rest of you here aren’t. FOXNews has been caught in lies many times by media watchdog groups like Media Matters and others. Just last night (6/4/10) on WCPT’s Norman Goldman show a sound bite was played from FOXNews featuring an alleged “whistle blower” from the US Census Bureau who went by the pseudonym “Maria” claiming that the Census Bureau hired and fired and rehired her several times in order to “pump up the job numbers.” In the first place, numerous government sources, including Obama himself, as well as every major news organization admitted up front that only 41,000 of the total 431,000 jobs created in May of this year were private sector jobs with the rest being temporary Census Bureau jobs. Secondly, several people who actually work for the US Census Bureau called in and explained “Maria’s” story is bogus because the US Census Bureau never operates that way and that they have never heard of such things occuring at the Census Bureau. FOX is just trying to play on teabagger hatred of the Census Bureau and even used a Hispanic name for the alleged whistle blower as a dog whistle to right wingers and teabaggers who often scream about how illegals are “taking our jobs.” Stirring up hate with deliberate falsehoods is not considered professional journalism and is quite unprecedented in the contemporary history of American mass media. But as my good friend Jim rightly points about regarding FOX; “They make a lot of money scaring people.”

    I also don’t use all left wing biased sources and even the ones I do use have credibility and are regarded as respectable research and scholarship. I believe that many scholars and researchers are more left leaning because that is probably where the actual truth lies most of the time. Most frequently I use mainstream sources and even government and primary documents (like the updated union contract from the Civil Servants Union).

    I would also like to point out that when I referred to corporate bribery I didn’t mean it literally but instead was refering to paid lobbyists in Washington DC. I think we can all agree these campaign contributions are a form of legalized bribery. But let me ask you, does the following sound a bit like a bribe?

    “Some coastal governors have benefited from BP as well. BP and other oil companies gave Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) $1.8 million dollars for his campaign, and since the spill, he’s been aggressively downplaying the disaster and encouraging people to visit his state’s oily beaches.”

  • BLC

    Steve and Time – At what earnings level to you think taxation should begin? At what earnings level do you consider a person to be “the rich”?

  • steve

    The question is posed somewhat awkwardly. Currently, all income is taxable (minus deductions). Obama is not entirely cancelling the Bush tax cuts, but modifying them. His tax proposals for FY2011 raises taxes on individuals with $200,000 annual taxable income and married couples filing a joint return on taxable income over $250,000 to 36%. The 39.6% bracket starts at $372,950. The 28% bracket is extended to cover those previously in the 33% bracket (so they actually get a tax cut). There are also a slew of new middle class tax deductions and tax credits. Obama plans to restructure the federal income tax code to make a little more progressive. This is reasonable because it is needed to cope with deficits and because it is equitable.

    The reason that progressives and the left believe that the US tax code has lost its former progressivity is based on Warren Buffet’s famous remark that his secretary pays a greater effective rate of taxation than he does. One year he paid 17.7% on his multi-billion dollar income while she paid about 30% on her $60,000 annual income.

    Conservatives like to point out things like how the top 1% of earners get 21% of the income but pay 39% of the federal income taxes. Assuming this is accurate, it is still highly misleading. This proportion means nothing if the overall effective rate of taxation is low and it doesn’t tell you anything about a given income groups effective rate of taxation. Federal income tax receipts now account for only 16.6% of the GDP, down from about one third in the immediate post-WWII era. In other words, it is misleading to talk about shoulding a disproportionate share of the tax burden when the burden has been so lessened it really isn’t a burden to begin with. The rich pay most of the taxes because they have most of the income. They also have an even greater share of the marketable wealth.

    The poorest half of society contributes very little to federal income taxes; they have very little disposable income. This has always been true. The problem that is most disturbing is the increasingly narrowing gap between the effective rate of taxation on the very rich and the middle class. This is why the Democrats and others on the left complain the former progressivity in the US tax code is disappearing. One recent report claims, “The top 400 households paid 16.6 percent of their income in federal individual income taxes in 2007, down from 30 percent in 1995.” For those earning over one million dollars a year, the effective rate for that group is about 23% (this group basically equates to the top 1%). These effective rates are very close to those paid by income earners in the middle income brackets. This is not equitable or economically sound. The taxes on the very rich need to increase if we are to cope with deficits and pay for the programs we need.

  • Bob

    Steve, can you make your points a bit shorter please! The answer to all this “taxation dribble & drab” is to institute a more or less flat tax system. There might be 3-4 rates but that would be enough. Everyone pays, no exemptions period. The absurdity of the monstrosity of IRS regualtions and the resulatant number of IRS employees is not needed. Simplicity goes along way, so lets focus on making the tax system simple and fair.

  • Lynn

    Steve, give it up and get back to work!!! You will NEVER convince people who disagree with you this way! Plus, if you are doing all this on work time, I feel sorry for your employer- they are getting ripped off!

  • jim

    BLC- I do not know what you are referring to when you say that I am name calling. Please tell me where you think I was doing so. Secondly There are many polls out there showing the brake down by party on who believes Obama is a citizen or not and it is over willingly republicans and the right. FOX News has their own polls showing those results. I just deal with facts and by the look of your comments you are name caller
    Have a great day!

  • Mary

    Steve, I believe you are a DNC plant.

  • steve

    A flat tax system would be an unmitigated disaster. This is probably why it was never implemented. Flat taxes would not only lead to even worse chronic deficits but is merely a scheme to shift all the tax burden away from the rich toward the middle class. In addition, most of these flat rate tax proposals exempt capital gains. Also, would a flat tax be on one’s gross revenue or revenue minus expenses. Eliminating all deductions seems unfair in principle and especially unfair to the middle class. With a flat tax large businesses would see their taxes go down and many small business would be taxed more than they paid in expenses if they’re not allowed to deduct them.

    Regardless of how it works, a flat tax would drastically lower the taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor and middle class. This is unnecessary. As I have shown, the rich already got massive tax cuts which saved them a larger percentage of their pretax income than the tax cuts for the middle class. We already have the equivalent of a flat tax in that the effective rate of taxation for the rich is very close to what it is for the middle class. Instead of moving even further in this direction, we should be going in the exact opposite direction. We need to restore the progressive income tax.

  • Bob

    Lynn, you are right on target referencing Steve!

  • Tim

    The problem people (other than too many universities like U of W at Madison spitting out grads that think every ill experienced by mankind is due to not enough taxation of those that earn more than others) is that we are headed straight for a disasterous economic collapse that will reduce us to the equivalent of third world status (or less). Every thinking person (and politicians too) with an IQ over 90 knows this. However, the collapse is not going to happen tomorrow and probably not next week, but the politicians must continue to run for their next term tomorrow and next week. If they ran promoting action that needs to be taken, they wouldn’t get elected. We the people punish those politicians that speak the truth.

  • Jim

    The sky is falling The shy is falling!! My god get a grip Tim.

  • steve


    I’m not sure what you’re refering to when you say we punish politicians that speak the truth. I think Obama’s policies, though not perfect, are much better than McCain’s would have been. Obama has given the middle class more tax breaks than McCain would have and Obama’s tax proposals for FY2011 are better for the middle class. Only those with an annual taxable income above $372,000 will see any kind of real tax hike since this high level of earnings starts the top income bracket of 39.6%. This is what it was under Clinton and the economy produced over 20 million jobs and the stock market quadrupled. We are now starting to see positive net monthly job growth, output growth, more housing sales and, until recently, stock market growth. This latter problem is connected to Europe’s problems more than those in the US.

    I actually don’t see high taxes as the answer to all our problems. Johnson’s tax cut in 1964 helped spur the economy. So did Clinton’s Taxpayer Relief Act in 1997. This was the actual origins of the housing bubble and not Greenspans low real interest rates. Bush’s tax cuts only caused deficits. Reagan’s mostly caused deficits and the overall growth over the course of the entire business cycle (1980-1990) was only about 3.1%/year which was well below the annual average for the entire 1945-1980 period. Reagan’s success was based on deficit spending, military spending and foreign investment inflows to the US economy in the 1980s.

    We have been a debt driven economy for more than two decades. The reason is trillions in tax cuts for the rich and low and declining real middle class incomes. This forces consumers and government to live off debt rather than real income. Want less debt? Restore union wages and progressive taxation. I know this is a heresy but the rich just have too much money and it isn’t benefitting the majority of us.

    With regard to politics I want to impart this last thought. Robert W. McChesney and John Bellamy Foster have aptly described the bitter consequences of the failure of progressive Democrats to sufficiently make their case to the American People.

    “It opens the door to phony right-wing populist movements seizing the mantle of “radical” opposition to the status quo. With the economic system off-limits to criticism (even invisible in its main power dimensions), attention necessarily gravitates to government as the root of all evil…In today’s Tea Party ideology, engineered principally by the right, capital is deemed natural, while the state is unnatural—imposed from without on those who would otherwise be free. The social crisis is then seen as a crisis of too much government, too much interference by state interests in the natural order of things. Capitalism is treated as an elemental force, like the wind and tides, or a mere byproduct of human nature. The reality of power in today’s society is hidden behind the mist generated by this false “naturalism.”

  • Vicky

    Bob and Lynn — I suspect so too – DNC.

    And just like the rest of the “left”, it’s all LIES. Just lies and skewed, biased information designed to discredit anyone or any organization who is trying to inform the people of what’s really happening.

    It’s not working Steve. We don’t believe it.

  • steve


    An open minded person would actually address the issues I raised instead of just denouncing whatever I say because you chose to label it left. Personally, I’ve found more lies on the right than on the left. FOXNews is full of lies, distortions and disinformation.

    But I will consider your views if you can tell me exactly what “lies” I told, why you think they’re lies and what alternative explanation to mine you propose instead. That would be an intelligent way to refute an argument.

  • MS

    “They’re” not able to address the issues you’ve raised because they’re busy listening to each other reciting the same lines over and over. These posts have gone from outrageous, to depressing, to sad. Now you just have to find the humor (very little) in the message they’re preaching from the HR Morning pulpit.

    I give you credit for trying and believe it or not, you’re not alone in this forum. Better to let them preach to the choir. Sooner or later they’ll get tired of the sound of their own rants. DNC plants (LOL)…just when you thought it couldn’t get crazier.

  • steve

    Thanks, MS. I think they really do believe that there are DNC plants out there, as if no one can possibly have a view opposite theirs unless they were part of a big conspiracy. This is typical of right wing “thinking.” Your right to feel that this whole thing has actually become more sad than anything else. And what is happening to our country as a result of the negative influence of FOXSNews and hateful radio talk shows is even more sad. I fear for the future but obviously for different reasons than the teabaggers do.

  • Sam

    steve- Have you ever considered the fact that You may be wrong?

  • Mary

    Steve – I’ll be direct — you are insulting the tea party movement when you describe them as “teabaggers”. Obviously, you must know what the sexual connotation to that description is – and maybe that’s your point. If you fear for the future, the movement must be having an effect on you. The majority of this Country IS conservative. The T.E.A. in the Tea Party is Taxed Enough Already — and we all are. I personally am tired of libs being so generous with other people’s money. If you feel so strongly about “giving” to the government, feel free to send them a check, but leave me and my money alone. BTW – I had a Foreman come to me and say that he would no longer work more than 5 hours OT because anything over that would mean he would get less in his paycheck that he would had he not worked any OT at all. Please spare me any more long-winded responses. This is my last post.

  • steve

    “If you fear for the future, the movement must be having an effect on you.”

    Interesting. A movement whose chief goal seems to be to frighten and intimidate those they disagree with. Sounds like a group of fascists. Maybe they can march on Washington in their black shirts like Mussolini’s famous March on Rome. I expect to see something like that in a potential nightmare future in America.

    The majority of the country is not conservative. How would Obama have won by such a large margin. There were also several million votes for small third parties far to the left of the Democrats such as the Green Party and others. Tea Party conservatism represents only a fringe group of people, maybe 25% or so. And by most accounts they are extremists far out of the mainstream of traditional US politics and dangerous to our democracy to boot!!

    “The T.E.A. in the Tea Party is Taxed Enough Already — and we all are. I personally am tired of libs being so generous with other people’s money.”

    The reality is that federal income taxes, capital gains taxes and the estate tax is at an all time historic low in this country. Never since the passage of the Revenue Act of 1913, which created the federal income tax, have federal tax receipts constituted such a small share of the GDP. Throughout most of the post-WWII period, the ratio of federal taxes collected to GDP was between 25% and 30%. Today it is about 16%. It has been nearly cut in half. The rich pay less in taxes than at any time in post-WWII history. Their effective rate of taxation is even with or below what the middle class pays. According to one report, “The top 400 households paid 16.6 percent of their income in federal individual income taxes in 2007, down from 30 percent in 1995.” This is far lower than what most of the middle class has been paying.

    If you want to know why the middle class is getting clobbered with taxes its because of the tax cuts for the rich. No one, including the poor and middle class, pay much federal income tax anymore so states and localities have huge budget deficits without the federal grants and aid they used to get. This means sales tax, property tax and other regressive local taxes go up and devastate the middle class. If you want middle class tax relief, push for a restoration of a progressive tax code and get the rich to start paying their fair share. Even Warren Buffet agrees with this!!

    Obama is only going to raise taxes on those who earn over $372,950/year by creating a 39.6% bracket. This is only reasonable. He has already given 95% of the country tax cuts and his 2011 budget proposal will give relief to all those making under $200,000/year. Some of the Bush tax cuts will thus be retained. Doesn’t sound really socialist to me.

    The tea party movement is just one big right wing lie. Most people who are informed know this fact. I don’t know the foreman you referred to but unless he’s rich he’s not going to be losing more money than he’s earning by paying any more taxes to the federal government due to overtime. This makes no sense. The fact is that Obama has simply not raised taxes. Period. Stop lying and listening to those who do for political advantage. It is a disgrace. And it is sickening. If we don’t engage in deficit spending now, we’ll never get out of this recession. And by the time we did, there would still be high chronic unemployment and an even worse distribution of income.

  • Vicky

    Sam – it would never occur to steve that he could possibly be wrong about anything. He thinks everything he says is absolutely true and correct, and that everything everyone else says (that isn’t to his liking) is wrong. Wait, not just wrong — but hysterical shrilling, and hateful lies, and distortions and deliberate falsehoods.

    steve – my last reply was just to see of you would catch on, finally, that my response is exactly your response to anyone who disagrees with you or gives any data contrary to what you want to hear. I can’t decide is you’re the most hypocrytical person I’ve ever heard, if you are totally deluded (in the true sense of the word), or if you’re just messing around. I actually , quit taking you seriously back at quack, or thereabouts. You do not seem to see that all the things you accuse others of doing are exactly what you’re doing. My point was that if I actually gave you any more information, you would simply state it is a lie or a distortion or a shrilling smear or one of your other favorite phrases.

    No one on here has done more labeling than you — teabaggers, hate mongers, liars, fear mongers, racists… hello? No one has sounded more hysterical. Go back and read yourself Steve. You do sound hysterical. Really. Your obvious fear of Fox News and the Tea Party is funny.

    Oh, yeah, and Media Matters – they lie – full of “deliberate falsehoods”.

    And there is no way to have an intelligent exchange with you. Several have tried and failed. You are the most closed minded person on here. Again, that’s my point – any thing that anyone else has said, that you do not like, you simply state that it’s a lie, blah, blah. Why would any of us waste any more time? In fact, why did I? I guess I just checked back in out of morbid curiousity.

    In the meantime, back to UNIONS — they certainly have been caught in some dispicable behavior, haven’t they? Troubles brewing.

    And those elections just held – gosh, people seem to be sending a message of some sort.

  • Sam

    steve – I am sure you never noticed but when you point the finger at others there are three pointing at you.

    It appears to me that you may fit the following definition of a “Bigot”.

    “A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. The correct use of the term requires the elements of intolerance, irrationality, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs.”

  • steve


    You could have shortened response by just encapsulating the meaning of everything you said into one clever little sentence. I might go something like this; “I am rubber, you are glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks on you!!” This just about sums up the mentality and intellectual levels of many people posting on this blog.

  • Bob

    Hi to all. I leave for Australia this weekend and I won’t be submitting anything to counter this diatrab from the left. I wish you all good luck with folks like Steve. We’ll be laughing from down under when the Obama administration takes this country down. If he’s thrown out in 2012 and a sensible center right Republican is elected then I might consider returning to the USA. As I sit near the Sydney Harbor enjoying my Fosters I’ll be quietly be amused by all these political in-fightings back in the States.

    PS Steve, I see that you are still here. Go live in France, Greece, Italy or Portugal for 4-5 years and come back and tell us if you still believe in your left-wing nonsense.

    Good-day, Bob

  • steve

    Be careful, Bob. Australia has socialized medicine.

  • Jim

    Good one Steve, Rubber/Glue, I love it! Keep up the good work. America needs people like you to speak truth to ignorance. If it were not for people like you, they would still be burning witches and bloodletting.

  • steve

    Thanks, Jim. I will stay around as long as is necessary.

  • Vicky

    Wow, steve – that was so clever. (Worse than quack) I thought you didn’t like cliches. You didn’t go back and read your hysterical self, did you?

    Sam – I think you nailed it – bigot.

    Bob — good luck! I wish I could go with you. I hope you get to come back some day!

    Jim — people like you and steve are NOT what America needs – you are part of the problem, I’m sorry to say.

  • Carol

    All right, already!! The original article was about a change in the definition of majority for a representation election. I even made a comment that pertained to the definition (i.e., ‘majority of prospective unit members’ vs ‘majority of persons who vote’) Since that time I have seen virtually no comments pertinent to the topic, and have read arguments that would probably have gotten the participants kicked out of many a respectable cocktail lounge.

    Please feel free to argue your politics as much as you like, but not in the comment section on a newsletter that some professionals used to enjoy for its articles!

  • steve

    I don’t think its up to teabaggers or anyone else to decide what kind of people America needs. By trying to make these judgements, they are just showing their anti-democratic, authoritarian mentality for all to see.

    Here’s some more evidence that FOXNews lies as if more proof was necessary.

    Eric Burns of Media Matters sums it up this way; “Fox News has been a constant source of misinformation, distraction, and smears…In the past year, Fox News has shown that it is not a news network, it’s a political operation. And it threw every tactic and every lie it had against health insurance reform. In its attempt to “kill the bill.”

    Burns points out these lies and distortions:

    “Promoting terrifying myths about “death panels,” euthanasia, abortion, “government takeovers,” and doctors quitting the profession.

    Advancing false claims about the bill’s cost, deficit impact, CBO score, and tax impact.

    Reporting inaccurate claims of “corruption,” “special deals,” and rule-breaking in the legislative process”

    In additon, Fox also engaged in partisan tactics instead of “fair and balanced” reporting:

    “Allowing hosts and contributors such as Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck, and Dick Morris to promote campaigns to call members of Congress in opposition to reform.”

    Regarding Obama’s fiscal policies;

    “On Fox & Friends, guest Art Laffer misleadingly claimed that “President Obama has decided to let Bush’s tax cuts expire,” falsely claimed that the “dividend tax rate’s going from 15 to 39.6 percent” and pushed the dubious claim that Reagan “postponed tax cuts which… caused the deep recession of 1981-82.” In fact, under President Obama’s proposed budget, tax rates would only increase ontop earners, and dividend taxes for those taxpayers would increase to 20 percent, not 39 percent.”

    “Appearing on Fox & Friends, purported business expert Stuart Varney made extensive revisions to U.S. economic history, among them: the false suggestion that President Obama has not cut taxes; the false suggestion that President Bush presided over strong job growth; and the false claim that after President Clinton took office, the economy did not improve until Republicans took control of Congress.”

    But according to MM

    “Bruce Bartlett, former adviser to President Reagan and a Treasury Department economist under President George H.W. Bush, wrote on March 19 that “federal taxes are very considerably lower by every measure since Obama became president. And given the economic circumstances, it’s hard to imagine that a tax increase would have been enacted last year…”

    Polls show that most Americans don’t realize they got a tax cut. This is the problem with big media organizations that deliberately lie. If most people knew the truth they wouldn’t join the tea party movement.

    And then of course, there’s the lunatic Glenn Beck who all but admitted to Forbes he acts nutty to boost ratings and make money. Would a truely professional news network allow this nonsense.

  • Vicky

    steve, there you go, name calling again.

    About Media Matters – why would that prove anything? They only pick apart anything or anyone on “the right”, conservatives, Repulicans. So quoting from Media Matters does not mean any more to most of us that Fox News does to you, steve. If all the “proof” we offered you was from the right, you’d declare it all lies and smears, hysterical ones at that. Back at ya.

  • steve

    Media Matters is a respected source and its research is impeccable. They have far more credibility than Fox News which everyone realizes is dishonest and pushes an agenda rather than accurately and objectively reports news.

    Media Matters has done thorough and exhaustive research on the print media and found that they actually have a conservative bias not a liberal one. In a survey of about 1,377 newspapers across the country, MM found that conservative pundits appear in three times as many papers and reach many more readers than do progressives/liberals. Although conservative pundits tend to be concentrated in the small and medium sized towns’ local papers with a lower circulation and thus reaching a smaller audience, many conservative syndicated columnists also appear in large metropolitan dailies. On balance, they found that conservatives rule the op.ed. pages.

    MM should be congratulated for all the fine work they do calling out FOX and a number of right wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh for distortions and inaccuracies that are too numerous to name. They also criticize other more mainstream media like CNN, MSNBC and ABC for inaccuracies.

    Vicky, I’ve examined claims and views from the right and usually found them inaccurate or a distortion. There are too many examples to go into here. I know the left gets it wrong sometimes too and there’s also some deliberate dishonesty there as well. I just feel that right now, the far right is so much worse. Obviously, FOX News has no intention of even making a pretention of objectivity and professionalism. I’ve seen the most laughable nonsense on that show that as a kid growing up with Walter Cronkite I never thought I’d see on a professional, national broadcast news network. Their silliness appeals to people with no education and they deliberately spout mindless talking points to their viewers to re-enforce their pre-conceived notions. I can’t respect people like that. MM made get it wrong at times but I think they’re trying to perform a valuable public service.


    Apparently, you’re a stranger to the blogosphere. What makes this fun is broadening the discussion and going off on tangents as the thread’s comments pile up.

  • Vicky

    steve – how nice to hear you actually say “I know the left gets it wrong sometimes too and there’s also some deliberate dishonesty there as well. ” I honestly thought that you thought they were completely perfect all the time, while the “right” was completely dishonest, inaccurate, and wrong all the time.

  • Sam

    Vicky – Your wasting your time and good thoughts. Steve is going to believe that Media Matters is totally unbiased even though they define themselves as follows:

    “Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

  • Vicky

    seriously, I appreciate that

  • Vicky

    Yeah, I saw that on their website. So I wouldn’t go by that. But it was nice to hear the teeny tiny bit of admission that the left isn’t perfect and correct 100% of the time. It just made my heart flutter! :o)

  • steve

    So when are you guys going to finally admit what bogus propaganda Fox News is. Even they don’t believe their own nonsense.

  • Sam

    About the time Chris Dodd, Barney Frank and friends report to federal Prison after being convicted for their role in bringing down the financial markets.

  • Vicky

    As soon as someone admits what bogus propangda the mainstream media is? The ones who propelled Obama into office, the ones who still conveniently overlook and misrepresent anything or anyone who goes against their liberal agenda…

  • steve


    The mainstream media didn’t propel Obama into office. They were fair but didn’t push for his election to office. Obama campaigned hard and won over traditionally hard core Republican districts in red states like Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere. I followed this closely. The media didn’t win the election for him. This is just more tea party mythology.


    I think it is outrageous that you blame a select few members of congress for the financial meltdown when it is perfectly obvious that the banks were extremely greedy and irresponsible in their loan practices and in their untenable risk positions regarding derivatives of all sorts.

    The housing crisis had little if anything to do with Fannie and Freddie; you seem to imply that it did with your obvious reference to Barney Frank. Speaking of which, the Democrats had nothing to do with the housing bust. The CRA and other legislative measures didn’t cause the crisis and subprime loans were only a small share of total mortgage lending in any case. The private financial sector clearly bears the responsibility for the 2008 meltdown.

    The 1977 CRA outlawed discrimination and redlining; it didn’t not require banks to lend to unqualified borrowers. This the banks did on their own when they could profit by selling the mortgages to be bundled as securities and sold by investment banks as MBSs. Fannie and Freddie have high lending standards by law. Nearly 85% of the subprime mortgages were issued by the private sector. Between 2004 and 2006, when subprime lending was exploding, “Fannie and Freddie went from holding a high of 48 percent of the subprime loans that were sold into the secondary market to holding about 24 percent, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance, a specialty publication.” (McClatchy Online, 10/12/08) In 1992, HUD set targets for Fannie & Freddie to purchase low-income loans for sale into the secondary market to encourage homeownership by low and moderate income buyers. This came to about half of all loans to low-to moderate-income families but not all were subprime. In any case these loans comprised a small share of overall mortgage lending.

    The alleged take over of the housing market occured under Bush, not Obama. Here’s why;

    “What prevented an even worse real estate collapse was simply that the US government replaced the private market in MBS. In 2008 and 2009, the GNMA, FHLMC, and FNMA together bought over 95 per cent of all mortgages for bundling into MBS. Investors only bought those MBS because the US government effectively guaranteed them. There has been no “private market” in housing throughout this crisis. It has been suspended indefinitely. Only US government guarantees and infusions of cash to GNMA, FHLMC, and FNMA (so that they can keep functioning despite defaults and other economic losses) are keeping the housing market alive today. Without the government, virtually no one could obtain a mortgage: the many desperate to sell homes (especially the banks seeking to unload the homes they foreclosed) would face very few buyers. The prices of homes would then sink like rocks.”

    This is one of many examples of “privatizing the gains and socializing the losses” under capitalism during economic crises. Bankers got bailouts while the poor lost their homes. The crisis harmed everyone but the wealthy. What we have is “socialism” for the rich.

  • Sam

    steve – Nice spin, but every one knows that the “social engineering’ of the Carter and Clinton years created this problem. The Clinton justice department under Janet Reno was looking very closely at Banks lending practices and were going after those banks that weren’t toeing the line in making loans .

    A simple real world summary of what happened.

    Banks and bankers usually operate with in the law. Yes, they made loans that they were able to pass along to Fanny and Freddie. Yes, if they had to hold many of these loans themselves they would not have made them.

    Remember – Local banks traditionally, would loan the savings of their depositors to borrowers who, they expected to be able to repay the loans. They required collateral to protect the loan, the ability to make the payments, etc. Areas were “Red lined” not because of the color of skin of the people who lived there but because history had demonstrated that loans in those neighbor hoods were poor risk of the peoples savings they were responsible for.

    The legislature outlawed “redlining” and created the vehicles for banks to get rid of these risky loans because they knew the banks would not assume the risk. The Freddie’s and Fannies then bundled these Loans and sold them to get cash to buy more loans from banks. It was/is a house of cards.

    When the 1977 legislation first passed I remember thinking that this sounded like a road to disaster. This is just an other example of good intentions paving the way to hell.

    It so typical that the politicians who created this mess have been so quick to blame the “greedy bankers”. By the way most banks are in the business of making a profit. Its what they are suppose to do. Those profits go back to the people who invest (save) with them.

  • steve

    “Banks and bankers usually operate with in the law.”

    Before 1980, this statement was perfectly true. Considering all that we’ve witnessed and heard since 2007 the statement is nothing short of laughable. Financial crises have been endemic over the past three decades many of them included banks themselves. We’ve had the S&L bailouts in the 1980s, the result of financial deregulation removing limits on what these banks could invest in, and of course the recent global financial meltdown created not least of all by the repeal of Glass-Steagall.
    Investment banks like Goldman-Sachs have had criminal complaints filed against them by the SEC. The financial industry has become lawless and we need new financial regulations.

    Finance professor and former Deputy Director of Economic Research at the Comptroller of the Currency, Harold A. Black, argues that blaming the CRA and Fannie and Freddie is nonsense. He is a Republican and strong believer in the free market. He’s written an excellent refutation of these tea party talking points regarding the financial crisis and I will highlight some of it.

    “two other important acts the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) were signed by a republican, Gerald Ford…two major changes in the CRA occurred in 1989 with the passage of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) and the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992. Both were signed into law by George H. W. Bush. Under FIRREA, the reporting requirements of CRA compliance were expanded. The latter act required Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to support affordable housing by purchasing CRA-qualifying loans. Even though the talk show hosts have said that up to one half of Fannie and Freddie loans were CRA loans, the act suggests that by the year 2010, that one-third of their purchases be affordable housing loans.”

    Black also focuses on the impact of the Riegel-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994 with respect to its CRA compliance criteria for allowing bank mergers or certain banks to acquire branches across state lines. Black argues that legal pressures from advocacy groups to for CRA compliance led the banks to pre-empt lawsuits and voluntarily expand lending to low income borrowers. Black explains,

    I recall going to a Fed Atlanta conference on CRA lending, compliance and enforcement. A banker told me that the Feds never pressured him into making a bad loan. However, because they wanted to expand into other states, they had instituted a more liberal CRA lending policy. So the truth is that if there is blame to be handed out for a misguided CRA policy, it has to be laid at the feet of the republicans and the banks. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are convenient whipping boys and are well deserving of other blame but CRA lending is not one of them.”

    Black also explains why logically speaking, CRA lending could not have been responsible for the financial crisis.

    “most CRA mortgages and subprime mortgages were sold to private investors. If these loans defaulted within 90 days, then the purchasers would put them back to the originator, If they defaulted later and more bad loans were made by the originator, then the investors would either not buy them or would offer low prices on mortgage pools of the originator. Either way, the originator would lose and would quit making bad loans.”

    Most of the institutions that spurred the massive growth of the subprime market weren’t regulated banks, they were unregulated finance companies and mortgage companies like Countrywide. Daniel Gross, widely published financial analyst, points out that the CRA only ended redlining as a form of illegal discrimination but didn’t force mortgage originators into risky lending practices for profit. That was motivated by greed, not lending laws.

    “the CRA didn’t force mortgage companies to offer loans for no money down, or to throw underwriting standards out the window, or to encourage mortgage brokers to aggressively seek out new markets. Nor did the CRA force the credit-rating agencies to slap high-grade ratings on packages of subprime debt.”

    The right has misrepresented the facts of the issue. The poor didn’t cause the crisis.

  • Vicky

    Sam – nice explanation. Very good.

    steve – are you kidding me?!? I followed the campaigns too, from both sides, and the mainstream media’s obvious favoritism of Obama was shameful and embarrassing. There is nothing to debate here.

    It seems to upset you that people refer to Obama as socialist. But you quote from Rick Wolff — and I see “rethinking Marxism” on his website, and he’s all about socialism. He clearly thinks capitalism is to blame for many of our problems.

    And for someone who says that he and his man, Obama, are not socialist … well, do I hear quacking? From one of your comments on the Monthly Review (unless it’s another ‘steve’ without a capital ‘s’ – and it could be, of course) I get the impression you like the New Left Review, which is totally socialist (the quarterly journal on socialist theory).

    steve . . . are you a closet socialist? Are you quacking in the dark? 🙂

  • NR

    Sam – wonderfully said.

    Steve- People progress when they work and understand the value of what it’s earned. Handing people “a better life” has done nothing but create a society of entilement.

    All those companies that were bailed out because they were too big to fail should’ve been allowed to fail. We are no better off for having “saved” them and in turn our deficit was dug deeper. From failure come better, bigger ideas/things. That is the American way, pick youself up and start all over again and this mentallity has been lost. Now everything is about what is owed me, what the government should do for me. Please!!! You got credit when you deserved it, when you had saved to cover down payments or you had the collateral to protect the investment.

    Had the government not created rogeams to get everyone a home and forced institutions to lend we wouldn’t be in the foreclosure crisis we are in. My home has lost so much value because of all the HUD froclosures around me. It sickens me.

  • steve

    I am a socialist; Obama is not. He is a corporate Democrat and if you notice he is backing off of his stimulus program and going in the direction of cutbacks and deficit reduction. Here is something I read in another interesting source.

    “The House passed a bill May 31 that extended emergency federal benefits through November, but eliminated subsidies to help laid-off workers pay for health care that had been included in previous bills. The House also stripped from the bill a $24 billion increase in federal subsidies to state Medicaid programs. If the latter money is not allocated, states already facing massive budget deficits will respond by laying off tens of thousands of additional teachers and other workers and further slashing essential services. The House did retain $28.5 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for corporations (under the guise of a “jobs” bill). The Senate is now considering its version of the House bill, which includes the renewal of more than 70 tax breaks for business that expired December 31.”

    Policies like this will result in more layoffs, unemployment and a much delayed recovery. I believe we need a massive federal jobs program immediately. Public investment is the only solution during long periods of chronic stagnation. Late capitalism is prone toward long periods of chronic stagnation and high average levels of long term unemployment like we’re now seeing. It has little to do with government policies. As you’ve seen trillions in tax cuts have done little to restore pre-1980 levels of employment and growth. Late capitalism tends toward stagnation because of its tendency to concentrate wealth, income and assets which constrains growth in effective demand. The consequence is to mask these contradictions with financial bubbles. This works for a while but only leads to financial instability and crisis. Here is a more cogent explanation,

    “…monopoly capital is able, through its market power, to alter the rate of exploitation, the rate at which value is divided and redistributed to capital, by operating below full capacity. This creates market shortages, artificially raising prices above the limits that might otherwise competitively prevail in the absence of monopoly restrictions on potential competition…The consequence, according to Baran and Sweezy, is the generation of a mass of surplus-value that cannot be readily recycled. There is no reason to build additional productive capacity when the key to monopoly profits resides in withholding production. The system therefore suffers from stagnation, a permanent difficulty in recycling its “surplus” (the preferred term in Monopoly Capital) by means of additional capital formation. In this unique sense, monopoly capitalism is said to suffer from chronic overaccumulation, which it attempts to counteract through a multiplicity of waste generating activities that absorb the surplus without arresting the central dynamic of overaccumulation. Whereas “competitive” capitalism lapsed into periodic crisis due to an insufficiency of surplus-value, the modern stage of capitalism is said to suffer from its inverse. Business cycles are replaced with an overarching tendency to stagnation, which is itself only periodically transformed into prosperity to the degree in which surplus absorption can be made successful. This takes the form primarily of advertising, war production, and imperialist adventures, the latter two financed by taxes and by the issuance of government debt.”

    We will doubtless lurch from crisis to crisis until the entire capitalist system becomes untenable. In the meantime, I worry about the emergence of fascism (tea parties?) which has historically been a political consequence of periods of deep and irreversible capitalist crisis.

    By the way, how did you discover the New Left Review? The one I read is published six times a year.

    You should read some socialist theory instead of just trashing it. It’s kind of a refreshing change from FOX News, don’t you think?

  • Mary

    To Everyone — In a nutshell:

  • Sam

    Mary – Thank you

    Folks be sure to listen to a rational man explain the problem we have. Click on Mary’s link

  • Vicky

    steve – you mentioned the New Left Review in your comment on Rick Wolff’s article in the MRzine Monthly Review, so I checked it out. It doesn’t seem to me like socialism is working very well anywhere else, so it doesn’t appeal to me at all. Granted, we have our own problems – but we have lots of freedom too. Well, that could be a whole other discussion.

    Obama may not be a full-fledged socialist yet – but wouldn’t you say he’s trying real hard to be? (In spite of some recent reversals, I think this is the way he would go if he could).

    About Fox News – I like Bill O’Rielly – I think he is “fair and balanced”, like they claim he is. Don’t you?

    Mary & Sam – I will watch the video…

  • steve


    I found your moralizing post not only wrong but offensive in that it spouted the usual lies about how the government and the poor are responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown. Clearly, years of banking deregulation and financial sector greed was the culprit not low and moderate income borrowers most of whom didn’t default on their loans. Most of those who did so, had lost their jobs large due to the economic crisis caused by the banks. It is also well known that the vast majority of lenders who made these risky loans were not subject to CRA lending rules. John C. Dugan, Comptroller of the Currency during the Bush Administration, made these remarks regarding the CRA and the housing meltdown in 2008;

    “CRA is not the culprit behind the subprime mortgage lending abuses, or the broader credit quality issues in the marketplace. Indeed, the lenders most prominently associated with subprime mortgage lending abuses and high rates of foreclosure are lenders not subject to CRA. A recent study of 2006 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data showed that banks subject to CRA and their affiliates originated or purchased only six percent of the reported high cost loans made to lower-income borrowers within their CRA assessment areas.”

    In addition, an estimated 60% of those who received subprime loans qualified for conventional loans but were sold a more high risk product because it was more profitable for the lenders. According to a summary of a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the CRA had little if anything to do with the housing crisis. One of many discoveries is that;

    “No major changes have been made to the CRA or its enforcement since 1995. The subprime crisis was triggered by poorly performing mortgage loans originated between 2004 and 2007. This chronological gap weakens the contention that the CRA is a major cause of the crisis.”

    In conjunction with this is the fact that;

    “Contrary to the widely held perception that most higher-priced loans were made to lower-income groups targeted by the CRA, 55 percent of higher-priced loan originations went to middle- and upper-income borrowers or borrowers in middle- and upper-income neighborhoods in 2005 and 2006.”

    Here is the full summary;

    A former Federal Reserve Governor, Randall Kroszner, asserted in 2008, “Contrary to the widely held perception that most higher-priced loans were made to lower-income groups targeted by the CRA, 55 percent of higher-priced loan originations went to middle- and upper-income borrowers or borrowers in middle- and upper-income neighborhoods in 2005 and 2006.”

    In the 1990s, there was an explosion of CRA lending pushing the rate of US homeownership up to about 68% by the end of the decade. But none of this was risky subprime lending. This occured later during the Bush Administration. By 2004, subprime lending exploded but most of it was by unregulated financial institutions;

    “…in late 2008, Federal Reserve Board economists Glenn Canner and Neil Bhutta analyzed the 2005 and 2006 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data to understand the relationship between CRA and the sub-prime crisis. After observing that “the [sub-prime] crisis is rooted in the poor performance of mortgage loans made between 2004 and 2007,” Canner and Bhutta found that in 2006 “only 10 percent of all loans [were] ‘CRA-related’ — that is, lower income loans made by banks and their affiliates in their CRA assessment areas.” Looking at the higher-priced loans that are a proxy for the poor-performing sub-prime loans, they observed that “only 6 percent of all higher-priced loans in 2006 were made by CRA-covered institutions or their affiliates to lower-income borrowers or neighborhoods in their assessment areas.”

    According to Bush’s FDIC chairperson, Sheila Blair;

    “Only about one-in-four higher-priced first mortgage loans were made by CRA-covered banks during the hey-day years of subprime mortgage lending (2004-2006). The rest were made by private independent mortgage companies and large bank affiliates not covered by CRA rules.”

    Many bankers such as Jamie Dimond of JP Morgan and others have already admitted that financial industry greed led to lowering lending standards and that the ability to profitibley sell mortgages in secondary markets as bundled securities contributed to this trend as well. Blaming the CRA and the working poor who suffered as the banks got bailed out is offensive and wrong. It is typical of conservatives to let the rich off the hook for their greed and scapegoat the poor for the ills of society.

  • Mary

    Steve – question: Please tell us if there is another country in the world that you admire more than the US and would like the US to emulate.

  • steve


    I never said I hated the United States. I just object to many aspects of the social system. I think there are many countries that have had successes in areas where we have not and that we can learn from their experiences. One obvious example to me is our need for a universal, single payer health insurance system. This is not socialized medicine. It socializes the health insurance system only. Health care should be part of our social infrastructure, our health is not something we should insure like property. Private, for profit health insurance is incompatible with quality health care for all. Ezra Klein puts it this way;

    The industry, [Wendell] Potter says, is driven by “two key figures: earnings per share and the medical-loss ratio, or medical-benefit ratio, as the industry now terms it. That is the ratio between what the company actually pays out in claims and what it has left over to cover sales, marketing, underwriting and other administrative expenses and, of course, profits.” Think about that term for a moment: The industry literally has a term for how much money it “loses” paying for health care. The best way to drive down “medical-loss,” explains Potter, is to stop insuring unhealthy people…The issue isn’t that insurance companies are evil. It’s that they need to be profitable. They have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profit for shareholders. And as Potter explains, he’s watched an insurer’s stock price fall by more than 20 percent in a single day because the first-quarter medical-loss ratio had increased from 77.9 percent to 79.4 percent. The reason we generally like markets is that the profit incentive spurs useful innovations. But in some markets, that’s not the case.

    Over the past ten years health insurance costs have doubled as health insurance profits have soared. They make money collecting high premiums, denying claims and dropping risky people. This is no way to run a health care system. Profits have been high for health insurance companies despite poor and costly coverage. According to Consumer Reports; “In 2006, the nation’s six biggest private health insurers collectively earned almost $11 billion in profits.”

    The biggest winners from the health care bill have been pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, manufacturers of medical equipment and health insurance companies all of whom spend millions on lobbying. They will make billions from the government programs and the new insurance mandate. The NYT reported, “With a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system, Congress would be giving the health care industry as many as 32 million additional paying customers in the next few years.” The public option, which the GOP blocked, would have contained costs through competition; now we are giving away billions to corporate America with no control on fees and drug prices (Medicare is still prohibited from negotiating bulk discounts for prescription drugs with big pharmaceutical firms).

    Tort reform, the tea party’s panacea for health care reform, is a red herring. According to a CBO report in October 2009;

    “CBO estimates that the direct costs that providers will incur in 2009 for medical malpractice liability—which consist of malpractice insurance premiums together with settlements, awards, and administrative costs not covered by insurance—will total approximately $35 billion, or about 2 percent of total health care expenditures. Therefore, lowering premiums for medical liability insurance by 10 percent would reduce total national health care expenditures by about 0.2 percent.”

    In states like California and Texas, which have long had a $250,000 cap on malpractice settlements, medical malpractice insurance goes up significantly anyhow. GE Medical Protective, the nation’s largest medical malpractice insurer, raised premiums 19% in Texas and 29.2% in California despite the caps.

    At least 20,000 people die a year for lack of medical coverage. This is a scandal in a country as rich as ours. Although Obama’s bill benefits corporate America more than the people, it is better than nothing. But better still would be a single payer system for all.

  • Vicky

    Steve – In regard to: “They make money collecting high premiums, denying claims and dropping risky people.”

    I have worked closely with several insurance companies over the past 10 years. Insurance companies (except maybe some small unscrupulous ones) make it very clear up front what they cover and what they don’t. They aren’t in the business of weaseling out of paying claims. There are too many protections and processes in place that prevent this. Furthermore, they don’t and can’t just drop coverage on someone who is sick. This is illegal.

    Premiums go up when insurance companies have high claims and usage. They also have to increase premiums if they are going to offer more coverage for more services. This is simple business practice. And they have to keep offering more coverage for more services at lower copays and lower deductibles because UNIONS are forcing them to do so! It’s that simple.

    I can’t speak to the other industries you mentioned (pharmaceuticals, etc), but I’ve worked at a hospital for many years and they aren’t swimming in profits. Medicare reimbursement keeps getting cut, medical advancements are costly, UNIONS keep forcing up the salaries of their members AND forcing companies to increase their benefits…. You get the idea.

    And if everyone wasn’t so quick to sue whether it’s justified or not (as in “my baby died because I’m a smoker, but I’m going to sue the doctor and the hospital for malpractice”) , health care would most certainly be less expensive. I’ve known several doctors who have quit private practice because they can’t afford the malpractice insurance. I’ve also knows OB-GYN’s who have quit delivering babies for that very reason. The amount a hospital has to pay for the insurance is absurd, and it’s no wonder they have to pass the cost along to the patients.

    By the way, the cost of lots of things has doubled, or more, in the last ten years. Houses, cars, food…. Why would insurance or health care be different?

  • steve

    You apparently didn’t read my entire post. I answered all your points as clearly as possible but I will respond to the claims you made in your post.

    Private health insurance is unnecessary. A federally administered single payer universal health care system would be more administratively cost effective, cheaper for businesses and individuals and ensure that all Americans were covered regardless of pre-existing conditions. Social Security is administratively cost effective with only 2% of revenues going to administration while privately managed capital funds rack in billions in fees and other costs a year. It is estimated that between $300 billion and $400 billion could be saved on administrative fees alone with a single payer public insurance system. These savings could provide health care for millions of people in need.

    One of the reasons health insurance firms claim to be raising their rates is that their risk pool is becoming skewed toward the sick and elderly as younger, healthier workers lose their employer based health insurance due to layoffs and rising costs. Wellpoint CEO Angela Braly testified to a congressional committee regarding this problem. One reason we got the unpopular health insurance mandate over the public option, which would have controlled costs through competition, is that corporate health insurance firms benefit from the mandate but not the public option which would have lowered their profits. Here is an excerpt from Braly’s testimony favoring a mandate;

    “In November 2008, our industry came forward with an independant framework of policy proposals that would help control costs and help improve health insurance markets for consumers. Included in this framework was an effective, enforceable personal coverage requirement that would expand and stabilize the individual health insurance market even when combined with requirements on insurers to accept all applicants with no pre-existing conditions exclusions…”

    Contrary to your assertion, insurance companies have been repeated shown to drop sick patients who’ve paid their premiums for years when the get sick. The Department of Health and Human Services calls this rescission, a practice by which insurance companies review a member’s application questionnaire after the insured is diagnosed with a costly condition such as cancer, and then retroactively cancel the policy if any preexisting condition was misrepresented. Critics say rescissions occur even if patients were not aware of their medical conditions at the time they applied. According to one HHS document;

    “A recent Congressional investigation into this practice found nearly 20,000 rescissions from three large insurers over five years, saving them $300 million in medical claims–$300 million that instead had to come out of the pockets of people who thought they were insured, or became bad debt for health care providers. At least one insurance company has been found to evaluate employee performance based in part on the amount of money an employee saved the company through rescissions. Simply put, these insurance company employees are encouraged to revoke sick people’s health coverage.”

    Health care costs are rising. But health insurance profits are rising much faster. According to HHS;

    “While rising health care costs is a known problem with our broken health care system, some of the premium increases requested by insurance companies are 5 to 10 times larger than the growth rate in national health expenditures.All the while, insurance companies and their CEOs continue to thrive. Recent economic data show that profits for the ten largest insurance companies increased 250 percent between 2000 and 2009, ten times faster than inflation. Last year, as working families struggled with rising health care costs and a recession, the five largest health insurance companies – WellPoint, UnitedHealth Group, Cigna, Aetna, and Humana – took in combined profits of $12.2 billion, up 56 percent over 2008…And recent data show that the CEOs of America’s five largest insurers were each compensated up to $24 million in 2008.”

    It is well known that the health insurance industry is highly concentrated and this explains their ability to raise rates with impunity. Health insurance rate increases are faster than either the rate of medical cost increases or the inflation rate in general.

    According to Braly’s testimony pharmaceutical company profits have skyrocketed since Medicare part D went into effect averaging more than 19% a year. This is included in the link for Braly’s congressional testimony as well.

    Blaming unions for escalating health insurance costs is quite absurd. In fact, you are literally the first person to do this to the very best of my knowledge. Union membership represents about 12.5% of the entire US workforce. Even union members have taken cuts in health care benefits or have been asked for larger contributions. There is no way that unions can be held responsible for the rise in health insurance.costs. Unions don’t force up real wages any longer either. Wages in the unionized sector merely keep pace with inflation while health insurance profits soar well above it!!

    Re-read my last post regarding the CBO analysis of tort reform as a total red herring. I’ll post the link here again so you can’t miss it this time.

  • martin

    It is about freedom from tyranny….and the freedom to choose…I kinda really like that part – not what these marxist progressives (like obama) keep espousing.

    Nothing in life is guaranteed and you are not entitled to anything – handouts or healthcare included.

    We will settle for freedom above all else….so leave me alone and keep the union thieves away from my paycheck.

  • steve


    You have clue what you’re talking about. The health care bill is hardly “tyranny” and in any case, there would be no insurance mandate were it not for the GOP. If you carefully read my post above you would have noticed that it was the health insurance companies that supported the health insurance mandate. The GOP’s killing of the house version of the health care bill ensured that the health insurance industry got what they publically said they wanted.

    It is also clear that the GOP, knowing that some kind of reform bill would inevitably pass, made sure that it chiefly helped large corporations regardless of the resulting cost to government, small businesses or consumers.

    Obama merely wanted a public option to allow working families to purchase affordable health care. It also was intended to spur competition in an industry that it utterly monopolized and that has been protected from anti-trust action by law. This is not about “entitlement” but about solving serious problems. Hard working people, by the way, are more entitled to expect help in getting something like health care more than private health insurers are to make windfall profits by gouging society. Being healthy is a right and should be treated as such by the government. This is not a “Marxist” point of view but one adopted by numerous capitalist countries that are often more successful than we are in many areas of social and economic endeavor. Single payer health care reform would give people more freedom not less. It would also save society billions of dollars and stimulate the economy. Health care is a right, not a privalege. A universal, single payer health care system is the only way to achieve quality health care for all.

  • Vicky

    Hey martin – most of us agree with you.

    Health care is not a right. We don’t have a right to health care any more than we have a right to food or housing or clothes or education. If you work, you get these things. If you are unable to work (not if you are too lazy to work), you should be able to get help. We are NOT entitled to the same thing everyone else has.

  • steve

    Vicky, Martin

    You both have a strange idea regarding the things to which people do and do not have a right. Working families don’t have a right to affordable health care but large corporations have a right to gouge the public for their windfall profits at the expense of the sick even though this directly results in an estimated 20,000 deaths a year from a lack of health care coverage and access to decent medical treatment.

    Obama didn’t offer anyone anything for free. What he offered was a public option which would actually make create a functioning free market in health insurance by creating competition in an otherwise monopolized market free from legal challenges. The Medicare buy in was also an opportunity to purchase health insurance at affordable rates for those who want this option. There were no giveaways in the original House version of the bill which the GOP turned into a mess largely benefiting large corporations.

    It might also interest you to know that other countries that have universal, single payer health care systems don’t offer handouts either. People pay taxes for this system and these countries spend far less per capita on high quality health care than the US does and they still manage to cover everyone. The so called horror stories about their health care systems are just so much right wing propaganda.

    In the final analysis you both aren’t really defending freedom. You are merely defending worsening corporate greed.

  • Vicky

    steve – it probably depends on each individual’s point of view, work experience, corporate dealings, etc. We think you have a strange point of view which is based on socialist idealogy. And, no steve – those stories aren’t just propaganda – many of us have heard them first hand from people we know. It seems you’ve led a sheltered and narrow life.

  • Mary

    To Vicky, Martin, NR – you are trying to convert a self proclaimed Socialist (Steve’s post 6/15 @ 5:40 p.m.) His idea of what America should be are anathema and are counter to our Country’s founding principles.

    Steve – “There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together. ”
    Author: Josh Billings

  • steve

    My idea about universal single payer health care is not “socialist” and is supported world wide in opinion poll after opinion poll. This makes your views strange, not mine.

  • Vicky

    Mary – you are so right!

    steve – NOT in THIS country. And this is the country in which we live. This is the country we love. Perhaps you would be happier in one of the countries where these supposed polls support your views?

  • NJ

    I don’t believe that the foundation or principals of this country in any way support the idea that if you don’t like the way things are, you should get out. Our country was formed because the founders believed that if citizens don’t like the way things are they have the right (and the responsibility) to change it, to fix it, using the political process. Clearly ideas of what problems exist and how to fix them differ, but wanting succcess for the country you love is patriotic, period. Obama is president, and health insurance reform has passed, but I haven’t seen the “get out if you don’t like it” attitude toward the many vocal opponents of both the president and the law. I don’t mean to say that all conservatives hold this mentality, but that it seems to come from that direction when it does surface, and it is frustrating to no end. To another point, Steve did, in fact, reference data from this country.

  • steve

    Apparently, enough Americans have suffered enough under the current unjust system to make universal, single payer health care popular in this country too;

    An NYT poll also found majority support for a single payer health care system.


    Americans are more likely today to embrace the idea of the government providing health insurance than they were 30 years ago. 59% say the government should provide national health insurance, including 49% who say such insurance should cover all medical problems.
    In January 1979, four in 10 thought the federal government should provide national insurance. Back then, more Americans thought health insurance should be left to private enterprise.



    NOW 1/1979

    Private enterprise 32% 48%
    Government – all problems 49% 28
    Government – emergencies 10 12
    Don’t know 9 12

    There are many more examples but these will suffice for now. Rejection of the current legislation doesn’t mean rejection of health care reform in principle.

  • Bob

    Steve, from the “down under land”. You are so full of idealogical BS the Aussies are laughing at you as the biggest nerd they have eve read. Obama is not respected down here, they feel he’s giving away the farm and hope that America wakes up before it is too late. Meanwhile, I’ll put a shrimp on the bar-be. Bob

  • LD

    Wow! I have to say I’m really surprised at the posts to this article. I’ve always enjoyed reading the opinions of other HR professionals regarding difficult HR related topics. However, the posts to this article are ridiculous. I wasn’t going to comment on this article initially because I have no previous experience with unions, so I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment. However, after reading negative post after post that happen to be totally unrelated to the article at hand, I felt compelled to post something.

    To be frank, I could care less about the political views of all of you. What we should be discussing is how we, as HR professionals, will deal with the possible new support of unionization. This is not the forum to bash Obama (or each other for that matter) or rekindle the Bush years. Yes, Obama has an agenda…and so did Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, etc. It’s their platform used to get elected. We will have a new president at some point and they will have their own agenda. Get over it. This is not the place for the political commentary. I can watch CNN, MSNBC and Fox News for that!!!! (And yes I watch all three in an effort to gain some perspective on current events because they are ALL biased).

    I was trying to avoid putting too many of my own personal views, unrelated to HR, on the table, but I have to comment on the statement that no one is entitled to an education. Although there is no constitutional amendment to address the right to an education, every state has some sort of provision in its constitution that guarantees some type of free public education. I would hope that’s what we want for all Americans as it will only better our society and our future workforce. If I took that statement out of context, I apologize.

  • Tim


    I know that this has nothing to do with unionization, but
    “I could care less” is an almost meaningless statement.

    The correct term is
    I couldn’t (or could not) care less.

    Listen to Bob. He is correct.

  • Jim

    There you go Steve Vicky finally said it. If you do not agree with her way then you should leave. Because this country is, hers and the people that think like her. This country was founded on the idea of individual liberty as long as she agrees with it otherwise get the hell out! You cannot love this country because you have a different position then hers.

    Let’s face it, Vicky and her crew does not have the ability to think critically about complex issues. They just call names and use sound bites from the right that are easily discredited with a little research. They are just a pack of ignorant bullies on the playground.

    As long as they stay in their echo chamber of lies, propaganda and misinformation this forum will continue to be nothing more than entertainment. FOX and the right’s messages are very short and simple. The only place you can get the truth is from us because all other sources are evil and full of lies. Do not listen or read anything other then what we say is okay. This is a textbook propaganda campaign. They always work to a degree because we all will react to fear and anger and simple people that do not have the ability to think critically will always fall for it hook line and sinker. These are the people that the right needs to fool to be elected and as in the past after the election the right will not give them a second thought and just continue with business as usual.

    The three rules of a successful propagandist are

    1. You will never fail under estimating the public’s intelligence
    2. There is a sucker born every minute
    3. You can not fool all the people all the time but you can fool enough to rule a country

    Steve you make good points with the facts to back up what you saying but it just does not matter because your evil and they have been told not to listen to you. You are nothing but a plant from the DNC right? What a laugh. They will never run out of conspiracies to justify their position. It is the way of the successfully propagandized.

    Good Luck

  • steve


    John Howard isn’t PM any longer in Australia; it’s currently Kevin Rudd of the Labor Party. Here’s something on the improved US/Australian relations since Obama’s election to office.

    “Bush’s retirement has also benefited the alliance. It is good news for Australia when our strategic ally is well-liked around the world rather than disliked. Furthermore Obama’s popularity among Australians has given a shot in the arm to domestic support for the alliance, which had been sagging under the Bush-Howard duumvirate. It’s notable that, with Bush gone, critics on the Australian left are no longer succumbing to the temptation always to put the worst possible interpretation on American conduct. Alliance bashers no longer argue, as they did during Bush’s time, that the US is a ‘rogue state’ and ‘the world’s most dangerous nation’ or that Australia is ‘hooked on dependence’.”

    Also, Australia has universal government provided health care which is more comprehensive than the health care reform that the US right wing is so hysterical about.

    “In Australia the current system, known as Medicare, was instituted in 1984. It coexists with a private health system. Medicare is funded partly by a 1.5% income tax levy (with exceptions for low-income earners), but mostly out of general revenue. An additional levy of 1% is imposed on high-income earners without private health insurance. As well as Medicare, there is a separate Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that heavily subsidizes prescription medications. In 2007-08, Australia spent 9.1% of GDP on health care, or AUD$4874 per capita…Health Services in Australia are universal. The Federal Government pays a large percentage of the cost of services in public hospitals…Medicare…ensures free universal access to hospital treatment and subsidised out-of-hospital medical treatment.”

    I also found this interesting;

    “The private health system is funded by a number of private health insurance organizations. The largest of these is Medibank Private, which is government-owned, but operates as a government business enterprise under the same regulatory regime as all other registered private health funds.”

    Sounds suspiciously like a public option.

    Bob I’m sure that where ever you go you find like minded people. This doesn’t mean that most Aussies are conservatives. They did elect Kevin Rudd over John Howard. Perhaps one of many reasons is that Howard promised to privatize Medibank Private if re-elected which was not to popular with the voters. Finance Minister Lindsey Tanner defended keeping Medicare in government hands;

    “Medibank Private is Australia’s largest private health insurer. It has consistently delivered excellent results in recent years. In last year’s budget we converted it into a company paying tax and dividends, so it now competes on equal terms with other profit-making major private health funds. It’s difficult to see how a private owner would make it run more efficiently, and any benefits in debt reduction from a sale would be largely cancelled out by the loss of dividends to the government.”

    Tanner opposes the sell off of Australia’s single largest health insurer, a government owned enterprise, with this reasoning;

    “A new private owner might simply want to milk the circumstances and charge the highest premiums they can and not care about the health circumstances of their members.”

    Here is one Aussie’s response to the 2006 Federal Parlaiment approval of the sale of Medibank to private investors;

    “I hope when Labor wins the election, they cancel the privitisation. This is obsurdity. No doubt that the health insurance premium would significantly increase because the industry has no gov’t owned company to make it competitive.” (emphasis added)

    This was exactly why Obama proposed the public option. It was meant to create free market competition, not stifle it.

  • steve


    You’re right about Vicky and many of the others. Intolerance seems to be the American right’s stock in trade. They also seem to believe they have sole rights to define what is and is not American and then proceed to wave the US Constitution around. What they don’t seem to understand is that numerous US Supreme Court decisions have confirmed the constitutionality of many of the very laws they rebuke as “unAmerican.”

  • Tom

    In my 15 years of HR, I have worked in both union and non-union manufacturing plants. My experience in a union shop left a bad taste in my mouth. With all our laws and regulations here in the United States, most businesses do the job right in dealing with their employees while working at making a profit. My current company could always improve, but we don’t need a union to dictate communication, teamwork and how we all work to achieve our goal – which is ultimately staying employed. I don’t like the idea of giving the union an advantage in signing people up, but I am not really worried about it happening at my plant. I am more aggravated with how the government is handling it.

  • steve

    The real goal of unions today, it seems to me, is not to partner up with management in running the business (this has been done in Europe but I assure you it will never happen here). The objective of American labor unions is now to get a living wage, and hopefully some benefits, for the working poor (there is less and less of the middle class). About a third of the country is at 150% of the poverty line or below. The case for unions is clear. We are becoming an impoverished nation due to low wages.

  • Tim

    Yes Steve, and can you please tell me how Unions, demanding higher wages, will help us when the downward pressure on costs in this global economy dictates that higher wages (i.e increased costs) will drive employment elsewhere (to where costs are lower?)

    This is a question that the left refuses to answer because they cannot.
    Have you ever heard of Detroit Michigan?

  • steve

    The left has an excellent answer to it and I answered it in part in one of my above posts. Labor unions were not the cause of US firms going overseas. They weren’t in the 1970s and 80s and they’re not today. Unions went overseas because US labor can never compete with foreign labor in terms of low wage costs. They can’t be expected to either. Multinational firms have even left Northern Mexico for China because Chinese labor was even cheaper. Most importantly, US multinational firms began leaving the US right when US real wages, both union and non-union, were declining.

    “The best book on this is Kim Moody’s An Injury to All: The Decline of American Unionism. Moody points out that the average wage differential between union and non-union wages dropped from 30% in 1979 to 25% in 1985. High chronic unemployment and the resulting pressures for concessionary bargaining led to this trend. Moody further points out that there was a rapid slowdown in union benefit and wage gains. The gap between union and non-union wages began continued to narrow throughout the 1980s (and thereafter). The most important point Moody makes is that the comparable rates in the growth of employment costs for all private sector workers, both union and non-union, were 24% for 1980-83 and 10% for 1983-86. In addition, real average wages fell faster during the 1980s than the 1970s despite a marked drop in the annual rate of inflation. Taking into consideration these facts, it is impossible to blame unions for the shift in jobs overseas. The corporate search for ever cheaper labor and the resulting higher profits is a structural feature of globalization.”

    Average real wages are as low as they’ve ever been. Corporate profits are at record highs. The income gap in the US is also at an all time high. The gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007. This is the latest data the CBO has which they released in a report earlier this month.

    Our affluent society can certainly afford to pay workers better. Greed is the real obstacle. Most of the jobs held by workers who seek unionization, can’t be sent offshore. One reason that the GOP opposes a direct public job creation program is that it would tighten labor markets and raise wages significantly. The New Deal jobs programs such as the WPA, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Public Works Administration created jobs directly, by hiring the unemployed and the putting them to work on projects to build or maintain the public infrastructure of roads, bridges, dams, buildings and parks. By contrast, the Obama-Biden program provides money to state governments to pay private contractors, a very cost ineffective way to create jobs. Predictably, most of the federal stimulus money has gone into the coffers of private business and has made fewer jobs per dollar spent than would a direct government jobs program. WWII showed that the federal government can function effectively as the “employer of last resort.” The political opposition from business is strongly opposed, however. What isn’t being touted is that a massive public sector jobs program would stimulate private sector growth most of all.