Labor Day Monday Morning Open Thread

Another take on the day’s theme, from Timothy Noah at MSNBC:

No challenge facing liberalism today is more important — or more difficult — than that of reviving the labor movement. Yet liberals show little enthusiasm for this task. The truth is that liberals and labor leaders bear little regard for one another. Such mutual alienation is an indulgence that neither group can afford.

By “liberals” I mean not the entire left-of-center spectrum but rather the sort of centrist liberals who dominate within the Democratic party. This group is not the same as “the left,” which remains committed to unions, and which today dwells primarily within college faculties, certain church-affiliated groups, and the labor movement itself. (The dividing line between liberals and the left was more obvious prior to the mid-1970s, when the center started drifting rightward.)…

Two years ago, a leading figure in the labor movement confided to me, in an off-the-record conversation, that he couldn’t stand liberals. Not long after, I observed that the feeling was mutual when I shopped to a number of liberal nonprofit think tanks the idea of starting a project on the future of labor unions. Again and again, it was explained to me that liberal nonprofits were funded by rich people who, though liberal in all sorts of ways, harbored no greater affection for labor unions than their conservative counterparts did…

What’s on the agenda as we (well, the lucky ones among us) wrap up the holiday weekend and brace for the new season?

171 replies
  1. 1
    Botsplainer says:

    Somehow missed this glorious morsel on how Galt’s Gulch Chile turned out to be nothing more than a grift.

    Atlas Shrugged readers remember Galt’s Gulch as the rural refuge where Ayn Rand’s Real Men of Genius spurned American socialism for their own anti-leftist paradise. Some inspired libertarians have set up a real-life Galt’s Gulch in Chile. Unregulated capitalism, though, is presenting some problems!

    But all is not so sweet. Wendy McElroy, a “Canadian individualist anarchist” of some note, bought a 1.25-acre plot in Galt’s Gulch Chile last year, or so she thought. She wrote a blistering post Monday suggesting that the Real Men of Genius behind the settlement are grifters, or incompetents, or both:

    Shortly after purchasing, I received an unsigned email through the webform of a site I maintain. It informed me that GGC was a fraud. One reason: GGC lacked water rights. In Chile, purchasing surface land and water rights are two separate processes. GGC is desert terrain, rather like California, and water rights are absolutely necessary for a community to be established.

    The emailer was apparently an ex-employee who demanded payoffs from Galt’s Gulch’s two main developers. Which, according to McElroy, he got, after “many unpleasant details,” and after GGC did get some land that included water rights. But then, the whole thing deteriorated into a power struggle and lawsuits over “maze-like transfers of cash and authority,” and at some point McElroy learned that she didn’t actually own her plot, because the development wasn’t authorized to sell lots that small…

    The upshot, McElroy learned, is that Galt’s Gulch also “owes hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to hardware stores [and] service providers” in the nearest town, “ordinary Chileans who are acutely harmed by the project’s malfeasance.”

    From the comments:

    For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Galt? This is John Galt speaking. I am the man who would like a glass of water. Please, somebody send us some water. We’re dying here. Send us some water and we will return to our self sufficiency while you socialist toads decay in the stomach of your unreasonable altruism.

  2. 2
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Vote Union now, vote union always, because if we can’t stand together, they won’t let you stand at all.

  3. 3
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    More proof that rich people are just as stupid as poor people.

  4. 4
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Heh. Peter Lorre:

    At the 1956 funeral of Bela Lugosi (with whom he had appeared along with Karloff in a 1940 haunted-house horror movie called You’ll Find Out), Lorre turned to Vincent Price and whispered: “Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart, just in case?”

  5. 5
    Botsplainer says:


    Stupider in a lot of ways. More bad deals happen at the country club than you could imagine.

  6. 6
    chopper says:

    Yeah, but the labor movement of old involved lots of marching and striking and shit. Can’t we just fire off some sarcastic tweets instead?

  7. 7
    kuvasz says:

    “You think this man is the enemy? Huh? This is a worker! Any union keeps this man out ain’t a union, it’s a goddam club! They got you fightin’ white against colored, native against foreign, hollow against hollow, when you know there ain’t but two sides in this world – them that work and them that don’t. You work, they don’t. That’s all you got to know about the enemy.”

    Joe Kenehan, Matwan.


  8. 8
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @kuvasz: Great movie. Seen it several times. Still pisses me off that Joe dies.

  9. 9
    J R in WV says:


    Good post, right on!

    One pedantic detail, the town is spelled Matewan. I live just up the road an hour from there, have the poster down stairs. And he’s absolutely right, anyone who spent his life working at anything for a weekly/monthly paycheck is a worker and should be supporting unions.

    People who work for a living and don’t even join a union when they can is cutting off bodily parts to spite the boss, or something like that. JUST STUPID!!!

    The unions are why we have weekends off, why the work week is supposed to be 40 hours, why work isn’t always fatal any more, except in Tejas. Why we don’t have to buy our own tools from the company, and pay to have them sharpened by the company!

    Without unions we wouldn’t be any different from the slaves. If things keep going the way they have been, you won’t be allowed to quit a job if you aren’t debt free, which you won’t be. If you get busted for speeding you will wind up in debt you can’t pay, and forced into a job no one wants, for the rest of your life.

    It is called debt peonage, and it existed everywhere once upon a time. It was a big part of Jim Crow, how the southeron sheriffs were able to put strong black men on the chain gang for life, for nothing but walking while black. They can do it to you, too, without unions with real power.

    All we have is our labor, our only real power (besides voting) is the withholding of our labor.

    Liberals have forgotten all this, I think. Jim Crow was for black folks, but if you think the Koch brothers don’t plan for it to work that way for everyone, you are stupid!

  10. 10
    Baud says:


    Yeah, they just get more mulligans.

  11. 11
    kuvasz says:

    @J R in WV:

    Every Labor Day I watch Matewan and the Molly Maguires. My dad was involved in the UAW for over 40 years. I learned from him about the importance of unions for the working person.

  12. 12
    geg6 says:

    I feel like a traitor. I forgot a major ingredient for the pasta salad I’m making for the family picnic today. The only place open locally is fucking Walmart. Our local Giant Eagle is closed for remodeling (corporate just bought it back from the franchisee who recently passed away) so I can’t patronize the only union grocery store around. Though I am excited that corporate bought the store. Rumor has it that they’re turning it into a mini Market District (their version of Whole Foods).

  13. 13
    Baud says:



    Even so, GGC developers will still sell you a 1,200-acre “Master Estate” for a mere $500,000. As long as you’re also willing to extend GGC developers a $2 million “Founders Club” loan along with that $500,000, which they’ll totally pay back, they swear.

    I’m a sucker for working instead of grifting.

  14. 14
    Baud says:

    By “liberals” I mean not the entire left-of-center spectrum but rather the sort of centrist liberals who dominate within the Democratic party. This group is not the same as “the left,”

    Booman had a post up the other day talking about the difference liberals and progressives. I’ve never actually groked all these various distinctions, which seem entirely to depend on the speaker, the subject, and the context.

  15. 15
    Gene108 says:


    Why are they going to the nanny state to resolve their disputes via the court system, which is after all supported by tax dollars confiscated from Real Men of Genius?

  16. 16
    Botsplainer says:


    The true beauty of that part of the con is that it leads the small tradesmen/kulaks who are drawn to this Randian stupidity to believe that there are some actual Midas Mulligans/D’Anconias in the mix. If that portion of the grift actually pays off via insanity, inheritance or a lottery win, so much the better, but it isn’t really necessary.

    They’re content to pull sucker money from the guy who owns a tire store and pictures himself a captain of industry.

  17. 17
    Botsplainer says:


    Because even the businessmen fall into two classes, and one must be able to protect oneself from masquerading looters like Jim Taggart and Orren Boyle.

  18. 18
    NotMax says:

    Don’t know if it’s the “best” union song, but it is a pretty danged catchy number.

  19. 19
    Chris says:

    By “liberals” I mean not the entire left-of-center spectrum but rather the sort of centrist liberals who dominate within the Democratic party. This group is not the same as “the left,” which remains committed to unions, and which today dwells primarily within college faculties, certain church-affiliated groups, and the labor movement itself. (The dividing line between liberals and the left was more obvious prior to the mid-1970s, when the center started drifting rightward.)…

    From what I’ve seen on Gallup polls and the like, the general public’s support for unions is at an all-time low (compare and contrast with an approval rate near 80% in the thirties). Memes about unions being dangerous to the economy, parasitically sinking companies, having destroyed Detroit, only looking out for their own members, or whatever have spread far beyond the 27%ers. It’s not as bad as the consensus on gun control, or Israel/Palestine, but unions are still a shadow of their former selves – and sadly, it’s not just DLC/Third Way blue blood elites that want them that way.

  20. 20
    the Conster says:


    Any discussion of libertarianism has to give a shout out to Belle Waring:

    Just wish that we might all live in a state of perfect liberty, free of taxation and intrusive government, and that we should all be wealthier as well as freer. Now wish that people should, despite that lack of any restraint on their actions such as might be formed by policemen, functioning law courts, the SEC, and so on, not spend all their time screwing each other in predictable ways ranging from ordinary rape, through the selling of fraudulent stocks in non-existent ventures, up to the wholesale dumping of mercury in the public water supplies. (I mean, the general stock of water from which people privately draw.)

    Now wish that everyone had a pony.

  21. 21
    Botsplainer says:


    There are a lot of anecdotal tales afloat of excessive union shop support of malingering/shoddy/nasty employees through the 70s and 80s that contributes a helluvalot to this broader public anti-union sentiment. While that pretty much disappeared in the late 80s, the lingering effects have been nothing short of disastrous.

  22. 22
    bemused says:

    I read this weekend that msnbc “introduced” Chuck Todd to MTP with heartwarming (or cheezy as TPM describes it) family interviews. Retch. Who the heck is the least bit interestred other than their own caste system? Did not watch. If this isn’t a perfect example of our closed-loop media, I don’t know what is.

  23. 23
    Botsplainer says:

    Re: my above, I just had a recollection of a guy who came into my office in 1990, aggrieved at the UAW and Ford.

    Seems that during an extended lunch break (some sort of maintenance was occurring up the line), he went down the road to a bar and guzzled an entire bottle of tequila. He claims to have blacked out, but what the shop steward and FMC say he did was to get combative with his foreman, ultimately resulting in taking a swing at the foreman’s supervisor. He got fired on the spot, and when he bitched to the union about doing a grievance and getting him to an EAP for drinking, was told to go pound sand up his ass. Needless to say, I didn’t have a fuck to give either.

    I suspect that 10-15 years prior, the UAW would have advocated more for him.

  24. 24
    debbie says:


    No neighbors to borrow from?

  25. 25
    Baud says:


    msnbc “introduced” Chuck Todd to MTP with heartwarming (or cheezy as TPM describes it) family interviews

    I’m going to bring a couple of relatives to my next performance review.

  26. 26
    debbie says:


    No, even stupider because they think they’re smarter. It’s like when my one brother would hide behind a rail fence, thinking because he couldn’t see my mom, she couldn’t see him.

  27. 27
    bemused says:


    Exactly, lol.

  28. 28
    Schlemizel says:

    The rift between labor and left is another legacy of Nixon’s “southern Strategy”. A wedge was placed in there using race and perceived patriotism, particularly as it had to do with supporting the war in Viet Nam.

    Union members abandoned the Democrats which allowed the GOP, starting with St. Ronnie, to destroy the labor movement. In search of support this developed the DLC and its business friendly “GOP lite” style politics.

    The evil men do lives after them.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Via LGM, just found this “web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United State’s Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).”.

    Pretty cool stuff. You can navigate the site via a county by county map of the US. I found Washington Co, MO. The pics are concentrated on the tiff mining here. Some of those old “houses” are still in use tho most of them are chicken coops or storage sheds now.

    The EPA has been running a program of testing and remedial removal of the lead that is our legacy here in the “Lead Belt”. My place tested clean, my JeffCo buddy wasn’t so lucky. His garden had soil from the Big River bottom land (an old tailings dam broke about 20 years ago) and it tested high in both lead and arsenic. His front yard tested at 380 ppm, which sucked because the cutoff for remedial action was 400 ppm. His well also tested high but that was just bad luck as it ran thru a lead deposit.

    Dogdamn doogudin’ gubmint… If they hadn’t come thru thar my buddy an’ hissin’s could have stayed igrant of all thet led and raised thar chilluns jus’ fine. Now they had to put in some kinda fancy schmancy water filtration sistem and dig up all thet dirt jus’ so’s they cud sell the place.

  31. 31
    Kay says:


    I think there’s a difference between rank and file Democrats and Democratic and liberal commentary; the people who get a forum tend to be college-educated, higher-income and less pro-labor. This is 2013:

    A more recent Pew Research Center survey, conducted in June, found a turnaround in those numbers, with 51% of the public having a favorable opinion of unions.
    Democrats had the most positive opinion of unions in this year’s survey: 80% of liberals and 70% of moderate-to-conservative Democrats had favorable views, with both groups registering double-digit increases since 2011.
    Republicans’ opinions of unions are much more negative. In the most recent poll, just 23% of conservative Republicans had a favorable view, a number almost the same as it had been two years earlier. Among liberal-to-moderate Republicans, a smaller segment of the party, 44% viewed unions favorably, a 10-point increase since 2011.

    The power/control aspects of labor union support by political actors are complicated. There’s some protection of their own power going on among anti-labor Democrats and liberal politicians that is never discussed, but it is there, IMO.

    There’s three ways for working people to gain more power. There’s market forces (that includes their own actions-changing jobs, more training, etc.) , there’s government (regulation) and there’s collective action (generally, labor unions).

    I think some Democrats and liberal politicians are anti-labor or “agnostic” on unions because they want government to be the single avenue that people can take for worker protections, outside market forces. That increases their power. If the only way people can raise wages or gain worker protections outside markets is to petition government that makes politicians more powerful.

    That’s why a lot of Lefties and labor people think ‘elite’ liberals are “paternalistic” – they see offering government or appeals to government as the ONLY avenue for working people as a control and power retention mechanism by elite liberals and Democrats in government.

    To use a recent example, the minimum wage. Low wage working people could wait for political actors to “give” them a minimum wage increase or they could initiate ‘strikes’ and worker actions in tens of cities with the backing of labor unions. Labor people see the collective action itself as empowering because it doesn’t depend on state actors ‘giving’ anyone anything. It’s outside the state and lets workers turn the tables on politicians and demand the state support their initiative rather than political actors saying “vote for me and I’ll give you this”. They see it as three forces- labor, state and markets. They think anti-union Democrats and liberals want only two forces-the state and the private sector (markets and the power that comes with money). They see THAT as protecting a state monopoly, where workers can ONLY turn to the state for protection. They want an avenue outside government, and that’s labor unions until someone comes up with something else, and no one ever has.

  32. 32
    OzarkHillbilly says:


    No, even stupider because they think they’re smarter.

    I am hard pressed to think of someone more stupid than a blue collar working man who always votes GOP because of “ni**ers, women’s libbers, fags, and fetuses” but we both know that there isn’t a Republican in the country who can get elected with out them.

  33. 33
    Baud says:


    A few years ago, I saw a news report where some Real American was complaining about EPA’s arsenic regulations for public water systems because (paraphrasing) “arsenic was natural in the ground water in some places.” Natural. You know, like cholera.

  34. 34
    Chris says:


    Holy shit! I admit I hadn’t checked in a few years, because I remember the numbers in the general public being significantly lower than that. Maybe a Gallup/Pew difference.

  35. 35
    debbie says:


    Well, some people still believe that if you trust someone, you can believe what they say. That’s the real damage of Nixon’s strategy.

    (Photogrammar is great!)

  36. 36
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kay: I think they just want to be able to say what is right and fair (because, well, they know, doncha know) and be able to veto anything they disagree with.

  37. 37
    Baud says:


    Everyone wants that. Ain’t no angels out there.


    D’Souza: Obama Exploits America’s Decency

    By Encouraging Decent Americans to Support Democrats, obviously.

  38. 38
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: Especially me!

  39. 39
    Patrick says:


    A majority of union members say they would vote for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race, although their support is by no means monolithic. While 57% of union workers who are registered to vote would support Obama, 35% would vote for Mitt Romney.

    It is just stunning to me that a whopping 35% of all union members planned to vote for the Republican candidate for President, especially when you consider his hostile policies towards labor/unions.

  40. 40
    jonas says:

    @Botsplainer: I think this is right. Moreover, when people hear about unions in the media these days, it’s usually in the context of a truly awful policeman/prison guard/teacher or other public employee being defended by their union. (Of course you never hear stories about the truly heroic public employees trying to do their jobs and being protected from capricious discipline or termination by their union contracts) Blue collar union workers — electricians, pipe fitters, teamsters, etc. — probably still elicit a bit more admiration, but the reputation unions gained in the 60s and 70s of being corrupt fronts for the mob, did a lot to undermine labor — true.

  41. 41
    Kay says:


    This is my opinion, but there’s a shifting of power that goes on constantly and I think labor unions probably benefit from income inequality that goes unaddressed by government, because there is quite literally no where else to turn :)

    I think Democrats always got this and Republicans never did. It is in the interest of the state and politicians to regulate and offer protections.

    I don’t think the newer anti-labor Democrats get this (the tech industry is an example) but honestly if government can’t or won’t do anything to protect lower wage and less powerful workers then labor sees an opening and jumps in. That hole will be filled, because the truth is people get killed in unregulated markets. Government can fill it or some variant of “labor” will, because powerful people in the private sector aren’t going to. They never have. The idea that employers “offered” anything in the good old days is nonsense. They were responding to a non-state force, labor, that was a power pushing against them.

    I obviously think we absolutely need a non-state entity, if only because political actors get captured and co-opted and they write and enforce the laws. It works better with three forces rather than two. There has to be some organized entity outside “state” and “markets”. I don’t even think “has to” is correct. There will be. This is an old, old idea and they’ve never been able to completely kill it. There’s a reason for that, and it’s because of the failings of state actors and markets.

  42. 42
    Aimai says:

    @Botsplainer: so in conclusion: there Is A god.

  43. 43

    We are reaching a strange place as a country. The Republicans (and the press, which is pathetic) have accused Obama of polarizing the country. The Republicans themselves are the polarizers, going more and more off the rails. Okay, so far five year old news.

    But by polarizing themselves, they’re driving everyone else to the left. I’m watching the current mess as misogyny becomes more and more a topic, because anyone protesting misogyny gets treated to extreme, hateful, and blatantly misogynistic attacks. In the process, a lot of people who hadn’t thought it was an issue are becoming strongly pro-woman’s rights.

    I don’t think this is a coincidence at all. Assholes are assholes, and they’re all losing their shit together. The same process absolutely extends to labor. If support for unions has gone up in the last two years, it’s because people are going ‘Jesus, what a lot of entitled, mean-spirited assholes rich businessmen are. I’m for whoever opposes them.’

  44. 44
    The Other Bob says:

    Many of us liberals still fight to buy union and buy American to save our jobs and the union base of American.

    I have been called jingoistic, ignorant and worse for being pro American car.

    I have been lectured about the environmental greatness of Toyota even as the Corolla they bought gets inferior mileage to other makes, including American models.

    Peope who can’t change their own oil have lectured me about how I supposidly drive some piece of shit, when my American cars and trucks have served me extremely well.

    Some of these folks will say: “Toyota is made in American now.” As they drive home in their imported model.

    I have heard many a liberal say they don’t need to support some guy who is overpaid to just “drop a bolt in a hole”. “We can just become engineers instead.”

    Ignorance about this industry and the need for Union jobs abounds in liberal land.

  45. 45
    Glidwrith says:

    @J R in WV: But do you know what is taught in schools about unions nowadays (being the ’80s when I was a kid)?

    Practically nothing.

    In 7th grade, one film about maybe six lady tellers at a bank that tried to strike (who failed to get anything other than looking for new jobs because the bank did diddly-squat) and mention that company towns issued their own scrip for miners.

    No Pinkerton, no Shirtwaist fire, NOTHING.

    When the radio mentioned Reagan broke the air traffic controller union and I asked my mom what that meant, I got a rant about how government workers are guaranteed their jobs so they have no right to strike.

    I have an ex-boss that read recently Lewis Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’: it was a revelation that a company would allow someone to drown in rendered fat – and she is in her fifty’s.

    The ‘left’ has a problem in that there are huge swaths of people that are absolutely and utterly pig-ignorant about what the unions have done for workers. I can count myself among them until I started reading blogs such as this one roughly eight years ago.

    Time and time again, I read things that the commentariat here takes for granted, as part of history and culture, which I had absolutely no knowledge of – casual comments like ‘death squads’, then finding out what that really meant and that my country had a hand in that atrocity.

    Against such ignorance, I have no idea on how to contend, save I tell my children, talk to my co-workers, my extended family (immediate family are bigoted Faux-watchers) and any other acquaintance that happens across my path when it seems appropriate.

    /End of rant

  46. 46
    Gene108 says:


    What killed unions WRT to Reagan era policies are the flood gates that were opened for M&A activity. Hard to maintain union solidarity, when company A merges with company B and ‘x’ number of “redundant” jobs are eliminated.

    The 1980’s saw the emergence of poison pill strategies to limit the newly “freed”* M&A activity.

    The mistake unions made was not adapting to the changing economy. When we started being more of a service sector economy, there was little push to unionize non-manufacturing jobs.

    The loss of “good paying”** manufacturing jobs would not have mattered as much, if Pizza Hut paid people better.

    * From reading Den of Thieves Wall Street was neither asking for nor expecting the freedom they got to run wild with M&A activity.

    ** Always irks me when people, especially right wingers, talk about how well manufacturing pays because there is no inherent reason for manufacturing to pay well absent the labor movement. There is also no reason for service sector jobs to not pay better, except for a lack of a labor movement in those areas.

  47. 47
    Kay says:


    I think it’s higher than that in Ohio. I read 45%. The thing is, they are Republicans. Some of them are third generation Republicans at this point. They see that a little differently. In Ohio, they see it as pushing the Republican Party (their Party) towards labor.
    One of the other things that is absolutely true and that no one in labor will talk about (in this state, anyway) is that there is a reluctance among some labor union members (okay, it’s white men!) to join with Democrats or liberals because Democrats and liberals have a coalition that includes feminists and gay people and racial and ethnic minorities and they consider those issues “soft”- as less important than economic fairness issues, as “mommy party” stuff. That has gotten better here, I can get them to listen on things like voting rights for example, but only because if AA can’t vote in this state, labor loses. Part of the reason that has changed is because women and ethnic and racial minorities are (now) a bigger percentage of private sector labor union members and also labor leaders.

  48. 48
    Schlemizel says:

    @The Other Bob:
    What is an American car? The Chevy Cobalt, made in Mexico? The Honda Civic made in Ohio? Both have some claim to the title, neither is particularly supportive of American workers.

  49. 49
    Schlemizel says:


    They may not have asked for it but they sure as hell used it to its maximum.

    Though he is completely hated around here because he was wrong one time (about Nader, a mistake he has apologized for many times) Michael Moore has a great chapter in his book about the conference St. Ronnie ran in Mexico explaining how American companies could get government help to move jobs overseas. Mike was a reporter then & covered the conference live. Its worth a read to understand the evil.

  50. 50
    rikyrah says:


    I think there’s a difference between rank and file Democrats and Democratic and liberal commentary; the people who get a forum tend to be college-educated, higher-income and less pro-labor. This is 2013:

    College educated with a graduate degree here…I completely support labor unions.

    Then again, I was raised in an union household.

    And, I’m Black, so I understand the totality of the good and bad with unions. And, am disgusted with Democratic politicians that won’t challenge trade unions about their lack of diversity. I could go into an entire conversation about the racism of the trade unions.

  51. 51
    danielx says:


    Another golden comment:

    That paragraph would have to be about 30 times longer before I believed Ayn Rand wrote it.

  52. 52
    OzarkHillbilly says:


    I obviously think we absolutely need a non-state entity, if only because political actors get captured and co-opted and they write and enforce the laws. It works better with three forces rather than two. There has to be some organized entity outside “state” and “markets”. I don’t even think “has to” is correct. There will be. This is an old, old idea and they’ve never been able to completely kill it. There’s a reason for that, and it’s because of the failings of state actors and markets.

    This. A thousand times this.

  53. 53
    Kay says:


    One of the things people say is that there are laws that protect workers, and so they can rely on that. The laws came about because of labor unions, but maybe they don’t care. Fine. The thing is, though, labor laws haven’t been updated and modernized, and they offer fewer and fewer protections as employers come up with new and creative ways to circumvent them. Temporary and contract workers are an example. You don’t get many “employee” protections when you aren’t “an employee”. This is important! It isn’t 1972. If your employer has decided to contract out your whole division you don’t work for “your employer”. You may not even be “an employee”. Relying on the posted notice you once saw in a breakroom may be a little delusional. Texas privatized their workers comp system. It’s really difficult to get paid if you get injured. You may want to know that before you accept the temp job in Texas and go clean out the grain storage unit. If you lose your arm you may be out of luck! Laws don’t mean anything if they don’t cover you and they also don’t mean anything if they aren’t enforced.

  54. 54
    Chris says:


    We’re going back to the pre Civil War era – a political spectrum of “the 27%” and “everyone else.”

  55. 55
    sdhays says:

    @Chris: I remember when I was young how disgusted my dad was with unions like the UAW which, as he saw it, were willing to screw over younger members to protect the benefits of the older members. And my dad is someone who would have joined a union if one existed (his company always found the money to raise salaries if there was any hint of a union forming). So, by the 80’s, the unions had tarnished their own reputations to the point where even their supporters were disgusted with them.

  56. 56
    danielx says:


    Trying to remember where I read this definition….

    Class suicide: That’s where a man making minimum wage votes Republican.

  57. 57
    Kay says:


    Oddly enough, I think markets took care of some of that for private sector labor unions. As their memberships became more “female and browner” (service industry) they had to give way. I don’t give them any credit for it, but I do think it happened. They responded to market forces! :)

    Public sector unions are another story, but that has a race aspect too. I think Republicans here in this county were surprised by the AA support for public sector unions when we had that fight, but they shouldn’t have been. Public sector union members in urban areas in Ohio ARE African American middle class people. That’s who they are. They didn’t know it here because we have 5% African Americans.

  58. 58
    Botsplainer says:


    This was pretty funny, even if it was by a FReak.

    Atlas Dined, by Huck:

    Could I please have a glass of ice water?

    The server hurried off, somehow seeming annoyed that he had ordered ice water. Jack Caldwell didn’t know why he had, why it summoned inside of him a strange emotion, not quite envy, but a nagging– well, who had time to think of emotion? He had been longing for ice water all day; not out of need, but respect, for its clarity, its precision, and yet, he felt a certain contempt for it. Perhaps it was because its perfection was wasted on craven fools who wiped tables and carried food for people.

    Marla Packwood sat across from him, trying not to let him see the shock in her face, which was cut as if by a sculptor, its lines tracing out the form of archaic nobility. She knew his request for ice water was a challenge to her, that he knew she cared what beverage he ordered. As long as they’d known each other, she had endured long hours of pain, in order to show indifference toward his food and drink, but tonight she had slipped, and she wondered why. She hated herself for it, but only for an instant, after which she regained her cold, stiff, emotionless, yet dangerously feminine demeanor.

    It was the height of the dinner rush, and throughout the restaurant, elegantly dressed diners chattered away, consuming California wine and whispering about Harold Molt, who was in the restaurant with some friends.

    Harold Molt had created a stir in the country when he published a book of philosophy. In it, he stated that America was corrupt, and he recommended that all industrialists be shot dead at once, as a lesson for the children. His philosophy was already gaining wide acceptance among college professors, newspaper editorialists, and the wives of industrialists. It was surprising to see him at this restaurant, but in this horrendous age, nothing was surprising anymore.

    “Jack, do you see that scoundrel is here tonight?”, Marla asked, managing to put emphasis in her question without showing any emotion, a trick she had mastered when only three years old, the year she graduated from high school.

    “Yes,” he answered, with a look of blankness which she knew meant that he felt the same way, that they didn’t agree with Molt’s ideas, that they both recognized Molt as an assault on everything that was good in the world, what good there was left.

    When their dinner arrived, neither dared look at one another. They had both ordered rib eye steak with asparagus and baked potato. He had requested his own basket of rolls, and she knew he had done it to mock her. He could eat more rolls than she, and she hated herself for letting him, for caring, for not being able to hide her shame, in the pleasure it gave her to submit, to eat only one roll while he ate four….

  59. 59
    Glidwrith says:

    @Kay: Wait, wait, wait. “Texas privatized their workers comp system”?

    Let me unpack that a moment – my company pulls money from my paycheck, part of that goes towards compensating for injuries at work if they occur.

    Never having been injured at work, I am now going with the assumption that the State sees to it that my company pays for care of the injury through enforcement of laws.

    Are you saying Texas has handed off this enforcement to a private company?

  60. 60
    gnomedad says:

    A parallel problem obscured by the Kocksuckers’ efforts to destroy the middle class is the rapid advance of technology, automation and robotics. “Full employment” will eventually be obsolete if it isn’t already. “Solidarity” will not stop this, and we will need something like Basic Income. Alas, in the United States of Teapartia, damned if I know how we’ll get there from here.

  61. 61
    Baud says:


    no one in labor will talk about (in this state, anyway) is that there is a reluctance among some labor union members (okay, it’s white men!) to join with Democrats or liberals because Democrats and liberals have a coalition that includes feminists and gay people and racial and ethnic minorities

    I was channel surfing last night and caught this low-budget lefty show called Ring of Fire. There was a decent clip about charter schools but then the rest of the show was an extended anti-Obama rant about how much he hates unions. I’m not saying Obama is perfect on union issues, but this was pure firebagger stuff. But the white host quoted Cornell West’s comments against Obama, so I guess there was no racial element to it, right?

    I’m not saying this was representative of how most union leaders think, but I hope it’s not.

  62. 62
    bemused says:


    Last year our district Rep on the Iron Range, MN proposed teaching union history in our schools. Despite this mining area having a long, strong union history (not so much now) boy, did the teaparty types pitch a fit. Evidently it is un-american to mention unions. One commenter to local paper even said he supports Keystone Pipeline even if it means using Chinese steel.


    Fascinating. Thanks for the link.

  63. 63
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @rikyrah: As a longtime union carpenter, I can tell you it’s even worse than you think. (some leadership is trying to change things here in STL, but the members are having to be dragged along) 35 years, can you guess how many black carpenters I have worked with?

  64. 64
    Kay says:


    were willing to screw over younger members to protect the benefits of the older members.

    I saw that too when I was in a labor union but I have to say some of that is the fault of younger members. I was sent as a “rep” and I was the youngest person in the room, and being “chosen” was a joke. I was the only person willing to go to meetings. It was not competitive, my “rising in the ranks” there, to say the least.

    The meetings were 100% about health care benefits, because older members were more than willing to trade wage increases (which they were no longer making) for health care benefits (which they use). It DID rip off younger members, but because they weren’t there they weren’t doing a great job as advocates. I get it, I really do. They’re busy raising kids and doing all the things that younger people do, but they have to show up.

  65. 65
    Glidwrith says:

    @bemused: Can you direct me to some good union history books? By good, I mean ones that actually tell a story and don’t just compile dry dates and places. I suck at remembering that way (which is probably why I got a C in history).

  66. 66
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Botsplainer: What I always hear from techies are anecdotes about some time at a trade show or something that the Teamsters wouldn’t let them move a chair. It always seems to come down to that, tales of some time that union work rules did them an inconvenience. They’ll complain just as vociferously about stupid corporate rules, but somehow it doesn’t lead to a call to abolish the corporation.

  67. 67
    Emma says:

    @Botsplainer: Bwahahahahahah!

    Ahem. Seriously. Bwahahahahahahah!

  68. 68
    Belafon says:

    Most people in America are convinced that they can get something for nothing, and that if they have it – see clean air and water, or a 40 hour work week – then it must have always been so. It’s rather Orwellian: The people who print the history books expect to make a profit.

    The reason unions worked so well all those years is the people in them remembered what happened when business controlled everything and it all fell apart. I’ve said this before: The country really needed two more years of Bush; Obama and Democrats were able to do enough to save the economy that people don’t realize how bad it could be.

  69. 69
    Kay says:


    I think there is some portion of the Democratic Party who believe labor unions are olde-timey and unfashionable, though. That’s there.

    As you know, too, I think public school teachers grievances against the Obama Administration are completely justified. Don’t forget that despite Cornell West and his agenda, the reality is that teachers unions endorsed Obama and in states like mine they worked their asses off. They can’t be included in the “firebagger” category. They are rank and file middle class Democrats, and MANY of them in urban areas are middle class African American Democrats. When they fired all those New Orleans teachers they were firing black middle aged, middle class women. There are 40% fewer AA teaching in New Orleans now than there were before the “reforms”. That has to be dealt with honestly by the Obama Administration. It happened. Duncan can’t brush this off as “firebaggers”. Obama is polling at 28% on public schools. These people are part of his base. It’s a genuine split in the Democratic Party. Ed reformers can ignore it but they do so at their peril. They’re going to lose governor’s races (partly) because of it- it’s part of the landscape in Illinois and Connecticut, for example, and New York. They shouldn’t be losing governor’s races and Illinois and Connecticut, and they are.

    Shorter! IMO, I wouldn’t let the fact that people who have an anti-Obama leaning are jumping on this issue obscure the fact that is is an issue. I don’t know where Obama’s ed reforms are popular outside DC and the NYTimes editorial board. That’s a problem. We have a statehouse candidate who is a RUNNING as a “Democrat who supports public schools”. That wasn’t a category prior to Arne Duncan.

  70. 70
    sdhays says:

    @The Other Bob: While I often consider this sentiment, I’m kind of cynical at this point. Unless I know something specific about the company to commend them, I don’t automatically feel any loyalty to an “American” company. Too many of them hate this country and their workers already to get any loyalty from me.

    On the subject of American cars, I’m glad you’ve had great experiences, but I haven’t. The first car my parents had that I remember was a Chevy Citation; my God, what an awful car! My parents had several American cars over the years, and they didn’t really leave me impressed. When I was growing up, I liked to read the car sections in Consumer Reports (they were much more extensive then than they are now) and it really left an impression on me how the American cars always had, at BEST, average reliability while the Japanese consistently did much better. It left an impression of companies that simply did not innovate and merely churned out junk just good enough for people to buy. And the cartel way they operated meant that they didn’t even compete against each other, so the market failed. My parents finally started buying Toyota by the end of the 90’s and they’ve never looked back.

    When I finally bought a new car a few years ago, I bought a Mazda built in a unionized Japanese plant (I checked before I bought it). It may not be “American-made”, but the labor standards under which it was made were as high or higher than at any Ford, GM, or Chrysler plant. The American car companies seem to have finally gotten shocked into some innovation after the 2008 crisis, so maybe I’ll consider an American car the next time I’m looking to buy (in 10+ years). But they can’t just wave a flag and get me to send them money.

  71. 71
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    So, “Gamer Gate” exploded even more than it has since last, with most of the commentary now being on the line of ‘HOLY SHIT RABID ANTI-MALE FEMINIST CRAZIES DESTROYING THE GAME INDUSTRY COMPLETELY!!” Why? Because….Breitbart. They ran a story about that exact line of thought apparently, and now 90% of the online chatter on this entire thing is basically gone even more on the ‘Feminism is the most super-ultra horrific bigotry in the history of ever!’. The persecution complex is just fucking horrific, and the most they tend to be able to bring up as proof aside from Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian (the two figures at the center of this shitstorm) are tumblr groups they like to coin ‘Social Justice Warriors’ in contempt, because many of them are dumb kids taking up armchair causes which they don’t quite fully understand (which, hey, can be applied to most causes picked up by teenagers online, not just ‘Social Justice’).

    I’m just…christ. It’s shit like this that makes me give up hope about ever changing fucking anything. Apparently, a scold and a hypocrite totally prove how feminism is the most super destructive thing in the history of ever. Just…fucking christ, guys.

  72. 72
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @sdhays: I’ve tended to buy Japanese cars myself, but my general impression is that Ford is making good cars these days, by any standard. The other US makes might be a little behind, but not necessarily behind all the Japanese and other brands.

    The US auto industry was making terrible, defective cars in the late 1970s-early 80s, and getting completely schooled by importers, and it was such a catastrophe that it lost them a lot of buyers permanently. And I remember both the UAW and the auto companies trying to use jingoism (and in some cases outright racism) to overcome the fact that they were putting out obviously inferior product, which made me skeptical of trade protectionism for a long time.

    But it’s not exactly 1978 any more.

  73. 73
    Kay says:


    Also, Baud, I would suggest that before anyone listens to commentary on the Vergara decision on teacher tenure, read it. It’s a bullshit decision. There’s no causation analysis. There’s no connection between tenure and the harm. The whole thing is based on VAM, which is a value-added measure that was created by a Harvard economist. They use student scores to measure “value added” but ed reformers misrepresent even that one study. The economist HIMSELF doesn’t attach as much weight to his own measure as ed reformers do. He says teachers add (or subtract) about 15% to student growth. The rest is external factors- income, family and the student themselves. 15% is something, but it isn’t 50% and it surely isn’t 90%. If we’re going to get rid of tenure let’s base it on something other than a bullshit decision that throws around “Harvard” a lot but has no analysis of causation. Read it.

  74. 74
    Baud says:


    I wouldn’t let the fact that people who have an anti-Obama leaning are jumping on this issue obscure the fact that is is an issue.

    Of course not. But, unfortunately, this guy is on my TV and you’re not. As an attorney, you know how easy it is for genuine arguments to be obscured by an awful presentation. If I hadn’t been reading your posts on the subject and was simply a random Democrat who came across this show, I doubt I would leave it with a favorable impression of the union side.

  75. 75
    bemused says:


    I’m no scholar on our mining history, just know much of the history from living here all my life but I suggest an excellent blog, Minnesota Brown, on Iron Range past and current events which include much on mining which can’t be ignored here. It is written by a college instructor, Aaron Brown, also author of “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range”. He also has written a column for Hibbing Tribune and is now writing at the Mpls Star Tribune. I know he would be an excellent source for the books you want and positive if you contact him through his blog, he would be happy to help.

    Another local, Marvin G. Lamppa, wrote a book “Minnesota’s Iron Country, Rich Ore, Rich Lives” that was also made into a documentary aired on local public tv WIRT that was excellent. DVD set is pricey though.

    A great local newspaper,, has a lot of mining history that you can find in the archives online.

  76. 76

    In honor of Labor Day, and because I’m sick of it being summer already, I went far outside my homebrewing comfort zone and made a sweet potato ale with pumpkin pie spices yesterday, and named it after Peter J. McGuire of the Carpenters and Joiners, who (sez wiki) was one of the original proposers of the Labor Day holiday.

  77. 77
    Baud says:


    Is that the California tenure decision? If so, I really don’t have to read it to be extremely skeptical of it. I’ve seen those sorts of opinions before. I’m familiar with the pattern.

  78. 78
    BubbaDave says:


    I’m driving a Ford C-Max, made in Michigan by UAW labor. It’s easy enough to check when car shopping time comes around.

  79. 79
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Belafon: The other thing is that with a relatively small fraction of workers getting union representation, and non-union people in similar pay brackets getting generally worse deals, we seem to have gotten in a situation in which non-union workers perceive union workers as a privileged class who are getting something they don’t deserve.

    The reaction to a strike for better wages isn’t “Gee, maybe we should organize and agitate too”, it’s “Why are these spoiled brats shutting down the transit system/the schools/garbage collection so they can get benefits I don’t get? I don’t have a pension or sick days, and you don’t see me striking!”

    Part of it may be that the barriers to organizing a non-union shop are perceived as high enough that getting a union yourself isn’t seen as a feasible remedy.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    Mike in NC says:

    35% of union members voted for the lily-white guy Mitt Romney? Knock me over with a feather!

    PS – Timothy Noah. Where have I seen that name? Perhaps one of those contrarian assholes who wrote for Slate?

  82. 82
    planetjanet says:

    Another dreaded day of car shopping for me. I need help with one question. I am helping my niece get a car as a graduation present. My insurance agent strongly advised me not to co-sign as I would become liable in an accident, even though I am not on her insurance. He also said it would be best not to be on the title either. My credit union said they could do this. The dealer has slightly better financing, but would not do it. I left the showroom with a quote and a very upset niece. Am I trying to do something really crazy?

  83. 83
    Kay says:


    The thing is, for Democratic politicians, they should understand that setting this up as “unions versus people” helps short term to win the war on public schools, it doesn’t address the reality that MOST people both attended and attend public schools. The complaint is they aren’t supporting existing public schools, and 90% of kids attend existing public schools. 32 states have lost public school funding since Duncan came on board. They think he’s a lousy advocate for public school kids, and that is something they can SEE locally. He can talk all he wants about the fabulous charter schools he’s supporting. They are living the reality of their existing, local, public schools. All we see are unfunded mandates and stern lectures and threats. There’s no upside for public schools to ed reform, and that was the promise from Democrats. They’re IMPROVE public schools. No one said anything about replacing them. It’s been 15 years. When do we get the “improve” part? I support the Common Core as a set of standards, but if it’s going to be yet another really expensive drain on public schools that is used as a hammer, fuck that. We’re dealing with 20 “reforms” as it is. All of them cost and we’re doing all of them with less funding. Common Core is HUGE. It’s a giant, complex undertaking. Schools will need support to do it well. Duncan is not supportive. He’s a patronizing scold who thinks “bravery” means alienating and enraging people who should be his allies. He needs public schools or “reform” will fail. How could he lose them? How arrogant do you have to be to think you don’t need rank and file support for your giant, complex undertaking? It pisses me off and I’m not a teacher. They tested Common Core in Ohio last spring and all these public schools were industriously putting it in to the best of their ability and Duncan is out there trashing them constantly. It’s a betrayal and it’s also really bad management. You don’t beat people up when they’re acting in good faith putting your complex program in. Good managers don’t behave like that.

  84. 84
    Glidwrith says:

    @bemused:Interesting. Thanks!

  85. 85
    sdhays says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Yeah, I test-drove a Ford Fusion and liked it, but it wasn’t what I wanted at the time. I’m hopeful that the current trend continues and there will be excellent American options when I buy again.

  86. 86
    Botsplainer says:


    Love my Fusion hybrid.

  87. 87
    Carl Nyberg says:

    Chris Hedges nailed liberals.

    They want to collect the middle-class paycheck (or better) that goes along with joining the system but they don’t want to offend those in power.

    As Neoliberalism consolidates wealth and power for the rich and powerful, the liberals are apologists who say the changing power arrangement is inevitable.

    Liberal Zionists feel bad about the treatment of Palestinians but aren’t willing to take meaningful action to stop Israel’s abuses.

    American liberals feel bad about the treatment of the working class but aren’t willing to take meaningful action to stop Neoliberalism’s abuses.

  88. 88
    Steeplejack says:

    The Cate Brothers, “Union Man.” Sorry for the (at best) union-ambivalent lyrics, but the song is so damn good—as one YouTube commenter put it, “funkier than nine cans of stanky shaving cream!”

    If only Woody Guthrie had had a good rhythm section.

    Subtext is that the Cates were two white guys from Arkansas who perfectly represent that Southern demographic that knows that the Man is downin’ them but can’t quite make the leap to “unions good.”

  89. 89
    J R in WV says:


    You don’t have to go abroad to find American death squads, they were common right here in America as business fought unions with lethal force. For a college history class, I produced an article on the Paint Creek and Cabin Creek (West Virginia) Mine war, which was fought in the 1917-1919 era.

    When the miners went on strike, the companies hired “detective agencies” to evict the miners from their company owned homes. The union anticipated this, and secretly leased land in the area for tent camps. Knowing the strategy and tactics likely to be used against them, the miners dug slit trenches in and by their tents.

    The company, in the meantime, had a specially armored train built in the Huntington WV yards, telling the railroad union workers it was to safely transport payrolls, which were in fact sometimes robbed from trains. But this train had nothing to do with payrolls, it was armed with military surplus machine-guns and used to attack the tent camps late at night. They called it the Bull-Moose Special!

    In Ludlow Colorado, this is the centennial of the Ludlow Massacre, where striking coal miners at Ludlow were attacked by a combination of National Guard troops and Pinkerton Detectives. 24 people, including women and children were killed, no telling how many wounded died later.

    This vile union-busting behavior was common all across the US up until FDR’s new relationship with labor brought it to a stop.

    People wonder why unions bring up strong feelings – and this is part of the reason for that. Life or Death issues, work place safety wasn’t a matter of bandaids available for scratches, it was common workplace practices that would kill you! Joining a union to fight for safer workplaces could get you killed too! Talk about a lose-lose proposition!

    This is why most union people think you are crazy to belong to a union (or be a worker at all) and vote Republican – it’s almost like being Jewish and voting for Hitler!

  90. 90
    Baud says:


    I don’t disagree with any of that (although, I’ll admit, I get 99% of my info in this topic from you, so how could I disagree!). I see the public school issue getting more play in the MSM. FWIW, my guess (speculation) is that in about 10 years, we’ll be back to having school issues being more divided along partisan lines again (which the current charter school movement seems to have obscured).

  91. 91
    Kay says:


    There’s always a split between “local” and “national” and no where is it more apparent than public schools. They either don’t know or don’t care in DC that NYC and DC and Boston are not “the United States” as far as public schools.

    Duncan rushed to Detroit to endorse the EAA, which is a privatized district that Snyder put it. The EAA is a disaster. The Detroit Free Press has a continuing series on the disaster that is ed reform in Michigan. The same is true in Ohio and WILL be true in Pennsylvania and Florida. Duncan has now set himself up as endorsing these disasters. There was no reason to endorse them. No one had any idea how they were going to play in real life. Thinking that Michigan is the same as Massachusetts as far as public schools is a mistake that shouldn’t have been made because K-12 is state law. Massachusetts funds public schools at twice that of MI and OH and they regulate charter schools. Are they really a good measure of ‘the country” as far as “ed reform”? Massachusetts has great public schools? No shit. I’ll fund mine at 12k instead of 7k and our scores will go up too.

  92. 92
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Botsplainer: My sympathy for this women can be contained in a very small vial…while playing the world’s tiniest violin. Glibertarian fools.

  93. 93
    Botsplainer says:

    @Carl Nyberg:

    Your Mumia sweatshirt must be frayed and fading by now.

  94. 94
    bemused says:


    Just checked for the heck of it and the full Lost Iron Country doc is on youtube.

  95. 95
    The Other Bob says:


    The Cobalt was not made in Mexico. it was assembled in Ohio. Plus the Civic is assembled in Ohio, Canada and Japan.

    Read the label on the car. Its easy.

  96. 96
    Ruckus says:

    Still in the mod dungeon (#80) for who knows what.

  97. 97
    Kay says:


    There’s a parochial aspect to national media that has to be recognized. They cover the stuff that happens where they are located. I read the FOIA docs that Michigan Democrats got on the EAA in Detroit. The EAA planners (Eli Broad in Los Angeles) begged high quality charter chains to locate in Michigan. They wouldn’t come because they can’t run a Boston charter school in Michigan with 7400 in per pupil funding. None of them would come; not KIPP and not Uncommon Schools. The midwest and Florida get the garbage for-profits because you can’t run an “excellent” school for high need kids on 7k per pupil.

    Chicago public schools just outscored Chicago charters. They beat them on the measure charter schools chose, which is test scores.

    It doesn’t seem to matter, and that’s why they’re so angry. I am completely sympathetic to that. It sucks and it’s unfair and it’s also really demoralizing to the people who are working hard in those schools. No wonder they’re following Karen Lewis. She’s the only person addressing this.

  98. 98
    blueskies says:

    @The Other Bob: Yeah, but…

    I would LOVE to buy/lease an all-electric, American-made car like the Spark. But, I don’t live in CA, which is the only state where they are sold (sort of a chicken/egg thing there – fucking GM management assholes). My option is the Nissan Leaf or a Tesla. As I don’t have a spare $100K laying about, I guess it’s the Leaf for me.

    Not that this has anything to do with unions, I’m just whining about my latest libtard longing.

  99. 99
    Baud says:


    What I find confusing is that there seems to be increased awareness of for-profit college scams, at the same time for-profit charter schools are being pushed.

    I’m a believer in the principle that bad money chases out good, so I’m confident that bad charter schools will harm the whole movement, but not before we see a lot more waste.

  100. 100
    Glidwrith says:

    @J R in WV: I asked Mr. Glidwrith about those events. He mentioned that is one reason folks in the region so love their guns – they really were fighting against what the local government was doing to them.

    Gah, now there really is a teeny, tiny grain of truth in the ammosexuals argument that they need guns to defend against the government.

    Wouldn’t that be a great way to mess with their heads?

  101. 101
    Chris says:

    @J R in WV:

    The fact that the word “Pinkerton” doesn’t evoke the same recognition and contempt that “Ku Klux Klan” does is a sad commentary on the state of both history textbooks and the national ideology.

  102. 102
    Kay says:


    It makes me sad because I think they fight the wrong people. I’ve read extensively on the various actors in ed reform and Bill Gates is the least objectionable. Gates actually (occasionally!) funds experiments in PUBLIC schools. Gates was the single ed reformer who didn’t run away from Atlanta when they did that disgusting perp walk where they paraded tens of AA teachers in front of the cameras for the cheating scandal. Ed reformers were embarrassed so they stopped talking about Atlanta completely. The superintendent there was one of their “superstars”. Too bad all the scores were bullshit. They all ran away.

    Gates isn’t the Walton family and he isn’t the DeVos family in Michigan. They have much more to fear from the Netflix guy (who wants no public schools at all) than they do from Bill Gates.

    You can’t lump all these billionaires together. As Mitt Romney says, they’re people too! :)

  103. 103
    skerry says:

    I was raised in a union household and am today strongly pro-union, even though I have never been a member. My father’s union wages and benefits allowed me and my brothers to attain the education he and my mother never got. His children are firmly middle to upper-middle class professionals because of that. Any education I got as a child about the unions were at the dinner table. I don’t remember anything taught in school. I don’t remember my children getting union history in school either. We have generations that don’t know our history – taught by union teachers.

    The automobile question is a complex one. I worked for GM in the early 1980s as an engineering student. I drove a GM car made in the US. Today I drive a Honda. Made in Ohio. Parts from around the globe.

  104. 104
    The Other Bob says:


    Sorry, but lets face it, electric cars are still a niche product and they aren’t profitable for the most part.

    Does Ford still build the electric Focus? I think they do. Get a Volt, they are basically electric and more practical.

  105. 105
    Glidwrith says:

    @bemused: I think I found it. An hour long doc?

  106. 106
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:


    Another dreaded day of car shopping for me. I need help with one question. I am helping my niece get a car as a graduation present. My insurance agent strongly advised me not to co-sign as I would become liable in an accident, even though I am not on her insurance. He also said it would be best not to be on the title either. My credit union said they could do this. The dealer has slightly better financing, but would not do it. I left the showroom with a quote and a very upset niece. Am I trying to do something really crazy?


    Supposedly a co-signer is only responsible for the loan, not the way the car is driven. A co-buyer is the co-owner and has those responsibilities.

    The rules may vary state-to-state – I dunno.

    But, unless you know and fully understand the risks and are able to tolerate them, it sounds like it could be dangerous. Would you be able to afford the payments if she lost her job? If she is in an accident, even one that isn’t her fault, what would happen?

    Maybe check around I didn’t see an immediate answer to your question, but it does have information on things to check if you’re buying something together. It suggests checking with your states DMV for details, but they may not want to answer liability questions (again, I dunno).

    HTH a little. Good luck!


  107. 107
    Kay says:


    The innocence of well-meaning charter school people amazes me. There’s a professor at Western Michigan, Gary Miron. He was a charter school supporter. He’s horrified at what has happened in Michigan. He testifies and travels the country trying to rescue his “movement” but he’s completely ignored. Of course he’s ignored. They used him. Now that he’s a turncoat he’s been disappeared.

    WTF did he think was going to happen, though? He deregulated and privatized a public good and now it’s corrupt and self-serving and lawmakers are captured? He didn’t see that coming? I mean, really. When has that NOT happened?

    He also doesn’t know how to read numbers. He says that Michigan is an “exception” because 80% of SCHOOLS are for-profit. But “schools” isn’t the right measure. The measure is how many “seats” (kids). The majority of Ohio charter school STUDENTS attend for-profits, because the for-profits are huge. You have to count seats, not schools. He’s still not being honest with himself, or the public.

  108. 108
    Baud says:


    Right. Say what you will about corporations, they don’t spend a lot of attention on people who aren’t useful to them. They may be people, but they are not anyone’s friend.

  109. 109
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud: Money is the only thing a corporation loves.

    Everything else is a commodity.

  110. 110
    Baud says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    a corporation loves

    See, they are people.

  111. 111
    trollhattan says:

    Will note in passing: While of course WalMart is open, Costco is closed today in honor of Labor day.

  112. 112
    cokane says:

    Is unionism really more important than the environment?

    Not that there’s a tradeoff, but the biggest and most significant challenge is global warming, not unequal distribution.

  113. 113

    Finally about time somebody figured out that today’s “liberals” are just as awful towards labor as their conservative counterparts – they just don’t make a point of flaunting it in public.

    I’m pro-labor. Period.


  114. 114

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:
    As I commented earlier, this flood of venom seems to be convincing a lot of previously unattached people that misogyny is a very real problem. I’m personally disgusted. Women in gaming aren’t trying to take away my scantily clad fantasy armor heroines. They’re trying to ALSO give me interesting female characters with dignity who don’t need sex appeal. Some of them are even trying to give me interesting female characters who don’t need sex appeal but have tons of it on top of personalities. Why would I ever complain about this? I want more of it in heaping helpings. By all means, give me variety and choice. Bring on the female gamers and game makers.

    And that’s just the selfish argument. If they can’t see that, these guys really are running on asshole hate.

  115. 115
    sacrablue says:

    @blueskies: Check your Ford dealer. I don’t know if it is California only, but I seem to recall seeing a plug-in Ford Focus and I’m pretty sure there will be a Fusion next year. The Ford dealer is the owner of the Kia dealership where I have been spending too much time lately, so I’ve had to waste time looking at new cars.

  116. 116
    Kay says:


    Gates is doing this rather pathetic thing where films himself sitting with public school teachers and listening to them. I can’t help but think that’s funny, because it’s vulnerable. The pro-public school sites were rabid in their disdain.

    I imagine he has really high priced “image” people and I think it was pushback against this idea that is gaining traction that this is (partly) about a profession that is dominated by women being pushed around and disrespected. I actually agree with that. I think there’s an element of not valuing teaching because it’s “womens’ work”. Sometimes it seems really blatant to me, because so much of the ire is directed at middle aged women and teachers (generally) are not combative people; they entered that profession because they have a caretaking ethos.

    I cannot imagine “reform” of the legal system that wasn’t run by lawyers, or “reform” of the health care system that dissed or ignored or demeaned physicians. Lawyers would be livid. You know they would. It would never happen, is the truth. No one would even try it.

    I’m amazed men can’t hear it, the anti-female part of the rhetoric. It comes thru loud and clear to me, and that is dangerous for Democrats. When it see it on public ed sites I smile, because I think I know Democrats would be terrified of that. I wish they were better at politics, teachers. I mean, it’s good they stayed above the fray, but I want them to fight smarter. They have a lot of ammo :)

    For one thing, they POLL really well. Like 70% of parents trust them on education, and it’s like 15% for politicians. I trust them more than politicians.

  117. 117
    trollhattan says:

    The all-electric Focus debuted in California a year or two ago; I don’t know if it’s distributed more widely by now.

    Couple folks in the hood have hybrid Fusions, which are nice-looking cars–the anti-Prius, if you will. With the huge jump in CAFE standards looming, manufacturers are pulling out all kinds of tricks to meet them, which makes these interesting times for innovation.

  118. 118
    PhilbertDesanex says:

    What am I doing this Labor Day? Worked 3AM to 5AM, there not being a Data Handlers’ Union.

    @JR: thanks for that, I’ll bring it up next time I hear the phrase.

  119. 119
    Chris T. says:

    @The Other Bob: I’m not sure about now (because I was car shopping several years ago) but the Volt was impossible to obtain here too. The only EV available in Utah was the Leaf.

  120. 120
    Davis X. Machina says:


    We have generations that don’t know our history – taught by union teachers.

    ‘Taught by people who work in union buildings’, more likely.
    Organizing an already-organized building was one of the most frustrating things I ever did.

  121. 121
    Baud says:


    I’m amazed men can’t hear it, the anti-female part of the rhetoric.

    I’m not amazed at all by that.

  122. 122
    The Pale Scot says:

    U.S. and Iran Unlikely Allies in Iraq Battle

    With American bombs raining down from the sky, Shiite militia fighters aligned with Iran battled Sunni extremists over the weekend, punching through their defenses to break the weekslong siege of Amerli, a cluster of farming villages whose Shiite residents faced possible slaughter.

    I’ve felt for a long time that Iran and the US are natural allies, the Israelis and the various arab politicies and two sides of the same nutty coin, both sides wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if the other disappeared.

  123. 123
    The Moar You Know says:

    As you know, too, I think public school teachers grievances against the Obama Administration are completely justified. Don’t forget that despite Cornell West and his agenda, the reality is that teachers unions endorsed Obama and in states like mine they worked their asses off. They can’t be included in the “firebagger” category. They are rank and file middle class Democrats, and MANY of them in urban areas are middle class African American Democrats. When they fired all those New Orleans teachers they were firing black middle aged, middle class women. There are 40% fewer AA teaching in New Orleans now than there were before the “reforms”. That has to be dealt with honestly by the Obama Administration. It happened. Duncan can’t brush this off as “firebaggers”. Obama is polling at 28% on public schools.

    @Kay: Can’t even mention Obama in my wife’s district meetings anymore. And the really bad part is that he and Duncan have just killed any enthusiasm for the Democratic party that formerly existed in the members – oh yeah, they’ll vote D because what other option is there? But fundraise? Rally? Nope. We’re having to pull teeth to even get folks out canvassing for the local board election. It’s that bad.

    It wasn’t that they didn’t get a pony – teachers aren’t stupid, they knew that they aren’t going to get much from any politician – but what most of them have gotten are monster job, salary and benefit cuts, and questioning whether their jobs and union are really a good thing in the 21st century. Questions coming directly from the White House.

    Obama can go fuck himself.

    Arne Duncan can go fuck himself with a chainsaw.

    They sold out my family and my wife’s livelihood.

  124. 124
    Kay says:


    Oh, God, I just cringe when I hear that scolding tone. There is no middle aged woman in this country who has not heard that tone from a male manager.

    The Vergara lecture is the worst, because it’s lawyers scolding teachers. Jesus. Just kill me now and get it over with. I cannot POSSIBLY unravel all the horrible layers of this! I think it fascinates me because it has everything, it has labor and it has race and it has women and it has “public good”. All the things I like to think about, rolled into one.

    A lot of public school people say they are “political orphans” and I can’t honestly disagree. I get that, completely. I’m like “you know what? I hate ALL of these people who are lecturing me. I have nothing in common with any of them! We don’t even hear the same things!” :)

  125. 125
    sacrablue says:

    @trollhattan: Yeah, I drive a Kia Optima hybrid. It is very similar to the newer Fusion hybrid. Spouse couldn’t drive a Prius without the steering wheel squishing his legs, so we ended up with the Optima. It’s okay because it came with air conditioned front seats.

  126. 126
    Violet says:

    My Labor Day is boring as hell. Chores and once it cools down the exciting part of the day will be working in the garden.

  127. 127
    Paul in KY says:

    @kuvasz: Hear, hear!

  128. 128
    bemused says:


    Yes, WIRT PBS doc.

    I just recalled hearing from older folks in the family that miners wanting to unionize at the Iron Range mines were blacklisted and that meant from mines in Michigan and across the country too.

    A local former high school English teacher, William Durbin, turned author of wonderful, educational books for young people did good research on early Iron Range mining and immigrant miners for his book The Journal of Otto Peltonen. You can find audio interview that MPR did with him on this book Dec 2000 that is well worth a listen with some fascinating bits about the very difficult conditions and poor pay the miners had to endure. For instance, Finns were very independent and many wouldn’t participate in the bribery system of putting money in the foremen’s snuff boxes to get less dangerous and miserable areas of the mine to work.

  129. 129
    Paul in KY says:

    @Baud: And malaria. It’s quite natural too.

  130. 130
    Paul in KY says:

    @Schlemizel: I don’t hate Mr. Moore. He has done a lot of good. Plus he knows how wrong he was about that egomaniac.

  131. 131
    sharl says:

    @Botsplainer: There are a lot of anecdotal tales afloat of excessive union shop support of malingering/shoddy/nasty employees through the 70s and 80s that contributes a helluvalot to this broader public anti-union sentiment. While that pretty much disappeared in the late 80s, the lingering effects have been nothing short of disastrous.

    You just explained how my Dad – CWA union member for almost his entire adult working life at Ohio Bell (later Ameritech, then… other M&A entities) – became disillusioned by the union over a number of years.

    I suppose it may partly the fault of folks like Dad, who didn’t step up to assume the duties of union stewards and other union positions, leaving them to the “burn-baby-burn” and “always-stick-it-to-The-Man” types. I don’t think it would be easy (or even possible) to quantify just how big an effect such internal union member disillusionment had on overall policy, but I’d wager it would be significant in a number of business sectors.

  132. 132
    Kay says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I’ll be honest, when I started to hear it in Ohio (2010 or so) I was annoyed. I listened but I was annoyed because it seemed like “interest group politics” and I hear a lot of that. I put it in that category. I then really delved into it, and they’re right. They have a completely legit complaint.

    Two things happened to me personally, too. I worked on the anti-union busting campaign in Ohio (with teachers) and I also worked on a local public ed initiative with teachers and parents, both Republicans and Democrats. They put me on a local forum to listen to teachers as we “reimagined” our schools. We’re building new schools. Honestly, the ed reform people struck me as snake oil salesmen. I thought I would be pushing back alone (which I don’t mind) but I underestimated local parents. I had majority support at the three day forum. There were a LOT of skeptics for “market-based” solutions and this area is 55-60 Republican.

    I’m convinced this is NOT a majority position, public school hatred and teacher disdain. Partly it’s CLASS, which no one in ed reform will talk about either. 25% of people in this county have a bachelor’s degree. They respect teachers, because teachers are better-educated than they are. That has to be reckoned with. NYC or Boston are not “the United States”. Teachers are already community leaders here. Shit, most of our judges are married to teachers. We don’t have this divide, where people are bragging about their SAT scores and dissing 2nd grade teachers as “mediocre” or whatever. That isn’t TRUE here.

  133. 133
    Paul in KY says:

    @Carl Nyberg: Who the fuck is Chris Hedges? Those he’s describing aren’t ‘liberals’, IMO.

    Liberals wish for a more European economic model. Like Sweden or Germany.

  134. 134
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Paul in KY: I”m with Hedges on this. That sounds like a transcript of the Democratic county committee meeting once the action items on the agenda have been handled.

    Put in telephones, and you could run a simultaneous NPR/PBS phoneathon….

  135. 135
    Paul in KY says:

    @sharl: I think it was also the fault of the union president/head dude at those places to work to ensure the ‘burn baby burners’ didn’t get those positions.

  136. 136
    Paul in KY says:

    @Davis X. Machina: I don’t care what the people Hedges quoted or wrote about call themselves, but they are not liberals. No real liberal wants wages to be stagnant & for this horror of an economy to continue.

  137. 137
    Linnaeus says:

    So I learned from a right-wing acquaintance that the “true meaning of Labor Day” is that hard work will get you ahead.

    I think this lesson is far more instructive:

    Labor Day, though, was meant to honor not just the individual worker, but what workers accomplish together through activism and organizing. Indeed, Labor Day in the 1880s, its first decade, was in many cities more like a general strike—often with the waving red flag of socialism and radical speakers critiquing capitalism—than a leisurely day off. So to really talk about this holiday, we have to talk about those-which-must-not-be-named: unions and the labor movement.

  138. 138
    bemused says:


    You acquaintance must subscribe to Sarah Palin channel.

  139. 139
    Linnaeus says:


    The way the “reformers” try to deal with this, from what I’ve seen, is to separate teachers from teachers’ unions: “We respect teachers, but it’s their unions that are the problem.” They like the narrative of the individual heroic teacher because then they can use that to obscure the parts of education and the education system that are collective in nature.

  140. 140
    gene108 says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    which made me skeptical of trade protectionism for a long time.

    Trade protectionism, is at best, a temporary fix to help ailing industries. India’s economy has fallen behind China’s, in part, because India clung to protectionism longer.

  141. 141
    Linnaeus says:


    He’s always been conservative, even for a Canadian right-winger, but he’s been getting worse over the years. Or maybe it’s just because I went leftward in the years since I first knew him. He’s never been anything but nice to me, but I’ve had more in common with his now ex-wife than him.

  142. 142
    lol says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Lots of techbros also believe themselves to be irreplaceable John Galts who are fully capable of getting a much better paying job that the union ever would. And it’s probably true for the first few years. But once they start wanting benefits like not working 100 hour weeks and having actual weekends, they find corporate america is all too willing to dick them over.

    Sane people might think “Maybe I should join a union and bargain together.” Techbros think “This is a temporary setback, I’m better than those leeches” and then the temporary setback lasts the rest of their career and they blame everyone else for their problems – women, minorities, immigrants, etc.

  143. 143
    Kay says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I know it’s over-used but the tone deafness is amazing. They had tens of millions of public school kids taking those Common Core tests. 80% of parents had no fucking idea what was going on. Our teachers were busting ass to put this program in and Duncan and Obama decide that’s a good time to join with Campbell Brown and launch another nationwide assault on our lazy, no-good middle aged female teacher ranks. I saw the launch on Morning Joe and I just could not believe the betrayal. Great timing, Robert Gibbs! Attack them just as they’re launching your incredibly difficult national program that no one understands.

    I mean, come on. It’s like an impenetrable wall in DC. They can’t hear these howls of protest? Duncan met with 9 public school principals in Toledo and came back and wrote this weak op ed that he’s “listening”. I can’t imagine what happened in that room. How many “reforms” does he plan on throwing at these people? No one could do this job, particularly because they lose funding every year. My friend Ann is politically connected and she asked me to go and listen to him because she’s a loyal Dem and she’s trying to give them a hearing. I couldn’t because I had to work, but I can’t go anyway. I don’t know where to start! I would hurt their cause. I’d be the crazy person in the you tube video.

  144. 144
    Bob In Portland says:

    Everyone catch up on their reading? Here’s something on the source of the alleged satellite photos of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Not the US government or NATO, but DigitalGlobe, a civilian outgrowth of Reagan’s Star Wars program.

  145. 145
    gene108 says:


    Ed reformers overreached, but when your goal is to keeping pushing profits, you have to expand to new areas or not be able to make the expected return on investment to your shareholders.

    A lot of people in this country are willing to pay a premium in housing costs, in order to make sure their kids get a good education.

    You cannot one-up a place, where people pay this premium for good schools and the schools are recognized for their excellence without pissing people off, because there are no underperforming schools to one-up.

    When charter schools started to move out of Camden and into good school districts in, South Jersey, a backlash kicked in.

  146. 146
    bemused says:


    It feels like many of my right leaning friends and relatives have gotten worse over the years too, at least since 2000. I don’t think I have become more left than I ever was. It seems more to me that the rightwingers have dug in their heels and become even more defensive of wingnut legislators and pols who have clearly, imo, become predominately batshit.

  147. 147
    Bob Munck says:

    The Market Basket employees in New England have just achieved a great union victory — but they’re not a union. Perhaps we should find out how they did it and alter union strategy to match.

  148. 148
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @lol: Kinda-sorta related: a good article on how not to interview people for IT positions by Laurie Voss at Quartz:

    2. No jerks

    From day one at npm Inc we implemented our No Assholes policy, and I was pleased to read recently that Polyvore (who seem to do brilliantly at maintaining a diverse engineering team) have pretty much the same policy. Avoid the “genius assholes”, avoid the bitter and cynical, the bullies, the snobs. Don’t work with somebody who is going to be mean, unpleasant, or demeaning to their co-workers. There is no level of brilliance and productivity that can compensate for poisoning the morale of your team, and once a team culture is broken it is very hard to fix. Hiring these people, even to get you through a crunch, is not worth what it costs. And if you hire one by mistake, fire them fast, and without hesitation.

    The easiest way to spot that you are hiring a jerk is the phrase “hire, but not for this team”. That means “this person has skills, but I don’t want to work with them directly”. If you don’t, nobody else will, so don’t inflict crappy people on other teams.

    But in general jerks are easy to spot. If somebody has a personality flaw so strong and baked-in they can’t keep it in check for a couple of hours while being interviewed, it is going to be a huge problem in the regular work environment. Arrogance, rudeness, inattention to detail — these things turn up quickly, and if you spot them, trust your instinct to avoid them.

    It’s a good read.


  149. 149
    gene108 says:



    He never went to a public school a day in his life. Plus he’s a Type A personality, who hates to lose and may not – at a very basic level – grok why everyone is not trying to be like him or his peer group of high achievers.

    He really may not be able to understand, why someone would be content with a high school diploma or at best an associates degree and/or some sort of post-high school training, like medical billing, and think they should not be pushed harder to climb the “corporate” ladder.

    I know some fairly intelligent, well intentioned but intense people, who just cannot grasp that not everyone wants or needs to go to Harvard Law School or be President of the United States.

  150. 150
    Kathleen says:

    @kuvasz: My grandfather, who arrived in this country as a dirt poor immigrant from Ireland in the early 1900’s, said in 1969 that the biggest mistake the unions made was trying to keep black people out. He himself was pro Union and employed by the railroad.

    I was not aware of this movie. Thanks for the link.

  151. 151
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Bob In Portland: And?


  152. 152
    Kay says:


    You know what, too? Charter schools were the politically easy “solution” to what is inequitable funding of public schools. They preserve the well-off districts and let everyone feel really good about themselves for fighting for “equity” without pissing off anyone who has any power. Ohio has an interesting thing going on with open enrollment. It’s happening here. We have a majority Latino (rural) district w/in driving distance that is underfunded and they’re open-enrolling in my school. That’s a ballsy “ed reform” that I haven’t seen spread, and there’s a reason for that. It’s not at all perfect as far as “equity”. It has the same problems charter schools have- we’re getting the MOST motivated families and we’re also getting the families who can transport and have the time to navigate this system. It’s self-selecting, and the district they’re leaving will suffer because it becomes MORE challenged, but at least it’s a genuine effort to spread the responsibility and “accountability” to parents who talk a good game but really just want “choices” in these same neighborhoods because that “solves the problem” with NO contribution from them.

    I think it will be good for my son. The Latino population at his school has doubled since the program went in. Let’s look at making PUBLIC schools more equal instead of “separate but equal” and see how many people abandon the ed reform “movement”. I’d like to look at open enrollment or changing district lines. I don’t think we have to privatize to make it more equitable. Is Campbell Brown with me on that?

  153. 153
  154. 154
    Kay says:


    I just can’t stand the hype. If you’re going to tell me you’re all about “data” then don’t send Arne Duncan out to talk about 100% graduation rates in charter schools that lose half their students between 8th grade and graduation. Public schools are measured on the “cohort”, the students they start with in 8th grade have to graduate or they don’t get a 100%. They can’t win this game.

    Duncan knows that 100% of 50% (remaining) who aren’t “counseled out” and returning to public schools (because that’s where they go when they leave) is different than 100%. He knows this. Yet every three days I see him repeating this nonsense. I follow his Twitter feed. You’d have to be innumerate to buy this hype, and people who are innumerate cannot lecture my 6th grader on math skills. He knows 100% of 50% is not 100%.

  155. 155
    Kathleen says:

    @cokane: A friend of mine who has been active in the Sierra Club for years here in Ohio is participating in an initiative with Unions regarding environmental issues and has noted that while progress has been slow there has been progress.

  156. 156

    “the sort of centrist liberals who dominate within the Democratic party.”

    These used to be called liberal Republicans.

    The Overton window, she moves.

  157. 157
    Bob Munck says:


    He never went to a public school a day in his life.

    Yeah, he did. Noelani Elementary School, 1966-67. Also, his school in Jakarta for 4th grade was a public school.

    he’s a Type A personality, who hates to lose and may not – at a very basic level – grok why everyone is not trying to be like him or his peer group of high achievers.
    He really may not be able to understand, why …

    Where did you get your psychology degree, Doctor? I hope it wasn’t Harvard.

  158. 158
    Ruckus says:

    Dad taught me the old saying, “A bad apple spoils the barrel.” He was right.
    He also taught me to pay well, treat people with respect, expect them to work hard, understand that sometimes life gets in the way of that. He didn’t know one of the other ones, time off is as important as time on the job. Stress about work, stress about missing some important event at home or just not distressing, these things create a hostile work environment and almost no one does well in a hostile work environment.

  159. 159
    Kay says:


    He really may not be able to understand, why someone would be content with a high school diploma or at best an associates degree and/or some sort of post-high school training, like medical billing, and think they should not be pushed harder to climb the “corporate” ladder.

    I like the Labor Dept on middle class “jobs skills”. I think Thomas Perez gets that. But even that worries me, because some of the corporate support (public-private partnerships) of that is simply shifting the risk and responsibility of training workers FROM the private sector TO the public sector.

    I looked into one of the manufacturing programs they’re funding in Cleveland and the starting wage after training in machining is 10 bucks an hour. The problem with that is UNSKILLED manufacturing work in Ohio pays ten. That’s what they make here. They have to pay them that. It’s hard, dirty work and they’re all hiring. My fear is the CEO’s they’re listening to are getting federal funding for training that will drive down wages for skilled labor. I think we can all agree they’re self-interested, right? I’d like to see more skeptical treatment of their “skills gap” theory. When Scott Walker insists there aren’t “enough” welders, are we sure he doesn’t mean there aren’t enough welders who will work for 9 bucks an hour and arrive at the factory ready to put on their gloves because the public paid to train them?

    I get that labor unions are self-interested. So are CEO’s. Let’s just be hard-headed about this. “Self interest” is a universal human trait. Everyone is pushing their agenda. The Caterpillar CEO has one too, and it’s that he doesn’t want to pay to train the workers he needs. He’d rather I pay.

    I wish they wouldn’t push the “skills gap”. It alienates their middle class workers voters because ti comes off as blaming them for inequality and it might be bullshit. It’s debateable. It’s not the only theory.

  160. 160
    Chris says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    Thr 1964 Republican primary has become our entire political spectrum.


  161. 161
    Kay says:


    And liberals had a problem with “job training” because the fear was (and there was truth to it) was we’d “track” certain groups away from college and towards trades.

    They were afraid it would be applied inequitably and based on factors it should not be based on, like race or class.

    I think that sounded to people here like they were dissing trades, but I do think it was well-intended. There was a weird fear of discussing it among liberals because it goes to class and American ideas about “moving up” and who gets to “move up”. I think rank and file Democrats are much more comfortable with “everyone doesn’t have to go to college” than liberal pundits. It’s just too touchy for people with “elite” credentials to broach that subject. They can’t be the advocates for it. They’re the wrong people to promote that idea, because it comes off as “good for your kid, but not MY kid”.

  162. 162
    rikyrah says:


    I don’t think that I remotely underestimate the racism in the trade unions. After all, I’m from Chicago, and could tell you stories.

  163. 163
    rikyrah says:


    You know this already, but I DESPISE Duncan. He is President Obama’s WORST Cabinet Member.


  164. 164
    Kay says:


    He really is.

    I saw Issa is going after Perez again. Perez is the labor secretary now but he was in the civil rights division at DOJ and he actually did the job, so they went after him. They held those bullshit “hearings” on the New Black Panther Party and they called Perez for three days of making shit up and accusing him of all sorts of things.

    Now they’re going after him again. Issa is launching some “corruption” probe into the Labor Dept.

    You can reliably measure the value of Obama’s appointments based on which people Republicans go after. Republicans love Duncan. They oppose nothing he does in DC, which is a real “tell” after 6 years of watching them go after anyone who is both liberal and effective.

  165. 165
    gian says:


    There is constant pressure for “tort reform” from the right wing. Which would seem to be legal reform. Right now the political advertising in California is all about making sure that caps on medical malpractice claims stay where they were set in the 1970s

  166. 166
    Kay says:


    Right but as you know lawyers run their own credentialing and oversight process. It’s the exclusive province of the Ohio Supreme Court. if we had a nationwide campaign to “improve” lawyers (many of whom are public employees and really, let’s be honest, quality varies) there is no fucking way lawyers would let non-lawyers run that show. Lawyer accept regulation and reform from judges, who are also lawyers. Then they write their own reforms :)

    We just had a big “reform” deal in Ohio. The Supreme Court held this forum on how we could serve people better when they come to court. It was all very respectful and lawyer-run. I didn’t hear anything about how we’re all stupid and lazy and “self interested”, although, you know, some of us ARE :)

    They estimate that about 3 to 5% of teachers are genuinely bad. This idea we have that we’re all just the top ten percent of our respective private sector jobs doesn’t make any sense and it’s REALLy self-aggrandizing. The biggest group of lawyers are in the middle and the really awful group is small. That’s true for teachers too.

  167. 167
    gian says:


    I sure do think that it’s a perfect target for right wing hate. Teachers speaking in a big picture way are a mostly female public employee union given a job to teach regardless of race.
    What’s for a winger not to hate?

  168. 168
    planetjanet says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Thanks. I will check out I am fine with the financial risks of the payments. It is my niece. It is the possibility of being sued if there is a bad accident is what my insurance agent was concerned out.

  169. 169
    jake the antisoshul soshulist says:

    @Baud: eff liberals, I’m a leftist

  170. 170
    Doc Sportello says:

    And look who’s joining the party.

    Iran Unfetters Cellphones, and the Pictures Start Flowing

  171. 171
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Bob Munck:

    The Market Basket employees in New England have just achieved a great union victory — but they’re not a union. Perhaps we should find out how they did it and alter union strategy to match.

    Unfortunately, the answer seems to be “have the CEO on your side because he’s playing the long game in a multigenerational family feud.”

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