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Comment Archives: Stories: News & Opinion: Raising the Bar

Re: “Forced into the Arms of the Rich

"The phrases..have been true for the non-rich since Spartacus led the slave revolt against Rome."

This article is as bloated as the Greek public sector. Funny Mr. Youngdahl would cite that country as an example of the evils of collective bargaining reform, without mentioning that Greek public employees make significantly more than their private sector counterparts, nor that the Greek retirement age is 5 years earlier than that of the German taxpayer who is bailing out Greek pensioner. Also not surprising that Mr. Youngdahl, a labor lawyer, fails to mention that the outcome of Friedrichs might mean unions have less money to pay his fee.

But whats most striking is Youngdahl's logic, that if you cannot force Union members to pay their "fair share" dues, Unions will be forced to cozy up with wealthy donors. I'm not sure if Mr. Youngdahl realizes how this logic is such an indictment of the public sector unions themselves.

If you can convince wealthy donors to part with their money to support Unions, why cant the Union convince all its Union members to pay their "fair share" union dues when it is benefiting the union member themselves?

Because, as Youngdahl writes, "The leaked papers showed that labor advocates were forced to work on strategies to convince the wealthy of the benefits of unionism". In other words, In order to get money from donors (or anyone for that matter), once must convince these donors of the benefit.

As Mr. Youngdahl correctly points out, behind every negotiation, both parties must operate under the principle of mutual benefit. Public sector unions, rather, operate under the principle of reaping the most amount of benefit for the least amount of sacrifice. The public sector union leaders maintained their grip on union members by only focusing on what is owed to the unions, ignoring outright any sacrifices the unions must make to the public. This narrow view on one owns self-interest has been ingrained into the public sector employees mind by its leadership, and is the reason you cannot trust the union member to pay his "fair share". It is the unions own un-doing.

3 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Clarence C. Johnson on 08/03/2015 at 11:27 AM

Re: “Forced into the Arms of the Rich

FDR opposed public sector unions. It takes no great imagination to conclude that elected officials will be paying more attention to future union campaign donations than the interests of the taxpayers when negotiating with "public sector" unions. In the end, you get BART. Constantly increased taxes, rotten service, decrepit rolling stock and facilities while BART employees are among the highest paid in the world. Pass a new tax to update car stock, and the unions decide that money could be better spent on their wages and benefits. Which is why I now routinely vote against BART budgets because the improvements and updates never come - but the wage and benefit hikes rain down.

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Nadja Adolf on 07/31/2015 at 2:32 PM

Re: “Forced into the Arms of the Rich

Sorry, but given that unions in SoCal are demanding that union shops be exempt from the proposed new $15 minimum wage, I find it hard to believe that the unions exist as anything more than a political slush fund in the 21st Century.

And unlike most of those who write joyous articles on the virtues of unionization and sing Union Maid at every party, I have actually belonged to a union.

2 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Nadja Adolf on 07/31/2015 at 2:28 PM

Re: “Hug a Greek Today

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 07/18/2015 at 11:13 AM

Re: “Hug a Greek Today

We need to consider where that money that was lent to Greece came from. The banksters just make up money on a computer. Then they lend it to people or nations with interest charged for the loan of the fake money. Just like our college graduates, you can pay on your loan for decades, and have the amount of the money owed to continue to grow. What we must demand is a period of NO INTEREST CHARGES on the loan as it is payed off in full. With each payment the amount owed is reduced. This no interest period can be set for as long as it is needed to allow the borrower to get out from the high burden of debt. When the interest is put back on the amount due, it must be at a rate that can be paid. As the debt goes down the interest rate could increase without killing the borrower.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Patricia Gray on 07/18/2015 at 11:08 AM

Re: “Hug a Greek Today

Just the process of trying learn more about Greece's political and economic crisis of the last 6 years, and the light speed acceleration of the last two week is more than just an intellectual exercise for Americans. Yes, there are issues unique to Greece, such as its dysfunctionally byzantine national and local system of business regulation that make Oakland's notoriously slow process for getting a restaurant permit look streamlined. But there are also problems that are just as relevant to Oakland residents as they are to Greeks.

Many of these issues share the same feature: voters trusting politicians to make correct decisions and not looking public policy gift horses in the mouth such as when politicians tell voters, don’t worry about those great public retirement benefits (and in Greece, publicly funded pensions for private doctors, engineers, accountants) that are too good to be true.

The susceptibility of their elected officials to encumber Greeks with financial products engineered by European and American private sector banks and investment firms was only one example. As you say this was done eagerly by both right and left wing Greek governments. And as some of the other posters here say, a large chunk of the borrowed money went to pay the wages and pensions of ordinary Greeks who should have asked questions, though a disproportionate share probably disappeared into the pockets of the oligarchs.

As in Oakland where the Goldman swap that still costs us $5 million/year for the next half a decade was negotiated years ago by council members eager to raise money to induce Al Davis to bring his Raiders back, the borrowing by successive Greek governments was a Faustian deal with investment bankers playing Mephistopheles to eager elected officials.

The Greek prime minister’s decision to call a national referendum on an EU offer that had already expired was reckless and confusing. He kept telling voters that if they voted No he would be able to negotiate a better deal. What was he smoking? He knew what the German political situation was and he went ahead and stuck his thumb in Germany’s eye. That made it certain that the German negotiators would punish Greece.

After your wrote your article, the editorial writers of the financial sector media such as the Economist and Financial Times have softened their views over the last two weeks. Similarly, Krugman and Rich are no longer saying how simple it would be to end austerity or have Greece leave the Eurozone and everything will fix itself; blaming everything on the greedy banks. The Economist and the FT no longer support austerity measures with ballooning debts that the IMF now says are unsustainable for Greece to ever repay. They seem shocked that Greece is now getting forced to sell off it's nationalized industries to pay foreign debt. It’s mostly voters in Germany, Holland, Latvia and a few others with their manipulative leaders that still talk only about more austerity and moral hazard. We can tell German’s that’s cruel and callous. That they forgot how much debt the US forgave Germany after WWII. But it’s understandable that Germans are pissed off at losing their investments plus facing guaranteed spending billions more money on Greece.

Pretty much everyone else in Europe who knows the Greek situation, realizes that more austerity has created a humanitarian disaster and deepened the economic one. Whether Greece stays on the Euro currency or leaves. Whether their creditors stretch the debts out another several decades or forgive some of it, or Greece leaves the Eurozone and defaults on its debts, ordinary Greeks will be suffering for years.

Bankruptcy has a long and honorable history in the US for individuals and corporations. Even state and local governments are allowed to get debt forgiveness unless they are Puerto Rico. As one of my biz school professors explained it: bankruptcy enables a fresh start. That's a good thing. Most of Europe understands that now. What's not clear is whether European EU politics and policies will allow that to happen.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Len Raphael on 07/16/2015 at 10:29 PM

Re: “Hug a Greek Today

What took place on July 5 now seems to have been overtaken by events, new events, which basically cancel the July 5 decision by Greek voters. The matter is complicated, but yesterday, July 15, the Greek "congress" made a new decision for the people, i.e., to accept austerity for Greece as dictated by the EU (and in the first instance the gaggle of powerful European interests conniving to save big Euro-banks). The people of Greece have been spurned by their own leaders. No matter, thing would be bad any way you slice this? Perhaps. One things is for sure, and that is that Greeks are in for a very hard time. Zorba will not be dancing on the beach in the new scenario, and the historical easy going life-styles are going to end for Greeks. After being admitted to the EU the Greeks ran up their shiny new credit cards to the max, and fast. Those chickens have come home to roost. This is now something that only "Payday Loans" and its staggering interest rates can solve? Well see.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Ken White on 07/16/2015 at 12:46 AM

Re: “Hug a Greek Today

Wall Street did not produce or inflict the debt. The Greeks received money they borrowed. The Banks did not drown them in debt, the Greeks took it on. They borrowed and spent. They did not build. Expanding Government, Unions and corruption have prevented growth. The Greeks thought they found a new free source of money. They want other peoples money to spend. It's how they got into trouble. Other Counties are stupid to lend them more money.

4 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by James A. Hudkins 1 on 07/15/2015 at 10:40 PM

Re: “Hug a Greek Today

What this article fails to mention but is worldwide news, is that since this July 5 vote, the Prime Minister who called this referendum and encouraged his voters to vote "No", has agreed to conditions even more stringent than the conditions that the Greece population voted against!

And the actual cost of the absolutely pointless referendum? $120 million. I guess the Greece doesnt care how much a pointless gesture costs since they plan on having other European countries pay for it.

But nonetheless, congratulations Greece!

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Clarence C. Johnson on 07/15/2015 at 11:53 AM

Re: “Hug a Greek Today

Thanks for this great analysis. Just like Detroit, Greece is being forced to sell off its national assets, such as its ports, in the name of "fiscal responsibility." This is part of the experiment to see how far the anti-democratic forces of hyper-capitalism can take this austerity experiment to enrich themselves.

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Lisa Lindsley on 07/15/2015 at 9:18 AM

Re: “Financing the Destruction of American Lives

Thank you for connecting all these dots. Kudos to the pension participants who refuse to play along while their investments in guns undermine the society in which they will, or are, hoping to enjoy a well-earned retirement.

Posted by Lisa Lindsley on 07/14/2015 at 7:00 AM

Re: “Three Cheers for the Pope

Climate-change denier is a stupid term created by chicken-little climate alarmists. Climate always changes. The real issue is whether humanity is contributing to the tiny amount of planetary warming, and what, if anything, we should try to do about it.

Humanity does harm the planet in various ways. Do you want to be the first to give up your house because it changed the environment that was there before? I didn't think so.

To only focus on the negative is to ignore the positive. Technology has meant that we can keep up on the news without having to cut down forests or use bleach to create white paper.

You doom and gloomers need to get out and explore nature. You will see that there is quite a bit of nature to enjoy.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Vincent Sauve on 07/02/2015 at 9:56 AM

Re: “Three Cheers for the Pope

You rightly commend Pope Francus for his contribution to this debate. What you fail to acknowledge because of your own cultural bias (PC?) a way of thinking that links abortion to the throw-away culture which the encyclical sees as one of the pernicious roots of the ecological crisis.

Posted by Tom Webb 1 on 07/02/2015 at 8:42 AM

Re: “Three Cheers for the Pope

You rightly commend Pope Francus for his contribution to this debate. What you fail to acknowledge because of your own cultural bias (PC?) a way of thinking that links abortion to the throw-away culture which the encyclical sees as one of tfe pernicious roots of the ecological crisis.

Posted by Tom Webb 1 on 07/02/2015 at 8:41 AM

Re: “Financing the Destruction of American Lives

Hi michael.sagehorn,

Thanks for the comment. The "deductive leap," as you put it, wasn't ours. It was the members of the two largest teachers unions in California, CFT and CTA, who demanded divestment from firearms companies that manufacture weapons illegal for sale in California by CalSTRS.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Darwin BondGraham on 06/18/2015 at 3:08 PM

Re: “Financing the Destruction of American Lives

How can you make a deductive leap between an investment in a profitable industry (firearms) to a brutal killing? Oh I forgot-it's the East Bay Express logic.

Companies that make firearms are posting record profits in part because folks fear the inability of government to maintain order and protect public safety. As a teacher I expect and demand that my pension fund managers seek to expand my own investments in my monthly pension contributions.

Until the time when thieves, robbers, and murdering thugs are despised and hunted down by society's leaders and punished severely, many people will seek to defend themselves and buy weapons. If the firearms industry is profitable, I would rather have my pension fund capitalize on its earnings.

4 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by michael.sagehorn on 06/17/2015 at 10:05 PM

Re: “The Air Jordan Frenzy

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Posted by Editor on 03/24/2015 at 2:10 AM

Re: “The Real Martin Luther King Jr.

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Editor on 01/15/2015 at 3:44 AM

Re: “Why You Should Support the Protests

This comment was deleted because it violates our website's Terms Of Use. People who repeatedly violate our policies will lose their right to post comments. You can read our entire Terms Of Use here.

Posted by Editor on 12/20/2014 at 8:09 AM

Re: “Why You Should Support the Protests

I support the protests. Cops have long used excessive force, killing old ladies with potato peelers from a distance, and such.

I think the police reform should go even further. The rules should restrict escalation. That is, a raised fist, or even a brick should not be met with a shot to the head. Even further, police should always obey the same rules they enforce against us. For example, no speeding and stop sign running.

0 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Gary Baker on 12/20/2014 at 4:22 AM

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