Three brief articles from Karen

Karen, the Lonely Conservative, had three brief articles which I see are closely related. In the newest, she noted that Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric CEO and chairman of President Obama’s jobs council, said of the People’s republic of China:

The one thing that actually works, state run communism a bit — may not be your cup of tea, but their government works.

In the oldest of the three articles, Karen noted President Barack Hussein Obama’s campaign trip to Michigan, to advocate for higher taxes on the most productive Americans, and to criticize the right-to-work legislation heading toward final passage in the state.

Finally, the middle article, in which she noted Andrew Malcolm’s article in Investor’s Business Daily:

You may have noticed some economic difficulties across the country in recent years among family, friends, neighbors, colleagues. One sector is doing quite nicely, however, under Barack Hussein Obama.

In the 1,420 days since he took the oath of office, the federal government has daily hired on average 101 new employees. Every day. Seven days a week. All 202 weeks. That makes 143,000 more federal workers than when Obama talked forever on that cold day in January of 2009.

Under Obama the total federal workforce has surpassed two million for the first time since the first Clinton term, now sitting about the 2.2 ,million level.

Now comes a new poll revealing that Americans know what’s going on. A majority of Americans believes government workers make more money than private sector workers, according to the . Sixty-one percent of private sector workers believe that.

Surprisingly, Republicans, independents and Democrats are united in agreement that government employees have it better than private sector workers although, predictably, Dems are slightly less sure.

“The federal workforce has become an elite island of secure and high-paid workers, separated from the ocean of average American workers competing in the global economy,” according to a report this year by the Cato Institute.

That report found the average civilian federal government worker collected just under $84,000 a year in taxpayer money, about $32,000 more than the average private sector worker. That’s a total federal worker package of about $236 billion a year.

More at the link.

How are these articles related? The trade unionism that President Obama is trying to defend in Michigan is, in reality, devolving down to a nearly government-only institution. In the private sector, unions are slowly dying, because they are simply uncompetitive with non-union companies, and, more ominously, with foreign workers; it’s difficult for an American manufacturer having to pay $30 an hour to compete with a Mexican company paying $30 a day . . . or a week.

This is the problem that private-industry trade unionism faces. The closed shop is an attempt at restraint of trade — not that the government would ever apply anti-trust laws to the unions! — an attempt to force wages higher by restricting the supply of labor vis a vis the demand. That could work, in the days when the United States was the unquestioned, dominant manufacturing leader in the world. That is no longer the case, and while trade unionism might be able to restrict the supply of labor in a given area, the fact that most manufactured goods do not need to be produced near the point of sale1 means that producers from half a world away — quite literally! — can be, and are, the competitors for American manufactured goods.

While Karen’s article cited Mr Malcolm’s, the point she mentioned was that most of the jobs which have been created have been federal government jobs, precisely the thing of which we need less, not more. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 73.3% of all of the jobs created in the last five months were government jobs, the jobs we need a strong and faster-growing private workforce to support, not something which can be sustained by a private sector job force which is shrinking in proportion to government jobs.

The right-to-work laws expose both the weakness of trade unionism and the penchant of our friends on the left to exercise control. The right to work is clearly an individual freedom, while mandatory union membership is a concept which states that the union has rights superior to those of individuals. The unions are afraid that without mandatory membership, they will lose control, and, of course, lose money.

To me, it is simple: if the workers believe that union membership is valuable, they will join the union, while if they do not see it is valuable, or at least not as valuable as the cost of membership and dues, they will not. The union would have to do something really radical like compete for the loyalty, and dues, of its members and prospective members. They haven’t been doing such a good job of that in recent years.

Which brings me back to Jeffrey Immelt. Despite being Chief Executive Officer of a private corporation, he admires the publicly governed corporations in China. One can sort of understand that: while companies in China are unionized, the unions are simply another means of government control:

The union chairman is typically tied to the government and the Communist Party, must be consulted on critical issues and, in effect, cannot be fired.

Everyone knows his place in China, and dissent is simply not tolerated. In effect, people like Mr Immelt can deal with a responsible government representative, come to an agreement, and not really have to worry about anything. For President Obama, people working for the government is the most natural condition; he was, after all, a government worker himself, and has no real experience in the private sector. And for the unions who supported President Obama so strongly, government employment is the highest level, a level at which there can be no competition from foreign workers, and no risk that the government will try to get rid of them.

It all works so well, other than the fact that it’s all going to fall apart.

  1. It should be noted here that what your Editor manufactures is a perishable product, and does have to be produced within close proximity to the point of use and sale.

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