Unions are not going to help workers now

Ask a Democrat what created the American Middle Class and many of them will answer: “Unions.” Organized labor gave factory workers badly needed leverage in negotiations with capital owners at a time when government refused to use its power to help them. Armed with that power, unions negotiated working terms and wages that made it possible for laborers to enjoy a decent standard of living.

Now, as the rapidly accelerating pace of technology and automation are eroding demand for low-skill jobs and delivering higher and higher returns to a few, could workers benefit from a new push toward unionization? The answer is “no,” and that answer has serious implications for policy and politics.

The purpose of a union is to provide employees with the bargaining leverage they need to secure reasonable working conditions and compensation. This was particularly important in an industrial setting where human labor was little more than an extension of a factory’s machines.

Each individual employee swinging a hammer was what economists call “fungible” – what he or she offered in value was indistinguishable from the value offered by the next person in line. There was very little about the labor being performed in most industrial era settings that would encourage owners to compete for a specific employee. Workers were as replaceable as a pair of gloves.

Fungible labor set up a permanent downward bidding war in which employers had every incentive to set compensation and working conditions ever lower. By collaborating in unions, workers could apply pressure on capital owners to counter their bargaining weakness. In an atmosphere in which there was virtually no support from government to protect worker’s rights and labor itself was entirely fungible, unions were the key to creation of a decent way of life.

For their time, unions were an innovation that helped ordinary people enjoy a greater share of the wealth generated by industrialization and created a decent life for millions of people.

Many people blame outsourcing and international competition for the decline of labor unions, but that claim misses the more fundamental economic changes that brought those dynamics about. Two very important things have changed in our economy that have undermined the value of unions and converted them into a death sentence for businesses that must work with them.

First, the rise of state regulation of working conditions made the most important work of a union redundant. With a wage floor, safety regulations, workers compensation, universal public education, Social Security, and other state interventions, much of the value unions were organized to deliver became redundant.

Regulation was more attractive than unions in many ways because it imposed a uniform set of conditions on all employers, creating a scenario in which every firm competed on the same level field. In order to maintain their appeal to members, unions evolved into a general buffer between employees and management, adding dense layers of bureaucracy to even the most routine hiring, firing, and administrative decisions.

Add to that the second factor, the rise of automation and information-based competition, and you get a deadly cocktail. The rise of the knowledge economy and the sudden, dramatic expansion in the range of activities vulnerable to automation created a dynamic that killed off union-bound organizations. If every change in work hours, labor force or job descriptions requires a new collective bargaining agreement, it will be impossible to keep pace with innovations that radically reduce manufacturing costs and introduce more rapid adaptive capabilities.

Companies free from the straightjacket of a collective bargaining agreement can change more quickly, adopting new, leaner practices. Employees in the emerging knowledge fields earned more by their own efforts than by collaboration in a union. No matter how well-managed, innovative, or responsible, competitors saddled with collective bargaining agreements drag behind, unable to lower their costs or develop new value fast enough to compete.

In some cases work is shipped overseas where labor is cheaper and less effectively organized, but we are discovering that this is merely an intermediate step in the decline of this workforce. Firms like Nike are already laying off hundreds of thousands of contract workers in the developing world as the race toward higher efficiency and adaptability makes automation more attractive than even the cheapest low-skilled labor. China-based Foxconn, manufacturer of the iPhone and one of the largest commercial employers in the world, is collaborating with Google on a long-term automation project that would eliminate hundreds of thousands of factory jobs.

Innovation, not outsourcing, is the root factor in the decline of manufacturing employment in the US. More restrictive laws and collective bargaining will not help. Market conditions are changing in ways that make low-skilled, undifferentiated inherently less valuable. Those same forces are opening up new opportunities for far more rewarding work, but gaining access to that work is more challenging. That condition is just as relevant in China as it is in Detroit.

The bulk of jobs that benefit most from unionization are simply disappearing. They aren’t merely going overseas. They are going away.

The low wage jobs that remain are mostly in service industries like fast food and retail. We could pressure those industries to unionize, but we would merely be repeating the dynamic that favored non-union companies in manufacturing fields. The problem with unions is that they are too bureaucratic and slow to survive in a highly dynamic economy. Protecting jobs and lifestyles in the information age with unions built to work under industrial conditions is like trying to grab water in your fists.

Pressure to capitalize on the increasing power of automation would only be accelerated by unions. Along the way, a push toward unionization would stifle the wealth-generating power of the economy without halting any of the forces that are driving low-skilled work out of existence. Unions would offer nothing more than stagnation and mediocrity as a fleeting bulwark against the relentless tide of economic dynamism. If we are going to improve living conditions, opportunity, and rewards for those who do not make it into knowledge careers or entrepreneurship, we need an alternative to organized labor.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Economics
251 comments on “Unions are not going to help workers now
  1. lomamonster says:

    Congressional Republicans suing the President for the results of their own malfeasance is tantamount to political heresy and may well spell doom for 2014 election results. It is unclear why they have chosen to engage in such high risk litigation, but may well center upon a mistaken belief that this is the last chance to lobby a “friendly” Supreme Court before the Democrats reshape it for the next two decades to come.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      12 cases brought to the SCOTUS and twelve times the SCOTUS slapped Obama’s power grab down. It is you my friend that is on the losing side of this argument.

      Just remember all these Executive Actions when a GOPer gets in. (I know, that won’t happen, yada, yada) But you have Hillary and she is carrying every bag Obama has including her own telling people they bought two houses but were broke.

      So you continue on with your belief.

      • lomamonster says:

        If that sounded like belief and an argument, you are sorely mistaken. It was merely an observation being advanced. You sure wake up grumpy, eh?

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Putting forth suing the president might doom the GOP in 2014 is not an observation my friend. If you hadn’t added might doom the GOP you would be correct, you observed.

      • texan5142 says:

        How cute, someone needs his diaper changed…….or is it his litter box?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Hey Buzz- He said, “may well spell doom”. The phrase “may well” means the same as “might” in standard English, man.

      • Turtles Run says:

        That really looks bad on Obama and his Presidency. I guess us Libby’s have been put in our place. Sure a lot of those cases date prior to Obama’s time in office. Because we all know that facts and honesty be damned when it comes to the reality right wingers live in.

        Of course if Buzzy can prove that all these cases occurred under Obama’s watch he will promptly provide us with the evidence that his claim is not another lie.

      • texan5142 says:

        National Review? No wonder you are so misinformed. That article proves nothing , the clown that wrote it is just as stupid as you and he provides no links or source material . It is an opinion piece you dolt.

      • Turtles Run says:

        *sigh*

        Buzzy – I will help you since thinking for yourself is not one of your strengths. From the notoriously liberal website Red State.

        United States v. Jones
        Sackett v. EPA
        Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC
        Gabelli v. SEC
        Arkansas Fish & Games v. United States
        PPK Corp. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
        Horne v. USDA
        Sekhar v. United States
        Burrage v. United States
        Bond v. United States
        United States v. Wurie/Riley v. California
        NLRB v. Noel Canning

        http://www.redstate.com/2014/06/27/abuses-too-far/

        Now for your claim to be true each of these lawsuits must have been initiated after the time Obama took office.

        I will even start it for you.

        United States v. Jones – 2004

        So off the bat we find you lied. How unusual **eyes rolling**

      • DanMan says:

        wrong turtlehead, the FBI suspected a crime was occurring in 2004, investigated and charged the defendant in 2005. He was found guilty in January 2008. He appealed in 2010, won that and the SC took the case in 2011.

        you’re still as stupid as ever

      • Turtles Run says:

        Danny boy – so the court case based on the police attaching a GPS devices in 2005 is the fault of President Obama? Obama and his time machine are at it again…..

  2. geoff1968 says:

    First you have to acknowledge the problem. Second you must look towards the solution. I don’t think the cause is solvable. That event has already occurred. So while the right and the left dither about the cause they seem to forget the problem must still be solved regardless.

    The snake eats its own tail and closes the circuit. This really hacks me off. Reason may save us yet. Please look beyond ideology. It cannot solve the problem. It’s a kiddie pool for simpletons.

    I’ve been reading this Machiavelli character. Low taxes, less regulation, but with high expectations. 500 years on his advice is good.

  3. lomamonster says:

    The blog confrontations on this particular day remind me of my greatest future fear – when the brakes lock up on my tricked out new car when it “senses” a collision, and the reality is that with the brakes now locked up there is no way to steer out of said collision with the semi that drifted across into my lane at 70 with the fervor of “white line fever” in full view.

    A basic arrrgh, perchance to perceve…

  4. Turtles Run says:

    Sorry I could no long contribute to that extremely long thread below

    Tutt – No where did I see 75, Owl, or HSAH make the claim that it is the lack of intelligence or ambition that has been an obstacle to minorities. In fact they have been very specific about pointing out that it is the low quality of schools and lack of resources that hold many back. Cappy – on the other hand blamed minority parents that do not have expectations of their children and that someone is telling minorities that they cannot achieve success without the help of others.

    “Expectations are important because if a group is constantly told they cannot achieve without help from another group, that less is expected from them, they will not strive to do better.”

    We both know this is bullshit but somehow you ignore Cappy’s blatantly condescending (being kind here) comment and chose to defend him.

    Cappy states that the poor quality of schools and lack of resources does not affect the opportunities of minorities. So obviously it is something else? What is it the poor parental skills he alluded too or simply a lack of intelligence and drive because he ruled out other factors?

    Try being honest with yourself when it comes to the comments of Cappy and even Buzzy and Danny-boy because you seem to have a blind eye on them.

    • CaptSternn says:

      There you go again, Turtles, assuming I blame minorit parents when I ask “where are the parents”. That is YOUR assumption, that is YOUR claim. I make no such claim. Where are the parents of white kids that do poorly?

      Why don’t you try being honest with yourself and the left, having lower expectations of those with darker skin, of females, of those with different ethnic backgrounds?

      Why do you insist they cannot be smart enough or capable enough to get a state issued photo ID? Why do you think the government, what you call “old white males”, has to enforce set-asides, affirmative action and other things to help those “minorities” make a living.

      You and most others on the left are being condescending. You claim to be of hispanic heritage, do you think less of yourself? Do you think you are less capable without the “white man’s” help and charity?

      You keep calling on my dear lady while you are trying to tell her I am some kind of racist that looks down on people because of their skin color or ethnic background. Has she not already explained that to you? Do you think she would be my dear lady if I looked down on her and her family and her heritage and her ethnic background?

      Do you seriously think such an intelligent, polite and thoughtful lady would have anything to do with a white supremacist?

      What kind of man runs to another man’s lady to complain about her man? To try to turn his lady against him because you don’t like facing her man, because you don’t like his opinions, because you can’t handle the idea that her man does not look down on people because of race or ethnic background?

      What kind of man are you, Turtles?

      • CaptSternn says:

        This is how it is, for a very long time Tuttabella did not want anybody to know that she is my lady. She was afraid that people would try to use it against her, against me. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that she is my lady, but I respected her wishes and kept quiet.

        You and Owl are proving that she was the wise one, to keep it quiet. She is the novice on internet forums, I am the jaded and experienced one. Only she has learned and she knew where caution should have the upper hand. You are proving her right.

        I have a thick skin, you can throw at me whatever you want and I will deal with it. She isn’t the same.

        I asked what kind of man you are. I know the answer, you are no kind of man. You are the kind or person that goes whining to somebody else, a man’s lady because you can’t face the man, you are not man enough to do so.

        Owl calls me a coward because I will face the bird and you as well, but the reality is that you and Owl are cowards, running to my lady and whining or posting personal info in hopes that I would be harassed or that you can turn her against me.

        Pathetic.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Simply put Captain, he isn’t.

      • CaptSternn says:

        That is pretty much how I see it, Kabuzz.

        Well, since everybody now knows that Tuttabella is my lady, might as well come out with it …

        This weekend will mark our third annivesary of being together. How blessed am I? Very much so.

        We are taking a bit of a road trip, and as unsual we, or I, will say where and what after the fact. Maybe check in occasionally, maybe not.

        Y’all have a good weekend, ya hear.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Congrat’s Captain. 3 years is great. My wife and I have 39 years and going strong. Love my lady. She is my best friend.

        I feel sorry for Tutt, because I see her time and again trying to play nice and handing out olive branches, but I knew, since I also have been around the block thousands of times that liberals will eventually get nasty with her when they lose an argument. I am sure you told Tutt that is just how it is and to not take it personally. Myself, I try not to respond to the Silly Bird or Turtle. They live in a world of their own and the ego’s they share but haven’t earned is immense.

        Have a great weekend. I’ll try to old up things here while you’re away. 😉

      • Turtles Run says:

        “What kind of man are you, Turtles?”

        More than you and your left and right nuts (Danny-boy and Buzzy – thanks Intrigued) will ever hope to be.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        “My lady”? Wow, you really did have to hit the implied-ownership sexist button repeatedly, didn’t you, Sternn?

        Watch out, Tutt. Sternn is clearly one of those sociopathic libertarians who cares only for himself and those who immediately benefit him. The lack of empathy is blindingly clear to anyone who bothers to wade through his ill-reasoned prose. Someday he’ll decide your liability to him exceeds your benefit, and you’ll be gone. Because Sternn is all that matters.

        And, of course, that’s not the attitude of a man. It’s the attitude of a spoiled child.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        And a perfect example Tutt of why you shouldn’t play with the Silly Bird and Turtles. Futile and juvenile come to mind, but be that as it may, don’t waste your time. They haven’t any class.

      • CaptSternn says:

        No, Turtles, a man doesn’t run off and whine to another man’s lady because he doesn’t like the other man’s view of the world.

        Owl, … just weak, very weak.

      • objv says:

        Cap and Tutta, Congratulations on the three-year anniversary! Time certainty has flown by. My husband and I have also been on a road trip – he on his motorcycle and me following (or taking a turn leading) in my car. We’ve been driving along “the silver thread” in Colorado; stopping often to walk through quaint towns and go on hikes. We are currently in Ouray.

        All the best to you and the rest of the motley crew on Cris’ blog. Have fun on your trip and forget politics for awhile.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Well, that escalated rather quickly.

        Allegations of cowardice, challenges to manhoods (as if somehow a man should respond differently than a woman in an online blog discussion), idiots overly concerned about gay people, and then wacky unsolicited relationship advice going off the deep end.

        Stern’s “my lady” could easily be viewed as haltingly sexist, but as long as the other party in his life likes it, rock on with your bad selves.

        The “what kind of man…” crap is exactly just sexist crap. I have no doubt that Buzz has some idea of what a “real man” is, and it undoubtedly is not a metrosexual (10 years after that term was in vogue).

        Evidently it takes a “man” to face opposition on an anonymous blog from your house in your pajamas while eating a snickers and drinking a mountain dew.

        Some of you may type with your penis, but in general I’m not sure the presence or absence of a uterus makes much of a difference regarding how one should comport themselves on a blog (or in real life).

        Regarding the relationship advice, there are numerous studies indicating that conservative couples with traditional gender roles report happier marriages and more sex. Not necessarily better sex, but at least more of it.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Cappy – I do not need to whine to anyone because I am pretty sure you are well aware of my thoughts on your comments. If not maybe this will help you out.

        F*** YOU

        To be clear I am not attacking Tutt I just want to know how she can overlook some of the horrible comments that you make or how she simply can label them naive. As I stated at other times this is an anonymous board and for all I know you are some teenage pygmy hermaphrodite that gets their rocks off confirming every negative stereotype of the tea party. I do not know the real you or Tutt or maybe I do. I am addressing the persona you have chosen to display here.

      • CaptSternn says:

        At least you didn’t actually spell it out like so many others here often do.

        I wonder though, why do you see the fact that I do not look down on people or think they are any less capable than anyone else because of skin color or sex as something so negative?

      • CaptSternn says:

        OV, thank you for the kind words. Hope y’all stay safe out there.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Not a blind I just the truth. We have thrown millions at all the schools. If a parent or parents don’t get involved in their child’s education, the child will probably fail. Doesn’t matter what your color is. Look at the Asian’s. They as a whole get VERY involved in their children’s education and they excel.

      Turtles, I think you are still locked in the 60’s mentality. You are just whining and name calling which doesn’t change minds just makes yours look small.

    • Intrigued says:

      So I see this blog about unions turned into everyone is racist but Stern, his lady, and his balls (I mean buzz and dan of course). Stern only has like 3 main arguments he cycles through: abortion, his intrepretion of the constitution without those pesky amendments, and of course the you smelled it you must be a racist argument.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Intrigued, reading is your friend. Read who brought up color and how my friend. It’s alright if you’re wrong.

  5. fiftyohm says:

    Why do I get this visual of a bunch of people in moon suits, EPA fashion, standing in the hallway, and one guy takes off his helmet, picks it up, takes a bite, and says, ” Mmm, Baby Ruth.”?

  6. fiftyohm says:

    Just wait ’till that hits the fan!

  7. Owl of Bellaire says:

    Apropos of little but the delightful potential for exploding fundamentalist notochords, here’s the latest news from the Tenth Circuit United States Court of Appeals:

    https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/13/13-4178.pdf

    “May a State of the Union constitutionally deny a citizen the benefit or protection of the laws of the State based solely upon the sex of the person that citizen chooses to marry? Having heard and carefully considered the argument of the litigants, we conclude that, consistent with the United States Constitution, the State of Utah may not do so. We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

    Love wins again. Same-sex marriage: coming nation-wide in short order, including to Texas.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Well, that’s not even a notochord.

    • Bart-1 says:

      and this relates to the economic impact of Unions how exactly, Owl?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        And, Bart, why didn’t you complain when DanMan brought up the Cochran win?

        Oh, right: because you’re a hypocritical piece of shit.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Dan – that is a great cry you have there . It is hard to keep believing you tea party types when you claim not to be made up of a bunch of racists when you people complain when someone actually went out to court African-American voters. You guys cry foul and voter fraud after Cochran wins despite the tea party sending out its thugs to intimidate African American voters.

        Maybe the establishment GOP has finally learned that more people would vote for you especially if you are not supporting tea party candidates that headline Neo-Confederate events and re-tweet white supremacists. It appears that black friend the tea party folks love to talk about really does not exist.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Democrats threw the primary, Turtles.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Cappy – So? They are Americans free to vote for any candidate they see fit. Shouldn’t politicians of all stripes try to win as many votes as possible. Those people that voted may have voted Democrat before but apparently Cochran was able to convince them to vote for him.

        I love the new McDaniel claim that these votes were illegal because they are not going to vote for Cochran in the general election. Apparently, McDaniel can read minds and tell the future.

        “We likewise know that we have a statute, a law in our state that says you cannot participate in a primary unless you intend to support that candidate,” McDaniel said. “And we know good and well that these 35,000 democrats have no intention to do that. They’ll be voting for [Democratic nominee] Travis Childers in November. We know that. They know that. And so that makes their actions illegal.”

        Who cares if the law he cites was ruled unenforceable.

        http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/chris-mcdaniel-election-law-concede-thad-cochran

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, Turtles, that is how the game is played some times.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Thank you Cappy. I did not realize Tutt couldn’t speak for herself.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Turtles, I replied under your original question to me down below.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, Turtles, Tutt can speak for herself. I can also speak for myself when you claim that others have exposed me as a racist, which is total garbage. It is 75 that brought up the idea that blacks and hispanics are stupid or lazy. He included asians, but really they tend to do better in school than almost every other race or ethnic group, so does that mean he will also claim that whites are stupid or lazy, or both? Then he demands that I explain his claim or his view? I cannot because I do not share that belief or idea, and as I stated, I will not even try to do so.

        And that’s where the split is between people like myself and people like you and 75, I believe all are just as capable as anybody else regardless of race or ethnic backgrounds. And because I believe that blacks, hispanics, whites, asians and others are equally capable, you call me a racist.

        Seems to me that you do not believe all are equally capable, that there is some defect based on skin color or ethnic background, but you do not accept that as a racist point of view. And you have the audacity to claim that my logic is flawed? Really?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn claims, “I believe all are just as capable as anybody else regardless of race or ethnic backgrounds…. Seems to me that you do not believe all are equally capable, that there is some defect based on skin color or ethnic background.”

        But you see, Sternn, this is the crux of your dishonesty.

        Assuming you’re not lying, then *everyone* here believes that any individual of any race is, on average, just as capable as anybody else.

        BUT — and here is where you fail and then dodge — many people are pointing out that, for individuals of many races, their individual capabilities are hampered by the environments in which they find themselves. You’ve denied that there’s any difference in educational opportunities between, say, Sharpstown High School and Bellaire High School. That’s an absolutely, dumbfoundingly ridiculous position to take, but you’ve been forced into it by your inane, adolescently libertarian insistence that everyone has equal opportunities, when to any rational, thinking adult it’s clear that they don’t.

        It’s not about racism; it’s about socioeconomics. Racism is merely the dishonest card *you* play against others so that you don’t have to confront the sociopathic side of libertarianism.

        Now, I’m sure your gonads (kabuzz and Dan) will come in, shouting and ejaculating about Ben Carson and the like. Sure, there are members of minorities who have succeeded despite meager circumstances; just as there are wealthy folks who have ruined their lives despite lavish circumstances. There’s a continuum in all human experiences.

        What sociopathic libertarians, and hard-core religious fundamentalists, don’t seem to understand is that there’s an element of CHANCE to such rags-to-riches stories. It does NOT come solely from individual effort; it comes from lucky breaks, fortunate circumstances, chance connections, and the like. Claiming that everyone should be able to replicate such tales is exactly like claiming that everyone can become a pro basketball player or a rock star. Sure, thirteen-year-old boys may believe such tripe, but adults should know better.

        Some people win the lottery and become successful; but we don’t view the lottery as a reliable agent for alleviating poverty. The blather we’re hearing insisting that “equal opportunities” exist despite the manifold evidence to the contrary is just as foolhardy.

  8. Owl of Bellaire says:

    Regarding Anse’s excellent post about concentration of wealth, far below where it got buried under the ridiculous conservative lie of an “apology tour”, it seems that Republicans are forgetting, no surprise, what they once knew well.

    I remember hearing an excellent talk from the classics professor Victor Davis Hanson, before he took a turn toward shilling almost exclusively for the Right.

    One of Hanson’s early works was *The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization*. It explored one of his theses: that democracy was built upon the ideal of the yeoman farmer, and after the fall of Greece to Alexander’s empire and its successors, didn’t rise again until similar conditions prevailed for farmers during the Renaissance and later.

    Much like Anse, Hanson saw the ownership of property — and, more importantly, the capability for self-sufficiency through that property — as a necessary condition for democracy. The citizen-serfs of a hydraulic society, such as the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia or Egypt, were dependent on mass irrigation and subject to despotism, whether directed to massive projects like the Pyramids or toward foreign wars to please the Pharaoh’s whims. In classical Greece, though, farmers owned and worked their own land, provided their own equipment as infantrymen, and had to agree to be called into service through their vote. (In fact, our word “idiot” stems from the same Greek word as yields us “idiom”; “idiotos” literally refers to “someone/thing of its own”, such that an “idiot” was someone who stayed cloistered on his own farm and didn’t participate in public debate or voting.)

    Which brings us to our modern problem. Our population is simply too large, and our economy too complex, to allow any appreciable fraction of us to live by subsistence farming. Now, perhaps the loathsome demand of some on the Right to again demand a property qualification to allow voting hearkens back in some ways to Hanson’s thesis, but it will never fly in our modern political and moral systems. Yet we have many citizens who, due to the urbanization and industrialization which makes our era so unlike any predecessors, don’t have the kind of independent existence which Hanson viewed as requisite for democracy.

    All of which links back, of course, to Chris’ earlier musings about a guaranteed income. But we know how THAT flies with the conservative claque around here.

    So, conservatives, what would you do, to offer the requisite independence to the common American citizen, for her or him to both obtain relative economic independence and to view his or her views as an integral component of a democratic state? How about a dialogue of ideas, rather than a series of snide diversions?

    • Anse says:

      It’s a mainstay of conservative ideology that the ownership society is a free society, but they refuse to acknowledge how this works out for those who are not owners. Material wealth cannot be separated from freedom. The two go hand in hand. So when you have wealth concentrated in the possession of a few, you will have a concentration of power, too. It’s inevitable.

      • Anse says:

        Dan, you always include an insult in your posts. Why take such a juvenile tone? It should be beneath you as a thinking person. Unless you actually aren’t a thinking person.

        The balance of political power rests on the distribution of wealth; those with much have more power than those who have little. You guys on the Right think this is perfectly okay, then you express shock when this leads to the kind of political unrest that is inevitable. Some of you openly advocate for a kind of system that puts all political power in the hands of property owners under the assumption that property ownership somehow qualifies you as one who has “earned” such powers while others must necessarily do without.

        Meanwhile, you all moralize incessantly about poverty. The poor, you insist, are inferior beings, that things like welfare discourage motivation. The GOP platform discussed in the other thread explicitly advocates for a kind of social engineering in which the poor are taught to be self-sufficient, leading to the transparent conclusion that those poor who remain poor will inevitably be cast off as unworthy of anything resembling the basic dignities of home and sustenance.

        It’s this idea that if everybody does what they’re supposed to do, everything will be right in the world. But if that were possible then communism would have been a resounding success.

        Your problem is that you cling to the ludicrous assumption that poverty in America is easy. I don’t buy this logic, Dan. I have not seen one bit of evidence that you are in any way superior to any other sentient being. I don’t care if you pay your own way or not.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Actually Anse, it is the left that thinks the poor can’t make it and even initiate policies for that purpose. Conservatives believe earnestly that anyone that puts in the time and sacrifice can make a good living. You are on envious person. Do you watch your neighbors to see what they buy so you can complain?

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Kabuzz,

        I certainly cede to you that hard work is a part of success. But to pretend that government policies are not also a part of the picture is simply ignorant. Look at the billions in dollars the resource industry gets in subsidies and sweetheart deals from friends in government. Look at the special tax breaks given to the rich investor class that essentially means that labor is not equal to capital in terms of investment return.

        Is it simply an accident of history that the Wall Street boom took off when certain deregulation and tax grants were granted to the big banks and other financial services industries in the 1980’s and 1990’s? I think not.

        I don’t know about you but I tend to side with the poor, inner city black kid who grows up in a crappy neighborhood with sorry schools, broken streeets and horrific crime over some oil barron taking abvantage of MLP’s or a billion dollar Wall Street SOB paying 10% of his income in tax.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        75, with thinking like you stated, no wonder the dem party is imploding. You have absolutely no faith in human nature and the ability of one person. I personally know many urban people (you call them black) who achieved. Again, until you quit viewing poor people as unable to achieve, you do more harm then good.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Some achieve despite the fact that all the cards are stacked against them. True. That does not mean that the ultra rich in our society do not have all the advantages and that they use those advantages to bribe their way into keeping tax benefits (and other similar benefits) that allow them to keep that wealth at the expense of others.

        Your statement was interesting though. Some plebeians in Roman times also gained wealth and stature in their society despite having all the cards stacked against them. Like you are doing now, they were hailed by the patricians as scrappy young up and comers. Like you they also used these small handful of plebs who essentially got lucky and hit the jackpot as an excuse not to reform their incredibly unequal society. The more things change; the more they stay the same I guess.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Wrong again 75. Your thinking is stuck in the 60’s. What you refuse to acknowledge that at this time ALL people have choices to make. Whether they use their choices wisely is up to them. But to blame those that made wise choices for the climate people are in is absurd.

        There are many, many, many people much wealthier than I and I don’t give them one thought. It seems you are obsessed with what others have. That is a problem.

        Again, until you start viewing poor people as having the ability to achieve, you are the problem.

      • CaptSternn says:

        And there it is, 75, seeking equal outcomes instead of equal opportunity. Do rich people have advantages? Of course they do, they are rich. Do you want those advantages? If so, then get rich. My great-grandfather was a poor sharecropper, always on the move and without property of his own. Some of his grandsons are multi-millionaires. They have big houses and fancy cars. But unlike you, I am not jealous.

        Communism is for equal outcomes, capitalism is for equal rights and opportunity.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        And Stern…I think there are lots and lots of folks suggesting that we are no where near equal opportunity, but it is so much easier to pretend we are there, using yourself and your family as examples of what a little hard work, pluck, and good ol’ fashioned boot-strap pulling can do.

        If only all those poor people were special snowflakes like you who just worked hard, then they wouldn’t be poor.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Homer, only liberals, a small segment of society this there is no equal opportunities.

        I think what you mean as well as 75 is ‘it isn’t fair’, etc. Life isn’t fair. All things don’t work right. There are imperfections. Things occasionally go wrong but man for man, it is up to the choices we make. If someone poor decides to make the choice to stay in their current situation, well, that was there choice. Others chose differently.

        You liberals have such a low opinion of poor people and minorities. It borders on elitism.

      • vivalagalgo says:

        kabuzz sez, ‘I personally know many urban people (you call them black)…”

        LOL, riiight. And some of my best friends are black too, I mean urban people…

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Actually Viva my mentally challenged friend, I have many urban friends, white, black and Hispanic. It is your buddy Homer that thinks only blacks live in urban area’s. So, whatever you meant for me, give it to him. He very well deserves it.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Where did I ever advocate equality of outcome?

        Less unequal outcomes perhaps. But equality? No. First that is impossible and second that is impractical. It would raise all kinds of other issues that would endanger society as a whole.

        What I would advocate for is a less unequal society so as to better make equal the opportunities for all. Because the opportunities are sure as hell not equal in this society and they are getting MORE unequal. That’s the biggest problem.

        But, please continue to pretend there isn’t a problem. Perhaps you can tell the poor and suffering to “eat cake.”

      • CaptSternn says:

        Um, no, I don’t believe in the idea that people should be able to buy Cadillacs for the price of a Yugo just because the dealership doesn’t want to sell Yugos. Nor am I jealous of what others have. There is equal opportunity in this nation, people can take advantage of it, some succeed, some fail. Some that fail go again and succeed. They can then provide for more advantages for tehir families, and I am not jealous of that either.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz…I think you could read a few hundred of my comments and not find even the suggestion that Black folks only live in urban areas. I don’t think I’ve ever even commented on the relative living locations of Black folks.

        My elementary and middle schools were majority Black, and I certainly did not live in what anyone would consider an “urban” area in small-town Texas.

        On your your even more odd point, you (and Stern) seem to think the Black kid growing up on Gulfton (just outside Bellaire) has the same opportunity as the White kid on Evergreen (inside Bellaire) or even the Black kid growing up in Bellaire.

        Given the very wide disparities across economic and race groups in the US, you two must have some pretty scary ideas as to the causes.

        Evidently, the significant differences in outcomes for the children growing up in Sharpstown seem to be caused by those kids just not working hard enough to succeed as the kids in Bellaire.

      • CaptSternn says:

        The opportunities are the same, HT. It’s just whether or not people take advantage of them.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…I get your point. You are wrong, but I get your point.

        I know few people who would suggest the opportunities are the same for the kid in Sharpstown or Gulfton as they are in Bellaire, but hey, it is nice to hear your opinion.

        Now, given that we currently have equal opportunities in your world, the fact that there are these really big differences across race groups suggests that there is something about racial minorities that is causing them not to pursue all these equal opportunities when compared to the White kid in Bellaire.

        My argument is that the Sharpstown schools suck compared to the Bellaire school, so the opportunity for the kids in Sharptstown to get a good education that prepares them for middle school, high school, college, or the job market is qualitatively less than the opportunity to presented to the Bellaire kid who went to Condit and Bellaire High.

        Your argument would seem to be the Black kid at Sharpstown just didn’t work as hard as the White kid in Bellaire.

        Yet, it is you folks who suggest it is the liberals who are the “real racists”.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Where are the parents in your argument, HT? Oddly absent.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Nope…let’s just assume the same set of modestly involved parents, both working jobs to keep a roof overhead and food on the table.

        Let’s go with equally modest parenting involvement and skills, and no way does the kid in Sharpstown have the same set of opportunities as the kid going to Condit or Bellaire.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, they do.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        So, better teachers, better schools, and more resources make no difference?

        Okie dokie.

        So, the fact that kids coming out of elementary schools from Sharpstown are scoring consistently lower than the kids coming out Condit suggests that those kids just aren’t pulling on their bootstraps hard enough?

        Given the large differences in outcomes by race groups, claiming that folks all have the same opportunities suggests some pretty unpleasant hypotheses as to why those differences in outcomes exist.

      • Tuttabella says:

        “It seems . . . to me I’ve heard that song before . . . it’s from an old familiar score . . . I know it well . . . that melody . . . “

      • Bart-1 says:

        Anse says:
        June 24, 2014 at 1:42 pm
        “Dan, you always include an insult in your posts. Why take such a juvenile tone? It should be beneath you as a thinking person. Unless you actually aren’t a thinking person.”

        bubbabobcat says:
        June 25, 2014 at 12:04 pm
        “Cry me a fucking river you racist whiny asshole. It’s a free country. and it’s part of the damn Constitution you wingnut haters like to selectively read.”

        Anse, says nothing, double standard much?

      • CaptSternn says:

        Not at all what you are trying to imply, HT. Again, it comes down to parental involvement and expectations. Expectations are important because if a group is constantly told they cannot achieve without helpn from another group, that less is expected from them, they will not strive to do better.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Homer, you are doing what Anse is doing. Making excuses for poor choices and poor parenting. You say you have a moderately same level of parent involvement in Sharpestown and Bellaire as an example. There is no ‘moderate’ involvement of parent in Bellaire. Bellaire is a maximum parental involvement school. Most of the kids in Sharpestown unfortunately don’t give a crap about their kids education. If parents don’t care, who does the kid turn to for help?

        My son went to a Magnet school for aviation. He went three years. He made a stupid mistake and was transferred to his home school area which was Sharpestown. When he received his diploma, I told him I’m hanging it on MY wall because I feel I earned it. It was a joke, but I was very much involved, as was his mother, in every step on his education. Boring teacher meets, calls from the teachers, checking homework, etc. It is called parenting. My wife and I both work but found the time to assist and push him.

        The Captain is correct, you never mention the parents because you know as well as we do that there lies the problem that really can’t be corrected.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        I believe Homer has hit on something. Stern and the others claiming there is “equal opportunity” between the black kids in Sharpstown and the white kids at Bellaire or Memorial thinks that the black kids who don’t succeed at Sharpstown either (a) are inherently stupid, lazy or ignorant or (b) have parents that are inherently stupid, lazy or ignorant. So, what is it about the black people that makes them so, in your mind Stern? Please. Enlighten us.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        And by the way, if it’s the parents’ fault (rather than the childrens’), then that pretty much blows your argument about equal opportunity out of the water Stern.

        There clearly isn’t equal opportunity because these children are born into a world already behind and disadvantaged. And the outcomes show that!

      • CaptSternn says:

        75, it is interesting yet very sad that you assume race in the discussion. I was not considering race at all, but parental involvement, expectations of the individual and their desire to succeed. Yes, parental involvement is important, but the students can overcome even the lack of that if others expect more of them, regardless of skin color. And once they become adults, they have the same opportunities to succeed as anybody else, they can even be better parents for their own children and better provide for generations of their family to come.

        But it seems you and HT cannot see beyond the color of a person’s skin. You assume that a person is less capable if their skin is darker. That is how democrats, liberals and leftists have always viewed the world, those with darker skin are less capable, therefore they need help from white people just to exist, much less succeed.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        The facts are there Stern. Black kids and Latino kids do worse in school than white kids and Asian kids. They are facts Stern. You can ignore them all you want (like you ignore most problems), but that won’t make them disappear.

        And since you believe there is equal opportunity, in your world, there is only one real way to explain this difference – black kids and Latino kids are inherently less smart and more lazy or, at least their parents are inherently less smart and more lazy.

        I, of course, reject this out of hand because I know that the claim of equal opportunity is just more BS pulled out of thin air. But you hold fast. So…the question is…please explain why you think black people and Latino people are so stupid and lazy? Like I said…enlighten us.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I don’t buy your claim that blacks and hispanics are stupid, 75. That is the claim of the left. I believe all are as capable as any other, and all have the opportunities to succeed. Then again, how do you measure success? I am not at all rich, but I am comfortable and to me that is success. I am not jealous of my relatives or neighbors that have more.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Capt…can you not read? Or are you just doging the issue because you’re uncomfortable with it? You seem to have a real knack for that Stern.

        Either way, I am not the one claiming that black or Latino children are stupid. I know that your claim of equal opportunity is horse shit and the reason that black and Latino kids do worse in school is precisely because THERE IS NOT equality of opportunity in this country.

        But you believe in equality of opportinity, so what is it that black kids and Latino kids do worse, in your mind Stern? Please explain what is it in particular about these two races of children that make them score lower in your world. Are they just stupider in your mind Stern? Maybe they are just lazy? Or maybe their parents are just stupid and lazy? Which is it? Please. Explain.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I cannot explain your view that blacks and hispanics are stupid or lazy, nor will I even try. Asian kids tend to do better, does that mean white kids are lazy and stupid, that white kids don’t have equal opportunities? Go ahead, explain.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Mr. 75 asked “Are they just stupider in your mind Stern? Maybe they are just lazy? Or maybe their parents are just stupid and lazy? Which is it?”
        **************************************
        Sir, you’re presenting an unfair either/or question, and putting words in other people’s mouths. It seems to me that you’re projecting.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mr. 75 – It’s a shame that when people call for more parental involvement from minority parents, they’re decried as racist.

        Even President Obama has called on minority parents to become more involved in their kids’ education, asking them how can they expect their kids to do well in school “if there is not a book in the house?”

        Just as you present the “fact” that Black and Hispanic kids don’t do as well in school, it is also a “fact” that parental involvement can make all the difference in the world.

        My mom barely spoke English, but she made sure I learned to read at an early age, and I was always surrounded by books.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Even if equal opportunity is a myth, you still have to work with what you have as best as you can, to make the most of it.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        No sane person would claim that parental involvement isn’t important to a child’s success, or that it shouldn’t be encouraged.

        But no sane person would claim that the ability of parents to *be* involved isn’t limited by their economic circumstances. If a single parent is working two or three jobs to make ends meet, and commuting by bus or other mass transit to reach them, that leaves limited time outside of work and basic household functions to interact with that child.

        And that, obviously, causes a difference in opportunities for the child. Hispanics and African-Americans aren’t racially inferior in intelligence (pace fringe tomes like *The Bell Curve* or Sternn’s childishly dishonest, reflexive accusations to his critics), but they are statistically more likely to be in poor, single-family homes than their White counterparts.

        So tell us, Sternn, in your witlessly simplistic world, what’s the solution? Should poor people simply not have children in the first place? Should they take even *more* time away from their children for dating, to find a replacement partner who can serve as a second parent? Should they live in the streets, to avoid the working hours necessary to earn rent, so they can participate more in the child’s life?

        Or shall we just take it as the obvious given that you are so flagrantly and obviously trying to avoid, that opportunities are NOT equal?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        For “single-family” above, read “single-parent”. Apologies for the lapse.

      • desperado says:

        Do the words ‘anecdotal evidence’ mean anything to you?

      • CaptSternn says:

        Owl, go back and read Tutt’s comment from 10:26 AM. There is your answer, the answer you refuse to accept as reality.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        First the liberals refuse to admit parental involvement is important to a child’s successful education. Now Silly Bird wants us to figure out how to fix all those single parents who supposedly work three jobs to find time for their kids.

        Sometimes liberals miss the forest for the trees. Big time.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I still think it’s silly to obsess 24/7 over how other people raise their children — whether it’s through anecdotal evidence or its opposite — statistics.

        If you think they need help, then help them. Or vote for helping them, or vote against it if you think it’s unnecessary or a waste of money.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Tutt – Cappy was the one that stated “Where are the parents in your argument, HT? Oddly absent.” Cappy continuously states that minority children do not suffer from the effects of inequality in education and resources. That it is the parents or some lack of drive to succeed that keeps them from achieving similar outcomes as those that do not suffer such obstacles. When 75 points out his error in logic Cappy as usual just makes up some accusation that 75 said minority children are lazy and stupid.

        My question to you takes an entirely different path because others are exposing Cappy for what he really is. My question is as a person that claims to be Hispanic how do you overlook his comments and in fact often times defend the garbage he and the other right wingers make on a daily basis.

        I understand that his persona may be the complete opposite of his online one but I find it difficult to believe he is so completely able to change his personality and beliefs when he posts here and the Chron.

      • CaptSternn says:

        It should be very simple to understand this point, Turtles. As I told Owl, go back and read Tutt’s comment from 10:26 AM, there you will find the answer.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Turtles, I won’t be able to give you a full reply today, as I am at work, but for starters, the only person I really defend is Cap. I can’t speak for Dan or Kabuzz, as I have never met them. And even in the case of Cap, I don’t defend his every comment, only his overall belief, however naive it may be, that everyone has the potential to succeed. He doesn’t say it in a denigrating fashion — I have never heard him say that minorities are lazy or stupid — only that they are smart enough to succeed, and that they should never consider themselves less capable, which is the message he sees coming from liberals in general. Cap’s contempt and scorn are reserved for the liberals, not the minorities.

        HT, on the other hand, seems to insist on drilling into us how minorities do NOT succeed, “statistically” speaking, and once when I said I had it good as a minority, he had the nerve to challenge me, to ask me sarcastically and incredulously to list all the great things I had been able to accomplish as a minority, as if he couldn’t believe it. “Please, tell us, Tutt, how you hit the jackpot as a minority,” or something to that effect. I will find that post if I have to. Cap has NEVER spoken to me in such a manner.

        As for “claiming” to be Hispanic — yes, I am, and proud of it. I am first generation American on my mom’s side, third on my dad’s side, but I was raised single-handedly by my mom, as my dad died when I was very young, so I consider myself first generation, very close to my Mexican roots and my mom’s family in Mexico

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Even so, I know that HT is a good guy overall, with good intentions, but he’s not off the hook.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…I did not scroll all the way down until this morning. Long, long threads.

        I will gently point out that you are going to find no comment from me about Hispanics (or Blacks), NOT able to succeed in school. However, there is no denying that the reality is that Blacks and Hispanics, overall, have significantly lower educational performance and attainment scores than do Whites and Asians.

        That does not speak to any single individual. That is speaking to the group level. There are plenty of bozo White kids and brilliant Hispanic and Black kids, but across the groups, the performance and attainment levels are lower by any conceivable metric.

        I would argue that this is a case of largely unequal opportunities facing those communities moreso than any particular characteristic of the students or parents. Stern strongly disagrees with me on this point.

        To your other point, I have no recollection about challenging you regarding your accomplishments or how good you had it as a minority. That just is not an argument I would make when talking about group level differences. Sincerely, I do not recall the conversation at all.

        To your last point, it would be hard for me to be a “good guy overall” had I made those arguments. So, if I did make those arguments, you (and I) should classify me squarely in the “not good guy” category.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “I have never heard him say that minorities are lazy or stupid — only that they are smart enough to succeed, and that they should never consider themselves less capable, which is the message he sees coming from liberals in general. Cap’s contempt and scorn are reserved for the liberals, not the minorities.”

        Tutt – Cappy was given a scenario where schools for minorities and the poor were not as good as others and parents gave equal amounts of attention to their kids and he still refused to to admit that the inferior schools were the cause of lost opportunities.

        So tell me what is it that he thinks are holding poor and minority kids back? Because if you remove the blinders it is pretty obvious what he is saying. The whole people telling these kids they cannot succeed without help is an excuse by right wingers to justify screwing people over and shifting the blame to someone else.

        Feel free to fall for it but do not expect me to believe it is his naivety at work here.

    • CaptSternn says:

      What would we do? That has already been answered, and most people follow the simple answer. Get a job or start a business and earn your way. Wealth is not limited, it is infinite and it is created.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        So, an answer which is not an answer.

        Just what we should expect from the acephalic Sternn.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Funny, it was the same solution you expressed in a reply below.

      • Anse says:

        Wealth is infinite? Really? Dude, one rich man equals at least a dozen who have next to nothing and a few who lost everything. That’s capitalism.

        For every Walmart that employs a hundred people there are probably a dozen small businesses that went bankrupt and laid off 125. That’s competition. We can’t all be winners, Stern. What would be the point of trying, right? It’s like the children’s soccer teams where everybody gets a trophy.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, wealth is infinite. Just because the owners of Walmart have so much doesn’t mean nobody else can ever achieve such wealth.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        I love how Sternn is always talking about shopping at Walmart, as a great example.

        I don’t buy from Walmart, Sternn. But, then, I have ethics and the capacity for thought. You apparently don’t.

    • Crogged says:

      Virginia Wolfe, “A Room of One’s Own”.

      So in the last thirty years we’ve put more of the costs of advanced education on the consumer, benefiting many banks in the process and have more graduates saddled with more debt, simply because ‘somebody’ has to pay for it. We create money, we create the laws, we entirely create this world we live in and act as if it were beset with contradictory forces of nature which must obeyed. We worry about ‘incentivizing’ the poor, but Paris Hilton is just an anomaly, why touch the sacred laws regarding the sins of our father’s. Or the laws of descent and distribution with ‘death taxes’.

      Education is collaborative, but needs ‘competition’.

      Plato must have been a poor teacher, we only hear about Aristotle and if he had just worried about being fired, think of how many more excellent students he would have made!

    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      The loss of the property owning, yeoman farmer also lead directly to the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Emperors.

      The traditional Roman army of the Republic was unpaid and the members of the army were thus required to hold a certain amount of land (as this was their income). The Republic traditionally was made up of a large group of farming “middle class” who held these farms and thus served in the army.

      But as Rome expanded overseas and gained new terroritory, the soldiers were forced to be on longer and longer tours of duty. Many of the soliders were unable to adequately tend their farms because they were gone for years at a time (and couldn’t afford to hold enough slaves to tend it in their absense). Thus, rich Roman elites starting buying these farms up from these impoverished soldiers. This reduced the number of people available to serve in the army.

      Many Roman politicians understood this problem and tried to address it with land reforms. These included limits on the amount of land any single person could own and forced buy-back schemes from the state to settle new farmers. The Gracchi brothers were two of the most famous of these reformers. These reforms were eventually killed by the Senate (who made up the large, landholding aristocracy) and the Gracchi brothers eventually brothers eventually died for their efforts with the older Tiberious being murdered by thugs of the Senate and the younger Gaius forced to commit suicide while being chased by Senatorial allies.

      Eventually the land holding requirement was dropped and soldiers were paid for their service by their generals from the booty captured in war. These soldiers turned into essentially private armies of the powerful generals and lead to the civil wars of Caesar, Pompey, Mark Antony and Augustus and the fall of the Republic.

      • John, the Gracchus brothers were populists protesting a break down in the rule of law; the Twelve Tables no longer served their intended purpose, and the powerful subverted the rule of law to their own ends. Of course, the burn was slow; Caesar didn’t cross the Rubicon for another 80 some-odd years, and the Republic finally collapsed more than 100 years after the assassination of Tiberius Gracchus.

        Today we have federal institutions that fail to serve (the VA), federal institutions that have become instruments of political persecution (the DOJ and IRS) and a chief executive who makes an absolute mockery of the rule of law. Question for you: Given the current state of play, how much time does our republic have?

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        There was a break down in the rule of law. True. The courts and the legal system were being used by the wealthy to advance their interests (sound familiar?). But the main aim of the Gracchi brothers was land reform and the fact that wealth and land in the society were being taken from the many and concentrated in the few. Much of their initial concern revolved around the military (they couldn’t recruit as many people into the military) but this concern eventually extended generally to the affect of tens of thousands of landless, poor former yeoman flooding the cities and causing social unrest.

        Since the land reforms of the Gracchi brothers were eventually defeated by the Senate, it took the reforms of Gauis Marius some twenty years later before the military problem was solved. But his switch to a professional army of landless peasants, as noted earlier, lead directly to the fall of the Roman Republic upon the rise of Caesar and Augustus about 60 years later.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        The final collapse of the Republic was aided by power-hungry generals, from Gaius Marius to L. Cornelius Sulla to, of course, G. Julius Caesar.

        And which modern political party makes of military service and spending a fetish, to the extent that they’ve somehow become the default choice for appointees to the position of Secretary of Defense?

        And which modern political party has supporters who fetishize the right to bear arms, insisting that the reasons necessary for such are to abet a military overthrow of our own government, in case it should prove, in their own, privileged view, treasonous to them?

        If our Republic follows the Roman trajectory, it will be because of Republicans.

    • goplifer says:

      Almost as if we were re-living the old rivalry between Hamilton and Jefferson, or as if that rivalry never really ended.

      https://goplifer.com/2013/11/17/hamilton-vs-jefferson/

      • CaptSternn says:

        Kind of figured that would end up being a lot of mudslinging against people that oppose socialism, and you did not disappoint. Fact is that one size does not fit all. That is something socialists either will not or simply cannot understand.

        It is like when I bring up the fact that people can own and drive vehicles, cars and trucks, on private property with no insurance, no license, no registration, etc., and the only thing many can think of is driing around in a small back yard. They never leave the city and look at all the large ranches and farms where old work trucks would never see public roads, where they would be bought and sold with no records.

        I think it comes from people living in big cities that are very dependent on government for infrastructure, water, sewer and other things not understanding how anybody could exist without government providing all those things. Nothing wrong with living in a city, even a big city like Houston. There are a lot of benefits. There are a lot of benefits of living in rural areas as well.

        It isn’t really a North/South thing either. There are large parts in the central U.S. where life is very rural. The bread basket of the world.

        In that way, no, the debate between Federalism and Anti-Federalism has never ended, what would be better called capitalism vs socialsm, respectively.

      • So, Chris, you seem to think that an industrialization *requires* a highly regimented, regulated society. This was perhaps true of the classical machine age, but it’s becoming an increasingly archaic way of organizing society in the information age. Unions, big government, monolithic corporations – these social structures are all dinosaurs.

        I’m not entirely sure what social structures are going to emerge from all of the social dislocation we are currently experiencing, but I expect that they will be characterized by far more individual choice, personal freedom, and personal responsibility than are the current societal norm.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, four out of five people in the United States live in urban areas, and that fraction is increasing.

        Those “large parts in the central U.S.” explain the vast swathes of red on our electoral maps, given that our federalist system to a certain extent favors land over people. And that’s why those vast swathes of red often don’t make that much difference in the electoral totals; because, despite its faults, our system *does* recognize that most of the citizens of our nations *do* live in geographically concentrated areas of population.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, people do live in urban areas, places that are not gang infested, places where parents do raise their children in safe environments. So, what exactly was your point?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Apparently, Sternn, you’re incapable of getting it.

        No surprise.

      • Bart-1 says:

        Chris, I’m guessing we won’t get a blog about the Dems crossing over to help the non Tea Party candidate (Cochran) win in Mississippi like we got when it occurred to defeat Cantor will we? Interesting to see the thread being hijacked from the future of Unions to Same sex marriage by the “Rucas’ posse” though.

      • Bart-1 says:

        Hmmm, no reference to this link or outcry apparently. Where is the “I’m a Democrat and I helped defeat the Tea Party candidate” I wonder? Amazing how 2weeks can make such a difference when we wnat to look at the 18th an 1st centuries. http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/06/13/im-a-democrat-and-i-helped-the-tea-party-unseat-eric-cantor/

    • Owl, Anse, I submit that the “yeoman farmer” is only one of several possible social stations that can give rise to democracy. The yeoman farmer was the basis for democracy in classical Greece, but the rise of the merchant class is what drove democracy in England and Europe. Cast in somewhat more modern terminology, the merchant class is comprised of small business owners. If you examine the Founders and Framers, you will note that they consisted of primarily of successful small businessmen, whether in the agrarian sense or the merchant sense.

      The industrial era really played hell with this social basis for democracy. As people moved into urban and suburban settings, the path of least resistance was to become an *employee* of an employer. Being an employee simply does not foster the same sense of personal responsibility for (and control over) one’s existence as does being an independent farmer, rancher, or business owner. This lack of independence has had some rather profound (and in my view deleterious) effects on our republic.

      As I discussed in some buried thread below, I believe the age of the monolithic mega corporation is coming to an end. Increasingly, people are becoming un-tethered from cradle to grave employment at large corporations. While this process is disruptive and painful, I believe that it will ultimately prove to be a good thing, both for the country and individuals. We’ll once again end up with a citizenry that is more independent, resilient and resourceful. And that’s good for democracy.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Apparently modern conservatives don’t believe in chance; many insist that every result has a specific, personal cause.

      Back on the *Chronicle* site, I’ve seen this view often coincide with brainless religious fundamentalism: the belief that there are no uncaused events, since God is securely behind everything, and so everything is a predictable result of human behaviors. So what if you grew up in a gang-plagued neighborhood, saw your sister shot when you were ten, had lousy teachers and mostly absent parents throughout adolescence, and now find yourself unable to get a job? It’s all, entirely, indisputably, YOUR fault, and anyone who tries to point out the obstacles to your success is merely making excuses and selling you short.

      It’s a pathological kind of nattering self-deception. But, then, that’s par for the course in modern Republican fantasy-land.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Why would you raise your children that way, Owl? Do you not take any responsibility and try to priovide a better life for them, if you have children? I know that I would not raise any children of mine in such an environment, if I had children.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Oh, so now it’s the *parents’* fault.

        As long as we can assign some blame such that we don’t have to actually *do* anything about it.

        I mean, that might be *inconvenient*.

        God, how modern Republicans suck.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Sounds like you will do anything you can to avoid responsibility.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Oh, so now *I* am responsible for our imaginary example’s neighborhood being gang-infested?

        Or perhaps that might be due to the Republican hatred for public education, particularly in urban areas; or to the Republican disdain for support of manufacturing by small, local firms, rather than by giant multinationals which will outsource and thus improve stock prices for investors; or to the “White flight” which fueled Republican ardor, and led to improved police services in the suburbs and a collapse of funding for many inner cities.

        Oh, so now *I* am responsible for our imaginary example’s sister being shot when he was ten?

        Or perhaps that might be due to the Republican phobia for any sort of reasonable gun regulation, such as registration and tracking of firearms to quell criminal purchases or transfers, all so they can tote around penis substitutes and pretend that someday they might overthrow the government instead of just whining about it. Oh, and read the entire previous lengthy paragraph in here, too, because much of it applies as well.

        Hell, read in the entire corpus yet again as regards lousy teachers. Oh, and, given the employment prospects for inner-city parents, read it in again as regards mostly absent parents.

        I won’t claim that many Democrats haven’t also been complicit in the social ills with which we find ourselves plagued. But, Sternn, for you to dismiss them so cavalierly is just further evidence that you don’t think, don’t learn, don’t feel, and generally don’t qualify as anything but a pig-headed, stubborn, self-satisfied, empathy-less, un-American, cowardly, greedy, rural asshat.

      • CaptSternn says:

        You are responsible for yourself and your children, just as aothers are. That’s what yu can’t accept, that people make their own choices and they are responsible for those choices.

        By the way, criminals wouldn’t register any firearms, so that idea has nothing at all in the world to do with preventing crime. We know the real reason behind that agenda.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Oh, Sternn, now you’re getting pathological.

        Yes, we are responsible for ourselves and our children. Yes, we are responsible for our choices. But our choices are sometimes limited (or, at least, impeded) by our environment. And we are NOT always responsible for our environment; the responsibility for that lies in, to use an old word, the “commonwealth”. That is, in all of us. Government exists, in many ways, to handle issues which are beyond the easy reach of a single citizen. Police and fire protection, public education, and coordinated economic policy are all facets of such responsibilities.

        Sure, criminals wouldn’t register a firearm voluntarily. But they would have to register it at the time of purchase… which would cut down on easy access. Someone else buys it for them? Great; when a criminal is caught with a firearm registered to someone else, it triggers an additional investigation. If everyone in the gang is carrying a Glock registered to Henry Higginbotham, well, there’s pretty good evidence that Mr. Higginbotham needs to join the gang in prison… and that sort of liability *also* cuts down on the availability of weapons to the criminal class.

        So they’ll just steal them, you say? Perhaps. Again, this is putting a bar in the way of criminals desiring weapons, which is a *good* thing. And if the criminal is stopped, and you run a registration check on the weapon, and find that it was reported stolen, well, even if said criminal wasn’t doing anything criminal at the time, he’s still going to jail.

        Effective data aids policing. There is precious little reason to oppose it, except for those delusional cowards who insist that they, and only they, are entitled to determine when our government should be changed through bullets rather than ballots.

      • CaptSternn says:

        When criminals sell each other firerarms, they are going to register them? That’s funny. Nope, registration has nothing to do with preventing crime or improving public safety, and registration almost always leads to confiscation. It’s all about controlling the people and taking away our rights. And criminals are some of the biggest supporters of more gun crontrol. Makes their lives safer.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        You are delusional. And cowardly.

      • Bart-1 says:

        Wow, Owl doesn’t believe in Science now? Who in their right mind disputes, “Cause and effect”?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Even so, I know that HT is a good guy overall, with good intentions, but he’s not off the hook.

  9. Crogged says:

    For when the subject turns to ‘public employee unions’ and people start grumbling about the slow clerk at the DPS………

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3410

    • Anse says:

      The last time I went to a DMV office to get a new driver license was probably seven or eight years ago. I was really bummed about the massive line waiting to be served and then genuinely impressed by the speed and efficiency with which the employees moved that line along. And the clerk who served me was really nice and professional. I was in and out of there in about half an hour and I really thought I’d be in there all day. This was at the office on the NW side of Houston, near 290 and Dacoma. Maybe that’s not a common experience but I was really impressed.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        I’ve had similar experiences. The driver’s license process wasn’t as swift or pleasant, but on those occasions when I’ve had to renew my auto registration in person rather than via mail or the Internet, I’ve been genuinely impressed with the knowledge and speediness of the government workers in question.

  10. Chris D. says:

    As a Democrat, I agree with your comments. It’s just as sad to see Democrats pining for a return to good ole union days as it is to watch Republicans pine for a return to Ozzie and Harriet households. Just pointless. It’s something both parties do to pander to the idealized memories of their all-powerful Boomer-aged voters.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Amen. It’s just that the past is comfortable and familiar, while the future may be disruptive and strange. Neither party really wants to encourage forethought and hard choices.

    • Anse says:

      You can’t “return to Ozzie and Harriet households.” The “Ozzie and Harriet” household is a myth. I ask my wife why she never wears pearls in the kitchen like June Cleaver and then I remember I’m the one who’s usually in the kitchen and I never wear a tie to dinner.

      Ever notice how the old Andy Griffith Show never, ever had black people in it, even though it was set in the South? Not knocking the show, exactly, just pointing out the obvious.

      Another thing I’ve noticed about those old shows is that single parenthood was a common theme in a lot of them–but it was always a single dad, never a single mother: The Rifleman, Bonanza, My Three Sons, the Andy Griffith Show, Gidget–they all had single dads. No show ever regularly featured a single mom. I guess it was unthinkable to present single moms as capable but single fathers were paragons of virtue.

  11. Intrigued says:

    Sorry Chris but it looks like you wrote this post after watching this anti-union video http://youtu.be/V6i2ygu7FeY

    IMO without the threat of unions, businesses will become complacent and the anti-union brainwashing campaigns will disappear, creating the perfect atmosphere for future evolved unions to establish. Like them or hate them unions will always exist in some form.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Unions aren’t as necessary in the presence of strong and effective government regulation.

      Unions were, in many ways, a strong and necessary response to the laissez-faire policies of the Gilded Age. So it’s a social/economic response that has become less relevant as our society and economy have moved on. That doesn’t mean that workers don’t need to be bolstered against the greater power of employers; just that we now have different ways of doing it, and may need to invent yet more different solutions for the future.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Yep, that sort of thing needs to be shut down. Oh, right, it doesn’t actually happen according to you guys.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Maybe the poll watchers the tea party likes to send to black districts should be sent to Republicans areas instead. Seems you guys cannot help yourselves.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Or we can just pass a voter ID law to make sure this doesn’t happen in Texas.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, Wisconsin HAD a voter ID law (which was struck down as unconstitutional in April). It didn’t, and wouldn’t, do a thing to stop the criminal activities of this Republican donor.

        Moreover, Texas’ law wouldn’t stop such chicanery either, since it doesn’t address absentee ballots, which are a far more wide-open opportunity for fraud (and one more often used by well-off, you-guessed-it, Republican voters) than any deception at polling places.

        So, once again, we find that you, Sternn, don’t actually know what you’re talking about, and don’t actually think.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Again Silly Bird reveals the ignorance he/she loves to waddle in.

        Absentee ballots may have a taste of fraud, but it is miniscule compared to the early voting and election day ballots.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Prove it, or confess your abject ignorance.

        I’m pretty sure, as usual, you’ll run away and thus demonstrate the latter.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Buzzy – even Texas admitted that only 4 cases of voter ID fraud would have been stopped by these laws out of a voting population of over 13 million. Sure it is easy to claim just get an ID but it is not that easy for poor people that must take time off work losing wages to exercise a right they previously could utilize.

        The right wing is really good at putting obstacles in place to block the rights of others but even think of making them sign a registration form and they want to cry out TRYANNY. Till the Texas GOP supports funds and facilities to insure that no Texan loses their right to vote then I will believe this is not a attempt at blatant voter suppression.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Um, Turtles, how do they get to work? How did they get a job in the first place? How do they cash their checks? Do you ever stop to think about what you are saying?

      • Turtles Run says:

        Not everyone needs ID required by these laws or their ID is expired. Senior citizens, students, and poor people often do not have the correct types of ID needed to vote. The fact that the GOTP refuses to acknowledge that many people do not have these forms of IDs needed to vote much less try to limit the number of those negatively affected by these laws.

        I am sure you know this but since it affects those groups that generally vote (D) then you are fine with it. It goes along your long history of supporting the loss of rights by anyone but yourself.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Well, Turtles, I am happy that you oppose the requirement of a state issued photo ID and background check for purchasing firearms from licensed dealers as that violates our basic rights. But I do support such things. Wat a difference.

        And in case you haven’t figured it out by now, Lifer is not part of the tea party movement, but does claim to be a republican. Every time you say “GOTP you are accusing Lifer of being part of the tea party movement.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Kabuzz, I accept your admission of abject ignorance. Or cowardice. Or both.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Sure…making voting harder for a larger proportion of old folks, minorities, and poor people is more than an effective trade-off to idiots like this.

      • CaptSternn says:

        What is so hard about showing a photo ID?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        After passing those restrictions on voting rights, will you spend the money to ensure facilities and staffing to make it easy for any citizen who wants one to obtain the necessary I.D.?

        No, say the Republicans. And that’s why they’re bastards.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Homer, Homer, we have had this dance before. Yes, provide services for those that can’t get in a car and drive to a DMV.

        You and the left have such a low opinion of minorities and older folks. How do you live with yourself? Do you judge everybody by how you are?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz…I have a hunch is more an issue of obtuseness rather than you simply not understanding proportions.

        in our current world, proportionally more poor people, more minorities, and more old people are without the IDs that would be used for voting.

        Almost by definition, putting a requirement for ID to vote is putting an additional hurdle that is disproportionately affecting these groups.

        It is not my side of the argument that suggests these folks are too lazy or stupid to get an ID. That is all on your side.

        My side points out what the reality is. Your side drifts into some kinda ugly characterizations of people.

        Now, a whole lot of folks on my side would be perfectly fine with voter ID laws, as long as it is done with massive outreach to and provisions made for getting IDs to people.

        That is what has been done in states with a sincere interest in the issue. For you guys here in Texas…not so much.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “What is so hard about showing a photo ID?”

        What is so hard about registering your firearms?

      • CaptSternn says:

        Defeats the purpose, Turtles. But I do show a photo ID when I buy one from a licensed dealer. Is that what you call a form of oppression? After all, those poor people and minorities would also have to show a photo ID and pass a background check. Why are you working so hard to prevent them from having the best means of self defense?

      • Turtles Run says:

        Then it is good that you support people buying firearms without getting background checks or ID.

        Generally, I find that most of the people that carry firearms for “self-defense” are just cowards.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I find that people that rely on others for self defense are cowards. You personal safety is your personable responsibility, the police have no duty to protect you. Then again, you have not seen what I have seen.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Here, Turtles, explain how you would deal with this …

      • CaptSternn says:

        Explain this ..,

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Homer, you state that it is a huge obstacle for poor people and the older folks to get a voter I.D. but yet say we put them down. You hint at them not being able to figure out how to get them themselves, but yet we put them down. Your sides policies basically say minorities can’t get ahead in society without the white man’s help but you say we are mean.

        Now through all this conversation on this subject, what side is saying voters are capable and what side is saying voters are incapable? There’s the racists.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz…again…it only seems to be you and your side that bring up incapable (or stupid or lazy) when discussing voter ID.

        I don’t think you are seeing anyone on the opposite side saying anything like that. Most folks (excusing the infirm) are capable of getting an ID.

        The issue is that you are imposing a hurdle that disproportionately affects old folks, minorities, and poor folks. Since a greater proportion of these folks do not have the requisite IDs, your hurdle affects these groups more.

        To explore this a bit more, why do you think these groups currently have fewer members with the requisite IDs? Your line of thinking suggests that you think it is because they are incapable, stupid, or lazy.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern….”you have not seen what I have seen”….if only we could all be as wonderful as you. A special little snowflake of knowledge and study in a sky-full of ignorant liberals.

        Turtles could reply to your posting of those videos and stories by linking you to a half dozen toddlers shooting someone with a gun that was supposed to be kept in a secure location.

        You’ve devolved an argument into fluff and yet, at some point this week or next, you’ll accuse “the left” of being ruled by emotion and unable to make a cogent argument.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Houston-stay-at-Homer

        Would it matter? To the gun cowards a few dozen dead kids is worth the cost for them to lovingly clutch their firearms. Plus how are you going to gun down teenagers armed with skittles that think they have the right to walk in public or threaten your wife without some significant firepower.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Turtles, gun cowards are those people that are afraid of firearms, gun nuts are those people that go nuts over firearms and want things like bans, limits on magazine capacity and registration..

        Yes, HT, I see quite a bit in my line of work. I know what is out there and what can happen. Are there criminals and people that are irresponsible? Yep. Better outlaw those back yard swimming pools. Get to it before some poor child drowns in one. Or do you think it would be wrong to outlaw swimming pools?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        We don’t outlaw swimming pools; but we DO insist that they be registered when they’re constructed, inspected to ensure they’re in compliance with regulation, recorded when they transfer ownership, and protected from those who might find them an attractive nuisance.

        If you’re willing to have all those standards applied to guns, I suspect you’d satisfy many people here.

        But you won’t. Because you’re a cowardly hypocrite.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Cappy wrote: You personal safety is your personable responsibility, the police have no duty to protect you.

        But too many people walking around armed are not doing so out of self protection. They are doing it so they can behave like Neanderthals. Which is why those that are armed are more likely to commit acts of road rage or threaten people.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16434012

        http://tinyurl.com/pp3wxz9

      • CaptSternn says:

        Really, Owl? I mean seriously, if I go to Walmart and buy a small swimming pool I have to register it, pass a background check to buy it, get a title for it, and have to inform the federal government if I sell it or give it to somebody else? Where do you even come up with this stuff?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, are you talking about inflatable “wading pools” rather than swimming pools, or about the kind of pseudo-temporary swimming pools constructed with metal walls above ground?

        I realize your vagueness and imprecision often allows you plenty of wiggle room, and the opportunity to attack others for misunderstanding you. But that’s your fault rather than your virtue.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Don’t look at me, Owl, you are the one that made the claim. Rather silly and juvenile claim, but then …

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Run away, run away, little coward. (I corrected my mistyping of “cowwad”, and then realized that would be appropriate if injected with a hyphen….)

      • CaptSternn says:

        Where are you running away to, because we know what you are running away from.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        You “know” precious little, child, and what you “know” often simply isn’t so.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Silly Bird is stupid today more so than usual.

        Homer, you are changing the wording to obstacles. Now, do you not get a voter registration card with your name on it? Isn’t that identification they could use to get a picture I.D.

        OMG! How hard. Whew! Might have to throw a few million dollars at the problem to fix it.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        It’s pitifully amusing how modern Republicans find “victory” in being forced to repeat the same tired phrases even in the face of clear arguments to the contrary.

        I guess it’s part of being a major political movement characterized by an entirely closed mind.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Kabuzz, as usual, you’re flaunting your ignorance.

        A voter registration card is NOT sufficient documentation to obtain a photo I.D.

        http://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/electionID.htm

        But we shouldn’t expect much more from someone who has basically admitted his abject ignorance and cowardice.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Wow! Even the great state of Texas thinks voter registration cards can be faked. All the more reason for voter I.D.. The Silly Bird proved our point. As always.

  12. desperado says:

    Yes, by all means listen to the people who tell you unions won’t help and are no longer relevant. Just like people have been doing for the last 30 years of Republican propaganda, meanwhile the inequality gap grows wider and wider.

    I for one am grateful my working years came along when unions were around and viable. Organized labor provided a means for someone with a high school education to achieve a middle-class lifestyle, as well as have things like job security, decent benefits, and a pension.

    Just by coincidence, the people who tell you that unionizing is useless are the same ones who want to take away or privatize Social Security and Medicare, so unless you are wealthy enough to afford a college education and get into one of these knowledge based occupations, tough luck. You get to be a low-paid wage slave until you drop dead.

    Enjoy the future.

    • CaptSternn says:

      One can achieve whatever one wants, regardless of the level of formal education. Many of us would rather have the freedom to succeed or fail, those that give up their liberty for the false sense of security do not deserve either liberty nor security.

      Again, what really speaks volumes about unions is when not even the union wants to pay union wages.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        “One can achieve whatever one wants, regardless of the level of formal education.”

        That’s cheap pabulum, Sternn. Go back to reading your Horatio Alger novels. Though, I have to say, I’m amazed that your literary tastes actually run in the same era to which you want to drag the rest of society, socially and economically.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Having problems achieving your goals in life, Owl? Maybe that’s another reason you are so bitter and full of hate.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Actually, Sternn, I and my spouse are quite happy in the home we own here in Bellaire, and with the jobs we possess. Sure, there are improvements we could enjoy, but we’re content.

        And I’m *quite* pleased that I’m not, instead, ensconced in a trailer off a rural road out in Humble, while still dating, even in my late forties, rather than successful in a 13-year-long marriage.

        So fuck off with your uninformed nitwittery.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yep, there is the bitter and hate. FYI, you just answered the question you posted up above.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Captain, the Silly Bird had everything handed to her/him. That’s why there is no real connection of how poor folks are and what they can do.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        And the White trash rally around each other. Predictably.

    • desperado says:

      As usual Danielle, you don’t have one fucking clue of what you’re talking about. Thanks to MY president retiring with a mortgage isn’t even a blip on my radar screen of concerns. Not only that, thanks to MY president, I’ll be able to retire early with a mortgage. I’ll be out traveling, playing golf, and enjoying life while your bitter ass is still banging away on blogs.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Just your typical “I can’t do it myself” whine from someone who cares only of himself. Yawn!

  13. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Public employees need protection from politicians/political pressures.

  14. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    DemLifer…why don’t you just come out of your liberal closet and admit you are nothing but shill for the Democrats? All you do is spew liberal talking points, and then your lib sycophant echo chamber rush to violently agree with you and congratulate you on being such a rational person.

    I’m sick of you simply carrying water for Obama and Hillary, and this post is nothing but parroting progressive pablum what pretending to promote the pachyderms.

    Oh, wait…nevermind.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Actually Homer, I haven’t comments on this thread because…really? Duh? Unions are done? Next Chris will write about the sun rises in the East.

      Nice try to take your lips off his buttocks, but this is so old, I think Chris will write about Lincolns assassination next.

    • rucasdad says:

      Haha! You had me going there for a second.

  15. Turtle74 says:

    In today’s world, if your employer found out you were trying to start a union, what are the odds you’d be fired?

    Sure, it might not be legal, but who’s going to stop them? The TX Attorney General’s office? The NLRB? Was your employer paying you enough money to be able to afford to pay an attorney, *plus* all your normal bills, now that you no longer have a paycheck?

    Wages are down. Unemployment is still high. Job security is non-existent. Is the risk *really* worth the payback?

    • CaptSternn says:

      If your employer didn’t want you to start a union and you walked off the job, what is to stop you? It might not be legal, but does your employer have enough to hire a legal team?

      Should it be illegal for you to just up and quit your job for any reason, or no reason at all?

      Back to the usual question, do we have equal rights, or do you think you have more rights than others? Do you think others are your servants, your slaves? Do you think others are your property, that they owe you something, that you are entitled to something they have?

      Yes, wages are down, umemployment is still high. But you praise wnd worship Obama and democrats for making things so great over the past few years.

      Go figure. You are inconsistent and now you are not following the party line supporting the great things Obama and democrats have done over the past few years.

      • Turtle74 says:

        Stern.

        It’s time for you to grow up.

      • Anse says:

        There is no freedom without the freedom to own property. Isn’t that true? I believe most Republicans and conservatives agree with that basic tenet.

        Property ownership is a basic material expression of wealth. With ownership, one has tangible wealth, and with wealth (and by “wealth” I don’t necessarily mean “rich”), one can fully realize true and tangible freedom.

        So this must be true: without wealth, there is no true freedom. Poverty is not freedom because poverty forces the poor to be subservient to others with wealth. Subservience is not freedom.

        So there is no freedom without material wealth. Which is why we liberals embrace wealth redistribution. Without it, you will always have some who are “more free” than others. You end up with a society stratified by class, where one class enjoys both greater freedom, and by extension, greater authority, while the larger mass of the population is not free in the true sense, but rather subservient to that highest class of wealthy citizens.

        There is no freedom for all without both equality under the law and equality of material wealth. I don’t embrace full egalitarian communism, but I do embrace a system that recognizes the inherent injustice that exists where there are so few who control so much, and so many who have nothing.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Wow! Anse! Come on. You believe that?

        First off, say you own property, the government can take it away for any number of reasons. So, there goes the freedom aspect. I will agree that we are free to purchase the property.

        Poor people have: The ability to go to school, work hard, improve themselves, rise up the ladder. But since the democrats taught a majority of the poor that they can’t achieve like other people so take this stipend, food stamps, WIC for all your children and vote democratic because those mean republican’s will want you to work.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Turtle, you come across as an entitlement minded teenager. You want your freedom to come and go as you please, to sell your time and labor. But you reject that very freedom for others. You demand they serve you at your whim, and they have no right to refuse your sevices or labor. It is no wonder that you would support politicians like democrats in the federal government, people that shut down the government when they don’t get their way, they take their ball and go home and blame the other side.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Anse, freedom means the right to own property, but owning property is not the same as freedom. A person that rents can also be free. Free to work and buy property, free to worship or not worship and one sees fit, free to express opinions, free to be secure in their person, papers and effects.

        You say you want wealth distribution, and that is what we already have. You don’t want to use the term that you really mean, forced wealth redistribution. Take, by force of a gun or threat of prison, from those that have earned and have and give it to those that have not earned and don’t have. That is not freedom, that is servitude and slavery.

        You see, freedom means the freedom to fail as well as to succeed. The freedom to gain the world or to lose everything. Very often those that succeed have risen from failure.

        The world owes you nothing. Only your parents owe you somethiing, and that is to raise and provide for you until you become an adult. After that, it’s up to you to work and succeed or fail, and if you fail, go at it again.

      • Anse says:

        Kabuzz, capitalism will always produce more losers than winners. This is how we get a country where 5% of the population owns half of everything. You can take all the bumper sticker mumbo-jumbo about hard work and do you-know-what with it. Nobody works harder just to live than the destitute. Poverty is hard. If it were easy, we’d all choose to be poor. No amount of food stamps or subsidized housing or televisions in every room changes that.

        Our concept of freedom is so narrowly defined that for a lot of people it’s almost meaningless. What makes it worse is that our concept of “earning” one’s living is a massive joke. There are a lot of people who are legally obtaining their wealth but they sure as heck aren’t “earning” it. There is a difference.

        Heck, look at the way Republicans have lately heaped so much praise on Vladimir Putin. He’s become, for a lot of conservatives, the ideal political leader. Russians have almost no real voice in their government and corruption is rampant, but as long as the Russian economy is so robust and so many Russians can get rich, American conservatives apparently don’t see the problem.

        That’s conservatism for you. Everything boils down to money. Which is why it’s ironic that they refuse to acknowledge why the poor do not sit idle and accept their depraved existence. You’d think all those righteous Christians in the underclass would understand that they deserve to be poor because they are dumb or not working hard enough or whatever. But so many of them just don’t see it that way, do they?

      • CaptSternn says:

        Anse, some people use their minds instead of muscle to earn their mney. It may not look like work to you, that they are just getting it handed to them, but they are earning it and taking risks in the process.

        Conservatives do not praise Putin, we alment that Russia has a strong leader and we have a wimp that can’t stand up for this great nation, for our friends and our allies. We have a wimp that as soon as he was elected went on a world wide apology tour and even bragged about “hitting the reset button with Russia”.

        And you really know nothing at all of Christians.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        In only partial support of our gung-ho friend here…we’ll always have some form of “forced” wealth re-distribution. There will be poor and sick people to which a modern civilization will provide some level of care.

        However, I am most curious about Obama’s worldwide apology tour. You’ve mentioned this a few times, I’m not sure exactly what you are referencing.

        You do not tend to succumb to traditional email chain forwarded right-wing crap, so I’m a bit surprised you bring this up.

        Care to explain what constituted a world-wide apology tour?

      • CaptSternn says:

        No, HT, I just watched the news right after Obama was elected. Some of us do have a longer memory than the left seems able to demonstrate.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I don’t watch a lot of news, but I read a bit about Obama’s trips overseas.

        I didn’t read a lot of apologies there. I think you would be hard pressed to find something he said that you wouldn’t have said yourself.

      • CaptSternn says:

        There is a whol lot that Obama said and says that I would never say.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        In specific reference to the world-wide apology tour (not the normal day-to-day BS), what did he say that you would not have said?

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Homer, you’re using your “I really haven’t a clue what you are referencing” trick. I don’t or hope The Captain doesn’t fall for it. Look it up yourself.

        Anse, you are going crazy between who owns what and rich and poor as if they are the same.

        I was raised very poor. Didn’t know it when I was a kid, but as I grew older I certainly did. I worked very hard to impress my employers and went to college at night to get degreed. My son was raised middle class and now his son who is 12 is being raised middle class. All because I refused to be satisfied with being poor.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz…I know what you are referencing when you say, “Global Apology Tour”, but Stern normally is less disingenuous than quoting chain right wing emails.

        The myth of the apology tour has been debunked a few hundred times, and I’m sincerely curious if he (and I guess you) don’t know what was actually said or if you somehow have a very different interpretation of the English language.

        If you guys are going to hammer a false point, at least have the ovaries enough to actually argue your point.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I say tomato, you say tamahto. I saw it for what it was Obama running around apologizing for Bush and all the predecesors and our history of meddling in other parts of the world to protect our interests and national security.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Okie dokie

        If you aren’t just going off random emails, this is your view of what he actually said, then there just isn’t anything more to talk about on this issue.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Well, since I didn’t recieve any such emails …

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…your friends/family show more restraint than do my friends/family.

        Bless them!

      • CaptSternn says:

        I don’t have much of an active account outside of work, and I don’t give my work email address out except to the people I work with and very few others. 🙂

  16. Anse says:

    We’re seeing wealth becoming increasingly concentrated in this country. If this trend continues, there will be a great deal of political pressure on the government to do something. Perhaps labor unions, as they are traditionally organized, are obsolete, but that just leaves the job to the government to ensure that workers are able to enjoy some assurance that their hard work will translate into personal prosperity. There is nothing within the capitalist economic model that can prevent the kind of wealth divide that drove the emergence of labor unions in this country in the first place. Conservatives who disregard the wealth gap as irrelevant risk their peril, politically-speaking. They can complain all day about the dadgum meddling gummint but there is an obvious reason why they have no choice but to deal with it: their efforts to reduce the voting pool will fail. Representative democracy will prevail in this country; the American people will not stand to have the franchise taken away, and turning the screws on the poor and minorities won’t be enough to hold back the inevitable. Second, without some measure of wealth redistribution–either in the form of the welfare state, or in this interesting idea of the “minimum income”–the trend toward greater concentration of wealth will eventually be so drastic that the middle class will finally erode. There is no way to avoid this if the libertarian capitalist ideal is ever realized in this country.

    • fiftyohm says:

      What a startlingly and unmitigated load of crap. The “libertarian capitalist” model has produced a middle class larger and more prosperous than any in the history of mankind. Our “poor” would be the envy of the majority of the rest of the world. Our representative *republic’s* job is not to redistribute wealth. The middle class is not “eroding”. Economic mobility has never been greater. What in the samhell are you talking about? That stupid YouTube video? Have you looked any further into the issue than that?

      Tell you what; cite any historical example to support this asinine prescription of yours to cure our ‘social ills’, without ki8lling the goose that laid the golden egg, and I’ll reconsider. Until then, bullshit.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Sorry, Anse – I meant to type “startling”. My bad.

      • Anse says:

        There is no compelling market force that will cause wages to stay strong; that requires government action via the minimum wage and other measures. It is the capitalist’s inclination to go as cheap as possible. The only reason we ever had a strong middle class is because of unions, as Chris explained in this article.

        Too many people forget why we got unions, the New Deal, the Great Society, etc. These ideas did not spring forth in a vacuum by liberals determined to destroy America. I know that’s the propaganda you get from your WorldNetDaily articles and Newsmax, but these things transpired because American capitalism turns out more losers than winners. Take away those programs, continue eroding public and higher education like Republicans are doing across the country, and we’ll end up where we were before FDR. That’s the truth. I don’t care what Rush Limbaugh tells you.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Most of FDR’s New Deal was overturned by the SCOTUS. The unions hay day was before FDR and moved forward to sending the auto makers into oblivion. Destroying Detroit because the auto makers had to pay some $25.00 an hour to put on lug nuts and have a full pension for the rest of his or her life. THAT is what unions finally did. They destroyed themselves. I have no idea what universe you live in.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Anse- Newsmax, World net daily, and Limbaugh? Who do you think you’re talking to? What a dumbass…

        Listen, sport: there were unions waaayyy before the New Deal. Organized labor didn’t end the great depression. Neither did government redistribution programs, you pinhead. These was this little thing called WWII. And the Great Society? What are you talking about? Back to school with you, Pip. You’ll be welcomed back when you’re ready.

      • Crogged says:

        If WWII ended the Great Depression, then Mr. Keynes was right. A ‘war’ is a government program, the military is a government program. Markets and economies aren’t forces of nature but man made creations and because of that, sometimes we have to intervene. One of the reasons for a our continuing middle class is that women joined the work force, in some parts because of ‘freedom’ and in other parts because of necessity.

      • CaptSternn says:

        WWII did not end the Great Depression. That happened after the fact because we were the only manufacturing nation left standing in the world. The rest were reduced to rubble.

      • fiftyohm says:

        The massive surge in industrial activity driven first by lend/lease, and later our entry into the conflict brought the depression to an end. Discussions involving the efficacy of the New Deal tend to infer that the Depression was an American phenomenon and discount that it was global in scope.

        Either way, that’s not the topic of this blog. I don’t to do remedial economics with our friend Pip here. It’s not that I think acne is contagious – it’s just boring. And it’s completely unnecessary with you two.

      • Crogged says:

        Well, of course the same myopic point of view is used by my friends to the right of the middle when discussing the events of 2008. One can disagree with doing anything about the concentration of capital upwards brought on by descent and distribution and intellectual property rights, but to deny it is problematic. The government programs designed in the 1930’s helped those people then, a job is a job and nobody seriously discusses whether the TVA doesn’t bring benefits to us now.

  17. CaptSternn says:

    I don’t know a lot about unions, just some history and events over the past few years. I agree with TThor, the unions won and are now redundant. Lifer, you make some very good points about how they are a drag on companies in our current world, I agree that they will not help people now. A big problem now is with government employees forming unions. That should never be allowed. Nothing more than politicians scratching the backs of union leaders and unions supporting those politicians, namely democrats, with required dues paid by workers.

    What I do find interesting is the talk about moving from manufacturing jobs to knowledge based jobs. Even office jobs that once required a ton of paperwork have advanced and been made better and more efficient due to advances in technology.

    I had a manufacturing job from 1986 to 1996, paid good and I worked my way up. I peaked out at top level machine operator. I was not management material and I didn;t want that kind of job. I quit and went with computers, I had bought one and was learning it day in and day out.

    I learned that just a year or a little less later the job I had been doing, my machine that I was a top level operator on, had been replaced with automation, a new machine that combined three jobs into one.

    The factory still exists, here in the U.S., and still employees unskilled and skilled workers, trains the unskilled into skilled. But I am glad I no longer do that kind of work. I think I got out at just the right time.

    Well, anyway, that is my rant. The factory was never union, the vast majority of the factory workers had green cards (legitimate), English was the second language.

    One little interesting side note, four people that worked there were from Iraq. Three were cool and wanted to assimilate. They were really not happy with the U.S. doing nothing about gassing the Kurds, and they did not like the fact that the Hussein regime was not removed in 1991. They spoke of Hussein gasing their people, so I am thinking maybe they were Kurds. That was shortly after I left the military, and I wanted nothing to do with news or politics until the late 1990s.

  18. fiftyohm says:

    Chris – A good piece. But you made no mention of the largest, and essentially sacrosanct, bastion of unionism in America today – the public sector. The dynamics there are completely different than what you (accurately) discuss here.

  19. The thing about unions is: They won. And not just by a little bit; employment norms won by unions are so deeply ingrained in society and in employment law as to make unions largely superfluous. It’s rather telling to note that unions are now flourishing only in government services jobs, and that relationship is largely a function of symbiotic cronyism between the Democratic party and it’s unionized base. In the real, for-profit world unions are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

    The above aside, labor is very much still a fungible commodity, and the more amenable a particular process is to automation, the more fungible it is. Increasingly, successful careers are based on an ability to work *with* computers. The human mind *augmented* by computer is far more formidable than the human mind alone, or any rule-based “expert system” algorithm running alone on a computer. The human-computer meld is what provides a competitive advantage in today’s world.

    The human-computer meld, along with CNC machinery and 3D printing, is also changing the very nature of manufacturing. Mass customization is becoming the norm, as anybody who’s bought a Mini (or any hipster vehicle) has discovered. 3D printing is opening up product development to crowd sourcing, while at the same time anybody with the requisite imagination and skill can create bespoke products on demand. “Maker Guilds” are popping up all over the country, providing the modern artisan with ready access to the latest computerized manufacturing technology. (See, for instance, http://new.hmag.org/.) It’s all really super cool.

    In some ways I suspect that we are moving as a manufacturing society back towards our artisan roots, where skilled individuals can readily make their own names and careers. The freelancer will be the captain of his/her own fate; corporations will increasingly become loose and transient confabulations of experts; mass manufacturing will itself become a commodity. Kinda of a cool world; makes me wish I were several decades younger.

    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      I think the last your last thoughts about artisans were interesting and you may be right.

      One thing to think about though, back when skilled artisans and craftsmen dominated, there were very strong guilds and merchant socieities that operated very similarly to a union. They were VERY anti-competitive and controlled who could become practicing member of the profession (almost like the bar association).

      • Johnof, you make a good point. However, those old guilds also had a monopoly on the expertise of their respective trades – there was no internet. Today, anybody, anywhere, can learn anything, as long as they are willing to put in the effort and can connect to the internet. So I don’t think we’re in too much danger of anti-competitive guilds making a comeback.

        Taxi service in most cities basically functions like a guild; today we have Uber gradually dismantling that old model. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the SCOTUS teeth-whitening case. I think that in the long run accreditation will increasingly be driven to satisfy the needs of the consumer, rather than the supplier.

  20. rucasdad says:

    I don’t know my man…. A lot of people in the airline industry GREATLY benefit from unions. And that’s all the way from pilots and dispatchers down to flight attendants and baggage-handlers. I know this industry may be an outlier but it’s one nonetheless.

    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      I think you are going to see a lot more automation in the airline industry as well though.

      • rucasdad says:

        Possibly. I honestly hope not. Thinking about the airline industry going the automation route seems kind of crazy initially but hell, pilots really don’t do too much as it is. Dispatchers, flight attendants and bag-handlers….well, that’s another story. But you may be on to something.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        There was an article in The Economist not too long ago basically saying that planes can essentially fly themselves or they can be controlled remotely. Safety rules would probably require at least one pilot in the event of an emergency but I wouldn’t be surprised if most airline steward positions are eliminated in the coming years.

      • rucasdad says:

        If a flight is perfect (not a lot of turbulence) which most aren’t but enough are (does that even make sense?), then the pilot generally only mans the controls during take off and landing and you would be surprised how much of that can be automated nowadays.

  21. johnofgaunt75 says:

    I think the push for automation is going to move forward regardless of whether or not their are unions. I think that some low skilled, service employment would benefit from some unionization. Is it going to solve our increasingly unequal and divergent society? No. But it may be a stop gap for a generation that has recieved a poor education here in the US.

    But I agree, for most positions here in the US, unions don’t make sense.

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