A Staggeringly Stupid Column on Michigan Situation


I haven’t written much about the situation at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, where the Republican-dominated legislature is ramming numerous pieces of vile and destructive legislation through in the last days of the legislative session, prompting mass protests. But I have to respond to this mendacious bit of poppycock in the Moonie Times by someone named Eric Golub.

The 2011 agitators who engulfed Wisconsin have now invaded Michigan. Republicans have the majority in the legislature, and they passed right-to-work legislation. Governor Snyder has promised to sign the measure. The liberal union response was typical, destructive, and violent.

Notice the dishonest framing. No one has “invaded” Michigan. The people protesting at the Capitol are Michigan residents. What did come from outside Michigan, though, was all the legislation being passed, most of which came straight from model bills developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Notice also that there’s no mention at all of the actions of the Republicans, who locked down the Capitol building to deny people their right to even speak to their representatives. And the violence amounts to one guy apparently getting punched by one out of the thousands and thousands of people protesting.

To understand this completely requires rewinding about a decade. Canadian Jennifer Granholm crossed the border and became Governor of Michigan. She tried to turn Michigan into a Western social democracy similar to her homeland. By most metrics, she was the worst Governor in the history of any American state this century. Upon leaving office, she took the only job she was qualified for after destroying Michigan. She went to work for Al Gore on Current TV. She left behind despair, personified by bankrupt Detroit.

Note the xenophobic framing once again. Granholm is a foreigner. Never mind that she moved to the United States when she was four and is an American citizen and a Harvard law grad. Notice also that she is somehow to blame for the collapse of the auto industry and the bankrupting of Detroit, over which she had no control at all.

The legislation exempts firefighters and police officers but not schoolteachers. This is because firefighters and police officers are vital to society. Teachers are not. Let them scream and holler. That’s all they ever do anyway. Firefighters rush into burning buildings. Police officers venture into dangerous areas most of us never know. These people risk death every day. If they strike, society risks breaking down.

If every public schoolteacher quit tomorrow, private schools, charter schools, and home-schooling would pick up the slack. Public schoolteachers mistake their own egos for societal significance. Teachers’ unions feed off this egoism to rake in dues, and no teacher can dissent. Perhaps this is why the same people preaching caring and sharing to children abandon those children, shut down classrooms, and partake in violent street riots. If non-essential people in Michigan want to strike, they should make their strike permanent. There are many others who will show up on time and do a better job. Nobody is indispensable, certainly not teachers.

This reveals one of the core contradictions in this whole thing. Snyder keeps talking about how the “right to work” legislation is good for workers and even good for unions. If that’s true, then why exempt police officers and firefighters? If it would be good for them, isn’t it wrong to leave them out? But they know it’s not true, that this legislation is incredibly damaging to unions. And that last paragraph is just a monument of dumbfuckery.

Obama critics note that of course President Obama is against right to work legislation. He doesn’t like to work himself, so why should his supporters have to do their jobs? The only reason Obama does not go on strike himself is that he knows his absence would make things better. Liberal unions going on strike is like the French going on strike. How you can tell?

More xenophobia. Funny, Golub doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that the newspaper he writes for is owned by the foreign-born family of fascist cult leader Sun Myung Moon.

Comments

  1. LightningRose says

    “The legislation exempts firefighters and police officers but not schoolteachers. This is because firefighters and police officers are vital to society. Teachers are not. Let them scream and holler. That’s all they ever do anyway. Firefighters rush into burning buildings. Police officers venture into dangerous areas most of us never know. These people risk death every day. If they strike, society risks breaking down.”

    Holy fuck, Batman!

    Leaving union protection in place for police and firefighters makes it *more* likely they will go out on strike, not less. The stupidity is astounding.

  2. says

    I loved Snyder’s response when asked why there was no debate on the right to work laws. He said, “oh, we’ve been talking about this issue for years so we didn’t need a debate” as if the specific wording of any bill in the legislature was unimportant. That’s …. that’s… words fail me.

  3. says

    This is because firefighters and police officers are vital to society. Teachers are not.

    Oh, right! Think of the economic cost in productivity if wage earners all had to take time from working to give their kids an education.

    Anyway, tell that to the parents of the surviving children in Newtown.

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    The legislation exempts firefighters and police officers but not schoolteachers. This is because firefighters and police officers are vital to society. Teachers are not…

    I had to check the date on that column – December 12. So I can wrote it off as simply clueless. If it had been written after six teachers took bullets to protect their students in Newtown, it would have been perverse and outrageous.

  5. Thorne says

    Having lived in both kinds of situations, I have to say that I definitely prefer the right to work legislation. If the unions are permitted to force workers to join in order to work, how is that any different than churches forcing people to join in order to work? If the unions truly do work for the benefit of workers, then they shouldn’t have any trouble retaining members. It’s been my experience, though, that the unions are primarily working for the benefit of union leaders.

    So allow workers to work without becoming members of unions. It just might force the unions to become truly representative of their members.

  6. slc1 says

    Re Gwynnyd @ #2

    I loved Snyder’s response when asked why there was no debate on the right to work laws. He said, “oh, we’ve been talking about this issue for years so we didn’t need a debate” as if the specific wording of any bill in the legislature was unimportant. That’s …. that’s… words fail me.

    About time we heard from MH about this; after all, Governor Snyder is one of his heroes.

  7. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    Obama critics note that of course President Obama is against right to work legislation. He doesn’t like to work himself, so why should his supporters have to do their jobs?

    Of course opposing so-called “right-to-work” is not the same as not wanting to work.

    As I understand it, “right-to-work” means that you can get all the benefits of union activities without having to contribute financially. Apparently Golub doesn’t like to pay for things himself, so why should his fellow right-to-workers not be able to sponge off the efforts and union dues of their co-workers?

  8. davidct says

    Detroit was bankrupt back in the ’70s when I lived there. The slump in the auto industry and the move of industry out of the city were sufficient. No need for imported Canadians.

    Golub demonstrates the very best of American anti- intellectualism. It sells well initially but it never delivers the goods. Unfortunately for him, as he makes his position clear people actually notice. Then things might change.

  9. says

    “The legislation exempts firefighters and police officers but not schoolteachers. This is because firefighters and police officers are vital to society. Teachers are not.”(*1)

    *1. Note: Statement in effect only as long as firefighters and police officers tend to vote Republican.(*2)
    *2. Note: Remember, Citizen, this is a fiscal issue. It is not political. It is not political. It is not political.(*3)
    *3. Note: Three Times Rule. It’s Law now. I win.

    Thorne “Having lived in both kinds of situations, I have to say that I definitely prefer the right to work legislation.”
    Of course. It’s great. It’s most of the perks of collective bargaining without ever having to pay for the collective bargainers.

  10. Jordan Genso says

    @#6

    If the unions are permitted to force workers to join in order to work, how is that any different than churches forcing people to join in order to work?

    I’m sorry, but I don’t seem to understand your analogy at all.

    Do you support a group of people coming together to decide democratically the rights, responsibilities and benefits of the members of the group? That’s the basic premise.

    The analogy I use is homeowners’ associations (HOAs). HOAs run based on majority support, where they set the rules and dues required by all of the homeowners (even those that disagree with the HOA). Those dues are to be used for the subdivision as a whole, and the homeowners are legally obliged to pay them. If they disagree with that premise, then the Tea Party Republicans should propose “Right to Live” legislation that turns all HOA dues into being optional. According to their rationale, it would force HOAs to “become truly representative of their members” if they wanted to get people to pay the dues.

    Another obvious analogy is taxes. Do the Tea Party Republicans support the idea that someone should be able to move to a township and have those township taxes be optional? Nevermind, I probably don’t want to know that answer.

  11. says

    “If the unions truly do work for the benefit of workers, then they shouldn’t have any trouble retaining members.”

    There’s a free rider problem when it comes to union bargaining for workers’ salaries and benefits. Everyone who works at a particular place gets the benefits of the union fighting for their higher wages, but if they don’t join the union and pay dues, then they don’t shoulder any of the costs. So contracts between a union and an employer often contain a provision by which everyone who is hired is automatically a part of the union. Employers freely agree to this.

    Ironically, the true “free market” approach would be to allow these contracts, which are fully agreed to by both sides, to proceed without the government stepping in and telling them that certain agreements they make are illegal. It’s even doubly hypocritical when we’re told that union members need the government to protect them from their own elected leaders.

    Maybe you could argue that there’s a market failure going on such that labor has too much bargaining power over management and capital, but once you start down that road, you’ve pretty much abandoned the entire edifice of right-wing economic thought. And it’s near impossible to make that case empirically, given that management and capital have siphoned off nearly all productivity gains of recent decades.

  12. says

    Area Man “Maybe you could argue that there’s a market failure going on such that labor has too much bargaining power over management and capital, but once you start down that road, you’ve pretty much abandoned the entire edifice of right-wing economic thought. And it’s near impossible to make that case empirically, given that management and capital have siphoned off nearly all productivity gains of recent decades.”
    FoxNews did the math, and it turns out that unions are like black people. Just a single one has the equivalent strength of twenty Real Americans™. 7% of Americans in Unions is really 160%! True story.

  13. brucecoppola says

    #6: When you become an employee of a company, union or no, you are subject to a great many legal requirements and contractual obligations about which you have little or no say as a condition of employment. The arrangement between a union and a company is merely one of those contractual obligations. And unlike most of the others, that contract can actually be dissolved by a vote of the employees. It’s called decertifcation. Name me another of the many other obligations that bind you as an employee that can be dissolved by a vote of the employees.

  14. brucecoppola says

    Should be “…unlike most if not all of the others”. I actually do not know of any other condition of employment that can be voided by employees.

  15. iknklast says

    Oh, right! Think of the economic cost in productivity if wage earners all had to take time from working to give their kids an education.

    The real story behind this sort of thing is that, when private schools and charter schools pick up the slack, poor people won’t be able to afford to send their kids to schools. More untrained laborers to do jobs they’re told without thinking and asking for something better. It’ll be like the feudal days – you didn’t have much chance to advance out of the class you were born into. This is what they really want. They’ve got theirs, they don’t want anyone else to move up and challenge their right to control all that.

  16. says

    Thorne@6:

    Churches can and do require people to subscribe to their dogma in order to work form them. In fact, they’re specifically exempted from most workplace descrimination laws. The only exemption is when churches run something with secular benefit to society, such as Catholic hospitals.

  17. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    About time we heard from MH about this; after all, Governor Snyder is one of his heroes.

    slc1 always misrepresents my positions, as he does here. In fact I pointed out this very lie just a couple of days ago and yet he repeats his lie once again. So I no longer engage with him expect to note his description of me is never true.

  18. John Hinkle says

    Obama critics note that of course President Obama is against right to work legislation. He doesn’t like to work himself, so why should his supporters have to do their jobs?

    Wow, that comes across as “lazy niggers” to me.
     

    The only reason Obama does not go on strike himself is that he knows his absence would make things better.

    You mean the lazy nigger who doesn’t like to work would rather keep working than strike? Did someone take a rubber mallet and pound the stupid into this guy’s head?

    Nobody is indispensable…

    So says the two bit, unenlightened, racist pundit.

  19. slc1 says

    Re MH @ #19

    MH is so predictable. Note, of course, that he failed to comment on the substance of the actions of the Michigan legislature and the governor, particularly relative to the so-called right to work bill which Mr. Brayton commented on earlier today.

  20. jnorris says

    So Mr Eric Golub is saying that public school teachers in Michigan and Wisconsin ruined both states’ economies. WOW! Imagine what those teachers could do if they would only use their power for niceness. Like stop bullets aimed at the children they teach. (Cheap shot, no? Yes.)

  21. Ichthyic says

    Having lived in both kinds of situations, I have to say that I definitely prefer the right to work legislation. If the unions are permitted to force workers to join in order to work, how is that any different than churches forcing people to join in order to work? If the unions truly do work for the benefit of workers, then they shouldn’t have any trouble retaining members. It’s been my experience, though, that the unions are primarily working for the benefit of union leaders.

    this sounds remarkably like the objections to Obama’s healthcare initiative I have heard many conservatives unthinkingly screech.

    do you really think free market idealism applies where there is a need for a union to begin with?

    I can’t fathom this logic.

  22. bastionofsass says

    Hey! The right to work laws are just one good example of the GOP’s goal of less government intrusion into private business decisions. Or not.

  23. jen says

    “And the violence amounts to one guy apparently getting punched by one out of the thousands and thousands of people protesting.”

    Except that it didn’t actually happen that way. Turns out that the Fox reporter was antagonizing people, and pushed the one guy down on the ground, when THEN got up and punched him. Totally justifiable. He then showed only an edited version without the part where he pushed the guy. Hannity had the not so edited version on HIS site, so you can actually see what happened. Don’t know how Hannity managed THAT slip up! LOL

  24. says

    Public schoolteachers mistake their own egos for societal significance. Teachers’ unions feed off this egoism to rake in dues, and no teacher can dissent.

    It’s statements like these that make me wonder why veterans are leaving the profession and new teachers don’t stick around long. Can’t imagine what being told that you’re not “societally significant” when you do a thankless, stressful job day-in and day-out might do to an educator.

    Asshat.

  25. sailor1031 says

    The true function of police is to protect the personal safety and property of the oligarchs while controlling the plebs. Why not let them have a union if that’s what they want? Makes it easier to deal with them too. As for the fire department – oligarchs don’t want disgruntled firemen on the job; they might not be so willing to put out fires or go into burning buildings. But oligarchs don’t care if teachers and other public employees are pissed off.

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