Thursday, July 28, 2016

Labor Unions Wreaking Havoc In This Modern Day Economy

by: Charles Santini

I just watched a labor union destroy my town. They didn’t break windows over scab workers or anything like that. They did however, dig in so hard and so ferociously on policies that would have made their employer, well soon to be former employer, uncompetitive in the industry. The irony of the situation is, that had a new manufacturing plant opened here, offering the wages and terms submitted to the union in these latest rounds of negotiations, they would have been welcomed with open arms. Not only is the current union not opening its arms, they are lopping them off to spite the rest of their body. The final negotiation deadline has now come and gone. The jobs and company will soon go with it, along with my city; all in the name of holding on to a labor structure, which once served a purpose, but is now the personification of stubbornness and greed.

I am not some distant bystander. I used to be in a union, two in fact, and I hated every second of it. One was so pointless and powerless, the fact that they collected union dues from me was borderline robbery. The second, was so powerful and over-reaching I constantly found myself in awe of the incompetence it encouraged from the employee base. I watched several fireable offenses (if theft from a co-worker is not one, then I don’t know what is) get swept under the rug as consequences from the administration received pushback from the union. The elected officials within the group protected their friends and the ones with the most seniority, and anyone who disagreed with that or a newer hire was left to fend for themselves. I gave two unions a chance. Two let me down, and another one is about to fail the 100,000 people who live in my city.

The manufacturing facility here once employed over 10,000 workers at its peak. That number is now down closer to 3,000. I am not proposing that the 70% drop is completely attributable to the union presence. Unfavorable state tax regulations as well as international competition contributed to a lot of it as jobs moved to India, while some stayed domestic and moved to Texas, which has more business friendly taxation. My blame of the unions comes in to how they responded to those challenges.

Running a business is not simple, but the philosophy behind it is. Find a product people want for a price they are willing to pay. If you are failing, adapt or die. If you cannot adapt in business, you are left with nothing. The philosophy for the union who remained here to represent the already depleted workforce, who have no idea how to run a business, read more along the lines of, dig in, ask for more, and don’t negotiate. Who was left to work at the plant after jobs began to leave? It certainly wasn’t the 20 or 30 somethings, looking to support a family. The union didn’t protect them. It wasn’t the most productive employees who wanted to see the plant succeed and worked the hardest. It was the union leaders and the people with the most time accumulated who made the most money. That is the only group of people a union protects and will ever protect.

Those who back unions and support unions only seem to look at it from one side, higher wages and better benefits; a short sighted and self-serving purpose. What they fail to grasp is how an economy, or a single business for that matter, functions. Let’s take a look at a theoretical scenario using the local facility here. Once work moved partially to India and Texas, as it did, let’s say the company was left with enough contracted business to justify one million dollars in labor expenses. (An absurdly low number, but easy to work with.) It would be the view of the union to protect only the top ten workers, if they made $100,000, putting a significant strain on the possible output of the facility. This is in contrast to supporting and protecting a hundred jobs paying $10,000 per year, effectively increasing the output and efficiency of the facility.

The numbers in this scenario are exaggerated, but the conclusions and the real world results are not. The manufacturing facility in my town will leave. It may have left at some point anyway, but it would have been a slower process giving displaced workers and the region time to adapt. The writing has been on the wall here for years, and the local union leaders are apparently the only ones who haven’t seen it. Now the process has simply been accelerated. They will leave in one foul swoop. I’m certain of it. One of the terms that unions like the throw out there in their press releases is ‘good faith’. Well, that’s a door that swings both ways. In business, if you don’t adapt, you die. There appears to be several funerals on the horizon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

We’re Selfish Consumers Who Waste Too Much Electricity - Dead Wrong™ with Johan Norberg (VIDEO)

In rich countries, we buy more, we travel anywhere, and the planet pays the price. It’s obvious that the richer we get, the more we damage the environment. Dead wrong. In this short video clip, Free To Choose Media Executive Editor and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explains. 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Epidemic Of Misinformation

Does anyone else remember when a child placing their hands over their ears and exclaiming “La la la, I can’t hear you. La la la” was a sign of immaturity? From recent experiences it seems that lately, that type of behavior is not only tolerated, but encouraged on social media. We are entering election season, which means political posts are flooding many of our Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but the posts, memes, and videos we are inundated with daily are missing one key feature. The majority are completely devoid of facts, and no one cares.

A recent study conducted by Columbia University and the National French Institute showed that 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked. The study went on to find that not only are people blindly sharing the content, but their followers are blindly accepting it and allowing it to shape their political views, only reading the headline or quick summary. The posts are designed to attract gullible tech users into clicking the link, so that the “writers” can get paid for people seeing the ads placed on the page. The unintended consequence of these posts is the manipulation of the free market of ideas. We are all free to establish our own views and make our own decisions, but the well where the majority of Americans are going get the information to support those claims is poisoned with ‘clickbait’ and flat out lies.

No, these articles, if you can call them that, should not be banned. They should not be filtered from our feeds. They should be prominently displayed when we log on as examples of what happens when we hold ourselves to low standards. These posts get widely circulated amongst groups of people who walk around with blinders, wanting to hear no other sides of the story than the one they believe to be true. They are the same people who start arguments in the comments of one of your posts, but never reply when you present your side. They want none of it. They already have it figured out and no other opinions are valid.

We surround ourselves with the people who are most like us. It’s the natural social structure, but it is to our detriment when we shut ourselves off to ideas that challenge our own. Discussions about politics and religion that differ from your own, when done respectfully, only enrich one’s world view. They give us a better understanding of others, advance your personal self, and advance society. The perpetuation of one’s own views by only like-minded people breeds only ignorance. Have you ever seen an aerial view of North Korea at night, compared to its neighboring countries? That is what happens when opposing viewpoints are dismissed, only for the sake of being different.

If you’ve made it this far in the article, then you are clearly not the type of person I’m referring to. You click on an article and read it to the end, a rare feat in today’s world. So what’s the point? The point is; challenge people. Do not sit idly by while someone you know shares a link you know is clearly misinformation. Hold them to a higher standard. Force them to think. Clicking ‘like’ or ‘share’ can be performed by a chimpanzee. Typing a thought out response to someone fires up a different part of the brain, a part that is not on display very often anymore, it seems.

Trade is war, all against all, dog eat dog - Dead Wrong™ with Johan Norberg

Trade is war, all against all, dog eat dog. Just look at the size of the trade deficit. Or look at the iPhone. Even that is made in China. They’re killing us on trade. Dead wrong. In this short video clip, Free To Choose Media Executive Editor and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explains. 

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Infant Mortality in Cuba is Famously Low, Even Lower than in the US - Dead Wrong™ with Johan Norberg (VIDEO)

Those who hope for a swift end to Cuban communism should be careful that they don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, literally. Infant mortality in Cuba is famously low, even lower than in the US. Dead Wrong. Free To Choose Media Executive Editor and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explains.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pokémon GO Is The Perfect Example Of How America Is Giving Up On Itself

Get ready, because it’s coming soon. The newly created genre of augmented reality gaming is about to take over our phones, thanks to the success Pokémon GO, and the timing couldn’t be better. With the issue of excessive force by police juxtaposed against the racial tensions in our country, we are becoming more and more divided. Technology at our fingertips has allowed us to spout opinions; unfiltered by the effort of having to actually find a computer to post them. The anonymity offered by the internet allows us to say things and share opinions we would never have the guts to say in person, or possibly don’t even truly believe. It’s no wonder the nation is captivated by the prospect of living in an augmented reality.

I can’t justify or pretend to understand the appeal of the game itself, but I understand the mentality behind it. I’ve downloaded it (for research purposes). You walk around and collect little monsters to battle against other players. The reviews say that the game is full of bugs that need to be fixed immediately and that the app itself doesn’t even work that well. (I didn’t play long enough to find out.) Yet, its set records within days of its release and generates more than a million dollars a day. The price has been set by the American consumer to escape the world we’ve created and it’s only going to go up.

People don’t want to live in this reality anymore and they are willing to pay to escape. The online gaming industry is estimated to be a space worth more than $2 billion in the U.S. alone. Now, this isn’t necessarily an unhealthy thing. It can be a stress relief for some casual gamers and playing video games has been shown to stimulate certain cognitive functions. The problem, as we see it, is the seemingly direct recent correlation recently with social discontent and the popularity of games like Pokémon GO. It’s easier than ever to bury your nose in your phone and pretend like the rest of the world does not exist. This pacifism is the leading catalyst for the recent phenomenon of Pokémon.

It is so much easier to walk around your neighborhood looking for a Charmander (a specific Pokémon) than to face the reality of the upcoming election or take a stance on the Black Lives Matter movement. Why would anyone want to get involved in that when you can live in an augmented reality where your biggest problem is running out of Pokéballs? While the rest of the world argues and divides itself further, one can live in a world that they’ve created for themselves and have total control over. It sounds quite nice, really. There’s just one problem.

These issues, these problems creating a divide in our society, are not going away no matter how many Pokémon are caught or how many pieces of candy you can match together. Your phone battery only has so much life and people have to come up for air eventually. The more people miss going on in the real world, living in their created one; the more they are shocked with what they find when they look up, then the greater the motivation to charge up and download their next reality. The rest of us are left to pick up the pieces of this increasingly fractured society.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dead Wrong™ with Johan Norberg - Child Labor and Globalization (VIDEO)

Free trade means that we buy the cheapest goods no matter how it is produced. Even if the goods are produced by the cheapest labor: children. You consume, and another child suffers. Luckily, that is Dead Wrong. In this short video clip, Free To Choose Media Executive Editor and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explains.

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