Politically powerful

Reader comment on: Inside the Mind of the Left

Submitted by ben (United States), Feb 8, 2010 15:53

I agree that the auto-bailout was due to the political clout of the UAW, but to say that auto workers are not "ordinary taxpayers" doesn't make much sense. As a union member myself, I am always sad to see unions demeaned because they successfully fight for better working conditions and wages for their workers. Are unions perfect? Of course not, but they have been at the forefront of many positive changes in this country (women's rights, working conditions, 5 day work week, child labor etc - all "regulations" this site would undoubtedly oppose). What the right has done so skillfully is pit those in the working class against those in the working class who are union members. I remember during the Subway strike in New York I was picketing with the Transit Workers and a man came up to me so angry, talking about how he didn't think the Transit Workers deserved healthcare when he drove a bus for a private company and they didn't get healthcare. His anger was completely misplaced. Instead of his anger towards the transit workers who were fighting to retain their health benefits, he should have been angry that his company would not treat him like a person and give him healthcare. I remember telling him that if he were to unionize his company, he too might get healthcare and I would be out there on the picket line with him.

It is hardly reverse robin hood when autoworkers get bailed out - autoworkers are not wealthy. The reverse robin hood effect occurs when the wealthy get taxed at 15% for capital gains and a middle class person gets taxed at 28% for a hard day's work, or when oil companies and big agriculture get subsidies and corporate welfare, or when states give tax breaks to movie studios to film in a particular location. In a society where the growth of the top 1% has been astronomical over the past 30 years, we all should worry more about hedge fund managers making 300 million than an autoworker taking home 70k.

I cannot fathom how anyone can see the results of the past three years and come to the conclusion that government involvement caused the situation. What incentives did government give to lenders not do their jobs and confirm whether a person actually had an income before giving him a jumbo mortgage? What incentives did government give banks to take on excessive risk and give out enormous pay packages regardless of results? The government did not reign in the excesses of the market, which led to the situation we have today. It is increasingly clear this country has not learned from its mistakes, and we continue our blind and misplaced faith in the wisdom of the "free" market, which is hardly free, but not because of too much government regulation, but because of the crony capitalism that hides under the guise of "small government."

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The Future of Capitalism replies:

Unionized autoworkers are richer than the average American, so taking money from average Americans to bail them out is a reverse Robin-Hood. The comparison to the hedge fund managers doesn't work because if the hedge fund goes out of business, there's no bailout, and no government-paid job for the manager. The hedge-fund manager who made $300 million has made profits for his partners, while the autoworker has made losses for the shareholders.

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