Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Undeserving

The LA Times has a business columnist, David Lazarus, who isn't much of a writer and he's far too committed to conventional economic wisdom for his own good, but in today's Sunday Times he hit one out of the park:

Why were Wall Street workers not asked for concessions?

Say what you will about the role of the [UAW] in exacerbating Detroit's financial troubles, one thing stands out: Blue-collar workers are taking it in the shorts as part of their employers' efforts to secure some bailout bucks from Uncle Sam.

I don't recall white-collar workers on Wall Street stepping up with similar concessions in return for their companies' receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer cash. ...

That said, a bailout's a bailout, at least as far as taxpayers are concerned. So why are we holding blue-collar workers to a different standard than their white-collar kin?

Put another way, how many people can even list the terms of the recently announced multibillion-dollar bailout for financial colossus Citigroup Inc. and what the company agreed to do in return for our generosity? ...

The UAW, long criticized (unfairly, I believe) for being too powerful and too greedy, has done the stand-up thing in offering concessions to protect jobs at a perilous time for the auto industry.

White-collar workers on Wall Street, many of whom pull down hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in salary and bonuses, have shown no such spine or self-sacrifice as their employers pass the hat among taxpayers.

[Economist Robert] Reich is right: A bailout should require concessions from all stakeholders, not just the top brass and certainly not just the public.

By that standard, the auto industry has earned its piece of the pie, while Wall Street firms, silver spoons in hand, are enjoying their dessert on the house.

The poll that accompanies the article is over 77% in agreement that blue collar workers are being treated differently and unfairly compared to white collar workers. It's just an online poll so should be taken with a grain of salt, but it probably does register some fairly common popular sentiments that are not often represented in the media.

The people being forced to offer concessions here for a manufacturing base bailout are not members of Whole Foods Nation, the people who comprise the symbolic analyst elite that is having its collective butt covered by the economic Hanky Panky (thus far).

From my perspective, this is another sign of the fault line in the Democratic Party and is indicative of where and how the power elite is going to spend their political capital.



Life As I Know It Now said...

I wish you weren't right about that.

Unknown said...

The folks who shower after work may have something to say about this... fact they've already started:

Workers Occupy Factory in Chicago

A rerun of 1890 to 1930 is eminently possible. Indeed, given the current behavior of the Upper Tenth it's pretty much inevitable. People are starting to notice that Ted Kennedy, Kerry, Reid the Pelousy & Co. don't seem to have much interest in their concerns.

Never an Obama fan I do believe I see he realizes that much of the current Dem Leader$hip will need to be tossed under the bus as they will oppose what needs to be done in order for his Presidency to be a success.

I look for some real surprises in the coming week as Obama gets involved in Paulsen's last ditch effort to pay off his pals..

Koshem Bos said...

When the bailout first burst into the failing economy, I was astonished at the willingness of the Democrats to go along with Paulson/Bush with minimal cosmetic changes.

If one ever needed a proof that the politics of the US consists of two parties, the bailout was QED. We have a corporate party that includes all Republicans and most of the Democrats. The other party consists of the unions, some congress persons and less than a handful of senators and blue collar workers.

The reason AIG got $150 billion instead of collapsing is the wall to wall support for the rich. Obama was sponsored by investment banker and hedge funds; he is a member of the corporation.

As opposed to A.Citizen, I am not swayed by Obama's talk. Look at his nominations. There isn't a hint of support for the working stiffs or the companies for whom they work.

I do agree that we may have to go back to 1890-1930 and prevail using numbers.

Bob Harrison said...

A Citizen's quote is hopeful. I am less so; I think Obama is just another member of the (mostly) GOP power elite whose sole purpose on this earth is generate wealth for the rest of the club members-- be they D or R. I'll quote myself here: "It's the green that matters not the red and not the blue."

sister of ye said...

I live in Detroit. I have no illusions about the management of GM and the other auto companies. But where are the demands for heads of the heads of Citibank and the other financial thieves? For that matter, why isn't Congress and the Bush adminstration resigning en masse for their parts in the total mismanagement of the country for the last 8 years?

I've been appalled to see the constant denigration of auto workers as greedy layabouts on many of the "liberal" blogs. Especially when it's always based on, "My cousin works with a guy whose brother's best friend rides with a guy on the bus whose sister-in-law talks to the checkout lady at the grocery store who said that her uncle's bowling buddy takes a class with someone who knows a guy who..."

show me said...

A few years ago I was having neck and shoulder problems and would go to the chiropractor on my way home from teaching school. He was located close to a Chrysler plant. The waiting room was always full of it's workers trying to get relief from their work related pains.The stories they would tell about the companies indifference to their problems!

I am so tired of hearing some smartass saying things like, "all they do is screw the same bolt all day!

Working people use up their bodies doing their jobs. They sacrifice them to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. All we hear about is their outragous contracts "promising them healthcare and a pention"...such terrible unamerican things!

I think there might have to be a revolution!