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Bush Administration Reversal

With news this morning that the Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the Supreme Court it needs to be pointed out that there was another important reversal from the Bush Administration during the last 24 hours; a reimplementation of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws for areas hit by Katrina.

The UFT, along with countless labor unions, community groups, pro-working class politicians had called for a reversal of the executive order that allowed companies who had received contracts from the Federal Government to pay less than the prevailing wage in rebuilding efforts. It should be remembered that the prevailing wage in the area is only $9 an hour.

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30 Comments:

  • 1 Frank48
    · Oct 27, 2005 at 4:51 pm

    Kombiz:

    The UFT should tend to its local business of fulfilling the contract for thousands of working teachers.

    If and when you do that, maybe someone will listen to your rather grand, global chatter about union movements which support the working man.

  • 2 institutional memory
    · Oct 27, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    SHAME ON YOU!
    We’ve reached a new low with the cynical comment posted above by Frank48.

    How can a sentient human being not want to know what’s going on outside of our immediate universe? We don’t exist in a vacuum! How can you not be pleased that people working in the aftermath of Katrina will be paid a living wage?

    How selfish are we?

  • 3 redhog
    · Oct 27, 2005 at 5:26 pm

    Kombiz is magnificently on target and his insights are excellent and vindicated by history. Human dignity expresses itself in political terms. Bush’s vehement and venomous attacks on workers, aiming to restore them to a hand-to-mouth, check-to-check existence is consistent with his callous and unseemly adoration of obscene wealth.
    Bush wants to send us back to Dickensian times. He wants to keep the population uneducated so he can extend his powers to manipulate their economic fate. He wants foreign engineers who will be grateful to work at half an American’s pay; he wants to export jobs so that the workers who make the $150 sneakers get a few cents an hour, and work in areas where there are no environmental controls or health benefits. He wants to exempt corporations from taxes and national responsibility. He fights fiercely against a nickel increase in minimum wage , unless it is tied to fabulous windfall for creatures like Cheney, whose severance pay after a few years at Halliburton was equal to what would be the earnings of an average American working 40 hours a week for several thousand years.
    Kombiz: keep up your wise and passionate rallying.

  • 4 Frank48
    · Oct 27, 2005 at 7:40 pm

    I’m FULLY aware of that story – and it’s a crying shame.

    However , the UFT should be fighting the Dickensian Bloomberg and be leading the way against these sinister forces HERE…instead of just giving lip service.

  • 5 R. Skibins
    · Oct 27, 2005 at 8:04 pm

    It’s amazing that the UFT is fighting for the rights of workers in the Gulf Coast, while it’s allowing the surrender of workers’ rights in New York City.

  • 6 mrirwin121
    · Oct 27, 2005 at 9:35 pm

    Congratulations to both Frank and R. Skibins….you’ve said it all!!!! Let charity begin at home.

  • 7 Peter Goodman
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 10:24 am

    “We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds. We have been drenched by many storms. Experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open. Are we still of any use?” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    When the Nazis began to persecute the gypsies, the communists, the homosexuals and the Jews too many Germans ignored the horrors of the Holocaust around them … I fear the same irrational isolationism is infecting us. If workers, and that’s what we are, don’t “hang together,” we will most certainly “hang separately.”

  • 8 Chaz
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 7:12 pm

    Peter,

    It is nice that you want to make the world a better place. However, I just want the right to teach in my classroom without fear.

    The primary goal of the UFT should be to allow the classroom teacher to motivate the students to achieve the best results, not accept micro-managed programs and have the classroom teacher worry about ungrievable LIF and 90-day unpaid suspensions.

    When the UFT frees the classroom teacher to teach as they see fit, I will be right with you to save the rest of the world.

  • 9 NYC Educator
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:29 pm

    Saving the world is a worthy goal, of course. I regularly support charity, whether or not the UFT recommends it.

    It would have been nice, however, if Unity had given a little thought to the working conditions of 80,000 teachers before agreeing to a contract that moves backwards both in compensation and working conditions.

  • 10 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:30 pm

    Well I think we should be grateful for what we get. ANY defeat for the Bush administration is welcome news for us. Indeed if nothing else the more distracted and disorientated the Bush administration, the safer our Social Security checks. Indeed whether we are pro or con the new contract (I am con), even if we had a contract will all loved, say 20 per cent over 3 years, no give backs, an extra personal day, five minutes fewer each school day, etc.Mr. Bush could undermine a lot of our gains by decimating our Social Security. For a good majority of teachers without much personal savings Social Security could end up factoring more into your retirement than you realize. Hence, if only for selfish reasons and defeat for Bush is something to be celebrated by us all.

  • 11 no_slappz
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    Suspending the Davis-Bacon Act, thereby allowing free-market forces to drive wages and the rebuilding effort after Hurricane Katrina’s assault is the smart move.

    Historically, the Davis-Bacon Act has stood in the way of getting work done. It requires bureaucrats to churn through piles of paperwork generated by applicants seeking government contracts to perform needed work. Were Davis-Bacon to remain in effect in the region hit by Katrina, we would be assured that repairs and rebuilding would take longer, perhaps years longer than the same work would require if the free-market were operating unimpeded. Because the rebuilding of LA and AL will require enormous manpower, you can be sure demand for labor and brains will outstrip supplies. Thus, wages will rise above “prevailing” rates. It’s already happening. There is no wage cut in the cards, as UFT unionists seem to think.

  • 12 Kombiz
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 9:05 pm

    Slappz you may be right about the broader point that no one was getting paid below the $9 an hour wage that Davis-Bacon required. The point is that the money is our tax money, and the basic requirement that the wage not be above minimum wage is a basic and important part of the law. So important that enough Republicans and Democrats indicated they would vote to overturn the rule, so the administration backed off first.

    The fact that unionists, and middle class citizens contacted their members of congress to compell action speaks for the popularity of the program.

    “Market Forces” still drive the wage, Davis Bacon just guarentee’s it can’t go below $9 an hour.

  • 13 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Oct 28, 2005 at 10:02 pm

    That anyone on this blog is supporting anything the Bush administration does is incomprehensible to me. Even Bloomberg supported Davis-Bacon here. Furthermore, if the free market were so great and all perfect the levees would have been fixed in New Orleans some time ago.

  • 14 no_slappz
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 9:13 am

    To Shouldhave,
    Recall Hurricane Andrew. To speed the rebuilding following that natural disaster Bush 41 suspended Davis-Bacon. In other words, the precedent has already been set. We already know how well the market works when freed from silliness of paperwork levees that hold back rebuilding.

    As for your comment about the New Orleans levees and free markets, if, in fact, a free market had existed in N.O. the property owners would have long ago considered moving the city to higher ground rather than pay MARKET RATES for the flood insurance their below-sea-level location warrants. Instead, city, state and federal leaders created a moral hazard by allowing all players to believe all the tax-payers in the US would cover any losses owing to levee problems caused by hurricanes. It happened. Now we have a flooded city. Now responsible people are wondering why anyone was allowed to build residential real estate directly beneath a watery Sword of Damocles.

    Furthermore, the corruption of Louisiana and New Orleans politics is legendary. It is well known that levee repairs and improvements were not given top priority by state and local politicians. Lastly, don’t confuse free market activity with the role of government. That you don’t know the difference says it all.

  • 15 Frank48
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 10:19 am

    This UFT post is grandiose and isn’t reality based. BEGIN to enforce the contract for everyday teachers – something you haven’t done in years. Then if you have any time left (which I doubt)- go help these people on your own time, not mine. To lecture about the ills of the world- and be in a state of neglect with your own members shows some major defects in your person.
    Be a martyr , and have the bleeding heart for your members – not some distant situation where you derive virtual satisfaction and self importance from your flapping tongue .

  • 16 no_slappz
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 10:51 am

    frank48, why do supporters of the UFT cite the higher wages offered to teachers in towns surrounding the city and expect city taxpayers to pony up equal paychecks?

    Why not send a resume to every school in every school district offering the paycheck UFT members seek and open the door to labor mobility and selling one’s services to the buyer offering the best rates?

    Or, why not work to eliminate the outright fraud and theft within the School Construction Authority and shift that billion-dollar-a-year loss into a source of funds for teacher pay increases?

    Taxpayers in New York City are NEVER going to pay property tax rates equivalent to suburban rates. Therefore, there will NEVER be enough money to pay teachers at suburban rates. Thus, your best bet is to find the job you want in a community that can afford to pay you.

  • 17 Kombiz
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 11:59 am

    The post is neither grandoise, or based outside reality. It has been a topic we’ve talked about on this blog, and since it was resolved I decided to quickly do a write up on the story.

    The time put into this blog, and it’s influence are greatly exagerrated. If you have interesting topics, you can send them to blog@uft.org.

  • 18 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 12:52 pm

    No slappz

    I well know what the free market is. Indeed in addition to being a long term tenured teacher I hold an MBA. The free market is companies like Enron,Tyco, Adelphia, Worlcom. etc. The free market is the airllines wanting to hire and fire at their discretion young, highly attractive women and men at the peak of of their youth and then abdicating on their responsibilites to them when those same workers are older, no longer attractive and need pensions and health care. The free market is Boeing cheating the goverment time and time again on contract after contract. The free market is Haliburton DICK Cheney’s company overcharging the government for purported sevices and supplies in Iraq while service person after service person reports a lack of even the most rudimentary supplies. Indeed the free market inludes insurance companies who prey on our service women and men while they are most vulnerable selling them products they don’t need and/or can’t afford.

    The free market is Disney getting essentially interest free loans to invest in Times Square.(Frankly, left to the free market of which you wax, Times Square would have been merely a center of prostitution, as it was historically. Of course as a George Bernard Shaw might have noted it’s still quite a center of prostitution just now of a less honest form.) The free market is someone like George Bush talking about free markets while he has for all practical purposes never held anything but a goverment job his whole life. The free market is Mike Bloomberg buying an election with carefully targeted ads, paid enorsements (wouldn’t we all like to know how much Magic Johnson is getting paid) and no democratic discussion. The free market is Michael Porter a highly touted Harvard professor of business (although perhaps one outside your ken) always talking about the value of competition for others while he is comfortably tenured at Harvard. (indeed most economists of note are like that, the competition of which they speak is only meant to apply to someone else)

    The free market can be those companies with remunerative contracts to sell needless testing to schools. The free market is a credit card company charging a thirty=five dollar fee for being 24 hours late in addition to twenty-five per cent interest. The free market includes privately operated nursing homes that bilk every last dime out of medicare/medicaid. social security and any other source they can while letting their clients languish without service often suffering needlessly and even unmercifullly.

    The free market is Wal Mart charging rock bottom prices, squishing competition destroying long wrought family businesses while providing jobs that don’t even provide health coverage let along decent wages, pensions or other meaningful benefits. When workers become sick, disabled, elderly, etc. the cost for their care is then shifted back to society in a most disenguous sleight of hand.

    In short the free market which sends so wonderful in the abstract is on closer inspection often little more than fraudulent and often simply criminal.

  • 19 no_slappz
    · Oct 29, 2005 at 6:33 pm

    Should, despite your claim of having spent time in a classroom earning an MBA, it’s obvious your connection to free markets is theoretical.

    Your most telling comment — insurance companies selling service men and women products they don’t need and can’t afford — pretty much sums up your view that individuals aren’t smart enough to know what they want or need and that job should be left to — the government!

  • 20 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 3:31 am

    no slappz,

    I do not mind being denigrated personally. Indeed your points are so risible you remind me that even to the end Herbert Hoover had his base of stoical sedulous supporters.

    However, the issues of our brave, if foolhardy and misinformed, women and men in uniform being denied services to which they are entitled and being exploited by vexing if not vicious marketeers with all manners of dubious products has been documented time and time again. I realize few of our teachers read it anymore since The Post more than suffices for most of them, but The New York Times has run many articles on this topic alone. Many service people have had their credit destroyed, cars impounded, etc. somethimes in violation of applicable laws. Let’s be honest here too. It isn’t a plethora of Rhodes Scholars filling the ranks of the services either. All sorts of stories are coming to light of recruiters telling prospects how to circumvernt drug tests (drink a lot of water) present bogus school records, etc. In one case reported this year a family fought desperately to keep their son, with a certifiable mental illness for which he had been hospitalized out of the service. As the news from Iraq gets worse and worse, with all due respect to the progress George is reporting, recruitment will only get worse and worse. October alone is close to a record casualty month itself. The only alternative will be to have a draft political suicide for the Republicans. so yes you do have many people with somewhat limited ranges of skills and talents but lots of bravada,(Who said fools rush where angels fear to tread?) being put in the most stressful of situations and no under many circumstances they can not necessarily be counted upon to make the best decisions for themselves. It doesn’t take a PhD is psychology from Harvard to discern that or understand why that would be so.

    That fact is my arguemnts are airtight and hard to destroy.(Are you going to say Mike Bloomberg isn’t buying an election?) Why you chose the service people when their exploitation has been so well documented is beyond me.

    I do indeed have have an MBA. Onr big thing my classmates used to discuss frequently was how fraudulent the companies really were. Still being a teacher I thought the grass must indeed be greener on the other side.
    I was especially struck by one classmate, Chris Figueroa. He was an engineer. He told me he was going to work for a top energy company in Houston. He would earn 70K!! At the time that was a bit higher then the top teachers’ salary and I was quite impressed.

    I was more impressed although in a different way when I learned in a published story in “Playgirl” of all places what happened to Chris. He was in Texas completey broke when his employer Enron laid him off. However, he and four other Enron workers were determined to raise a little cash to find their way back home. so they bared all for Playgirl. (Five Enron gals did the same thing for Playboy as I recall) Now that’s the free market for you

    I am revealing nothing confidential here since this was all published. Indeed if you research the story you will learn which highly regarded MBA program I received my degree from.

    I have seen this time and time again in my life the free market is not at all what it may seem to be at first blush. Anyway stay in teaching, if indeed you are a licensed employed teacher and talk about the free market in the abstract. You may not look good enough in the buff to garner any money for your appearances.

  • 21 no_slappz
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 8:59 am

    should, when it comes to free market realities, you have shown a firm grasp of the superficial.

    Airlines — the current crunch is the legacy of prior government regulation. Meanwhile, they are service businesses stuck with punishing capital spending demands. The cost of new planes, maintenance gate costs and fuel expenditures are not within the control of management. Employee compensation, however, is one variable that is. But based on your comments, you think the airline business hinges on the employment of flight attendants. Yeah, you understand airlines.

    As for Times Square, well, how did it fall into its former state of degradation? Here’s how, the government was unable to manage the crime problem, and down it went. When that happens, most private capital disappears. What a shock. The legitimate money left, leaving behind the prostitutes, petty crime and porno shops. Meanwhile, you also seem to think private-sector corporations have an obligation to engage in excessive risks, such as operating on 42nd St when crime is rampant. Unless that private-sector company is in the security business, that view is silly.

    Disney and other companies may well have been lured back to 42nd St with incentives. The strategy appears to be a huge success. Crowds of decent people are jamming Times Square. As private businesses, operating profitably is their stated goal Performing a social service isn’t. Though, in fact, they offer legitimate employment to many, which has a multitude of social benefits. Perhaps NYC or the federal government could open retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and museums along 42nd Street as an alternative to inducing private-sector companies with cheap loans. But federal, state and local governments have always failed at running businesses. Thus, your implication that cheap loans make bad policy is merely your ivory-tower rhetoric.

    Critics such as you like to trot out names like Enron, Tyco et. al. as though those names are shorthand yet comprehensive statement and analysis of the towering evil of free enterprise. In fact those companies — their managements, actually — show how well the markets work. First, Enron has been around for decades, operating honestly in energy-related enterprises. It wasn’t until Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay rose to the top that corruption overcame a company that employed many thousands of people doing honest work. It took only a handful of dishonest and corrupt people in key positions to destroy a business.

    Was your classmate part of the corrupt leadership, or was your classmate ignorant of those activities?

    That aside, the management of Enron, like the managements of the other companies you mentioned, have been removed, they’ve been prosecuted and sentenced. Or their court dates are pending. Meanwhile, the companies are working their way through bankruptcy court. Notice that all of them were heading for Chapter 11 bankruptcy — reorganization — not Chapter 7 — liquidation. Why? Because they all have well established businesses that generate substantial cash flow. In the case of Worldcom, its UUNET subsidiary is probably carrying this e-mail.

    Thus, in the private sector, when corrupt managements are found out, they are removed. Is money lost? Yes. But for stockholders, that’s the risk. Stock represents the “residual value” of a business. Sometimes that number is zero.

    As for your military recruitment stories, well, so what? I received endless enticements from recruiters some years ago. You’re repeating an old tired story, one which maligns a government agency, not the private sector. Thus, you undermine your hostile view of the private sector by highlighting an age-old government practice.

    Credit card fees: yeah, they’re high. Pay on time or get a debit card. Or switch to one of the many cards offered to all of us every day that allow free balance transfers and low rates for six months or a year.

    Bloomberg: Vote for Freddy. Perhaps you voted for Mark Green. I found him intolerable. His tenure as Public Advocate exposed him to New York voters. He lost. Freddy will lose because his well known goals are inconsistent with those of the majority of New Yorkers. He’s another nitwit who thinks money grows on trees.

    And who cares how much Magic Johnson receives for endorsements? As for your assertion that a personal fortune can buy an election, well, Ronald Lauder believed that too. Based on his vote total, he spent millions only to find himself totally ignored in the primary. Do you object to Elliot Spitzer? He’s another politician who enjoys wealth as the scion of a NYC real estate family. Then there’s the perennial loser who runs for governor — his name escapes me at the moment, but he’s the wealthy founder of PayChex.

    What’s wrong with wealthy men and women running for public office? Corzine versus Forrester? That race must have you in knots.

    Wal-Mart: A liberal diatribe wouldn’t seem complete without mentioning the one company that’s lowered costs of thousands of products for millions of people. As a resident of Brooklyn, I can tell you that twithin a few blocks of my house the 99-cent stores come and go, but there are at least six within walking distance. There are also a number of convenience stores. They all hire illegal aliens. Given the small number of employees, the percentage of illegals is thus high. Meanwhile, the illegal laborers line up outside the nearby McDonalds every morning. Say what wyou want, but Wal-Mart follows the law pretty closely. It’s hardly a criminal enterprise.

    Lastly, when you save money at Wal-Mart, you have the savings to spend elsewhere. Perhaps on a new car, vacation, home improvements, education, etc.

  • 22 Frank48
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 9:45 am

    No_slappz :

    Actually, I’m not one to make that argument about pay parity with the suburbs. I think it’s a weak argument that the UFT always makes in their negotiations.

    The two types of systems ( inner city/urban vs. upper middle class suburban ) are apples and oranges.

    A strong case can be made for urban public school teachers without comparisons to the burbs.

    The primary reason why teachers don’t all work in the burbs is simply supply and demand – not enough of those positions are available.

  • 23 TriBeCaTchr
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 11:05 am

    Blah..Blah..Blah….. “Action speaks louder…..”
    So it seems that Bloomberg just might be reelected!
    How many memebrs are going to still vote for him next Tuesday? How many voted for Bush?

    What are WE, th individual UFT & the collective UFT, going to do during the next four years to get OUR candidate into City Hall???

  • 24 R. Skibins
    · Oct 30, 2005 at 12:05 pm

    No_slappz :
    A few observations:

    1. Airlines- They began to decline in the 1980′s when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, deregulated the industry, causing many airlines to fold or be taken over by the larger ones.

    2. Times Square- It had been a mecca for prostitutes ever since its early years as Longacre Square. Gee, the Republican mayors did nothing to clean it up. Improvements began under the Democratic mayor, Ed Koch!

    3. Enron, Tyco, et al- Government deregulation and a pro-business environment caused thousands of working people to lose their retirement money. And if these executives were prosecuted, then why is Ken Lay still free and awaiting a “trial?” And as far as stockholders having a risk of losing money: that’s a given, but it is wrong for stockholders to lose their money to THEFT!

    4. Bloomberg v. Freddy- It is the multi-billionaire Bloomberg who is out of touch with the common man. There should also be limits on how much of your own money you can use in a campaign. Otherwise, we will return to a time when only rich landowners can run for election and/or vote. If Bloomberg poured his millions into the public schools rather than into buying an election, we wouldn’t be stuck with horse**** labor deals. As far as Magic Johnson: Bloomberg not only bought his endorsement, he also bought votes with his $400 tax rebate check. Let’s see…he raised your taxes but thousands, and refunded only $400. SUCKERS!

    5. Walmart is making billions by hiring the disabled at extremely low wages with the attitude that they are less than human. Walmart holds courses on how to apply for food stamps for their employees. They also contribute much money to anti-public school groups. If “liberal” means to value each and every person, regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender or ability, then COUNT ME IN! If conservative means to value only well-bred and educated WHITE ANGLO-SAXON PROTESTANTS, then COUNT ME OUT!

  • 25 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Oct 31, 2005 at 1:57 am

    Slappz:

    Are you an employed licensed teacher who supports Bloomberg? Oh well, I guess there were such people who supported Herbert Hoover!!!

    I can see a colleague already informed you that Times Square was a mecca for prostitutes, even BEFORE it was Times Square. Indeed your ken of New York City History seems rather limited. It was only a few decades ago when NYC teachers were the highest paid in the region. Who is to say this can’t happen again? History tends ot repeat itself. Of course there was a higher percentage of Jewish students in the schools when teachers got paid better vis a vis the suburbs.
    Just because you can’t ALWAYS buy an election doesn’t mean you can NEVER buy an election. Where is the logic in your arguement? Surely, someone as smart as the dwarf studied the failures of others in the same department. That’s the kind of thing they do teach you at the Harvard Business School.
    The recruiting ads for the miiitary are made by the slickest Madison Avenue private agencies. You see that is how they like to be private, buttressed by big government contracts.

    If you are familiar with Elizabeth Warren who teaches at that small law school called Harvard, she notes that credit card contracts are so convoluted she can not comprehend them herself the vast majority of the time.

    The most formidable groupe being screwed by the airlines happens to be the pilots not flight attendants, they truly have the most to lose. Funny too they were so conservative in many cases they make you look leagues left of Ted Kennedy. They bought the Republican/Free Enterprise crap hook, line and sinker. Today many are out of work with little money and poor prospects for anything truly remunerative.THEY ARE TRULY SCREWED. One of my closer friends was with TWA for decades. He says many of their former pilots commited suicied but they try to keep it quiet just like the military tries to keep suicide deaths and friendly fire deaths quiet.

    I care a lot how much Magic Johnson is getting PAID to help sway critical votes in an election in a city in which he does not reside.. Even a left wing liberal like myself knows Blacks sold their own into slavery. He who does not study history is condemned to repeat its mistakes.

    I do not begrudge Disney the loans per se. But that just demonstrates that on close inspection, things are not what they seem in free enterprise and it is heavily dependent on goverment help in one form or another. Con Ed’s biggest customer every month is the New York City Subway system.

    I do not shop at Wal Mart. I do not need to “save” a few pennies that way.
    Frankly, you make little sense on this blog. Do you just wish to be a Devil’s Advocate?

  • 26 no_slappz
    · Nov 1, 2005 at 11:10 am

    Should:
    Your posts, despite your claim of “airtight arguments” make little sense. Maybe by airtight you meant you’ve suffocated the logic out of them. On one hand you attack free markets, claiming that you and your MBA classmates determined that corporations were “fraudulent” operations. On the other hand, you attack government for failing to prevent wealthy citizens from financing their own campaigns, and failing to manage the military in a manner that suits you. From there, the education business takes a few knocks when you thump Michael Porter for sermonizing about competition from his tenured pulpit at Harvard. Porter, you assert, isn’t really a competitor because he resides in academia, far from the grubby crowds wrestling for dollars in the markets for goods and services. Then you take down Harvard itself by noting Elizabeth Warren – Harvard Law School professor — isn’t bright enough to understand a credit agreement from Visa. Apparently you had to make it clear that Larry Summers raised a good point when he sought answers to why women have less success with math than men. Imagine, right there at Harvard Law is a woman who has trouble reading as well as trouble calculating. What kind of nitwits are they hiring up there in Cambridge, anyway?

    Apparently you are among those who believe that whatever the NY Times publishes is sacrosanct, indisputable and free of all agendas and biases. Of course, as you noted, the Times builds articles around single events, using those single events to characterize vast and complex situations. Inevitably, the Times – and you – wrote “In one case reported this year…”, as though by extension, based on this article, we should think of every military enlistee as a mental defective who signed his military contract while on a weekend furlough from Creedmoor. By the way, what exactly was troubling this one enlistee referred to in the Times article? Did he enlist? Did he complete his training satisfactorily?

    Meanwhile, you willingly conflate the ad campaigns created by Madison Avenue with the actions of uniformed military recruiters. Hardly equivalent. Military recruiters will sometimes, like some salesmen, tell you anything to close the sale. That’s not news. By the way, there will not be a draft.

    Your dim view of the mental capacities of US military personnel also seems contradictory. On one hand, according to you, these poor nincompoops need the government to guide and control their lives. Yet when they avail themselves of the military option, you suggest their enlistment is an even greater demonstration of their general incompetence. Do you fly on commercial airlines? Almost every pilot I know earned his wings in the US military.

    Should, do you really know anything about Figueroa, your MBA classmate? If he was an engineer working for Enron, why would you assume he was “completely broke” when he was laid off? While such a thing is possible, why would a guy who graduated from engineering school and business school, and who was able enough to land a good-paying job at Enron wind up with an empty bank account at the time of his job loss? Was he that “one case”?

    As for my comment about Times Square and its erstwhile crime problem, well, I simply noted that crime flourished because government – not a specific party – failed to provide one of the few services for which it is responsible – law enforcement. For that reason, capital investment was scant and vice ruled. Capital, you should have learned, goes where it’s well treated. When responsible governments recognize it is not possible to order the appearance of private capital, sometimes smart decisions are made. Like offering low-cost loans to desirable enterprises such as Disney. Luring capital into fresh territory is an important government function, but too often badly botched.

    Buying elections? Please. Name a few. Ross Perot? He failed to win even the electoral votes of Texas. Though it can be argued that Clinton won because Perot absorbed some of Bush 41′s votes. Once again, you’re critical of private enterprise, but you think vote buying has corrupted government. If you live in Brooklyn, you know votes aren’t bought overtly. The Democratic party machine simply controls the electoral process, pretty much installing judges and office holders at every turn. Frankly, given the blind eye turned toward corruption in Brooklyn politics for so many years, a Republican offering cash directly to voters would probably turn the borough leadership on its head out of fear it would have to compete in the same manner. Honesty might make an appearance. And if you want to know where at least a couple of people with “somewhat limited ranges of skills and talents” can be found, go no further than the voters’ guide for next week’s election. In it, you will find profiles of shameless people with deficient mental skills who have secured spots on ballots all around the city. Fortunately, they will all lose, along with Freddy, who, by the way, will lose because his long and undistinguished record as Bronx borough president, as well as his moronic views of the future of the city, have left voters cold. Incumbents like Bloomberg cannot “buy” elections. But idiots like Ferrer can easily lose them.

    Pilots: yeah, I grieve for them. Meanwhile, your belief that one’s political stance plays a role in the economic realities of one’s industry is another point of silliness. The airline industry is a tough one. Still regulated in many ways, but no longer regulated in others. TWA and other airlines collapsed because of economic conditions relating to the cost of aircraft, interest rates, fuel costs, gate costs, and employee costs. For a guy who claims to hold an MBA, you seem to have no grasp of the capital budgeting process.

    Meanwhile, I doubt your story about high suicide rates among former TWA pilots. It has the ring of Hurricane Katrina mayhem stories. While the defined-benefit retirement programs offered by many employers may have been handed over to the arm of the government known as the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the former pilots were not left penniless. Moreover, if these highly paid flyers failed to save for retirement over their working lives, why is their improvidence a burden for current taxpayers to bear? Lastly, “in that one case” perhaps all retirement funds were lost. Maybe some poor fellow was a corporate pilot for Enron and he put everything in the stock, leaving him broke. Even he will receive Social Security, enough to squeak by.

    Moreover, suicide is a closely studied issue. If suicide rates jumped in a particular profession, medical journals would publish papers and conferences held. As for military suicides, well, that’s nothing new, and hardly a hushed-up issue. And “friendly fire” deaths. Come on. Easily 10% of US deaths in WWII have been attributed to friendly fire. This is another old story.

    You care how much Magic Johnson is paid by Bloomberg? Why? As a celebrity/athlete you can be sure he doesn’t give away access to his image for free. More importantly, if Ferrer had a personal fortune to fund his campaign, do you think next week’s election would lead to a Ferrer victory? How many votes would Ferrer attract if Johnson stumped for him instead of Mike? I think hiring Johnson is a waste for either candidate. Anyway, this election is merely preparation for 2009.

    You mentioned your belief that the NYC subway is Con Ed’s biggest customer. And you characterize the relationship between customer and utility company as one in which the company is heavily dependent on government “help”. Is the electric utility industry another business in which you think the government should participate? Are you suggesting that without revenue from the subway, Con Ed would fail? Alternatively, if the MTA produced its own power, would a subway ride cost more, or less? For that matter, what about the cars themselves? Would fares decline or hold steady if the MTA manufactured its own cars? Or tracks, or switches? Also, the utility business is regulated. To suggest Con Ed is a totally free-market enterprise indicates you skipped a class or two at MBA school.

    Regarding Walmart, it’s a good company that brings savings to its shoppers. Because I live in Brooklyn, I don’t shop at WalMart either. Meanwhile, the parking lots at Costco, Home Depot and Lowes are often jammed. Those crowds of shoppers must mean something. Perhaps the people thronging those stores are some of the dummies you’re so worried about. They’re probably dumb enough to shop at WalMart too.

  • 27 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Nov 12, 2005 at 12:19 am

    Slappz,

    Your comments approach the bizarre and make little sense.

    Michael Porter is at Harvard and is a foremost authority of free markets and competition. His writing is formidible. For all his fame however, only a minuscule minority of NYC public school teachers would be cognizant of him. Howver, when you look at Mr. Porter closely you see that the free market he espouses is truly for others. He is tenured and has every sort of contractual right for himself. He doesn’t want to compete in the free market at all, he just wishes to write books and tell others that is what they should do. If government aid were drugs Harvard would be a crack addict, they receive so much of it.

    This type of hypocracy to say one thing put do another is nothing new, it is what great writers like Shaw and Dickens satirized all the time. How you can twist your way out of this one is mind boggling. You really don’t here, you just seem to imply you do.

    Elizabeth Warren says she finds credit card companies so duplicitious and confusing NOT because her intellect is any way limited. It is not. Rather she finds them so confusing because they border on, if they don’t indeed transcend the fraudulent. They are a perfect example of the unbridled free market in action.

    Chris Figueroa’s story was published in Playgirl along with four other erstwhile Enron executives. Five ladies from Enron were similarly published and exposed in Playboy. As I recall Chris did the stint at the behest of his wife. He was looking for money to come back home. This article could still be located. Chris is the one person who doesn’t go full monty.

    I am sorry that the TWA pilot suicide story doesn’t fit into your little world beliefs. yes, it is true suicide is studied extensively, often in intellectual erudite circles. It is also true that suicide is still a cause of shame and sorrow among many families, particularly conservative Christians, a growing force in this country, who often have conceptions of a rathe vengeful, even sadisitic disagreeable diety, baking, broiling, frying, burning, scalding people in intense torture for all time in a place that make Guantanimo look like Club Med. Hardly do all families readily discuss death when it is from suicide, even today.

    Finally, what you say is ludicrous in light of who you are. Are you really a NYC teacher supporting a family on peanuts? You really think Bloomberg is good for us? When he was re elected everyone earning under 100K lost, It was that simple, end of story. As a Manhattan denizen, I can tell you you are really nothing here wihout at least 200K per year, which means almost everyone is eliminated.

    A teacher liking Republican is like a gazelle plalying among lions. Have fun raising your family on fewer and fewer real dollars each year.

  • 28 no_slappz
    · Nov 14, 2005 at 2:39 pm

    Should,

    You identified yourself as a Manhattanite.

    Do you live in a rent-stablized apartment?

  • 29 shouldhavegonetomeds
    · Nov 15, 2005 at 12:38 am

    Slappz,

    (Sic) NO!! I leave my residence to the free market in the same way Michal Porter leaves his employment to the free market every year!!

  • 30 no_slappz
    · Nov 15, 2005 at 9:11 am

    Should, from what you wrote about “leaving your residence to the free market the same way Michael Porter leaves his employment to the free market every year”, it’s clear that you do, in fact, live in a rent stablized apartment.

    Your taxpayer-subsidized shelter aside, from reading your preceding comments about Porter and his employment I see you’re back to masking your lack of economic knowledge with the style practiced by the NY Times, citing “in one instance…” as the basis for some faulty inductive reasoning.

    You appear to be claiming that free markets don’t exist BECAUSE Michael Porter teaches free-market theory from a tenured post at a famous private university. Nice try. However, if you want an offsetting force outside the groves of academe, perhaps Peter Drucker, recently deceased, fills the bill.

    As for hypocrisy, especially as it relates to Shaw and Dickens, or almost any other writer who has taken on social inequities, the hypocrites are more often the wealthy who claim sympathies for the poor while actually doing nothing to change their lives for the better. Ted Kennedy, the killer of Mary Jo Kopechne, comes to mind.

    Back to those pesky credit card charges. The due date for each bill is clearly printed at the top. The unsecured creditor is informed — in bold — that penalties and interest charges will accrue if minimum payment is late. The interest rate — very high — is also clearly shown.

    Meanwhile, credit cards give borrowers unsecured borrowing power. Default and nonpayment is a big problem for all card companies. If there were no nonpayment problems, credit card companies would be immensely profitable. But after accounting for loan losses, the bottom lines of card companies are not high. Certainly the card companies are not conducting frauds. ON the other hand, fraudulently obtaining an unsecured loan via a credit card is a very common criminal activity.

    Based on your dissembling response about suicides among TWA pilots, it’s now clear the story is some sort of corporate myth.