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Practical Causes & Effects

The announcement by GM to eliminate a whopping 30,000 jobs delivers a good opportunity for a lesson in causes & effects. Since you’re very unlikely to receive any sort of accurate assignment of same anywhere in the major media, let’s give it a bit of a go here, shall we?

Of course, you’re going to hear the standard inversion of cause and effect. You’re going to "learn," because the labor unions are going to make sure you do, that the "reason" for the dire straits in which U.S. automakers find themselves is due to competition from Japan and Korea. And it’s true, except that this "unbeatable" competition isn’t a cause, it’s an effect.

In the same article I linked above, they talk all around the real cause, bringing up and implying all sorts of causes that are not causes at all, but effects. The primary practical cause (principle causes are philosophic in nature) is contained right within the article, but is not identified as such.

The UAW responded to Wagoner’s announcement with an angry statement to the media indicating it would push to keep furloughed workers on GM’s payrolls for the duration of its current labor contract, which expires in 2007.

That could mean that laid off workers would continue to receive most of their pay and benefits, with the plant closings providing little immediate savings to GM.

"The UAW-represented workers impacted by today’s action are protected by our job security program as well as other provisions and protections of the UAW-GM National Agreement," the union said in its statement.

Big surprise. It reminds me of the Monty Python bit where the knight progressively gets limbs cut off but keeps on talking smack like he’s still in contention. You know, the communists of the USSR obstinately pushed against reality right up to the end of their political tenure, by which I mean that communism is still alive ideologically. To wit: environmentalism and labor unions:

He [Karl Marx] used the LTV to support a very different political argument than Locke’s, clarifying the Ricardian socialists’ contributions: in his view, landowners are exploitative because only labor adds value to the product.

(emphasis, mine)

Anyway, there is some cause for celebration. America’s most deeply and perniciously communist element, the labor union, may be on its way out as far as the private sector goes.  As a percentage or the workforce, private-sector union membership is at its lowest point in over 100 years — and declining.

I’m not happy to see people lose their jobs, of course. But I’m always happy, however, to see someone come face-to-face with a reality they have willfully ignored or been innocently ignorant of. Whether willful or innocent, remaining unapprised of the reality of things never does anyone any good, long term.

Message to the willfully ignorant: told you so, you dumbshit morons. Message to the blissful: ’bout time you woke up. You all, and you all alone are responsible for your own lot in life. A guaranteed income for life without capital that you’ve created or inherited, that continues to work for you is a complete fantasy. It’s only made possible by stealing the capital output and income of others. Of course, we dance all around the coldness of that particular reality with all sorts of euphemisms like "social security," "medicare," and such.

Well, every collision into the brick wall of reality, is, in reality, an advance.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

23 Comments

  1. Kyle Bennett on November 21, 2005 at 15:30

    "the labor union, may be on its way out as far as the private sector goes"

    The sad thing is that for companies like GM, and many of the largest manufacturers in the country, the only way the unions' stranglehold on them will be broken is when the companies themselves cease to exist.

  2. John Rogers on November 21, 2005 at 17:48

    The scariest thing about it for me is that GM's fate will be our nation's fate if we do as GM did and ignore the fact that demography is destiny.

  3. Rich on November 22, 2005 at 14:56

    Doug:

    Two reasons:

    1. Current workers would strike.

    2. Civil liability, including injunctive relief.

    The effect of #1 could be the destruction of the company, and don't forget, the owners are the stockholders, so they need to make the call on this.

    For #2, all the agreements currently in place are by contract, so GM could face civil liability into the billions.

  4. Kyle Bennett on November 22, 2005 at 15:00

    Doug,

    It's quasi-illegal for them to do so. First, they have a contract that runs till 2007. We could argue what moral obligation this creates, since it was a heavily coerced contract, but it is a legal contract, moral or not.

    Second, while there is no law that I know of that explicitly states that they can't hire 'scabs' even in the absence of a contract (there very likely is one, but I don't know of any for sure), the courts, the regulators, and the union thugs have shown more than enough willingness to take whatever steps are necessary (including violence) to prevent it that it would be near suicide for GM to try.

    Still, it's slow suicide for them to continue dealing with the unions, so you never know what they'll do once they get desperate enough. But I fear that the self-preservation instincts of even the company's top executives are so dulled from tolerating the rampant destructiveness of the unions all these decades that they probably won't lift a finger to save themselves.

    It'll either be bankruptcy or more handouts from the rest of us. I vote for the former.

    Oh, wait, I forgot, I don't get a vote.

  5. Billy Beck on November 22, 2005 at 18:55

    Doug: have you ever heard of The Wagner Act?

    Go dig around. The answer to your question begins there. Seventy years ago.

  6. Walter E. Wallis on November 22, 2005 at 13:48

    Obvious solution – Strike until company rescinds closings and layoffs and gives everyone a 25% raise.

  7. Doug Wolf on November 22, 2005 at 13:51

    At the risk of sounding stupid (a risk I'm usually willing to take):

    In the long run, wouldn't it be more cost effective for GM to tell the unions to screw off? I mean, simply bit the bullet and start hiring non-union workers? What stops them from doing this? (I'm assuming it wouldn't be all that difficult to train new people to replace striking workers. This may be a faulty assumption.)

    — DW

  8. the commentator on November 22, 2005 at 18:08

    With unemployment in excess of 20%, a region in Quebec sought to unionize workers for a proposed Wal-Mart store. Wal-Mart walked away as they should have. It's astonishing that a place that depends on government handouts and no jobs would shoot itself in the foot before Wal-Mart even set foot. Union memberships in Quebec remain the highest on the continent and its superficial economy continues to drag along. GM closed its St.Therase plant here a few years ago. GM doesn't grow, among other things of course, because of its obscene labour commitments.Socialists and their ilk screamed about the lack of compassion American capitalists have. In reality, it's organzied labor that help to dig their own graves. They don't seem to realize that thye live on the productivity of others. When they are unhappy they hold society hostage and strike. Nice job if you can ge it.

  9. Billy Beck on November 23, 2005 at 11:50

    Well, I say that you're entirely correct.

    As you can see, however, that situation has not obtained in America for nearly three generations.

    And that is the answer to your original questions.

    Try to understand, Doug. There are famous riots in American history, in which people who violated private property because they thought they had a right to a job were handled accordingly. And the people who handled them in defense of their *authentic rights* have gone down in history as "robber barons" and a lot worse. And then the day was saved by "moderation" in government: decreeing that the animals must be respectfully addressed as if they have actual values to present for exchange.

    The biggest answer to your questions is that you're wondering why a culture grievously mutilated in its values, thinking, and actions, is coming to the end of its rope on days like the day of the GM announcement. You're talking about people who've been groomed to their sanctimonious outrage by their fathers and their grandfathers, and *reality* simply cannot intrude… not even as they hear the rope snapping taut.

    Everybody associated with this — and much, much more like it — has one hell of a lot to learn, and there is only one competent teacher left.

    Reality *will* have its way. But it's going to be very, very hard.

  10. Rich on November 23, 2005 at 12:13

    Doug:

    Here's an example of how our thinking differs, you as a believer in force-backed institutions, and me as one who believes such institutions immoral.

    Notice that you would want them to "guarantee" a "freedom," whereas, I just want it to to get the f*** out of the way, because freedom of association is _already_ a moral imperative, and what's happening is that this force-backed institution is _denying_ us this freedom. They're stealing it from us, as they always do.

    They never give, guarantee, or create anything. They can only steal, take away, deny, restrict, and destroy.

  11. Billy Beck on November 23, 2005 at 13:57

    [cackle] I had such a target-fix on a couple of points that I completely dropped Doug's first sentence. I really wouldn't call that "entirely correct", and Rich & John are cleaning up the mess. Exactly.

  12. Doug Wolf on November 23, 2005 at 11:12

    OK, so I went and read The Wagner Act.

    I wonder how much better place the world would be if we had a government that guaranteed freedom of association? Not just the freedom to associate with whom one pleases, but the freedom to NOT associate with whom one is displeased by. It's flat immoral to be forced to hire someone (say, a union organizer) that you feel would be detrimental to your business.

    My two cents.

    — DW

  13. eddie breen on November 23, 2005 at 14:06

    It's Chevy's management that's to blame. They make crappy cars with crappy styling. Toyota makes a vastly superior product, and when they do a plug-in version of the Prius hybrid, watch out. The dumb clucks in the front office don't deserve what they make, their purposefully crashing American industry on the rocks – what do they care, they get their golden parachuttes. Business doesn't even have a concept of America anymore, gleefully offshoring jobs and eviscerating the middle class. Keeping America safe, Keeping America strong? Republicans don't give a crap really.

  14. Doug Wolf on November 23, 2005 at 15:09

    Just to clarify a point:

    Unlike Rich & most others here, I *do* believe governments are inevitable. By "Guarantee my right to freedom of association" I meant that any rational (and moral) constitution would forbid the government from interfering in my fundamental right to associate with who I chose.

    I'm very distracted today (a TON going on in the office right now), but my basic point Rich, is that we agree: in almost all cases, the most moral thing a government can do is to get the hell out of the way.

    — DW

  15. Doug Wolf on November 23, 2005 at 15:11

    Eddie,

    OK, I'll bite.

    Business doesn't even have a concept of America anymore, gleefully offshoring jobs and eviscerating the middle class. Keeping America safe, Keeping America strong?

    When I'm in business, I'm in business to make a profit for myself and my investors. I'm not in business for the purpose of "Keeping America Strong"… I'm in business for the purpose of benefiting myself (and, trade being what it is, benefitting others.)

    How, exactly, do I eviscerate the middle class by creating a product, makeing a profit, and employing people??

    — DW

  16. Doug Wolf on November 23, 2005 at 15:15

    Eddie,

    One more comment. (And apologies to all for the creativity of my spelling and grammar when I'm in a hurry!)

    I take it you feel you've been "eviscerated".

    Could you explain why you feel that *anyone* owes you *anything* at all?

    Eddie, you (and you alone) are responsible for looking after the well being of yourself and those you love. If not you… then who?

    — DW

  17. John Lopez on November 23, 2005 at 12:56

    I don't suppose a government guarantee of Freedom of Association would be extended to my having the freedom not to associate with it.

  18. John Lopez on November 23, 2005 at 19:10

    "By "Guarantee my right to freedom of association" I meant that any rational (and moral) constitution would forbid the government from interfering in my fundamental right to associate with who I chose."

    "Rational and moral constitution" is a contradiction in terms.

  19. Doug Wolf on November 24, 2005 at 12:21

    John,

    Rich and Kyle and I have gone round on this many times. I gather that you share their opinion that *no* government is good, and that the only moral government is *no* government… anarcho-capitalism.

    I won't even begin to try to make a convincing argument that government is good or neccesary… only that it is inevitable.

    If you accept (as I do) the proposition that government is inevitable, then a rational and moral constitution is your best hope for constraining it's function.

    By the way… in my opinion the U.S. Constitution has it backwards… it spends too much time delineating the rights "granted" to me as a U.S. citizen. I think we would all be better off if it assumed *all* rights were mine by default, then delineated the very, very narrow cases under which those rights could be violated by the government.

    — DW

  20. Craig R. Harmon on November 24, 2005 at 14:45

    If anyone doubts the pernicious effects of unions just look at France and the stagnation of their job markets. Heard a report on PBS today on the difficulties young people in France have in obtaining a job. They go from internship to internship with ridiculously low pay and no benefits or job protection for years with absolutely no prospect of a job. None. Why? Because once employed, it is almost impossible to be fired, one has short work weeks, long guaranteed paid vacations, and very generous retirement packages. What company could afford to hire new employees even if there were any overturn in workforce? It's nuts.

  21. John Lopez on November 24, 2005 at 18:08

    Doug,

    Maybe I'm not being clear. A "constitution" *cannot* be moral or rational, by definition. A constitution means nothing at all if it doesn't mean that the government *owns* every man, woman, and child that it governs.

    And that's neither moral nor rational.

  22. Canadian Vegetable on November 26, 2005 at 16:30

    Hmm, I'm not sure it is really appropriate to lump environmentalism in with trade unions or communism.

    I don't know about you, but I appreciate the fact that I don't have lead paint or any of the other crazy environmental poisonings that were taking place on a large scale.

    Do some take it too far? Yes. Is the environment something that should be abused as much as possible without concern for the outcome? No.

  23. Kyle Bennett on November 27, 2005 at 07:42

    CV,

    Environmentalism is a political and philosophical movement that is, at least now, completely dominated by Marxist and venemously anti-human, anti-technology, and anti-progress thinking. Today's environmentalists would gladly accept the complete rape of the environment if they could meet their other goals, which have *nothing* to do with the environment. What you describe is just (maybe) common sense, not an "ism".

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