Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Chicago Teacher's Strike

It's hard not to have at least a little Schadenfreude over Rahm Emmanuel's problems with the teachers' unions in Chicago.  Here's one of the great union defenders, former chief of staff to a president who bragged how pro-union he is, and the unions are taking the opportunity to stick the knife between his ribs.
(Foden - King Features)
Mark Butterworth at Liberty's Torch has a really interesting perspective on the strike that I absolutely never thought of. 
The teachers are merely pawns, but here’s the kicker: they are mostly white, female pawns and so they’ve got to go. As Steve Sailer has often pointed out about disparate impact in police and firemen’s groups where having to pass basic tests to get hired has caused blacks and hispanics to be hired at very low rates, the courts have insisted the tests are discriminatory based on race.

Now, as much as we might despise public unions, they’re the only ones who are fighting to protect white police, firemen, and teachers in preserving their jobs.

In Chicago, the threat to the teachers is that they are against the system of new evaluations intended to weed out ineffective teachers and improve classroom learning. But that’s really code for getting the white teachers out.
In Butterworth's view, the point of the whole situation in Chicago is to get rid of those white females and give those nice fat checks to minorities.  He does present some data to back his argument.  Go read. 

In general, like most folks, I don't care to work in union environments and have only worked in a couple during my career.   I fully understand the desire to negotiate a pay rate, though.  Corporations don't, as a rule, go buy things at the first quoted price; they negotiate.  I get that.  So why shouldn't workers negotiate, too?  They could.  The only drawback is what happens when they negotiate a price much higher than the market would pay.  In that case, much like the factory paying more for their sheet metal or their plastic parts, they would try to find a cheaper source.  A cheaper labor source probably means moving to place with lower wages, either a non-unionized place (a right to work state) or offshore.  In the long run, then, unions can only really survive with trade protectionism or captive markets.  Perhaps electrical power, phone, gas and other utilities, whose rates are overseen or set by state commissions, or perhaps trades like plumbers and electricians.  These are jobs that can't be outsourced.  (Hello Bangalore?  I'm in Penobscot, Maine, in the US and my toilet won't flush.  What do you mean, "so what?"? )

Outsourcing has many justifications.  In many cases, it's a trade between the saved labor costs and the other costs.  These jobs can't stay unionized for the long term, in my view.  Most companies won't offshore to save a few percent, but they will do it to save half the cost.  A union has a very small margin to negotiate over the market rate for labor before those jobs leave.  The total costs of business in the US, including the regulatory burden for US workers, have forced many jobs overseas.  It's the old story about unintended consequences and the fact that congress never seems to think to the next move - to use a chess analogy.   


  1. I am not a small businessman, and I don't play one on TV, but I think many jobs would remain in this country even at the higher wages if it weren't for having to try to navigate the regulatory swamp created by EPA, DOE, IRS, Work Comp, Equal Opportunity, etc., etc. Not to mention the political whorehouse, ala Gibson vs Martin with the Lacey Act being applied vigorously to those who lean Right (without the benefit of KY Jelly).

    1. You're obviously enough of a business person to see that, which is more than we can say for pretty much all of the executive branch and 90% of the legislative.

  2. Don't think about what is best for the US and the people as a whole, think about what is best for the political class.

    At the national level congressmen, senators, POTUS and appointees get to increase their own power by expanding what is covered by law and regulation; they get lots of campaign contributions or outright bribes to modify\make\block laws and regulation, eg friends of Angelo; make money in the "free" market through insider trading, knowing what the laws will say before their published; get jobs for the boys or Mrs, like Michelle Obama's $300k pa in a role that was created for her when Obama was a senator and abolished when she left; and well paid jobs as lobbyists after they leave.

    At the local level the sums are smaller but everything else is the same, from bribes for building contracts to campaign contribution, why else licence hairdressers?

    As for thinking about the next move, controls breed controls. Creating problems is a feature not a bug, as it creates public demand for them to do things later on down the line. How many gun laws are there, and how effective have they been at disarming criminals and reducing crime? A better question is how effective have they been in providing politicians a nice distraction and someone else to blame for crime?

    Black voters have strongly voted left since the new deal 80 years ago, as they are typically poorer, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to have a lower paid job, have less stable families, are more dependent on government for benefits and are therefore more likely to look to government and the politicians who want to enlarge government to look after them. As long as they are kept poor and dependant on the government then won't the left have a steady supply of voters (dead and alive!) for at least the next 80 years?

    "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard" H.L. Mencken

  3. It's pretty much what the administration did with coservative-owned GM dealerships: they were weeded out in favor of those run by obama supporters.