Freakonomics: Detroit is Dying… Quickly

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    Mar 23, 2011 8:28 PM GMT
    A sign of things to come for some US cities?

    http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/03/23/detroit-is-dying-quickly/

    Census data released this week confirmed what we already knew: Detroit is dying. It’s just happening much faster than we thought. From 2000 to 2010, Detroit lost a quarter of its population; 273,500 people. According to news reports, local officials are stunned, including Mayor Dave Bing, who wants a recount.

    After New Orleans, which lost 29 percent of its population in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Detroit’s 25 percent loss is the largest percentage drop in the history of an American city with more than 100,000 people. Just ten years ago, Detroit was the tenth largest city in the country. Demographers at the Brookings Institute now believe it might have fallen all the way to 18th, with just 713,777 people. That’s the smallest it’s been since 1910, just before the automotive boom brought millions of well-paid jobs and turned Detroit into the Motor City. It’s hard to imagine, but up until 1950, Detroit was the fourth biggest city in America. In 1960, it had the highest per-capita income in the U.S.

    While the complete 2010 U.S. Census data won’t be released until Thursday, enough of it is available to see which other cities were big losers in the first decade of the 21st century: Cleveland lost 17%, Cincinnati lost 10.4%, Pittsburgh lost 8.6%, Toledo lost 8.4% See a trend? Looks like more of the same as the American Rust Belt continues to fade.

    This isn’t to say that cities are losing out everywhere. In fact, as William H. Frey of the Brookings Institute pointed out this summer, cities made up significant ground on suburbs during the latter half of the last decade. And don’t forget, as evidenced by our talk with Ed Glaeser last month, cities still rock.
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    Mar 23, 2011 8:32 PM GMT
    Breaking headlines:

    GM to move headquarters to Singapore.
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    Mar 23, 2011 8:34 PM GMT
    I wouldn't draw conclusions to other cities based on what's happening in Detroit. My organization has a presence there and to say it's in a league of its own is an understatement.
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    Mar 23, 2011 8:43 PM GMT
    Christian73 saidI wouldn't draw conclusions to other cities based on what's happening in Detroit. My organization has a presence there and to say it's in a league of its own is an understatement.


    What do you attribute Detroit's decline to? I recognize it's probably a series of factors, but what would you suggest they are?
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    Mar 23, 2011 9:00 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Christian73 saidI wouldn't draw conclusions to other cities based on what's happening in Detroit. My organization has a presence there and to say it's in a league of its own is an understatement.


    What do you attribute Detroit's decline to? I recognize it's probably a series of factors, but what would you suggest they are?
    icon_biggrin.gif Its too cold!
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    Mar 23, 2011 9:05 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Christian73 saidI wouldn't draw conclusions to other cities based on what's happening in Detroit. My organization has a presence there and to say it's in a league of its own is an understatement.


    What do you attribute Detroit's decline to? I recognize it's probably a series of factors, but what would you suggest they are?


    I'd say the two biggest factors are the decline of the auto industry and "white flight", which occurred prior to and accelerated the industry's decline. Those two factors led to the evisceration of the city's tax base.

    More recently, Detroit has had a wave of epic corruption in its city politics, which has certainly further damaged it.
  • conservativej...

    Posts: 2465

    Mar 23, 2011 9:11 PM GMT
    Yes, in specific regions. Whether there will be a recovery for these cities will depend upon people unconstrained by our current "state" of government.

    Notice I did not say form of government.
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    Mar 23, 2011 10:29 PM GMT
    I've only seen Detroit through the lens of a TV show called Hardcore Pawn. Looks like Detroit's population loss was the major driving force in Michigan being the only state to have a net decrease in population from 2000 to 2010. This all has an effect on apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives. The US Census website has some interesting tools that map out the changes over the past many decades.
    4d11192e9df15.image.jpg
    apport_total_chart.jpg
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    Mar 23, 2011 11:07 PM GMT
    dsmith123 saidI've only seen Detroit through the lens of a TV show called Hardcore Pawn. Looks like Detroit's population loss was the major driving force in Michigan being the only state to have a net decrease in population from 2000 to 2010.


    This is true. Every one of the suburban counties that surround Wayne, the county of Detroit, actually all had a gain in population. If you could exclude the city of Detroit, Michigan would have had a gain. This small gain in the rest of the state all came from new immigration. What ultimately killed Detroit was white flight and this is what is now happening in the state as a whole. Michigan's white population fell by 2% while the Asian population grew by 34.9% and the Hispanic population grew by 34.7%. At the beginning of the white flight from Detroit, it was small enough that the population could keep up and still grow with the new populations moving in, but as the pace of white flight picked up and became so fast, new populations could not move in fast enough to keep up and areas eventually became abandoned. Now the city suffers from black flight and may eventually become a big hole in the center of the metro area.

    http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/index.php



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    Mar 24, 2011 1:02 AM GMT
    Unemployment figures are currently the lowest in 3 years (statewide), so that might be a good sign... unless it's because of a decrease in the denominator rather than an increase in the numerator (though I believe there was a net gain of 11,000 jobs last month).

    I think Detroit, and Michigan, still have some fight left in them.
    (Says the eternal optimist.)
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    Mar 24, 2011 5:53 PM GMT
    Who Killed Detroit?

    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/566999/201103231848/Who-Killed-Detroit-.htm

    Cities: Poor Detroit. It hasn't had any good news for decades, and now, despite a $77 billion bailout of the auto industry, its population continues to implode. The No. 1 reason: the United Auto Workers union.

    Census data released Tuesday show Detroit's population has plunged 25% since 2000 to just 713,777 souls — the same as 100 years ago, before the auto industry's heyday. As recently as the 1970s, Detroit had 1.8 million people.

    What's happening is no secret: Detroiters are fleeing an economic disaster, the irreversible decline of the Big Three automakers.

    In his now-famous Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler, rapper Eminem drives up to a theater in a sleek new 200 model and says, "This is the Motor City. And this is what we do." But, sadly, that's no longer the case. Detroit's decline has been shocking.

    Sure, a lot of the blame goes to a generation of bad management. But the main reason for Detroit's decline is the greed of the industry's main union, the UAW, which priced the Big Three out of the market.

    As recently as 2008, GM, Ford and Chrysler paid their employees on average more than $73 an hour in total compensation. The 12 foreign transplants, operating in nonunion states mostly in the South and Midwest, averaged about $42 an hour.

    Guess which manufacturers are healthiest and expanding their market today? In 2008, the Big Three still made 59% of all cars in the U.S. But, according to recent estimates, their market share is now 46% — with foreign companies selling the bulk of all U.S. cars. So Detroit's loss has been the South's and Midwest's gain.

    Behind this is the gold-plated benefits package once guaranteed to UAW workers. We're not against workers getting what they deserve, but total pay and benefits for a full-time worker for the Big Three until recently averaged about $140,000 a year.

    The transplants? Just $80,000. Add in an estimated $2,000-plus per car for retiree health care and pensions for the Big Three, and the cost gap is huge.

    Two years ago, the Center for Automotive Research estimated that for every job created by a foreign transplant, 6.1 jobs were lost by the Big Three — many of them in Detroit. No city can take that much economic abuse.

    Nor has the $77 billion bailout of GM and Chrysler — which enriched the UAW at the expense of bondholders and shareholders — helped. True enough, sales have bounced back some, but neither one is out of the woods.

    Even as Detroit collapses, new UAW chief Bob King promises to "pound" the transplants into submission and force them to drink his union's poison, too.

    Given what we know, every town that is now home to a foreign automaker should be very afraid. If King has his way, they'll soon suffer Detroit's fate.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:01 PM GMT
    Ever heard of legacy cost?

    Compare Air Canada to WestJet.

    A statement like "the greed of the unions is the main reason for its downfall" is another example of cheap demagogy as it currently dominates any and every economic or political discussion.

    And based on the numbers like $170 an hour, it sounds an awful lot like the Internal Hourly Rate that companies calculate their cost with, not merely "wage plus benefits".
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:09 PM GMT
    Tazo995 saidEver heard of legacy cost?

    Compare Air Canada to WestJet.

    A statement like "the greed of the unions is the main reason for its downfall" is another example of cheap demagogy as it currently dominates any and every economic or political discussion.

    And based on the numbers like $170 an hour, it sounds an awful lot like the Internal Hourly Rate that companies calculate their cost with, not merely "wage plus benefits".


    That might be compelling if there weren't other cities with similar legacy costs. Detroit, I think, has made a series of rather bad choices. Strong union influence and largescale spending (providing for the incentives for corruption) have not helped.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:18 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Tazo995 saidEver heard of legacy cost?

    Compare Air Canada to WestJet.

    A statement like "the greed of the unions is the main reason for its downfall" is another example of cheap demagogy as it currently dominates any and every economic or political discussion.

    And based on the numbers like $170 an hour, it sounds an awful lot like the Internal Hourly Rate that companies calculate their cost with, not merely "wage plus benefits".


    That might be compelling if there weren't other cities with similar legacy costs. Detroit, I think, has made a series of rather bad choices. Strong union influence and largescale spending (providing for the incentives for corruption) have not helped.



    I don't mean the legacy cost of Detroit vs. Pittsburgh, I mean the legacy cost of Toyota vs. GM.

    The reason Air Canada has such a burden of legacy costs compared to WestJet is that they've been around for a lot longer, and have half a century of pensioners to pay for. Similarly to this, a Toyota or WestJet hasn't been around that long to be saddled with the same cost as in this case a GM.

    Having said that, it's still a poor excuse for performance - there are dozens of large and old companies out there that just manage their legacy cost better.

    And a statement like "strong union influence has not helped" is just empty. I know this is very un-American, but take a look at the other side of the pond and notice how nobody makes the same kind of statements about unions. A union is (should be) to a company what a parliament is (should be) to a government. Just as people take the latter relationship as a given, necessary for functionality, so do they (in Europe) the former.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:25 PM GMT
    The unions had nothing to do with this, moron. Stop watching Fox News, PLEASE.

    *Edit
    I say this because I often stop on Faux News while channel surfing and heard this two times yesterday, once from some Italian twat of a douche who goes buy Judge Nepoiltano (sp?) and the second time was from Gerardo, or maybe it was Dennis Miller. I don't know, it's so easy to get all of those one-geared shit stains mixed up.

    So if I heard it twice while channel surfing, I'm sure it must have been drilled into Faux News viewers heads at least a dozen times yesterday.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:28 PM GMT
    Tazo995 saidI don't mean the legacy cost of Detroit vs. Pittsburgh, I mean the legacy cost of Toyota vs. GM.

    The reason Air Canada has such a burden of legacy costs compared to WestJet is that they've been around for a lot longer, and have half a century of pensioners to pay for. Similarly to this, a Toyota or WestJet hasn't been around that long to be saddled with the same cost as in this case a GM.

    Having said that, it's still a poor excuse for performance - there are dozens of large and old companies out there that just manage their legacy cost better.

    And a statement like "strong union influence has not helped" is just empty. I know this is very un-American, but take a look at the other side of the pond and notice how nobody makes the same kind of statements about unions. A union is (should be) to a company what a parliament is (should be) to a government. Just as people take the latter relationship as a given, necessary for functionality, so do they (in Europe) the former.


    If you want to defend Air Canada on the basis of its legacy costs, you can't also ignore the massive subsidies and regulatory advantages they've had over the years over upstarts like Westjet (not to mention if I recall they went through bankruptcy at least twice to modify/change legacy costs). You could argue that those advantages had been squandered, but I'm guessing it's more than a wash.

    Toyota has been around for a very long time (1924), perhaps not in North America but they haven't had to deal with the UAW (http://blogs.automotive.com/6205652/miscellaneous/uaw-and-why-honda-and-toyota-workers-are-not-interested/index.html) which is perhaps a more significant difference. It's also a question of management given that Toyota ran a plant with GM for 25 years until GM pulled out. That plant was significantly more profitable than its other plants and it was unionized. (http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2009/06/29/daily15.html).

    Europe has a lot of other issues that they will need to work through and I am unconvinced that the relationships you describe will survive the coming turmoil. Unions matter and are a threat to economic survival insofar as they limit companies and management from dealing with market/customer constraints (e.g. changing to more flexible production / changing skill sets / falling demand). Germany however has shown remarkable resilience in the recent turmoil while they stagnated during the good years the rest of the world experienced before the financial crisis. This however could be as much the result of macroeconomic factors. It will be interesting to see if the euro will survive.
  • TrentGrad

    Posts: 1541

    Mar 24, 2011 6:33 PM GMT
    riddler78 saidWho Killed Detroit?

    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/566999/201103231848/Who-Killed-Detroit-.htm

    Cities: Poor Detroit. It hasn't had any good news for decades, and now, despite a $77 billion bailout of the auto industry, its population continues to implode. The No. 1 reason: the United Auto Workers union.

    Census data released Tuesday show Detroit's population has plunged 25% since 2000 to just 713,777 souls — the same as 100 years ago, before the auto industry's heyday. As recently as the 1970s, Detroit had 1.8 million people.

    What's happening is no secret: Detroiters are fleeing an economic disaster, the irreversible decline of the Big Three automakers.

    In his now-famous Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler, rapper Eminem drives up to a theater in a sleek new 200 model and says, "This is the Motor City. And this is what we do." But, sadly, that's no longer the case. Detroit's decline has been shocking.

    Sure, a lot of the blame goes to a generation of bad management. But the main reason for Detroit's decline is the greed of the industry's main union, the UAW, which priced the Big Three out of the market.

    As recently as 2008, GM, Ford and Chrysler paid their employees on average more than $73 an hour in total compensation. The 12 foreign transplants, operating in nonunion states mostly in the South and Midwest, averaged about $42 an hour.

    Guess which manufacturers are healthiest and expanding their market today? In 2008, the Big Three still made 59% of all cars in the U.S. But, according to recent estimates, their market share is now 46% — with foreign companies selling the bulk of all U.S. cars. So Detroit's loss has been the South's and Midwest's gain.

    Behind this is the gold-plated benefits package once guaranteed to UAW workers. We're not against workers getting what they deserve, but total pay and benefits for a full-time worker for the Big Three until recently averaged about $140,000 a year.

    The transplants? Just $80,000. Add in an estimated $2,000-plus per car for retiree health care and pensions for the Big Three, and the cost gap is huge.

    Two years ago, the Center for Automotive Research estimated that for every job created by a foreign transplant, 6.1 jobs were lost by the Big Three — many of them in Detroit. No city can take that much economic abuse.

    Nor has the $77 billion bailout of GM and Chrysler — which enriched the UAW at the expense of bondholders and shareholders — helped. True enough, sales have bounced back some, but neither one is out of the woods.

    Even as Detroit collapses, new UAW chief Bob King promises to "pound" the transplants into submission and force them to drink his union's poison, too.

    Given what we know, every town that is now home to a foreign automaker should be very afraid. If King has his way, they'll soon suffer Detroit's fate.


    Oh, what a surprise...riddler is once again attacking Unions! Of course as the debate in Wisconsin has wrapped up, for the time being, he now turns to private sector unions to attack.

    Of course, given that the UAW membership figures have been in decline since the oil embargo of 1973, one could suggest that in fact it's been the decline of the unions which have led to Detroit's collapse...just as it led to Flint's collapse! In that sense, while I would expect an "investors" website to blame the Unions, a more appropriate blame would be reserved for the big 3 automakers, and the politicians who jumped haphazardly into free trade with underdeveloped economies and labour markets!

    After all, if we simply employ logic, unionized workers typically earn more, which allows them to spend more, which creates a healthier and more dynamic domestic economy. The strength of the domestic economy in turn attracts outsiders, and encourages young people to remain rooted within the city...and the added tax revenue allows the government to improve infrastructure for young families.

    When the auto makers moved production to Mexico and other EPZ's, they cut their work force, thereby denying the domestic economy the stimulants (ie. gainfully employed workers who earned a decent wage) it needed to remain healthy and vibrant!

    The domino effect would hold true here: when auto workers lost their jobs, the domestic economy lost some of it's pop, leading to further cuts in jobs, less spending within the domestic economy, and so on.

    You could claim that cities do better when unions are strong, and businesses do not hold all the cards...because after all, businesses do not, have not, and will never care about cities, states or nations the way that the people who live in them do!

    What is a fact is that the UAW traded in wages and benefits to the Big 3 automakers, and yet those automakers STILL floundered. Is it because the workers were too expensive...or is it because those at the top were designing cars that people didn't want?

    Europeans auto makers are also very unionized...yet Daimler succeeded where Chrysler did not! Point being: it's a typical bullshit argument to blame the Unions for "pricing" the big 3 out of the market...and the corporate world will continue to work this line to deceive the public from the real problem: that companies don't want to pay a fair price for labour...they want to pay as little as they can get away with!
  • tongun18

    Posts: 593

    Mar 24, 2011 6:37 PM GMT
    Tazo995 said
    And a statement like "strong union influence has not helped" is just empty. I know this is very un-American, but take a look at the other side of the pond and notice how nobody makes the same kind of statements about unions. A union is (should be) to a company what a parliament is (should be) to a government. Just as people take the latter relationship as a given, necessary for functionality, so do they (in Europe) the former.


    While I don't think that's really an accurate analogy (the Board of Directors would be the companies "parliament"), I do think your point is well taken.

    In the US the right complains and attacks unions while the left does the same to business. Neither seems to realize that both are two sides of the same coin. Both business and unions have their place and can serve society's interests well, both can also be incredibly damaging when corrupted and abused, and both wield far too much influence on our political system...
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:43 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Tazo995 saidI don't mean the legacy cost of Detroit vs. Pittsburgh, I mean the legacy cost of Toyota vs. GM.

    The reason Air Canada has such a burden of legacy costs compared to WestJet is that they've been around for a lot longer, and have half a century of pensioners to pay for. Similarly to this, a Toyota or WestJet hasn't been around that long to be saddled with the same cost as in this case a GM.

    Having said that, it's still a poor excuse for performance - there are dozens of large and old companies out there that just manage their legacy cost better.

    And a statement like "strong union influence has not helped" is just empty. I know this is very un-American, but take a look at the other side of the pond and notice how nobody makes the same kind of statements about unions. A union is (should be) to a company what a parliament is (should be) to a government. Just as people take the latter relationship as a given, necessary for functionality, so do they (in Europe) the former.


    If you want to defend Air Canada on the basis of its legacy costs, you can't also ignore the massive subsidies and regulatory advantages they've had over the years over upstarts like Westjet (not to mention if I recall they went through bankruptcy at least twice to modify/change legacy costs). You could argue that those advantages had been squandered, but I'm guessing it's more than a wash.

    Toyota has been around for a very long time, perhaps not in North America but they haven't had to deal with the UAW (http://blogs.automotive.com/6205652/miscellaneous/uaw-and-why-honda-and-toyota-workers-are-not-interested/index.html) which is perhaps a more significant difference. It's also a question of management given that Toyota ran a plant with GM for 25 years until GM pulled out. That plant was significantly more profitable than its other plants and it was unionized. (http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2009/06/29/daily15.html).

    Europe has a lot of other issues that they will need to work through and I am unconvinced that the relationships you describe will survive the coming turmoil. Unions matter and are a threat to economic survival insofar as they limit companies and management from dealing with market/customer constraints (e.g. changing to more flexible production / changing skill sets / falling demand). Germany however has shown remarkable resilience in the recent turmoil while they stagnated during the good years the rest of the world experienced before the financial crisis. This however could be as much the result of macroeconomic factors. It will be interesting to see if the euro will survive.



    OK, first of all this has NOTHING to do with whether or not the Euro will survive.

    So I see what kind of system you'd like to see; a government where a parliament is a rubber stamp, because we're more interested in the convenience of the executive power? If that's not good, how come that would be good if you're talking about large corporates that make up a substantial part of the economy?

    The "upcoming turmoil" will most likely not take place in the "unionized" and "socialist" countries of Western Europe, I can tell you that much.

    I'm done discussing this with you, in general I'm done discussion politics or economics with the average American. The US is in a mess for a reason, and as a former president said "the definition of an idiot is somebody who does the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome". Good luck America.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:44 PM GMT
    tongun18 said
    Tazo995 said
    And a statement like "strong union influence has not helped" is just empty. I know this is very un-American, but take a look at the other side of the pond and notice how nobody makes the same kind of statements about unions. A union is (should be) to a company what a parliament is (should be) to a government. Just as people take the latter relationship as a given, necessary for functionality, so do they (in Europe) the former.


    While I don't think that's really an accurate analogy (the Board of Directors would be the companies "parliament"), I do think your point is well taken.

    In the US the right complains and attacks unions while the left does the same to business. Neither seems to realize that both are two sides of the same coin. Both business and unions have their place and can serve society's interests well, both can also be incredibly damaging when corrupted and abused, and both wield far too much influence on our political system...


    Okay, sure, the right attacks unions and the left "attacks" business ... so why is it that the right is the only party that actually carries out those attacks? Corporations have such a stranglehold on the economy and average Americans, it's sickening.

    Corporations keep complaining about being held down, yet they keep getting richer while continuing to get huge tax breaks and exporting jobs overseas. On the flip side, you have ... unions. Enough said.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:45 PM GMT
    tongun18 said
    Tazo995 said
    And a statement like "strong union influence has not helped" is just empty. I know this is very un-American, but take a look at the other side of the pond and notice how nobody makes the same kind of statements about unions. A union is (should be) to a company what a parliament is (should be) to a government. Just as people take the latter relationship as a given, necessary for functionality, so do they (in Europe) the former.


    While I don't think that's really an accurate analogy (the Board of Directors would be the companies "parliament"), I do think your point is well taken.

    In the US the right complains and attacks unions while the left does the same to business. Neither seems to realize that both are two sides of the same coin. Both business and unions have their place and can serve society's interests well, both can also be incredibly damaging when corrupted and abused, and both wield far too much influence on our political system...


    No, the board would be the cabinet of ministers.

    The CEO would be the president or prime minister.

    The shareholders would be the political parties that make up the government (in a multi-party system).

    The workers would be the people, who elect their representative body to keep check on the executive, ie the unions.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:51 PM GMT
    Tazo995 saidOK, first of all this has NOTHING to do with whether or not the Euro will survive.

    So I see what kind of system you'd like to see; a government where a parliament is a rubber stamp, because we're more interested in the convenience of the executive power? If that's not good, how come that would be good if you're talking about large corporates that make up a substantial part of the economy?

    The "upcoming turmoil" will most likely not take place in the "unionized" and "socialist" countries of Western Europe, I can tell you that much.


    Sadly, you seem to only have at best a middling understanding of the issues so I can understand your distress - not to mention the irony that you would seem to have the US commit the same mistakes that they have in the past. Not sure how that translates into the advocacy of parliament/congress as a rubber stamp.

    The upcoming turmoil is already happening - not sure if you've been paying attention to what's happening in Portugal in just the last day. You're right in that the union issues are not directly connected to governance in general though given the strength of unions in places like Germany and elsewhere, I can only imagine you simply willingly ignore their political influence.
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    Mar 24, 2011 6:53 PM GMT
    Tazo995 saidNo, the board would be the cabinet of ministers.

    The CEO would be the president or prime minister.

    The shareholders would be the political parties that make up the government (in a multi-party system).

    The workers would be the people, who elect their representative body to keep check on the executive, ie the unions.


    In your sophistry, have you forgotten the role of consumers?
  • TrentGrad

    Posts: 1541

    Mar 24, 2011 6:54 PM GMT
    tongun18 said
    Tazo995 said
    And a statement like "strong union influence has not helped" is just empty. I know this is very un-American, but take a look at the other side of the pond and notice how nobody makes the same kind of statements about unions. A union is (should be) to a company what a parliament is (should be) to a government. Just as people take the latter relationship as a given, necessary for functionality, so do they (in Europe) the former.


    While I don't think that's really an accurate analogy (the Board of Directors would be the companies "parliament"), I do think your point is well taken.

    In the US the right complains and attacks unions while the left does the same to business. Neither seems to realize that both are two sides of the same coin. Both business and unions have their place and can serve society's interests well, both can also be incredibly damaging when corrupted and abused, and both wield far too much influence on our political system...


    I would strongly disagree with the idea that unions have been incredibly damaging and have wielded far too much influence on the political system.

    Hell, Unions have been trying to have the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, itself a knee jerk reaction to the fears of spreading communism, repealled for decades to no avail. Now, Unions are in serious decline, to the point where fewer than 13% of Americans are part of a Union.

    The Religious Right has more influence over the Democratic process than do the Unions!
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    Mar 24, 2011 7:03 PM GMT
    Anyone who blames Unions for the fall of Detroit is either retarded or brainwashed.

    Here's a cool graphic too:

    Chart_1.png

    Oh and the median wealth of the American family is lower now than it was 30 years ago (Reagan thanks).

    If you want to read more on the rising inequality between the rich and the poor in the United States please check out The New York Times feature: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/03/21/rising-wealth-inequality-should-we-care