Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Union Firefighters: Making An Appointment To Be Sick

For the naysayers who still believe that they can operate as efficiently with a union as without, this from Las Vegas via the Mises Institute (with thanks):

The press in Las Vegas has stumbled on to a secret calendar between firefighters indicating who is going to be sick on certain days and who can fill in and earn time and a half.

The calender wasn’t posted in the firehouse near the shinny pole, but was kept at the firefighters’ private homes to avoid scrutiny.

Three of the people listed on the calender are Fire Battalion Chiefs with total annual pay and benefits in 2009 of $315,000 to $345,000.

I never knew why so many kids wanted to grow up to be firefighters . . . but I do now.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Disconnect Between The Global Elite and The American Middle Class

In a recent article in The Atlantic entitled, "The Rise Of The New Global Elite," Chrystia Freeland makes the following startling observation:

"The good news—and the bad news—for America is that the nation’s own super-elite is rapidly adjusting to this more global perspective. The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds told me that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy. In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn’t really matter. “His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade,” the CEO recalled"

It is interesting (and disturbing) that the heyday of globalization, i.e., from 1980 through the present, has seen the middle class in America stagnate in terms of income.

Is there a connection?

Probably so. The best argument is that made by Charles Hugh Smith in a brilliant article entitled, "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Jobs (In The U.S.) and can be found here: . He argues: "The erosion of the American middle class is of little concern for one simple reason: it no longer matters much on the global stage. All that Global Corporate America needs from America is a stable foundation that won't offer up any surprises or spots of bother. As the discretionary purchasing power of the American middle class erodes, four times as many new potential customers appear elsewhere, hungry to taste the Oreos, become consumed by the iPhone, etc., and ten times as many are potential buyers of toothpaste and other basics."

Which brings us to the question -- does corporate America owe anything to America or is its sole duty to its shareholders who, for the most part, don't care whether the profits come from India or Indianapolis?