It’s been an interesting week for news.  AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, apparently not satisfied with how the Obama administration tore up a legal contract between GM and its investors in order to give the company to the union, is now calling for the government to seize more companies.

“We need to fundamentally restructure our economy and re-establish popular control over the private corporations which have distorted our economy and hijacked our government. That’s a long-term job, but one we should start now.”

Hmmm … are allowed to call these people “socialists” now?  I know it was considered unbecoming during the last election season, but I’m pretty sure the label is starting to fit quite nicely.

Unless the common folks are planning to surround corporate offices carrying torches and pitchforks, there’s no such thing as “popular” control of a private company.  Mr. Trumka just can’t bring himself say “government control” … probably because he’s noticed the term tends to swell the ranks of Tea Party rallies.

The word “re-establish” is interesting as well.  Perhaps the schools I attended used different textbooks than Mr. Trumka’s schools, but I don’t recall government control of private corporations being part of our history, save for the dark ages of FDR’s first term — and most of those controls were struck down by the Supreme Court, which is why FDR wanted to grant himself the power to appoint more judges.  (He would’ve simply declared himself dictator for life, but suspected there might be an uprising.)

As for corporations distorting and hijacking the government, Mr. Trumka has a point there.  The bigger and more powerful the government becomes, the more it will be hijacked.  There’s a reason Archer Daniels Midland has never tried to hijack, say, the University of Arkansas student senate:  those senators can’t do anything for ADM.  But if you give 535 people in Washington the power to spend trillions of dollars and control several trillion more, you may as well hang up an “Open For Hijacking” sign.

I’m sure Mr. Trumka understands all that.  He’s just pissed that the union hijackers haven’t been as successful as he’d like.

There’s an old joke (with various versions) that journalists and media pundits like to tell:  Upset with the state of the world, God calls a meeting with key journalists and informs them he’s going to destroy the earth in two days.  The next day, headlines appeared in various newspapers:

Wall Street Journal:  World Ends Tomorrow, DOW drops 10,000 points
USA Today:  World Ends Tomorrow, 87% Disapprove
New York Times:  World Ends Tomorrow, Women and Minorities to Suffer Most

The bleeding hearts at the New York Times are now upset that the “stimulus” spending isn’t going to go on forever (assuming it doesn’t):

Tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs within weeks unless Congress extends one of the more effective job-creating programs in the $787 billion stimulus act: a $1 billion New Deal-style program that directly paid the salaries of unemployed people so they could get jobs in government, at nonprofit organizations and at many small businesses.

To write for the New York Times, you apparently have to swear an oath that you’ve never read, and never will read, a book on basic economics. 

There’s no such thing as an “effective” job-creating program if it’s funded by taxpayer dollars.  Sure, governments can hire people.  And all they have to do to pay for those jobs is confiscate money taxpayers would have spent themselves, thus creating or supporting other jobs.  It’s about as effective as using part of your paycheck to hire your unemployed spouse, then deciding you’re better off since you’re both working now.

Job-creation programs don’t make us wealthier; they make us poorer.  When you spend your own money, you support people creating products someone actually wants, such as an iPad or new suit.  When the government spends your money, it supports people creating products you weren’t willing to buy in the first place, such as bad theater or environmental impact reports.  If you’d rather have the iPad than the environmental impact report, the government’s choice just made you worse off.

Thank goodness there are still some countries in the world where officials understand how private enterprise produces wealth.  I am referring, of course, to Cuba — which announced it will soon lay off a million government workers.

Cuba has announced radical plans to lay off huge numbers of state employees, to help revive the communist country’s struggling economy. The Cuban labour federation said more than a million workers would lose their jobs – half of them by March next year. Those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or join new private enterprises, on which some of the current restrictions will be eased.

Our newspapers, ruling political party, and union leaders want the government to hire more government workers and seize control of more corporations to “stimulate” the economy.  Cuba is sacking 20% of its government workforce to stimulate their economy (thus risking its status as a compassionate paradise in the opinion of Michael Moore).

Something is clearly wrong here.  After thinking long and hard about it, I see the path America must take:  we need to finally get over the shame of the Bay of Pigs and invade Cuba — like we mean it this time.

JFK invaded Cuba (sort of) in a failed attempt save it from communism.  That was clearly a mistake.  The right time to invade Cuba is when the country is in danger of turning capitalist.  If we allow people there to establish their own businesses, it will only be matter of time before they’re competing with Americans.  We simply can’t allow that in an era when our government is determined to make American corporations non-competitive.  It’s bad enough that we have to compete with the Indians and the Chinese.

Once Cuba is conquered and millions of Cubans have finished beating statues of Castro with their sandals, we can impose the new American way of doing business on them.  Richard Trumka can fly down and explain the need for “popular control” of all fledgling corporations.  Barney Frank and Chris Dodd can fly down and explain the wisdom of requiring banks to grant government-backed mortgages to the unemployed, the illiterates, and the illegal immigrants.  Obama’s entire economic team can fly down and explain how to create jobs by raising taxes, forcing citizens to buy products and services they don’t want, and spending trillions of dollars created out of thin air by a central bank.

And if we’re lucky, they’ve all love the weather in Cuba so much, they’ll never come home.

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15 Responses to “Unions, Newspapers and Cuba”
  1. Elenor says:

    OMG! Cuba’s population (according to our info-god Google) was 11,204,735 in 2008 — so let’s figure a nice round 12,000,000 now.

    [Raul] “Castro suggested during a nationally televised address on Easter Sunday that as many 1 million Cuban workers – about one in five – may be redundant.

    “Currently, the state employs 95 percent of the official work force. Unemployment last year was 1.7 percent and hasn’t risen above 3 percent in eight years – but that ignores thousands of Cubans who aren’t looking for jobs that pay monthly salaries worth only $20 a month on average.

    “In exchange for the low salaries, the state provides free education and health care and heavily subsidizes housing, transportation and basic food.”

    A worker’s paradise indeed, {eye roll}!

    I think we should study Cuba carefully. We may looking at our own future.

  2. Anon. says:

    “…Obama administration tore up a legal contract between GM and its investors in order to give the company to the union…”
    I’m not a huge connoisseur of history or politics but I thought one of the government’s fundamental jobs was to uphold legal contracts. Isn’t there like a contract clause in the Constitution?

    Apparently today’s government only feels the need to uphold the contracts it finds convenient.

    • Auntie M says:

      Er, and they weren’t so fond of honoring those treaties with the American Indians in the past, either.

      Don’t get me started. I’ve been angry about that since I was 10 years old, the age at which I became fascinated with Indians and ready everything I could about them. In an auto-repair place in Chicago, the owner/mechanic had a sign on the wall: Wonder if you can trust your government? Ask an Indian.

  3. Jon Kalb says:

    FDR never declared himself dictator for life, but if you’ll recall your history, that is the way it turned out.

    He found a way to do it within the democratic system: use WPA jobs to buy every competitive congressional district he needed.

    • Auntie M says:

      If I recall correctly, in private he did talk about how America needed a dictator. He just did it through being elected to four terms.

      And by buying off the voting public. Vote for me, or those WPA programs will go away. Funny thing is, after each election cycle, the WPA programs were cut back until the next campaign season.

      • Be says:

        And even tried to pack the court to get his way!

        Yup. Imagine if the outrage if Reagan, Bush or Bush had proposed expanding the Supreme Court to 15 in order to pack it with like-minded judges.

  4. Ray Dixon says:

    Looks like Cuba and the unions will be around for a while longer but the newspaper’s days have been numbered. What used to be printed as the gospel truth is now picked apart a minute after it is printed. There are still a few who believe everything that is in the newspaper but they are speedily declining in number.

    I know the newspapers don’t like it, but it’s a healthy trend. They consider themselves the watchdogs, but now the watchdogs have watchdogs.

  5. Be says:

    How long now have we been saying that it is the Communist countries that at least are moving to support the libertarian (small l) cause? For the LIFE of me I don’t understand why Obama and the clan object over being labeled socialists – THEY ARE and they freely admit it! Look up the word in the dictionary. I’ll pay for this but, it makes me proud to be a neighbor of Cuba!

    But seriously, Obama’s jobs “expansion” is reliant on Census workers. I want SOMEONE to explain to me why we need a census since we have the IRS.

    OH and to support small businesses he has added a UNIVERSAL 1099 requirement for all businesses to save SMALL businesses from being taxed more. OK, so we can now hire more people to fill out more REQUIRED forms. That will make us global giants!

    Good grief Charlie Brown, where DID he go to economics school? Chicago Public schools? Sorry – Hawaii!

    But my favorite line is “that big government is somehow to blame for the current crisis that the budget deficit will eat our children”. Like this is some big surprise? GET serious!


    Eat the socialist vegans and solve two problems at once.

    • Your older brother says:

      Dear Grammar Grump,

      I used to tell people I was a “rabid libertarian,” until a friend politley pointed out that the phrase was redundant.

      I’m pretty sure “socialist vegan” qualifies, also.


      Now that you mention it, I’ve never met a moderate libertarian.

      • mm says:

        Ever met a libertarian that had rabies?

        No, but if you say “stimulus package” to us, we’ve been known to froth at the mouth.

  6. Kate says:

    Gosh, Tom, don’t you remember your Socialist Indoctrination 101? The govt has to control the corporations because they are evil and greedy and corporations effectively control the govt. (That must be why corps are so heavily regulated to the point it’s hard to create new jobs.) Also rich* people are evil, and we have to do whatever it takes to stop this horrible, terrible, no good, very bad income gap. Yes, Cuba is a paradise on earth!

    *Rich is defined as earning above the poverty line.

    Whenever I hear the socialists whining about an income gap, I want to scream. My wife lived in an African village with no income gap — everyone was poor. Meanwhile, I don’t care if Bill Gates has 100 trillion dollars, as long as I’m earning enough to live a good life.

  7. Andrew says:

    Who gives them the all powerful, all knowing authority to restructure the economy for their whims again? Don’t the rest of us have a say? Eco-unions create ads that blow up kids who don’t agree with carbon rationing. Government unions with an interest in big agriculture promote wholesome grains as health food. The AFL-CIO should be concerned about one thing, and one thing only: lowering taxes so I can afford a new car to fund their jobs.

    They’d rather you and I pay taxes so other people can buy cars with Cash For Clunkers programs.

  8. Ben P says:


    I don’t know why no one will say it. Every other liberal democracy in the world is rife with corruption. In those places, if you’re a businessman, paying off your local bureaucrats is just part of doing business. We’ve somehow created this idea that the US Government is somehow exempt from corruption.

    Power breeds corruption. Always has, always will. That’s why I don’t like concentrating power in the hands of government.

  9. TonyNZ says:

    “…Obama administration tore up a legal contract between GM and its investors in order to give the company to the union…”

    Um…what? What was the medianese translation of that one, it must have flown under my radar.

    Damn the media sucks.

    We have an interesting situation in New Zealand at the moment, GST (goods and services tax) has recently gone up and income tax has gone down. I would have to be spending more than I earn to have a bigger tax bill, therefore I am better off. I have a comfortable, but not large income by any means (though above the poverty line that, as one poster pointed out, makes me a rich prick). All I heard through the media was “How have the tax changes affected your grocery bill” and “how are you coping with this added expense” and the like.

    Yes, the media sucks.

  10. Jesrad says:

    “We need to fundamentally restructure our economy and re-establish popular control over the private corporations”

    You know, Tom, Trumka is actually 100% right here. Except of course the proper kind of popular control needed is the kind where real people like you and me willingly join and man the entreprises, instead of the entitled/elected buffoons looking for a social status and some power to abuse and barter, like we get to see too many of in the soviets… I mean the administration councils, of so many big corporations and public administrations (which, given enough time, always eventually meld together).

    Popular control is private control: everyone can jump in, invest their time, effort and savings, and do something. The true democracy is that woven purely from mutually-consensual interactions between good-willed individuals (wait, does this sound kinky ?).

    I think you’re onto something there … if we call it “kinky economics” instead of “free-market economics,” we might get more economically illiterate leftits on board.

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