April 12, 2006

Old-Money Populists and the Working-Class/New-Money Elite

Justin Katz

I've been meaning to comment on RI Populist's apparent satisfaction over Sheldon Whitehouse's receipt of the carpenters union endorsement. As a non-union carpenter whose job site has recently been within sight of Whitehouse's Newport summer home castle — nestled between, I'm informed, his brother's mansion and his mother's chateau and a short drive from his grandparents' controversial estate — I'd suggest that Whitehouse's interests align with those of the average Rhode Island worker's in about the same degree as an ocean's with a puddle's on a hot day.

Somehow, through my dust-tinted work goggles, I can't help but observe cynical posturing in another of RI Populist's recent posts:

This letter to the editor is a testament to... the shame of politicians like Don Carcieri and Steve Laffey who made their millions at the top of the mountain of big corporations and who now use their elected office to chip away at the mole-hill of power that workers have won through unions. Without unions, only an exclusive few would have the quality of life that so many Americans now enjoy. It's as simple as that.

Personally, in my simplicity, I prefer to construct my mole-hill of satisfaction of the moments during which I'm privileged to enjoy scenery to which the ultrawealthy are privy, but of which, one suspects, they are rarely appreciative. It's all a matter of perspective, of course, but I find the daylight a bit more crisp out from under the shadows of Rhode Island's Everest of organized labor and those exclusive few who've never worked a "[bleep]ing day" in their lives, to quote another of our state's pampered supposed populists.

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Perfect! I've often wondered why the so-called progressives in RI can't seem to support anyone who doesn't have millions, a summer place on the shore, and a home near the Boulevard on the East Side. While they criticize the self-made success of Carcieri and Laffey, they rally around deRamel running with his trust fund money, and tear apart average Dems like mayors Mollis and Menard.

With their ridiculous campaign finance laws, it is the left that has made running for higher office impossible for average working people, and has pushed us closer to a plutocracy.

With the progressive movement fully behind the "rights" of illegal aliens that clearly diminish the wages of hard working RIers, I wonder how much more workers can take. They must see that the left and big labor unions really aren't looking out for their interests.

Posted by: rightri at April 13, 2006 6:30 AM

Come on, rightri, if they had campaign finance reform, I'd probably run and you would be no happier!

Note to Justin - consider joining the union!

Posted by: Bob Walsh at April 13, 2006 9:26 AM

Just zipped by NEARI HQ. Lou Rainone's picking his nose.

Beep Beep

Posted by: roadrunner at April 13, 2006 10:41 AM

Bob Walsh,
I have never seen anyone who is a good and conscientious worker be without work in whatever they do. So, why in the world would they want or need to join a union.

On the other hand, the people I see who need unions are those who are lazy or aren't very good at what they do. Overall, unions protect lazy workers. Good workers don't need them.

Posted by: Joe Barbera at April 13, 2006 11:25 AM

I had one Union job and have avoided them ever since. As a Silver polisher I was paid piecework for every unit of output that passed inspection. I loved the incentive and motivation to make some extra cash. But the union steward was always stopping by to shoot the breeze and tell me I should slow down. That it wasn't good for the union if I "over-produced". He also tried to show me how to sneak work past QC, what they'd notice, what they wouldn't.

A few years later I supervised union people and got great pleasure at busting them for every infraction. It was pathetic how they tried to screw the company (and, as only supply siders would understand), the consumers and their co-workers. Eventually the company, and the market couldn't sustain the poor quality work and inflated prices, so it moved out of state (about 1,200 jobs at its peak).

What is actually worse about gov't employee unions (even FDR agreed with this), is that there is no free-market mechanism to keep wages and prices in check. In RI, where Unions control the Democrats and the Health care monopoly, who all control the legislature, the taxpayers are taken for granted. No new benefits or wage increases are too outrageous because they take money from the rest of us at gunpoint.

Posted by: Stretch Cunningham at April 13, 2006 11:54 AM

Stretch, I agree. I don't have a problem with private sector unions. If they become unreasonable there is a system of checks and balances, ie Delphi, GM, UAL, etc.

However, public employee unions should be illegal. When public sector unions first came into being, even the private sector union heads acknowledged this was a very dangerous, slippery slope. How right they were!

Posted by: JSheehan at April 13, 2006 12:20 PM

there is now new money elite. unless, you have people working for you giving you your money back.

Posted by: tiffany ongsiaco at April 23, 2006 11:36 PM