Re: Jeremy Lott's Obama's Waterfront:
I found myself groaning this afternoon while reading through the subject article. Groaning in that the subject article was clearly written by someone who really didn't have all the facts, and groaning in that I would be compelled to devote the time necessary in order to write this note to you. In my opinion, the press should be beyond reproach in terms of the accuracy of the "facts" it prints.
To begin with, Kazan's story revolved entirely around the 1950s NY harbor docks, and was based upon a twenty-something piece exposé published in the New York Sun. In fact, the series won Malcolm Johnson a Pulitzer prize for local reporting in 1949. There was no real analog to such eye-opening circumstances in other ports. While Johnson's exposé discussed all port areas within the bi-State harbor, Kazan's book, the subsequent Schulberg screenplay and the Brando movie were rather location-unspecific. Believe me: there were (and are) big differences.
Within that context, "Our modern version of the commission..." is not, as Mr. Lott writes, the US Labor Department's OLMS. Rather, it is the Waterfront Commission of New York & New Jersey (The Waterfront Commission). The Waterfront Commission is an organization established by a US Congress-approved compact between the States of New York & New Jersey (Circa 1953), within which plenary oversight (including the licensing of all waterfront workers within the harbor) is granted to a police-like agency that was once probably quite useful but is now a general millstone around the collective neck of the NY/NJ region's population. I say millstone, inasmuch as a per-ton assessment is levied on all NY/NJ import and export cargo in order to fund the Waterfront Commission's annual budget. Sadly, however, the agency does very little in the way of productive work and is quite often the object of investigation itself. As an agency at the relative bottom of the political food chain, no one should be surprised.
Moreover, the presence and influence of organized crime on the NY/NJ waterfront, while once probably sizable, is now overblown and likely exaggerated. That's not to say that this particular industry (or any other) is lily white, but it is an assertion which acknowledges that all facets of industry, government, religion, etc., etc., are vulnerable to greed, avarice and the like. The waterfront industries (within any U.S. port) are no more susceptible to these human conditions than are any other public or private sector entity.
That being said, I'm uncertain as to which public agency should be tasked with general oversight over all Labor/Management interactions. Perhaps none should. Perhaps there should be several. Perhaps it should be left in the hands of local law enforcement. I really don't know.
What I do know, is that as a 14-year, relatively high level employee at US Dept of Labor Headquarters in Washington; focused on the marine cargo handling industry, I was fully unimpressed with the Federal government's ability to act in a meaningful way when addressing almost any manner whatsoever. In such a light, under-funding a government agency may make a lot of sense.
I'm sure Mr. Lott is correct in his coverage of OLMS's successful prosecutions of labor union officials during the last two Bush Administrations. I also think it's appropriate to prosecute individuals who would illegally profit off the blood and sweat of their "brothers and sisters." But given the financial impact on the country as a whole, such "crooked" actions by Labor "leaders" probably can be considered as trite in the face of the hundreds of billions of dollars ripped from the savings and retirement funds of countless citizens by greedy bankers and related corporate schemers within the same span of time...
Go after the big game first; not just those who oppose your political message.
-- R.L. Signorino
Re: Eric Peters' Clunker Program Throws a Rod:
First, I will calibrate my words carefully.
I'm a conservative. I abhor the drunken sailor spending of the elite in Washington (with apologies to drunken sailors for that cruel comparison). I abhor the fact that the elite don't remember that they are there to serve the United States, and not their own self-interests. I admit that the feds have made a hash of administering the CARS program.
With that in mind, I must offer a defense of the CARS program as the first of their programs to have done some actual good for the country.
It has replaced thirsty gas-guzzlers with more fuel-efficient cars. Mr. Peters' quibble about the amount of fuel saved is not apropos. He makes it sound like the net saving is four miles per gallon, but how many trades resulted in savings of ten or more miles per gallon? And how many cars are each saving four or more miles per gallon? And how many thousands of miles will each of those cars be driven at their net savings?
It has replaced emissions-producing cars with cars producing fewer emissions.
It has the automobile industry selling again; and when they're selling cars off the lots, the manufacturers have to make more to replace them. Manufacturing is the key to the economy and to economic recovery.
Banks are lending money again -- my guess is up to 40 or 50 billion dollars.
If, as they say, 250,000 cars have been junked and 250,000 more have been sold, then that's a lot of change.
-- A.C. Santore
Eric Peters does a nice job with some unforeseen consequences of the policy.
How about some more? I wonder what will happen to steel scrap prices? My guess is that they will go down. There are people who make their living by hauling away the junker that someone's neighbor has had up on blocks for the past year and a half. The economic incentive for providing this eco-friendly service may evaporate, as the clunkers displace the junkers in the scrap yards. Note also the further downward pressure on housing prices in the very neighborhoods that can least afford it.
There is a single mother somewhere who must buy a car or lose her job. It seems her employer can't stay in business in her neighborhood any longer. What will happen to prices as this unfortunate woman enters the used car market? A clunker would suffice, but she may not be able to find one at any price. If she has to use public transportation, she will have to pay for 3 more hours of child care each day.
What about the charities that raise funds by receiving donations of used cars? I doubt the cars that they receive would have much trade-in value -- until cash for clunkers came along. I suspect these charitable fund-raising activities will dry up, and the clients that would have been served will be harmed. Government's cash for clunkers, will crowd out organizations like "Democracy Now!," "Develop Africa," and "Free Speech TV." President Obama, say it ain't so!
Peters notes that, "The government is basically paying people to buy new cars. What happens when the subsidies dry up?"
Unfortunately, the subsidy is probably pushing the selling price up (think of government
efforts to ease the college tuition burden). Furthermore, a mad rush is on by the new car buying public to cash in on the subsidy, to get 'em while they're hot, so to speak. This psychology of the crowd will also push prices up. So don't be shocked if the after-subsidy net price from dealer to consumer is about the same as it was during the current mania.
Women, minorities and children will once again be hit the hardest.
-- Dan Martin
SOMETHING'S DEAD FISHY
Re: Robert M. Goldberg 's Questions I Never Asked Obama:
I note that a few days ago, Barney Frank let the cat out of the bag when he said that this plan will lead directly to a single payer system. No such system anywhere has failed to ration care to keep costs down.
Worse -- what members of Congress have said that seniors should get used to not getting all the care they want?
Speaker Pelosi has complained that medical insurers are exempt from antitrust law. Yes they are! And who granted them that exemption? Could it be the Congress where the bill was written? And who could just as easily and quickly end their exemption if it's really a problem? But of course, that would endanger some campaign contributions, would it not? Do I smell dead fish?
The president is not a very good liar and neither are his surrogates in Congress.
I'm not even a reporter, but I get it.
-- Roy W. Hogue
HOME ON THE RANGE
Re: Philip Klein's Everything That Rises Must Converge:
In a rush? Indeed he is, Mr. Klein. More like a tin horn bureaucrat rushing to get ahead of a stampede and turn it before it tramples down city hall. Next year, we cowboys will be rushing, too, to the polls to try and head off this stampede of stupidity before we lose the ranch. We can rebuild city hall in a week, but the ranch takes time, it has to be nurtured, and if we lose it, there may never be another.
It's Gonna Change
(Home on the Range)
"O" lives in OUR home
Near the capitol dome
Where the donkeys and the elephants play
Where seldom is heard
An intelligible word
And the Speaker is pouty all day
"O" wants it made right
Using government might
And by taking our freedoms away
Make us cars that are green
And our bodies real lean
Then tax us until we can't pay
"O" it's gonna change
Though the donkeys and elephants may play (for now)
Come November next year
We will make it real clear
And the Pouter will be sent on her way!
"O" thinks he's so cool
That he's nobody's fool
But his plans may be going awry
'Cause the climate's OK
So, let's go out and play
We don't care if it makes Al Gore cry
"O", say, can't you see,
That Rev. Wright-ology,
Is baloney and pie in the sky?
Healthcare is a BUST!
It's in God that we TRUST!
We like HIM to decide when we die!
"O" it's gonna change
Though the donkeys and the elephants may play (for now)
We will make it real clear
It takes more than warm beer
And Ms. Pouty will be sent on her way!
-- Mike Showalter
TWO POINTS SCORED
Re: Greg Scandlen's My Two-Point Plan for Health Care:
Greg Scandlen states his two-point plan for health care:
1) Give the money back to the people
2) Get the hell out of the way.
Simple, concise, succinct, to the point.
By George, I think he's got it!
-- Jim Bjaloncik
THE HAUNTED PAST
Re: Ryan L. Cole's The Reformer's Folly:
Excellent article. Thanks also for the reminder of the legacy of this onerous legislation.
-- Les Taylor