September 5, 2011
As the nation's unemployment rate remains stuck at 9.1 percent (see bls.gov), with no sign of improvement, President Obama spent Labor Day this year in Detroit. While lamenting the current job situation, he also hailed the historic role of labor unions in bringing about widespread prosperity in America. From whitehouse.gov:
But I'm not satisfied just to get back to where we were before the recession; we've got to fully restore the middle class in America. And America cannot have a strong, growing economy without a strong, growing middle class and without a strong labor movement.
If he really means to suggest that giving more power to labor unions is going to help our economy recover, he must be out of his mind. Look what the United Auto Workers did to Detroit, for Pete's sake! Thanks largely to sky-high labor costs and union rules that inhibit productivity, the American auto industry was rendered unable to compete in a global market. The once-vibrant "Motown" is today a vast industrial wasteland, with a steadily shrinking population and thousands of abandoned houses. (I'm not excusing dumb decisions made by overpaid auto executives, mind you.) I think Obama was probably just paying back one of the Democratic Party's core constituent groups, but the possibility that he actually believes his rhetoric on unions is frightening.
We'll have to wait until his big speech on Thursday night to see what President Obama plans to do to get the economy moving forward again, but one thing is almost certain: He has repeatedly called on Congress to approve yet another extension of the unemployment insurance benefit. Obama says that that is the best way to help jobless folks "get back on their feet." (See american99ersunion.com.) I'd say it is more likely to keep them sitting on their %@* asses, putting off looking for a job. But I'm just one of those heartless right-wingers, so what do I know?