One of my longtime friends just got laid off from his job about a month ago. Now I find out that another friend is looking at getting laid off in about a month. And both of them got that way after being screwed. Union laws say that, if you lay off a third or more of your workforce, you have to give 60 days notice to everyone. The corporation laid off just under the wire, so no one knew they were getting whacked until they showed up for work that day. They weren't even told, they didn't find out until the job postings went on the board that night.
This incident doesn't change my harsh view of unions one iota. I know unions have their place, and have helped improve working conditions. But I find such experiences rare. I was union myself for five years, and my experiences with it were uniformly negative. I got screwed left, right, and center, then told I should be supportive of the union since they are looking out for my best interests. Bullshit. They pulled rank to keep me from getting promoted and got the position to one of their buddies who did jack shit all day. I was actually considering financial core status before I figured out the place was doomed and would be closing up within a year and bailed. I'm only really familiar with unions as anti-competitive weapons and just another old boy network rewarding its pets while shafting the general populous. You know, sort of like government.
So, given that management is playing dirty, what is the union's response? Nothing. Here's your laid off pay, you'll still have a job, we'll make sure you get hired back instead of replaced, blah blah blah. And now, here comes the next wave, and another friend, one I consider my brother, is as good as gone. I wonder if this is why consumer confidence is so low -- people figure the companies they work for aren't going to tell them the truth about their futures, so no one wants to overextend themselves and find themselves in a "lose everything" situation. Instead of propping up banks to make more loans so people can buy stuff, maybe they should be making sure people have jobs so they'll feel comfortable buying stuff. People want to do honorable, honest work, and aren't getting any rewards for that. People overextend, file bankruptcy (a couple of my family members have done this multiple times), and they get people offering them credit cards and loans shortly afterward, reinforcing the cycle. Those trying to live within their means get denied because there are questions about them being able to make the payments. Uh...shouldn't that be the other way around? The result is an irresponsible society that is encouraged to become casual criminals, just little things here and there, because the only way to get anything nowadays is to take. The right thing to do is just an outdated theory and a modern myth, like cold fusion.
It never ceases to amaze me the stupidity of corporations that got caught flatfooted by the economic downturn. The economic stimulus packages are artificially propping up a market instead of letting Adam Smith and Charles Darwin do their thing. It's telling that, at a union rally a few weeks ago, all the unioners were urging that the recent economic stimulus package not be passed. A guy took the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange and gave a speech about how wrong the stimulus package is, as it rewards people who do not live disciplined lives and within their means while those playing by the rules and living honestly get dick. It seems everybody is opposed to the stimulus, except for companies looking to avoid paying for their mistakes that got them in this mess and the politicians getting pork barrel money to spend like kids in a candy store. That's a very small group of people making this happen. But commonality doesn't matter. What matters is, they can make the decisions, and they are doing this, and anyone who can't see this is a good idea needs to get on the Hope Train and trust them. It smells funny that this is the reaction to people's demands for improvement. People are upset -- not dissatisfied, upset -- with the way things are. This is a powerful motivator, and very real change grows rapidly from its soil. Once it germinates and sprouts, that is. The stimulus bill is basically shutting down the alternatives that can be used to affect this change while keeping the immobile guardians of the status quo in place. What a surprise.
This also reinforces my belief that McCain was sold out by the Republicans. McCain's stances had always been fiscal responsibility, and he would have been happy to let banks and companies that got stupid die off like ordinary citizens would. He was already talking policies restricting federal spending and Wall Street was reacting accordingly with merger talks. Both parties didn't want the blank checks to stop coming, and Obama was basically promising to keep the tap open. So they allowed the "McCain is Bush 2.0" propaganda to be spread by people who view politics through the prism of oversimplified dichotomy -- Left vs. Right, Liberal vs. Conservative, Democrat vs. Republican, Challenger vs. Incumbent, I'm Right vs. You're Wrong. Mouthpieces on talk shows took care of the rest of the support, saying that McCain never should have gotten the nomination because he isn't an intollerant hardliner like their personal faves Huckabee and Romney. Despite that, McCain was within about 10% of the popular vote, but its electoral votes that win elections and gave us the Obama "landslide".
It's cold outside. Too cold for things to grow. It's going to be cold for a long, long time....