Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stem Cells and the EFCA

Well, as I'm still not running at full speed (and haven't been on the blogroll since Saturday at best), I'm going to be quick on two easily polarizing things from the Obama administration.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research - To begin, the people who are all upset that President Obama just reversed the Bush administration's ban on it, suck it up. There's not a damned thing you can do about it for two years at a minimum, and four years at best. And this was something that Obama promised and delivered. And for those of you who voted Obama and are upset about it, you're idiots. Like I said, this was something Obama kept his word on.

As for the research itself. I'll leave it to the science community to decide on this one. I will recommend making damned sure you build some ethical standards, if for no other reason then to make sure that no one except the fanatical can complain.

The (Misnamed) Employee Free Choice Act - The subtitle says it all here. The idea of taking away the secret ballot and giving unions power to coerce people into signing until they are unionized, uh, no.

And before I go further, I should explain my view of unions. At some point, labor unions were necessary, as individual rights were being trampled too often by companies simply because they could. And I would never support legislation to obliterate the unions, as the threat of organization is a check when corporate ethics are lacking.

And second, there's the value of a trade union in enforcing quality. When they serve that function, I have no complaints, as there's a market force at work involved.

But the modern labor unions have become what all organizations that inbreed become: More interested in their own power than the well-being of their people. And most importantly, the adversarial relationship that union vs management creates rapes productivity.

The only hope is that the moderate support will collapse and this measure will die like it should.

I'll expand on thise ideas when I have to. Until then, have at it.

45 comments:

TAO said...

A Patrick,

In case you haven't noticed, if you factor our credit card and debt in general, most working and middle class families have not benefitted from the economic growth of the last 15 years. With unions representing only about 7% of our work force they have just about become irrelevant and obviously ineffective.

Now, I will agree with you about the inbreeding in organizations but what you need to think about is how upper level management and the boards of directors represent a vested interest and how much damage their inbreeding has caused our economy.

They represent the unionization of self interests.

Beth said...

With regards to the stem cell research, there has not been any promise that embryonic stem cells work, and adult stem cell reasearch is very promising. So I have issue with my tax dollars going to a useless cause (that is also riddled with ethical issues).

repsac3 said...

As far as unions, Tao made the point I was going to make; management is as prone to inbreeding & self-interest too, and as long as they are, unions are a check on such bad behavior. In a more perfect world, they'd each help keep the other more honestly working for the people (stockholders and workers) they claim to represent.

As far as stem cells, it seems like Beth is making a circular argument.

We barely used any embryonic stem cells in research over the last eight years, so there were few promising results. And because there were so few promising results from embryonic stem cell research over the last eight years, we ought not do research with them now.

I'm with you. Allow scientists to decide, rather than politicians. If it turns out that adult stem cells really are more promising than embryonic cells, then the time will quickly come when all those frozen kidsicles will be free to remain frozen forever and ever amen, or lovingly discarded as biomedical waste, the way God intended.

To my knowledge, there is little fortune or fame in doing research on anything not likely to yield tangible, reliable, and verifiable results. If embryonic stem cells really ain't it, few scientists will work with them, and a more "free market" ban on their use will naturally occur.

Arthurstone said...

Hmmmm.

Employers oppose the Employee Free Choice Act because unions 'trample' on workers rights.

Uh. No. that would be...wait, employers.

This is a good bill for working people.

Beth said...

My argument is not circular, there has been research done on embryonic stem cells and they have not shown promising. Just because the government didn't pay for research doesn't mean it wasn't done. And if you say that we should leave decisions to scientists and not politicians, then would you agree then that our politicians should not be funding them?

Arthur, are you kidding me? Workers should be free to work wherever they want, whenever they want. If they don't like it, they can leave. If a company mistreats its employees and people actually leave, then the company will either go under OR they will start being nice. That is market forces at work.

Dave Miller said...

Beth writes: If a company mistreats its employees and people actually leave, then the company will either go under OR they will start being nice.

If you were a worker making a good salary in an area where there were not a lot of other options, [think the coal region here] and had a family to support, would you leave?

While there are problems in unions, as Patrick has noted, I am sure you would not like to live with the choices you have just posed.

Yes people have shown for years that they will put up with a lot of abuse to keep a job. But is it just?

Beth said...

What's the difference between my scenario and a union-led strike whereas in both the workers are sitting idle and not making money? Oh yeah, in my scenario, the worker gets to chose, in the union-led strike the worker is forced to stop making an income.

rockync said...

Workers with little education and few job positions to choose from are kept from protesting mistreatment by fear.
Which is why unions formed in the first place. Job conditions today would not be what they are had we not first had unions to organize and empower workers to keep them from being exploited and abused.
There are a lot of problems with unions today, much of which has to do with "organized" crime groups taking over and thus swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction.
Fact is, if workers are treated fairly by their employers to start, they usually feel no compulsion to vote in a union.
Unions don't "force" a strike - the option tostrike is voted on by the members.

Arthurstone said...

Sorry Beth.

'Like it or lump it' it is over.

Just like you, workers have rights.

Of course there are corrupt union leaders. That in itself doesn't negate the need for labor to have the right to organize but certainly obligates them to keep their own houses in order which by and large is the case.

As long as ownership abuses labor, which will be forever, workers have the right to organize.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

"Workers with little education and few job positions to choose from are kept from protesting mistreatment by fear."

I don't accept your premise. On the one hand, you're stating that workers have few job positions to choose from stating "little education" as being reason for this. To that assertion, the obvious question would be "What precludes them from aquiring additional education?"

Fear? Arguably not. It may very well be a number of different reasons the least of which is likely fear.

So then, it is quite unlikely that "fear" (as you assert) is what precludes these workers from protesting mistreatment. Instead I would argue that it has much more to do with the law of probability.

It is (as you state) not out of fear that they fail to protest mistreatment. Rather their failure to do so is based on (again as you state) the fact they they have "little education" thus their job opportunities are much fewer.

TAO said...

Soapy,

Yep, the law of probability. CEO's pick their board of directors and they are approved by the shareholders. The probability is that the CEO is going to pick people who support him not challenge him.

A CEO serves on boards and there is a high probability that a CEO will swap board appointments with those that he appoints to his board.

The board of directors set their own pay and that of the CEO. Their is a high probability that that the CEO will get what he wants from his board because he can turn around and benefit his board members on their boards.

Last time I checked Unions had to get management to agree to wages...while boards the agreement is a predetermined fact.

If you live in a coal mining area the probability of their being high paying jobs that is slim to none. Industry has a way of concentrating.

While theoretically one can move, can go to school, can seek to improve the reality is that one most likely has to balance a home and a family in the decision making process thus that limits ones options. Besides moving and improving require money and if you have none you are pretty much locked in.

A lack of education does breed fear and mistrust. I see it everyday. It also breeds a train of thought of 'knowing ones place."

That is quite prevelant in the South.

Thus everything becomes a vicious cycle.

I think it is funny that all apparel industry workers in Honduras are unionized. Yet, if you want a good shirt made you have to go to Honduras. The American apparel industry fought unions forever and now they are dead and out of business and the most anti union apparel companies are now in Honduras living quite comfortably with unionized labor.

The success of any company is based upon the quality of the workforce. After being in management and business for over 30 years I realize that it is the workforce that makes a company. If management cannot figure that out then let unions step in and help them understand that concept.

Ah, but most management doesn't give a shit about their company success they are only concerned with their petty self interests and that is why our economy is the mess that it is today. I have traveled all over the south the last few months trying to find companies I could subcontract work to and I am watching what is left of the american apparel industry drop out of business...the only companies still standing are the ones that pay their employees high wages and treat their employees like part of management.

Unionization is just a sign that management is stupid and self centered. Management needs to realize that you do not bust unions and benefit...you make them obselete by better management. Unions are just a crutch for piss poor management.

Fruit of the Loom was once a company called Union Knitwear and as Union Knitwear that company started a program in the depression of providing free food for lunch and free milk. They grew up to be Fruit of the Loom, Union Knitwear achieved production that no one has ever been able to match...and for the cost of a carton of milk. Fruit of the Loom is now 'studying' what made Union Knitwear successful....talk about stupidity.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

"...that company started a program in the depression of providing free food for lunch and free milk."

Just one problem. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

TAO said...

Soapy,

You are right, for a free lunch and a carton of milk the company got dedicated and hardworking employees. Because the company cared about its employees the employees cared about the company.

The company got alot more for its milk and a meal than Wall Street for its multi million dollar bonus plans.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

The nurses' union in California has successfully obtained a mandate on a nurse-to-patient ratio and on overtime, including overtime pay for hours worked past 8 in a single shift.

These and other measures put forth by nurses' unions protect patients' rights by protecting the nurses who take care of them from overloads and fatigue from situations such as mandatory overtime, which frequently occur due to the nursing shortage and which are proven to cause an increase in medication errors and other accidents. The 12 hour shift has actually been shown to do the same thing vs an 8 hour shift but the hospitals so far refuse to budge on it and most nurses will tell you they would rather work the three than four.

In NC, I have no union to support measures such as these; therefore I work in an environment where my employer is free to give me as many patients to take care of as they want (until I refuse to accept the assignment, which, while legally acceptable, generally tends to put one on the path to being fired), institute mandatory overtime at will, force nurses on occasion to work the legal limit of 16 hours and basically have their way with us.

Union? You're damn right I want one. The power and greed of the corporation makes them willing to run on the leanest mixture possible at the cost of poor patient care. Nurses don't come cheap, agency nurses even more expensively. By preventing unionization they maintain the upper hand and the unchecked ability to create such enviroments that further line their pockets at the expense, ultimately, of the patients they claim to care about. The nurses are caught in the middle between needing a job and wanting to provide good care. Some of them quit, some can't afford to. And when the error occurs, it isn't legally due to the hospital giving the nurse an insane overload or making her work 60 hours in 5 days: it falls on the nurse, who has a bigger responsibility than anyone could physically, mentally or emotionally bear. She'll not only get personally sued, she'll also lose her job, which was the one who put her in the situation in the first place.

That's a no win situation.

You're damn right I want a union.

Patrick M said...

Tao: You remake my point. That's why I included the phrasing "...what all organizations that inbreed become: More interested in their own power ....."

BTW, it's the 7% number that's got them trying to ram this through.

Beth: That's why it's in my tossup category.

Repsac: See my response to Tao and Beth.

Arthur: Employers oppose the E(no)FCA because it allows unions to unionize without a vote. Which means it makes it really easy for unions to get in. And in a non-union competitive market (and the current recession), it's a business killer.

Also there's the 49% that never had their say on whether they wanted a union (as the union doesn't have to talk to them).

The fact is that if a company is bad enough, they will get unionized. Or move to Mexico. Or (most likely if this passes) get unionized, then move to Mexico.

And one more thing:

As long as ownership abuses labor, which will be forever...,

If that's the way you think, there's no chance ever that we'll agree.

Rocky: Fact is, if workers are treated fairly by their employers to start, they usually feel no compulsion to vote in a union.

The problem is, under E(no)FCA, they WON'T get to vote.

Patrick M said...

Saty: From what you've described (and shared with me elsewhere), your workplace does sound like a place that does need a union, primarily for the trade union reason I highlighted.

Arthurstone said...

Oh woe is us. Unions will destroy business. Again. A tired argument made since the beginning of labor efforts to organize.

As if business isn't entirely capable of doing that all on its very ownsome. Which, overwhelmingly, has been the case forever. Crappy management is a far bigger threat to business than labor unions. Always was. Always will be.

Arthurstone typed:

'As long as ownership abuses labor, which will be forever...,'

Patrick replied:

If that's the way you think, there's no chance ever that we'll agree.

Let me see if I've got this right. Government can do nothing right and works day and night to enslave us while management/ownership/industry struggle mightily to bring about a just and harmonious society merely by pursuing their self interest through that marvelous mechanism, the 'free market'.

Watch the ongoing abuses uncovered 'where America shops' & tell that to the folks in Libby, Montana as only a couple of examples.

Work rules, worker safety and the environment all are improved by the ability of labor to organize.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

I just got sent home from work for wearing the same pair of red shoes that I have been wearing to work since August of 2008.

The reason given is that "they don't match and they have no strap on the back".

This is the same pair of shoes that my boss has seen me wear at least once a week.

The hospital has chosen, in lieu of simply telling me to get a different pair of shoes before I come back to work tomorrow, to pay an agency nurse $6/hr more than I make to cover my patients while I'm sent home.

We were also told collectively that we are no longer permitted to wear long sleeved shirts (winter be damned) because "they are an infection control issue"; however, a long-sleeved lab coat is permissible. What possibly could be the difference between the long sleeves on the lab coat and the long sleeves on a shirt is for epidemiologists to decide, apparently.

You're GD right I want a union.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

My take on it Saty...

Those who employ set the standard for what they will permit as appropriate for work attire. The fact that you got away with wearing your red shoes doesn't necessarily infer that you were permitted to do so.

If I don't want facial tattoos or facial piercings on my workers while they're running the front counter tough beans.

Don't like it? Then open up your own business.

So what's a Union gonna do? Strongarm the employer to allow you to wear your red shoes because you want to wear your red shoes?

Now, if the company didn't have a prior policy preventing you from wearing those shoes I could see your beef (to a point). Even still, they have the right to implement policy if they so desire.

Name: Soapboxgod said...

Somehow I think we've become more than a bit misguided when unfair labor practices extends to not permitting employees to wear open back shoes and a long sleeve shirt of your choosing.

For the record, lab coats and scrubs are made of a material which is much conducive to a sterile environment. Certainly much more so than whatever else you may be wearing.

And here I thought it was about caring for the patients. Silly me....

TRUTH 101 said...

Yeah Saty. Go open your own hospital like Soapbax Guy says. That will teach em.

Patrick M said...

Arthur: I have a problem with anyone who assumes that private entities (businesses) only treat their workers like a commodity.

I have worked for a few companies. And for the most part, they have paid me a fair amount for the work I have performed. My current job pays a little low, but there are fun perks, opportunities to work at home, and when it is slow, I get to blog (as I'm doing right now).

For the most part, you trade work for cash. And companies that reward this will succeed. Companies that don't ultimately fail. Or get unionized.

Unless the government starts bailing them out. Because unlike private business, government has the power to legally force people and companies to do things. And they get power over the workplace as well (as in deciding contracts) if the E(no)FCA passes (I was reading the text of it).

Name: Soapboxgod said...

"Yeah Saty. Go open your own hospital like Soapbax Guy says. That will teach em."

Now you're gettin' it. Can't stand the heat stay the hell out of the kitchen.

Toad734 said...

"More interested in their own power than the well-being of their people"

Well, you did elude to this but that is why unions still have a place, more often than not its the corporation that becomes more interested in their own power than the well being of their people...or a country/government for that matter.

Beth said...

Why is there the presumption of evil on the part of the corporation? Therein lies the problem. Who knows if union workers who are the best at what they do are actually being paid less than they could negogiate on their own terms, knowing that their work is superior to another's?

Name: Soapboxgod said...

That's exactly it Beth. This notion that the evil corporation is out to undercut the little guy operates on a false premise; that being that the employee is basically a slave afforded some measure of protection or right.

An employee is not a slave. An employee can leave his place of employment at any given time. A slave cannot.

As an employee, you seek an employer. Conversely, as an employer, you seek employees. It is a free exchange. While it seems a great many would like to believe that a union is wholly necessary because the employer holds the upper hand in the contract, nothing could be further from the truth. The employee has a commodity [labor] just as precious as the commodity that the employer has. Contrary to belief, there is no more such thing as "collectivized labor" than there is a collectivized stomache or a collectivized brain.

Patrick M said...

Soapster: Not to take away from your points, but I can confirm that Satyavati is having more serious issues (as in ones affecting patient care) at work, and this relatively trivial thing is simply a symptom of the conditions which make unions a necessary evil. Maybe she'll share that story.

Toad: Yeah. That's why I'd never say unions should be banned.

Beth and Soap: With this there is somewhat of an in between. I will point out that employees, as individuals, should have the right to form groups to increase their power in negotiating their wages, etc, when necessary. Especially when issues of quality are involved.

Good companies don't need unions. But that's why there is a process to create unions (which the E(no)FCA will short Circuit). And the threat of revolt (which is what unionization is) is a balance for the companies who would do otherwise.

TRUTH 101 said...

I agree with you Patrick. If all companies were just and fair with their employees there would be no need for unions.

I have close relatives that are nurses. They get no scheduled time off. If they get sick they are docked so many points. If they refuse overtime no matter what the reason they are charged so many points. They are slaves and it's the same treatment wherever they go.

I feel bad for Sati because I think the Carolinas are right to scab states. That makes it incredibly difficult to organize because suck asses will want the union benefits and security but refuse to pay the dues that pay for the representation.


Good luck to you Sati.

Mike's America said...

Patrick: Only ONE post from you this week?

I hope you have a doctor's note to explain your lapse in posting.

Sorry, but liberal fatigue isn't valid anymore. Besides, you LOVE moonbats don't you?

David Williams said...

10's of thousands Americans Lossed their Jobs [ and Rush Limbaugh wants More of this???....

Because it will Guarantee what he Thinks will be 1 Term for President Obama, Not because he Disagrees with his Policies, its because having a Republican President is his ONLY CONCERN....

Petty, Triteful, Low Leveled, Self Absorbed, Self Centered, Self Serving, Evil, Mean Spirited and Lower Than the Lowest Life Form, to Wish that Obama Fails..

If Obama and his Administration Fails...

America will Fail and Americans will Lose their Jobs and Homes.

Rush and Sean have a Life Time of Wealth, Not the Average American.

Its Easy for Filthy Rich Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to Wish Obama Fails.

They have the Golden Parachute, We Average Americans...DON'T ...

Rush Limbaugh is nothing but a self-absorbed nut spewing hatred and radical devisiveness. This country does not have time for either! For him to want this president to fail, he is basically saying he wants this country to fail. Nothing patriotic about that. I don't think his precious extremist conservatives really want a country plunging headlong into a depression, nor do I think any one of them has the talent to turn this mess around, especially when their policies of the last 10 years precipitated this disaster. Go away, Rush you and your kind had their heyday and look where it has gotten us.

Patrick M said...

Mike: I'll get the tooth cut out on Monday. And I'll detail it all in my AOTW post.

David: Why the fuck are you harping about Rush Limbaugh? I thought we were talking about something totally different.

The only reason I don't delete your probably-pasted diatribe is so I can make fun of the size of your dick (pebble in a can is the analogy that springs to mind).

Now if you have something substantive to add, fine. If not, go handjob your MoveOn(left).org spank buddies and stop filling my comment section with crap.

Beth said...

We need to know the David Williams are out there, Patrick, we need to try to understand where they are coming from in order to point out the error of their thought process.

You and I, see, we base our beliefs on the history of this nation. We know that our Constitution at it's inception was a RADICAL idea to the world, probably people scoffed at it's audacity, said it could never work.

But it did work, as a matter of fact, in our country's relatively short history, we became the world's only super power. People desired to come here, they still do, because this is the land of opportunity. We EARNED this greatness, from the loyalty of our military who fought for it, to the workers who worked their ass off to make our country great, because they reaped the benefits of their own toil.

No other nation has ever had the freedoms we have, and it is for these freedoms that we cannot stop even the David Williams' be quieted, we need to hear them so that we can respond with great confidence why we KNOW our way of thinking is the RIGHT way of thinking, because our way is based on history. Their side cannot point to any history of any other country that can boast what we can.

Patrick M said...

Beth in order to point out the error of their thought process.

What thought process?

As for silencing him, I do have the option of comment moderation. I just like ridicule more.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Mike,

Patrick doesn't love moonbats. The difference between him and you is this: He doesn't act like a lunatic, call us commies, and delete our comments when we post our opinions on his blog.

That's why his blog is doing so well, and yours isn't. (I have to admit I haven't looked in on it in months, since it's a complete waste of time, but the last time I did look you had about 3 commenters.)

TRUTH 101 said...

Patrick reminds alot of a guy that used to comment on my old site. he was real smart but most of his posts were just to call me dirty words. But I'd get 3 or 400 hits in a day when all we did was insult and curse at each other. It shows that blogs are first and foremsy entertainment. Patrick you low down right wing moth$#$%%^^^r.

Glad I could help raise your hitcount Buddy.

Patrick M said...

101: And yet you keep coming back, then parrot off my ideas.

BTW, I'm angling to be the next recipient of your new "Shithead of the Week" award.

And when have I come to your site and cursed you?

Maybe it's just dirty talk as I sit here and stroke my nipples.

At least if you're going to come here and curse me you could just use the word 'motherfucker' rather than adding symbols to distract from your grammar.

Remember: "The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television" is art!

TRUTH 101 said...

I have always been an original Pat. There is nothing you are doing here that I didn't do at my new site or my old. And I'll take your invitation to heart. I was trying to get away from most of the real vulgar stuff when I ceased THE ORACLE SPEAKS. But if you need it that bad, who am I to deny a deluded right wing wannabe like yourself a good midwestern motherfucking. Happy Mothers Day Mother Fucker...

And visit my old nemesis Senor Badass sometime. He'll give you an education.

TRUTH 101 said...

Better idea Patrick. You have a good blog here and I don't want to see it polluted like many others end up because a few people think the F word is wonderful. I'll try to behave myself and if you don't dig my program I'll go away when you tell me to.

Patrick M said...

101: No one is 100% original. The secret is to steal from the best. And be obvious enough that it's tribute.

And I understand the desire to leave rank obscenity out of it. Which is why I try to reserve all obscenity for either something humorous, or in dealing with wingnuts or moonbats that only come to pollute. And if all they did was curse and carry on, they'd eventually find their comments struck.

But I so dearly like the F-word. As long as we're not talking about "friend." Because when I hear that from the ladies, it means I don't get the other f-word. Then I use that word. Copiously. While downloading porn. :)

TRUTH 101 said...

I was all set to make you the next Shithead of the week and you go and say something insightful.

Arthurstone said...

Shaw typed:

Mike,

'Patrick doesn't love moonbats. The difference between him and you is this: He doesn't act like a lunatic, call us commies, and delete our comments when we post our opinions on his blog.'


Mike takes it pretty hard when one of his three readers fails to make an appearance. I can understand that. Having a tough time at MA these days. One of their deeper thinkers likens the Obama administration situation to Germany in the 1930's.

Of course they miss Patrick.

dmarks said...

I've seen the greed of a nurse's union try to bankrupt a hospital. When they demand pay hikes, they are working against the interests of the patients, as the pay hikes force the hospital to cut back on care, raise prices, and do with fewer nurses.

TRUTH 101 said...

Where have you seen this Dmarks? Do tell my friend.

dmarks said...

Truth: The Petoskey, Michigan one. "Northern Michigan Hospital". The union's demands had nothing to do with health care: more money (greed) and forcing nurses to be Teamsters members against their will. There was a strike, and the hospital basically bypassed the union and hired dedicated professionals to care for patients. After all, health care should not be held hostage to greed. Many nurses remembered why they became nurses to begin with (patient care) and crossed the picket line to work again.

Last time I heard, the union's disastrous ploy did not pay off, and the hospital nurses voted to decertify the union. Good riddance.

TAO said...

Thanks dmarks, for the following:

"After all, health care should not be held hostage to greed."

Greatest plug I ever saw for nationalizing healthcare!