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Surprisingly Not From The Onion

Attention Jürgen Habermas:

To Protest Hiring of Nonunion Help, Union Hires Nonunion Pickets
WASHINGTON—Billy Raye, a 51-year-old unemployed bike courier, is looking for work.

Fortunately for him, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters is seeking paid demonstrators to march and chant in its current picket line outside the McPherson Building, an office complex here where the council says work is being done with nonunion labor.

"For a lot of our members, it's really difficult to have them come out, either because of parking or something else," explains Vincente Garcia, a union representative who is supervising the picketing.

So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage—$8.25 an hour—to walk picket lines. Mr. Raye says he's grateful for the work, even though he's not sure why he's doing it. "I could care less," he says. "I am being paid to march around and sound off."

Protest organizers and advocacy groups are reaping an unexpected benefit from continued high joblessness. With the national unemployment rate currently at 9.5%, an "endless supply" of the out-of-work, as well as retirees seeking extra income, are lining up to be paid demonstrators, says George Eisner, the union's director of organization. Extra feet help the union staff about 150 picket lines in the District of Columbia and Baltimore each day. [...]

The union's Mr. Garcia sees no conflict in a union that insists on union labor hiring nonunion people to protest the hiring of nonunion labor.

He says the pickets are not only about "union issues" but also about fair wages and benefits for American workers. By hiring the unemployed, "we are also giving back to the community a bit," he says.

Performative contradictions in action!

You should read every last word of this

Two Podcasts on Healthcare

Steven Lipstein joins EconTalk for an enlightening examination of the economic forces faced by hospitals. I was shocked to find out how strongly Medicare policies affected the entire medical market.

Dr. Michael Newman joins Science Friday to discuss how Medicare reimbursement rate cuts affect doctors in private practice.

The Fruits of Citizen's United

While visiting my parents I had the opportunity to watch a few hours of broadcast television. This ad caught my eye:

That is good television, clever and funny. I suspect that I wouldn't agree with the organizations behind the advertisement on many issues. But I am happy that these people have the right to broadcast their views. Lets hope that the senate Democrats are unsuccessful in their attempts to roll back our new rights with the DISCLOSE Act and that Obama doesn't get a chance to appoint a fifth liberal justice to the Supreme Court.

Someone please explain how the working class has a chance . . .

to improve their financial condition without strong labor union. Yes, a very small percentage will fall into something that jumps them to the top but the average person isn't going to talk himself into a raise on his own.

I've been thinking about this for years. I can't think of any system in which the top 10% will NOT accumulate 90% of the assets unless there is a union demanding that the workers get most of the benefits of increased production efficiency.

Monster Up Days

Monster up days in the stock market, like today, are signs of a bear market. In the past 3 months, we've had four days of >2.5% gains on the Dow.

May 10: 3.8%
May 27: 2.8%
Jun 10: 2.7%
Jul 07: 2.8%

These events restore just enough confidence periodically to engender a sense of complacency before the next leg down.

Restricted airspace

I'm not sure why or how, but the New York Times reported on the difficulties newer airlines face in the U.S., in what is by no stretch of the imagination a "free market":

In the airline industry, the fittest do not always survive. But that has not stopped start-up carriers like Virgin America from trying.


Industry experts offer a long list of challenges faced by start-up carriers, as well as upstarts like Southwest and JetBlue. That list includes access to take-off slots and gates at desirable airports, restrictions on foreign investment in American airlines, and rules preventing foreign carriers from flying within the United States — all hurdles that Virgin America has had to overcome.


“King Solomon couldn’t start a U.S. domestic airline these days,” said Hubert Horan, an aviation consultant. “No matter how well they’re run, it’s tough for any airline that’s small to survive.”


“Here are these well-run efficient airlines — people like them, they have low costs — but they can’t get the badly run inefficient airlines to go away,” he said. “In a competitive market, the people with the better-run companies ought to drive the high-cost companies out of business and that just doesn’t work in the airline industry.”

Boy, I wonder if there are any other industries that have similar structural problems...

Exciting Secession Week Action!

4th of July is coming up, which means we're celebrating Secession Week at Let A Thousand Nations Bloom. JW linked to the event earlier, and I'd like to give you pointers to each of the days topics in case one of them catches your eye:

And stay tuned the rest of the week as well, for discussion of state vs federal sovereignty disputes, and of course the American Revolution.

Santelli vs Liesman

Rick Santelli, who inspired the Tea Party movement, goes nuts on CNBC, especially against his usual sparring partner Steve Liesman.

While I appreciate Santelli's arguments being given a public forum, nobody, including him, is arguing as follows: "Yes, without government stimulus, unemployment might well have reached 25%, but that's the inevitable price to pay to get out of this recession, and in the long run, we would have been better off for it."

Secession Week

Secession week begins today at A Thousand Nations.