Barney's Line

In a radio interview a couple of weeks ago, Barney Frank told me that he found it disturbing that there was so much focus being put on the wages of union workers with regard to an auto bailout while no one seemed concerned with wages paid to workers in the financial sector when Wall Street got its package. He was suggesting a bias in favor of the higher paid white collar workers. The head of the UAW made the same argument yesterday.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is “solely” to blame for the collapse of negotiations on a $14-billion auto bailout deal that stalled in the Senate Thursday, Sen. Tom Colburn (R-Okla.) told on Friday. But UAW President Ron Gettelfinger in a press conference Friday morning blamed Republican senators, who he said resented his organization. Gettelfinger also said that since financial workers were not asked to make concessions in the $700 billion bailout, senators were applying a double standard to the UAW.
It's a good talking point, but not a fair comparison. As bizarre as Wall Street compensation may be, no one has argued that their meltdown was the result of paying workers too much.
“I don’t put the blame of their long-term troubles on the UAW,” Coburn told “I put it on the management of the auto companies who signed ridiculously expensive contracts with the UAW.”
It's true that the Big Three have been managed by Small Brains for decades, but unions, and their partners in the Democratic Party, must take responsibility for having created an environment in which being a good corporate citizen means dramatically overpaying workers.
But Dan Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the free market Cato Institute, told on Friday that the UAW is, in part, to blame. “UAW contracts have played a big role in pulling automakers into the crisis they now face,” said Griswold. “Those contracts are the single biggest difference between domestic and foreign-owned competitors operating on U.S. soil.”
The Democrats have their talking points, and they're good at sticking to them. Repeat a lie often enough, and it starts to sound real. Like there's some deep rooted societal bias against blue collar workers that makes us want to blame them for the failures of management. I just want to blame Democrats for the policies they that reward special interest groups at the expense of the best interests of the country. The programs and expectations they create are time bombs, set to go off whenever a bad economy comes.