A friend of mine went to visit a friend in Brazil. He returned and told me what he'd seen. "Connie," he said, "there is no middle class. Everyone lives on one side or the other of the iron gates." The unions built the middle class in this country. Without union manufacturing jobs and unionization of textile workers and farm workers, we'd have been like Brazil from the get-go.
The plantation mentality is alive and well in Alabama in the year 2009. The haves and the have-nots. It's not pretty. The gap is widening between the rich & poor. The unions are trying to preserve the manufacturing jobs, but the jobs they're trying to preserve will eventually cease to exist. How many punch key operators or elevator operators do you see working today? Technology causes job evolution. New jobs are created. Old jobs fade away.
It's easy to blame unions for GM's fall, but did they have to keep producing cars nobody wants to buy? Is it the machinist's decision or the electrician's as to which cars are produced? I am reminded of this tongue-in-cheek prediction: Factories in the future will have only a machine, a man, and a dog. The man will feed the dog, and the dog will bite the man if he touches the machine.
Honda and Hyundai are doing well in Alabama because they manufacture cars that people want, and because there are no unions. Slave wages for workers keep car costs down and employees perpetually defeated. WalMart has people whose full time job is to bust unions. If they had to provide for their workers insurance and a living wage, the Walton family might not make the Forbes list of richest people ($75,500,000,000 as of March 09 - no question which side of the gates they're on...) Why can't companies both create popular products AND treat their people right? Greed. If money is your god, there is never enough.
When we lost the middle class, we lost the war, say the goldbugs.
What can you do? Prepare to live frugally, and/or work your hiney off to create & build a business that prospers, so that when you reach the big time, you can live on the "right" side of the gate. Do us a favor when you get there, though. Don't forget where you came from.
Who are you going to treat right today?