Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 26, 2012

Another opinion on job creators


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— As I sat with my morning paper and hot coffee, it occurred to me that (the previous letter writer’s) editorial taking exception to Mr. (Smokey) Shott’s view of economics was published on Thanksgiving Day and the 49th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I couldn’t help but feel disappointment that Mr. Kennedy’s most famous and enduring words have taken a complete 180 degree turn in modern day America. It now reads, “Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you.”

The previous letter writer and Mr. Shott are engaged in debating the age old struggle between business and labor. The previous letter writer spends quite some time explaining the profit motive and other basic Economics 101 issues to us. But I see very little difference in a businessman wanting to make more money for his company and an employee wanting to be paid more money and receive more and better benefits.

The key word here is “more” and it is strongly attached to human nature. The entire free-market system of capitalism operates on the desire to improve one’s lot in life no matter what the scale; CEO or janitor. As (the previous letter writer) put it himself, “a bigger piece of the pie.” You can shuffle a deck of cards forever but when you lay the deck on the table, some are going to be on top, some in the middle and some on the bottom. So it is with life. The previous letter writer makes some excellent points and I agree with him on a couple of aspects. I respect his right to his opinion as I would hope everybody does.

His story of his work history clearly illustrates that we all view the world through the lens of our past life experiences. Personally I worked for a while, years ago, in a lamp factory in Pennsylvania for $1.25 an hour and no benefits. The working conditions were terrible and the bosses were brutal and unforgiving. For 40 hours of work, I cleared $32 a week.

Needless to say a good union would have came in handy in that place. But it was America in the 60s and I moved on. I landed a job in Michigan in a car factory where I made much more money and had the very best of benefits. I was also a proud member of the UAW.  This is where I witnessed the worst case of a union abusing a company. We could miss work and produce a $5 excuse from any number of doctors and they could not fire us.  Someone called the committee man every day complaining that the company had increased the speed on the assembly line. They would shut this million-dollar-an-hour assembly line down several times a day to do a time study for the union.  In later years I returned to my beloved West Virginia where I worked mostly in coal-related jobs between attending college off and on until I eventually managed to earn a master’s degree.  

Here I witnessed even worse examples of a union gone wild and abusing the companies.  The miners were making $100 a day in the 70s and they would strike if the bath house was out of toilet tissue. Many small operators went under because of the strength of the union. These miners would force a company to go under and then celebrate and cheer that they had won. Won what?

There are so many laws protecting workers nowadays that simply weren’t there in the pre-union days. And federal law requires these laws be prominently displayed in all work places. Surely (the previous letter writer) understands that a company cannot put people before profit to the extent that it bankrupts the company. We are at the edge of the so-called fiscal cliff, we are over $16 trillion dollars in debt, we are as broke as a convict, and in just a little over a year, some 33 million more people will be thrown into the health care system.

Finally, I am convinced that nothing I write here will change any of (the previous letter writer’s) or Mr. Shott’s views. It is not my purpose. It is simply a fundamental difference in the way we view the world.  I believe in less intrusive government, more personal responsibility, a free market economy and less dependence upon the government. I believe in getting a job and working for a living. The other side seems to believe in larger, regulation-riddled government, hand-outs from cradle to grave, and free stuff as a matter of right, and spending, spending, spending. The spending cannot be sustained if revenue is not raised.

And a tax on a segment of the population which would create enough revenue in one year to last the government a matter days at the current rate of wasteful spending is laughable at best. If the super rich are to be taxed more, then tax those making over a million dollars a year. Small businesses and people making $200,000 a year may sound like “super” rich to some of us poor country folks but it is not. If spending is “political speech” then the federal government needs to be told to keep their mouth shut!

J.R. Shuck

PrincetonAs I sat with my morning paper and hot coffee, it occurred to me that (the previous letter writer’s) editorial taking exception to Mr. (Smokey) Shott’s view of economics was published on Thanksgiving Day and the 49th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I couldn’t help but feel disappointment that Mr. Kennedy’s most famous and enduring words have taken a complete 180 degree turn in modern day America. It now reads, “Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you.”

The previous letter writer and Mr. Shott are engaged in debating the age old struggle between business and labor. The previous letter writer spends quite some time explaining the profit motive and other basic Economics 101 issues to us. But I see very little difference in a businessman wanting to make more money for his company and an employee wanting to be paid more money and receive more and better benefits.

The key word here is “more” and it is strongly attached to human nature. The entire free-market system of capitalism operates on the desire to improve one’s lot in life no matter what the scale; CEO or janitor. As (the previous letter writer) put it himself, “a bigger piece of the pie.” You can shuffle a deck of cards forever but when you lay the deck on the table, some are going to be on top, some in the middle and some on the bottom. So it is with life. The previous letter writer makes some excellent points and I agree with him on a couple of aspects. I respect his right to his opinion as I would hope everybody does.

His story of his work history clearly illustrates that we all view the world through the lens of our past life experiences. Personally I worked for a while, years ago, in a lamp factory in Pennsylvania for $1.25 an hour and no benefits. The working conditions were terrible and the bosses were brutal and unforgiving. For 40 hours of work, I cleared $32 a week.

Needless to say a good union would have came in handy in that place. But it was America in the 60s and I moved on. I landed a job in Michigan in a car factory where I made much more money and had the very best of benefits. I was also a proud member of the UAW.  This is where I witnessed the worst case of a union abusing a company. We could miss work and produce a $5 excuse from any number of doctors and they could not fire us.  Someone called the committee man every day complaining that the company had increased the speed on the assembly line. They would shut this million-dollar-an-hour assembly line down several times a day to do a time study for the union.  In later years I returned to my beloved West Virginia where I worked mostly in coal-related jobs between attending college off and on until I eventually managed to earn a master’s degree.  

Here I witnessed even worse examples of a union gone wild and abusing the companies.  The miners were making $100 a day in the 70s and they would strike if the bath house was out of toilet tissue. Many small operators went under because of the strength of the union. These miners would force a company to go under and then celebrate and cheer that they had won. Won what?

There are so many laws protecting workers nowadays that simply weren’t there in the pre-union days. And federal law requires these laws be prominently displayed in all work places. Surely (the previous letter writer) understands that a company cannot put people before profit to the extent that it bankrupts the company. We are at the edge of the so-called fiscal cliff, we are over $16 trillion dollars in debt, we are as broke as a convict, and in just a little over a year, some 33 million more people will be thrown into the health care system.

Finally, I am convinced that nothing I write here will change any of (the previous letter writer’s) or Mr. Shott’s views. It is not my purpose. It is simply a fundamental difference in the way we view the world.  I believe in less intrusive government, more personal responsibility, a free market economy and less dependence upon the government. I believe in getting a job and working for a living. The other side seems to believe in larger, regulation-riddled government, hand-outs from cradle to grave, and free stuff as a matter of right, and spending, spending, spending. The spending cannot be sustained if revenue is not raised.

And a tax on a segment of the population which would create enough revenue in one year to last the government a matter days at the current rate of wasteful spending is laughable at best. If the super rich are to be taxed more, then tax those making over a million dollars a year. Small businesses and people making $200,000 a year may sound like “super” rich to some of us poor country folks but it is not. If spending is “political speech” then the federal government needs to be told to keep their mouth shut!

J.R. Shuck

Princeton