Costly and ineffective are two words that can be used to describe a countless number of government programs. The federal government’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is no exception. TAA doesn’t work; it costs taxpayers a lot of money; and it contains within it special treatment for union workers. Unfortunately, President Obama’s 2009 failed stimulus expanded TAA.
Besides being costly and ineffective, the TAA is unnecessary and unjust. It is unnecessary because just 1 percent of jobs lost in mass layoffs is caused by overseas relocations or import competition.
Also, the Department of Labor’s Dislocated Workers Program already provides basic services to laid-off workers, and they are not nearly as extravagant as those provided to recipients of TAA. The government should not single out one group of unemployed people to receive better benefits than the rest of unemployed Americans.
It is unjust for workers who have lost their job due to foreign trade to receive better benefits than a worker who loses a job due to other factors. As Heritage’s James Sherk explains:
The government should not discriminate between workers who lose their jobs because of trade and workers who lose their jobs for other reasons. The worker who loses his job to a foreign competitor should receive the same treatment as the Blockbuster employee who lost his job to Netflix.
HAGEL. The possibility that Chuck Hagel will be nominated as the next U.S. Defense Secretary has become more secure, in part due to Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) new position on the matter, despite well grounded reservations many hold about the nominee. Reuters reports:
Shelby joined almost every other Republican senator a week ago in delaying a vote on confirming Hagel in order to allow colleagues more time to examine Hagel’s record, said spokesman Jonathan Graffeo.
He now will vote for a motion to stop debate, ending the delay, and in favor of the nomination, barring any surprises between now and a confirmation vote…
Fifteen other Republican senators signed a letter to Obama on Thursday asking that he withdraw Hagel’s nomination, saying they respected the military service of the decorated Vietnam War veteran but that he lacked the bipartisan support and confidence to serve effectively.
The White House said it still supported Hagel and expected he would be confirmed. The Senate is expected to vote next week.
According to the Heritage Foundation’s labor policy analyst, James Sherk, it’s time to revamp labor laws in this country to meet the needs of 21st century workers, rather than maintain laws that were designed in the 1930s for “a primarily industrial economy that no longer exists.” One indication for this is the decline in both private sector union and government union membership.
One of the major ways unions are out of touch is that they base wages on union rates rather than on individual performance. Sherk breaks down why, in today’s workplaces, this practice makes no sense:
Nationwide, union members are less than half as likely to receive performance pay as non-union employees.
This holds back union members. A one-size-fits-all approach was workable when all employees brought essentially the same skills to the bargaining table. But the nature of work is changing. Employers have automated many rote repetitive tasks. At the same time, employers are also flattening the job hierarchy. The line between management and workers is blurring. Employers increasingly expect workers to exercise independent judgment and take initiative on the job. Employers want to reward—and employees want to be rewarded for—individual contributions that no collective contract can reflect.
Not only this, but federal labor law prohibits non-union employees from having a voice on the job.
Union bosses may be attached to outdated union practices, and members may think they benefit from being in a union. But as Sherk has explained elsewhere, union membership does not truly benefit workers, especially since unions have done precious little to innovate and compete to represent people.
Twinkie. The very utterance of the word evokes a sense of something both delicious and uniquely American. For over eighty years, the Twinkie has served as a cultural staple—bringing no small amount of joy to kids and adults alike. The “golden sponge cake with creamy filling” was invented in 1930 in Schiller Park, Illinois by a baker named James Dewar. The Twinkie became an instant success and later served as the flagship product of Hostess Brands.
Not content to be relegated within the narrow confines of snack food, the Twinkie transcended the wrapper to become something iconic. Innovative attendants at the Texas State Fair introduced the borderline magical deep-fried Twinkie to consumers. Urban legends about the supposed infinite shelf life of the Twinkie made their way into the cultural fabric both in film and on television.
But today, the urban legend has come to an end. The Twinkie is no more.
Hostess Brands has announced that its efforts to emerge intact from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing have collapsed due to a strike by union workers belonging to the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.
According to the Associated Press, President Obama will give states nearly half a billion dollars to spend on transportation and infrastructure projects. Here’s the kicker:
“The money initially was allocated to the Transportation Department for special projects known as earmarks from 2003 to 2006. The Republican-controlled House has since banned earmarks, which are provisions tucked into bills which direct taxpayer dollars to lawmakers’ pet projects.
“Obama has vowed to veto any bill that includes earmarks and has supported efforts by lawmakers in both parties to permanently ban the practice.
“But the White House official said money awarded by previous Congresses should be spent to improve the nation’s highways, transit systems and ports. Instead of letting the money sit idle, it should be used to put Americans back to work and repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, the official said.”