Monday, March 9, 2009

CNBC Brings You This "Breaking News!"

The richest man in the world opposes the Employee Free Choice Act.


Becky said...

I am shocked, SHOCKED. . .

Actually, I am a little surprised, because I thought of him as somewhat progressive-ish.

And I remember an article that made a big impression on me, back in the run up to the 2004 election. It was called something like, "Millionaires for Bush, Billionaires for Kerry"--oh, here it is--and it talked about how the truly out-of-sight rich don't give a crap whether their top marginal tax rate is 33 or 39 percent; they have enough money that they can focus on other issues they care about, like the environment, but that millionaires don't feel financially secure, as amazing as it seems.

Then again, this is a business issue, but I am surprised that Buffet would misrepresent what the ECFA does.

Better Than Machines said...

I think you hit the nail right on the head.

Buffet is somewhat progressive-ish. He campaigned for Obama and calls for raising taxes on the rich. Not bad. But that's because he has already made, according to the article, what Wall Street veterans call "f*** you money." (That article's a good read by the way.)

I don't know lots of other billionaires to compare him to, but you can definitely see it in Mr. Gates. Like you say, these guys don't feel threatened by the minor changes to tax rates that Democrats and Republicans quibble over.

I would add that the only thing the billionaire class does feel threatened by is anything that smacks of radicalism, anything that might shake the system from which they benefit so dearly. And as modest as it really is, the Employee Free Choice Act does have the ring of some long-slumbering radicalism. Or, it at least reminds the billionaires of a time in our history when radical ideas were not a laughing stock. And maybe that's a little scary.

I will raise some of these scary ideas in upcoming posts.

Elizabeth said...

We saw a protest outside the White House yesterday regarding the Employee Free Choice Act (protesting in favor of it, that is). I have the flier here, and here's one of their interesting statistics:

"8 corporate industry associations (with members like Bank of America nad Wal-Mart) spent $134.8 million on lobbying in 2008. That's $258,000 per member of Congress....millions of that was spent opposing the Employee Free Choice Act."

It would be more compelling if they gave an exact number, but that would probably take too much time digging through lobbying reports...

jen said...

Card check recognition is hardly a scary radical idea. Unions have been winning recognition without a "secret ballot" for years.

I think we need to remember that one can be both genuinely progressive and have legitimate concerns with EFCA.

Better Than Machines said...

Liz, I was gonna go to that rally! It was all set for Tuesday, and then they sent out a notice at the last minute saying, "Woops, it's on Monday." The Business-Republican coalition may be breaking apart in lots of ways right now, but EFCA is going to make Republicans look super bold and super united, because they will have more money flowing in than they know what to do with.

Jen, you're right on all three counts. Card check ain't scary or radical. But I think a growing, confident labor movement is both of those things, at least to some people. If we ignore for a second what people are saying back and forth about card-check, I don't hear anyone arguing that EFCA would not help the labor movement grow. And I think that's what this really comes down to--whether we want a stronger labor movement or not. Procedural issues aside, I think this is sort of a litmus test on how people generally feel about unions.

So Buffet may be cool in many ways, but he's not a union man, and why would he be? The super-rich can afford to hike taxes on themselves without even noticing, but a rising labor movement risks bringing more drastic measures into the national discussion.