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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.


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There's Another Train Right Behind This One
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Most of you probably know that the Transit Workers Union in New York City is on strike. As Mayor Bloomberg just termed it, "a selfish illegal strike."

I'm not a big fan of unions. Of course since my wife happens to belong to one, I should probably remember on which side my bread is buttered. But the way I look at it, monopolies are bad; they drive up price and drive down quality to the consumer. A union is essentially a monopoly on the commodity of labor in an industry. The compensation packages for transit workers should be determined by the free market-- like my compensation is, like I bet your compensation is. If the union is looking to get more money for transit jobs than these jobs would pay on the open market, that is bad for me, bad for the city, and bad for the economy. If you don't like the job, do what ambitious people do and seek different, better-paying work. And if the existing wages paid for transit jobs aren't attracting sufficient talented candidates, the pay must be raised. Free market. Its what makes America great, its what makes our economy work.

This is a city, and indeed a region, that runs on mass transit the way an army runs on its belly. People in Dallas or Atlanta or Los Angeles probably can't relate to this, but if you live in Manhattan, chances are you don't even own a car. I don't even have a driver's license. (My wife does, and we do keep a car, and she drives to work most days. I take the bus or a subway.) Every day the strike goes on, kids are missing school, businesses are losing money. Christmas in New York, for goodness sake; we should be bopping to the jingle of the cash register, not the cursing of the commuter.

Finally, in the wake of 9/11, I am finding this strike to be particularly heinous. That's all I'll say about that.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 2:30 PM  


3 Comments:
At 12/20/2005 6:20 PM, Anonymous Annie said...   

But--as the granddaughter of a union man (Grandpa Berrol was a kosher baker in the East Bronx) and a teacher's daughter, I have to say that unions are needed in trades (notice I didn't say crafts or professions) in which the individual worker is realistically liable to worse harm and less opportunity than, say, a marketing guy or a copywriter. Thus: coal miners, longshoremen, teachers, transit workers. These people invest tme and effort in doing their jobs which we invest in marketing ourselves. They are also more prone to exploitation than an independent individual. That's the idea behind unons.

That they tae this opportunity to hold the whole city hostage, get in the way of educations and families and holiday joy--that stinks and they know it. That the men and women in the top ranks can be vile and corrupt--remember Albert Shanker? (Although most people say he was just crazy)--yes. A terrible flaw in the system. That negotitions bring out the ten-year-old tattletale in everyone--sickening.

However, in a world where some trades require an abnegation of the rugged-individualism ethic, unions are a neccesity.

That's my opinion. And of course I live 100 miles nrth of town and drive my own car, so it's easy for me to say.


At 12/20/2005 6:48 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

Yes, I know that is the case for unions. I tend to think that when unsafe workplace conditions and child labor were problems, we needed unions. Now we have laws that protect workers (e.g., OSHA.)

As for teachers, the missus is a teacher, and my exposure to the teachers union has left me believing that all the union does is protect bad teachers and prohibit principals from hiring and retaining the talented ones.

On the other hand, one might make a case that if not for this, no one would ever teach in say Harlem. Only, that is already the case-- way easier to get teachers in nice neighborhoods-- and if NYC could pay teachers based on merit, we'd have a better chance of competing with the surrounding suburbs or the best teachers (where a teacher can earn more.)

I know I'm a hard-ass on unions. I really should think twice, given the source of my medical benefits.


At 12/21/2005 2:08 PM, Anonymous Annie said...   

If there were no unions, would anyone ever have health benefits? I don't have any right now. And do you have a pension plan? I don't. I'm not saying that I'm in sympathy with the union people who have these things and then strike and cripple the city--but if they didn't have strikes and the threat of strikes to use as weapons, they wouldn't have the benefits.

This morning I watched Good Day New York and they were answering reader questions abot commting. "Isabelle G. lives in Astoria and works in the Bronx. How can she get to work?" Everyone just had a long laugh at that one. I personally think Isabelle is going to be Working from Home for a while. Usally I'm just grateful I no longer have the Life Eternal Astoria Cockroaches in my home. Now I feel even better about that move.
Not that I re-think it very often.


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