Tuesday, March 01, 2011

In other news

I was listening to the news this morning, a story about American competitiveness and our vaunted ingenuity. The subject was 'the next big thing'. What device or system could we produce that would sell world wide and cement our reputation as the technological leader?

I don't remember who was being interviewed, but he said two things that got my attention. First, he said that American corporations are taxed at to high a rate. OK, that's pretty much dogma from any corporate spokesman. Even if we handed them gobs of money (and we do!) they'd kvetch about their excessive taxes.

Then it got interesting. He said that American corporations could be more competitive in global markets, except that they have difficulty finding suitably trained technical workers.

Do you see the connection? He complains that his taxes are too high, and in the next breath says he can't find educated workers. Excuse me? Doesn't paying those 'excessive' tax rates help to pay for schools, schools that presumably turn out a better educated, better trained workforce? It's in his company's best interest to support the schools that eventually supply his workers.

We're seeing this writ large in Wisconsin, where the governor and the majority party want to slash education spending while claiming that by doing so they'll produce more jobs. More jobs for whom? They're setting up conditions for an education and employment death spiral, as ill-prepared students enter the workforce and good jobs leave the state as employers look for better workers elsewhere. Even worse, those employers who remain will have to re-train workers, adding to their expenses. No doubt the blame will be placed on the public schools and the public school teachers, justifying yet more cuts to a 'dysfunctional' education system.

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Blogger Steve A said...

I think he actually MEANT to say " they have difficulty finding suitably trained technical workers willing to work at minimum wage."

In other news, Vought Aircraft in Dallas announced on Friday to its suitably trained technical workers that their pensions were cut off and other benefits curtailed, but not until early summer.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I think IBM tried to reduce or eliminate pensions, and they were hit with an age discrimination lawsuit as a result. The older workers kept their pensions, while younger ones went on the new plan.

LTV managed to spend their workers retirement funds, if I recall right, and someone should have gone to jail for that.

9:21 PM  
Blogger lemmiwinks said...

America is nuts. Sorry, but your country is governed by business interests, for business interests and little else. I know you're far from alone in that regard, Australia is marching steadily down the same path, but you guys have got it bad!

Taxes suck. No one likes taxes, but as you point out Ed, if you like/want/need the everyday things that we all take for granted; roads, schools, hospitals, police, fire services, parks, sporting fields, running water, a flushing toilet connected to a sewage treatment plant, etc etc, then you GOTTA PAY TAXES! Suck it up and deal with it people.

I still can't get my head around the fact that a company is supposed to pay it's retired employees' pensions. Nuts! That's part of what you pay taxes your whole working life for.

Don't even get me started on your health system. ;-)

5:14 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I promise that I won't get started on our alleged health care system either, Lemmiwinks. But I may do it at another time.

I'm not entirely sure I'd want a government run retirement system, largely because they're tempted to empty out the accounts and leave IOUs behind. My company's retirement account is more than 90% funded, while the state of Oklahoma is at less than 70% (I think). The state underfunded its pension plan by something like $15 billion dollars (US), and it wouldn't surprise me to see then try to dump that debt somehow.

The climate is getting mean and nasty. Wisconsin and Ohio are trying to eliminate collective bargaining and other union rights in an effort to curtail the power those unions exert in our elections. Yet of the top ten spenders in the last election cycle, two were unions and the other eight were right wing organizations. This is nothing but naked power politics trying to eliminate the only sources of left wing funding.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Hot Harry Truman said...


For a good dose of the irony of American "society", take a peek at http://likeatreestandingbywater.blogspot.com

8:15 PM  
Blogger lemmiwinks said...

To be honest I'm not sure of the details, but I do know that there's a government pension (it's a pittance though, and people have a lot of difficulty living off it even though as a pensioner they get discounts on taxes and so on). However all Australians have a Superannuation fund which they and their employer contribute to throughout their working life.

It's a fixed minimum percentage of your pay and the idea that it's supposed help fund your retirement. It's doubtful there'll still be a pension by the time I retire but it's unlikely any normal person could live off their Superannuation fund (at least for long).

Naturally, you're taxed on your Superannuation ;-)

3:36 PM  

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