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Obviously Michigan is a heavily unionized state, so why would it be going Right To Work?

There's enormous downward pressure on American wages coming from companies all over the world that can make things cheaper elsewhere than they can here. Our wages are uncompetitive in a lot of ways. So in effect what people in Michigan have to decide is do you want fewer jobs at higher wages or more jobs at lower wages?

What you see in this is they're saying 'we want more jobs and we're willing to take lower wages to get them.'

Private equity financier Rattner reveals exactly what America's financial and political elite think about the future of the American people. Notice what he said: "our wages are uncompetitive." You'll notice this is the exact opposite of what these same elites say when it comes to executive pay. For them, it is absolutely necessary to pay executives massive mountains of money because otherwise American companies won't be able to recruit the best talent and therefore won't succeed. (Never mind that they still get a golden parachute even if they run the business into the ground.) Your $25-an-hour talent is making this country uncompetitive. But a CEO's talent in making 10,000 times that is absolutely central to our competitiveness. We'd have zero percent unemployment if only we could get wages down to say, Bengali levels. What America needs is a healthy dollop of serfdom!

I don't even know what to make of the people who run this country these days. It is like I've been teleported back to pre-Revolution France without the noblesse oblige. Our financial and political masters don't appear to have ... for lack of a better term ... basic patriotism. It is like they view this country and its people as some sort of massive excercise in soul crushing. You want too much retirement. You want too much health care. You want too much pay. Germany is a large country that has lots of jobs at high wages with plenty of benefits effected by laws. But such things are too much to ask of her conquerors. So say our meritocratic betters.

It is enough to make me want to jump off a fiscal cliff.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Joe Klein (Time Magazine) on Rattner (8+ / 0-)

    Quote of the Day: Joe Klein on Rattner


    “I know Steve pretty well; I’ve had dinner at his house; we’ve had good conversations; our kids have played together. He also is lucky that he’s not going to jail.”

    – Joe Klein of Time Magazine

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

    by PatriciaVa on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 01:41:23 PM PST

  •  Oh yeah, Obama's Car Czar (0+ / 0-)

    resurfaces - all primed for another round of worker bashing.

    This time at least while he can spout off at will, his words won't have quite the bite as last time around.

  •  He's technically correct (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    puakev, OIL GUY, FG, VClib

    On a global basis, our wages are "uncompetitive."  

    That does not mean that we are paying not enough, or too much, on some subjective basis of "fairness."  

    What that means is that the entity paying the wages can find someone else to do it for less.  That's all that means.  And it's true -- if you are looking for workers to make something, often you can find workers overseas who are willing to do the same thing for less.  That's not a value statement of whether that's a good or bad thing -- it's just a statement of fact.  Very often (not all the time) there are other people willing to do the same thing for less. (Part of the problem, of course, is that workers here are more expensive because employers have to pay employees health insurance costs, increasing the amount "paid" to each worker, but that's a subject in and of itself.)

    And he's correct that, as a general matter, these kinds of things come down to a decision:  do you put priorities on higher wages or more jobs?  When there are people willing to do the same work for less, increasing wages makes a certain labor poll -- with those higher wages -- even more "uncompetitive," because the gap between what you have to pay workers here, and what others are willing to take for doing the same work, widens.  That means that more jobs will go to where people are willing to do the same thing for less.

    Rattner has a way of stating things in a stark, even harsh, way, as he did here.  But as an economic matter, he's correct.  When there is a large pool of other people willing to do the same work for less, that makes our wages "uncompetitive" globally.  (That's an economic statement, not a value statement.)  And the more that "uncompetitive" gap widens, the more jobs will go to the lower wage pool.

    "Competitive" or "uncompetitive" is not the same as "fair" or "unfair."  It is based on a purely economic question:  can you get someone with the qualifications and skills you want to do the same job for less money? The fewer specific skills and qualifications needed (in the opinion of the people doing the hiring) the larger the pool of potential workers to fill those spots, and that tends to drive the wages down.  

    •  Funny how this logic seems to get lost (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, tardis10

      once one gets a big corner office.

      At that point, it becomes a race to see how high can salaries climb, rather than finding the cheapest paper pusher possible.

      Even more amusing that Rattner's job could be done by any reasonably efficient bookeeper in Finland.

      •  This is a matter of opinion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Even more amusing that Rattner's job could be done by any reasonably efficient bookeeper in Finland.
        And the people whose opinions matter are not you or me, but the people who hire him to perform services.  They look at the alternatives and make a decision as to whether they can get someone they are just as happy with for less.  

        We all do this to some extent.  I'm a lawyer with more years of practice than I like to admit.  My hourly rate is certainly  more expensive than a lot of lawyers in my city.  But because of what I've done over my career, people are willing to pay more to hire me than to hire some other people. Potentially, a lawyer with far less experience and less of a "track record" could do what I do -- the question is whether the people hiring a lawyer think that other lawyers who are cheaper can do "the same job" as me.  That's their decision to make.  If I can't find people who think my hourly rate is worth it, I'll lower my hourly rate.

        That's how things work.  

        •  What planet are you on? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Hamlet

          I traded muni bonds for years. I was very good at it and made a lot of money. There was never any question in my mind that I wasn't any smarter than any reasonably successful drug dealer from my old neighborhood. In fact, i'd say I was probably less skilled having less life threatening obsticles to navigate. I got there because of luck and connections like everyone else. Sure I made the most of it, but it was hardly anything close to a free market.

          When I left the Marine Corps and went to NYU, that was the first thing I noticed about mid level white collar professionals: how highly they think of themselves relative to their actual ability. Not to mention how little they know and understand what actual merit and acheivement really is.

          You need a coupla tours in intense urban combat methinks.

    •  This frequently is framed "fair vs the numbers" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's important to remember that the calculations that generate "the numbers" have inherent and intended biases.

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 02:49:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We need a wages to return on wages productivity (0+ / 0-)

      measure. as well as a return on CEO expenses.  Our wages wouldn't look so globally high if productivity is measured versus wages.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 07:19:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, there is something wrong with us that (0+ / 0-)

    100% of nothing is good & we worship evil rich people too much. As long as someone else is doing worse than us, that is how many people vote.

    I curse the "framers" for creating a bad system where rich people always benefit at everyone else's expense. They didn't predict that people more evil than King George would be successful in destroying us by using our laws against us.

    Tipped & rec'ed BBB!

    (R's) take those tired memes and shove 'em, Denise Velez Oliver, 11/7/2012.

    by a2nite on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 02:06:51 PM PST

    •  I did not know King George was evil. (0+ / 0-)

      I think we have to stop thinking rich means evil. There are plenty of rich people that are evil and plenty of poor people that are evil. I guess it depends on how a person spends their money and how they earned that money but I try not to equate a person's "goodness" to the size of their bank account.

  •  Rattner's just pushing more of Obama admin's... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10 ind bailout model where a "new tier" of workers with severe benefit cuts is built by holding the older workers jobs hostage. Bust the union or else...

    Rattner's other target is Social Security & Medicare cuts which he claims are inevitable and on the 2013 agenda. Never gives a real case, never any math, just the imperial wise seer. No doubt he thinks he's a liberal and innovative thought leader, eh?

    Let all Bush tax cuts expire and , bring on the Sequestration cuts to defense.

    by kck on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 02:48:29 PM PST

    •  That's simply not true! (0+ / 0-)

      The American auto industry was on the brink of collapse because of poor management decisions and high labor costs - not so much the wages, but the cost of health care and pensions.

      Rattner did a good job of achieving a transformed auto industry. The UAW seems pleased by the deal they cut. That deal saved 100,000,000 to 2,000,000,000 jobs and has lead to the creation of 250,000 new jobs in less than four years. Jobs are still being added at a brisk pace. Rattner and Obama deserve credit for getting rid would of the deadwood in senior management, who were a large part of the problem.

      Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

      by OIL GUY on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:15:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am not a Rattner fanboy by any means. (0+ / 0-)

        He probably should have gone to jail for his past indiscretions in the world of finance.

        Nonetheless, he did a good job on the auto bailout. Better than I had expected when he was first chosen.

        Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

        by OIL GUY on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:18:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There are many positive aspects to the outcome (0+ / 0-) well, most assuredly, on a national level. One of the methods was to defang the union as much as possible. Whether or not there were more labor friendly alternatives I can't say. My comment is focused on the outcome as opposed to the methods.

        Rattner's position on entitlements is anti-Democratic IMO and more Third Way/DLC and like his auto ind plan two-tiered - grandfathered Americans with benefits and the rest left to lower (lowest) bar. Incremental chipping away like only Democrats can get away with.

        Let all Bush tax cuts expire and , bring on the Sequestration cuts to defense.

        by kck on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 04:23:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Friendly amendment to your transcript: (0+ / 0-)
    Our wages are competitive in a lot of ways. So in effect what people in Michigan have to decide is do you want fewer jobs at lower wages or more jobs at higher wages?
    I believe he says "wages are UNcompetitive" and "do you want fewer jobs at HIGHER wages or more jobs at LOWER wages?"

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