By on December 7, 2015


The National Labor Relations Board accused Nissan of violating workers’ rights by creating a uniform policy for its workers at its Canton, Mississippi plant.

According to the charges, Nissan introduced a policy in 2014 that barred workers from wearing pro- or anti-union clothing at its Canton facility and at its plants in Smyrna and Decherd, Tennessee. Employees were expected to wear company-issued pants and shirts, and visible writing underneath those clothes was prohibited.

The United Auto Workers made the complaints leading to the charges, according to the Associated Press. The union has long sought to unionize workers at Southern U.S. manufacturing facilities with limited success. Last week, skilled trades workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to join the UAW, the first victory for the union in decades.

A Nissan spokesman said the policy is voluntary and that employees could wear whatever they wanted as long as it adhered to the company’s dress code.

“Nissan’s uniform program is designed to help achieve the highest standards of safety and quality in all our manufacturing facilities,” Nissan spokesman David Reuter told the AP. “Employees have been able, and will continue to be able, to wear the clothing of their choice as long as it complies with the Nissan manufacturing dress code.”

According to the report, Reuter couldn’t provide documents stating that the dress code was only voluntary. A company handbook stated that employees had to wear shirts, pants and shorts provided by the automaker, and that if they wore undershirts, they could have no writing on them.

The NRLB’s regional director in New Orleans said Nissan doesn’t have a reason to ban T-shirts with writing on them.

“The T-shirts don’t hurt the cars,” Kathleen McKinney, the regional director of the labor board’s New Orleans office, told the Associated Press. “We consider that policy to be overbroad.”

The complaint is also targeting a temporary employee agency that provides Nissan with workers during especially busy plant periods. In March, UAW officials told the Wall Street Journal that they would target Nissan and its “abuse” of those temp workers, according to UAW Vice President Gary Casteel, who is in charge of the union’s presence at Southern plants.

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42 Comments on “Nissan’s Mississippi Plant Latest Battleground for UAW in Southern Plants...”

  • avatar

    A dress code seems the kind of core, basic welfare issue that *I* would get militant over. Fascist bastards!

  • avatar

    Okay, plenty of workplaces have a dress code, and the PR flack should have just gone with that. (Something about Team Spirit, Camaraderie, etc.)

    “Nissan’s uniform program is designed to help achieve the highest standards of safety and quality in all our manufacturing facilities,”

    Seriously? If that’s what they went to the NLRB with, no wonder they lost. Assuming the workers weren’t wearing clothes soaked in lighter fluid or covered in metallic confetti, I’m not sure how it makes sense to discuss “safety”, beyond requiring workers wear appropriate PPE.

    • 0 avatar

      PR guy is correct.

      A few reasonable examples that justify industrial uniforms from a safety/quality perspective:
      -Synthetic materials that pose a burn or reactivity hazard
      -Drawstrings that can get caught in machinery
      -Belt buckles or metallic decorations that scratch parts and conduct heat and electricity to the wearer’s body
      -Complex patterns or textures make it difficult to spot leaks or chemical exposure
      -User-selected detergents, fabric softeners, etc can trigger allergies or react with industrial chemicals
      -Potential for cross-contamination from industrial clothing being washed in a home washing machine with baby blankets and whatnot

      With my own eyes I have seen all of these things directly result in injuries, quality issues, or near-misses.

      Properly selected uniforms are absolutely a valid part of a safety/quality program, especially if the uniform service also does the laundering. This is why many companies are willing to set one up and pay for it. It’s a mistake to dismiss it out of hand as a waste.

      I’m generally UAW-neutral, but am consistently baffled by their resistance to uniforms. They’re not a ploy by “the man” to oppress the workers, they’re a benefit that makes your job easier and keeps you safe.

  • avatar

    Viva Mexico

    • 0 avatar

      As I recall, prior to opening the plant in Canton, MS, Nissan had done a site-survey in Mexico to determine feasibility of opening the new plant there.

      MS being the poorest of these United States lobbied hard to get this plant and with the help of the MS Congressional delegation (Senators and Congressmen) was able to secure it by a very small margin — that margin being non-interference of the UAW in a RTW state.

      Other transplants have opened production facilities in Mexico, so it’s not too late to do that at some future point if the UAW starts meddling.

      And then there’s TPP, a form of NAFTA, on steroids. I’m all for choice. So let the imports of foreign-made cars from China, India, Malaysia et al begin.

      Proton anyone? Tata?

      Let the buyers decide what flies and what dies. Does anyone miss Suzuki? Isuzu?

      • 0 avatar

        Will anyone miss the countless thousands of auto industry jobs that’ll be made redundant once the U.S. auto industry goes all-in on outsourcing auto production?

        Will anyone be able to actually buy those cars imported from Thailand, India and all points in between when they’re stuck making service industry wages?

        Are you prepared to have new automobiles become an upper middle-class purchase made only by well-heeled investors and the few STEM and IT folks whose surnames don’t end in “Patel”? Better hope those sub-$6000 cars show up on the market soon.

        • 0 avatar

          You’re not taking this well. I recommend anti-anxiety drugs while your health insurance still pays for them.

          Hopefully you’re fairly old, too.

        • 0 avatar

          John Williams, I think there is a huge need for “those sub-$6000 cars {to} show up on the market soon.”

          I’m also a proponent of buying a car, truck, motorcycle, scooter, ATV, snowmobile, jetski, whatever, from a Big Box store, like Costco or Sam’s Club. Gotta be cheaper than going to a dealer.

          Toyota moved production and admin from CA to TX. Mazda moved to Mexico.

          Even Detroit started making them in good ol’ Mexico, and that kept a lot of Mexicans home, instead of coming over here uninvited.

          Under NAFTA and now TPP, more automakers are going to make their stuff where it is cheaper and without interference from the UAW.

          GM is importing a China-made Buick. Maybe even GM got tired of the continued and unabated UAW extortion and fornication of GM’s bottom line.

          The name of the game is to make money for the shareholders. Not to be robbed by the workers.

        • 0 avatar

          Nothing wrong with a union as partner, but the UAW was union as enemy. They screwed themselves.

  • avatar

    Talk about burying the lead….The more important violation is the use of temp workers to fill in gaps on the production line and other areas that are either undertrained and thus a safety liability in high-production times or simply unprotected labor that has been hired and fired numerous times as demand fluctuates. Either case is unacceptable.

    The uniform issue is an easy piece for average joes to latch onto as ‘soft’ and thus defendable.

    • 0 avatar

      So on this t-shirt thing, is it unusual to create a corporate uniform? Every company I am aware of enforces a typically lax dress code but usually discourages if not bans t-shirts simply because they can contain unprofessional images or words. Much easier for HR to simply avoid them it seems.

      • 0 avatar

        It sounds like it has to do with enforcing a ‘Nissan-provided’ uniform which may be a way for Nissan to recoup value from workers as well as dictate shop floor power. It’s deep in the Wagner Act that i’m not 100% familiar with since industrial workers have different requirements from ‘professionals’ and generally the laws agree that an uniform can only be enforced if for safety or public-facing jobs.

      • 0 avatar

        Personally, I think all manual laborers should wear chambray shirts or something similar. At least something with a collar. But that’s my opinion, not a fact or law or anything.

  • avatar

    …”abuse” of those temp workers…[oh my!]. I bet those temp workers are EXTREMELY happy to be working and would gladly wear a Nissan T-shirt. I was one (not Nissan) and was extremely happy to be working in such a limp-wristed economy…even got a free shirt out of the deal. I was always treated very well and at no time did I ever feel “abused.” Last time I checked, it was STILL illegal to abuse workers.

    “It’s UNFAIR that we have to wear a shirt that says “Nissan” while working at a Nissan factory.” Oh God, I think I just threw-up in my mouth.

    The US Army should let everyone wear whatever they want, including wife-beaters that say “OBAMA SUCKS.”

    All kidding aside, I really think I could could get behind the unions and the democrats…if they all weren’t such whiny parasites.

    God forbid that you want to maintain high moral at YOUR OWN business.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure what constitutes “abuse” but I’d wager those temp workers wish they were Tier II FT, and Tier II wishes they were Tier I.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed 46&2. Whiney little bi*ches. Ruggles would slap the sh*t out of them.

    • 0 avatar

      Of course you were happy…but since we made rules to prohibit this kind of cyclical hiring for the most part you may have actually been abused. Hard to tell without getting into the meat of the case itself. But hey, you fell down that same trap, ignoring the bigger issue and going after the concept of simplistic ‘uniform’ arguments.

      It’s kind of sad how easily people are coerced to support their oppressors….

      • 0 avatar

        “we made rules to prohibit this kind of cyclical hiring”

        We? As in “we went to the moon”?

      • 0 avatar

        By the sound of that nonsense, you live in either San Fran or Seattle. The following seems to be the prevailing attitude in places like that:

        “I will only work if I can have a flexible schedule, high pay, low hours, free coffee (and breaks to get free coffee), several “official” paid breaks throughout the day, full pension, guaranteed employment, paid leave, paid healthcare for my entire family, holidays off, personal days, no nights, no weekends, floating holidays, paid childcare, free OBAMA phone, stamps, vouchers, free college tuition and if you make me wear a uniform I’ll complain to the nearest govt agency and cry ABUSE!!!! BTW, I have no special skill set or professional training but I DESERVE all these things.”

        You probably don’t want to hear this but I recently completed specialized training that I paid for and was called at home within a week of completion by the company I now work for and am overjoyed that I get paid to do what I want to do. I also turned down a 4K signing bonus by another employer to take this job. I guess tomorrow morning I’ll go to work where I’ll be “coerced to support my oppressors….” Geezus.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ll take ad hominem for $200, Alex.

        • 0 avatar

          Ah yes, the ‘fru fru liberal’ ad hominem attack.

          I hold an MA in US History and a PhD in political science, I am quite skilled and professionally trained. That’s why I’m in a government-supported visitation program right now to offer my services to other universities to help them expand their catalog while working with my colleagues on matters.

          But since you’ve made the stupidity worthy of my attention I mind as well smash your argument to bits.

          1.) Flexible schedules are actually pretty standard in the professional world, in case you didn’t know that.

          2.) High pay? Define it. Then we can talk. As it stands our wages have been stagnant since free trade neoliberal economics (i.e. Republicans) took hold of the system and we now make a fraction of our productivity.

          3.) Low hours? We work more hours than every other first world nation and we get paid less in many cases.

          4.) Um….breaks are mandated by federal law. I’m not how you came to associate them as a gift from employers but an 8 hour shift mandates 2 15 minute breaks to do what you want, coffee, bathroom, etc…and 30 minute lunch break.

          5.) Again, breaks may not necessarily be paid but almost every professional gets them. Never mind that professionals who work in offices and basically anybody NOT doing manual labor or continuous assembly are only effective about half the time according to research. Paid breaks or not the company is paying you to idle because of physiology as much as psychology.

          6.) A full pension was pretty standard in my grandparents generation. To argue that slave wages in foreign countries means we have to work till we die sounds like a pretty broken system if you ask me…

          7.) Guaranteed employment is actually the trend in the first world and was floated back around the 1950s. In fact Republicans were moderately in support of it. But again, we live in a world of surplus labor, you’re not an unique snowflake, snowflake.

          8.) Paid leave is a federal requirement of full time work…

          9.) Paid healthcare is actually cheaper for the whole family than constant emergency care only. Look it up, twit.

          10.) We have 8 Bank holidays and professionals get far more time off, we just don’t use it….

          11.) Personal days are paid leave. See 8.

          12.) No nights, weekends, or floating holidays are pretty standard for most professionals. They usually work a 9-5 or 8-4 style, I mean, that’s where the whole office culture comes from. So unless you’re in the tech field where they have crunch times or in some engineering fields with the same issue you’re likely to never work much more than 40 and rarely if ever weekends. You think bankers work odd hours?

          13.) Using the word “Obama” does not make anything bad or good. It’s like adding Bat to everything Batman does…Which for the record, the phones are from a program started in the 1990s to offer basic emergency services and access to low income families. You don’t get a free top of the line smartphone and the minutes and texts are severely limited based on state and federal guidelines.

          12.) Stamps? Vouchers? For what? Clarify your obnoxious stupidity for me to bother with it.

          13.) The entire cost of covering college annually would be less than the cost of the bush tax cuts. Never mind that NOT paying back an investment banker’s loan and instead buying new cars and houses with that money would allow for a huge bump in the economy. Also we’re one of the last of the first world countries to have full tuition paid privately.

          14.) You fell down the same hole about the uniforms. It’s not that they don’t want to wear a Nissan shirt, it’s that Nissan can demand cost replacement and control their appearance more than is allowed for a non-public facing job. You don’t understand the law and that is NOT my problem.

          By the way, I’ve NEVER set foot in San Francisco or Seattle. I grew up in Pittsburgh, live in Flagstaff for a time, and then moved to New Orleans. But your ad hominem attack only validates how sad the conservative mindset is about building identity politics and dictating these bundled resentments at others.

          • 0 avatar

            “I mind as well smash your argument to bits.”

            Oh, giggle… you make Plankton seem humble despite his better spelling.

          • 0 avatar

            Psst, RH, if your best complaint is that I’m not humble then I’m satisfied with my position. I feel like this is pretty common amongst older folks, they feel as if because I’m not inclined to defer to them or kowtow in any way they have a right to make passive-aggressive insults.

            But hey, whatever suits you. :)

  • avatar

    Well 46, social “science” professors construct the world they live in. Marx is alive and well and sipping coffee in the faculty lounge. All is bought and paid for with your tax dollars and your children’s lifetime of debt. They can afford to scold the job creators and taxpayers. They never have to create a nickel of wealth. They just suck it down like a cold beer.

    • 0 avatar

      Touché, @thelaine.

      In my father’s day, the road to a secure and successful life, if you weren’t interested in or able to become a doctor or lawyer, was to get a good job with a good company, and hang on to it til retirement.

      Had I followed my father’s example, I would have been dead in the water. I trained and became competent in skills that were in high demand, and became a roving consultant, hiring out to those who had a need and a means to pay.

      If my son tries to follow in my footsteps, he will be dead in the water. Now that field, IT, is rigged to enable staffing corporations to underpay foreign nationals to be able to do some contrived new skill, pay them about twenty per cent of what a US worker used to be able to get, and rent them out as a captive labor force (under H1-B) for about a third to a half of what a good consultant used to make.

      My son wants to start his own business. It will not be easy for him, any more than my path, or my father’s, were easy for us.

      But I have to admit that for him to do so, and to deliberately dodge a mountain of student loan debt, shows a lot of brains, understanding, and balls. He has said he will take courses as he sees a need for them in order to run his business, sort of a la Stringer Bell in the Wire (though, of course, that is not his business…the risk/reward ratio is all wrong…most of those who try to become Stringer end up becoming Bodey.)

      He has come to understand that if he can develop a way to provide quality services to homeowners, at a fair price, and better yet can manage to build it to where he has crews doing it for him, he will have as good a chance at living a comfortable life as his grandfather and I got to do.

      I value the relatively large amount of education that I was able to afford. But even in the world as it was a quarter of a century ago, I would have been better off economically if I hadn’t let myself get sucked into the monopoly that is higher education.

      This country is getting progressively more screwed up, and climate is NOT the root cause of it.

      If you think you have a better solution, take a crack at it. But what has happened in this country over the last fifty years is pathetic.

      The weak-sauce Marxism in the schools and in our entertainment is just a symptom. And I don’t really see a massive cure. Hope I am just blind, and not prophetic…

      • 0 avatar

        Thank you for your thoughts Volando. I read and benefit from all of your comments. I do believe there is reason for hope regarding post high school education, if not the nation itself. Many people have observed and experienced the flaws of a system designed primarily to benefit the institution. A large percentage of the professors and administrators are not preparing students for jobs or “critical thinking”, but are indoctrinating them, taking them to the cleaners and putting them in a financial hole for much of their working lives. Education costs have skyrocketed and the usefulness of what is being taught is often negligible. With the US economy in the extended stagnation we now call recovery, students cannot afford to collect wildflowers and compete to determine who is the most oppressed. What cannot be sustained will not be sustained. People are beginning to see the truth and do not believe they will put up with this forever. The growth of online education and “extension” courses is just the beginning. I have already heard computer tech company executives quoted as saying that they think a college degree is more of a hindrance than help, since what is taught is so irrelevant to what they do and graduates have to unlearn before they can learn. Change is slow, but it’s coming. There is too much money at stake.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks @thelaine. Mostly I just try to “call ’em like I see ’em.”

          That, and TTAC affords me an opportunity to live out my Walter Mitty fantasies of being a writer…what I started out to want to do in Jr. HS, then ended up crunching numbers in a variety of different ways for close to four decades.

          Now I get to be an armchair critic, with an occasional editorial thrown in for good measure.

          So I appreciate the fact that people like you tell me that you get some benefit out of my random insomniac scribblings.
          The B&B both provide a lot of food for thought, and serve as a mostly intelligent and open-minded audience as well.

          And then there are the notable exceptions, half entertaining and half they are like ants at a picnic, bedbugs, or a case of the chiggers.

          The people who don’t agree with me and who debate the merits of various positions don’t bother me in the least. But the ones who talk as if they are totally in support of a high and noble cause, but when challenged, drop immediately into a series of rants about how you are so stupid that they are going to ignore your points, always tickle my funny bone, at the same time they bring out my urge to squash them like a bug with logic.

          But the main attraction is intelligent discourse. TTAC at its best truly is an assembly of the B&B.

    • 0 avatar

      WOOOOOO! Poor trolling attack achieved!

      Points hit:

      Social sciences isn’t really ‘science’ – Except, you know, over a century of scientific method research and countless examples of how the Social Sciences have impacted your life.

      Referencing Marx – Yes, because we’re all deeply in love with Marx. You do realize that only right-wing loons fall for that, right? It’s basically a dog whistle, like using ‘thug’ when you want to say ‘black.’ Instead, I would be considered a ‘critical theorist’ and while I am a socialist on many levels, I would be considered a Democratic Socialist which means I’m not so much aligned with Marx as vaguely in the same circle.

      Oh oh! You said ‘tax dollars!’ that means you’re my boss! – Except you’re not. I’ve also worked for a private university for a year. Never mind that I actually have made value by educating your brats and giving them an appreciation and knowledge of political science.

      Scolding job creators – You do realize that the term ‘job creator’ is not ‘capitalist’ and in fact mostly is based on a pretty loose concept of demand (in relationship to supply). But, sure, lets assume I scolded job creators (even though I didn’t nor would I). I’m supposed to let capitalists and those with wealth dictate all the rules? Sounds like a great plan, so when are you going to go be a wage slave in China since that’s about the best place to do what you claim.

      Never create a nickel of wealth – Nope, I’ve created an enormous amount of wealth because I educated your bratty children and give them the ability to make a living. You know how many students I’ve taught in the last few years that have gotten either analyst jobs, government jobs, or used their knowledge to enhance their goal to grad education? Of course you don’t, but you also don’t understand secondary and tertiary wealth development.

      So try again, twit. I’ll be waiting patiently for your joke of a reply. I find it funny when people like you act tough on the internet. You wouldn’t come to my University’s office and try to make those claims, but on the internet everybody is a Rockefeller….

    • 0 avatar

      Damn you, thelaine. You bulls-eyed his open wound with fewer words than I’ve wasted stating the obvious about what a tremendous burden he is to society. I’m humbled.

      Xeraner, you’re delusional if you think there are people afraid of social science professors, and that there are substantive distinctions between socialists. That’s a special kind of intentional ignorance.

      • 0 avatar

        Awww, CJ, you think shilling whatever you sell to some bum in Sandy D makes you a grand capitalist in the form of Rockefeller? Everybody wants to be king of the hill and frankly nobody should be ‘afraid’ of social sciences but of your intentional ignorance you project.

        Look, disagreeing with you on policy choices doesn’t make me ignorant, disagreeing with me about BASIC FACTS (which you and the rest of these right-wing nitwits) have been called out on numerous times is. But whatever, I find it funny that you think it’s an ‘open wound’ when I still go in and teach my classes and have taught over a 1000 students so far in my career, I’ll teach another couple thousand. It’s laughable you think internet trolls make me cry at night…Good lord, delusional to boot.

      • 0 avatar

        Heh, CJ. One for me, a thousand for you.

        Political “science” indeed. Fight the oppressor, little victims! Grubby little public treasury Gollums.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m waiting in my office for your excuse why you don’t understand basic politics and resent the government for things that are perfectly normal functions of a first world system.

          Calling me names just means you have no argument.

          But thanks for playing the game.

          • 0 avatar

            I am mostly a bystander in this beef war, @Xeranar, but please do me a favor and list the functions that you feel are legitimate to a first world government, so that others of us can analyze your ist to seee if we are in agreement or not.

            If you are confident in your ability to teach, you will have an opportunity to do so with that, even if there are a trolls in the room. We aren’t all trolls, and I have seen you object to name-calling, while calling right wing conservatives nitwits. Or perhaps you are just saying that most of the nitwits are right wing, which would be another thing.

            But to cut to the chase, instead of just stating a lot of facts, many of which I willingly concede are correct, I would like to know what your position is as to what are the legitimate functions of government, if you don’t mind.

            I suspect that I might agree with some, and disagree with others. But mostly, I would like to know your take, based on your expertise and experience. Thanks in advance…

          • 0 avatar

            Functions of a First World Government:

            1.) Basic military protection – A maintained military of some kind. Our’s is the largest and most expensive (largest in terms of reach and power, not in terms of sheer units, we concede that to China & India…and maybe Russia? I would have to look it up).

            2.) Market correction powers – Central banking is a requirement to maintain the system. I have a problem with the emergency lending window being used indefinitely to lend as a monetarist policy tool, I think it has a place in the arsenal but it shouldn’t be your ONLY weapon. When all you have is a hammer suddenly everything looks like a nail…which brings me to the next issue.

            3.) Free education – That means up through functional training. Since companies have shed training programs due to a cultural shift and cheapening of labor we have to pick up the slack for them and increase our domestic burden. I can be taught sewing skills in a home, I can be shown how to work a CNC machine with some time and energy. But I can’t be taught how to be an effective lawyer with a few weeks of legal training and the concept of ‘internships’ have become a free labor pool that is mostly illegal. So we have to address this by increasing what we pay for in our taxation to give people work skills that they aren’t receiving and lengthening their time out of the workforce early on will actually help with the surplus labor we have.

            4.) Free Healthcare – It’s a right in every other country in the first world but our’s and even now we’ve got a wonky system. A few countries use something similar to our private-insurer/public-pooling system and most work OK but the current system of emergency room care puts a strain on medical professionals and decreases the capital as we have to shift it to healthcare. If we increased that workforce to cover it with tax expenditures we could decrease the overall cost and increase our labor in that market, two birds, one stone.

            5.) Environmental Regulation – Basic requirement to save the earth and balance it with the needs of citizens. The problem is we tend to balance it with a gun barrel to our heads for large corporations. We can work out a deal that isn’t death to all or utter collapse.

            6.) End the majority of poverty – Now this is more a series of changes but it is a function of the government. Giving cash handouts, guaranteeing a basic income, lowering the age for social security back to 65 or even down to 63 for manual and service laborers would all add back into the system. We would pay more in taxes but the least of us would be better served, there would be a larger economy because of that increased service, and a severe drop off in crime as these communities would out of poverty and sustainable.

            The problem is now too much is put on the vaunted love of ‘capitalists’ as if they’re angels from heaven and anything they do is pure gold. I’m not for removing capitalism, I’m for harnessing it and making it work for us rather than them.

            On a side note: Educating is a secondary producer role. It’s akin to a management position. When people tell me I don’t create value I have to laugh because even more so than management my knowledge shared is multiplied many-fold and given over to these students who become better citizens. I know they’re just saying this out of spite for being of the opposite political spectrum but when they make such a blunt-edged attack it makes their arguments that much more pathetic.

            I wouldn’t mind if we had a European style right-wing party here but we have a dysfunctional fascist party who’s built their agenda on two very simple premise:

            1.) The government is giving things to people who don’t ‘deserve’ it. That can be brown people, black people, or white people. They just feel like nobody deserves anything unless they ‘earn’ it. Note the quotation marks because those terms are so subjective that they become a ‘who’s pissing on my head’ game of low man on totem pole.

            2.) Because of 1 they don’t want the government to provide basic services and functions unless they get them. It’s like when Tea Partiers hold up signs about getting the government off ‘their’ medicaid/care.

            It’s greed at it’s basic core which is fine, you’re allowed to be greedy, but the complete refusal to acknowledge that as the core of the argument is what makes it so hard to address. They swaddle their whole ideological underpinnings on a concept of meritocracy that we’ve proven with repeated studies just doesn’t exist and when we try to actually level the playing field they fall back to 1 to claim 2. It’s an endless cycle.

            Not to be a complete jerk, I think the state can go too far as well in providing everything. I think a centralized planned economy like Russia tried to do and China did are not great ways to live either. The market exists for a reason but it needs to be controlled. You don’t let the lion eat you, you use the whip and chair. But you don’t murder the lion just because it has claws and teeth. It has to eat (or in this metaphor create poverty) but we can minimize the damage it does by carefully watching it’s diet (and alleviating poverty through careful measures and getting it more in line with Europe’s 10% or under).

  • avatar

    @Xeranar Thank you for your detailed reply to my request for your veiwpoint on government functions. Overall, and at the risk of ruining my reputation for individual freedom, at least with some, I would say that that sounds like a pretty reasonable and comprehensive list, modulo a couple of caveats.

    We have got to fix our healthcare cost structure without reducing doctors to the level of, for example, a heating and AC technician. Mainly that means removing antitrust exemptions for insurance companies, and implenting reasonable controls and patent lives on pharmaceuticals.

    Most of the pharmaceutical companies are owned by old Euro aristocracy interests if I am not mistaken, and they are quite happy to squeeze all the oligopilistic profits they can out of US consumers’ pockets.

    Perhaps a provision that pharmaceuticals sold in the US must be sold at a price no higher than the lowest price that they are sold anywhere, coupled with shortening the time to generic availability?

    And while I don’t want to have to defend the current policies of the Republican party (if they even have a modicum of defendability), but yo have to recognize that the Democrat party has been riding on the coattails of just opposing what the Republicans want to do, and for the most part they get free publicity and support from the newspapers of record. I would feel more comfortable if the US left were more like some Latin American Social Democrat or Christian Democrat parties, though I believe the tent should be large enough to not be restricted only to those of a Christian persuasion.

    I agree that if we provided free education to those who demonstrate an ability to benefit from it, that society would reap benefits well in excess of cost. The waste of talent due to unaffordibility of education is a shame. And the dampering effect of huge student loans on trying to invest in startups for new ideas is a second, more hidden cost, but real nevertheless.

    And of course, regulation should not be so much administratively created as legislatively created, and with room for free and open debate, rather than having a situation where government agencies set policies according to their own narrow agendas. I am thinking primarily of EPA, USDA and Dept of Ed, though there are clearly other offenders.

    But I have to say that if that is the type of policies you advocate in your classrooms, I might disagree with some details of some of them, but as long as you didn’t dictate that students had to give only the answers you thought were acceptable in the area of policies, I wouldn’t consider it a proto-Marxist education, if my son was sitting in such a class. More like a call to return to first principles, something this country clearly needs.

    Your lion analogy to capitalism is a pretty succinct and accurate metaphor for the situation the US is in vis-a-vis capitalism today.

    I also agree that we need to get costs for national defense under better control. Clearly we could defend our country better with less expenditures, if the fraud, waste and abuse components were drastically reduced.

    Gen. Smedley Butler, USMC (ret.)’s essay “War is a Racket” makes a pretty good argument for national defense without war profiteering. Should be required reading for every student involved in any way in studying social sciences, government policy or the like.

    To me, the evidence seems clear that in your case, calling you a Marxist or even ivory tower theorist amounts to a de facto troll.

    Although I know it is an unrealistic hope, I wish people here could stick to debating topics they have differing viewpoints on, and not read extra baggage into people’s backgrounds.

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