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CTA board to name current EVP Carter as acting president on Friday

Dorval Carter, the CTA's executive vice president for operations support, will be appointed acting president at a special board meeting set for this Friday, according to the agenda posted Wednesday on the CTA Web site. (Hat tip to my brother Dan.)

Carter returned to the CTA in 2000 as the executive vice president for management and performance, after serving as one of the top lawyers at the Federal Transit Administration. So it's a good bet he can be expected to continue Huberman's performance management programs. Carter previously had worked as an attorney for the CTA.

Meanwhile, Greg Hinz reported on his Crain's blog Tuesday that Dennis Anosike, the CTA's chief financial officer, has resigned. No word yet whether he'll be moving to CPS, but my limited research shows he was NOT hired by Huberman. (As an aside, the first hit for "Dennis Anosike" at Google is a page at Huffington Post's Fundrace site that show a person name Dennis Anosike donated $500 to the "presidential elections 2008." I love the Internet.)

There certainly are quite a few people whom Huberman hired, some of whom no doubt will follow him. I just hope the brain drain isn't too severe and Carter can keep things going. A good manager needs a good CFO, for instance.

Comments

Dorval Carter is a really great guy. He knows CTA well and has a wealth of experience in the transit industry. He's well respected by the employees and board members alike and is a class act. He should be able to recruit and retain other talented people to CTA. Hopefully he will ultimately become CTA's president fully, and not just in an "acting" capacity. This is really good news.

"Carter started with the CTA in 2000 as the executive vice president for management and performance, after serving as one of the top lawyers at the Federal Transit Administration."

According to the release you linked to, Carter did not "start" at the CTA in 2000. Rather, he "returned" to the CTA in 2000 as an executive vice president, after spending several years with the FTA in various capacities. The release references Carter's "return" at least twice and clearly states he was a top attorney at CTA for seven years prior to his FTA stint.

This distinction and clarification is important because it demonstrates his dedication to Chicago transit and his wealth of experience at CTA.

Thanks for the good editing catch Lydia, which I just changed. Indeed he did not "start" at the CTA, but "returned" there in 2000.

Will you please be my editor? ;-)

Does anyone know Huberman's pension situation? Does he get a CTA pension transfer over to CPS? I heard that he (and a bunch of the higher level admin staff) was able to buy a bunch of years and that there will be another brain drain in a couple of years.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Carter is that he's not a Daley appointment, and doesn't appear to have worked in the Daley administration at any point in his professional career. Of course, his resume also is reason for cautious optimism.

I'd lay odds that Huberman would have much preferred to remain at CTA and continue to improve the agency, but couldn't say no to his patron. The CTA in many respects is a well-oiled and well-funded machine relative to CPS, and Ron is an efficiencies kind of guy. That type of mindset, IMHO, is more effective at the CTA than in the public school system, where you're dealing with a more integral pervasive part of young people's lives.

Here's the rub - the CTA is simply another department run by the Daley oligarch that has never been a priority. And now Dorval Carter is beholden to Daley. Daley aides are loyal to fault, repress their independence, and fall on their swords when something goes awry. Let's hope that Carter has the stones and the moxie to buck the trend and do what's right for the CTA, and not for the whims of a corrupt and short-sighted mayor.

There was an Executive Pension for upper-management. Within the last 6 months these executives were able to buy up to five additional years service. Huberman did so, so he will get a CTA pension at the appropriate age, I believe it is 55. While the % of salary in retirement is not great, the pension provides health care, which is priceless.

According to news releases, Huberman's salary at CPS will be about $20K higher (annually) than Duncan's because he is not participating in the pension plan. Instead he's going to continue to contribute to the CTA pension plan.

Who's going with Huberman to CTA? His powerpoint queen? His Chief of Customer Communications? Who else? Chief of Staff? Who will be left behind?

Off topic, or not really?:

The CTA last summer said that signal priority would be running on Western in January. It's 1/29. Was the roll-out planned for tomorrow, but it got lost in the Huberman/Carter chaos?

This project is really important. Partly because it should improve service on one of the busiest, fastest growing CTA corridors. But also because it's a template for how to make bus service better citywide. I'd love to get an update.

Kevin, will you be pulling together a "Coffee with Carter"? Or maybe "Doughnuts with Dorval"?

I think the signal priority project on Western was tied in the with the Rapid Bus Transit project, which is on the shelf for now.

The CTA website says the Blue Line is running normally, but something's up. I saw three trains running express (two northbound, one southbound) in the middle of the day.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the CTA staff news.

Mmmmm...doughnuts!

I told the school crew about the Tattler Coffees with Ron and they're hoping that he'll institute it system-wide with teachers. They think he's cute. I told them that they'll get over it soon enough.

This morning my bus had serious transmission problems and barely made it four miles, let alone to the end of its run. Maybe the bus misses Ron and is subconsciously acting up to express its grief. Or maybe it's one of those Novas in desperate need of a midlife overhaul.

On the bright side:

Blago is gone.

Lipinski, et al. managed to get an extra $3 billion for transit added to the stimulus bill.

We will, for whatever amount of time, have a CTA president who has transit experience at the federal level and has never worked in the Daley administration (i.e. is not Frank Kreusi).

The days are getting longer. Soon the snow will stop falling and start melting. Things are looking up!

Don't get too excited about the extra $3b for transit in the stimulus bill - it still has to pass the Senate.

Apparently it was Larry Summers who is responsible for screwing transit in the original stimulus draft. House Transportation Chair Oberstar got into a shouting match with him over it.
http://www.thetakeaway.org/stories/2009/jan/27/shovelwatch-stimulus-bill-transportation-infrastructure-summers/

Of all the bad appointments Obama made to his administration - and they were many - Summers has to be the worst. Why would it seem like a good idea to turn to the guy who got us into this mess when you need someone to get us out of it?

Jake,

Chill the heck down. The purpose of the stimulas package is to give a boost to the economy. If you read the link you provided you will see the reason summers may have had reservations about spending that large a proportion of the bill on transit. It is because transit projects are less likely to be as "shovel-ready" and thus will take longer to get going and provide these jobs. That is a legitimate position. You may not agree with it. I may or may not agree with it. But it is unfortunate for you to use the phrase "screwing transit" and act as if Summers is a bad person simply because he doesn't have the same tactical priorities as you. Unemployment is at a record for recent history, for Christ's sake. The economy is very poor. Do you really think it is that unreasonable for Summers to question if it makes more sense to do projects that could be more effective with the bill's intended purpose of stimulating the economy?

I also think it is unfortunate that you are, as usual, making everything out to be simplistic and everyone to be either a good guy or a bad guy. I'm not sure why you need to blame the economic crisis on specific villians. That's the type of thing you might expect to see on the Tribune comment boards rather than from someone who managed to get himself accepted to the most prestigious school in the state (if not the whole midwest). It is, of course, pretty silly to say that Summers was "the guy who got us into this mess". There are many reason why we are in this mess and many people are responsible. Summers may have, like many others, given some bad advice to politicians in the late 1990's. But the reality is he has also done many good things that set our country on a positive track. He is regarded as one of the best economic minds around. I would love to see a debate about economics between him and you. I have a pretty good idea of who would win. It would be the former President of Harvard.

By the way, you stated a couple of months ago that Summers "stated that women are biologically inferior to men in science and engineering". ( http://razetheladder.blogspot.com/2008/11/keep-your-enemies-close-and-all-but.html ) Sorry, but that is downright false. All summers did was ASK whether it might be the case that a somewhat larger percentage of men MIGHT be biologically predisposed to have different streigths and weaknesses in this area. ( http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/01/17/summers_remarks_on_women_draw_fire/?page=1 ) It does not advance a discussion when you state that people say things they didn't.

I'm aware the bill still has to pass the senate, Jake, but I think the fact that money for transit was added back into the bill is cause for celebration. That means that members of Congress are willing to spend their political capital for transit rather than be bullied out of it. Much of the amount originally slated for transit was removed to make room for the greater tax cuts the Boehner, et al. demanded. MK is right that Summers' concern focused on some transit projects being less "shovel-ready" than other elements of the stimulus package, not that he thought transit funding was bad per se.

I didn't say Summers was against transit per se. But I think it speaks pretty strongly to his priorities that he was pushing for enormous tax cuts that will likely be ineffective at stimulating the economy when there are tens of billions of dollars of transit projects ready to go right now that were ignored.

Summers didn't create the economic crisis on his own, of course - capitalism does that naturally. But he was one of the two key figures, along with Bob Rubin, behind Clinton's economic policies, which have proven disastrous. It's baffling that Obama turned to these two as his top advisers.

And let's stop being naive. You don't bring up the possibility of women being biologically inferior to men unless you think it's probably the case. As the article you linked to pointed out, before Summers got in trouble for endorsing such nonsense the number of women given tenure at Harvard under his leadership had fallen dramatically.

[But he was one of the two key figures, along with Bob Rubin, behind Clinton's economic policies, which have proven disastrous.]

They have? I seem to recall the economy being on pretty solid footing until Mr. Damn-the-Surpluses came around.

Of course, there's certainly argument to be had as to whether the Clinton model would have worked over the longer term ... but "proven" is an awfully strong term for such a hypothetical.

I'm kind of glad they're not doing the light preemption thing on Western. It'd be great overall, but I'm so used to the light sequence at Western and Lawrence that I'd undoubtedly walk out in front of a bus if anything disrupted it.

Not only is there no light preemption on Western, CDOT has actually added new stoplights at Wabansia and LeMoyne. They greatly increase congestion. Back in my driving days, I would turn left off Western at either Wabansia or LeMoyne. Sometimes I had to wait a minute or two, but I expected it. It's ridiculous to have ill-timed lights between major intersections on a heavily used street like Western. If the bus catches red lights at both of them I can plan on 5 minutes being added to my commute. The bus operators are not fond of the lights either, especially on the express.

I'm pretty sure that decisions of who to grant tenure to are not made by the President of the university. Furthermore, when the amount of women professers recieving tenure drops it could be for many reason. There could have been a previous surge in the tenuring of women because of a belief that this was the right thing to do and perhaps it might simply be dropping to more level numbers.

In any case, I don't understand why you think Summers was even bringing up the possibility of women being biologically inferior to men. He was bringing up the possibility that a larger percentage of men may be more statistically predisposed to have a greater chance of succeeding in this area. I don't understand why you and the other people who screamed about this think it is such a radical hypothesis. We know that everybody is born with certain predispositions to have streigths and weaknesses in certain areas. The environment they experiance after birth and how hard they work at certain things combines with this predisposition to affect what the person is good at. We also know that men and women have differing likelihoods for certain biological predispositions. Men are more likely to be taller than women, for example. That certainly doesn't mean that there are not short men or tall women. But it is, of course, a statistical fact that on average men are taller. So it stands to reason that some of the biological predispositions that affect certain types of intellegence may also have differing rates on men and women. In some instances, men may be more predisposed to have success in a certain area while in other women may be. And, of course, that certainly doesn't mean that all men will end up being better or worse that all the women in those catagories. Here is a good article that illustrates one area where some people may more biologicaly predispossed to have more likelihood for success: http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12926034

I happen to think that there probably is some truth to the hypothesis Summers brought up. It is unfortunate that a many people in a place that supposidely exists for the purpose of advancing knowledge, Harvard University, ended up having a fit because someone dared to bring up the possibility of something that they didn't want to hear. And he ended having to resign as the President. That is they type of thing one would expect at a place like Bob Jones University. The theory he brought up is actually well-regarded by many experts in biology or its related fields. For example, A professor I had in college, a woman, was a strong beliver that there are many examples of types of behavior in which men and women have differing biological predispositions. And her specialty was physiological development so I think she would know more about this than the people screaming about Summers.

"I seem to recall the economy being on pretty solid footing until Mr. Damn-the-Surpluses came around."

Actually the current crisis has been developing for the last 35 years and is rooted in fundamental changes in the way capitalism operates, which emerged in response to the long crisis of the '70s. The best summary of the evolving course of the global economy since World War II is in David Harvey's *The Condition of Postmodernity*, pp. 119-197.

The "good years" of the Clinton administration (which were really only good for maybe the top 40 percent of the population) were produced in part by Clinton's policies, but at least as much by factors beyond his control like the speculative bubble in information technology.

Clinton/Rubin/Summers also dramatically deregulated the financial sector and coerced countries around the world into dismantling capital controls, making possible a massive expansion of already unmanageable capital flows. Just because the consequences of these decisions took awhile to emerge doesn't mean the neoliberal Democrats are innocent. See this article for how Rubin and Summers prevented the regulation of derivatives, only a small piece of the damage they did: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/business/economy/09greenspan.html

[The "good years" of the Clinton administration (which were really only good for maybe the top 40 percent of the population)...]

I guess my question here would be, "good" compared to what?

Under Clinton the huge redistribution of wealth to the rich which has marked the last 35 years - and which actually accelerated on his watch - was briefly accompanied by rising incomes for other people too (mainly the top 40 percent - which includes those who write news stories and dominate the public discussion on the economy). The poverty rate also declined at a very slow pace. But if you look at long-term graphs of these trends, it's clear that economic performance under Clinton was not really any better than under, say, Reagan - especially in comparison with the far more regulated and successful capitalism of the '50s and '60s.
http://www.eurotrib.com/files/3/051014_US_poverty_rate_and_numbers.jpg
http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/images/InequalityGraph.png

Clinton's tax and spending policies were, of course, far more responsible than Bush's - altho a big part of the Bush deficits were due to massive increases in military spending that Clinton would have probably pursued as well. But the source of the current disaster has less to do with government spending than it does with out-of-control finance capital and household indebtedness. And to the extent Clinton/Rubin/Summers had control over these things, they made them worse.
http://www.skeptically.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/.pond/household-debt-graph.jpg.w300h376.jpg

[The poverty rate also declined at a very slow pace.]

Again, "very slow" compared to what? Given the graph you provided, it looks to me that the poverty rate declined rather rapidly for the last six years of the 1990s.

[... a big part of the Bush deficits were due to massive increases in military spending that Clinton would have probably pursued as well.]

Well ... look, deciding what Clinton would or wouldn't have done is pointless speculation. You can't blame the man for doing something that he didn't actually get to do.

[But the source of the current disaster has less to do with government spending than it does with out-of-control finance capital and household indebtedness. And to the extent Clinton/Rubin/Summers had control over these things, they made them worse.]

I don't think the graph you provided is very persuasive. First off, it doesn't appear (though it's hard to say due to small size) that the increase was all that large under the Clinton administration. Given the huge increase during the 1980s and the even larger increase during the 2000s, I'd say that your statement - that Clinton's policies made the problem worse - lacks perspective.

Certainly the Clinton administration was indifferent to labor concerns as often as not, and in general I'm not inclined to hold up the Clinton administration as transcendant economic stewards. But given the real-world political constraints they operated under, I think they held down the fort about as well as could have been expected for the time.

I love the fact that Jake uses the phrase "redistribution of wealth to the rich" as if they are just passive beneficiaries. I'd love to put him in a room with Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or even anyone who is just among the wealthiest top 10% of the country. I think it would be pretty entertaining to see Jake try to convince these people that they did nothing to earn all the money they have. Jesus. Anyone with any knowledge about these things knows that the overwhelming majority of people who have managed to get rich have worked very, very hard. Most CEOs, for example, normally work 12 hour days. And they would not have that position if they had not worked enormously hard to get there.

Two other professions that normally pay well also require a huge consumption of time. I encourage Jake to walk over to the medical school or the law school over there at the U of C and ask the students how much time they spend every day earning their degree. And when they graduate, both those professions generally require 12 to 14 hour workdays in entry level positions. Yet Jake acts as if those who are rich are just lucky or privalleged. He has said before that the only people who are responsible for creating wealth are those who are in the lower class. It's unfortunate that he likes to engage in class warfare and encourages people to angry at those who provide most of the intellectual capital for this economy. This type of thing causes me to scratch my head. Jake is not a stupid person. Yet he clearly genuinly believes these truly bizarre things. It is somewhat similar to Noam Chomsky, who I am fairly convinced actually believes the things he talks about. It's very strange.

MK, please - the adults are talking.

I don't doubt that many rich people work 12 hour days. Many janitors do as well, and their service is at least as important to society as that of a CEO. I've never said and do not believe that "the only people who are responsible for creating wealth are those who are in the lower class". But it's quite obvious that income distribution is a function of bargaining power rather than "creating value", whatever that means. How else can we explain billions of dollars in bonuses being handed out to investment bankers whose failures have not only wrecked their businesses, but wrecked the economy? How else can we understand the overwhelming distribution of the wealth created by the productivity gains of the last 20 years to the top 10 percent?

strannix, if you want me to admit that Clinton was not as bad as Reagan and Bush, then I will. But I don't think we should be comparing a Democratic administration to the most disastrous presidencies of the last 70 years - better to compare it to the record of sustained equitable growth and plummeting poverty rates seen under the highly regulated economy of the '50s and '60s. Clinton/Rubin/Summers rejected this kind of economy not because of "political constraints" but because they don't believe in it. Regulating derivatives, for example, was well within the world of possibilities - but they violently reacted against the idea and killed it, to our great sorrow now.

[But I don't think we should be comparing a Democratic administration to the most disastrous presidencies of the last 70 years - better to compare it to the record of sustained equitable growth and plummeting poverty rates seen under the highly regulated economy of the '50s and '60s.]

I don't really disagree. I was merely attempting to provide some perspective on the Clinton years.

But, I also think that the American economy faces structural problems that the *electorate* has thus far been ill-equipped to handle. For example, the manufacturing base that provided for robust economy of the 1950s and 1960s was certainly going to take a hit no matter who was President, and the public has been very slow to respond to efforts to unionize other sectors of the workforce.

Let's face it. We live in a country that is skeptical of labor unions, progressive taxation, regulation (until very recently), and government programs in general, and this is an overwhelming problem to get around when we start talking fairer income distribution and poverty reduction. It's easy to blame politicians and the press for the state of affairs we find ourselves in, and of course they bear much responsibility.

But, you know what a clown show our political discourse has been for the past couple decades. And the only reason that happens is that people put up with it.

Frankly, I think we're pretty lucky that Clinton was able to win two terms when he did. When you look at the utter disasters his predecessors and successor left in their wake, I think he did pretty well, all things considered.

We can quibble about what he could or couldn't have done better - and I'd probably agree with you, generally speaking - but the bottom line is that it's very tough for me to see someone better getting elected at that time. The country was simply in no mood for it. Maybe they are today.

(Incidentally, this is also precisely why I was relieved when Hillary Clinton did not win the nomination last year. What Obama can accomplish remains to be seen, but I couldn't help but think that Clinton was bringing 1990s tactics to a 2010s battle. It's a different world now, with an electorate that's much more receptive to progressive change. What made Bill Clinton relatively effective back then would be completely wrong for the conditions we face today.)

[Clinton/Rubin/Summers rejected this kind of economy not because of "political constraints" but because they don't believe in it.]

I didn't mean to suggest otherwise.

At the same time, though, we know that political constraints did play a meaningful role. If, for example, Clinton had been able to pass signigicant health care reform (as of course he tried and failed to do), that would have made a dramatic economic impact on people's lives, especially the poor.

"But, I also think that the American economy faces structural problems that the *electorate* has thus far been ill-equipped to handle. For example, the manufacturing base that provided for robust economy of the 1950s and 1960s was certainly going to take a hit no matter who was President, and the public has been very slow to respond to efforts to unionize other sectors of the workforce. Let's face it. We live in a country that is skeptical of labor unions."

Yes, by observing the industries that are unionized we can see how much of a positive effect they have on the economy. The auto industry is currently thriving and expanding rapidly. The airline industry is doing terrific and posting enormous profits (in reality, I can't remember the last time an airline other than Southwest and Jet Blue even posted a profit, and layoffs are commonplace). The teachers unions have caused a great atmosphere of entraprenuriship and willingness to reform in order to do what is best for the students. They never start screaming when there is the slightest risk of job or pay insecurity in exchange for more accountability. Unions of government employees always cause things to run efficiantly, creating enormous positive benefits to taxpayers. This can be exhibitit here: http://www.chitowndailynews.org/Chicago_news/Exclusive_CTA_plagued_by_selfinflicted_fiscal_problems,10358

Yep. More unionization is the answer. And we must accomplish this by forcing, through intimadation and peer pressure, those people who don't want to join a union to do so by elimanating the secret ballot. This way we will not have to worry about integrety and votor intent.

Sorry that someone who you do not view as an "adult" (i.e. a peron who is not a liberal) has become involved in your conversation.

And the non-unionized finance industry is thriving, right?

Oh wait, no, it's in shambles. Hmm ... maybe you ought to think your point through a little harder.

"And the non-unionized finance industry is thriving, right? "

It was thriving until around a year ago. The auto industry (particularly the unionized U.S. companies: G.M., Ford, and Chrysler) and the airline industry have been in trouble for years. The United States steel industry has been decimated in the last few decades because of the unions. In these cases, the unions are a major factor in the companies failure to innovate properly and in their inability to thrive. I think you know very well that the problems in the financial industry have nothing to do with the fact that they are not unionized. Obviously, if they were then this country would have been in horrendous shape for decades. People and businesses would never be able to get loans because there would be few financial institutions with the flexibility to do anything. We would have around 25% to 30% unemployment.

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers on their Super Bowl victory. I must admit I feel sorry for Jake. If he watched the game it has got to have been difficult to enjoy it. He cannot enjoy any sports game for that matter. He can't really root for specific teams because that would depend on appreciating the jobs that the players and coaches do. When James Harisson made the specatacular interception run for the touchdown at the end of the first half, Jake must have been thinking about the workers who assembled his uniform or the construction workers who built the Steelers practice facility more than he thought about what a great job Harrison did. And instead of cheering for Ben Roethlisberger and realizing how great he is at reading the defense and anticipating pressure he must have been cheering for the janitors who clean the toilets and the concession workers who serve the food at the team's stadium. After all, in his world these people are just as important to the team's success as the players. And he thinks that they should be payed just as much to reflect that (Again, for the uninitiated, I am not putting words in Jake's mouth. He has actually said these things about everyone being equal and creating a sociaty where everyone being payed the same thing).

[I think you know very well that the problems in the financial industry have nothing to do with the fact that they are not unionized.]

Well, of course not. That was my point - I don't think that GM, Chrysler, and Ford make cars that no one wants because of the unions, either.

Somewhere along the line, the auto companies decided that they are entitled to profits despite poor sales, and in order for that to happen, their workers have to take it on the chin.

[I must admit I feel sorry for Jake. If he watched the game it has got to have been difficult to enjoy it. He cannot enjoy any sports game for that matter. He can't really root for specific teams because that would depend on appreciating the jobs that the players and coaches do.]

See, this kind of thing - and not your political views - is why I think you should leave the discussion to the adults. It's just childish and petty. Grow up.

But since you brought it up, you may notice that the NFL is unionized, and seems to be doing just fine, thanks. But I have a feeling that didn't really occur to you...

MK: I don't think I say this very often, but I agree with you! Cheers and congrats to my hometown Super Bowl champs, the Steelers!

No, that did cross my mind. I had a feeling you would bring it up. But that has nothing to do with anything. The coaches, the general manager, and the other front office executives are not unionized and still make good money. Al Michaels and John Madden also make a large salery despite not being part of a union. I'm sure the top producers of the television broadcast do as well. The fact that the players are unionized is not the reason for their large saleries. If they were not unionized, the teams would still pay good money competing with each other to try to assemble the best team. Presumembly, there wouldn't be a draft if there was not a union (it wouldn't pass antitrust muster). So perhaps the new players would get even more money than they do now since the salery negotiations would not be seperate from the competition over which players to sign.

"Somewhere along the line, the auto companies decided that they are entitled to profits despite poor sales, and in order for that to happen, their workers have to take it on the chin."

Huh? I can't for the life of me understand what you are talking about. When the auto companies have poor sales they do not have profits. I'm sure you are aware that right now, for example, the three U.S. companies are each losing billions of dollers a week (perhaps even a day, I don't remember the exact number). When they do not have profits they are obviously in danger of going broke and collapsing if they don't take action to cut their costs. And obviously, you surely don't believe that they should employ the same amount of people to manufacture fewer cars, do you? So I don't understand your statement at all.

Yeah, congrats to the Steelers. I normally root for the NFC, but I have nothing but respect for the Steelers organization.

One thing I don't understand, though, is the rush to proclaim this Super Bowl as even better than last year's. Of course, I agree that it is, but I remember a lot of people griping after the game last year about how sloppy the play by both teams was, and that the game was notable only for one spectacular catch and the magnitude of the upset.

But since then I guess it's morphed into THE GREATEST EVER - UNTIL THIS YEAR!!!! Oh well.

Well I didn't watch the game, so I guess we'll never know if I could have enjoyed it. I don't know enough about football history to comment on the union issue, but I can tell you that until MLB players were unionized, they made a pittance and were treated as chattel by the owners, who colluded to keep salaries low. And that just about sums up how wages are determined in our economic system: if you have power - be it a position in a strategic sector, a rare education, or a union to protect you - you can negotiate a decent income. If not, you will be treated like trash. How hard you work has nothing to do with it, which strikes me as fundamentally unjust.

The fact that unionized companies, which pay their workers a decent wage for an honest day's work, are at a competitive disadvantage is not a strike against unions. It's a condemnation of free market capitalism.

[But that has nothing to do with anything.]

Great! Glad you finally see it my way. I'm glad you now realize that industries can thrive despite unionization.

Why you think this logic applies to the NFL but not to other industries is left for you to explain.

[I can tell you that until MLB players were unionized, they made a pittance and were treated as chattel by the owners, who colluded to keep salaries low.]

Well, this is partly true. Stars, of course, often had the leverage to negotiate large salaries in the days before the MLBPA and, even more importantly, free agency. Not as large as they are now, of course, but not a "pittance," either.

But players who were not stars had no leverage at all. They're the ones who have benefitted the most from unionization, as is true, I imagine, of all sports unions.

"Well I didn't watch the game"

Yeah, that's what I had figured.

"Great! Glad you finally see it my way. I'm glad you now realize that industries can thrive despite unionization.

Why you think this logic applies to the NFL but not to other industries is left for you to explain."

Well, it shouldn't neccessarally be left for me to explain if you had figured it out for yourself.;) But nonetheless I will do so. Yes, an industry can thrive despite unionization if it has the rare enormous advantages of having very low non-labor costs and very high revenue with no real threat of direct competition. That is the case with the NFL. Other than saleries, the NFL pays an extreamly low ratio of cost to revenue compared to other industries. There is very low material costs, for example. So this allows both the players and the owners to coexist with both earning quite a bit of money. But this is a very, very rare situation. Almost no industries have this advantage. If you purchase a pen, a computer, a lightbulb, or an article of clothing a good portion of the money you spend goes to the cost of the materials for these products. When you watch an NFL game, the amount of money needed in that game (spreading the neccessary costs around all games they are in use) for such things as the uniforms, the field, and the scoreboard can probably be spread among only around 10 people (of the millions watching) before it equals the cost of one computer. And there is little likelihood that a football league is going to be formed that brings serious competetion to the NFL. All this is very uncommon with other industries.

"I can tell you that until MLB players were unionized, they made a pittance and were treated as chattel by the owners, who colluded to keep salaries low."

Well, if they really did collude that is an anti-trust violation. So if the players were really treating like "chattel" it is a result of that rather than the fact that they were not unionized. And all sports leagues at one point were not nearly as successful as they are today. So this is also a factor in the fact that the saleries were very low compared to now. There was much less money to go around, however popular the sport was. There wasn't the huge television revenues, for example, that their is now. Assuming there are no antitrust violations, owners would always still have an incentive to pay a good wage to the players in a nonunionized system. The teams would be competing with each other to assemble the best team (even more than they do now) and thus receive more revenue. And this would be true with both the top players and the lower players (and everyone in between). The one thing that would really be different is that each team will be have more incentive to pay a higher salery to non free-agent signings. That would logically drive saleries up. Even those in the depth of the roster who have the potential to be hit-or-misses. Any player has the potential to put the team over the line between being mediocore and a success. And so there still would be strong incentives for good saleries for non-star players.

[Well, if they really did collude that is an anti-trust violation.]

Major League Baseball, for better or worse (almost certainly worse), was given an anti-trust exemption from the Supreme Court in the 1920s.

[The teams would be competing with each other to assemble the best team (even more than they do now) and thus receive more revenue. And this would be true with both the top players and the lower players (and everyone in between).]

Well, the right to free-agency in pro sports didn't even exist until the MLBPA successfully bargained for it in 1975, after which the other pro leagues followed suit.

I have no idea what you're talking about with regard to football, by the way. Relative non-labor costs have nothing to do with it.

The whole point is that labor (players in this case) bargain for their share of the pie. If one industry has higher non-labor costs than another industry, that's naturally going to be reflected in how much of the pie they're able to negotiate as their share.

It's not like anyone's advocating that labor's slice of the pie be constant across the board. We're just advocating that they have the right to collectively bargain for their share.

["I can tell you that until MLB players were unionized, they made a pittance and were treated as chattel by the owners, who colluded to keep salaries low."

Well, if they really did collude that is an anti-trust violation.]

Anti-trust laws apply to the relationships between businesses in competition with one another, as well as the relationship between businesses and consumers, including price fixing, price gouging, bid rigging, and patent fraud. They DON'T apply to the employer-employee relationship, not even across businesses.

There's nothing illegal about "colluding" to keep wages low. Technically, since the introduction of the minimum wage in 1938, it isn't even possible. Businesses are free to pay their employees as much or as little as they want, as long as they don't pay them less than the minimum wage. Now, if they want to hire someone with experience or a degree or both, they're going to have to offer more than the current minimum wage, but the fact remains that there's nothing illegal about paying your employees very little. Whether it is ethical is a slightly different debate, largely dependent on whether what's being paid is a living wage.

I think we can agree that if owners willingly shared their profits with the lowest level employees, there probably wouldn't be any unions. But because they're greedy, they try to keep wages as low as possible instead. But unions get greedy too, by becoming corrupt and often trying to extort more out of management than is their due. But it's the nature of the beast. In a modern free market, there will always be Management and Labor, as there will always be liberals and conservatives in government, as there will always be trolls and fanboys on this website, haha. But unions and labor laws are the main reasons that sweatshops and child labor and unsafe working conditions aren't legal in this country, so I personally view that as a good thing.

"Major League Baseball, for better or worse (almost certainly worse), was given an anti-trust exemption from the Supreme Court in the 1920s."

And congress in 1998 passed a law that would make the Supreme Court's decision obselete for the purposes we are talking about, were the players to deunionize: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/stories/2001-12-05-antitrust-explanation.htm

"I have no idea what you're talking about with regard to football, by the way. Relative non-labor costs have nothing to do with it. "

Read my post again then. Look at it more carefully. I'm confident you can eventually understand what I'm talking about.

"If one industry has higher non-labor costs than another industry, that's naturally going to be reflected in how much of the pie they're able to negotiate as their share."

But the non-labor costs and the revenue can fluctuate wildly. We can see that today most notably with the airlines (mainly the former) and the car companies (mainly the latter). This creates instability and the company's will have a heightened risk of collapse if they have inflexible and artificially high labor costs from union agreements. In addition, their union agreements take capital away from innovation and r&d which will cause them to eventually fall behind competitors who don't have these constraints. That is a large part of the reason why many, many manufacturing jobs have been going overseas.

Kiel,

You don't seem to have a good understanding of the labor laws. Two seperate companies (for example, two football teams) cannot talk directly to each other about how they plan on paying their employees. That is collusion and is illegal. Obviously, it doesn't apply if the employees are unionized. But were the NFL players to deunionize, the team owners would not be able to cooperate with each other in deciding on such things as pay standerds. And they also couldn't cooperate by participating in a shared system that decides which players would go to which teams. So the draft would not be allowed. At least that's my understanding of the labor laws (and I'm pretty sure it is correct).

By the way, I think it is extreamly unfortunate that Kiel believes it is "greedy" for businesses to attempt to keep the wages of their workers as low as possible. Umm, that is sort of their job. If they run a public company (or, in many cases, private companies as well such as being a subsidiery of a private equity firm as in Chrysler) the CEO has a FIDUICIARY DUTY to do so. If a CEO were to decide that he is going to give the workers a raise out of the goodness of his heart when he knows it will not have a postitive effect on profits he will be violating his duty to the shareowners. It would be reckless and could put the company at risk. The shareowners put their trust in the management to run the company with their interests in mind. It would be adomatable for the executives to do what Kiel suggests and decide not to be "greedy". Being greedy is what makes business work and it is what makes sociaty function.

The shareowners include people of all income levels. Kiel is making a rich vs. poor argument using the old paridigm that the workers are poor and the shareowners are rich. That may have been true in the 19th century but it isn't true now. Most people own stock. Almost everybody has seen their wealth decline in the last few months largely because of the stock they own, including retirement funds. This involves most lower and middle income people as well as wealthy people. I'm just so sick and tired of these antique class warfare rich vs. poor arguments about unions. The average stockowner of any company is not any more likely to be rich than the average employee. And news flash, Kiel. Many, if not most, companies right now are either barely or not profitable. So complaining, in this envirinment, about companies not sharing their profits "with the lowest level employees" is pretty laughable. And, of course, if they foresaked their profits it means they would have less to spend (or to go out in divedends) so that would cause a further deepening of the current recession.

Sorry, MK, but I wasn't making any of those points you rambled about. I very clearly said that unions are just as greedy as businesses. Without both, though, we'd probably still have 19th century working conditions and gilded age class distinctions. So both are necessary for a robust, first world economy and living standard.

[The average stockowner of any company is not any more likely to be rich than the average employee.]

I don't know where you get this information, but it's almost certainly completely and utterly, devastatingly wrong. See this page, for example:

http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

It shows that over 44% of privately held stock is owned by the top 1% of wealthy households, and nearly 85% is owned by the top 10% (as of 2001).

[By the way, I think it is extreamly unfortunate that Kiel believes it is "greedy" for businesses to attempt to keep the wages of their workers as low as possible. Umm, that is sort of their job.]

Fine, but then don't object when someone describes this as exploitation of labor, because exploitation is EXACTLY what you are describing here.

[...artificially high labor costs from union agreements.]

I think this is where I end my participation in the argument, because we clearly disagree on this fundamental point. You believe that labor union wages are artificially high, and I believe that without unions those wages would be artificially low.

Unions are not fundametally at odds with a free market economy. On the contrary, they're a means for people to harness the power of the free market for their own benefit, by collectively bargaining for their salaries and working conditions.

In the end, it's not really about rich vs. poor, just about making sure that everyone has the opportunity to take advantage of the free market instead of being exploited by it.

And that's really all I have to say on the subject.

(By the way, MK, on another subject - the bus route you were talking about a couple weeks ago that had been eliminated ... I broke out a couple of old maps and figured you must be talking about the 127 Madison/Roosevelt Circulator. It appears to have been eliminated last spring, as it was on the April 2008 map but not the June 2008 map.)

"Unions are not fundametally at odds with a free market economy. On the contrary, they're a means for people to harness the power of the free market for their own benefit, by collectively bargaining for their salaries and working conditions.

In the end, it's not really about rich vs. poor, just about making sure that everyone has the opportunity to take advantage of the free market instead of being exploited by it."

Hear hear! strannix makes my point for me, and corrects my unfortunate use of 'greedy' for 'harnessing the power of the free market.' Thank you.

"It shows that over 44% of privately held stock is owned by the top 1% of wealthy households, and nearly 85% is owned by the top 10% (as of 2001)."

I'm not sure why you think that disputes what I said. I said "the average stockowner of any company is not any more likely to be rich than the average employee". Obviously, those who are wealthy will own more stock. But in terms of the total amount of people who own stock, you will find that the breakdown of the income level of these people is much closer to the reality of the country as a whole. Thus the average shareowner is no more likely to be rich than the average employee. The amount of wealth spread around in stock is not relevant to this.

[But in terms of the total amount of people who own stock, you will find that the breakdown of the income level of these people is much closer to the reality of the country as a whole. Thus the average shareowner is no more likely to be rich than the average employee.]

I said I was done with this argument, but ... geez. My apologies to the community at large for dragging this out. It's ironic to me that this got started as a relatively minor quibble I had with Jake.

Anyway, MK, I'd like to point out that I still have no idea where you're getting the information that I excerpted, or how you're even defining "average shareowner" in this context.

For that matter, it's also not clear how you're defining "shareowner." Are you talking about direct stock ownership? Indirect owners through participation in 401(k)s or other retirement plans? Even if you are talking about indirect ownership, it's still not clear that, as you say, "most people own stock."

And I'm also suddenly puzzled as to why you think it's the slightest bit relevant even if it's true, since whatever your definition of "average shareholder" is, it's clear that it's someone who owns too little stock to wield any significant political or economic power due to their shareholder status.

Put another way, I'm not sure why they should insist that corporations be "greedy," as you argue, since they're going to be hurt more by the downward pressure on wages than they're going to be helped by the impact of wage cuts on their shares.

In short, it's far from clear, in the economic system you describe, that "average shareholders" are helped by companies executing its "fiduciary duty."

But the non-average (by your reckoning) shareholders - the ones that ACTUALLY OWN 85% OF THE STOCK - sure benefit. You can whine about class warfare all you want, but what you described above is a pretty clear cut description of the rich conducting economic war against the non-rich.

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