Saturday, June 1, 2013

After thirty years of contract-stripping there are still folks who want you to believe unions are too powerful

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson is one of them.

Simpson telegraphs his prejudices by putting the word "powerful" in front of his mention of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, or CUPE.

CUPE is so powerful that they were unable to prevent Toronto mayor Rob Ford's privatization of garbage collection in the city.

The powerful CUPE was able to extort a $25 hourly wage from the hardworking tax-payers of Toronto for the folks who pick up their trash. And that's just the start of it. Those molly-coddled trash collectors had PAID SICK DAYS!!!

I know! Who can even imagine such an outrage?

Trash collectors making twenty-five bucks an hour and living large on paid sick leave.

No wonder the country is going down the shitter.

No wonder Rob Ford won the election.

Then again, maybe twenty-five bucks an hour in a city where the average house price is north of half a million isn't really all that great an achievement for the "powerful" CUPE.

Then Simpson really muddies the waters with a gratuitous misrepresentation of the "Baumol effect."

William Baumol was an economist who noted that productivity gains across an economy raised all wages, even in sectors that didn't have productivity gains.

Sectors like health care and education.

If you want to double the productivity of your local kindergarten teacher, just stuff forty kids in that classroom instead of twenty.

It's simple!

And there are simple reasons why we don't do it, and we don't need to resort to obtuse references to "Baumol cost disease," nor do we have to slag imaginary "powerful" unions.

We don't put forty kids in that kindergarten because our kids or grandchildren might be going there.

Simpson doesn't mention that Baumol himself found the cure for "Baumol cost disease."

Higher taxes.

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