August 10, 2009

The End of Civil Discourse?

We live, alas, in interesting times. As the health care debate spirals downward, the fault lines in our culture become more and more evident. On one side, anti-reformers stack town meetings to prevent any meaningful dialogue from taking place. These folks are even trying to intimidate unions. What am I missing here? Who is supposed to intimidate whom? On both sides of this momentous debate, pockets are being stuffed with special interest money. This makes the ultimate outcome - whether status quo or some degree of reform - highly suspect. The notion of genuine debate and civil discourse have disappeared altogether.

Which leads us back for a moment to the lingering conflict between UPS and FedEx. Back in December, we blogged FedEx's unusual charter:

FedEx began 35 years ago as an airline. As such, it fell under the Railway Labor Act of 1926, which made unionization of public and commercial transport companies extremely difficult. By contrast, UPS began as a trucking company and was subject to the National Labor Relations Act from day one. UPS is unionized: they pay workers more than FedEx, they provide better benefits.

It would be to UPS's advantage to remove their fierce competitor from the Railway Labor Act and force them to operate under the NLRA. That requires an act of congress, so it's no surprise that UPS has been aggressively lobbying congress for this change. They say they want to level the playing field.

Level playing fields are fine. The devil is in the details: how do you accomplish your goal? Apparently, by playing unfairly. UPS has been accused of forcing union members to write to their congressmen, urging passage of legislation to eliminate the FedEx exemption. The letters bombarding congress appear to express the views of individual UPS drivers. In fact, many are based upon prescribed forms. We read in the Washington Post:

Officials with UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents 240,000 UPS drivers, acknowledge that the company has paid for workers' time to pen many of the letters and has supplied the envelopes, paper and stamps needed to mail thousands of them to Congress. UPS spokesman Malcolm Berkley said the effort was "totally voluntary, and any allegations to the contrary are ridiculous."
But Internet sites dedicated to UPS-related discussions feature dozens of accounts from anonymous employees who in recent weeks have said they were forced to write the letters or felt they would be punished for not doing so. Such tactics could run afoul of both labor laws and lobbying disclosure requirements, according to legal experts.

So it appears that UPS may be violating labor laws in order to force FedEx to operate under labor laws. Were you expecting anything different?

Images
In one of Norman Rockwell's many iconic images, a humbly dressed man stands up in a town meeting to express his opinion. The painting is entitled "Freedom of Speech." We could certainly argue the degree to which such freedoms ever existed. But it's all too clear that Rockwell's image bears no relation to what is occurring today. If he were to depict our present situation, we would see an enraged citizen shouting down his local congressman. This individual would waive an inflammatory poster complete with Nazi symbols. In his pocket, we might glimpse the bus ticket that brought him into town. In the corner we might see an innocent mother, huddling to protect her child from the pending violence.

We are currently facing many complex issues, ranging from FedEx's status as an employer to the health care options for every American. There are pros and cons to every path. No one really knows how to get from point A to point B. Indeed, we may not even agree on what point B is. But when civil discourse deteriorates into the ravings of the mob, we all lose. If winning is defined by who shouts the loudest, who cheats the most effectively, who succeeds in intimidating the oppostion, there will be no victory for anyone.


| 6 Comments

6 Comments

Chuck Shumer recently said the "devil is in the details" about the healthcare bill which is why any discourse is being severely restricted and those who want to be heard but are not being allowed have to resort to the same tactics Obama instructs HIS followers to use.

People can actually READ and when they do they find they are being screwed over big time by Obama and company who is being funded by lawyers and corrupt labor union bosses.

Big surprise huh?

Well said, Jon! If intimidation is allowed to win, we all lose.

Is FedEx an airline? Politicizing the operation of how Congress is being notified is ludicrous. Is FedEx an airline is the question? Perhaps the larger question, is why are ANY airlines under the Railway Labor Act? They are not a Railway.
It was CONVENIENT to throw them in that act 70 some years ago, is it relavant today?

UPS should know that the only way to get Congress to pass any legislation favorable to them is to buy the necessary votes in the pertinent committee in the House or Senate and don't forget to purchase the vote of the chairs of the Rules and Conference Committees. There is no such thing as democracy in this country any longer. Everything is determined by corporate special interests paying, oops I mean contributing to the politicians in power. Those silly people collecting that pittance from the health care lobbyists to shout down the politicians at town hall meetings are nothing more than props for the tv cameras so voters will come to hate democrats and restore republicans to power during the 2010 mid-term elections. Health care companies like republicans better because they have lots of money already invested in them and republicans historically (at least since Regan) favor the 'free markets' over all else. Primarily because it helps to cement their fortunes and reduce that pesky middle class.

HEY JON! WHAT IN BLAZES ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT! END OF CIVIL DISCOURSE? HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO RESPOND WHEN OUR MASSACHUSETTS HEALTH INSURANCE EXPERIMENT IS SENDING US DOWN THE FINANCIAL HOPPER!

Sorry, my "caps lock" button got stuck. Anyway. We've had this experiment going on in MA. Governor Patrick & Pres. Obama are friends aren't they?

(1) Why haven't I heard anything about looking at our system, fix what needs fixin' and then transport it nationally?

(2) If we all have to give a little, why isn't tort reform on the table? At least I haven't heard about tort reform as part of the options... It's the only thing that we convince the docs to stop with the defensive medical testing...

AND THAT'S ALL I'VE GOT TO SAY ABOUT THIS!

Jon:

This one will generate comments. But I thought this blog was on Workers Comp issues and not a political commentary blog.

Bills being amended at 3AM by 300 pages and being voted on the next day. Thousand page bills being rammed through democratic controlled congress. Huge deficits that will never be paid off. Socialized medicine that the President has said point blank is his goal. Rationing which is the only feasible way with mandated coverage to reduce costs long term. The government putting huge mandates on Insurance Companies and then decrying premium increases. The Speaker of the House lambasting Insurance Companies that exist in a very competitive market place for making to much money while she flies around in a private plane at my expense. Trillions of dollars to bail out companies that are in trouble because of the same people who know bail them out. The President effectively nationalizing the auto industry and deciding who will run it. Congress deciding what executives can make. Wait till they come after your salary.

We don't need anyone telling us how to be angry at the democrats and RINOs that are pushing this through. Sal Linsky, Obama's mentor wrote it all out. Now the shoe is on the other foot. The people at these gathering are ordinary citizens that are scared witless. They see that this administration is trying to kill the American Dream. The current administration is a Fascist regime by the very definition of the word. Look up the modern definition of Fascism and see if you don’t agree.

We the people are being demonized by own elected officials and their stooges. This anger and these demonstrations are not scripted. They are not Astro Turf. This is, we the people, rising up against the tyranny of the left now that they have foisted an empty suit on us. The tide will turn, hopefully before irrevocable damage has been done.

The only hope now is that we can threaten congress with the next election to prevent some of this from happening. I am making it very clear to my congressman and senators that their public service career is on the line. I am contributing out of State to the biggest RINO offender’s opponents in Maine and elsewhere.

If we don’t stop this administration there won’t be any need for your blog for there won’t be any workers comp. There won’t be any free press. They won’t be any talk radio. There won’t be any freedom. You will be told your job and what you get paid. How you will live and what you will eat to protect your health since the “Government” is paying for it. Think I am joking. Look at gun free zones around hospitals. Look at taking property to protect “wet lands”. Look at imports trillions of dollars of foreign oil when we could get it here by drilling or eliminate the need by building nuclear reactors. Look at mandates in Health Insurance that include in vitro fertilization and aroma therapy. Look at the number of disability retirements in California alone from “Stress”. Give the left an inch they will take a 1000 miles give them a mile and they will take everything you, but not they, own.

Please note the advertisements that the Army had for “Internment Camp Specialists” for duty interring citizens and reeducating them in this country. That is NOT a joke! Note also the memo from Home Land Security explaining that Conservatives were enemies of the State along with Anti-abortionists, Homophobes and those oppose to gay marriage. That also is NOT a joke.

This administration is running so far left that even centrist democrats are leaving the party. The radicals are in charge and are trying to get everything they have wanted since the Russian Bolshevik revolution all at once.

I am an educated professional with a Grauate Degree and Professional Licences. I am not a wild eyed bomb thrower. My positions are well thought out and well researched. I don't take anybody at their word. I check the facts. I read congression bills. But for the first time in my life I am really frightened for my Grandchildren's ability to enjoy the benefits that the Constitution of the United States was written to protect and enhance.

Subscribe

Submit your email to be notified when this site is updated

Need help with your workers' comp program?

Monthly Archives

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on August 10, 2009 10:51 AM.

Health Wonk Review's Recess Edition and news from the blogosphere was the previous entry in this blog.

Can you hear me now? Work-related injuries for musicians is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID