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Capitalism, American Values, and the Downturn

Ian Scott on Friday, March 13, 2009 at 5:28:00 pm 

Here's an interesting thought piece for your Friday morning.  George Taber, former business editor of Time magazine and author of the landmark 1980 Time cover story "Is Capitalism Working?," has revisited the original question in an article for U. Penn's Wharton Business School.  Taber's article traces an interesting path through the roots of American capitalism an ultimately concludes:

"The American brand of capitalism rests on creative destruction, innovation and, ultimately, entrepreneurs. It is impossible to rebuild the superstructure of U.S. prosperity by destroying its foundation.

Click to read A Question Revisited: Is Capitalism Working?

If this kind of philosophical article gets your blood pumping, check out the collection of in-depth articles from the Financial Times: The Future of Capitalism

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Wavering Support for Card Check?

Ian Scott on Friday, March 13, 2009 at 1:20:29 am 

Are some Senate Democrats wavering on Card Check?  With EFCA's formal announcement this week speculation over potential vote counts is flying.  Here are a few articles about who might be leaning toward opposition.

Meanwhile, editorials deriding Card Check abound.  Here are a couple from today:

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Local Chambers Rally Against Card Check

Ian Scott on Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 7:28:21 pm 

The Employee Free Choice Act was formally introduced in both houses of Congress this week.  Local chambers of commerce are greeting the announcement by voicing their opposition and rallying local businesses.

Tom Donely, President of the York County (PA) Chamber of Commerce, was in Washington speaking with elected officials about Card Check the day the bill was introduced.  The York Daily Record quoted Donely as saying, "The act, if passed, would end secret ballot rules for union formation, allowing retaliation because those supporting unionization would know who didn't support it."

Just last week staff and members of the Las Vegas (NV) Chamber carried their concerns about Card Check to the Capitol Building.  Following meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the Las Vegas Sun featured this comment on EFCA from Steve Hill, Chairman of the Las Vegas Chamber, "(it) takes the voice away from the employees, it takes the ability for businesses and their employees to have a dialogue. ...It discourages people from jumping out there and trying to create new jobs."

The Dallas Regional Chamber publicly proclaimed their opposition to the the Employee Free Choice Act in a letter sent to Texas' representatives.  Their message was picked up by Reuters and the Dallas Business Journal among others.  Here is what Dallas Chamber President Jim Oberwetter had to say: "The Dallas Regional Chamber rarely weighs in on issues such as Card Check, but we strongly believe that this issue is critical to the success of our ability to keep and attract businesses and jobs to the region.  ...We are taking a committed stand against Card Check and will do all that we can to urge Congress to defeat it."

Across the country chambers are taking a stand on Card Check and grabbing headlines for their position.  Don't miss this opportunity to demonstrate your organization's leadership on vital business issues, make sure your chamber's voice is heard.

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Buffett Also Opposes Card Check

Ian Scott on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 4:46:00 pm 

Know who else opposes Card Check?  Warren Buffett.

The esteemed Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and vocal Obama supporter was succinct and blunt about his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act on CNBC yesterday.  Buffett said:

"I think the secret ballot's pretty important in the country. I'm against card check to make a perfectly flat statement."

Click HERE to see the CNBC interview.

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McGovern Opposes Card Check

Ian Scott on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 4:21:00 pm 

Former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern is featured in a new series of television ads opposing the Employee Free Choice Act.  The spots are sponsored by the Employee Freedom Action Committee and send a strong message about the reality of this proposed bill.

Mcgovern_georgeIn the ads, McGovern says: "I've always been a champion of labor unions, but I fear that today's union leaders are turning their backs on democratic work place elections."  He goes on to add: "Quite simply, this proposed law cannot be justified."

To view the ad, check out this MSNBC article: MCGOVERN VS. UNIONS

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Politico: "Card check battle starts tomorrow "

Ian Scott on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 12:45:54 am 

Politico reported today that Democrats in the House and Senate are expected to formally introduce the Employee Free Choice Act tomorrow.  The article predicts a "high-decibel, high-stakes brawl between business and labor." 

Regardless how loud the fighting gets in Washington, opposition to Card Check will need support from local chambers and local businesses across the country to be successful . It increasingly seems like the window of opportunity to influence the outcome of this game-changing legislation is narrowing.

Click to read the full article: Card check battle starts tomorrow

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Governors Leery of Stimulus Unemployment Funds

Ian Scott on Monday, March 9, 2009 at 8:13:19 pm 

Several Governors have expressed concern over accepting some stimulus funds because they are worried about strings attached.  One particular area of concern is unemployment compensation.

Taking economic stimulus funds targeted at helping states cover unemployment compensation will force many states to expand eligibility and increase benefit levels.  Governors are worried that the expansions will amount to an unfunded mandate after the stimulus package funding expires and force increases in unemployment insurance premiums paid by businesses.

Discussing stimulus mandates, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons said:

"Let me give you just one; it's the unemployment insurance level. It's just four weeks of assistance that they are giving us, but it requires mandatory, permanent, irrevocable changes to our tax system and to how we decide who qualifies for receiving unemployment."

Arizona is also debating whether or not to accept unemployment funds:

"We're still analyzing what the impact would be to see if it's feasible," said Paul Senseman, a spokesman for (Arizona Governor Jan) Brewer. He said Brewer worries that accepting the money could leave Arizona on the hook for benefits it cannot afford after the stimulus money is gone. "

After first questioning the funds, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has decided to take the unemployment funds:

"I'd wanted to take a little time to look at it, to make sure we weren't biting off more than we could chew," Bredesen told reporters Friday. "This is certainly a good thing to do. It's also something that we can afford."

In Mississippi, the legislature is trying to overrule Governor Haley Barbour's decision to reject unemployment stimulus funds.  But the bill has not passed the Senate, and is receiving stiff criticism from the Governor's office.  Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant said last week:

"We understand how important that stimulus money is," Bryant said in a short video sent to supporters Wednesday. "But we also understand there's part of it we don't want that's going to tie strings to the state of Mississippi that make us pay people who don't work, and we're just not going to take that."

Are you concerned that stimulus funds will end up causing unemployment insurance increases in your state?  Leave a comment..

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Biden and the AFL-CIO to Tango

Ian Scott on Monday, March 9, 2009 at 5:32:13 pm 

Dance Vice President Biden was in Miami last week to speak to the AFL-CIO executive council.  His Thursday speech followed an address and meeting with new Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on Monday and a video taped greeting from President Obama on Tuesday.  The high profile meetings all served to underscore the administration's support for the Employee Free Choice Act.

Biden, probably the most outspoken in his support for Card Check, was quoted as saying, "You all brought me to the dance a long time ago.  And it's time we start dancing."  According to John Sweeny, President of the AFL-CIO "(Biden) gave a strong statement of support for workers, their wages ... collective bargaining and the Employee Free Choice Act."

Business leaders around the country can take last week's meetings as a clear signal that Card Check is on the agenda and has support at the highest levels of the Obama administration.  Law makers in Washington need to hear from their constituents on this important issue, and they need to hear from them now.

Click HERE an AP story about Biden's meeting with the AFL-CIO.

Click HERE for the New York Times' coverage.

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Stimulus Questions

Ian Scott on Friday, March 6, 2009 at 10:19:08 pm 

For several months now we've all had lots of questions about the economic stimulus package.  How will funds be allocated?  What role will state governments play?  How do I make sure my local project is considered for funding?

It seems that there aren't many clear cut answers to most of these questions.  Some money is allocated through existing formulas, other money in block grants to states, and still other money directly through federal agencies.  Governors, mayors and state agencies all play a role, and those roles are differ from state to state.  How do you insure your community's projects get funded?  If you've found the answer to that one, please leave a comment and let us all know.

But there are some other important questions about the stimulus that I wasn't thinking about until I read this article by Washington Post Writers Group Columnist Neal Peirce:  Stimulus Controls Vital, But What About Results?

In the article, Peirce brings up two big questions: 

  • How do we ensure that stimulus funds create not only jobs, but also long term benefits for our communities?
  • Will stimulus funds create jobs and opportunities for local businesses?

The answers to both questions are vitally important for local chambers of commerce.  Click HERE to read Peirce's article that probes for answers.

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States Already Spending Stimulus $

Ian Scott on Friday, March 6, 2009 at 1:24:56 am 

Whether spent on a few big projects to expand capacity or spread over dozens of smaller 'upkeep' efforts, transportation stimulus funds are already getting spent in many states.  States are making haste because a provision of the stimulus bill makes them start spending within four months or risk having their portion of the package reallocated to a state that is spending.

Has your state issued stimulus spending plans?  How are local communities providing input?  Share your insight by leaving a comment below.

For more information about how different states are spending the comparativelysmall pot of transportation dollars, check out this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

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