Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Dollars, Stadiums and Staff-Run Unions: It's a background day

Interesting Take on U.S. Foreign Policy
I was crusing along with my mp3 player yesterday, listening to the podcast of last Sunday night's Laura Flanders' show and heard this guy Jim Willie talking about the U.S. dollar, the Euro and the invasion of Iraq. He is one of those who argues that one of the major reasons for the invasion was Sadaam Huseein's shift to the Euro. Apparently, Iran has also made this move, and this, he says explains the U.S's increasingly threatening posture there. He was on the show talking about a number of things, including the notion that the real topic of Bush and Putin's meetings was the currency used in oil exchange. His "Hat Trick Letter" is part investment advice, part anti-Greenspan diatribe, part dire prediction of complete, Germany-in-the-1920s-styel collapse.

MTA/stadium update: Yesterday's NYT reported that the NFL have picked the non-existent (and as The Gothamist says) possibly doomed West-Side stadium as a site for the 2010 Superbowl.
and back-ground, as PPRM (That's a "pissed-off Puerto Rican Medievalist" in case you were wondering) pointed out in a comment on the last post, Stadiums are a bad sell. Andrew Zimablist's and Roger Noll's 1997 study found
that stadiums did not put money into local urban economies as promised. A more recent study by economists Victor Matheson and Robert Baade says that the Superbowl usually delivers about 1/4 of what the promoters promise.
But will that stop the corporate welfare?

Finally: What ya gonna do with a "staff-run" union ?
There's an interesting debate from last April's Labor Notes on the problem of union professional staff that covers a lot of the reasons for the problems of staff-run unions. I've had my own experiences with this phenomenon, and noted in a talk I gave back in 1998 at the American Studies Association, that the power of "professionally trained" union staffers to over-rule the rank and file members may actually be magnified where you'd least expect it, in academic unions, where new union activists from the middle-class see themselves as "bourgeois" while their staff (often from the same class as themselves) are defined as "working-class" simply because of their status as union activists. At the same time, academics and other white-collar union members tend to respect the authority of professionals and bureaucrats in a way that blue-collar unionists might not. More on this later.


Anonymous said...

This dollar thing is pretty damn important. The other day there was just a rumor that South Korea might switch some of its central bank holdings from Dollars to Euros and this created a panic on the currency markets. Interestingly, there was a hint of this issue on the West Wing a few weeks ago when a conservative Japanese economist warned that US budget deficits might cause a massive shift to the Euro, which would in turn decimate the US economy overnight. President Bartlet ended up spending that night sleeplessly tossing and turning as a result of this "doomsday" scenario. If either the OPEC nations or the East/South East Asian countries switch to the Euro we’ll be reduced to a Third World debtor nation requesting that Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank give us a loan to keep the subways running.

As for staff unions, I totally agree. There has to be an increase in member involvement over professional staff control. I think the PSC actually has that much more than most other professional unions, but we need a lot more of it. Don't let the bureaucrats force us to be "reasonable."

PPRM said...

I must place two corrections to an earlier comment I made regarding economist Andrew Zimabalist's opinions and involvement regarding the proposed West Side Stadium.
1) He was no endorsed building the West Side Stadium but has actually pointed out about $151 million in costs that are not included in the proposal and would be built at taxpayer expense.
2) He did serve as a consultant for Bruce Ratner's proposed arena for the NJ Nets over the Atlantic Avenue Railyards in Brooklyn. He did endorse this plan after seeing it. While it appears out of character, his endorsement appears lukewarm at best. First of all, he is intellecually honest in that he is engaging in the exercise of predicting about 30+ years of economic activilty. Second, he does say in his report that he is "assuming" certain conditions, which he will accept can be questioned, and guarantees of costs and spending by Ratner and the Nets. Third, he said that the overall project would provide a net gain for NYC, but that the arena itself would be a money loser. However, what would make all this profitable is housing. As was said by Neil deMause in "Field of Schemes," then why bother with the Nets. Just cover the yards, build the darn housing, make the bucks and let's keep going.

My blogger identity is PPRM or "Poor Puerto Rican Medievalist", not "pissed-off..." I may be pissed off but it has nothing to do with either being a medievalist or Puerto Rican.