My blog description indicates that I blog on Providence with an occasional political comment. While there continues to be Providence galore, this morning I was thinking of things political. Over the course of our twenty years of marriage, my wife and I have had spirited debates on issues related to politics. It began with a mention of my political leanings. Like most engineers I tend toward the conservative side. To be fair, some engineers are only conservative when it comes to their designs and not their politics so maybe my conservatism comes from years of living in the Deep South, my proximity to the buckle of the Bible Belt, the fact that I have lived most of my life in States that just plain vote for conservatives, blame on what you will. I choose my profession.
Early on when I would mention that I am a Republican it would IMMEDIATELY elicit the response, "So you're against Unions?" After a few years I was able to actually talk politics without talking unions (since they ARE separate topics), though I still shy away from it with my in-laws for similar reasons. My father-in-law worked for 30 years at a job in a union, and wouldn't have any of the things he has without the union (little things like legs and arms as well as big things like pension). He also wouldn't have been there 3 decades without their protection. He also may have gotten promoted rather than staying behind the guy who came in a few weeks before him. He also probably wouldn't have been as safe at his job and we certainly wouldn't have had as many Safety Award umbrellas, flashlights, wallets, etc. There's good, there's bad, and there's ugly all wrapped up in the issue.
Here's the thing though, just like saying I'm a Republican doesn't mean I'm against Unions, saying that the Unions have contributed to the mess is not a support of the business decision makers. In a finger-pointing match it is clear that there is not now, nor has there ever been any business morality. No one goes into business for a reason other than to make money. They may say it is to improve the quality of (fill in the blank), but underlying that it is a desire to make a profit. It doesn't have to be an ungodly profit, but no one says, "I'm going to start a business and pour money into it until I'm destitute and living in a van down by the river." The fact that the actions of Unions has caused businesses to make decisions to close or move or relocate to a foreign country is important, it is a reality, but underlying that, the Union didn't come in and make demands for a company that takes care of its people to complete burdensome additional compensation. I say this based predominantly on the fact that if the workers were satisfied and happy with their conditions they would not choose to join a Union because it would not benefit them. If management responded to the needs of the workers the workers would not need a consolidated voice to speak for them and play hardball.
That was a bit more of an introduction to the topic du jour then I first thought.
The news of last week that Hostess is going out of business is appalling. Orange Cupcakes are simply a God-given delicacy that none have been able to duplicate. If you doubt me for one instance, go buy all the Hostess Orange Cupcakes you can. Send them all to me, save one. After you have sent them, eat the remaining cupcakes. If you do not contemplate shooting out the tires of the vehicle that drove off with your package to me I will pay you for the cupcakes. If you do, I'm not responsible for your actions in trying to get the cupcakes back.
Hostess's management has claimed that the Union strike upset their razor-thin grasp on solvency. A claim that the Union denies pointing to a massive compensation and pay raise given to executives. Here's the thing: They are both complicit in eliminating the institution of higher munchies that is/was Hostess. The executives were wrong to receive the pay raise and should have taken a pay cut. The workers likewise were wrong for not accepting a pay cut to keep a job. Now how big those cuts should have been is the matter. I will not argue that they should be the same size. There is no across the board pay cut to be had here. To cut executive pay and hourly rate workers the same would be insane to say the least. To give executives the massive pay raises they did was more insane. A step above on the insanity meter was the company's defense of said raises.
Perhaps it is legal to give executives a raise even in the face of bankruptcy. That's a consequence of having rich legislators making the laws. However, converting performance-based bonuses to regular compensation is a sign that the performance-based bonus will not be earned. A bonus is not regular compensation, it's a bonus. If you aren't performing, you aren't earning. If your company is going bankrupt, you aren't performing. If your company is going bankrupt, getting more money for poorly managing will only speed up the slide rather than slow it down. Sure, it may keep some employees from jumping ship and those executives that would jump ship are the ones that could get a job somewhere else (not the dead weight that should be cut in order to stop hemorrhaging money), but that goes back to business morals.
Going on strike to demand more money from a company on thin ice financially is a sure-fire way to crack the ice. Who was wrong first? The company. Who was wrong last? The Union. Who is out of a job? All of them. And I'm out of Orange Cupcakes!
So, what's the bottom line in all of this? The bottom line is that it is insanity on the part of all involved that a company that makes Twinkies, cupcakes, fruit pies, and some of the most delectable things that are bad for you is going bankrupt. Not just because of the obesity rate in America, either. It is unfathomable that a company that has helped add to the bottom line of the heaviest generation can't cut it. It is insanity not only because of that but because of the fact that marijuana has been "legalized" in more States. There is almost certainly an upturn in sales coming!
Hang in there, Hostess.
An update from 2018:
I'm no longer a Republican. I can't bring myself to be labeled one any more. I'm also not a Democrat either. I am a small L libertarian. Small L because they won't let you in the party unless you believe their mantra that Taxation is Theft. It isn't. It's just a way for the government to pay the bills.
More importantly, I have since done even more thinking on the subject (6 years will do that to you) and it isn't just the Unions and Management's reaction to them that's caused the problems but a general lack of tariffs in the US. Not that I believe President Trump is re-instituting them right, but it is right to re-institute them. There's probably a whole post on this I'll save for later. For now I'll get back to fixing the website.