Obama, Embarrassed

A mostly political Weblog.
June 9 2008 9:13 PM

Venti Snooty Latte

Will you be a Starbucks Snob?

(Continued from Page 4)

Fitzmas in Reverse: Steve Bartin speculates on the potential Rezko Shoe. ...Update [also via Bartin]: The Chicago Sun-Times Mark Brown wonders why Rezko elected to go directly to jail  rather than trying to remain free on bond:

There's a more interesting way to look at this, which paints a scenario you'd more likely see in a trial where there is some sort of mob connection.

Tony Rezko is a guy who knows a lot about a lot of people. Those people have a very serious stake in him keeping his mouth shut. Rezko is also known to be a very security-conscious guy.

I know this is going to sound overly dramatic, but it's not really that far-fetched to think Rezko may well believe he's in danger if he goes free and that by reporting to jail it's proof that he's not cooperating.

It's one way of saying, "You don't have to worry about me."

3:25 P.M.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

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Unions  Make the Wage-Price Spiral Go Round: Paul Krugman argues we aren't about to see a return of 70's style stagflation  because

there's no sign whatsoever of the wage-price spiral that, in the 1970s, turned a temporary shock from higher oil prices into a persistently high rate of inflation.

He also identifies a mainspring of that wage-price spiral: union power,

Here's an example of the way things used to be: In May 1981, the United Mine Workers signed a contract with coal mine operators locking in wage increases averaging 11 percent a year over the next three years. The union demanded such a large pay hike because it expected the double-digit inflation of the late 1970s to continue; the mine owners thought they could afford to meet the union's demands because they expected big future increases in coal prices, which had risen 40 percent over the previous three years.

At the time, the mine workers' settlement wasn't at all unusual: many workers were getting comparable contracts. Workers and employers were, in effect, engaged in a game of leapfrog: workers would demand big wage increases to keep up with inflation, corporations would pass these higher wages on in prices, rising prices would lead to another round of wage demands, and so on.

The point isn't that unions were greedy. They were doing what they were supposed to do under the Wagner Act--protecting their members interests--in a period of inflationary expectations (fueled in part by the big contracts won by other unions). Yet the larger social result of this institutional arrangement was a destructive game of leapfrog in which the most powerful labor organizations (like the UAW) did quite well, but those without collective bargaining power--that is, most people--got it on the chin. And it took the brutal early-80s recession to wring inflation out of the economy.

Today, though, there's little union power--and little threat of stagflation, says Krugman:

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