There are interesting numbers from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network concerning the polarizing issue of collective bargaining rights.
Rich Robinson of the MCFN told The Detroit News it would likely cost $25 million for groups opposing three union-friendly propositions on the ballot for November's election to prevail. On the other hand, he said, "if they want it to pass, the unions will have to spend $12 million to $15 million or more."
Why the discrepancy?
Presumably, the anti-union crowd is giving the pro-union factions an 18 point head start, given 18 percent of Michigan's workforce is unionized. That may be an underestimate, presuming that not all of the union members in Michigan are married to union members, so the 18 percent does not include every voter sympathetic to or dependent on a union worker.
Proposition 2 for Michigan voters this fall is a right to collective bargaining which would make Michigan the first state in the nation to have a constitution guaranteeing the right to form a union.
Proposition 3 is considered labor-friendly, as it raises the state's goals on the use of alternative energy sources. Proposition 4 gives home healthcare workers the right to collective bargaining.
For some, the right to collective bargaining sounds like the right for one group of workers who can easily assemble -- teachers, for example -- versus the rights of scattered workers, like migrant farm workers, who cannot easily assemble and might have good reasons to fear signing on the dotted line.
For others, the right to collective bargaining sounds like the right of one group to unfairly leverage deals from the company or the state.
Clearly, when GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaigns with the message that the United States is the next Greece, he is talking about a country where overly generous retirement plans were part of the reason the government's finances were unsustainable.
To put it succinctly, the right to form a union might be legal, but someone still has to sit down and do the math.
On that score, the rich are getting richer and the middle class is getting nowhere, the Economic Policy Institute said in a recent report.
In the 12th edition of "The State of Working America," released this month, the EPI said the wealthiest 1 percent of U.S. households were 288 times richer than the median income of the middle class. That was up from 125 times richer in 1962.
Economically, that statistic is almost irrelevant, but that changes when you find a function behind the data, which is done with a second conclusion in the report that says that all of the new wealth in the country that went to the upper 1 percent could have created 7.5 million jobs.
That means, the United States might not be the next Greece after all. It might be the next Argentina.
In international markets, the Nikkei 225 index in Japan lost 2.03 percent, while the Shanghai composite index in China shed 1.24 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gave up 0.83 percent, while the Sensex in India slipped 0.33 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia shed 0.26 percent.
In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain dropped 1.29 percent, while the DAX 30 in Germany fell 1.86 percent. The CAC 40 in France lost 2.07 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 600 lost 1.51 percent.
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