Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sauce for the Corporation

The most annoying aspirant to the California ballot this year is a proposition to restrict public employee unions from spending political money without getting written permission from each member of the union before spending their dues.

Today in From Defeat: Governor Has Chance to Win Dan Weintraub urges Schwarzenegger to back this initiative (along with the redistricting and budget caps initiatives) as roadmap to victory and renewed popularity.

snichols would like to see an initiative on the California ballot that would force every corporation to get written permission from each shareholder before spending political money. Now wouldn't that be something? Imagine a letter from one of these financial institutions to its shareholder--
dear snichols:
here at citibank, we think it's vital to protect every shareholder's interest in their money, but we can only protect your money if we continue to be able to invade the financial privacy of every resident of this state. Won't you help us by giving us permission to spend a huge amount of your potential profits funding the campaigns of politicians who will vote against everyone's financial privacy. We implore you! Your return on your investment depends upon the outcome of this legislation.

If only Schwarzenegger got behind an initiative like that, his popularity would soar, at least with snichols.

she might even let him grope her.


Anonymous said...


Just to be clear, I do not support the anti-union initiative being circulated. However, I do think it will require a more articulated argument against it than simply likening unions to businesses, and union members to shareholders.

The obvious difference is that in many work environments, you are required to pay dues to a union in order to work there. Wouldn't you agree that there is a much, much greater degree of choice involved when choosing where to invest your money, than in choosing where to find employment? You can choose not to invest in a company when you disagree with their political contributions. You can also choose not to work for an employer whose workforce is unionized, but it is wrong, probably even insulting to many working class families, to argue that these choices are similar to each other.

-- Vince Marchand

Anonymous said...

Check out the irony: the very real difference in workers' "choice-environments"--vis å vis investors--is recognized and mobilized here, whereas it isn't when it comes to any number of conditions of the job. Why not give workers "choice" over those (in other words, why notice the despotism of the union and not that of the boss, both on the job and in the political arena)?

Snichols's analogy is actually a good one, in that union politics roughly advances worker interests in the way that corporate politics roughly advances investor interests (both in different ways in different industries, but with some overarching class commonalities). It makes as much sense to mandate allowing individuals to second-guess the one as the other. And in both environments you can, today, voice your opposition rather than exit (not everything is about "choice")--and at least you can voice it democratically in a union, and not according to how many shares you own. (None of this is to suggest any parity here; we wouldn't have that even if every worker were "forced" to join a union--wouldn't look like forcing anymore, though, would it?--in a 100% unionized workforce.)

--Don Cherry