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In fact, this is good economic news for the long run although painful for the short run but, as the saying goes, there is no gain without pain.

In America there is a lot of talk about "free" markets but there is very little of it in the sense of classic economic theory of all out competition. Both big labor and big capital have a lot of power. Labor has the most clout in good times when capital can pass on the extra cost to the purchasing public. By building "moats" capital can maintain higher prices than with all out competition. In lean times a lot of the bargaining power disappears which allows industry to cut costs which trickle down to the buying public.

By lowering prices capital foments demand which will be supplied by the newly more parsimonious enterprises and in time the economy picks up again. During the Reagan years it was the government that helped break the power of labor by firing the striking air traffic controllers. It was the same game of chicken, labor didn't think Reagan would dare disrupt aviation. They read him wrong just as the Wonder Bread workers read Hostess Brands wrong. Many probably don't remember the feather-bedding by railroad union workers, when coal disappeared the guy with the shovel (fireman) just went along for the ride will full salary and benefits. Railroads went broke which also broke the unions.

There is no gain without pain. If the government decides to ease the pain by giving workers 99 years of unemployment compensation, the pain will simply be postponed and the hole will be much much deeper with rioting as we see in the bankrupt EuroZone and South American nations.

It seems the threat to close businesses was not an idle one. Why do business if you can't make a buck?

Denny Schlesinger


In steam days, the fireman did what his job title implies: stoked the fire and maintained steam pressure in the boiler. With dieselization that side of his job disappeared. Early diesel-electrics sometimes required attention on the road, but they soon improved to the point of needing little care except at terminals. The fireman still had responsibilities as the engineer's helper, especially in watching the track and signals ahead and in relaying signals from trainmen. Firemen were also apprentice engineers, allowed to run the train under the engineer's supervision and expected to learn enough to be ready for eventual promotion. Railroad managements quickly decided to phase out their firemen once the steam engines were gone, but only in recent years has the fireman's job been eliminated.
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