Thursday, May 05, 2005

One of my favorite internet time sinks…

…err, valued sources of brilliant writing and accurate information has become David Sirota's personal blog. He's damn near become the King Of All Lefty Media, a favorite on the Franken show, a book deal, In These Times, American Prospect, Washington Monthly, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, he deserves it. As evidence, I offer his take today on the latest Bushco attempt to strongarm organized labor. The Department of Labor, prompted by a GOP Congressional inquiry, issued a thinly veiled threat, suggesting that union pension managers could be violating their fiduciary responsibilities by investing their funds in accord and communicating their displeasure with the Republican - well, it's not really a plan, is it - their displeasure, then, with the Administration's relentless musing about destroying Social Security.

Sirota points to the typical big lie at the heart of the Bushco case...
Here's the thing with Bush's argument: the union has a fiduciary duty to make sure workers get the best return on their investments, and more broadly, the most generous overall pension benefits possible. Those overall pension benefits, however, inherently include Social Security because a workers' overall retirement pension is the mix of both their private pension, and Social Security. Thus, the AFL-CIO is perfectly justified in using workers' pensions to advocate for the policies that will best shore up Social Security for the long-term, and oppose those that will destroy the system. If, as Bush wants, the union continued to blindly invest worker pension money in Wall Street firms that were actively working to destroy Social Security, the union would be doing a financial disservice to the workers it is supposed to protect. In other words, the union would likely be violating its fiduciary duty if it DIDN'T do everything it could to oppose Bush's plan and try to make sure Social Security was preserved for the long-haul.
It helps that the unions simply haven't done anything wrong...
Bill Patterson, head of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s campaign over investment companies, said the government's warning would have little impact on his efforts.

"We operate comfortably within the principles laid out by the Department of Labor, and we're going to keep on doing what we've been doing," he said.
Kudos to Patterson and the AFL-CIO for standing strong, and a hat tip to David Sirota for the valuable perspective.

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