The Brown Bailout flaws

Rick Manning’s article “The Brown Bailout Guy has a point” (TheHill.com, Oct 14) was thought-provoking — but only accidentally. There are at least two fatal flaws to Manning’s analysis.

He posits that unions threaten FedEx and that UPS’s reason for seeking equal treatment is so FedEx can be equally burdened with unions. Yet, this line of reasoning flies in the face of the unassailable facts. FedEx truck drivers — in divisions where they are regulated by the same laws that regulate UPS truck drivers — are not unionized. So there’s little reason to think the rest of FedEx’s truck drivers, once regulated as, well, truck drivers would go the union route. These facts make Manning’s argument seem baseless and silly.

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Manning opens his article by noting that the FedEx’s slick Brown Bailout public relations campaign is all over the Web and nearly unavoidable. However, it would appear that Manning has unwittingly fallen prey to FedEx’s ad campaign. Here’s the dirty truth: FedEx isn’t worried about unionization. It is worried about losing a powerful sales pitch. FedEx sales reps routinely tell UPS customers they should shift their account to FedEx because the company is “union-proof” and, therefore, “strike-proof.” This is essentially a sleight-of-hand sales ploy, yet it’s still highly effective.  FedEx wants to continue with this sales pitch. Rather than trying to offer better services or better pricing than UPS, FedEx prefers the inequality of regulations placed on the two companies because it allows them to use the argument that it has a competitive advantage in labor dealings.

Perhaps the only thing Manning got right was that if the law goes through, “Federal Express will be forced to change its entire business model.” But the implication is that the model would have to change due to the immediate effort to unionize the company.

This is where he misses the point.

FedEx’s business model is to pitch FedEx as union-proof and to tell potential customers that if there is a strike, FedEx will not be affected. Further, at the time of a strike, customers who still need their packages moved will find it hard to obtain the services of Fed Ex because of the massive influx of new customers they’d be juggling. The message is: if you want strike insurance, it’s best to sign up with Fed Ex now and leave the union guys to their labor disputes.

The truth, however, is simpler. Even in a time of strike, UPS will still be able to move its packages. Their system is built on a model that will not collapse under striking employees. But a phony sales pitch, even if it is highly disingenuous, is FedEx’s best weapon in competing with UPS.

This bill is likely to surface during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, and it will be interesting to see if FedEx’s dishonest media campaign will carry the day. Or, will the concept of equality before the law be victorious?

FedEx was once an example of entrepreneurial spirit. Now it’s a rent-seeking corporation hoping government power and political favors will help make it more profitable. But Americans are sick and tired of special treatment and lies from Washington. Is FedEx listening? And are the congressmen and senators who support FedEx’s outrageous position listening?
Big Horn, Wyo.

IAVA does not favor any single lawmaker or party

From Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Todd Bower, deputy executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

The recent opinion piece, “Veterans group report card just political propaganda” by Rep Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) — who received an “F” in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Action’s 2010 Congressional Report Card, distorts the Report Card — lobs baseless attacks against our organization and blames others for his own poor record on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans issues.
IAVA fights for one thing: new veterans. We do not curry favor to any political party or politician. We don’t endorse candidates, and we don’t use vets as political props.

And we won’t submit to political spin like Buyer’s distorted assessment of our Report Card. Anyone who has seen our public criticism of the White House in the two years would be hard pressed to label us a “Democratic front group.” To the contrary, we have pushed tirelessly to achieve bipartisan progress on the issues facing our members, and to ensure that today’s veterans get the support they have earned.

And we have succeeded. IAVA’s focus is on achieving real results for veterans, and the Report Card is a crucial non-partisan tool for holding members accountable when they fail to do so.

Buyer’s record is a good example of why we do a Report Card. Not only did he vote against Advance Appropriations, but also he failed to lend his support to critical issues for the veterans community: disability reform, veterans’ employment, or improvements to the new GI bill.

So to Buyer’s point that “No consideration was afforded to members’ efforts outside of their votes on this tiny group of bills,” that’s correct, it wasn’t. The bills in the Report Card reflect the priorities of IAVA’s more than 80,000 members — and to them, anything other than results on this critical legislation is unacceptable.

The methodology in the Report Card is entirely transparent and can be viewed by all at IAVAAction.org. There are no tricks.

Lawmakers from all parties were held to identical standards and graded accordingly. What the Report Card does show is that both parties did a poor job in the last Congress and earned a “C” average across the board. 

So as for the congressman’s claim that we politicized ourselves, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Report Card merely shows Congress and the American public that members on both sides of the aisle aren’t doing enough for our newest generation of veterans. Our nation’s veterans deserve better, and our leaders in Washington have the vital responsibility to do all that they can to deliver. 
Washington