Thursday Morning Headlines

Union Membership Is Lowest In Nearly A Century
In the last year there have been major confrontations between management and labor unions, particularly in California, where ports have been impact by threatened strikes, and in Wisconsin, where the governor has moved on efforts to rein in the unions.

The battles may earn headlines, but for the unions, they are not earning new members. In fact, union membership stands at a 97-year low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The percentage of workers in unions fell to 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the bureau found in its annual report on union membership. That brought unionization to its lowest level since 1916, when it was 11.2 percent, according to a study by two Rutgers economists, Leo Troy and Neil Sheflin,” reports The New York Times.

Dutch Prime Minister Calls For Focus On Growth
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says rather than continuing to engage in crisis talk, the EU should begin to focus its attention on policies that create economic growth.

Speaking at a WEF panel, Rutte said EU leaders need to “spend time on getting growth going” and stressed the importance of “countries like Denmark, Sweden and the UK… to stay not just in the EU but to be active, because they are focused on bolstering [their economies] and that is a very different debate we are having in the eurozone,” reports BBC News.

Boeing’s Dreamliner: What It Says About Innovation
Some contend the implosion of the Dreamliner project is a case study in how regulation stifles innovation.

“The grounding of the 787 was in many respects inevitable for a project marked by missed opportunities, narrowed visions, and, yes, dreams deferred. It’s also a dispiriting example of the shrinking tolerance for risk among corporate executives and government regulators, which is stifling innovation and threatening America’s competitive edge,” write Brad Stone and Susanna Ray in Bloomberg Businessweek.

On the other hand, some argue that it represents the inherent risks of innovation itself.

“The history of innovation, of course, is littered with failures. Even Thomas Edison bet badly, as in his development of direct-current electricity that proved inferior to alternating current. Aviation innovation is especially risky because the stakes are so high. A crashed laptop might lose data, but a crashed plane kills people,” says The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Michaels.

In Davos, A Love Affair With Social Entrepreneurship
Among those financial leaders gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum, love is in the air – at least, love with the idea of social enterprise as an emerging solution to some of the world’s problems. But, one participant urges those gathered to step back and reevaluate their faith in the practice.

“What has arisen for elites is social enterprise as the solution, a remaking of the world in the image that has made them successful. Charity is no longer charity: it is applying capitalism to make the poor rich.

“While it would be convenient and gratifying if maximizing profit and minimizing social suffering worked well together, evidence suggests that in many instances, the combination is a volatile one,” cautions Erica Dhawan in an article in Forbes.



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