Hang on to your Ding-Dongs and hide your Ho-Ho's in a closet because Hostess Bakeries are closed. The famous maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread announced it's closure today after filing for bankruptcy at the beginning of the year. Facing a culture that increasingly values healthy food choices as well as an uncertain economy, Hostess had negotiated an 8% pay cut with their employees to keep the company in business, but unions fought against the cuts and initiated a strike. The massive nationwide strike was too much for the struggling bakery to overcome and the proverbial cake has fallen flat.
According to Becker, most of the company's employees had approved an 8 percent pay cut for the coming year, but the members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union had voted against the reduction and a change in the pension plan.
Becker stressed that lingering pension obligations and other expenses felled the company, and not demand for its products.
The unions, of course, blame Wall Street greed for years of mismanagement, but it was union greed that led to the demise in the last act of this play. At some point, unions have to be willing to make concessions to keep a company alive. Allowing the company to close and lay off over 18,000 workers in this economy was the wrong decision no matter how strongly they believe in their principles.
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The launch countdown was peppered with tributes to the shuttle's launch team. The "closeout crew" who locked the commander and his crew safely into the cockpit emerged from the white room – the environmentally controlled chamber that docks with the cockpit door – holding signs with the message: "On behalf of all who have designed and built, serviced and loaded, launched and controlled, operated and flown these magnificent space vehicles … Thank you for 30 years with our nation's space shuttles! Godspeed Atlantis! God bless America!"
But with just 31 seconds to go, the clock was stopped after a sensor falsely reported the shuttle's "beanie cap" covering the external fuel tank had not retracted, but it was a minor issue that delayed the launch by only three minutes. Despite the hitch, Nasa officials described the launch as "flawless".
Atlantis then climbed through cloud on its nine-minute journey into orbit, leaving a thick plume of smoke in the air and shaking the ground with the rumble from its three powerful engines.
"I'm sat here with a tear in my eye," said Bill Nelson, a retired astronaut who flew a mission aboard the shuttle Columbia in 1986 and who is now a staunch defender of Nasa as US Senator for Florida.
"There's a lot of emotion here because an era is passing, and jobs are going with that passing. But in 30 years of space shuttle activity, look at what we've learned, look at the technologies we've developed."
When I realized today was the last space shuttle launch, I was upset and dissappointed. I immediately reacted like the president and tried to point my finger at someone on whome I could place blame. Why would we close NASA?
Well, we aren't closing NASA.
I say again, we are not closing NASA, we just are not using government innovation to build space shuttles and the shuttles we have are old enough to retire. Instead, the future of America's travels into space will rely on vessels manufactured by private companies. I am sure that is no comfort to those who are losing their jobs building space shuttles. Hopefully, private industry has a desire for space travel and they can pick up some of the folks who used to build space shuttles.
Other than the layoffs, I thing this is a good thing. In an economic environment such as the one we are in now, we need to reduce government spending by cutting unneccesarry programs. Space travel, while compelling, is not necessary now. We could also cut funding to programs like PBS, NPR, and the National Endowment for the Arts--all nice projects, of course, but not necessary during a bad economy.
By cutting uneccessary spending, we don't have to threaten to raise taxes. When people pay fewer taxes, they have more money to spend and to give to charitable organizations of their choice. This leads to greater consumer confidence that will drive our economy back into a positive direction.