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Matt Stoller: The Liquidation of Society versus the Global Labor Revival

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By Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. His Twitter feed is http://www.twitter.com/matthewstoller.

Today, the city of Providence, Rhode Island sent out layoff notices to every single teacher in the city. Every single one of them. If you want to understand why this is happening, why wages in the US keep getting cut, this chart from Doug Henwood tells the story.

That’s the number of strikes since 1947. What you’ll notice is that people in America just don’t strike anymore. Why? Well, their jobs have been shipped off to factory countries, their unions have been broken, and their salaries until recently have been supplemented by credit. It’s part of a giant labor arbitrage game, that the Federal Reserve and elites in both parties are happy to play. Strike, and you’re fired. Don’t strike, and your pay is probably going to be cut. Don’t like it? Sorry, we can open a plant abroad. And we have institutions, like the IMF, to make sure that we get goods from those factory-countries, and get them cheap.

But it’s not cheaper, or better, or more efficient. Firing your teachers isn’t exactly “winning the future”. And outsourcing manufacturing, as Boeing found out, is often a good way to increase coordination costs, create more operational risk, and destroy value. However, the system is good at maintaining the power of oligarch-style control of cultural institutions. If no one but the kids of rich people can read, only the kids of rich people will be able to organize society’s resources. Outsourcing work to China means that workers are scared and have no leverage, so they do what management wants. Again, this isn’t efficient; the UAW sought to make small cars in the 1940s, but was rebuffed by management. Workers are closest to production; treating them terribly is a good way to degrade product quality. Silicon Valley companies give their engineers free snacks and frisbees because happy employees that take ownership over their work create good quality products. Treating people terribly scares them, and makes them more pliable. Again, it’s about control.

The problem for the elites is that the system of control is breaking down. I noted a week and a half ago that the Egyptian revolution was a labor uprising against Rubinites. So to the extent that global labor arbitrage relies on sweatshops and environmental degradation in poor countries for cheap goods, successful strikes in poor countries undercuts the whole system. The reason to outsource work in the first place is to prevent workers in rich countries from gaining pricing and political power. Now workers in poor countries are getting pricing and political power? It’s actually a fragile system of control, and can be broken through either crackdowns on tax havens and oligarchs in wealthy countries or protests/strikes where the goods are made.

The Egyptian revolution was really a series of protests and highly politicized strikes, which is why people in Madison are taking inspiration from Cairo. In fact, the actions in Egypt may be creating a wave of labor actions worldwide, rippling to Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio. All of these strikes are aimed at a collusive set of tight relationships. Here’s new Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott in a back and forth with public employees explaining how this system works. One worker asked him about proposed benefit cuts in the face of a multi-year freeze in salaries and layoffs.

“Do you fully realize the gross unfairness of that proposal?” one worker asked Scott.

Scott said a change was needed and that, “You never know exactly what’s fair.”

“Right now your plan in underfunded, whether anyone wants to acknowledge it or not,” Scott said. “So whoever the youngest is, everyone else should thank them because there might not be a pension plan, just like we’re worried about Social Security.”

Scott didn’t mention the pension fund is about 88 percent funded – among the best in the country – while Social Security is scheduled to start paying out more than it takes in as soon as 2014.

Instead, Scott said both government and the private sector have less money to spend “and you guys all cause it.”

“As an example, you all shop at WalMart, right?” Scott said. “You don’t say, ‘Golly, I’m going to buy the product because they have a better pension plan or better health care plan or pay more taxes. You say, ‘I’m going to buy based on price.’

“That’s what taxpayers are doing now,” he said. “They’re moving around the country to pick states where they can keep more and more of their dollars. So what we’ve got to do … we’ve got to figure out how to get more efficient every day.”

A female worker was cheered when she asked this follow-up: “How do you expect employees to pay for these increases when we ourselves have not had an increase?”

“I would never defend that any compensation is ever fair for anybody, especially the hardest working people,” Scott said. “It’s never fair and it never will be fair.”

There’s a reason Scott is incoherent. Florida’s pension fund has lots of money in it, and Scott wants to make sure that workers don’t get very much of it. “You never know exactly what’s fair” and “It’s never fair and never will be fair” are cynical Rumsfeld-ian post-modern excuses for wealth transfers upward.

In this 5 minute long answer to another question of why workers are taking cuts while the wealthy do not have to share in the sacrifice, Scott spends time talking about luring companies to Florida, to compete with countries like China.

“There’s a reason [the jobs are overseas]. The labor’s less expensive, the regulation’s less expensive. Everything we do to make it harder on businesspeople means fewer jobs in Florida and less money to do the things we want to do.

This is absurd in one sense, because Florida’s problems have nothing to do with regulation. The whole state is underwater from a housing crash, and there’s just not enough aggregate demand to bring down unemployment. But these economic theories aren’t about efficiency, they are about a value system. Scott is arguing for a low trust low cost world, with no education, no regulatory standards, and low quality output. This is the dominant strain of thinking among American elites. It’s not just Rhode Island, where the teachers are literally all under threat of being fired (and where in 2010 Obama apparently sought to win the future by applauding this firing of teachers). In New York, Democratic Governor and prospective 2016 Presidential candidate Andrew Cuomo is gleefully slashing huge chunks of education and health care rather than retain a mild tax on the wealthy. This is a great way to increase crime, disease rates, and social disorder resulting from inequality.

Cuomo is just acting like a standard neoliberal Democrat. Obama has put forward a proposed pay freeze on non-security state Federal government workers, and Senate Democrats want to extent that for at least five years. That’s their starting position negotiating against the GOP. You can’t have a good regulatory state when you don’t pay regulators good wages. Instead, what you have when government is expansive and poorly run is big government corruption.

The GOP likes to foster corruption through privatization of public services, a shadow large government in the form of security contractors, corporations, and banks that are supported with taxpayer money but consider themselves part of the “private sector”. The elite Democratic model of governance is more subtle; it is embodied in high expertise-driven regulatory programs like the health care bill, cap and trade, GSE reform and Dodd-Frank. Low pay for regulators means corruption in the form of the revolving door. Whether it’s Scott Walker demanding the right to give state power plants and Medicaid money to oligarchs, or revolving door corruption through low pay to regulators, the real agenda of the elites seems to be: cuts for you, corruption for me. Whether the state Senate Democrats in Wisconsin represent an anomaly, or a trend, is an open question. Efficient this is not, but again, it’s not about efficiency, it’s about control.

Egyptians are trying to throw off the IMF-imposed austerity measures that created such a system for their country. The new government there is proposing raising taxes on oligarchs, increasing food subsidies, and reducing inequality. Their new cabinet is letting more people apply for “monthly portions of sugar, cooking oil, and rice.” The previous cabinet, “which was comprised of businessmen and former corporate executives”, had refused this.

And look at how Egypt is treating public employees: “Temporary workers who have spent at least three years working for the government will now be given permanent contracts that carry higher salaries, and benefits such as pension plans, and health and social insurance.”

Pension plans, health, and social insurance, oh my! How are they planning to pay for this? One member of a left-of-center party made it quite clear:

Confiscating wealth looted by cronies of the former regime, more egalitarian distribution of wealth, gradual taxation, better government oversight, and placing “a reasonable ceiling” on profitability of goods and services sold to the public are among the measures that should restore an economic balance to society, he said.

It is too early to pretend like this is a done deal, but it is certainly the case that the mass exercise of people-power in Egypt made this far more possible than it had been before. Even after Mubarak resigned, and even when the army tried to ban labor gatherings, the Egyptian labor movement continued to strike, gather, and make demands.

As Daniel Ellsberg once said, “Courage is contagious.” And what happened in Wisconsin came from the inspiration of see millions of powerless people join together and overthrow a regime in Egypt. It didn’t come from union leaders, who have been perpetually unprepared for the onslaught against them. Just look at the webpage of the AFL-CIO of Wisconsin. It looks like it was designed by Geocities in 1997. Yet, #wiunion has been trending on and off for a week on Twitter, and has inspired actions all over the country (check out the Cheesehead protest in NYC).

This upsurge certainly didn’t come from the Democratic Party leadership. I mean, Rhode Island is a pretty reliable blue state and the last Mayor of Providence was just elected to Congress as a Democrat. Meanwhile, Former Democratic Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is saying the Wisconsin state Senators need to get back to work. And what is striking about Obama’s posture on the greatest uprising in American labor history of this century, is how he is really nowhere, meekly tut-tutting about union busting while gravely acknowledging fiscal realities and tough choices. But the Wisconsin protests happen every day, without formal authority structures. This quote from the Huffington Post Hill newsletter shows that there is something new going on.

Tom O’Grady, a union sheet metal worker from Sun Prairie, Wis., said the sight of youngsters protesting against Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to gut collective bargaining rights is bittersweet. “It’s humbling,” said O’Grady, 60. “We see all these kids, they may never have a union job, and they’re here every night for us? It’s very humbling.”

Striking just isn’t in the collective memory of the American public anymore. This kind of highly politicized hybrid political protest/strike walks like an Egyptian these days, which is why Egyptians were sending Wisconsinites pizza and Madison protesters were holding signs lauding teachers, workers, and the new Egyptian flag. In fact, Madison may represent a new kind of American labor model, the melding of old school unions, Howard Dean-style internet-based organizing, Anonymous-style serious pranking, and social media reporting on protests and policy. There’s an anti-bailout class-based fervor here as well, with a simmering anger at Wall Street as subtext. It’s headless and global, though there is leadership. The most powerful moment so far in the Wisconsin conflict didn’t come from the actions of a labor leader, but from a prank call by alt-weekly “Buffalo Beast” editor Ian Murphy, who pretended to be billionaire American oligarch David Koch and had a frank 20 minute conversation with Governor Scott Walker. Murphy originally wanted to pose as Hosni Mubarak, but couldn’t pull off the accent.

Perversely, people may be so beaten down that they only want to side with institutions that are visibly and aggressively advocating for them. This might lead them to recognize that middle class interests are aligned with those of labor, which was the widespread view in the first generation after World War II. However, that also means that the de facto business unionism of the 1970s onward isn’t appealing. People might only like unions when they see strikes, otherwise all they hear about is backroom negotiations. Perhaps effectively striking is actually the way to force people to ask questions about what kind of country they want to live in. I haven’t seen this much labor coverage since, well, ever in my lifetime. There seems to be multiple feedback loops at work: political, global, and economic.

As commodity prices shoot up, and become more volatile, the pressure to liquidate America will only increase. These increases take the form of gifting public assets to oligarchs, taxing the middle class and poor, slashing social service budgets, and cutting wages through inflation and outright demotions (like the NYC sanitation workers that were demoted right before a giant blizzard). But civil unrest is intensifying it its most basic forms: protests and strikes, and in advanced forms, like the blowback at the national security state embodied in the HB Gary and WIkileaks fiasco.

What we are seeing is two political and economic systems, increasingly at odds – high trust and cooperative, or dominance-based and lowest common denominator. This is not, fundamentally, a debate about economics. It is true that neoclassical economics doesn’t work, leads to corruption, and is intellectually dishonest. But that’s why this isn’t a question of economics, because the dishonesty is part of a system of corrupted values.

It is Andrew Mellon morality, the kind that led to the Great Depression (and will lead again to catastrophe):

“Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate. It will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.”

Or it is the morality of Martin Luther King:

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Sometimes it really is that simple.

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296 comments

  1. Canucklehead

    No where in your article did I see anything relating unions to innovation. How can the Wisconsin teachers union innovate to increase class size and cut the costs of education? How can other sectors innovate and relieve the building tax burden on those private sector people who need innovation in order to survive?

    It’s nice to beat the drum, but 85% of the people will simply tap their toes to the music. If you want people to dance, you need to get them off their seats.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      What evidence do you have that unions are anti innovation? Stoller pointed out that the UAW pushed for small cars decades before the Japanese onslaught! And unions are very strong in Germany, and its Mittelstand companies are known for being innovative. Ditto Sweden.

      This is unproven prejudice on your behalf. Studies of the demise of the auto industry shows it has more to do with out of touch management than the unions And per a very good story in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, GM was producing really good cars with great JD Power satisfaction ratings before the financial crisis. It really was a victim of the deep recession, its turnaround-in-progress was halted. But the media never questioned the WSJ “blame the unions” meme.

      Whether workers are motivated depends very much on management. It’s been very convenient for US management to blame unions. I was at Harvard Business School in the stagflationary late 1970s, and NO ONE blamed unions for the decline of American manufacturers. The culprits were seen as old factories and management that was too hierarchical and unlike the Japanese and Germans, not good at working with factory labor. Look at the success the Japanese had with the NUMMI plant! From Wikipedia:

      At the time of its closure, the Fremont employees were “considered the worst workforce in the automobile industry in the United States”, according to the United Auto Workers. Employees drank alcohol on the job, were frequently absent (enough so that the production line couldn’t be started), and even committed petty acts of sabotage such as putting “Coke bottles inside the door panels, so they’d rattle and annoy the customer.” In spite of the history and reputation, when NUMMI reopened the factory for production in 1984, most of the troublesome GM workforce was rehired, with some sent to Japan to learn the Toyota Production System. Workers who made the transition identified the emphasis on quality and teamwork by Toyota management as what motivated a change in work ethic….And almost right away, the NUMMI factory was producing cars with as few defects per 100 vehicles as those produced in Japan

      1. Redgerrymander

        I worked for a number of years in Austria, a country with a very similar set-up to Germany. There, all wages – for union and non-union alike – were set across industries, meaning that everyone was paid at the same basic rate. Oh, and everyone had benefits and 6 weeks vacation from the get go.

        I worked as a manager, and I was part of a union. Everyone was… except for senior management. Union reps were also included on all corporate boards of directors.

        The end result? No strikes or labor unrest for decades. Low crime and reduced poverty. Universal healthcare including dental… and, one of the highest living standards in the world.

        But, I guess they just don’t get it. A better model seems to be Somalia, where its small ‘government’ has withered away because of the incredibly efficiencies and animal spirits of local Free Market entrepreneurs!

        1. Walter Westcot

          You left out the most important element – CULTURAL, ETHNIC AND RACIAL similarity.

          The Scandinavians have the same system – and then they started importing Turks and other Arabs to do the dirty work for less pay…. while the Danes take Ballroom Dance classes with their healthcare benefits.

          Every action has an opposite but equal reaction, no?

          the breeders are the Turks and Arabs… the Danes are not.

          That system is headed off a cliff unless they begin deportations like Germany.

          Breeders vs non breeders.

          White vs Brown –

          We cannot cease from exploration, and the result of our travels will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time…. Goebbels couldn’t have said it better.

          1. aet

            Ethnic or racial similarity is required?
            religious similarity too? Not income similarity?

            Cultural similarity not enough? If not, why?

          2. DownSouth

            Walter,

            It’s been a long time since we’ve heard arguments that are as explicitly racist as yours in the United States. It’s not that the racist arguments don’t exist anymore, it’s just that they’ve become more subtle, expressed with code words that fly under the radar and give plausible deniability.

            Anyway, if we want to turn the page back 100 years, here’s how it looked in the U.S. a century ago:

            In a 1921 issue of the “Annals of the American Academy,” Congressman James Slayden of San Antonio criticized growers and businessmen for failing to look “beyond the next cotton crop or the betterment of railway lines.” As Slayden put it, “large planters short of labor…welcome the Mexican immigrants as they would welcome fresh arrivals from the Congo, without a thought of the social and political embarrassment to their country.” Substituting the Mexican for the black, moreover, was “jumping from the frying pan into the fire.” What this might mean, Slayden concluded, “no one can tell. Probably our safety and peace lies in the fact that as yet so few of them, comparatively, are coming.”

            Slayden’s assessment of the situation, however, came before the “deluge” of Mexican immigrants in the 1920s. As they kept coming, and in increasing numbers, the outcry about social decay reached near-hysterical levels. Eugenicists pointed out with alarm that Mexicans were not only intellectually inferior—-they were also quite “fecund.” Imaginative calculations were formulated to drive home the point. C.M. Goethe, president of the Immigration Study Commission, speaking of a Los Angeles Mexican with thirty-three children, figured that “it would take 14,641 American fathers…at a three-child rate, to equal the descendants of this one Mexican father four generations hence.” One journalist who traveled through the Midwestern and Rocky Mountain states in 1926 reported that this type of hysteria—-what he called “statistical terrorism”—-had gripped the region. “Nearly every streetcorner nativist could prove,” wrote the journalist tongue in cheek, that “the last Nordic family in the republic will have to choose between starvation and emigration to Greenland on or about October 17, 2077 A.D.”

            [….]

            In short, the Mexican problem had nothing to do with integration or assimilation, rather, it was a question of locating another inferior race in American society. There was general agreement, in Texas and elsewhere, that Mexicans were not a legitimate citizenry of the United States. They were outside the civic order, and references to American national integrity and Texas history were often ill-disguised claims of Anglo supremacy. A comparison with the “Negro problem” seemed natural…

            Texas labor historian Ruth Allen…voiced a similar concern eloquently: “When the Negro had begun to rise out of the semi-peonage of the one-crop farm and a vicious credit system, we brought across the Rio Grande horde after horde of Mexican peons even more ignorant and helpless than the Negro. One can only marvel at the temerity of a people who, faced with the gravest race question of all time, have injected into their civilization a second group, alien in background and language, and not readily assimilable.</i/
            –David Montejano,
            Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986

          3. Pixy Dust

            Walter,
            Your antebellum sense of privilege, entitlement and superiority is disgusting. Only the most debased American would subscribe to this. Unfortunately they seem to be in GOP governor’s mansions.

          4. Pixy Dust

            And one other thing Walter -

            We shall not cease from exploration
            And the end of all our exploring
            Will be to arrive where we started
            And know the place for the first time.
            by T.S. Eliot

            You’re correct, Goebbels couldn’t have said it better because Goebbels could have said it at all. He was spiritually devoid and incapable.

          5. Dunixi

            “Breeders” will surely get you the reflexive response you desire, but won’t advance your point. If you instead addressed the significant advantages that German and Japanese mono-cultures enjoy when assembling teams you’d have a better argument. Or, if you noted the huge carrying costs that cities such as Los Angeles suffer under when the social dysfunction of multicultural efforts have so obviously failed our young and old alike, you’d help those forced to filter the world through their politically correct sunglasses see your viewpoint a bit more clearly.

          1. Francois T

            According to the description of Austria above, this socialism thingie doesn’t look bad, does it?

            So, why the all caps? To broadcast your enthusiasm?

            Aaah! Now I get it!

        2. Somalian Dreams

          After food stamps run out, I can see Detroit becoming like Somalia, and other cities across America that will fall into decay!

      2. Dan Duncan

        While you’re at it, here’s another correlation for you:

        Did you know that Civil Rights have increased since 1947? Think about this for a second: Back in the Union Heyday of 1947, what was the racial and gender breakdown of the Union Worker? [Think White and Male.]

        Hmmm, the wheels are really turning now: Civil Rights are Up and Unions are Down. Improvements in Equal Hiring for minorities, including blacks and women have diluted union power. [BTW: All this is part of Stoller's Labor Arbitrage Theory. See last sentence of his second paragraph.]

        “Don’t like it? Sorry, we can tap into a pool of eager minorities to replace you. And we have institutions like EEOC and Affirmative Action laws to make sure we always have a plenty of replacements.”

        ERGO, Stoller and Archie Bunker along with Yves and Edith Bunker all regret the Civil Rights Movement! They see it as the precursor of Globalization.

        I can just see (and unfortunately, hear) Archie “Bunker” Stoller sucking on his stogie and Yves “Bunker” Smith sitting at the piano in their humble Union abode (in freaking Manhattan!) belting out the beginning of All in the Family:

        Boy the way Glen Miller played
        Songs that made the hit parade.
        Guys like us we had it made,
        Those were the days.

        And you knew who you were then,
        Girls were girls and men were men,
        Mister we could use a man
        Like Herbert Hoover again.

        Didn’t need no welfare state,
        Everybody pulled his weight.
        Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
        Those were the days.

        1. DownSouth

          Dan,

          That’s a beguiling sophistry you tout, and a trap that’s way too easy to fall into. But your moral compass is 180 degrees out of phase with that of Martin Luther King’s.

          Your intent is to pit worker rights against civil rights. The “logic” is that civil rights can only be promoted at the expense of worker rights, and vice versa. But your thinking is atavistic, the petrifaction of a 1950s liberalism.

          It’s certainly fair to say that labor rights have lost some of their exclusivity. Since the 1960s, the battle against social injustice has been fought on many fronts. But to argue that labor rights are pitted against civil rights is an argument made only by right-wing reactionaries. Those who fight for civil rights and those who fight for labor rights are not enemies, but allies. They share a common foe: society’s injustices.

          Here’s how Stephen Toulmin put it in Cosmopolis:

          Before Kennedy’s time, politicians thought of their issues as resting on matters of technique. They took for granted the goals of national politics, and argued about the best means of fulfilling them… After 1965, this changed: aside from the Vietnam debates, the 1960s saw a move away from a politics of national goals—-which aimed at consensus—-toward a politics aimed at redressing traditional injustices, driven by a confrontation of sectional interests. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the upper (“respectable”) classes had assumed that the varied and numerous lower (“unfortunate”) classes “knew their places,” and could, if necessary, be kept in those places by social pressure of some kind.

          Now, all these classes began to speak up for themselves, in distinct but concerted tones. In theory, the interests of NAACP, La Raza, the Grey Panthers, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, were anything but identical: in practice, they united in opposition to those structural rigidities that “respectable” people had viewed as inevitable preconditions for a stable social order. There followed a sequence of assaults on the inequalities entrenched in European society around 1700, and legitimated by the new cosmopolis. Institutionalized racism, a flagrant injustice left long unaddressed, was the first to become a target of the civil rights movement. This was followed by others. Throughout the 1970s, all the inequalities built into modern society came under attack in turn: women, the elderly, the handicapped, lesbians and gays, all spoke up, one group after the other. Those who never questioned the rights and wrongs of modern nationhood found it a terrible shock. Jesus said, “The poor ye have always with you”—-i.e., deserving objects of charity are always near at hand. Now, many believers in “traditional values” understood Him to mean, rather, that it is the business of the poor to stay poor, of blacks to stay deferent, of women to stay home, of the handicapped to stay in the back room, and of homosexuals to stay in the closet.

          So Dan, you just tell me how the fight against economic injustice doesn’t square with the larger battle against all injustice.

          1. anon2

            DownSouth said: “But your moral compass is 180 degrees out of phase with that of Martin Luther King’s.”

            Dan Duncan’s “moral compass” is probably closer to Patrick Bateman (from the Bret Easton Ellis novel “American Psycho”) than Martin Luther King.

            Patrick Bateman: [voice-over] “There is a moment of sheer panic when I realize that Paul’s apartment overlooks the park… and is obviously more expensive than mine.”

          2. JTFaraday

            “So Dan, you just tell me how the fight against economic injustice doesn’t square with the larger battle against all injustice.”

            Well, in hindsight, the socialist feminist philosopher Nancy Fraser thinks there were some issues. Here she focuses on the sidelining of redistributive justice in favor of cultural representation:

            http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=2248

            Here she wonders if feminism hasn’t become a handmaiden of neo-liberalism:

            http://www.newschool.edu/uploadedFiles/Faculty/NSSR/Fraser_NLR.pdf?n=4644

            And she was still optimistic about Obama. At least at the time this was written. Not one harsh word about the Cintonite and Obamabot identity politicians beating each other over the head during the 2008 D-Party primary like Punch and Judy.

            Certainly, cultural liberals (which is what MOST of them were prior to the truly spectacular collapse of the economy in late 2008) can at least be accused of a lack of attention to economic issues–not to mention the overall state of the economy. The only thing Obama, a constitutional scholar focused on race and representation, apparently knows about it is how he’s going to stuff his wallet, following Clinton in getting rich off the US Presidency. (Now that’s taking equality literally).

            That works for him, maybe, but that same lack of attention is going to come back and bite many other genteel cultural liberals right smack in the butt in the end.

            So, for whatever reason–the inability to hold several thoughts simultaneously in their heads, maybe–I would agree there are some issues.

          3. DownSouth

            JTFaraday,

            Thanks for the articles. It will take me some time to read and digest them, as they are both quite long. However, I will do that as this is a subject which I find most intriguing, and absoltely necessary to understand if the battle for economic justice is to be successfully waged.

            Up until very recently, I was also beset by many doubts regarding the new “identity politics” that emerged in the 1960s. My grassroots experience was in the Gay and Lesbian movement, and as an affluent white man with a blue collar background, and with so much economic injustice around me everywhere, I often asked myself: “What the hell are you doing? If I really believed in what I say I believe in, wouldn’t I be fighting the battle against economic injustice?” I’ve changed my mind, however. I think key texts in altering my way of thinking were Lawrence Goodwyn’s The Populist Moment. Aafter reading that, I went back and reviewed the literature of W.E.B. Dubois, Martin Luther King, James Baldwin and Cornel West. Then what helped to tie it all together and unite it under a larger moral and intellectual framework was Steven Toulmin’s Cosmopolis.

            The bottom line is this: Until we get some of the cultural battles fought, there will be no pressing the economic battle, because the ruling oligarchs will use these cultural differences to pit the underclasses against each other.

            As some commenters on this thread have pointed out (and some with malicious intentions), look how racist labor unions were back in the 1950s. I think Mighty Booosh’s comment in this thread is also key, because he points out how much headway we have made on the cultural front in the last 50 years.

            I think MLK’s battles were never really black vs. white, but black vs. black. He had to overcome both the passive nihilists and the active nihilists within the black community. The black nihilists pursue the worst sort of identity politics, countering white racism with black racism. And this is certainly not constructive.

            However, what I see emerging in Egypt seems to be something very different, not the forces of acticve nihilism, but something more in line with the teachings of Gandhi and MLK. It’s the only thing I’ve seen that offers any hope of moving beyond Modernism and achieving greater economic justice.

        2. CaitlinO

          “Think about this for a second: Back in the Union Heyday of 1947, what was the racial and gender breakdown of the Union Worker? [Think White and Male.]”

          That was also the gender/race breakdown of management, the professions, clerics, and elected officials.

          You’re making no sense.

          1. Mel

            There’s plenty of room for everybody now at the bottom. Since the global political mood has shifted it’s much harder for America to colonize other countries. They’re having to settle for colonizing each other.

          2. Dan Duncan

            Of course I’m not making sense. That was the freaking point. Stoller used a stupid, illusory correlation…so I thought I’d do the same. The hyperventilating responses are a riot.

            I can just see DownSouth furiously typing away with one hand, breathing into a his paper bag with the other…Hitting me with “fact” after “fact”…when the post was a joke to begin with….

            Hilarious.

          3. DownSouth

            Dan Duncan,

            If it was a joke, then why all the anger and cynicism?

            You are an extremely bitter man, and I don’t think anybody’s fooled, or entertained.

          4. Anonymous Jones

            Ha, Dan! I realized that you *thought* you were making a point.

            This just in…it wasn’t a good one!

            Yes, you wanted to try to make a “Modest Proposal” type mockery of dumb conclusions based on correlations. But that is not very persuasive or interesting. Just because some correlations don’t show any causation or deeper meaning doesn’t mean all correlations don’t. Should we just ignore all correlations and evidence then? It’s preposterous, just like almost all of your half-baked attempts at cleverness.

            Talk about sophomoric thinking, one of your favorite little phrases…

        3. ChrisTiburon

          San Francisco is a sterling example of what you
          wrote.
          The local publicly owned bus system, the
          Municipal Railway, one of the few holdouts against
          the GM/Standard Oil/Firestone Tire/National Cities
          Bus Line combine that destroyed publicly owned transit in America is a de facto guaranteed job for life for the city’s non-White population.

          Now they have merged the bus system with the Parking Control,
          The Department of Parking and Traffic, aka
          “The Department of Rapacious Revenue”.

          It’s extreme, it’s real and it’s visible any
          day on the streets of San Francisco, one of the most
          allegedly liberal cities in the nation, a place rotten
          to the political core with patronage and corruption
          and the bastion of an allegedly Democratic Party.

          1. DownSouth

            So let me get this straight.

            Census figures indicate the city of San Francisco has a population of 744,041, of which 50.3% or 374,253 are non-White.

            Municipal Railway has a total of 5,017 employees.

            So Municipal Railway “is a de facto guaranteed job for life for the city’s non-White population”?

            I didn’t think it was possible to get more disconected from reality than Dan Duncan, but I think maybe you’ve managed to beat him out by a nose in that regard.

          2. ChrisTiburon

            The MUNI railway’s drivers are 94% Black, ok, maybe I exaggerated? Here’s the MUNI and the DPT’s management and pay:You can make your own conclusions:

            Top 10 2009 San Francisco Dept Of Public Transportation
            $210,549 Lionel unter Transit Operator
            $204,070 Carter R Rohan Deputy Director II – Municipal Transportation Ag
            $197,463 Kenneth A Mcdonald Deputy Director II – Municipal Transportation Ag
            $193,921 Samuel W Lau Deputy Director I – Municipal Transportation Age
            $189,922 Christiane Hayashi Deputy Director I – Municipal Transportation Age
            $188,775 Jeffrey Eng Transit Supervisor
            $187,551 Peter Straus Director Of Planning, Municipal Railway
            $186,111 Juliano P Nocos Jr Train Controller
            $185,427 John O Funghi Associate Engineer
            $185,427 Kenneth D Jew Principal Civil Engineer
            $192,922 Average

            Does NOT include: Vacation, Medical, Dental nor Pension

            $316,459 Nathan Ford General Manager
            $210,410 Vicki Rambo Deputy Director II
            $207,203 Debra Johnson Deputy Director II
            $206,434 Sonali Bose Deputy Director II
            $181,879 Gina Tomlinson Manager VII
            $165,874 Elena Chiong Manager VIII
            $163,627 Kerstin Magary Manager VIII
            $160,410 Jun Chen Manager VIII
            $160,261 James Levine Is Engineer
            $160,201 Alice Kwong Manager V
            $1,932,758 Top Avg of Top: $193,276

            2008 Top 10 Parking And Traffic Commission
            $197,397 Bond Yee Deputy Dir II – MTA
            $161,766 John Fleck Prin Civil Engineer
            $144,067 Tom Folks Senior Engineer
            $144,067 Dan Arellano Senior Engineer
            $144,067 Harvey Quan Senior Engineer
            $137,991 Lauren Green Electrician Sup II
            $136,441 Amit Kothari Deputy Dir I – MTA
            $134,542 Qinhua Liu Senior Engineer
            $128,929 Everett Timmer Electrician
            $127,411 Tony Coe Manager V – MTA
            $145,668 Average

            Top 10 highest paid Senior Parking Control Officers 2008:
            $79,600 Jose Uribe
            $77,144 Mike Woodruff
            $76,490 Carlos Machado
            $75,587 Bill Kettle
            $74,563 Vic Raquinan
            $73,132 Greg Sedlock
            $72,686 Maria Contreras
            $70,954 Curtis Smith
            $69,384 Darlene Delphino
            $68,255 Kathy Sullivan
            $73,780 Average

            Keep in mind, it is a very responsible position running Muni, therefore it is necessary to pay Nathan Ford $316,459 as compared to the following folks:

            $400,000 US President
            $208,000 US Vice President
            $162,000 US Senator
            $162,000 US Congress
            $199,000 US Supreme Court

          3. Stelios Theoharidis

            I quite enjoy when fools get all butt hurt about the top ten salaries of a public organization. With a workforce of nearly 5,000, serving more than 200 million customers a year. Many of these administrators have likely been doing this work for their entire lives, compared to any private sector executive they make a pittance.

            You are high as a kite if you think any business with 5,000 employees would pay its top ten executive level staff around $1,932,758 a year total. One of them might make that.

            Your comparison? The salaries of presidents, congressmen and senators. When we all know how the golden parachute will roll out when any of those individuals get out of office. When we all know their stock portfolios do terribly better than any benchmarks.

            What exactly are you fumed about? That someone with 30+ years of experience is making, gasp $250,000 a year. Stop the presses its a travesty.

        4. Pixy Dust

          Gee Dan,
          Who is this “we” you keep referring to? Our EEOC and Affirmative Action Laws are ours. Not yours to give and chose as you please.

        5. YankeeFrank

          Dan,

          Manhattan ferchrissakes? The Bunkers lived in Brooklyn and plenty of poor and middle class people live in Manhattan as well. Oh, and the oligarchs did not crush identity politics the same way they crushed union politics – hence we get the tragicomic Obama instead of a true progressive. Your comments come from a place of fear — a 100% republican fear that there is just not enough for all of us so its either the blacks or the whites who get a cut of the pie. In an age of incredible over-production of food and other commodities, technology making a utopian society more and more possible, and you bring out the old fears which, by the way, were ginned up by the same plutocrats who are trying to crush our public unions now. There is enough for all, unless the fatcats horde for speculation and artificial scarcity purposes, to keep, as Matt Stoller indicates, us afraid and weak. Their time is coming, you can feel it in the air. The internet is one of the tools that is breaking their grip on thought and information, and human connection. You can leave your fears behind and join the future.

          1. Paul Repstock

            Excellent post Frank. And without the fear we can move forward to extend this bounty to the rest of the world. Yes, there is enough for all!

            The only difference is that the top one percent will not be enshrined in some permanent financial dictatorship.

        6. Mighty Booosh

          Some readings for you:
          Brodkin, Karen. 1998. How Jews became White Folks; and what that says about race in America.
          Ignatiev, Noel. 1996. How the Irish became White.
          Guglielmo and Salerno. 2003. Are Italians White? How race gets made in America.
          Roediger 2005. Working towards Whiteness: How America’s immigrants became White, or the strange journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs.

          Race and ethnicity has always been used as a wedge by the wealthy against the poor and working class. In the late 19th century on the west coast the Chinese and east Asians from the British Colonies were chased out at gunpoint. Earlier in the century the Irish were considered non-white for all intents and purposes. Italians, Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ukrainians, Norwegians, Finns and Swedes have all done their turn in the barrel, as have the Welsh, Scots, Yorkshiremen, and so on.
          Save for east Asians and Persians (perceived as Muslims by skin tone, language and dress), I think America is almost over black-white racism just as it is a bit more over racism and prejudice against light complected Europeans.

          1. Strata

            “I think America is almost over black-white racism just as it is a bit more over racism and prejudice against light complected Europeans. HaHaHaHaHaHa…..Keep dreaming! What are you smoking? It must give you a really super high!

        7. Michael Fiorillo

          Dan Duncan,

          You pose a conflict between labor rights and civil rights, and get it wrong all down the line. Two brief examples are the fact that the industrial unions of the CIO (UAW, Steelworkers, United Electrical Workers, Packinghouse Workers, etc.) were ahead of their time in fighting discrimination in employment, whether based on rqceo r sex. And, second, Archie Bunker’s theme song lauds herbert Hoover, not the New Deal.

        8. Francois T

          “Did you know that Civil Rights have increased since 1947?”

          Did you know that Civil Rights have been under relentless bipartisan assault for at least 25 years in this country?

          Read Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com. A rather illuminating experience, trust me.

      3. Canucklehead

        Interesting comment.

        Why can’t you incorporate computer aided instruction and also incorporate the use of teachers aides to deliver the curriculum? In the end, you could get graduation rates up. After all, it’s about the children.

        Yves, I don’t understand your automobile industry reference related to teachers unions, or Wisconsin’s public sector debate. Do you see UAW as a public sector union?

        1. Pixy Dust

          Right. Why think at all. Institutions of higher education can be turned into cheap corporate training camps. No thinking necessary.

        2. backwardsevolution

          Canucklehead – “Why can’t you incorporate computer aided instruction and also incorporate the use of teachers aides to deliver the curriculum? In the end, you could get graduation rates up. After all, it’s about the children.”

          Step up to the plate, Canucklehead. Put your theory into practice. Let’s see your numbers.

          It’s nice to beat the drum, but 85% of the people will simply tap their toes to the music. If you want people to dance, you need to get them off their seats.

        3. Yves Smith Post author

          Funny how you try to disavow what you wrote when your point is rebutted effectively. Go read your opening comment. Your charge implicitly was that unions are anti-innovation. Stoller’s post was about global labor arbitrage. Local teachers can’t be arbed directly, but the logic of crushing workers (as he showed with the long Rick Scott quote, was based on labor arb) is based on global competitiveness arguments. So the issues are related in the bogus arguments against public sector workers and YOU tried making that connection.

        4. dameocrat

          This comment does highlight Stollers one mistake, which is acting like silicon valley plays no role in the oppression of labor, particularly Bill Gates and the Waiting for Superman crowd, and his direct attack on teachers, probably in the interest of selling education software. Furthermore he forgets their role in labor arbitrage, and outsourcing of software programming to india, not to mention the abuses as foxconn.

    2. Yankee

      I’m thinking of this great innovation of calling out the Kochbots for what they’re doing. Using the fiscal crisis to crush labor. The truth is very innovative.

    3. Paul Repstock

      Knuclehead; The job of teachers is to convey the prescribed curriculum to the students in the best ay they can. They are not required to reinvent the wheel. It would be nice if someone could find a way to do that better, but how many people are actually able to innovate in their jobs? Innovations generally cause disruption and cost time and money to retool the plant.

      If you are one of the lucky few who are very wealthy and can afford to hire private teachers for your kids, you can ask for innovation and probably get it. If, like me, your kids ent to a public school, you understand that a teacher in that system with classes of 30-40 kids is constrained. I’ve had my complaints about teachers …and every other profession. We all know that few people are perfect.

      Matt’s point was about the rights of the individual. What ever country you come from, that country and the wealth thereof is partly owned by each citizen. But, we have all been sold out by our governments. Remember Shelly Ann Clark!

      1. LeeAnne

        Paul, the system has been overwhelmed with corporate produced counterfeit money in the form of shares and leveraging beyond imagination into infinity.

        Part of that same banking system is US Drug Prohibition policy. It has produced a $ Trillion global drug industry that has been growing for almost 100 years. The profits from criminalization of cheap ubiquitous plant life infects all of life on earth, the oceans below and the skis above -even the planets with all kinds of garbage twirling about.

        Things have gotten so bad as a result of the cult of lawlessness, that it makes the end times look good -what with the high priced paintings and stories. At least stories of the end times have fueled the imagination and the arts.

        This stuff with the banks and taking over government is a total gross out. I don’t have the words for the utter contempt and disgust I feel towards the people who have wrought this destruction against the people of the US, of Iraq, and the men, women and children of my country -my family.

        Rules, regulations, oversight and laws are required for civilized society. Only ownership of the media could embolden people; the likes of Greenspan & Co., to make the public utterances in support of fraud that they do without fear of hanging.

        1. Paul Repstock

          A new day has dawned LeeAnne. We are the media!

          Even my own mother at 90 understands the ‘real story’, behind Iraq, 911, and many other subjects. This was probably not kind of me, but she is a bright person and was very uncomfortable with the lies anyay. Only by telling the facts as we see them, often and openly, inspite of rejection and denial, can e convince people to turn away from this terminal path. Ridicule and denial are the eapons of our enemies, we must learn to fight them.

    4. Mike

      It’s interesting that you equate innovation to larger class sizes and reduced costs. When research suggests that educational quality is systemically lacking, shouldn’t innovation speak directly to increasing quality?

      1. Michael Cain

        For most people, the answer to the question “What does a fifth-grade teacher produce?” is X students with a mastery of material Y. On that scale, today’s fifth-grade teacher produces little more than a fifth-grade teacher did in the 1950s: class size is approximately the same, the school year is about the same length, the material is roughly the same.

        There are lots of arguments for using alternate measures. There’s the argument that teacher compensation should increase along with that of other workers because the “value” of what students learn in the fifth grade is worth more in a more modern economy. Or the argument that teachers have to deal with so many more non-education aspects of a contemporary classroom. Or the argument that a fifth grade teacher can’t help it, the average kid can only learn so much, so fast.

        Still, it’s always difficult to argue that teachers have increased their productivity in the same way as a worker who made X things per day in the 1950s and 10,000 times X things per day today.

        1. TDK

          Good Lord. Are you seriously suggesting that increasing “productivity” is a remotely relevant metric for teaching kids?

        2. Dirk van Dijk

          A lawyer in 1950 did the smae thing that a lawyer does today, it is a labor intensive job, and hence not a lot of productivity improvements, yet lawyers today make a lot more than lawyers did in 1950. The same thing goes for teachers, very hard to get measured productivity improvements.

          1. rd

            It is likely that lawyer pay is likely to be inversely proportional to their productivity gains since 1950. Does anybody think that the legal system has become “more productive” at anything other than increasing the number of lawyers and their pay?

        3. splashy

          A factor that is almost never taken into consideration is that the children with learning disabilities were mainstreamed in the 90′s, so the teachers have a much more challenging job these days compared to before that. If you have ever tried to teach a child with a learning disability, and there are many many different issues depending on the child, you can’t appreciate just how challenging it can be.

          Those children used to have their own schools, with specially trained teachers. They did not affect the scores in the public schools like they do now. I wonder if that was the goal at the time: put the LD children into the public schools, then start demanding that there be “accountability” with NCLB, and then complain that the public schools were going downhill.

          Did the public school teachers get paid more for taking on that challenge? No. Were they blamed for the scores dragged down by the LD children (to be expected, after all, they had difficulties learning), yes.

    5. Richard Kline

      Oh Gawd, what pair of cheeks did you pull THAT canard of a remark out of? Like innovation is the holy grail? I rather thought that a worthwhile job with sustainable wages doing meaningful work was the goal. Obviously, you don’t value anything teachers do NOW by the tenor of your remark.

      But this is just a pan, by the anti-people comment police . . . Who’s paying you to comment?

    6. Paul Tioxon

      The problem with republican analysis of education using the business factory model is that education, like agriculture, pre dates capitalism, industrialization and the attendant mathematical tabulations of record keeping used to control the entire trading and manufacturing system at its core: the listing of costs, the calculation of profits towards the end goal of accumulating capital.

      The end goal of education is not to accumulate capital, and while the lesson of good public administration of resources are well taken, and important, the prudent administration of tax dollars is in the service of educating people, not making profits. The higher costs for education is like the higher cost of a custom made suit or restaurant prepared meal. It is more costly to acquire clothes from even a modest shop keeping tailor in your neighborhood, as it is more costly to dine out and be served by people who let you sit while you pick out what you want to eat and how you want it prepared. Education does NOT allow itself to be turned into a conveyor belt where this year’s model product, the class of 2011 will be churned out, based on the cheapest source of parts and the most efficient management of assembly methods. You simply can not add the best quality parts of reading, writing and arithmetic to the standard issue child of age 6, progressively as the student moves along the assembly line of public education. The amount of educational innovation, cost cutting, efficiency improvements is a false criticism. The point of no return, much less diminishing returns has been achieved after 3 years of economic crisis budget cutting across America at the state, local and Federal levels.

      The only area that is not under pressure to perform, is the wealth making mechanism of corporate America, which is trying to establish itself as politically sacrosanct as the moral equivalent of war in the eyes of the voting public. Clearly, what passes for modern capitalism is now a world wide system and the only description of it, in order to understand what is happen in the individual lives of people is the use of theoretical constructs of analysis on a global scale. American employment, political freedoms etc can not be analyzed distinct from the largest unit of analysis necessary to explain what is going on where the world wide system of capitalism operates. We can not satisfactorily make sense out of our part, in what happens domestically in America, without understanding the whole, all of the other parts which directly affects us, the international set of nations. Capitalism functions on a world wide basis, while our politics ends at the border. Why is there a G20 group meeting, if we already have a UN? How much international policy coordination does there need to be, if in fact, markets can regulate human affairs without government policy development and implementation? The rise of China, and the direct of investment of American capital, as in GM, has left Detroit in bankruptcy and ruin. This pattern can be seen world wide, with each country playing a specific function, in the over all system. Clearly, the financial collapse that started in America and the political collapse that is happening in the Arab world are examples that not only are markets incapable of ordering human affairs, in any dimension beyond simple buying and selling of goods and services, but the system of capitalism, with its instruments of command and control, are too weak to manage any order out of increasingly entropic system.

      The anti rational, violent and economic punitive men of action are coming to the fore ground as either revolutionaries fighting for freedom against oppression or reactionaries willing to push the cultural envelope of force to control an out of control situation. This is a system in a state of collapse, and the dead end strategies of oppression will bring short term law and order, only to defer judgement day, as in Libya, Egypt. The extremists will position themselves as a viable solution, but then, another unstable component of the system rears its head, as in higher food and gasoline costs. The humane and egalitarian solutions are from government intervention, as pioneered during the New Deal coalition era of the Democratic Party. Seeing who is attacking this and driving the citizenry back in time, in order to make them by force accept a degradation of civil rights, and a diminished role in the sharing of political power and a smaller share of the fruits of prosperity reveals the end game of the ruling elites who only want a solution that preserves their privileges, power and increases their wealth, even at the point of a loaded gun.

      The alternative, policies that put people back to work, preserve Social Security, and expand the share of wealth for the majority of the population who reside in the middle class, is facing an uphill battle, due to the many average Americans, who for whatever reason, side with the militant right wing rich. The amount of hatred by some Americans, against fellow countrymen, based on demented vilification of taxes, as government enslavement and other nonsensical opinions, elevated to a blood feud tribal intensity is as stark and plain, as it it emotional and irrational. People are taking clear sides. Politically, it is a war of annihilation against the middle class to preserve the power of the wealthy. Pick a side.

        1. Tao Jonesing

          Oooh. He wants metrics!

          Success in education is not measurable using the kind of metrics applied in profit-driven businesses, so it makes no sense to demand them. In fact, I’d argue that the corporate-style metrics that have crept into our school systems have generally made Americans as a whole much less capable of critical thinking. But I think that’s the point.

          Education, whether private or public, is a social institution that plays a major part in instilling a baseline value system in every individual. Success is defined at the societal level, not the level of students, teachers or schools. The powers that be once thought that having a well-educated populace would make democracy work better, but it turned out that a well-educated populace actually demands democracy (e.g., the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam protests, etc.), and the powers that be couldn’t have that. The broader purpose of modern education is to teach how to do tasks and avoid teaching people how to think for themselves. Compliant thinking, not critical thinking, is the order of the day.

          1. psychohistorian

            Thank you for the comment, well said.

            What I am struggling with now is how to bring the dumbed down people up to a level of understanding that allows the rest of us to stop the total disintegration of modern society by the rich powers that be.

            The textual white noise that we spew here seems almost seems futile.

          2. Paul Repstock

            It may not be as good as a streetcorner soap box, psyco. However, it seems there are new people every day, and our ideas are being posted far and wide. Besides, I use these blogs as a sharpening stone for my thinking..:)

      1. Pixy Dust

        Thank you Paul. This is so well said.
        What Canucklehead and Walter and friends fail to accept is that money must serve mankind. Not the other way around.

      2. anon2

        Canucklehead, friend of the poor and the working class.

        Waiter: Would you like to hear today’s specials?
        Canucklehead: Not if you want to keep your spleen.

        Canucklehead: [to drycleaner] If you don’t shut your f**king mouth, I will kill you.

        [to Al, a homeless person]
        Canucklehead: Get a god-damn job Al.

      3. dw

        the real problem with having metrics in educations is the raw material. its not the quality of it. its that its all different. we are talking children, not plastic, semi conductor, or metal. you can not do the same thing with every child and expect the same result. it won’t work. and considering the real lack of control over the child, its nothing like manufacturing where every thing is controlled or finance where it is all gamed out in advance. there is one other party in the education of the child that has as much or more impact on their education. the parent. after all, they have been with their entire lives, and they live with them. which is a lot longer than any teacher spends with any one child

    7. YankeeFrank

      Frankly, words like innovation, productivity increase and all that are trademarks of the neoliberal mindset. Just like creativity, flashes of brilliance that produce true increases in productivity and innovative techniques cannot be forced. The environment for such results can be fostered — and the reason the Japanese car manufacturers were so successful was they figured out how to create such an environment. Nowadays words like innovation and productivity or concepts to be gamed by management for increased bonuses, and are had on the cheap and falsely with numbers games and laying off workers to create short-term “productivity gains”. So take your corporate speak and stick it where the sun don’t shine. There just more clubs used to beat workers down, and we already have too many of those. A truly innovative society can only exist where there is honesty and true human respect between all facets of society. The internet revolution is an example — Google thrived for a reason — treating their workers with respect, good wages and benefits, flexible work hours etc. People like working there. How about let’s make the USA a place people like working? How about lets lose the protestant/puritanical thinking that says we must live in fear of the lash in order to be moral human beings? If it feels good it isn’t necessarily bad, in fact its often better.

    8. splashy

      Happy, healthy, unafraid workers are innovative, if only to relieve the boredom of doing the same basic things day after day.

      They see a problem, and want to fix it. They see inefficiency, and want to make it work better. They gain experience in what doesn’t work, and then apply their knowledge to new ways of doing things.

      Fearful workers spend too much time worrying about the creepy boss they have and whether that boss will fire them for no good reason.

    9. sgt_doom

      Aaaahhhh…that talking points memo phrase: INNOVATE

      “We will innovate our way out of this.” Obama, US Chamber of Commerce, Jeffrey Immelt, etc., etc., ad nauseum

      “We are seeing the great reset.” Jeffrey Immelt

      (No jeffy, we won’t be seeing that until you are dangling at the end of a much-deserved noose.)

    10. Liah

      AntiMellon:“Liquidate Banksters, liquidate Stock Shysters, liquidate the Fed, liquidate real estate pumpers. It will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.”

    11. EDTHEREDPILL

      You asked, “How can the Wisconsin teachers union innovate to increase class size and cut the costs of education?” Short answer: you cannot.

      I taught public middle and senior high school for 32 years. INCREASING class size is the recipe for FAILURE, not success, especially with today’s students who are so distracted tweeting on their smart phones.

      Increasing class size is the opposite of innovation. It is a giant leap backward. Funding public schools must be seen for what it is: as necessary to true national security as funding the military. And it should be funded that way, with a national education tax, so poorer residents/communities are not penalized for their poverty by below-standard schools and teachers. You cannot “win the future” (whatever THAT means) by increasing class size and laying off tens of thousands of teachers.

  2. Max424

    Good stuff.

    I’m starting to think Martin Luther King is a top 10 American all-time. In fact, if you bump a few of the Founding Slaveholders down the list, and you could make a pretty good case you should, Martin might be in the top 5.

  3. john personna

    My dad was in LA City Schools for 30 years, and from time to time got pink slips that were not really pink slips. You get used to them.

    And for what its worth, having grown up in a “schools family” (mom too), I think this relation to strikes is way off the mark.

    It is about impossible budgets. My dad retired at 70% salary. That worked because the city was strongly in growth phase, and the ranks of retiree was still small. It doesn’t work with another cohort retired, even if you strike.

    1. Richard Kline

      So ‘john,’ fancy that: the last time we heard from you, you lived in New Jersey, had multiple relatives who were ‘overpaid schoolteachers’—and you didn’t respect them worth a damn either.

      Bogus plant of a comment. I know and have known plenty of schoolteachers, and I’ve never heard your putative attitude from a single one of them. You have no relation to any school teacher.

      By the way: who’s paying you to comment? I’m still curious.

      1. aet

        I think you are correct: there are many such bogus “personal anecdotes” on the web blogs, purported to be somebody who personally knows/is one of the impugned class of workers, agreeing with the criticism.

        They just do not have the ring of truth.

          1. ScottS

            Haha, well my mother IS real and IS a public school teacher.

            I can say that working in the private sector, my salary has almost caught up to hers, despite her having a master’s and a teaching credential and 30 years’ more experience. She also does mentoring, occasionally chaperones clubs on trips, and never, ever is done by 2pm as some claim. I.e., she puts in way more unpaid extracurricular effort than I do.

            Her pension will be around 70% of her current salary.

            Anyone who claims that teachers’ unions are bad has zero experience with them.

            Even a professional union, such as teachers’ unions, are only good enough to keep a small family barely middle class.

            I can’t imagine there isn’t corruption at the top of the union hierarchy — but collective bargaining is better than no bargaining.

            I think the real problem is that teachers and public employees aren’t, generally speaking, greedy. They’re willing to share pain with everyone else, even when they chose a “stable” career path (and paid for it in a difference in wages).

            The mistake the Koch whores made is assuming that this public employee reasonableness is the same as private-sector obsequiousness. The private sector measures its worth in dollars, but public employees generally don’t.

          2. Wild Bill

            This is for Scott below. Your mother worked 30 years, and now gets to retire at 70% of her highest salary. Rounding off, that’s 10 out of 40 years that she gets paid for not working. Plus, she gets full medical — something you left out. Where else can you find that deal? Nowhere, because it would bankrupt any firm. How do they do it? They value their investment portfolio at +8%/year for perpetuity. To top it off, we have 20% functional unemployment. Plenty of people would do that job for half your mother’s price, with no benefits at all. It’s funny, everyone can “see” the Ponzi that the other guy is participating in but nobody can “see” the Ponzi in which they’re involved.

          3. ScottS

            WildBill, are you dense?

            You conveniently ignored the part where I make nearly as much as her, even though I have less education and experience and put in less effort.

            There is a massive shortage of teachers. Apparently, most people don’t seem to think it’s such a sweet deal.

            But hey, if you think it is such a sweet deal, go for it. No one is stopping you from being a teacher. As I said, massive shortage. I’m sure even you could find a position, and then test the received wisdom that it’s impossible to fire a teacher for incompetence.

          4. Wild Bill

            The lie that there’s a teacher shortage comes from the teacher unions. How does this “massive shortage” square with this reporting from Nov. ’09: “In Texas, the Round Rock school district had more than 5,000 applications for 322 teacher openings this year and saw its pool of subs almost double to 1,200, about 2 1/2 times as many as it needs even on a particularly bad day during flu season, said spokeswoman Joylynn Occhiuzzi.” Nationwide, we hear there are 5 or 6 unemployed for every position available. So with tangible unemployment running 20%, you’re saying there are “massive” amounts of teacher jobs available that no one can fill? With all the cutbacks in local and state services, there are “massive” amounts of teacher jobs that can’t be filled? Baloney.

  4. Cynthia

    I heard on the news the other day that a Mercedes plant located in my state is making plans to hire 400 to 500 temp workers through a temp agency. These workers will be making $14.50 per hour, and because they are only temporary, they won’t be receiving any benefits whatsoever. At least hospitals provide health-care benefits to their workers. So they’d be better off working as nurses’ aides at a local hospital than as auto workers at a Mercedes plant. What a sad state of affairs we’ve gotten ourselves in!

    I imagine that most Americans think that low-wage auto workers translate into cheaper priced automobiles. But this isn’t true. The truth is that a larger share of the auto profits are simply going to the very few working in top positions in the auto industry, leaving an even smaller share of these profits for those working in lower positions in this industry. So it’s nothing but a myth that paying auto workers less will bring down the cost of automobiles.

    So Americans who are working in the service side of our economy don’t gain anything by American auto workers and other types of production workers making only $14.50 per hour, especially without receiving any benefits. Service workers will soon be hurt by this, too, because a drop in wages in the production side of our economy will eventually cause wages to drop for all types of workers in the service side of our economy, from lowly paid housekeepers and babysitters to highly paid doctors and lawyers.

    I think that if more Americans were aware of this symbiotic relationship between service workers and production workers, they’d come to the conclusion that we must prevent production workers from getting the short end of the stick in terms of wages and benefits before this results in service workers also getting the short end of the stick in terms of wages and benefits. We must see this as all of us in the same boat together. If we don’t, America will soon regress to a low-wage, third-rate nation no different from many of the nations to the south of us.

    1. DownSouth

      Cynthia said: “We must see this as all of us in the same boat together.”

      Yep. But there is a massive cultural machine that spouts propaganda relentlessly. It tells us that we are in different boats. “[T]he labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth,” said Martin Luther King, Jr.

      And at that time King was right. For a century after the Civil War it was Blacks and Latinos that were in “the other boat.” Then it was Gays and Feminists. Now it’s the public sector workers and immigrants. Workers will not liberate themselves from their chains until they, like you say, see that all of us are “in the same boat together.”
      It was Booker T. Washington who had warned that it is impossible to keep another man in a ditch without remaining there with him; unfortunately this advice came from a powerful Southern leader who was also an ex-slave.

      More and more, through depression and war, America lived up to its claim of being the land of opportunity whose rewards were available to the individual through the assertion of a second self. But for many poor and unambitious Southern whites the challenge of such an assertion was far less inviting than clinging to the conviction that they, by the mere fact of race, color, and tradition alone, were superior to the black masses below them. Yet in their own way they were proud idealists to whom the South’s racial arrangement was sacred beyond most benefits made possible by social change. Therefore they continued to wrestle with the stereotype of Negro inferiority much as Brer Rabbit kept clinging to Tar Baby’s stickiness. They were so eager to maintain their grip on the status quo and to ignore its costs and contradictions that they willingly used anything, including physical violence, to do so. In rationalizing their condition, they required victims, real or symbolic, and in the daily rituals which gave support to their cherished myth of white supremacy, anti-Negro stereotypes and epithets served as symbolic substitutes for that primitive blood rite of human sacrifice to which they resorted in times of racial tension—-but which, for a complexity of reasons, political, economic and humane, were rejected by their more responsible leaders.

      [….]

      In the South of that day the bottom run of the social ladder was reserved for that class of whites who were looked down upon as “poor white trash,” and the area immediately beneath them and below the threshold of upward social mobility was assigned to Negroes, whether educated or ignorant, prosperous or poor. But although they were barely below the poor whites in economic status (and were sometimes better off), it was the Negroes who were designated the South’s untouchable caste. As such, they were perceived as barely controllable creatures of untamed instincts, and a group against whom all whites were obligated to join in the effort required for keeping them within their assigned place. This mindless but widely held perception was given doctrinal credibility through oppressive laws and an endless rhetorical reiteration of anti-Negro stereotypes….

      Being uncomfortably close to Negroes in economic status, the poor whites clung to the stereotypes as to a life raft in turbulent waters, and politicians were able to use their fear and antipathy toward blacks as a surefire source of power.
      –Ralph Ellison, “An Extravagance of Laughter”

      1. aet

        Hey Downsouth you can see there’s a couple of cmoments abve blaming “racial and ethnic differences” for “unsustainability”.

        But they couch their language, so as not to instantly offend us by their hateful garbage.

      2. ChrisTiburon

        So now reserving all public jobs for Blacks is somehow better? The poor White boys working part time jobs
        at Starbucks for the rest of their lives had nothing
        to do with slavery but have to pay the price for it?

        1. DownSouth

          So once again, let me get this straight.

          Blacks make up 12.4% of the U.S. population.

          And they do make up a disproportionate percentage of the federal workforce, or 17.2%. However, they are concentrated toward the bottom ranks, having an average grade of only 9.0 as opposed to 10.4 for whites.

          So we are “now reserving all public jobs for Blacks”?

          It’s quite a site to see when the white American male starts bawling for victim status.

          1. ChrisTiburon

            I only know what I see in the San Francisco/Oakland Metropolitan areas.
            Everyone has a right to their experiences and
            opinions. People living in other time periods and places have no claim to reality here.

        2. Audible

          Situationaly, I can see how that bothers and upsets you. I could point out that individuals with black names get less job interviews,
          http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3495/is_2_48/ai_97873146/

          And talk about trying to balance out what is right and wrong. Or I could say this: all of this divisive language is just that, divisive. You need to recognize something beyond that initial trend.

          WASP’s used to be the only whites in America. Italians, Irish, Blacks, and so on, were considered lesser beings. In fact Irishmen used to take jobs to dangerous for slaves because slave holders did not want to risk their “investments”. The people saw this mistreatment and started becoming upset and banding together. The “Whites” then recognized an opportunity and started granting others the title of “White”. This divided the people, and fragmented the movement. The moral of the story is this, race is an artificial construction. We must ignore this divisive tactic and unite. United we stand, divided we fall.

          Peace

        3. Pixy Dust

          Who is reserving public jobs for any one select group?!
          There are federal laws against this.
          Prove how these laws are intentionally being violated, and by whom, and – as poor white boy – you’ll have a case that probably won’t even waste tax-payers’ money by going all the way to the Supremes.

          Now that banksters have collapsed our economy, it amazes me how “prized” those public jobs have suddenly become.

          1. Paul Repstock

            “Pized Public Service jobs”…too true Pixy

            This is the same place where the long lines at recruiment offices will come from, once the government manages to sufficiently Demonize so external cause for all our economic woes..:(

      3. Strata

        DownSouth, you are quite eloquent in making your point…however what is top of mind for me is how easily our fellow Americans have forgotten the timeless words of Reverend Martin Niemoller:

        First they came for the communists,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

        Then they came for the trade unionists,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

        Then they came for the Jews,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

        Then they came for me
        and there was no one left to speak out for me.

        The Right Wing has been picking off group after group since 1980 and most of us cheered them on or just sat in silence because we were convinced that their targets were undeserving (e.g. poor women and their children on welfare) or whose lives seemed so unconnected to our own (e.g. immigrants) that we felt insulated from their misery. We all allowed the Right wing to continue their rampage because it seemed that it only affected “those people over there”. “Over there” could have been Africa, Asia, Latin America or the next neighborhood over.

        Now they are nakedly focusing their depredations on working Americans in the public sector. They have convinced the most gullible of us that public sector workers are the latest “lazy” and “undeserving” group that needs to be debased in the name of the so-called Free Market.

        A couple of years ago, I read that 2011-2012 will be the years that Americans decide what type of society they want to live in and bequeath to their children: a society of shared responsibility and prosperity or a feudal society of lords, ladies, enforcers and peasants.

        Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
        Martin Luther King, Jr.

        Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/martin_luther_king_jr_6.html#ixzz1F1eQDPK9

    2. Jessica6

      It’s also curious to me why the ‘declining quality’ is somehow the fault of union workers rather than that of managers whose job it is to oversee quality to begin with, and who have also been paying themselves increasingly more in the face of this declining quality.

      On another note, I’d noticed several months earlier a bot appearing on Business Insider repeatedly spamming the comments there with how over-paid teachers were in Rhode Island specifically (to where it seemed rather obsessive), on any post that was even tangentially related to the issue.

      I just wonder how long all of this has been planned for, and next on the list once unions are done is employee pensions, then medicare, then social security…

      1. sgt_doom

        You are correct, of course, Ms. Jessica6.

        When that corrupt fraudster, Bloomberg, mayor of NYC, hired fellow fraudster, Jack Welch, to “improve” NYC’s school system, it was obvious would was to occur — and the quality went down, just as everything has gone down which fraudster Welch has been involved with (he was GE’s CEO who turned that company into a multi-hedge fund operator and private equity firm, while offshoring programmer, engineering and scientific R&D jobs beginning back in the early ’80s).

        Of course, as also could be predicted, frauster Bloomberg of NYC is now responsible for the most historic corruption in that city’s much corrupted history:

        over $700 million embezzled in a 10-year non-computer system fraud, with 200 consultants earning $400,000 per year each.

        Yup, trust the fraudsters to INNOVATE…..

    3. ChrisTiburon

      But you can bet your bottom dollar
      that the Mercedes service plan and
      spare parts will remain at the German-Made price
      level.

    4. Canucklehead

      If we are all in the same boat, do we row together in unison or do we berate those few who row for the many overseers?

      Wisconsin is all about the public sector carrying it’s share of the burden.

      1. TDK

        “Wisconsin is all about the public sector carrying it’s share of the burden.”

        Exactly! They’re the ones freeloading while everyone else suffers. Overcompensated, underworked. If only they would agree to benefits cuts …

        1. Paul Repstock

          TDK..are you joking? The bonuses paid on Wall street last year would have given every American (man,woman,and baby), over $500 each. And you are concerned that a few public sector workers are earning more than you do??

          1. TDK

            Do I really need tags for that?

            (Hmm, given some of the other comments maybe I do. Sorry about that — I’ll use them next time!)

          2. TDK

            That should have had “sarcasm” in angle brackets before ‘tags’ but the parser apparently didn’t like that and ate them.

      2. psychohistorian

        What I see you not understanding is that it is the overseers intention to pit us pond scum against each other so the anger is never completely focused on them.

        Yes there are existing differences that would need to be worked out after removing the societal policy making role from the rich powers that be. I will take the consensus of sensible adults over the dictates of fascist puppets every time.

        1. Canucklehead

          You only live once. Travel the road of life. Stop being a pylon, no one is interested in what a pylon has to say about life’s journey.

          1. emca

            deep, very deep

            so I quote:

            “It is hard to be understood, especially when one thinks and lives gangasrotagati among men who think and live differently – namely kurmagati, or at best “the way the frog walks”, mandukagati…”

            I rest my case.

      3. sgt_doom

        Negative, chucklehead, Wisconsin is all about the Kochhead State (no longer the cheeseyhead state), and a bunch of idiots who elected a neocon fascist pig rodger-dodger criminal.

        People who know nothing can be made to believe anything.

  5. attempter

    The new movement has to come from totally new blood, and from the bottom up. The Democratic party, the liberal organizations, and the capitalist unions are worse than worthless. Even in Wisconsin we keep hearing whining about all the concessions the unions made, thus proving again how this “leadership” hasn’t gotten the memo from Munich 1938 that appeasing aggressors can never work, but only embolden them.

    Anyone who hasn’t gotten that memo by now never will, and we should regard that as a definitive measure of worthlessness.

    Let’s learn from the great French sellout of 2010. The rank and file were ready to go much, much further. But the leadership among the unions and the “leftists” never intended to do anything but go through the motions, justify their own hierarchies and rents, and then sell out.

    The path of collaboration, collusion with the system (including support for many of its worst crimes, where those crimes were committed overseas), “coexistence” (a new Orwellianism confronting the Food Sovereignty movement), appeasement, is a proven absolute failure.

    “Collective bargaining” toward “contracts” has proven to be a strategic disaster, and now it’s at its dead end. Probably literally, for many pensioners.

    Any new labor movement will have to focus only on direct action and direct demands. It’ll have to work in close cooperation with other citizen movements also focusing on bottom up direct action. And to say it again, we have to reject all existing “leadership”, which is by definition corrupt, objectively and usually subjectively as well.

    1. Paul Repstock

      LOL attempter, people are so naive to think that ‘union executives’ are any different than politicians. They are business men, selling a product. (The labor and services of the membership)

      Nothing will change as long as people do not stand for themselves. If you delegate your will to another person or group, they will use it to benifit themselves. We are not born slaves, but it is the easy road.

    2. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

      WE SHALL BE ALL!

      SYNDICALISM for the 21st Century…

      Just might give real meaning to the IWW – Industrial Workers of the WORLD!

      1. Ellen Anderson

        ‘Don’t mourn for me – organize.’ I hope that some of those young people are learning the words to the “Ballad of Joe Hill.”

        But the industrial model is broken. How do we work, bottoms up style, to build a new one?

        1. Paul Repstock

          You could start by boycotting Walmart, Home Depot, and others including all TBTF banks. If there is no domestic demand, you cannot have domestic industry.

          The dollar you save on the purchase of the imported goods you don’t need, is the noose around your economy’s neck.

          Everyone is waiting for protectionist laws so that they will not need to take a moral stand which might hurt their standard of living…Trust me, you won’t feel morally better without effort.

        2. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

          Ellen,

          The industrial model broke because it focused on LABOR to the exclusion of almost everything else. The local union-hall was a male-dominated club…

          The new model has to be more inclusive, egalitarian, and democratic. This Wheel of Progress has many spokes – LABOR – GENDER – ENVIRONMENT – RACE/ETHNICITY – that all need to roll in the same direction for positive change to occur.

          Along the way the “youngsters” might want to read about Mother Jones and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn … two iconic figures in the struggle for workers’ rights. And let’s not forget Rosa Parks, a tired seamstress who changed a nation.

          1. sgt_doom

            No…..there is no economy today in the USA.

            You simply don’t comprehend what is taking place.

            There is no economy, and there is no media.

            With 74% or more of the GDP made up of the Fantasy Finance Sector, where is the economy???

            With the top 5 banks making up over 60% of that GDP (add in the rest of the financial services’ peddling of securitized debt, and that’s where over 74% derives) where is any economy?

            THEY have hollowed out this country with private equity leveraged buyouts, ultra-leveraged speculation by the banksters and their hedge funds (in 2007, the world’s largest hedge fund was surmised to be JPMorgan Asset Management — people seldom understand that it’s the banksters who run the largest ultra-leveraged speculative vehicles out there) and the endless labor arbitrage (jobs offshoring).

            As long as Amerika is a 100% corrupt culture — this takes place.

            Don’t write your senator — who couldn’t give a rat’s ass — JAIL YOUR SENATOR ! ! !

          2. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

            Doom,

            If you use THEIR metrics – GDP – to measure the economy it’s not surprising that you draw THEIR conclusions that banking/finance is the most important sector in it. Why are you even referring to it like some golden calf when many erudite people on this blog have dismissed GDP as a valid measure of anything economic?

            As for the hollowing out, deindustrialization, and the offshoring of production, I have witnessed it first hand in Akron, Ohio – the former rubber capital of the world! But it began at least 40 years ago… when did you discover it? Like most Americans it has only recently become a talking point and shown up on their radar. But when rubberworkers, steelworkers, autoworkers, and machinists were losing their jobs by the thousands in the 70s, those outside the “rustbelt” didn’t even notice. Moreover, since this first began with plant relocation from the North to the South in this country, it became a symbol of American dynamism – creative destruction. So what phase of deindustrialization are you whining about? That since 1970 or 1990 or 2000?

            And while 25% of the labor force is currently unemployed/underemployed, that means the other 75% are doing something… Since we all don’t work in FIRE, there must be other economic activity going on. And the last time I checked the food, water, electricity, etc that make “modern living” possible are still being produced. For how long it will continue may be debatable but …

            So, while you focus on THEIR economy, I focus on the real economy. There is a difference, right?

            Have you fallen into your own negativity trap of DOOM and gloom, resorting to the hit-and-run tactics of guerrilla blogging, disparaging others without offering anything positive? Yes, there are “harder times” ahead, but someone has to pick up the pieces and begin anew. Maybe I don’t comprehend what is happening, but your rant suggests that you’re no closer to the truth than I am as you mistake banking/finance for the real economy.

            There’s the economy, stupid. And then there’s the REAL economy.

      2. ScottS

        Interesting. I think we’re getting a preview of the next right-wing talking point in the union debate — unions are racist, exclusionary, and elitist.

        This one will definitely not fly coming from right-wingers, because everyone knows the right-wing sells xenophobia by the bucket. Suddenly coming over soft on “furiners” will splinter the right wing.

        So look the talking heads to “voice concern” over the exclusion of minorities from unions, neverminding the UFW.

        No a las uvas!

        1. Pixy Dust

          Yeah, pretty comical huh.
          Right-wing racist, exclusionary, elitists now demonizing unions as the enemy for being racist, exclusionary, and elitist.

          Damn they’re predictable.

          1. Paul Repstock

            Comical if not so sad. Years ago they were “Reds” eeewe, Yesterday they were the hardworking backbone of America, tomorrow they will be filthy commie pinko subversives undermining the country…The more things change…the more need to find scapegoats.

        2. sgt_doom

          Thank you, ScottS, thank you!

          Over the past several years, exclusionary and divisional types of media stories, articles, shows (radio, TV, cable, etc., etc.) have been financed, promoted and aired to divide as much as possible.

          When only 5 corporations — which are so financially interlocked we are really talking about 1 or 2 corps — own the majority of the media, this is what happens.

          Back when the unions made up a significant percentage of the workforce, needless to say, about 1,000 corporations owned the media, and there was considerable news content.

          Today, only 5 (officially), and all when gets is Lady Gaga.

          Time for import democracy from Egypt, me thinks.

        3. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

          ScottS,

          If your ignorance of the labor movement in this country wasn’t so appalling, you would know that unions have been racist and exclusionary, and in some cases, elitist. Whether this becomes a talking point for the right remains to be seen. But it doesn’t change these historical facts.

          Cesar Chavez and the UFW weren’t welcomed with open arms. It was more of a wait and see… if anything comes of it.

          Immigrants have been used by management as strike breakers in a divide and conquer strategy for more than a century and a half. Irish, Chinese, Italians, East Europeans, Mexicans, and Blacks. Cuban-Americans were initially excluded from the building trades in South Florida with the result that much of construction became nonunion.

          And if I recall correctly, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage law on federal construction projects [1931] was enacted by Republicans to prevent cheaper labor – black – from underbidding white construction workers.

          The sad truth is that unions have been racist and exclusionary. As for elitist, that depends on how you parse the divide between craft unions [skilled labor] versus industrial unions [unskilled]. Hence the AFL – craft unions [building trades] mostly – and the CIO – industrial unions.

          Of course, if you already knew this you wouldn’t have made the quip in the first place. What a pity… that ignorance can pass for an interesting observation and others buy into it.

        4. JTFaraday

          “Interesting. I think we’re getting a preview of the next right-wing talking point in the union debate — unions are racist, exclusionary, and elitist.

          This one will definitely not fly coming from right-wingers, because everyone knows the right-wing sells xenophobia by the bucket.”

          That’s why the corporate media gives the cultural war liberals that public platform. It’s their special task.

          No preview. It’s been going on for ages and was front and center in liberal political analysis throughout the 2008 D-Party Primary on practically a daily basis, alongside the racist white people in the swing states meme (which doesn’t sound like a vote-winner to me).

          I’m not even sure it make demographic sense any more. Most union members today are white and male? Perhaps I just run into too many white collar libertarians, but I find the whole premise a little suspect.

          Of course, I don’t think liberals have even updated their rhetoric in the past 40 years, so maybe they just need time to play catch up.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      A strategic error would be to NOT attempt to take over the democratic party. Look at the republican party purged out. Trying to form third parties out of ideological purity will result in never achieving a majority of votes in congress and state legislatures. The fractional parliamentary process keep real change from ever happening. Coalitions of parties in Europe for over a hundred years have shown fractious divides, and less unity. Systematically controling the legislative process which includes the appointment of judges, will provide systematic political reach to rewrite the laws in our favor and prosecute criminals who loot the public treasury. A real sustainable majority over decades, similar to what we saw from FDR up until the 1980′s saw immeasurable progress. In addition to strikes, there was political reach from the Supreme Court and through out the judiciary, the legislative process and the executives. The major cities where the democrats control the voter registration in the their favor are a real platform to build on.

      1. attempter

        Rational people who are accessible by evidence know that far too much time and energy have already been wasted on that vain pipe dream.

        You advocate nothing but the continuation of the Status Quo, though you lack the courage to simply come out and say that.

        And you reveal your pro-system (in this case pro-Democrat) partisanship with your parroting of the “purity” talking point.

        As is frequent, what I said in my comment has no ideological content. I said nothing here about the affirmative morality of direct democracy and worker self-management as ideals (although I do believe those).

        What I said here is simply a strategic and tactical principle deduced from overwhelming evidence.

        You’re the one refusing to be practical, out of either your own pro-corporate “purity”, or simply out of inability to register reality.

  6. Max424

    Fascinating chart, too. Rising levels of labor unrest — and the strike peaks — seem to correlate quite closely with our growing involvements in both Korea and Vietnam, and with the 73-74 oil shock.

    I wonder what that was all about.

    The final descent of organized labor “protestations,” that starts around 1980 and peters off into nothingness; I know what that was all about.

    1. Wild Bill

      C’mon. What happened in the ’60s? I read the chart as a direct reflection of the civil rights laws that came into effect following that protest-filled decade.

      1. DownSouth

        What, pray tell, did the passage of the Civil Rights laws in the 1960s have to do with the dimiinshment in the number of strikes?

        1. Wild Bill

          A quick Google gives you one of the most important laws ever enacted in our country. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Equal Employment Opportunities (http://bit.ly/bgQOW9). Applies to businesses with more than 15 employees. Now do you see?

          1. DownSouth

            No I don’t see.

            The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.

            According to the chart above, the precipitous decline in strikes began in 1980. That’s 16 years later, and coincides with the same time Reagan was elected president and decided to “liquidate labor.” Have you forgotten the air traffic controllers strike?

            So I don’t have the foggiest idea what you’re talking about.

          2. Wild Bill

            The importance of Title VII in this context is that it afforded labor legal options to challenge employers. Thus, direct action went to the courts and to arbitration rather than into the streets. Prior to Title VII, there were few law firms that specialized in this area. Therefore, you see strikes/year drop from 400 in ’68 to 250 by 1980, on the graph. Looks like strikes were tried again in ’73, then less successfully in ’78. By the ’80s, the tactic was largely abandoned. I think Title VII is the reason. And Down South, please don’t confuse my position with Chris’s racist screeds.

          3. Wild Bill

            Here are some more facts, Down South. Union membership in the US peaked in ’79 at an estimated 21 million. So as strikes fell during the 70′s, union membership rose. Currently, union membership stands at a little less than 15 million. So if union membership is 3/4 of the numerical amount it was in the 60s-70s, shouldn’t we expect 3/4 the numerical amount of strikes? Granted, the proportion of union members in the US has been cut in half over that period — perhaps because of the points Matt enumerates. But that fact has no bearing on the numerical question I pose. Why do we not see that relationship maintained? I say it’s because Title VII, one of the greatest legislative achievements in modern times, obviated the need for strikes. It took a while for the old guard union leaders to realize that strikes were counter-productive in the post-Title VII era, but once they did realize the facts they pretty much abandoned the tactic. I await your response, because I crush your arguments into a finer pulp each time.

        2. ChrisTiburon

          Learn some factual history versus spewing
          emotionalism.

          The effects of civil rights laws were that
          Strikers were easily replaced with illegal aliens
          and poor migrating minorities who were
          given a federal mandate to rent where they wanted,
          apply where they wanted–often with preferential
          affirmative actions hiring policies and in the midst
          of cultural chaos, fewer noticed or cared.

          The average of the world’s great civilization has been 200 years. These nations have progressed though the following sequence:

          1. from bondage to spiritual strength
          2. from spiritual faith to great courage
          3. from courage to liberty
          4. from liberty to abundance
          5. from abundance to selfishness
          6. from selfishness to complacency
          7. from complacency to apathy
          8. from apathy to dependency back into bondage”

          Lord Alexander Tytler -

          The 1980s were between #5 and #6. We are facing and fighting to avoid #7.

          1. Wild Bill

            Don’t worry, they’re not allowed to discriminate against you either, Chris. Even with your overly large forehead and close-set, beady eyes.

          2. DownSouth

            Oh I get it now.

            The demise of labor unions in the U.S. was caused by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and illegal aliens.

            That’s so obvious, so elegantly simple, and jives so perfectly with factual reality that I don’t see how I failed to see it.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            Chris, your argument makes absolutely zero sense.

            I grew up in that time period and then went back to it to study it again it doing my book.

            Active organization against unions started with extreme right wingers, I name names of some of the key actors. This was an orchestrated campaign, one of the planks in a systematic program orchestrated by a pretty small group relative to the size of the US to shift the values as well as the laws. There was perilous little anti union sentiment in the 1970s, even among business managers and executives. .

            As for the fall in strikes, did you forget about the names “Reagan” and “Thatcher’?

            And who fed you that 200 year nonsense? Ancient Egypt had a stable rule for nearly 3000 years! And the peak period of the Roman empire was more than 200 years too. Making stuff up about the past isn’t history, it’s fiction.

          4. DownSouth

            Wild Bill,

            Well it must be my lying eyes, but I still don’t get it.

            In 1964 the number of strikes looks to be about 180. That’s the year the Civil Rights Act was passed. Over the next six years, the number of strikes steadily increased to reach a peak of about 420 in 1970. Then there were wild fluctuations for the next 10 years, but nothing that came close to the 180 low set in 1964. It wasn’t until 1982 that the number of strikes decreased to what was then the previous low set in 1964.

            There was a huge increase in the number of strikes in the years following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The numbers are not consistent with your assertion. In fact, they say just the very opposite of your assertion.

            The only way you can make the graph fit your claim is to blot out everything between 1964 and 1982.

          5. ChrisTiburon

            Yves,

            Agree with you 100% about right wing attacks on
            unions…I’m merely discussing the substitution of
            those possibly threatening to strike with a
            cohort of newly enfranchised workers post 1964.

            From Pinkertons to Panthers…

  7. DownSouth

    Speaking of moral vision, Martin Luther King’s speech delivered in Bal Harbour, Florida, on 11 December 1961 to the AFL-CIO is apropos. Note how he ends up speaking of freedom, and how his concept of freedom is the polar opposite of the highly inequitable, authoritarian police state “freedom” supported by libertarians like Milton Friedman and Fredrick Hayek:

    I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness…

    This will be the day when we shall bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality — that is the dream.

    And as we struggle to make racial and economic justice a reality, let us maintain faith in the future. We will confront difficulties and frustrating moments in the struggle to make justice a reality, but we must believe somehow that these problems can be solved.

    There is a little song that we sing in the movement taking place in the South. It goes something like this. “We shall overcome. We shall overcome. Deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome.” And somehow all over America we must believe that we shall overcome and that these problems can be solved. They will be solved before the victory is won.
    Some of us will have to get scarred up, but we shall overcome. Before the victory of justice is a reality, some may even face physical death.

    But if a physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children and their brothers from a permanent life of psychological death, then nothing could be more moral. Before the victory is won some more will have to go to jail. We must be willing to go to jail and transform the jails from dungeons of shame to havens of freedom and human dignity. Yes, before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood. Some will be called Reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome.

    I am convinced that we shall overcome because the arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice. We shall overcome because Carlisle is right when he says, “No lie can live forever.” We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right when he says, “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.” We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell was right when he proclaimed: “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, yet the scaffold sways the future.”

    And so if we will go out with this faith and with this determination to solve these problems, we will bring into being that new day and that new America.

    When that day comes, the fears of insecurity and the doubts clouding our future will be transformed into radiant confidence, into glowing excitement to reach creative goals and into an abiding moral balance where the brotherhood of man will be undergirded by a secure and expanding prosperity for all.

    Yes, this will be the day when all God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands all over the nation and sing in the words of that old Negro spiritual: “Free at Last, Free at Last. Thank God Almighty We Are Free at Last.”

    1. Max424

      Attempting to bring an end to American apartheid was one thing; but efforts to incite broad based class struggle — from the bottom up — were quite another.

      When Martin started talking about bringing the “American dream” to all the people, whitey included, a threshold of elite tolerance was breached.

      And so, “they” gunned him down.

      1. YankeeFrank

        And yet he lives today through his words to give courage and guidance to a new generation. They can’t kill the spirit.

        1. Max424

          Indeed.

          In fact, the MLK quotes seem to be popping up all over the blogosphere these days — and in a surprising array of disparate places. I say, bully for that.

          Shockingly however, there are quite a few self-styled “liberal/progressive” bloggers out there that seem to find more intellectual comfort in the words and deeds of men like J. Edgar Hoover than they do in the inspirational teachings of a Martin Luther King.

          1. YankeeFrank

            I’d imagine that’s to provide cover for their current Hoover — Obama. In fact Hoover wasn’t all that much of a reactionary, he was just tepid, weak and to enamored of the status quo (damn he was JUST like Obama)!

    2. gepay1

      I think Martin Luther King is a good example of – In the USA, one can say whatever one wants (excepting ‘false fire in the theatre’ or libel in publications). this allows a lot of steam to be blown off (when all is said and done, a lot more is said than done)- Similar to the pressure relief valve on a water heater. If your effective though you might be offered a good job (You want to be mayor of Los Angeles?) The system does want competent people to be working with it. Now if you are still causing problems them the threat of jail or actual jail time – Eugene Debs say. Notice though it was the Cold War and MLK working on Civil rights was appealing to the battle of the minds for the Third World. However when he began talking against the Vietnam War – His Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence – Martin Luther King – April 4, 1967 – Riverside Church, New York City, New York Speech signed his death warrant. He was shot dead with one bullet exactly a year to the day later.
      Contrast MLK to Obama.
      If the Wisconsin protests start to coalesce into a viable alternative to the Republcats, we will start seeng agent provocateurs,infiltrators, Cointel type progams. false dissension being created, etc. Notice the increase in phony commenters here on NC to degrade the comments – exactly why are these people even reading NC -don’t waste a lot of thought and time on these – their purpose is to stop the comments from deepening and enlarging the thoughts expressed – instead wasting time and energy countering their drivel.

      1. Max424

        “… talking against the Vietnam War … signed his death warrant.”

        Agree, anti-Vietnam rhetoric was a huge factor. The assassination was likely a culmination of many things. You can almost envision multiple power centers, between ’65 and ’68, signing unofficial death warrants everyday before breakfast; white men — in various high places — all across this great land of ours, tearing at their hair, saying not so offhandedly to their subordinates:

        “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome negro?”

        All this is not to say, of course, that lots of people didn’t want MLK dead right from the very beginning — the beginning, for some, being Martin’s first “radical” speech, for others, the moment he left his mother’s womb.

        That Martin Luther King lasted so long, and did so much, is something of miracle.

      2. hisgirlfriday

        Stay away from the Nazi comparison. More apt is a comparison to the Confederacy.

        The Confederate and modern-day Republican platforms are practically identical.

        Like the Confederates, modern-day Republicans support nullifcation and state’s rights.

        Like the Confederates, modern-day Republicans oppose progressive income taxation (which Lincoln used to pay for the war in the north) and instead favor low taxes that are rarely collected. Instead, printing money and racking of debt is preferable to taxation to fund government.

        Like the Confederates, modern-day Republicans see a government-required minimum wage (to me abolishing slavery was the first minimum wage) as an unconstitutional infringement on employer rights.

        Like the Confederates, modern-day Republicans advocate unfettered trade with no protective tariffs whatsoever even when trade comes at the expense of national industry.

        Remember folks: the man the GOP now holds up as its standardbearer, the one who bestowed this curse of voodoo economics upon us, made his first speech post-GOP nomination in Philadelphia, Mississippi and started them off on this whole state’s rights kick.

        Of course, he and his ilk had a lot of help along the way thanks to all the groupies of Gilded Age fetishist Ayn Rand that have risen to the top of government and finance. Supposedly Paul Ryan makes all his staffers read Atlas Shrugged before they start work. *shudders*

  8. Wild Bill

    It’s hard to be a non-partisan, non-idealogue in this world. Most people take one side or the other, then defend. I usually like what Matt says, but not here. Federal and state law has advanced over the past 60 years to the point that most issues people used to strike over have been corrected. People don’t strike because the grievous practices of corporations have been outlawed by feds and states. When was the last time you heard workers strike because of work conditions? A strike now is a bargaining tool in collective bargaining, not an indication of worker unrest. When they say it isn’t about the money, it’s always about the money.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Hmmm… I think you better check on labour code enforcements over the last couple of years..they seem to have evaporated..not for lack of abuses, either.

      The best current way around an expensive work force is to shut don your opperation, then sell it to the left hand or a shell corporation and offer everyone their jobs back..at $60% with no benifits..:(

    2. catlady

      I guess this clown has not been near a modern factory. My husband has. He works as a maintenance mechanic. The conditions are horrendous. The workforce is largely illegal Mexicans who are willing to accept lower wages and substandard working conditions. OSHA standards are not adhered to, and workers who suffer injury are fired or threatened with being fired if they report the injuries. And if you take your labor complaint to the NLRB–well, count on it being overlooked. Meanwhile, the strategy of divide and conquer as a way to keep lower level employees fighting each other instead of fighting management continues apace. Now there is the additional ethnic component of Hispanic heritage and workers who speak Spanish to each other to keep native English-speaking workers out of the loop. In my husband’s company, lower skilled production workers voted for the more highly-skilled, better paid mechanics to have a lower rate of pay increase. Meanwhile, the union that represented them had executives with extremely fat compensation packages and advocated unrestricted access of illegal aliens to American jobs, all the while assuring company executives that if the company allowed this union to represent its workers, it would work to keep wages low at the plant.

      1. Wild Bill

        Not sure who you’re calling a clown, Catlady, but I can smell you from here. You make my argument for me. Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) was a great leap forward for labor. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was created to take labor/employer disagreements from the streets to the courtroom. Look around the world and compare our worker conditions.The list of the advances to labor protection is one of the things America should be most proud of. It’s why we see less strikes now — the legislation package has been incredibly successful. I also note that your husband makes less via a vote of other union members. What could be more democratic than that?

        1. YankeeFrank

          WildBill,

          OSHA and the NLRB are broken. The reason strikes are down is just the reason Mr Stoller makes in the relevant post. The idea that worker safety is strong nowadays is a farce — why is it that meatpackers work in more dangerous conditions than police officers? Your story was truer 30 years ago but ever since Reagan its been downhill all the way. The idea that we don’t have strikes because workers are happy and well paid these days is preposterous. And public workers don’t make very much money. If you think so you have been punked.

          1. Wild Bill

            Here are Matt’s reasons for the decline in strikes: “their jobs have been shipped off to factory countries, their unions have been broken, and their salaries until recently have been supplemented by credit.” I don’t understand how union jobs have been affected by credit any more than any other jobs, so I’ll have to leave that out. As to the first two points, total number of union members is more than 2/3 the amount it was at the peak in ’79. Shouldn’t we expect 2/3 the amount of strikes? What else has changed? I say the Title VII act has caused the tactic of the strike to be abandoned by union leadership because it doesn’t work. Title VII was a raging success in taking labor/employer disagreements from the streets to the courts. Just look at how many labor lawyers there are, each one of them a creation of Title VII.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      When my father ran paper mills (500 to 1000 employees each) he was pressured to cut maintenance to improve profits. He refused because it would ultimately result in deaths. And this was in mills that had craft unions. Even in a unionized environment, management was ready to put worker lives at risk in a very obvious manner.

      For making that fight and winning, senior management tried driving him out of the company. But they didn’t want to do it quickly, since he would have aired the fight (he had a lot of friends in the industry, and word would have gotten back to the unions). So they sent him to a mill they were sure would ruin his career, a new machine startup (“machines” in the paper mill business are big installations) that was hemorrhaging cash.

      He turned it around in 18 months. Of the company’s 40 divisions, it was after he fixed it, producing 70% of its free cash flow.

      So this ultimately means that unions were the reason my father, a senior manager (just below executive level at the time) was not fired for standing up for worker safety.

      They eventually resorted to another strategem to get rid of him….

      1. Tao Jonesing

        Integrity is frowned upon by most upper level of management, at least when it is displayed by their fellows towards the rank and file. Not agreeing to screw over the rank and file (or wanting to share more with them) is viewed as poor judgment and ultimately sows the seeds of distrust.

        It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

        1. ScottS

          I’m sure they don’t like anyone too clean, like most cliques. If someone else has no dirt on them, then you have no moral leverage over them.

          How far away are we from a meritocracy? It’s over the horizon, as far as I can tell.

          1. YankeeFrank

            Yes, and in fact they can’t stand a manager who does his job too well — makes them look bad. I’ve seen it over and over in corporate-land, excellent managers and workers get the shaft because they make the others look bad. That’s why I started my own business.

            Btw, one company I know of that I love is called “Sweetwater” — they are an online music equipment co. Their employees are long term and clearly love their jobs — they will sit on the phone/chat with you for hours talking about equipment and never hard sell you anything. When something you buy breaks they ship you a new one right away no questions asked. They have a fiercely loyal customer base. They are an inspiration for how to run a truly successful business.

            The plutocrats that run our country aren’t interested in business success, they are interested in power and domination.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          He became the executive in charge of manufacturing. Then BCG came in and reorganized the company along product lines, and since had never gotten friendly with his fellow executives, they reorganized him out of a job at HQ. The post they offered him was to go into yet another doggy operation, this a coal, rubber, and steel business this paper company had acquired. The theory was that the guy who headed that business would go to head office. But he had no intention of moving, his wife was wealthy and from a prominent local family. He cut my father out of information and made it pretty much impossible to get anything done. He was offered another posting, but it would have been a demotion. He quit and started his own consulting business, and had 11 years of steady business without doing any marketing.

          1. EmilianoZ

            Now we know where you got your unshakable moral compass and fierce independence from. I noticed that Chris Hedges frequently talks about his father as a deeply moral and courageous man.

            Yet I would argue that parents who teach their children integrity and decency as a fundamental values makes them unsuited to the real world, fodder for the less scrupulous.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            That’s a polite way of putting it. You could also say he was politically tone deaf :-)

            He wasn’t very easy to get along with, but he was exceptional good at his job.

  9. Romeo Fayette

    Matt:
    It’s conventional for public school districts (like Providence’s) to lay-off teachers during the summer months, then rehire them come July/August for the upcoming school year. Such notices are called “Emergency Certificates” if I’m not mistaken. But, there are differenct certificates: some cleanly layoff underqualified teachers, others are pending further review, etc.
    My grandfather is on he City Council, and my sister-in-law is one such teacher. It’s not a big deal, although I should note that they generally do this broadly in times of economic crunch.

    1. Matt Stoller

      Hmm. Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith called the move “beyond insane”. Not sure you’re wrong, but even if it’s a standard tactic, it seems that the teachers don’t necessarily find it to be “not a big deal”.

      1. peter cowan

        it’s a standard tactic taken to the extreme. my wife used to get layed off every year, it was excruciating. she’d have to go to hearings to defend her employment, she’d be uncertain for months as to whether or not she would have a job the next fall–the same months that you’re supposed to apply for teaching jobs, conveniently. not all the teachers got pinks slips, just the newest hires. not all of them fought for their jobs, which i believe is how they decided who stayed. doing it to the entire district is cruel.

  10. Michael H

    Excellent post, thank you!

    Interesting to notice that the article was posted at 6:13 am and the first comment at 6:58 am tries to dismiss the post by saying it’s “nice to beat the drum”. And then proceeds to take the side of the Kochs, the oligarchs and the Andrew Mellon morality, while completely missing the part about “anti-bailout class-based fervor here as well, with a simmering anger at Wall Street”.

    Whether this is a Koch shill or not is of no interest to me. If not, they might as well be. This is class warfare and it’s time for people to choose which side they are on.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Our sides are already chosen for us, integrity is what counts. The lesser minions of the oligarchs are deluded to think that they can ever win a place at the high table, except as servant.

      1. Canucklehead

        Where do the pioneers fit in all of this? I realize they are dead now, but does their spirit live on?

        Me thinks you doth protest too much.

        1. Pixy Dust

          Yes, Canucklehead, the spirit of the pioneers does live on in their progeny.

          Me thinks he does not protest too much. Most descendants of pioneers aren’t protesting enough. But I suspect they will in time. And it won’t be to oligarchs’ advantage.

        2. YankeeFrank

          Canucklehead = content to be a servant of the plutocrats. If you actually are a Canadian I guess you hate your healthcare system and wish it was like the US where most of us just don’t have healthcare.

  11. Richard Kline

    The remarkable thing is that we presently have all those rights and powers that folks in Egypt and elsewhere are literally dying for. But we haven’t used them in forever. This is what organizing is. Not waiting for the played out and inert bosses to decide. Not waiting for the bought and paid for politicos to bloviate. Taking direct action to organize. There’s power in it, and folks long exploited have gotten a taste now.

    There’s now shared pain in the US. Kochs? Wall Street? Hard right commentariat? No pain at all, it’s all gain; returns never higher, just put it on the public tab. It’s push the pain down and rake the money up. Until we do something about it. And we can. And we are.

  12. rd

    It appears that we have achieved a perpetual plateau of labor stability.

    Stable systems never become highly unstable except when they do. I wonder what the protest/strike graphs looked like in the Soviet Union, East Germany, Tunisia, Iran, Egypt, and Libya over the past couple of decades.

  13. Parvaneh Ferhadi

    Egypt may be some kind of role model, but what exactly has changed there? Nothing so far, except the Hosni is gone (where is he anyway). Everthing else has staid the same. The same elites are still in control – minus the Mubarak family, of course.
    They still are poor, have no jobs and face rising food prices.
    I hope Wisconsin will have better result than Egypt does.

    1. aet

      How would you know what precisely is happening in Egyptian politics right now?

      Detailed reports were always thin from the MSM: now they are very tough to find.

      And you show remarkable impatience.
      Egypt’s been there for millennia.

      And Mubarak resigned just last week….

      1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

        Well, we all can see the result of this event touted as a ‘revolution’: The army was in power before it is in power now, the rich are still the rich and control most of the wealth in Egypt.
        All they have done so far is they have replaced one figurehead with another one. That is not a revolution, it is not even change. Well, ok may it is change, but the Obama kind of change.

        1. Roland

          Did the English in 1688 just suddenly exclaim, “Eureka, we got a constitutional monarchy!”

          Did you expect the US Constitution to arrive in the mail the day after the Boston Massacre?

          Did the French Republic happen right after the Batille was stormed?

          Revolutions take time. But they never get dull.

          The Egyptians are doing just fine. They’ve taken the classic revolutionary repertoire, and added a few new twists of their own. The pupils have now become the teachers. Watch and learn, children of the world!

  14. grandiosity

    Great post. Thanks for the transcripts – it is very illuminating to hear more than just the soundbites from the politicians.

    Couple this trend with what Simon Johnson pointed out: If the IMF were lending money to the US, they would first demand that we get rid of the banking elite.

    The banksters took so much of the stimulus money that we can’t spend our way out of the recovery. Their only choice is to pressure working Americans down to Chinese living standards. Our only choice is to seize power. To paraphrase Howard Dean: better make sure Joe Sixpack hears the message.

  15. Moopheus

    I would just like to note that as I read this there is a “Stand with Walker” banner ad. I realize that Yves has very little control over the ads, but oh the irony.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The correct response to ALL right wing ads here is to click on them and make them waste their money funding programming contrary to their message! Click early and often (they aren’t like Google ads where payment is based on clickthrough but there is some mystery correlation between response rates on ads and the rates paid).

  16. chad

    I was thinking on the drive home about a graph of productivity vs wages from about 1940 on i saw on another blog. The blogger was using this graph to show how wages have stayed stagnant while productivity increased thus workers were not being paid fairly.

    It dawned on me that a lot of these graphs diverge right around the time integrated circuits were really starting to hit the scene. Any thoughts on the impacts of technology and automation on labor?

    1. ChrisTiburon

      Absolutely. The rise of speculators was assisted by the ability to create and project complicated math
      formulae into the future.

      Imagine trying to do the future spread of a CDO
      with dozens of variables using just pencil and
      paper, especially under time pressure.

      1. Pixy Dust

        Good point Chris!

        And now over-squeezed American workers and retirees are supposed to give those spread sheets monetary meaning.

  17. nowhereman

    As I peruse economic headlines I am informed that expectations of increased profits are either met, or not met and this has an impact on the value of a companies stock value. This ever increasing “profit” has to come from somewhere. Profit increases can be achieved by technological innovation and/or increased productivity. However this system has it’s limits, and this results in off-shoring production to decrease labor costs after the last efficiencies have been squeezed from a production system.
    For me this is the fatal flaw of capitalism, and it’s continuous profit growth paradigm. It is not sustainable.
    People are not only the labor component, but are also the consumer component. This leads me to believe that the only way the system can maintain itself is by finding a market outside it’s own labor force because their own people can’t afford to purchase the product they manufacture. This has to be the case in order for profits to increase.
    This assumes that there is another market “out there”. People who haven’t been reduced to poverty by the ever increasing demand for higher profit.
    This is when the system fails, and I believe that time has arrived. Industry can make a perfect product but it is all for naught if no one has the ability to pay for it.
    Well, I must add that for a while there people could buy anything they wanted on “credit” but it looks like that source of enterprise has run it’s course.
    We are witnessing the end of days for the “profit is all that matters” capitalist system. We are starting to consume our young just to hang on.
    It’s over folks. This is a society, not an “economy”. There are symbiotic relationships between producer and consumer that are being completely ignored and the imbalances being created are lethal.

  18. ChrisTiburon

    Stoller is like a word distillery.

    He takes verbiage and refines it down to the hard
    stuff in a small bottle.

    New bottles for old whine.

    Our family motto is

    “If we aren’t good enough to make it,
    then we aren’t good enough to buy it…”

    “If we aren’t good enough to work there then we
    aren’t good enough to spend money there…”

    Whenever you hire a contractor or service employee
    of any kind we ask:

    “Who exactly is going to be doing the work?
    Where are they from?
    Where did they go to (high)school?
    How long have they worked for you?

    Ask these questions and keep the money here.

  19. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

    Strikes of 1000 or more persons alone is hardly an accurate measure of labor unrest or postive chnage in this country, especially when the large manufacturing plants in which thousands of unionized industrial workers labored are long gone. Moreover, the labor militancy of the late 60s-early 70s [Lordstown, OH, to name one example] coupled with changes offshore facilitated the CONSCIOUS DECISION by management to address these “problems” by relocating production to more pliable labor markets. And to pretend that “unions” were part of the big tent in Corporate America during the postwar consensus as Yves would have you believe is nonsense.

    The conflict between capital and labor is inherent to the production process regardless of whether its managers, mandarins, or commissars. There are times when the interests of workers versus those in charge, regardless of whether the enterprise is publicly-owned or private, are different and diverge.

    Getting to “yes” is ultimately a question of power and who has control of production. Stop the latter and “they” will listen. If you can’t do so, “they” won’t. And so long as someone else will do the work, will cross your picket line – SCAB – going on strike is a losing proposition, particularly when the SCABS are protected by the police in the interests of law and order. And with unemployment increasing from a POSTWAR low of 3.4% in 1968 to approx 10% today, gainful employment is the real issue – not labor militancy. Tight labor markets benefit workers. Labor in demand is labor power!

    Hence, I would be wary of one chart that purports to depict the decline of labor unrest in this country without acknowledging the decline of manufacturing employment and subsequent steady increase in unemployment witnessed over the past 40 years that have tilted the playing field in favor of CAPITAL. That organized labor [AFL-CIO] – both the leadership and the led – in this country has been so feeble is also a contributive factor to the lack of labor militancy. The failure to become a sociopolitical movement at the national level in its own right, as opposed to merely one faction of the Democratic Party, has also tended to dampen labor militancy. [And don't ever forget how violent labor history in this country has been and the role of REPRESSION!] Witness the tepid support, if any, of Obama for public sector unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Clearly, the Democrats take organized labor for granted and are cynically asking “Where else you gonna go”?

    The view of labor as a progressive, if not revolutionary, force is Marxist baggage that needs to be dropped off at the Finland Station. George Meany and his successors, “Reagan Democrats”, were reactionaries interested only in themselves wrapped up in the patriotic stupor of – God, family, country – spun by Reagan at the same time that their jobs were being eliminated by the thousands.

    The sad truth of the matter is that viewing “labor militancy” as a harbinger of positive change in this country is likely to be a dead end. Organized labor simply does not have the clout. Elsewhere it may be different.

    This may change down the road but organized labor will have to become a much more inclusive sociopolitical movement. Painted as a just another “special interest group” it has painted itself into a corner by having climbed into bed with management too many times. And as my grandfather reminded me more than once, when you sleep with whores, the stench of their cheap perfume wears off on you.

    1. Redgerrymander

      The difference in ‘socialist’ countries is that most, if not all jobs, are unionized, with all workers falling under the collective agreements based on their occupation (including sales and service jobs).

      This policy of extending union representation across the board has never been tried in the Anglo-American world, which has long been a two-tiered system run by an elite that tolerated labor.

      The very idea of union representation at a Board level goes against everything that our confrontational, winner take all society stands for.

      1. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

        Redgerry,

        I agree. The ‘reformist’ Social Democracies of Scandinavia have probably taken “unionism” about as far as it can go under capitalist auspices, creating what might be termed a “social democratic political culture” in the process. And even this is far from perfect.

        Many an American “liberal/progressive” would quickly abandon labor if it ever acquired the strength of the LO [Landesorganisationen - Swedish Confederation of Labor] and it politcal arm, The Swedish Social Democrats. At one time 90% of the Swedish labor force belonged to a labor organization. The Social Democrats governed Sweden from 1932-1976 and gave rise to the “middle way” that has received little notice in this country outside of academia. Wonder why?

        1. Redgerrymander

          If it’s anything like the case of Austria, which has a similar setup, it probably has something to do with the fact that the ‘rich’ in those countries are what we’d call upper middle class while the poor are a lot better off than anywhere in the Anglo-American sphere.

          There is little room – and zero tolerance – for super rich in this sort of societies, meaning that the truly wealthy keep a low profile. With significantly lower unemployment, minuscule crime rates and top class quality of life for everyone as end results.

          Now why do you think a kleptocracy would want this sort of thing kept secret?

          1. Pixy Dust

            Well that doesn’t sound very “free-market” does it?
            I guess that’s why they have healthy economies with relatively healthy and happy people. But your secret is safe with me.

            (Not.)

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Read Mancur Olson on this. This is a crude summary, but normally the costs of organizing are such that it is usually profitable only for powerful groups with small numbers to do so (look at how big companies organize across industry). The big reason it the difficulty of getting consensus and the perceived cost/benefit tradeoff of time and resources invested v. the prospective returns. Large payoffs are motivating, small ones are not, even if the time required isn’t all that great.

          That means that politics is dominated by special interest groups and highly motivated ideological alliances (as in the true believers really don’t care about the economic inefficiency of their investment).

          The way around that is to create or require broad based participation. The Swedish union are very very large so they represent social interests rather than narrow group interests. Another approach is compulsory voting, which Australia has.

  20. Septeus7

    “Liquidate Banks, liquidate stocks, liquidate the speculators, liquidate the rentier. It will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of usury and high rent will come down. People will have work , and live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising workers will pick up the wrecks from the less competent rich.”

    Wisdom from Bizarro World Andrew Mellon (we need him now).

  21. Peripheral Visionary

    “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate. It will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.”

    I am not sure that that is “morality” as much as it is reality. The West’s way of living and cost of living is too high (even by our own admission; who, other than Dr. Bernanke, would argue that we are under-consuming?), and we are being liquidated, slowly but surely, with the enterprising people of the East picking up the wrecks from the less competent of the West.

    So much of our analysis–not just “neo-classical” economics, but even progressive economics–is based on a closed system view. The reality is that we live in an open world, where other countries do not play by the same rules we do. They make stuff cheaper than we can, because their people live at a lower level than ours do (even as there are bitter complaints that our standard of living is too low–a rich complaint from the perspective of someone living in China, to be sure). They make stuff cheaper, and so can sell it in the international marketplace for cheaper.

    The West cannot compete as it is currently comprised, so the only alternative is to shut off the West from the rest of the world. But that would have precisely the same effect, namely a loss in the standard of living, as prices on goods and services soar. Political ideologues know that to some extent, which is why they prefer easier, more popular approaches, like agitating for stronger unions, even as those solutions either have no effect on the underlying problem, or actually exacerbate it.

    1. liberal

      The West cannot compete as it is currently comprised, so the only alternative is to shut off the West from the rest of the world.

      Hardly. The just and efficient alternative is punitive taxation of people who produce nothing and act as parasites on everyone else. Starting with the financial sector.

      1. DownSouth

        You can always count on Peripheral Visionary to come out with whatever argument behooves the interests of the Koch brothers of the world.

        You see, it’s God’s will that American workers should bite the bullet. And if it’s not that, then it’s just good “science.” They need to stop belly aching and hurry on over to the soup kitchen before they lose their place in line.

      2. Peripheral Visionary

        But taxation does nothing to solve the underlying problem, namely that the West is no longer competitive. Raising taxes does nothing to solve the problem of competitiveness. You get less of what you tax, but what we need is more of productive work at low prices, and that is not something that can be created by way of a tax structure.

        The solutions, as I see them, are two: closed borders; or aligning our social structures and lifestyles to match those of the countries that are actually creating jobs.

        There seems to be an “if you build it they will come” mentality out there, that all we need to do is create the model progressive state and the jobs will come out of nowhere. That’s fantasy, and unsubstantiated by reality (see: Spain, Italy, Greece). There also seems to be a “stick it to the man” mentality out there, the notion that untold moneys lie hidden the bank accounts of “the rich”, and that a crusade against the wealthy will shower wealth upon the people. Again, fantasy, unsubstantiated by reality (see: Venezuela, Zimbabwe).

        The reality is that the East has been growing even as the West has been stagnating or even shrinking. There is a message there, whether we like it or not. What they are doing is working, what we are trying to do is not.

        (And as soon as DownSouth actually has a substantive response to my arguments, I will be ready to respond.)

        1. DownSouth

          It’s expected that you would feign ignorance. But that hardly changes anything, for the bottom line remains the same. And that is that you’re stuck in the early 19th century, reciting the same old hackneyed talking points that have been around for over 200 years. And they’re just as big a fiction now as they were then.

          Maybe this from Robert L. Heilbroner’s book The Worldly Philosophers might help to explain:

          They lived in a world that was not only harsh and cruel but that rationalized its cruelty under the guise of economic law. Necker, the French financier and statesman, said at the turn of the (19th) century, “Were it possible to discover a kind of food less agreeable than bread but having double its substance, people would be reduced to eating only once in two days.” Harsh as such a sentiment might have sounded, it did ring with a kind of logic. It was the world that was cruel, not the people in it. For the world was run by economic laws, and economic laws were nothing with which one could or should trifle; they were simply there, and to rail about whatever injustices might be tossed up as an unfortunate consequence of their working was as foolish as to lament the ebb and flow of the tides.

          The laws were few but final. We have seen how Adam Smith, Malthus, and Ricardo elaborated the laws of economic distribution. These laws seemed to explain not only how the produce of society tended to be distributed but how it should be distributed. The laws showed that profits were evened out and controlled by competition, that wages were always under pressure from population, and that rent accrued to the landlord as society expanded. And that was that. One might not necessarily like the result, but it was apparent that this result was the natural outcome of society’s dynamics: there was no personal ill will involved nor any personal manipulation. Economic laws were like the laws of gravitation, and it seemed as nonsensical to challenge one as the other. Hence a primer of elementary economic principles said: “A hundred years ago only savants could fathom them [economic laws]. Today they are commonplaces of the nursery, and the only really difficulty is their too great simplicity.”

          1. Pixy Dust

            Thanks DownSouth. What a great reply.

            Yes, the beneficiaries of some magical omnipotent force want to argue that humanity mustn’t try to change their lot in life. Resistance is futile. If only our revolutionary founding fathers had realized that, all would be blissful today. See? Being a mere subject isn’t so bad. In fact the conditions and history of humanity would remain fixed and static, and everyone would be happy….

          2. DownSouth

            And Perphieral Visionary, I have to admire the way you so blithely toss around that word “reality.” Of course neoliberals, as do all religious fundamentalists, “create their own reality.”

            Take this statement of yours, for instance:

            The reality is that the East has been growing even as the West has been stagnating or even shrinking. There is a message there, whether we like it or not. What they are doing is working, what we are trying to do is not.

            And then take a look at these photographs from China to see what you consider to be “working”:

            http://myamazingfact.blogspot.com/2010/02/amazing-pictures-pollution-in-china.html

  22. KnotRP

    1992 Carville: “It’s the economy, stupid”

    No. “It’s the society, stupid”

    Until recently, we seem to have collectively abstained from the
    vote on whether we all want to live at the standard of the average Chinese laborer.

    Someone in 2012 will make promises on this new theme
    to get elected. But they won’t mean it any more than Obama did….and that’s when the serious trouble will start.

  23. nowhereman

    Any system that allows speculation in necessities is doomed to fail. Any system that provides incentives for one industry over another is not a free market system. Any system that hides the true value of a commodity, whatever that may be, is not a free market system.
    The thing I find incredulous is that most people believe that we toil in a free market system. Nothing can be further from the truth. Yet day in and day out I watch as people defend the concept of “free markets”.
    Apparently the powers that be have been very effective at producing and maintaining this mass delusion. They had better take care that the education system that creates this mass delusion should fail for they are the ones that will reap the wrath of a citizenry awakened from this deep and powerful sleep.

    1. Paul Repstock

      LOL Nowhere; a real “Free Market” is probably one of the scarcest commodities on the planet. In a “Free Market”, there would not be; subsidies, quotas, barriers to entry, labor unions, political lobbyists……..

      1. Robert Dudek

        A free market equals a Hobbesian state of nature.

        Those who want it can go off to some deserted island and leave the rest of us in peace.

  24. ECON

    After reading the lineup of comments I hasten to encourage all these micro issues elaborated on to be put into a larger context for the purpose of developing an objective consciousness of the state of workers in the USA. The internal contradictions of capitalism and “free” market ideology will eventually weigh down the system and fall apart.

  25. Save us, masters, from the Persians

    Chris Floyd writes:

    “As the ancient spirit of defiance against brutal — and brutalizing — elites waxes strong once more across the world, I thought the spoken-word piece below might be of some relevance. The depredations of the high and mighty store up great reservoirs of wrath, even in the most cowed and broken souls. And when the levee breaks, who can say what course the flood will follow? How stupid, how evil and stupid, are the masters who believe they can control the forces they unleash with their crimes.”

    http://www.chris-floyd.com/

    1. Paul Repstock

      These Spartans have no stomach for fighting. They will not leave their fortresses. Besides, it would be cowardly of us to attack their women and children, who after all did not cause the pain.

      1. Save us, masters, from the Persians

        Paul Repstock: “Besides, it would be cowardly of us to attack their women and children, who after all did not cause the pain.”

        But Chris Floyd isn’t recommending that anyone attack the women and children of the ruling elites. His point is these criminals are unleashing forces that could get out of control with tragic unforeseeable consequences.

        The Beslan school hostage crisis (or the Beslan massacre) in the Russian Caucasus is a good example of this. Remember when armed Ingush and Chechen militants took more than 1,100 people (including 777 children hostage in 2004. At least 334 hostages were killed, including 186 children; hundreds more were injured and many were reported missing. (from wikipedia)

        This is the kind of tragedy that can sometimes result when people who have been exploited, mistreated and abused for many years, suddenly give up all hope of ever finding justice and instead seek revenge without any concern for the consequences.

  26. dave

    My Dad was in a union, they went on strike a few times. I think the biggest thing that turned me off to unions was the strikes. When they went on strike often the poorest and most desperate were brought in as SCABs. Usually minorities. These people just wanted to make a better life for themselves, but they were the victims or verbal and physical abuse by union members. I still see unions as violent racist thugs whose real enemies aren’t managers and capital, but the poorest and most downtrodden of our society.

    1. Pixy Dust

      …managers and capital, using the poorest and most downtrodden of our society to reduce everyone to the same level of economic powerlessness.

  27. nonclassical

    We do need to hold Obama accountable for playing the Scott Walker-Wisconsin Governor game also-his new “budget” will include an attempt to devolve Social Security, this after signing off on extensions of Bushit tax cuts…exactly what
    Scott Walker has done, giving his corporate crony contributors tax cuts, then claiming there is a fiscal crisis he himself caused.

    Obama also has frozen federal pay, while extending tax cuts..Chris Hedges’ recent book noted the “tag-team” approach of Bush-Obama, and Wikileaks exposed that Obama had a DEAL with Bushitters NOT to prosecute for their many,
    many crimes..

    this society is sicker than I have ever experienced, going back to Nixon..

  28. Ron

    U.S. economic strength since World War two along with excessive credit creation has generated economic well being for large segments of the population and has reduced the economic labor wars that existed. The reduction in credit and the impact of productivity on jobs along with manufacturing outsourcing to lower cost countries are creating a new labor dynamic outside the traditional labor management role as employment growth is now focused on what could be termed non productive areas or jobs that do not have a specific income production function say teachers, cops, forest rangers,lab tech’s,regulatory workers, which must be paid out from the declining worker tax base! A problem that can be solved by shifting the tax burden away from direct labor but that means a significant political shift in thinking, not likely to happen!

  29. HartfordWoman

    Good comment @Canucklehead but the article is still one of the most relevant, best descriptions of what is going on with the current political / economic hard-lining we are seeing. The move to squash the middle class once and for all is becoming more obvious by the day and it truly escapes me why no one seems to realize what Henry Ford recognized so long ago – if you want Americans to buy your cars (or other products) you have to pay them a high enough wage to do so.

  30. Walter Wit Man

    I haven’t read all the comment so I don’t know if anyone has covered this but it’s really striking to lay the recent inequality charts over this chart. There is an inverse relationship to strikes and inequality:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2266025/entry/2266026

    (check the chart on the first page titled “top ten percent income share”)

  31. anjon roy

    Amazing work again Matt. I love the way you are able to connect the dots with what’s going on globally.

  32. F. Blair

    “Workers are closest to production; treating them terribly is a good way to degrade product quality.”

    If, as Stoller suggests, the weakening of unions is a good way to degrade product quality, then why has product quality risen so sharply over the last three decades? Cars, televisions, stereos, household appliances, etc., are all far more durable and reliable than they were decades ago, which would be impossible if, as Stoller suggests, weaker unions lead to a degradation in quality.

    1. Audible

      Technological advancements. You’re argument does not work because you are not accountng for that variable.

      In order to compare union strength vs quality you have to compare against other examples that include the same technological examples. Like I don’t know, the one already included in the article.

      1. F. Blair

        “You are not accounting for that variable.”

        There is no reason to think that “technological advancements” would necessarily lead to products being more reliable and of higher-quality. Regardless, even if you control for union membership, we see no evidence at all of a relationship between union membership and product quality, nor does Stoller offer one — he just proffers his usual evidence-free ranting about neoliberalism.

    2. maude

      I beg to differ on the quality of today’s products. Price is the driver these days, not quality. TV’s used to last 10-15 yrs, now you are lucky if they last 2. The quality of most products stinks.

    3. Birch

      What planet do you live on, F. Blair? I’d like to move there.

      Household appliances have become plastic crap that can’t even be repaired. Cars are more fuel efficient, but they blow apart when they hit anything, they no longer cold start at -40, and you can’t ever fix them yourself. Stereos are smaller and lighter, but they don’t have that old fat sound, and CDs and DVD are an incredibly unstable system. Why does a new Gibson guitar cost so much less than an excellent condition one from the 1960s? Because in the 1960s, musical instruments were WAY better. Why? Recycled metals are inferior, old growth hardwoods are largely extinct, and factories are generally more interested in being “competitive” than in making top-quality products. Most are competing to be cheapest, very few are competing to be the best.

      Pretty much the only items that are better quality nowadays are the highly technological ones. The real quality of consumer stuff has been plummeting for a long time, and the principal task of advertising is to delude us into thinking otherwise. Innovation has moved away from functionality, toward luxury. A common characteristic of a falling empire.

    4. Patriot

      No. Household appliances, especially small electrics, are made to be thrown away. This is immediately obvious when one breaks and it is not repairable. For example, blenders. You can see how the units are designed for ease of assembly with snap together chassis, as opposed to screws. Over time the plastic outgases and then it becomes brittle– even if you can take the item apart, chances are you will snap the tabs that hold it together.

      On almost any home product this is true– vacuum cleaners are another example. Products are not made with maintenance in mind, it’s totally disposable. It wasn’t always like this. Mechanical or electromechanical products don’t have to be disposable.

      I count this as a waste, both of consumers’ money, and valuable natural resources.

  33. Pixy Dust

    Thank you Yves, for a most excellent post. And thanks to Matt.

    If highly qualified teachers are allowed to teach this reality-based analysis without being turned into anti-American pariahs, we just might turn our ship of fools around.

    Taxpayers are not “moving around the country to pick states where they can keep more and more of their dollars.” Moving is emotionally and financially costly. Taxpayers are moving where jobs are. As seniors they are, more often than not, moving to states or localities where they have most value for their dwindling life-time savings dollars. Often this involves moving closer to family members. Sometimes costs are higher because value and return are much higher than elsewhere. Social environment and geography are important variables in seniors’ financial decision making.

    Social sciences are clearly not Gov. Scott’s area of expertise. Maybe he needs to brush up on his own publicly-funded education. He might understand how important “quality of life” is for citizens of Florida, as in all states. “I would never defend that any compensation is ever fair for anybody, especially the hardest working people,” Scott said. “It’s never fair and it never will be fair.” That shamelessly speaks volumes.

    Americans asking difficult questions of themselves might want to revisit the spiritual battles behind hard fought, hard won justice for workers by reading the lyrics to this melodic reminder:
    Natalie Merchant ~ Which side are you on?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC5o5mVpYPM

    At some collective tipping point, maybe we can muster up the courage to take judicial action and stop the theft of what we all – from previous generations ’til now – publicly own.

  34. Jim

    Questions about the possible inadequacy of certain theoretical narratives in creating new social movements in the U.S.:

    On the traditional left, U.S. history over the past 200 years has been interpreted primarily in terms of capitalist expansion and consolidation of power. Does this narrative capture all key modes of domination? Have we normalized a particular reading of American history that is now inadequate to the job of creating new social movements?

    Has there also been a parallel mode of domination developed over the past 200 years but ignored by traditional left/liberal narratives? Is this other mode of domination centered on the historical creation of a powerful nation-state?

    Was cultural disintegration in the U.S.(i.e. the homoginization of the population into both consumers and clients) the consequences of the historical development of both market consolidation and the nation-state consolidation?

    Did the traditional left in the U.S. choose to follow the catastrophic Marxist path rather than the anarchist, populist and federalist alternatives to the original American project of federation?

    If a new critical commentary on the historical evolution of both Big Capital and Big State are brought into the narative, does this not create the political space for the mobilization of a new majority?

    Was and is the assumption that corporate power when rightly regulated with state power or counterbalanced by organized labor at all adequate for reforming American society and mobilizing a new majority?

  35. Canucklehead

    The thing I like about God’s creativity in defining human nature is that the powers of attraction are so much stronger than the powers of revulsion.

    So there are two camps, two schools of thought. One is moving forward and the other is resisting any movement. I wonder which will “win” in the end?

  36. ebear

    The current attack on labor is nothing more than a smokescreen to direct attention away from the gross abuses of the banking and political classes that brought about this crisis in the first place.

    To quote Karl Denninger, “where are the handcuffs?” When we start to see those, then we can sit down together and try to find a way out of this mess. Until then, expect more militancy and more Egyptian flags flying in America.

    ebear

      1. Tao Jonesing

        Karl thinks all the teachers should be fired.

        He and Mish are like two peas in a right wing pod for any issues related to labor, particularly public unions. They both think they’re libertarians, though.

        1. F. Beard

          They both think they’re libertarians, though. Tao Jonesing

          I like Mish but he is for a gold-backed dollar which is NOT libertarian. As for Karl Denninger, he is probably for a single government/private monopoly money supply which is also not libertarian.

          Neither is for a general bailout of the population to my knowledge.

  37. F. Beard

    The problem is the invented in Hell money system, government backed fractional reserve lending.

    Abolish that and corporations would be FORCED by market forces to share wealth and power via new stock issue rather that loot it via loans from the government backed counterfeiting cartels.

    What else could it be unless economic freedom, as little as we have it, is the problem. But in that case who should we put in charge who is wise enough to run the economy?

  38. Hugh

    Re education, it has been known since Henry Ford that some occupations are not like others. In manufacturing, you can increase automation or improve the process so that a single worker’s productivity can be multiplied many times. In office settings, computerization allows a single worker to generate reports or contact hundreds and thousands of clients with a few strokes of the keyboard. But education is not like this. No matter how many bells and whistles you add, there is only a relatively small number of students, probably no more than 20-25, that a teacher can effectively teach. Where students have special needs or little community or family support that number is likely considerably less. That’s reality. We as a society need to invest in our education system with those constraints clearly in mind. Teachers need to be paid a living wage and at a rate that reflects their contribution to society. And we should expect them to do only so much and no more. They can’t fix broken communities. They can’t increase “productivity”. We should not blame them for our own inflated and unrealistic expectations.

    That said, it is important to realize that the reason that communities don’t have the resources to fund education as it should be, just as they don’t have the resources to fund their pensions, create jobs, pave the roads, or deliver good healthcare, is because of the enormous wealth inequality in the country. Most of the nation’s wealth is tied up in or controlled by a tiny few. Having a wealthy over-class is killing us. It isn’t just about striking or standing up to our kleptocratic elites. It is about transferring the wealth they have managed to steer to themselves for the last 35 years back to the rest of us.

    One final note: Stoller is making progress but he still is caught, at least in part, in the same old Republican-Democratic dichotomy. Both parties are equally corporatist and kleptocratic. There is no surprise in Obama’s silence over events in Wisconsin. He is far closer to Scott Walker’s position than he is the protesters. The same with Florida and Rick Scott. Ideologically, Democrats occupy the same territory as the Republicans. Electorally, Democrats play to a different audience. Hence the silence. If Obama really were with the protesters he would be out there in the street with them. But can any of us see that happening? Can you imagine him dragging Timothy Geithner along? Yeah, me either.

    1. Pixy Dust

      Hugh, I very much agree with you with one possible exception.
      I think Obama may well be held hostage to the same economic oligarch system we all are.

      We’ve spent $trillions post-WW2 defending and promoting capitalism around the globe, but very little protecting and promoting democracy.

  39. Schofield

    In the Republican Party platform for the 1972 presidential election in the section entitled “International Economic Policy” they state:-

    “We deplore the practice of locating plants in foreign countries solely to take advantage of low wage rates in order to produce goods primarily fur sale in the United States. We will take action to discourage such unfair and disruptive practices that result in the loss of American jobs.”

    Here is the link:-

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25842

    I would argue that the Republican Party and to some extent the Democratic Party has been taken over by Libertarian ideology which we more commonly know as Neo-Liberalism. In the case of China once they have succeeded in becoming the world’s number one economy with virtually the lion’s share of manufacturing plant and research facilities they will end their currency peg to the American dollar which will subsequently collapse and Western freedom will collapse also. This will be the true legacy of allowing Libertarian ideology to hijack political democracy.

    1. F. Beard

      This will be the true legacy of allowing Libertarian ideology to hijack political democracy. Schofield

      That’s slander. There is NOTHING libertarian about a government backed banking cartel using a government enforced monopoly money supply.

      1. Tao Jonesing

        Not really. The neoliberals (Friedman, Hayek, Mises) hijacked the “libertarian” label a long time ago. I agree that it is slander with respect to the real libertarians of the 18th and 19th century, but blame Friedman, Hayek and Mises for that. They and their liberty-bots are the ones who did it.

    1. F. Beard

      I reckon we are all captive of an obsolete, exploitative and unstable money system. We should chill, quite throwing stones, put our minds together and solve this problem.

      1. Mark P.

        “We should chill …and solve this problem.”

        Pretty to think so, but let’s restate the obvious: true fear is the only thing that’ll ever give pause to the current kleptocracy. Hence, nothing will change till Sacco & Vanzetti — or Tim McVeigh — type incidents, done 21st century style, start occurring.

        We remain a long way from that. Still, a social “phase change” could also make that distance coverable in the span of a few months. The unfortunate thing is that, as you and KnotRP note, many of the kleptocracy are not that smart or educated, and really don’t understand how vulnerable they — as well as we are — to, say, an expert with a grudge in possession of a second-hand DNA synthesizer such as you could buy on eBay.
        http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=DNA+synthesizer&_sacat=See-All-Categories

        It’s something I’ve worried about for a long time.

  40. Darwin

    So you hope for life in a world of absolute social, ethnic and financial equality. Sounds boring. Lets take it out on the Serengeti Plain. I’ll be the lion, you be the zebra. There is no equality in Nature, just the eternal competition between winners and losers.

    1. chad

      That’s a very good point. Any attempt to take competition out of life is doomed to fail. Trying to make the playing field level is beyond the scope of humanity.

    2. F. Beard

      There is no equality in Nature, just the eternal competition between winners and losers. Darwin

      We can agree to complete fairly wrt government or we can battle over who will use the government to oppress the other. And who will decide the issue in that case? Ans: Those decent people in the middle who work hard and yet still can’t get ahead. All that character developed in hardship combined with righteous anger will be an unstoppable force.

    3. KnotRP

      Oh, so you mean the lions always win, so all is fair game?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

      Up to now, the lions only survive because everyone
      else is playing by a different set of rules…when the
      rules turn to a publically acknowledged “free for all,
      everything is fair game”, the lions will run too…

      1. KnotRP

        Citizens are docile law abiding creatures, but
        that’s a daily choice citizens make to live in a
        better world.

        The big dick swinging meat eating sociopaths
        assume that’s a permanent condition, where
        they get to pick off the weak. But they are only
        capable of going after the weak, and only if
        the strong do not engage themselves in the
        struggle.

        I personally would not want to be hunted by a few
        highly trained engineers, but that’s just me….I
        don’t think I’d like the unnecessary pain they might
        design into the traps because they are not only
        hungry, but are also angry at those who picked
        on the weak.

        1. F. Beard

          I personally would not want to be hunted by a few
          highly trained engineers, but that’s just me….
          KnotRP

          Not to mention chemists and biochemists. This world is literally too dangerous for us to fool around with a fundamentally dishonest and unstable money system.

          1. Pixy Dust

            That was my thinking too. That big, chest-beating, meat-eating tough guy is no match for Mother Nature. Virus and bacteria will prove definitively who is the fittest at survival.

          2. F. Beard

            I don’t advocate violence or revenge; I merely point out that the world is too dangerous for us to ignore justice. And if there is a God, then it is never safe to ignore justice.

          3. Pixy Dust

            Right, F.Beard.
            I didn’t take your comment as advocating violence. I just meant that we are a part of nature. Not apart from it, no matter how much we come to understand and know. And certainly not how tough and dispassionate we are about our human condition.

          4. F. Beard

            And certainly not how tough and dispassionate we are about our human condition. Pixy Dust

            What is desirable in a man is his kindness,and it is better to be a poor man than a liar. Proverbs 19:22

  41. solo_poke

    Innovation does not come from large corporations subsidized by my money for their research to profit, it comes from people. Due to the loss of my job I had to find a new way to live, I have completely built my own off the grid system including my truck which I charge of my home made wind turbine and I grow all my own food.

    I will never again give another penny to any corporation, since I have found ways of doing everything for free(including internet and tv), instead of being a corporate punch clock slave. I live for myself, I have my own healthy food and clean energy which costs me nothing. I built my sunroom on my house so I can grow fresh fruit and veggies year round north of Lake Superior. My air is fresh and clean and if we see politicians or billionaires here we glue antlers on them and hunt them.

    Everybody earning under $200,000 a year/withdraw your services for a week and watch wealthy people starve as they roll in their own filth in the dark. Any clown can make money with money there is nothing special about that, yet these people think of themselves as great acomplishers. The truth is the opposite, they are all lying, cheating, murdering thieves with the blood or real people on their hands, even if indirectly trough their cronnies.

    Those wealthy idiots dont appreciate how well they have it, until we take it all away from them. I have withdrawn my services and it feels good, since I wouldnt piss on Walker or any of his supporters if they were on fire.

  42. WokenMan

    Truth about it all boils down to 1913 Income Tax Act, since it was intended to only be used to tax incomes attained from sources such as interest and rent and other similar non work related activities. However this was not enough for the Banksters, since they wanted a piece of everybody so they modified to include tax on earning on your labor.

    Since they could only get away with a very small tax on labor as compared to “investment” income, the banksters created the conditions for WW1 when they could increase the tax on labor, and slowly over time as the tax on “investment” income drops lower and lower it is and was their plan to download the burden to the common workers.

    Gov Walkers policy is a continuation funded largely by the Banksters behind the scenes. They count on people being jealous of each other as they earn slightly higher incomes, while the obscenely wealthy people work behind the scenes to further enslave us to themselves. This is the modern version of the middle ages practice of surfdom, but now our lords are credit card and mortgage holding banksters.

    Lucky for our following generations we the people have woken up, and the times they are a changing. We are going to take back our governments and open the books on those whou would preffer to keep them closed, and we will have our justice.

  43. Food Stamp Recovery

    There is a link to food stamps, which are more a subsidy to corporations, than to people needing to survive. GDP is increased by food stamps, and who does that really help?

    Congress explicitly determines how much to spend (or not spend) on these programs on an annual basis. Mandatory spending accounts for two-thirds of all government spending. This kind of spending is authorized by permanent laws. It includes entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Food Stamps — programs through which individuals receive benefits based on their age, income, or other criteria.

    The jobless recovery is being sustained through food stamps! This also helps increase the gap between rich and poor, as wealthy people pay pennies on the dollar for a program that keeps society well-oiled with vodka and opium (foodstamps).

  44. solo_poke

    When you are being looted, I will be warm, sheltered and fed without depending on anybody. When you run dont run to where I am because you will freeze your ass off and get eaten by the wolves.

  45. solo_poke

    How much food stamps can I buy with $3 trillion theft from american people, trough real estate, credit card, and corporate subsidies buy me?

  46. food stamp recovery

    Who is the largest employer in America?

    Wal-Mart, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, is the largest majority private employer.

    Do many walmart employees need food stamps?

    This is the future. Massive global corporations that keep the majority of people working for as little as possible, while they expand as much as possible, and do what … push an agenda to destroy organized labor.

    Who helps support walmart and anti-labor efforts… congress.

    We apparently are in a recovery from the Greatest Depression, yet unemployment remains at historic levels, and food stamps are at record levels, which somehow is a contrast to the bonuses being given to large global corporations that seem very well connected to a growth in food stamps. It would seem, this is how the recovery will continue, i.e., no jobs, more bonuses and tax-cuts for the wealthy and more food stamps to keep people from revolting.

  47. solo_poke

    Free windpower set me free, I run my house, my trucks, my boat, my snowmobile and my machine shop for free pay nobody nothing for my energy. People will catch on to the oil game and the lying thieves who have their vested interest in sucker renting energy from oil and coal. Children die as NOX’s and SOX’s are released from combustion since those elements do not combust and are released into the atmosphere. Invest in Clean Coal…lmao its a suckers bet it was the day I stopped listening to anything Bama had to say and knew he to was bought and paid for.

    1. Paul Repstock

      ok ok, enough already. I’m happy for you. Everyone cannot live as you ‘brag’ about doing. So you are not adding valuable content.

  48. solo_poke

    QUIT YOUR WALMART JOB NOW!!!! dont be slave. Squat in an empty house they will never know you are there. Take it over by the time the dust settles you can own it just document the day you start to maintain it. Change the numbers on the street confuse DA MAN.

  49. foodstamp recovery

    The two candidates vying to succeed former District 7 Councillor Turner are split on how to handle Wal-Mart potentially coming to their neighborhoods.

    Tito Jackson, who was the top finisher out of seven candidates in the preliminary last week, said on WGBH’s “Basic Black” roundtable with reporters that he had concerns over bringing the retailer to Roxbury or Dorchester.

    “Wal-Mart has – actually, first off, they have pending cases around racial discrimination as well as discrimination against women in hiring and also making sure they were paid correctly,” Jackson said, adding that the chain has a history of having a “very adverse effect” on small businesses. “I think we could have other employers in the area that in general would have better pay,” he said. Mayor Menino has also raised concerns about Wal-Mart’s effect on small businesses.

    Cornell Mills, the runner-up in the Feb. 15 preliminary, said having a Wal-Mart in the area is a “double-edged sword,” but also “one more opportunity to have jobs here.” If local residents are receiving benefits and jobs, having the store in the area is “something we should take a hard look [at],” he added. “We have to be careful that our small businesses are able to maintain themselves.”

    http://www.dotnews.com/2011/reporters-notebook-patrick-hands-one-menino-let-city-take-licensing-bo

    1. Paul Repstock

      For a given population, there can only be a certain amount of retail jobs. If Walmart displaces the local stores, the owners of those stores loose employment (what the heck did you think a business was? A money printing machine??). So all that happens is that local store owners are replaced with minimum wage Walmart employees….

  50. Schofield

    It needs to be remembered that for Neo-Liberals the federal government as well as being something they can hijack for their purposes of predation is also a threat with its spending programs especially where they redistribute wealth in terms of entitlements that the predators have tried to deny the people in income fairness terms. People actually vote for political parties that offer entitlements like Medicare and free schooling for their kids, etc. That can be bad news for predators on the income distribution front. They might have to pay a fair share of taxes.

  51. ban protestors and free speeech now!

    Today’s vote to ban protestors from legislative offices and hearings rooms at the Capitol starting Saturday is a blatant attack on our democratic rights to be heard on the very important matter of the union-busting budget repair bill. Protestors, supported by up to 60,000 protestors outside…

    meanwhile: Police have separated union activists and tea party supporters in Atlanta, Denver, Des Moines, and Columbus, as tensions rise over a Wisconsin nazi push to curtail collective bargaining.

  52. Paul Repstock

    All Americans had best forget which particular minority they claim membership of. Each person is a minority. If you are unwilling to defend the rights of others, can you expect them to protect yours?

    A wonderfull thing in Egypt a couple of days ago, two million Potestors mobbed Tahir Square, not just for themselves and their infant democracy. They were protesting the Israeli treatment of Palastinians in the World’s biggest concentration camp (Gaza)..Now that is spiritual generousity!

  53. Food stamp Recovery Programs

    Food stamps big money for JP Morgan Chase

    http://caivn.org/article/2011/02/23/food-stamps-big-money-jp-morgan-chase

    About 43 million American families rely on food stamps to put food on the table. JPMorgan Chase is the largest processor of food stamp benefits in the United States. The bank is paid per customer. With a contract to provide food stamp debit cards in 26 states and the District of Columbia, it’s no wonder that JPMC is making record breaking profits and handing out record bonuses during an economic depression. Furthermore, JPMC is doing its part to add to U.S. unemployment by outsourcing the servicing of many of these state contracts to India.

  54. I'm Mad as Hell

    What a good analysis. This protest is spreading not only in Wisconsin but throughout the country.
    However the protests are growing in Wisconsin and spreading to other cities. Milwaukee today had a separate protest with hundreds of people.
    This is not going away no matter how the msm spins it. I’m 62 and tomorrow my son and grandson and myself are going to Madison to protest. What the republican party, the banksters and wall street have done to the middle class WILL NOT STAND. It’s time to dig in. It’s a prairie fire that started here and is spreading across this state and across this country.

  55. Food stamp recovery

    SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, will use an estimated $58.5 billion of Recovery Act funds in the coming years to increase benefits and provide additional administrative funds to States to help them serve the growing number of families seeking assistance. Almost all (97%) of SNAP benefits are redeemed in grocery stores and at Farmer’s markets within 30 days, providing an economic stimulus and helping low-income families purchase food.

    http://www.aolnews.com/2010/10/12/144-billion-dollars-in-wall-street-bonuses-how-much-is-that-re/

    A survey of about 35 top financial institutions — comprising banks, investment banks, hedge funds, money-management firms and securities exchanges — estimates distribution of $144 billion in compensation and benefits for 2010. This amounts to a 4 percent increase from the $139 billion paid out in 2009, and potentially a whole lot more billionaire contenders for the title of wealthiest Americans.

  56. The Masque of Anarchy

    The reason there is a civil war brewing is because of rigidity and mindless “thinking” on the part of people like walker.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mask_of_Anarchy

    “Stand ye calm and resolute,
    Like a forest close and mute,
    With folded arms and looks which are
    Weapons of unvanquished war.

    And if then the tyrants dare,
    Let them ride among you there,
    Slash, and stab, and maim and hew,
    What they like, that let them do.

    With folded arms and steady eyes,
    And little fear, and less surprise
    Look upon them as they slay
    Till their rage has died away

  57. Ye are many — they are few

    Rise like Lions after slumber
    In unvanquishable number,
    Shake your chains to earth like dew
    Which in sleep had fallen on you-
    Ye are many — they are few”

    Crap, forget that part…

  58. BondsOfSteel

    Personally, if I was a teacher, I think I might consider a pink slip welcome.

    The government will pay you to not work since you’ll get unemployment insurance… plus it’ll give you an opportunity to look for a job with better pay and better long term options.

    If we run the government like a business, we should be prepared to have it fail like most businesses eventually do. One of the key catalysts is when the best employees start jumping ship…

    1. God Save WMT EPS

      Unemployment insurance… .. you forgot food stamps — Obama needs to keep up the appearance of GDP growth to offset the unemployment. God save walmart EPS!

    2. aet

      “…it’ll give you an opportunity to look for a job with better pay and better long term options. ”

      Sure those jobs are out there just begging to be filled.

      WE have PAID OUR insurance premiums – the Government just administers the program.

      Private business would cut benefits 30% to make profit.
      Would the Government? Should the Government? Why?

      1. BondsOfSteel

        Um. My point is that the government can’t save much money by laying off employees. It just moves the costs from one level of government to another.

        Governments are not buinesses… and shouldn’t be run like them.

  59. anon2

    Dan Duncan: [voiceover] I’m on the verge of tears by the time we arrive at Espace, since I’m positive we won’t have a decent table. But we do, and relief washes over me in an awesome wave.

  60. sgt_doom

    It is no shocker that the Wisconsin Governor Mubarak would threaten union members with the national guard.

    In fact, it is historically consistent. The original reasons behind the establishment of that national militia, at state levels, with armories strategically situated around the country, was to put down labor “unrest” and strikes throughout the country in the early 1900s.

    Few Americans are aware (I could end this sentence at that point) that the Rockefellers can be credited with America’s first drive-by mass shooting, part and parcel of the infamous Ludlow Massacre.

    A strike had occurred at the Rockefeller-owned mining company at Ludlow, Colorado. Rockefeller-financed thugs drove through the mining camp, spraying the miners’ tents and shacks with gunfire.

    Later, state militiamen — the national guard — were brought in to randomly shoot into the camp from a nearby hilltop, killing 27 men, women and children.

    The unofficial count of fatalities was considerably higher, for during nightfall the Rockefeller thugs had crept in and removed a number of the bodies.

    The Rockefeller family, as creepy as ever, has “honored” the memory of that massacre by locating the H.Q. of one of their subsidiaries, Rockit Solutions, at 333 Ludlow Street.

    Most Americans incorrectly believe that the Rockefeller fortune to be a “has been” and are considerably ignorant of how, beginning with John D. Rockefeller, the family began hiding and sheltering their wealth through a series of foundations and trusts. It was John D. who hired the fellow who created the legal fiction of the holding company, in order to hide and obfuscate interlocking corporate ownership.

    Today, the Rockefellers have at least 35 foundations, many unknown to the public, several rather obvious, but all serving as tax-free holding companies.

    The Markle Foundation, a member of the Rockefeller foundation network, has been intimately involved in government policies, both in the previous Bush administration and the present Obama administration.

    The highly fallible Forbes list of the richest only goest by public sources, conveniently overlooking the more complicated interlocking trusts, foundations, holding companies and endless offshore finance centers, thereby effectively ignoring the three greatest fortunes in North America: the Rockefellers, Morgans and Du Ponts!

    David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission has spawned America’s presidents or vice presidents over the past 35 years. Although neither Obama nor Biden were ever members, at least 15 members of Obama’s first administration were Trilateral members.

    Conspiracy theory?

    Negative. Simply klepto-plutocracy fact.

    [Sidebar: Concurrent with this widespread and well-coordinated frontal assault on the unions, was the move by the Obama administration to allow (non-union, of course) Mexican trucking companies to operate on the U.S. road system. This will undercut all truckers, union and non-union alike.

    It was the Bush administration who originally spearheaded this, but a Pete Defazio-led (D-Oregon) action in the House overturned this. Now Obama has overturned them!]

  61. DAN G

    There remains some big obstacles. Where will the money come from to pay the union workers the money they want? The private small businesses and workers are not doing well, and can not afford to pay more taxes. If the money is printed by the fed, the money will be lost, and then some, to inflation. How about some retribution from the real enemy of both the unions and the tea party- the big banks?

    1. Doc Holiday

      Re: “Where will the money come from to pay the union workers the money they want? ”

      ==> What about wall street and the Treasury department, two places where trillions were recently lost; stolen

      Let’s fact it, wall street ripped off everyone, and no one is being hunted down, or held accountable, and now they want more, just like someone or a gang on methamphetamine. They are all crooks and society needs to take back what they ripped off. It isn’t just the unions that are being challenged here, so I suggest you take off the I hate union hat and wake up to the fact that the enemy is wall street.

      If America hadn’t lost multiple trillions to all the fraud on wall street, this union uprising would be about some small plumber union in Dakota looking to get an extra buck an hour — versus trying to turn teachers into monsters because they want a little job security.

      Not everyone has a nepotistic connection to employment, apparently like you and the high and mighty teaparty Sh–bags that claim to be hard working little nazis.

      1. DAN G

        “My words but a whisper, your deafness a shout”.I was clear when I stated the unions and the tea partiest should go after the banks. Did you not read that statement? You assume alot Doc Holiday. Are you drunk, or don’t you read well. I have neither have nepotistic connection, family wealth, or am I a tea party member. I come fromm a large family, and my parents and older brother were immigrants with nothing. I have had my own business for many years.
        The banks love the divide. It draws the attention away from them. The enemy of my enemy is my friend would be worth considering.

        1. Doc Holiday

          DanG,

          I was reacting to just one segment of your post and not being critical of you or your post. I think we are both wondering where the money is to come from, if the banks and their allies in the government continue stealing it away from the common people.

          I wonder if the teabaggers would go after banks, as an agenda item, that might be sort of an acid test for them, which might help define who they are and what agenda they really have. I can’t say I’ve ever followed three words about the teabaggers, other than to see headlines associated with palin and super-right-wing nutjobs. Are the teabaggers against bankkers and the mafia on wall street and are they against all the crooks in congress that use lobby money to help banks get away with fraud? If the teabaggers are going to form a powerful organization and get millions behind them to bring down wall street, I’d like to see their actions speak clearly.

          … And Dan, I agree that the banks love to divide and conquer… and no, I’m not drunk, and I do a pretty crappy job of spell checking and proofing what I splat out here.

    2. F. Beard

      If the money is printed by the fed, the money will be lost, and then some, to inflation. Dan G

      Not necessarily, as Yves has pointed out, if there is spare capacity in the economy. But also, banks are in the inflation business via credit creation. A 100% reserve requirement would cause deflation so a balance between money printing and leverage restrictions might achieve an deflation/inflation free bailout.

      How about some retribution from the real enemy of both the unions and the tea party- the big banks? Dan G

      Sure. However, an equal bailout of the entire population, including savers, combined with a 100% reserve requirement on the banks could fix the entire system from the bottom up including the banks with no danger of an inflationary spiral. The uber-rich would suffer in relative terms, if “suffer” is the correct word.

      The banks hate money printing unless it is as debt so the bailout should be with new debt and interest free United States Notes both to spite them and to establish once and for all that the US government has no need to borrow EVER.

  62. charles 2

    “People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.”

    And this is indeed the program that was applied from 1941 (beginning of ww2) to 1951 (end of operations in Korea) and that set-up the great growth of the fifties and the sixties.
    What Andrew Mellon didn’t expect is that he, and his gilded class, was an integral part of the rottenness that had to be purged.

    1. F. Beard

      “People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.” Andrew Mellon

      Bankers are absolutely the most shameless hypocrites in Creation, imo. They steal purchasing power from all money holders including the poor via government privilege and then object to any compensation of their victims by government.

      If we wish to cut welfare, let’s start with the thieving bankers first.

  63. Doc Holiday

    What strikes me as interesting is the apparent nation-wide organizational effort and hence premeditated decisions or choices — and the apparent strategies to break unions. There must be a model in place, or a game plan, or rule book for this organized attack.

    However, what is even more interesting, is that if there is a strategy in place, connected to the recent political elections in America, where republican teaparty candidates were brought into power — the model, like most modeling these days is exploding or fragmenting into un-planned for chaos — beyond the planned for chaos.

    The trigger that was not built into the break-the-union model is correlated to the biblical chaos in the Middle East, where multiple dominoes are falling, as people revolt against tyranny and suppression.

    With the drama still unfolding in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and other countries, where people are collectively bargaining in mass — in numbers never before seen in history — to take back their homelands and put an end to the dictatorships and rigid abuse of power that has oppressed them. With that backdrop, the teaparty-mentality to break the union, couldn’t come at a more opportune time, because, essentially, Americans are not going to accept shit rigid and nazi-like abuses of power from republicans or democrats.

    I hope people do recall senators from both parties and I hope America does have a collision with democracy, and out of the choices people make for clarity, a better country emerges, a country that is not fascist, but a country where people work together for the common cause of liberty…

  64. Doc Holiday Rant Machine

    How the hell did the nazis re-organize? What happened in America that all of a sudden, after the worst president in history, i.e., bush — there is this movement out-of-the-blue where an extreme nazi-like faction suddenly connects itself to the republican party? WTF happened … were the bush years not shitty enough, do we have to re-live that era, or worse, live an era where the bush teaparty nazis really do take over America and abuse power even more than bush did??? Is that here America is supposed to go, into total chaos, so that the super-right wing nazis can control the rest of us, and suppress us? I guess I should count the amount of times I have used the word nazi — but what other example or historical word is there, for what they are? Am I the only one that has a concern??? If I’m wrong, please correct me!

  65. Baby Needs New Shoes

    I knew there was some reason my shoes didn’t seem right lately: Brooks Sports, Inc. headquarters are located in Bothell, Washington, USA. Brooks was acquired by Russell Corporation in late 2004. On August 2, 2006 Russell officially announced its sale to Berkshire Hathaway.

    Now what … gads, no wonder!

  66. Warren Mosler

    it comes down to this.

    first week of game theory tells you this isn’t a fair game.

    people need to work to eat, while business only hires if it can earn a sufficient return on equity.

    the evidence should be declining/stagnant real wages as ‘profits’ increase, and this is exactly what the data has shown- flat real wages as profits as a % of gdp real all time highs.

    so without some institutional structure to make it a fair game expect more of same.

    see ‘The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy’
    http://www.moslereconomics.com/?p=8662/

  67. RPB

    “The problem for the elites is that the system of control is breaking down. I noted a week and a half ago that the Egyptian revolution was a labor uprising against Rubinites.”

    This is precisely incorrect on so many levels it is laughable. This shows not only sheer ignorance of Egyptian society shows indifference to their plight as their misery is plied to your conclusions. This assertion is some of the most moronic tripe available on the web today.

  68. Tom Nacey

    Thank you for the link about selling Wisconsin’s energy assets. Talk radio has been covering the Wisconsin public worker issues ad nauseum. But never mentioned is the sale of state owned energy infrastructure to private parties WITHOUT BID. What a sweet deal (for someone).

  69. RJ

    “Happy, healthy, unafraid workers are innovative, if only to relieve the boredom of doing the same basic things day after day.

    They see a problem, and want to fix it. They see inefficiency, and want to make it work better. They gain experience in what doesn’t work, and then apply their knowledge to new ways of doing things.”

    This reads like some kind of theoretical description of human beings, not observing them in actual situations. It doesn’t match the behavior of union shops I’ve been in.

  70. Achtung - Panzer!

    Relax all the republicans voted to screw people in Wisco!

    http://www.sheboyganpress.com/article/20110225/SHE0101/110225069/1062/Endsley-LeMahieu-System-didn-t-tally-their-votes-bill?odyssey=nav|head

    But in the chaos of this morning’s vote, where Democrats began shouting in protest after the vote was taken, Endsley and LeMahieu both said it was hard to hear anything, and Republicans nazis were instructed to promptly exit the room (goose stepping) once the vote was taken — meaning they didn’t look back to ensure their votes were counted.

    Alose see naziplaybook: Committees of veteran staff officers were formed within the Truppenamt to evaluate 57 issues of the war.[23] Their reports led to doctrinal and training publications, which became the standard procedures by the time of the Second World War. The Reichswehr was influenced by its analysis of pre-war German military thought, in particular the infiltration tactics which at the end of the war had seen some breakthroughs in the Western Front’s trench war, and the maneuver warfare which dominated the Eastern Front.
    [edit]

    Hitler was a strong supporter of this new strategy. He read Guderian’s book Achtung – Panzer! and upon observing armored field exercises at Kummersdorf he remarked “That is what I want—and that is what I will have.”[34][35]

  71. republican nazi party

    One can only pray that the Wisconsin republican nazis fragment into several splinter’d factions, i.e., perhaps a few of the “good” republicans may not be willing to participate in extremism and unethical actions that are nothing less than nazi-like behavior!

    See: According to Guderian, Hitler was easily persuaded to field too many new tank designs, and this resulted in supply, logistical, and repair problems for German forces in Russia.[9] Guderian preferred large numbers of Panzer IIIs and IVs over smaller numbers of heavier tanks like the Tiger, which had limited range and could rarely go off-road without getting stuck in the Russian mud.

  72. rps

    “The superstitious awe, the enslaving reverence, that formerly Surrounded affluence, is passing away in all countries, and leaving the possessor of property to the convulsion of accidents. When wealth and splendor, instead of fascinating the multitude, excite emotions of disgust; n, instead of drawing forth admiration, it is beheld as an insult on wretchedness; when the ostentatious appearance it makes serves call the right of it in question, the case of property becomes critical…” T. Paine 1795

    The accumulation of personal property,” he wrote, “is, in many instances, the effect of paying too little for the labor that produced it.

  73. rps

    Scott Walker and his republican cabal claim the roadmap to the future is back into the darkness. Austerity for the many and abundance for the few. Walker is the Liege’s (Koch brothers) guardian promoting hatred and fighting of union versus non-union laborers so they will not notice that they all sit at the bottom rung of the ladder. The bottom rung fight over the scraps thrown from the table rather than uniting and demanding a seat at the table. The power lies in who controls the subject matter that drives the conversation.

  74. neo-republican Q?

    Are neo-republicans more nazi, or fascist?

    The Nazis believed in the supremacy of an Aryan master race and claimed that Germans represent the most pure Aryan nation.[12] They argued that Germany’s survival as a modern great nation required it to create a New Order — an empire in Europe that would give the German nation the necessary land mass, resources, and expansion of population needed to be able to economically and militarily compete with other powers.[13]

    Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy.[5][6] Fascism was originally founded by Italian national syndicalists in World War I who combined extreme right-wing political views along with collectivism.[7] Scholars generally consider fascism to be on the far right.[8][9][10][11][12] Confusion over whether fascism is of the left or right is due to the inability to fit the economic policies into a clear-cut category, because while fascism is considered on the right politically, fascist economic controls were left-wing, though ended up benefiting social groups considered to be supportive of right-wing parties.[13]

    Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong.[14] They claim that culture is created by the collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus they reject individualism.

    This is worth more study, as there are many, many similarities…. but some over-lapping confusion.

    The Nazis claimed that Jews were the greatest threat to the Aryan race and the German nation. They considered Jews a parasitic race that attached itself to various ideologies and movements to secure its self-preservation, such as: the Enlightenment, liberalism, democracy, parliamentary politics, capitalism, industrialisation, Marxism and trade unionism.

  75. scott

    Assuming the struggle in Wisconsin will continue, how about a “Spring Break in Wisconsin” movement among college and high school students to express solidarity and support and to then take the movement and consciousness back home? Among other benefits, it will provide some preparation for the educating, organizing, agitating and strikes that will be necessary across the US in the near future.

  76. John Galt

    This was one of the worst articles I have ever read. Go back to high school English class. Please learn how to properly state a thesis, and defend it with a variety of sources and examples. Broad claims like, ‘The GOP likes to foster corruption…’ should be supported by historical facts. In year X, person Y, did deed Z with the intent, shown by A, B and C, of fostering corruption.

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