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  •  I am a union member, have been for 30+ years (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linnaeus, teacherken, dsb, Mike08

    I've been able to make a good living, put together a decent life for my family, educate my children, and hope to have a viable retirement. It didn't happen because my employers were wonderful, generous folks who really cared about me as a human being (although they do grudgingly give more than lip service to the idea). It happened because I was able to get an entry level job years ago in the public sector, one of the last places where unions still have any sway. There's been plenty of occasional farce and folly along the way, but on the whole I'd like to think it has been a good deal for both me AND the society in which I live.

    Unions are the only group consistently fighting for better working conditions, living wages, and respect for ordinary people. The rich have demonstrated time and time again that their greatest concern is for their own self-interest. That's true for just about everyone of course - but the rich have a lot more power to see that self-interest rewarded. That is, IF they are allowed to exercise it at the expense of everyone else.

    A society that devotes itself to safeguarding only the interests of wealth and power is a society that commits injustice every day and is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. A society that consistently places private interest above public interest and perpetuates the resulting imbalances is a society that is literally killing itself. (If you follow the link, you'll find decades of research that document this in great detail. You'd think this would get a lot more attention given our current economic distress.)

    The most recent rise to power of the investor class and the destruction of the working class with malice and intent is no accident. It's an old story based on the old idea that "For me to have more, somebody else must have less."  With the wealth of this country increasingly held by a handful, it leaves the vast majority of the population vulnerable to the whims of Fortune and the schemes of the oligarchs who dominate our government and our media. It makes the country weaker, more volatile, and susceptible to corruption.

    The great social programs of the thirties, the vastly successful programs in the 40s and 50s like the GI Bill and the Marshall Plan led directly to the rise of a huge middle class, a surge in economic power, and fostered both innovation and advancement in so many areas. Tax rates on the top tax bracket around 90% helped pay for repairing the damages of the depression and the war, big investments in public infrastructure - and kept the power of money from becoming too great. Unions were a huge part of that accomplishment, by making sure that millions of Americans got their share of that prosperity.

    Old history all of that, being industriously rewritten by the oligarchs and their paid stooges in the media and the think-tank propaganda mills. They're always ready to share their toxic 'wisdom' via revolving doors between government and the oligarchs who 'know best' for us all.

    The shared wealth of the country that progressive policies built up has been strip-mined for the last 40 years by conservatives busy extracting all the wealth and giving nothing back. They have no interest in the future, beyond making sure their descendants keep their grasp on the fortunes they've amassed. Worse, they've crafted a narrative that cloaks greed and selfishness as virtue, and demonizes anyone and anything that threatens that facade.

    It's ultimately self-defeating. Someone who lives in an economy driven by consumption, who keeps extracting more and more money from it eventually reaches a point where it all collapses because nobody else has any money left to keep the wheels turning by buying things. And all the money in the world is useless to the person who has destroyed the society in which it has any value. Again.

    If we are ever going to get off this treadmill, we have to start fighting for policies that work to make life better for everyone rich and poor alike. Conservative dogma insists that, as noted above, "For me to have more, somebody else must have less." Not only is that self-destructive, it's not even true!

    Study after study has shown that the more inequality there is in a society, the worse life in that society becomes, across a whole range of problems. This book is a summary of literally decades of work documenting how that happens - and what to do to address it. There is a long list of references in the book to back up the authors work.

    To the degree that unions are able to make this a fairer, more equitable country in which to live, they make life better for everyone.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 09:17:58 AM PDT

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