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In the most coherent and cogent explanation I've seen of the financial crisis, AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel Damon Silvers lays out how the decline in unionization which began in the mid-Seventies led to the burst of the sub-prime bubble, and ultimately to today's recession.  And he wrote it way back in April.

But the real roots of the crisis do not lie on Wall Street. The cause of the crisis can be found in the long-term weakening of the real American economy in an era of globalization—in closed factories, outsourced high tech jobs and low wage jobs with no benefits, and in the unsustainable effort to maintain middle class living standards through borrowing. It is to be found in the reality of lives like that of Kimberly Somsel of Westland Michigan, a member of the AFL-CIO’s community affiliate Working America, an unemployed single mother of two battling breast cancer and facing foreclosure due to a ballooning "2 and 28" loan payment. She is selling the family car and her furniture just to get by. Five houses on her block are threatened with foreclosure.

Powerful voices in our country say that public resources should be there for Bear Stearns, but not for Kimberly Somsel, to keep the champagne flowing on Wall Street, but not to build a future for Michigan. But there is another way — a return to a high wage economy driven by productive investment in the United States. This way requires not that we retreat from the global economy, but that we insist that the globalized economy have real rules that work for working people. At the center of these rules must be labor market regulation, and in particular, regulation that empowers workers to speak for themselves by acting together. But rules are no enough. The United States must pursue a real national economic strategy in a globalized world economy.

For thirty years, America’s economic elites and their political allies have pursued a combination of economic and social policies designed to produce a low wage economy. These policies—our labor laws and our broader system of labor market regulation, our tax policies and our approach to globalization, have yielded decades of stagnant wages and rising economic inequality.

But at the same time, policymakers of both parties have sought, with some success, to maintain high levels of consumer spending. The pursuit of the contradiction of a low wage, high spending economy has systematically destroyed the various ways we individually and collectively save and invest. Instead of an income driven economy, we have become an economy driven by asset bubbles fueled by cheap debt. The ultimate unsustainability of this strategy has brought us to our current economic crisis.

You really need to read the whole speech.  It's the summary of how we got here that I wish I had written, and it's just another powerful reminder of how critical passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is to economic recovery.  Without a real opportunity to join unions and build bargaining power, American workers will continue to experience stagnant wages. And as Silvers eloquently explains, stagnant wages lead to unsustainable debt and a a downward economic spiral.  The Employee Free Choice Act isn't just about fairness in the workplace -- it's a tool for engineering stimulus.  And it won't cost the government a dime.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:15 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And, yet, there are still too many here who say.. (15+ / 0-)


    This is our economic Katrina here in the great lakes...  please stop eating birthday cake while we are drowning!

    Comments that say "GM workers should get retraining" without SPECIFIC DETAILS about those "new jobs" that never come are trollworthy

    by LordMike on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:17:07 PM PST

    •  Let them fail, if that's the reality-based (5+ / 0-)

      best way to handle the situation.

      You still fail to understand the difference between the business and the workers.

      You know, there are a few scenarios where the government bails out major corporations, and it doesn't benefit American workers one iota.  This is the same scenario that has been playing out for the past 8 years where the government has supported "business" even when they offshore, lay off, bust unions, etc.

      We could save the big 3 by helping them move all their plants to Mexico.  Would that satisfy you?  If we did that, they might be big and fat even through the remainder of the economic meltdown.

      You really do need to understand that letting the Big 3 fail does not equal letting the workers or the unions fail.  And pumping money into the Big 3 does not guarantee that the workers or the unions will succeed.

      •  read moore's proposal (10+ / 0-)

        michael moore wants to have the govt take over the companies (at least GM) and force them to build public transportation -- i.e. like we made them build tanks in WWII.  not that bad of an idea - the workers would have good industrial jobs that cant be exported.

        •  Read it (nt) (0+ / 0-)
        •  MMoore: Common stock = $3 bn, bailout = $34 bn (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          He said the companies are asking for a bailout many times in excess of what they're worth.  He also said that if we give them the bailout, we own them.  And absolutely replace the management; Big 3 aren't just failing because of this economic crisis, they've been failing for 30 years.

          Also, as to the crisis -- it needs to be recognized that if bailing out the Big 3 means the planet is emperiled by their idiot management choices to keep building internal combustion cars... that's no go no win no brainer.  This crisis is an opportunity to get the fail turned around.

      •  turn the stock over to the worker if the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SkiBumLee, Clues

        corporations take government money.

        •  Pouring Good Money After Bad (0+ / 0-)

          I'm stunned at some of the comments on this board.
          "Turn the stock over to the employees"  Why would we ever want to do that? The employees get a salary to do a job. It's as simple as that. Stock = Ownership, and the ownership should transfer to the US government if a bailout is given. Without the bailout the company goes bankrupt, so any future value is tied to the bailout money.

          IF/WHEN the stock ever increases, who should be the beneficiary? Not the current owners, they've run the company into the ground (major stockholders choose the board, and the board chooses senior management), and certainly not the employees. What have they done to deserve ownership? Nada. They work for their paycheck, and if they don't like the job, or the benefits, or the salary or their raises, they can switch jobs, just like everyone else in this economy.

          The US taxpayers will be bailing out this losing enterprise - probably again and again for years to come - so the US taxpayers should get the shareholder equity.

          AS for unions, don't get me started. I'm a true blue democrat, but that doesn't mean I'll blindly jump on the union bandwagon because everyone says I should. Unions have their place. They created the 5 day/40 hour workweek, and health benefits, and workplace safety standards and countless other benefits. But what useful gain have they created in the last 20 odd years.

          When someone's pay is not determined by the value of the work they are contributing, but instead by how much damage they can cause a firm by shutting down it's operations (blackmail plain and simple) there's a problem.

      •  NO ! SCREW YOU ! (14+ / 0-)

        I've had enough of this bullshit.

        This is real simple - we either choose to save real industry and real jobs, or we GO ALONG with the corporatists' desire to save the banking and financial system and shove the cost of doing so down our throats.

        I don't particularly care if an auto executive makes $23 million a year, not when I see this:

        Trader Monthly's list of top 10 earners among hedge fund managers in 2007 was:[52]

          1. John Paulson, Paulson & Co. - $3 billion+
          2. Philip Falcone, Harbinger Capital Partners - $1.5-$2 billion
          3. Jim Simons, Renaissance Technologies - $1 billion
          4. Steven A. Cohen, SAC Capital Advisors - $1 billion
          5. Ken Griffin, Citadel Investment Group - $1–$1.5 billion
          6. Chris Hohn, The Children's Investment Fund Management (TCI) - $800–$900 million
          7. Noam Gottesman, GLG Partners - $700–$800 million
          8. Alan Howard, Brevan Howard Asset Management - $700–$800 million
          9. Pierre Lagrange, GLG Partners - $700–$800 million
         10. Paul Tudor Jones, Tudor Investment Corp. - $600–$700 million

        Let me be really f#@king crystal f#@king clear here.

        The Auto industry is not failing because of bad management.

        The Auto industry is not failing because it build vehicles people don't want to but (who are the 13 million people who bought vehicles last year?)

        The Auto industry is not failing because auto workers are paid too much.

        The Auto industry is failing because the gold-encrusted shit buckets on Wall Street have wrecked the economy, a lot of people cannot get loans for cars, and consequently auto sales have fallen into the ditch.

        What about "credit crisis" and "no loans" do you not understand?

        You want real change?

        Here's real change. It used to be that when Wall Street said, "jump" we all jumped. Especially Congress critters.

        How about from now on, when organized labor says, "jump" that's when we jump.

        A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

        by NBBooks on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:22:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you (7+ / 0-)

          Even here there is still a corporatist bias of wealth over labor when it comes to discussing the economy.

        •  You misunderstand (0+ / 0-)

          They are ALL part of the corporate takeover of America.

          WHere did you get the idea that I supported the bank bailout and not the auto bailout?

          My comment referred to supporting the middle-class workers....period.  

          Please read it again and stop being so rude.

          •  Ok, let’s back up a bit – to 1979 (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sayitaintso, LordMike, tsk, Fossil, FLGibsonJr

            Paul Volcker – who some people around here think is a "grown up" and therefore a good guy – became chairman of the Federal Reserve in August 1979. U.S. industry – that’s manufacturing industry, mind you; it’s misleading and ignorant to refer to a "banking industry" or "financial industry" – wAs already on the ropes from the two oil price shocks of the decade, compounded by the fiscal and monetary disorder wrought by trying to fight the Vietnam War on credit instead of raising taxes (not to mention the waste of resources in fighting a war). Particularly hard hit were the bedrock industries: automobiles, steel, and machine tools. One of the Big Three car makers, Chrysler, was near  bankruptcy. At the same time, the Hunt brothers had attempted to corner the market for silver, but had failed and were failing to meet margin calls. So Volcker makes a choice – he decides to bailout the banks that are getting hit for backing the Hunt brothers’ silver play, but turns down Chrysler. (Congress soon afterwards arranged an emergency loan for Chrysler). Volcker and the Fed thus confirm and accelerate a fundamental shift that was occurring in the U.S. economy – the shift to a so-called "post-industrial" society.

            As William Engdahl notes in his excellent series last year, The Financial Tsunami: The Financial Foundations of the American Century Volcker had fundamentally altered the rules of the game: it was now "What's good for Wall Street is good for the country." And the real, physical economy could go to hell -- and it has, taking millions of decent paying jobs and much of American prosperity with it.

            By the 1980s, with the election of Reagan and the consequent enshrinement of the radical "free trade" and "free market" policies of the Chicago School (b.n.: Obama’s close relationship with the University of Chicago is something to worry about, even if he never set foot in the Economics Department), the new philosophy of national economic policy was neatly summarized by the slogan, "It doesn’t matter if we produce potato chips or computer chips." In fact, there was a brutal, high-stakes battle that took place in Congressional and agency hearings, as a number of industrial trade associations and manufacturing companies attempted to force the Reaganites to use existing U.S. law to protect American industry. The part played by the machine tool industry is brilliantly and engagingly told by Max Holland in his 1989 book, When the Machine Stopped: A Cautionary Tale from Industrial America, using the example of the company his father had worked at, Burg Tool, at the time the largest machine tool maker west of the Mississippi. People who really want to understand the roots of America’s economic woes would do well to read Holland’s book.

            Most of the lawsuits and relief petitions filed in this battle targeted Japan for practicing unfair trade practices.

            Repeatedly and consistently, the Reagan regime refused to use existing law to protect American industry. Reagan and his followers, it must be admitted, held true to their principles – having the government help and industry or a company would derail the "creative destruction" of the free market and quench the fires of the competitive "animal spirits." Of course, that’s not what happened in the real world, where the rubber of policy meets the road of consequences.

            There were plenty of critics as this national tragedy played out, warning that Reagan’s laissez faire approach would cause long-term economic decline, and a unfavorable strategic shift in both the U.S. balance of trade and balance of payments which would eventually lead to a collapse of dollar hegemony and a sharp decline in the U.S. standard of living. I know there were plenty of critics. I was one of them. I was there. I lost, and so did the other critics.

            So, I see this issue in very stark, black and white terms. For the past three decades, the United States and the American people have followed wrong-headed economic policies that allowed manufacturing industry to wither and die, with disastrous results. What we thought was prosperity has only in the last 17 or 18 months been revealed to be a cruel charade of price bubbles with no relation to actual value, and monstrously increasing debt to hide the decline of the U.S. ability to produce.

            We cannot afford to discard any more manufacturing ability. We cannot afford to allow any more manufacturing companies to be destroyed. We cannot afford to allow any more industrial workers to lose their jobs. Because manufacturing is crucial to the survival of the republic. Because reviving manufacturing is the only way we get out of this mess without massive suffering and hardship.

            There are two ways out of the economic and financial collapse we have fallen into. Only two ways, really. We can either do what Wall Street and most U.S. elites want to do, which is to try to keep the financial system alive by any means possible. The cost of that has already been tagged at over $7 trillion. Who do you think is going to be paying the bills when they come due?

            Or, we can admit that the past 30 years of policy have been a huge mistake, jettison a financial system that is based on usury and speculation, and begin building an America that our children, and their children, and their children can use.

            We need to build about 100,000 of these. And a lot of other stuff besides.

            A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

            by NBBooks on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:06:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  This would be a great diary! (0+ / 0-)

              Please copy and paste it into one! :-)

              Comments that say "GM workers should get retraining" without SPECIFIC DETAILS about those "new jobs" that never come are trollworthy

              by LordMike on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 08:12:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Great comments about machine tools (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Trapper John, NBBooks, FLGibsonJr

              I don't know if people here actually realize that these are the tools that make all other manufacturing possible.  Besides Burg, didn't Cincinnati Milicron fall onto hard times with their robotics also?

              Anyway, people looking to implementing a "green" economy will be unable to accomplish anything without industrial manufacturing expertise from heavy industry on up.  I think that many are under the delusion that all we have to do is purchase the technology from the base of being a "service economy".  Good luck with that.

              But then, it seems like manufacturing, and skilled labor, is a priority with Americans, don't you know.  And the distortions of conservative and neo-liberal economic policy has, as you pointed out, allowed manufacturing to wither.  How is that working out for us?

              My sense is that the continued concentration on the financial gamblers, and that includes the zombie debt slaves that purchased more home than they can afford, is only pissing into the wind.  I cannot see any recovery unless we allow banking to fail and concentrate on re-industrializing America.

              •  As I recall Cincinnati Milicron around 1990 (0+ / 0-)

                got out of metalworking machine tools altogether, to focus entirely on plastics forming and molding machines. I'm not sure if CM sold off its metalworking machine tool operations, are just closed them down.

                Really very sad considering that CM started as the mighty Cincinnati Milling Machine.

                On the other hand, it was around that time that metalworking machine tools had really undergone a revolution, with spindle speeds leaping from around 15k rpm to over 80k or 90k rpm, and the development of 5-axis control machines.

                My understanding is that the increase in spindle speeds was made possible by the application of U.S. Navy anti-submarine acoustic software that allowed the machines with such high spindle speeds to anticipate required cutting tool adjustments while cutting a piece of metal. Otherwise, the spindle speed moved the cutting tools too fast through the workpiece, leaving intolerable tolerances (pun intended).

                I was given a tour of LeBlond-Makino, outside Cincinnati. One other thing I remember was that one of the factory people told me that aerospace firms found it cheaper, with the new, high spindle speeds, to machine down a piece of metal to the required part, rather than making a pattern, casting the part, and machining it. Made the parts a lot stronger, also.

                A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

                by NBBooks on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 09:52:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  For anyone reading this, regarding machine tools (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                there is, I suppose no real nice way to put this, but if you do not appreciate the vital importance of machine tools in a modern economy, then what you know about economics, or what you think you know, is doing humanity much more harm than good.

                I would be shocked if anyone who agreed that machine tools are vital, were in favor of letting the auto industry fail.

                A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

                by NBBooks on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 09:58:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  How many of us here enjoy manufacturing? (0+ / 0-)

                  For those of us designing manufacturing environments, lines, or even predictive quality control of processes, we see the importance of industry in problem solving.

                  Machine tools, heavy industry, and skilled manufacturing, along with the labor that goes into executing a designed product with high precision and quality seems to be out of fashion, along with the sciences.  If we lose these basics by pursuing clever ways to sell each other hamburgers, virtual or not, we no longer control our own destiny.

                  Hell, most of the financial bailout has been to appease our creditors.  China says "jump" and Paulson asks "how high".  That's American exceptionalism at work.

                  Wish more people would take the time and effort to learn about the complexities and fundamental importance of manufacturing.

            •  I totally agree!! (0+ / 0-)

              You've said what I've been thinking and saying for some time.  Thanks for putting it so clearly.  I am also worried about Obama's ties to the University of Chicago.  That's where the neocons who wanted to remake the entire Middle East and maybe the world started out.  I'm very worried about Obama's economic advisors too.  Obama is very bright, but I don't think he has a background in economics.  I wish he had a brother or some university person who he could really trust to give him advice.  I don't like the people he's listening to, especially the Rubin crowd and some of the Clinton people.  Bill Clinton went along with all the deregulation and free trade and did nothing to save the economy from its longterm decline and collapse.  They were convinced that the economy could survive on housing and finance and did all they could to get mortgages for everyone.  I think we know how well that worked.  I'm hoping that Obama finds someone other than the Rubin crowd for advice.  You should communicate your thoughts to Obama.  I'm going to try to do so too.  

            •  Well, yeah..and uhh..DUH! (0+ / 0-)

              You know I don't object to or disagree with anything that you say except the fact that you wrote it all in response to a comment of mine that had nothing to do with any of this, and began your response with SCREW YOU!

              This shows you haven't a clue about what I was saying.

              Normally I'd be reccing comments such as this in other diaries or in other places, but it beats the hell out of me why you thought they were appropriate responses to what I said, or why you needed to preface them with such rudeness.

              •  and just to add... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Special K, tsk

                I work for a company that has been screwing over its workers for about 10 years now.  They lobby congress, they usually get what they want, and what they appear to want is a US company in name only, with all the work being done from BRIC countries.

                They were pushing a piece of legislation a couple years ago to retroactively decrease everyone's pension by about 30%.  I wrote to my congressman and asked him to vote against the bill and what was his reply?

                "We need to support our American Businesses".

                THIS is the point of view of our elected officials..that it's the business that's important and not the workers in it.  This company has plans to cut their American workforce by over 60% in the next 2 years, and yet they automatically gain the support of congress as an American Business.

                When people talk about bailing out the Big 3, this is my question -  are we bailing out the companies or the workers?  Because they are NOT the same, and traditionally our government has favored the business over the middle class workers.

                And by the way -  this company is currently slobbering at the gates of Washington with the idea that they'd like to get in on Obama's plans to start big programs to rebuild the country.  If they get awarded a lot of fat contracts without any stipulations that they STOP offshoring US jobs NOW, it'll be a travesty.

                So, by all means, let's beat the drum to save GM, because it's essential that GM doesn't matter what it takes to keep it afloat -  cutting pay and benefits, moving plants offshore, gutting retiree finances..whatever it takes.  Because we MUST use our tax dollars to save GM.  /end snark.

              •  OK, Let me offer an apology (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Clues, Special K

                for my rudeness.


                A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

                by NBBooks on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:09:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  I heard a UAW rep say (7+ / 0-)

          That only 10% of a car's price is labor. The rest is material, debt service, and capital consumption.

          Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

          by Anthony Segredo on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:53:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And we stop taking advice from the people (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SkiBumLee, Chicago Lawyer

          who got us where we are today.  That includes most of Obama's economic advisors starting with Rubin and friends.  We have to rewrite the tax code too, and that should be one of Obama's priorities.

        •  Correct on all counts. n/t (0+ / 0-)
      •  I'd be willing . . . . . (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LordMike, Bluehawk, geez53, FLGibsonJr

        to say let them fail if we start out with the banks.  Stop any more bailout and force investment banks to mark their junk to the market.  Regulate the hedge funds out of business too while we are at it.

        This recession started with Wall Street and they should be the first to fail.  So until that occurs I am in no mood to cry "let them fail" when it comes to entities that actually create wealth.

        •  The problem with "let them fail" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Trapper John

          is that we can't let the entire financial sector collapse.  Everything eventually depends on banking and investment, so they have us by the neck.  We have to put a few in jail or make all their "mistakes" public so they can retire and stop ruining this nation.  We also have to let everyone know how well supply side economics has worked.

      •  Honest to god (0+ / 0-)

        I'm tempted to HR you all for sheer failure in reading comprehension.

      •  Progressives don't support unions (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LordMike, FLGibsonJr

        I become convinced that progressives are full of crap when they claim to support unions.

        Still waiting for real change

        by noofsh on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:56:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  if that's the reality? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Trapper John

        Did you read the diary?   That statement reminds me of Daily Show skits on the people who were undecided between Obama and McCain the day before the election.

        Manufacturing is the real economy, and autos are the core of manufacturing.  If you don't care if we have no middle class, then we don't need any consumer products made here or anywhere because people will be too poor to afford them, which is right up the ruling elites alley.  Poor people are much easier to control than a fat, happy and prospering middle class.  They get sassy and rebellious on unjust wars, just like the 60s; and lord knows they know how prosperous wars are for them.  

        What industry to you exactly think is responsible for the huge middle class we have enjoyed all these years?  Wall Street?  Fast food?  Do you live next door to a broker?  I don't.  My neighborhood doesn't cost enough.  

        They are bailing out global banks and you are still asking "if".  OMG.  Acting against ones self interest apparently isn't limited to poor people voting for Republicans.

        They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20 ~~ Dennis Kucinich

        by dkmich on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:59:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bailout appears dead (0+ / 0-)

      I demand prosecutions for torture.

      by heart of a quince on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:56:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Coherent and true, but wait! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How many here will say that this guy is "crazy" or doesn't have a "clue"?

  •  You may not have written it, (10+ / 0-)

    but you got it to us. Thanks. It's a brilliant statement.

    "We're going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop." -- David Addington

    by Vico on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:18:22 PM PST

  •  And if the cost of labor is so high, (22+ / 0-)

    why not take away the cost of medical insurance by providing government health insurance to everybody, like our Asian and European competitors?

    "Speak out, judge fairly, and defend the rights of oppressed and needy people." Proverbs 31:9

    by zdefender on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:18:37 PM PST

  •  And remember, nobody is taking away (14+ / 0-)

    the right to a secret ballot.

    Let's all remember, so we can mention it whenever people try to press that point:

    The ONLY difference with EFCA is that the choice between card check and secret ballot will be up to the employees and NOT the employer.

    If employees want secret ballot, they can have it - but realistically, it's not going to happen.  The secret ballot will go away because it's an undemocratic, flawed system that ultimately oppresses worker rights and, as demonstrated here, the economy.

    •  Agreed (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pesto, sayitaintso, Special K, geez53

      It also goes a long way to preventing multiple challenges to unit composition.  Basically, now an employer can challenge the composition of a unit (that it contains supervisors or other inappropriate employees or that the employees in the unit do not share a sufficient "community of interest" to bargain together), prior to the election and then get a second bite at the apple through challenged ballots.  This will cut down on a hell of a lot of needless litigation over unit issues.

      I would imagine there will have to be some way to challenge supervisors or other non-employee classes in units under the card check setup.  At least (I'm hoping) that it doesn't put certification on hold for months or years like it does now.

      •  Don't file with less than 60% (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Special K

        That's always been the best insurance against E-list shenanigans.  I expect it'll be the same if we ever get card-check.

        "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

        by Pesto on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:56:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  wait what? (0+ / 0-)

      If employees want secret ballot, they can have it - but realistically, it's not going to happen.  The secret ballot will go away because it's an undemocratic, flawed system that ultimately oppresses worker rights and, as demonstrated here, the economy.

      Please explain how a secret ballot is an undemocratic flawed system.

      •  because it gives the employer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pesto, JDPITALIA

        several weeks to inundate the employee with closed-door meetings, harassment, and anti-union propaganda, with very little penalty even when they do step over the bounds of the law.

        And in the end, everyone knows everyone else's vote anyway.

        We're not talking about a secret ballot, we're talking about an NLRB "secret ballot".  The only people who really love the system, in practice, are the corporations who abuse it with reckless abandon.  

        Don't let the nice pretty democratic term for it confuse you.  It is not what it sounds like.

  •  Bang the drum (18+ / 0-)

    This is the fight that we have to win if we want to win the rest of them.  If the kleptocracy can beat this down then we will remain essentially isolated and easy pickings.  The rise of the netroots as an organization and information-dispensing tool is a new fact they haven't gamed, yet.  It is in this interval thatr we may move if we choose to.  If we don't so choose, then it will likely be too late.  We need to ehance the ability of labor to organize-and I say that as part of a management level worker.  But my interests are exactly the same as labors' interests nearly all the time.  Much moreso than they are the equivalent of the Ownership class.  Solidarity is a sound prinicple that should be discarded only after much examination and circumspection.

    (-7.0, -6.4) "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man.'" Robbie Robertson

    by NearlyNormal on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:24:21 PM PST

  •  UNIONS work!! (20+ / 0-)

    If we didn't have one Union job in our home we'd be screwed. Anyone who believes for one minute that management will ever give anything to it's workforce without facing collective bargaining  can forget it. The way companies work is too play everyone off against their fellows ( divide & conquer) has worked to lower everyone's living standards. The only people that have benefited has been the top 10%.( owners and top mgrs.)

    "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees" E. Zapata

    by Blutodog on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:25:08 PM PST

  •  And that is also when people started living (16+ / 0-)

    on credit cards.

    I think there is a correlate between suppression of wages, and easy credit.

    The easier the credit, the easier it is to pay less.

  •  An interesting question (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    try democracy, skyounkin, TomP

    There are 3 main provisions of the EFCA: (1) card-check, (2) mandatory arbitration on first contract if no agreement in the first 6 months, and (3) increased penalties for violations of the NLRA.  It's possible, based on what I've read, that one of these may get dropped to reach a "compromise" on EFCA and get it through Congress.  All 3 are important, and I don't know which would be the "best" or "worst" (depending on your point of view) to drop, if necessary.  

    •  drop mandatory arbitration (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, Justanothernyer

      Could be a problem for many of the unions as well.  I know many who would drop it in a heartbeat.

      But they may not be a majority voice...

      •  Binding or mandatory arbitration is an employer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        protection most often. It prevents or preempts a work stoppage, which, in the these days of just-in-time everything, can be quickly devastating to the bottom line. In Illinois, binding arbitration is mandated by law in certain public safety bargaining units: police, fire and, oddly enough, Assistant State Attorneys.

        Get to work slackers.....2016 is almost here.

        by geez53 on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 05:24:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Mandatory arbitration could be used (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Special K

      to drain the Union coffers, couldn't it?  A corportion just has to stall stall stall and drain the Union.

      My first guy instinct is to drop that which could be used to hurt the union.

      •  Ugh.... (0+ / 0-)

        "My first GUT instinct".......not "guy insinct".

      •  uh... (5+ / 0-)

        The entire point of the arbitration mandate is that companies will negotiate in bad faith for years, literally years, until the workers lose faith in the union and give up.  Without binding arbitration, there is nothing to insure that workers get a fair contract.

        Philosophers have interpreted the world, the point is to change it. -Karl Marx

        by dissonantdissident on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:52:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's the concept (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          However, you have to remember that it could also be used to instill provisions in union contracts that undermine other agreements negotiated by those unions, which could then be exploited by other employers.  

          If it passes, it passes, and hopefully the greater good will be served.  However, it's not a perfect solution.  

          Hopefully the penalties for bad faith negotiating will be strong enough that it won't matter.

          •  It's also a way around an election bar (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pesto, sayitaintso, JDPITALIA

            Under the NLRA, once a union wins an election, the employer cannot file a petition to decertify the union (i.e. chuck them out) for a year.  So, if you waste 6 months bad faith bargaining, and the other 6 spinning your wheels, workers will be pissed off enough at the union to sign cards to go to a decertification election.  So, the arbitration is a big step in the right direction.

            The card check provision prevents employers from spending up to a full month pressuring employees to vote against the union.  It's crazy what goes on out there.  

          •  hard to say how realistic (0+ / 0-)

            that concern is. First, the only way those sorts of provisions could get imposed in arbitration is if the employer is first insisting on getting those in negotiations. Second, a neutral arbitrator would have to decide that draconian provisions should be imposed instead of what is more typical of contract arbitration, which is imposing provisions enjoyed in other labor contracts.

      •  No, Arbitration has strict timelines. (0+ / 0-)

        It's the "challenge" scheme re: votes, job titles etc. that can be stalled and wrapped up with atty. fees.

        Get to work slackers.....2016 is almost here.

        by geez53 on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 05:29:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  In Canada, card check is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      davewill, Arnold Panz

      55%+1.  I think a compromise on card check requiring a super majority instead of simple majority might get the bill passed.

      Also the small business groups complain about the EFCA being used to target small businesses, so upping the NLRB's jurisidiction limit from the 1957 standard of $500K might help.  $3M or so would keep most small employers out of the net.

      Americans for Effective and Equitable Government

      by try democracy on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:55:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's such an excellent point (9+ / 0-)

    and a much more convincing picture of the linkage between unionization and the well-being of the economy than the thoroughly unconvincing argument floating around that "generous" union contracts cause economic harm.

    Fair wages benefit the country, whether one is in a union themselves or not.

    "If you don't have a record to run on...You make a big election about small things." - Barack Obama

    by GN1927 on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:28:17 PM PST

  •  In case anyone didn't see the UAW President (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rlharry, Phil S 33, TomP

    today, here he is:

  •  I support the Employee Free Choice Act (7+ / 0-)

    but this financial crisis has it's main roots (not all of them, but most of the roots) in the financial derivatives market.  They have a giant ponzi scheme going, whereas the ordinary folks just got sucky wages and even suckier jobs..... oh, and their small investments destroyed.


    by dancewater on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:33:20 PM PST

  •  labor unions (6+ / 0-)

    All you have to do is look at countries where the labor unions are non-existent or controlled by the powers that be.  Prime example:  Mexico.

  •  Why is it OK for execs to get rich while workers (14+ / 0-)

    suffer?  I know people who would benefit themselves from unions who believe unions are the last step to heinous evil.  The idea of employees banding together to get some of that pie for themselves seems abhorrent to some.  "Oh, they're just lazy and want a cushy $30 an hour job where they don't have to do anything."  As if the exect pulling down a quarter mill in pay and god knows what in bonuses is working so much harder than the people who actualy perform the work of the business.

    Is it a sense of class unworthiness?  "No, I know my place, mustn't think above myself, I have what I deserve, those folks on the hill are ever so much worthier than I."

    All I hear is some weird Darwinist thing of "If they worked hard enough, they'd be successful."  They/we are working full work weeks and more, how much more are we supposed to do?  Are we all supposed to be hacking our way to the executive suite so we can be worthy of living a life that doesn't involve bounced checks?

    "Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure." - George Eliot -

    by BlueInUtah on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:40:19 PM PST

    •  I understand your point... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chicago Lawyer

      I understand your point, and the symbolism is strong. There's no doubt about that.

      But GM and Ford are not at a competitive disadvantage due to high executive salaries. even if GM and Ford recouped all executive pay since 1980 it would still be under operating costs for a single quarter. Cutting executive pay would help, but there's a few executives getting paid huge amounts, and thousands of workers. BMW, Porsche - all the big European CEOs - get paid millions as well. At this point most of them are paid more than the CEOs of Ford and GM.

      The consistent, constant focus on executive pay is frustrating to me because executive pay, though a problem, is not a very pressing one. The dollars just aren't there in current executive pay to keep Ford and GM running for even a week. What needs to happen is a temporary reduction in salary and benefits (or shifting retirement benefits to the government) to bring them in line with Toyota, or immediate taxes on foreign cars and an increase of wages at their factories.

      Honestly though, I'm not too hot on that idea. Mandating higher wages for already (reasonably) well paid workers is not going to help unemployment. If you want greater income equality, the only realistic way to do it is drastically cutting the income of top earners. You can't simply mandate that US workers should be paid more than their foreign counterparts and not expect the logical economic consequences.

  •  filibuster comes down to franken? (0+ / 0-)

    the republicans will certainly try to filibuster EFCA.  i don't think they can pull any dem votes and spector (r-pa) voted for it last time.  so, if franken wins we get EFCA, if he loses we need one more vote (or at least one less vote filibuster vote) - any idea who that could be?  any blue state republicans coming up for re-election soon that we should pressure now?

    •  better not be (0+ / 0-)

      I think realistically several Republicans are going to have to bolt their party to get EFCA passed. Not many Republicans, I suspect not even Spector, would be willing to be a lone wolf on the issue.

    •  Specter will vote for something called EFCA (0+ / 0-)

      but who knows what kind of amendments it'll face on the way to cloture and a final vote?  They could certainly excise majority card-check and leave the increased penalties, new language on injunctions, even the interest arbitration for 1st contracts.  

      Would that be a "crossing the aisle" deal that passes?  Are we strong enough to force through card-check?  If not, can we get something else -- maybe striker protection, or revised language on "managers" that expands the class of "employees" under the Act?

      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

      by Pesto on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:40:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This was sooooo easy to see coming (9+ / 0-)

    dismantling the New Deal as politicians of BOTH parties have done since the reagan revolution will OBVIOUSLY lead us into the same extreme, middle class destroying, boom bust cycles that existed pre depression.

  •  What the hell? (5+ / 0-)

    We've been yelling about this for 8 years or longer.  Is it now seen as a sign of prescience to predict that if you beat upon the middle class by offshoring, punitive taxes, and manipulated gas prices, that they will stop providing what the middle class has traditionally provided -  the workhorse of the economy?

    The country (and the 1% who control the wealth) have always depended upon the middle class to work, work, work, & buy, buy, buy, in order to drive the economy.  Why is there so much surprise that if you offshore their jobs, tax them excessively, and screw up their credit markets that things go downhill rather quickly.

    The ingenuous responses being made NOW are turning me into an early curmudgeon.  I'm not ready to be a curmudgeon yet.  I thought I'd have 10 more years to practice.

  •  A grand experiment (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SkiBumLee, rlharry, TomP, humanmancalvin

    was suggested by the SMU economist Ravi Batra; use the auto industry bailout money to buy one of the Big 3 and give the company to the workers. The CEO would then report to the union as well as a board of directors.

    Would the worker owned automobile manufacturer compete strongly with the other two?

    If so, they can repay the taxpayers with their profits – no dividends until repaid.

  •  Mary Beth Maxwell on EFCA (9+ / 0-)

    In 2007, a bipartisan majority passed the Employee Free Choice Act in the House of Representatives, and although it had majority support in the Senate, a small group of Senators blocked its passage with a filibuster. Fortunately, the political climate has changed, and the tide for workers' rights is turning in our direction. Our recent national election yielded an even more worker-friendly House, Senate and a President-elect who has promised to sign the legislation into law. That's why we are continuing our efforts to educate both the public and lawmakers on why the need for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is urgent. Americans struggling to make ends meet can't afford to wait for change - it must happen now.


    I sure hope the rumors are true and she's the pick for labor.

    I demand prosecutions for torture.

    by heart of a quince on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 03:49:51 PM PST

  •  But the goal of the economy is to (6+ / 0-)

    eliminate good jobs and roll back existing benefits.  This is the "restructuring" that congressional leaders, including powerful big-boy Dems, are demanding from the big 3.

    We have hundreds of billions for war, and to keep the speculative financial bubble inflated.

    Trillions for that stuff.  Meanwhile, the "real" economy is still all about cutting wages, jobs, and benefits.

    Reaganomics still rules, even after 8 years of blatant Bushco fascism.

    You need some help from the top.  Some vision.  Not just same-old same-old calling itself "change".  Unions do not stand a chance without progressive values being evinced somewhere in politics.

    Please don't feed the Security State.

  •  Great post, Trapper John. (8+ / 0-)

    I think this really helps.  It's going to be a battle and developing public support is essential.  It will pass the House, but we need to win a cloture vote in the Senate.

    I also need to write more diaries on this.

    It was so good that Obama, through his spokesperson, reaffirmed his support for EFCA today (or yesterday)  It was on HuffPo.  

    "What we've seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed." -- Barack Obama

    by TomP on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:00:13 PM PST

  •  Finally something coherent on this crisis. (6+ / 0-)

    IMHO the current crisis is due to long-term decisions by the US gov't, stretching back at least to 1980. Those decisions included:

    1.Tax breaks for off-shoring  

    1. Gov't collusion with companies to send whole factories overseas (see aerospace and China, autos and Mexico, clothing and everywhere, etc)
    1. The transfer of untold trillions to petro terror states
    1. The transfer of untold trillions to the military/security/industrial complex and subsequent lack of investment by same in the US.
    1. Military adventurism and its untold lost trillions
    1. Lack of investment in US infrastructure
    1. Lack of a coherent energy program to replace dependence on oil
    1. Lack of a national health plan and the subsequent burdens this places on companies and individuals

    "The fact which the politician faces is merely that there is less honor among thieves than was supposed, and not the fact that they are thieves." Thoreau

    by shigeru on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:01:56 PM PST

  •  I am a die hard believer in unions (8+ / 0-)

    With every job/careerI ALWAYS joined the union even if I had to hunt the union rep.

    I think as a society we need to find some common ground.  It cannot be labor all the way all the time.  And it cannot be management all the way all the time.  Both of those models will only cause corruption of officials. Been there, done that.  At some point the management needs to realize that paying a living wage may hit their pocketbooks at first but in the long run they will have loyal employees that are willing to band together to solve company issues.  On the other end of the spectrum, labor needs to realize that management deserves the wages they make too.  

    It will narrow the wage gap.  The middle class will be mighty and strong happily parting with their coins.  Management will enjoy better PR, loyality from employees and a strong standing in the community/country.

    When I am shopping, I like to know that some kid didn't have to sew the soccer ball with his teeth.  That a child wasn't chained to a sewing machine for 18 hours a day to make the clothes I have to have.  Buying American used to mean something.  I hope we can get to a point where it means even more than it once did.

    Warm, buttery, moist and tender --- are we there yet?

    by winter outhouse on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:05:41 PM PST

    •  YES!!! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winter outhouse

      Republicans are red, Democrats are blue, If you don't vote like Jesus, No Rapture for you!

      by SciMathGuy on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 05:01:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do what you suggest (3+ / 0-)

      We would have to value the labor differently, as an asset, not an expense item.  Unfortunately we're expense items, to be cut and trimmed as needed.  

      ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

      by NevDem on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:14:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or as supplies! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Special K

        I was one of Lexmark's permanent temps. We weren't regulars, so we weren't humans. Our pay was billed as supplies, along with paper and toner. We were just supplies.

        And we were just as disposable.

        Republicans are red, Democrats are blue, If you don't vote like Jesus, No Rapture for you!

        by SciMathGuy on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:43:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Narrow the wage gap (0+ / 0-)

      How is the wage gap supposed to narrow? If you cut all executives pay to zero, you're looking at most a 5% boost to pay for everyone else.

      The only way you'll narrow the wage gap is by cutting the pay of people at the top. Not by increasing the wages of people at the bottom. You can't simply mandate that people should all earn more...

      That said, I do really like this act. Card check is a good idea because it will give union reps a chance to try to change the minds of people who might otherwise just vote against the union in a secret ballot.

  •  Econ Professors Argued for Free Trade (8+ / 0-)
    While I was argueing against the idea that it would bring the undeveloped country economcies up to our living standards.

    It was argued that our workers would be moving into better jobs in more technical fields.

    As we can see the entire community of Economic Professors and experts in Banking and Wallstreet were either stupid or knowingly lied to everyone.

    Take you pick but they pushed it and never gave a shit about Americans, only cared about the corporations.

    •  This was in 1985 at (0+ / 0-)
      University of Colorado. I got a BA in Econ.
      •  Ronald England - I'm curious: did they ever talk (0+ / 0-)

        about or even mention Henry C. Carey and what used to be called the American System of Political Economy?

        A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

        by NBBooks on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 07:11:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No they never did (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Nor did I.

          They just did not give a shit about the average American worker. They stated that the workers would only be hurt for 20 years until the developing nation rose to our level of living standard.

          BTW the corporations and super rich only want to own every dollar ever earned. The average American will be paid less than the workers in the 1930s. That is where they wasnt to roll us back to when they say do away with all that FDR put in place.

          •  OK, I just happen to have this doc open right now (0+ / 0-)

            so I'm dumping it here, errors, typos, and all. Sorry, but it is really, really long. This will save you hours of research, believe me.

            Carey bio and Harmony of Interests EXCERPTS

            Henry Carey was the eldest son of Mathew Carey, an Irish freedom fighter who was recruited to the intelligence networks established by Benjamin Franklin, and sent to Philadelphia to run what was then the largest printing operation in North America. Mathew Carey's 1814 book, The Olive Branch, issued a few months after British Admiral Cockburn had sacked and burnt Washington, D.C., played a crucial role in bolstering sagging public and military morale, by exposing the rift between the Federalist and Republican Parties as a major cause of the inept prosecution of the war up to that point.

            On Jan. 1, 1817, Henry Carey was made a partner in his father's publishing firm, Carey, Lea & Carey. Among others, Carey published Washington Irving. In 1835, as London financiers began to retreat from further U.S. investments -- setting the stage for the 1837 panic -- Carey withdrew from the business, and devoted himself entirely to the study of economic issues. His first book was published that year, Essay on the Rate of Wages, which the Dictionary of American Biography notes "was marked by contradictory tendencies." While accepting the British free trade doctrine of "laissez-faire," Carey rejected David Ricardo's doctrine of rent, and refuted Thomas Malthus's doctrine of ever scarcer resources by arguing that the application of capital and human invention (technology) overcomes the limitations of supposedly infertile soils.

            Carey further developed these economic ideas in Principles of Political Economy, published in three volumes from 1837 to 1840. The Dictionary of American Biography states that Carey "made the fundamental departure [from the British economic theorists] of declaring that land derives its value from the capital expended on it," and that workers' wages increase faster than the returns of capital, thus tending towards "a progressive diffusion of wealth among the poorest classes of society."

            The financial and economic depression which followed the 1837 panic, and his father Mathew's unremitting advocacy of protection, against free trade, persuaded Carey to become an increasingly fierce and vocal opponent of free trade in the 1840s. Carey's first major statement of his new position was the 1845 pamphlet Commercial Associations in France and England, followed in 1848 by the book, Past, Present, and Future. This book enjoyed extraordinary influence, coming as it did just after the parliament of Great Britain abolished the corn laws, and that unhappy nation began to descend into the social and economic morass captured in the fiction of Charles Dickens. Carey became a regular contributor to Horace Grails New York Tribune, and began a correspondence with leading political figures on the major issues of economic and finance.

            Carey's next book was The Harmony of Interests: Agricultural, Manufacturing & Commercial, published in 1851, and is notable for its repeated and fierce attacks on British economic doctrines. "The whole system," of British free trade, Carey wrote, "has for its object an increase in the number of persons that are to intervene between the producer and the consumer -- living on the product of the land and labour of others, diminishing the power of the first, and increasing the number of the last.... The impoverishing effects of the system were early obvious, and to the endeavour to account for the increasing difficulty of obtaining food where the whole action of the laws tended to increase the number of consumers of food and to diminish the number of producers, was due the invention of the Malthusian theory of population..." The American Iron and Steel Institute, among others, helped circulate The Harmony of Interests.

            Carey next turned his attention to the impending crisis in the United States' southern states, publishing, in 1853, The Slave Trade, Domestic and Foreign. "By adopting the 'free trade,' or British, system," Carey warned, "we place ourselves side by side with the men who have ruined Ireland and India, and are now poisoning and enslaving the Chinese people. By adopting the other, we place ourselves by the side of those whose measures tend not only to the improvement of their own subjects, but to the emancipation of the slave everywhere, whether in the British Islands, India, Italy, or America."

            Carey became one of the most prominent supporters of the new Republican Party, as it struggled into existence, then national dominance, in the last half of the 1850s. As Gabor Boritt, in Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream notes, "The dismal science" of the Europeans, laden with Malthus and Ricardo, was not acceptable to an optimistic young nation. Not many economists and no politicians could preach industrialization in the United States and also accept, for example, an iron law of wages that doomed labor forever to a bare subsistence. The Americans, and few more so than Henry Carey, made political economy the  eautiful science.'" Further securing Carey's prominence was the financial Panic of 1857, which was widely ascribed to the passing of the "free trade" tariff law a few months before. As the Dictionary of American Biography notes, "The American [protectionist] tariff of 1861 commenced a reaction against unrestricted commerce in which Carey's apostleship and authority were internationally recognized.... He was the leader of the only group that can be said to constitute an American school of political economy..."

            Excerpts from The Harmony of Interests: Agricultural, Manufacturing & Commercial (1851)
            index next page
            1/13 III - Review of the Commercial Policy of the Last Thirty Years

            With every step in the growth of the home production of coal, the money price has steadily diminished. That of a ton of anthracite in 1826, in Philadelphia, was six, eight, and sometimes ten dollars, and yet the whole import was only 970,000 bushels, or about 30,000 tons. In 1846, the price of anthracite was about four dollars, and yet the import was 156,000 tons. It would appear from this, that when a nation is capable of supplying itself, other nations, desiring to sell, must come to them and sell at the lowest price, and the consumption is large; but when it cannot supply itself, it must go abroad to seek supplies, and pay the highest price, and then consumption is small. Applying this to iron, we find that when we had to seek abroad for nearly all our supply, it sold at prices twice or thrice as great as those at which it is now obtained...

            It remains to be seen whether the converse of this proposition may not be true, to wit, that when a nation makes a market at home for nearly all its products, other nations have to come and seek what they require, and pay the highest price; and that, when it does not make a market at home, markets must be sought abroad, and then sales must be made at the lowest prices. If both of these be true, it would follow that the way to sell at the highest prices and buy at the lowest is to buy and sell at home. (p. 15)

            ....With every increase in the power of production, consumption grew, and the labourer received larger returns for his labour, producing a tendency to immigration. With every diminution in the power of production, the power to pay for foreign commodities diminished, and hence it was that the early years to the approach of freedom of trade were signalized by the creation of a vast debt, the interest on which has now to be paid. (p. 23)

            It appears obvious that the productive power of the country diminished from 1835 to 1841, and still more rapidly in the two following years; and therefore it was that the power to pay for foreign commodities diminished so much that consumption could be maintained only by obtaining goods on credit , to be paid for at some future time and bearing interest until paid....

            With each step in the diminution of the power to produce, there is diminished power of purchase, and hence the necessity for obtaining goods on credit. So it was from 1835 to 1841, and the result was almost universal bankruptcy. So is it at present, and the goal toward which we are moving would seem to be the same. The amount now required for the payment of interest is about $14,000,000 per annum, being $2,000,000 more than was required for the same purpose two years since... the amount of importation depends upon the to import, and is but slightly affected by the question of duty. (p 26).

            IV - How Protection Tends to Increase Production and Consumption

            A great error exists in the impression now very commonly entertained in regard to national division of labour, and which owes its origin to the English school of political economists, whose system is throughout based upon the idea of making England ``the workshop of the world,'' than which nothing could be less natural. By that school it is taught that some nations are fitted for manufactures and others for the labours of agriculture, and that the latter are largely benefited by being compelled to employ themselves in the one pursuit, making all their exchanges at a distance, thus contributing their share to the maintenance of the system of ``ships, colonies, and commerce.'' The whole basis of their system is trade, and not production, yet neither makes any addition to the amount of things to be exchanged. It is the great boast of their system that the exchangers are so numerous and the producers so few, and the more rapid the increase in the proportion which the former bear to the latter, the more rapid is supposed to be the advance toward perfect prosperity. Converters and exchangers, however, must live, and they must live out of the labour of others: and if three, five, or ten persons are to live on the product of one, it must follow that all will obtain but a small allowance of the necessaries or comforts of life.... (p. 46)

             V - Why Is It that Protection Is Required?

            The object of the colonial system was that of ``raising up a nation of customers,'' a project ``fit only,'' says Adam Smith, ``for a nation of shopkeepers.'' He was, however, inclined to think, that even for them it was unfit, although ``extremely fit for a nation whose government was influenced by shopkeepers.'' As early as the period immediately following the Revolution of 1688, we find the shopkeeping influence exerted for the ``discouragement'' of the woolens manufacture of Ireland; and while the people of that unfortunate country were thus prevented from converting their own wool into cloth, they were by other laws prevented from making any exchanges with the fellow-subjects in other colonies, unless through the medium of English ports and English ``shopkeepers.''

            Such being the case, it was little likely that any efforts at combination of exertion among distant colonists, for rendering labour more productive of the conveniences and comforts of life, should escape the jealous eyes of men whose shopkeeping instincts had prompted them to the adoption of such measures in regard to nearer ones. The first attempt at manufacturing any species of cloth in the American provinces was followed by interference on the part of the British legislature. In 1710, the House of Commons declared, ``that the erecting of manufactories in the colonies had a tendency to lessen their dependence upon Great Britain.'' Soon afterwards complaints were made to Parliament, that the colonists were setting up manufactories for themselves, and the House of Commons ordered the Board of Trade to report upon the subject, which was done at length. In 1732, the exportation of hats from province to province was prohibited, and the number of apprentices to be taken by hatters was limited. In 1750, the erection of any mill or other engine for splitting or rolling iron was prohibited; but pig-iron was allowed to be imported into England duty-free, that it might then be manufactured and sent back again. At a later period, Lord Chatham declared, that he would not allow the colonists to make even a hob-nail for themselves....

            We see thus, that the whole legislation of Great Britain, on this subject, has been directed to the one great object of preventing the people of her colonies, and those of independent nations, from obtaining the machinery necessary to enable them to combine their exertions for the purpose of obtaining cloth or iron, and thus {compelling} them to bring to her their raw materials, that she might convert them into the forms that fitted them for consumption, and then return to the producers a portion of them, burdened with great cost for transportation, and heavy charges for the work of conversion. We see, too, that notwithstanding the revocation of a part of the system, it is still discretionary with the Board of Trade, whether or not they will permit the export of machinery of any description. (pp. 52-53)

            ...The whole system [of British free trade] has for its object an increase in the number of persons that are to intervene between the producer and the consumer -- living on the product of the land and labour of others, diminishing the power of the first, and increasing the number of the last; and thus it is that Ireland is compelled to waste more labour annually than would be required to produce, thrice over, all the iron, and convert into cloth all the cotton and wool manufactured in England. The poverty of producers exists nearly in the ratio in which they are compelled to make their exchanges in the market of Great Britain....

            The manufacturers of India have been ruined, and that great country is gradually and certainly deteriorating and becoming depopulated, to the surprise of those people of England who are familiar with its vast advantages, and who do not understand the destructive character of their own system. (p. 61)

            The impoverishing effects of the system were early obvious, and to the endeavour to account for the increasing difficulty of obtaining food where the whole action of the laws tended to increase the number of consumers of food and to diminish the number of producers, was due the invention of the Malthusian theory of population, now half a century old. That was followed by the Ricardo doctrine of Rent, which accounted for the scarcity of food by asserting, as a fact, that men always commenced the work of cultivation on rich soils, and that as population increased they were obliged to resort to poorer ones, yielding a constantly diminishing return to labour, and producing a constant necessity for separating from each other, if they would obtain a sufficiency of food. Upon this theory is based the whole English politico-economical system. Population is first supposed to be superabundant, when in scarcely any part of the earth could the labour of the same number of persons that now constitute the population of England obtain even one-half the same return. Next, it is supposed that men who fly from England go always to the cultivation of rich soils, and therefore everything is done to expel population. Lastly, it is held that their true policy when abroad is to devote all their labour to the cultivation of those rich soils, sending the produce to England that it may be converted into cloth and iron, and they are cautioned against any interference with perfect freedom of trade as ``a war upon labour and capital.''

            Colonization is urged on all hands, and all unite in the effort to force emigration in the direction needed to raise up ``colonies of customers.'' It is impossible to read any work on the subject without being struck by the prevalence of this ``shopkeeping'' idea. It is seen everywhere. Hungary was to be supported in her efforts for the establishment of her independence, because she was willing to have free trade, and thus make a market for British manufactures. The tendency of the Ricardo-Malthusian system to produce intensity of selfishness was never more strikingly manifested than on that occasion. (pp. 63-64)

            We thus have here, first, a system that is unsound and unnatural, and second, a theory invented for the purpose of accounting for the poverty and wretchedness which are its necessary results. The miseries of Ireland are charged to over-population, although millions of acres of the richest soils of the kingdom are waiting drainage to take their place among the most productive in the world, and although the Irish are compelled to waste more labour than would pay, many times over, for all the cloth and iron they consume. The wretchedness of Scotland is charged to over-population when a large portion of the land is so tied up by entails as to forbid improvement, and almost forbid cultivation. The difficulty of obtaining food in England is ascribed to over-population, when throughout the kingdom a large portion of the land is occupied as pleasure grounds, by men whose fortunes are due to the system which has ruined Ireland and India. Over-population is the ready excuse for all the evils of a vicious system, and so will it continue to be until that system shall see its end... (pp. 64-65)

            VI - How Protection Affects Commerce

            Men are everywhere flying from British commerce, which everywhere pursues them. Having exhausted the people of the lower lands of India, it follows them as they retreat toward the fastnesses of the Himalaya. Afghanistan is attempted, while Scinde and the Punjab are subjugated. Siamese provinces are added to the empire of free trade, and war and desolation are carried into China, in order that the Chinese may be compelled to pay for the use of ships, instead of making looms. The Irishman flies to Canada; but there the system follows him, and he feels himself insecure until within this Union. The Englishman and the Scotsman try Southern Africa, and thence they fly to the more distant New Holland, Van Dieman's Land, or New Zealand. The farther they fly, the more they must use ships and other perishable machinery, the less steadily can their efforts be applied, the less must be the power of production, and the fewer must be the equivalents to be exchanged, and yet in the growth of ships, caused by such circumstances, we are told to look for evidence of prosperous commerce!

            The British system is built upon cheap labour, by which is meant low priced and worthless labor. Its effect is to cause it to become from day to day more low priced and worthless, and thus to destroy production upon which commerce must be based. The object of protection is to produce dear labour, that is, high-priced and valuable labour, and its effect is to cause it to increase in value from day to day, and to increase the equivalents to be exchanged, to the great increase of commerce. (pp. 71-72)

            ....the school of discords [is] that which teaches to buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest market, and sees great advantage to be gained by reducing the cotton of the poor Hindoo to a penny a pound, careless of the fact that famine and pestilence follow in the train of such a system. The policy that produces a {necessity} for depending on trade with people who are poorer than ourselves tends to reduce the wages of our labour to a level with theirs, and to diminish commerce... By bringing the Irishman here, and enabling him to make his exchanges with us, we raise him to our level as a producer. By exporting our people to Ireland, and compelling them to make their exchanges there, we would sink their wages to a level with those of that country. The policy that brings people here and raises them in the scale of civilization, is that which promotes commerce. That which causes them to return home, and thus arrests the tide of immigration, preventing advance in civilization, is the one which diminishes commerce. (p. 77)

            VII - How Protection Affects the Quantity and Quality of - the Machinery of Production

            The object sought to be accomplished is the improvement of the condition of man. The mode by which it is to be accomplished is that of increasing his productive power. The more food a man can raise, the more and better food may he consume, and the larger will be the surplus that can be appropriated to the purchase of clothing, to the education of his family, to the enlargement of his house, or to the improvement of his machinery, and the greater will be the amount of leisure that can be appropriated to the improvement of his modes of thought.

            The better his machinery, and the more readily it can be obtained, the larger will be his production.... (p. 78)

            X - How Protection Affects the Farmer

            ...let us look now to what would be the effects of the adoption of perfect freedom of trade, as urged upon the world by England. It could not fail to be that of {riveting upon the world the existing monopoly of machinery for the conversion of the products of the farm and the plantation into cloth and iron}, closing the factories and furnaces of Russia, Germany, and the United States, and compelling the people who work in them to seek other modes of employment, and the only recourse would be to endeavor to raise food. There would then be more food to sell; but who would buy it? (p. 100)

            ....Were it proposed to the people of the Union to make New York or Pennsylvania the deposit for all the products of the Union that required to be converted or exchanged, the absurdity of the idea would be obvious to everyone. The wheat-grower of Michigan would find himself entirely at a loss to know why he should exchange with the neighbouring wool-grower by way of New York; and the cotton-grower would be equally at a loss to see the benefit of a system that should compel him to exchange with the wheat-grower of Virginia, through the medium of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh; yet such is precisely the object of the colonial system....

            The producers of the world have been, and they are now being, sacrificed to the exchangers of the world; and therefore it is that agriculture makes so little progress, and that the cultivators of the earth, producers of all that we consume, are so universally poor, and so generally uninstructed as to their true interests...

            The object of protection is that of diminishing the distance and the waste between the producer and the consumer; thereby enabling the producer to grow rich, and to become a large consumer of cloth and iron. (p. 101) There is a perpetual complaint of over-production, and it is a matter of rejoicing when, by reason of short seasons, or any other occurrence, the crop is diminished 200,000 or 300,000 bales, the balance producing more in the market of the world than could otherwise have been obtained for the whole. No better evidence need be desired that there exists some error in the distribution.

            Over-production cannot exist, but under-consumption may and does exist. The more that is produced, the more there is to be consumed; and as every man is a consumer in the exact ratio of his production, the more he can produce the better will it be for himself and his neighbour, unless there exist some disturbing cause, preventing the various persons desiring to consume from producing what is needed for them to effect their exchanges with the planter, to the extent that is necessary to their comfort. (p. 103)

            XI - How Protection Affects the Landowner

            In Europe... population is held to be superabundant. Marriage is regarded as a luxury, not to be indulged in, lest it should result in increase of numbers. ``Every one,'' it is said, ``has a right to live,'' but this being granted, it is added that ``no one has a right to bring creatures into life to be supported by other people. Poor laws are denounced, as tending to promote increase of population... Labour is held to be a mere ``commodity,'' and if the labourer cannot sell it, he has no ``right'' but to starve -- himself, his wife, and his children... Such are the doctrines of the free-trade school of England, in which Political Economy is held to be limited to an examination of the laws which regulate the production of wealth, without reference to either morals or intellect. Under such teaching it is a matter of small surprise that pauperism and crime increase at a rate so rapid. (p. 128)

            Every colony of England would gladly separate from her, feeling that connection with her is synonymous with deterioration of condition. Every one would gladly unite its fortunes with those of our Union, feeling that connection with us is synonymous with improvement. The reason for all this is, that the English system is based upon cheap labour, and tends to depress the many for the benefit of the few. In our system, it is the many who govern; and experience having taught them that prosperity and free trade are inconsistent with each other, we have ``free trade'' tariffs with protective duties of thirty percent, and likely to be increased. The colonies are ruined by free trade, and they desire annexation, that they may have protection. (p. 129-30)

            XV - How Protection Affects the Labourer

            In England, the power to obtain food, clothing, or iron, for labour, is small, and it tends to diminish with... every diminution in the proportion that applies itself to production, because with each such step there is a necessity for greater exertion to underwork and supplant the Hindoo, whose annual wages even now are but six dollars, out of which he finds himself in food and clothing. With every step downwards, labour is more and more becoming surplus, as is seen from the growing anxiety to expel population, at almost every present sacrifice.... (p. 153)

            Here lies the error of communism and socialism. They seek to compel union, and to force men to exchange with each other, the necessary effect of which is to sink the whole body to the level of those who are at the bottom.

            So too, is it with nations. The industrious community that raises food and is dependent on the idle one that makes iron must give much of the one for little of the other. The peaceful community that raises cotton and is dependent on the warlike one that raises silk, must give much cotton for little silk. Dependence on others for articles of necessity thus makes a community of goods, and the sober and industrious must help to support the idle and the dissolute -- nations as well as individuals....

            The policy of England has tended to produce communism among nations. She has rendered herself dependent upon other communities for supplies of the articles of prime necessity, obtaining her rice from the wretched Hindoo, her corn from the Russian serf, and her wool from the Australian convict, neglecting her own rich soils that wait but the application of labour to become productive.

            The necessary consequence of this is a tendency downwards in the condition of her people, and as it is with those of England that those of this country are invited to compete, it may not be amiss to show what is the condition to which they are now reduced by competition with the low-priced labour of Russia and of India. (p. 154)

            XVI - How Protection Affects the Slave and His Master

            ...The error of English writers consists in assuming that there is such a thing as a necessary price. The poor labourer in India, we are assured by this same writer, obtains for his cotton no more than the mere rent of his land, leaving nothing for his labour, yet he still cultivates cotton to exchange for the yard of cloth with which he covers his loins.

            The people of England first inflicted upon themselves a necessity for competing with the ``cheap'' labour in the manufacture of cottons. That produced a necessity for competition with the ``cheap'' labour of Russia in the production of food, the consequences of which are thus described in the recent quarterly report of the Registrar-general: ``The population of England has suffered, died, and decreased, during the quarter, to a degree of which there is no example in the present century.'' (p. 183)

            XVII - How Protection Affects the Currency

            ...We are buying on credit the cloth and iron we should be making, while the labour and capital that should be employed in their production seek in vain for employment. The heavy sufferers are, and are to be, labour and land. The broker takes his usual shave for the notes which pass through his hands, and the grocer takes his usual cent per pound on sugar, but the furnace is closed, and with it the demand for food and labour -- the mine is abandoned, and the miner suffers from want of clothing -- the constructor of railroads obtains no dividend, and the desire to make roads as an investment of capital has passed away, and with it the demand for labour, food, and clothing. By degrees, the same results must be felt by every interest of the nation. The return to labour is diminishing, and the value of land, houses, ships, railroads, and every other species of property, is dependent on the extent of that return -- rising as it rises, and falling as it falls.

            The nearer the consumer and the producer can be brought to each other, the more perfect will be the adjustment of production and consumption, the more steady will be the currency, and the higher will be the value of land and labour. The object of protection is to accomplish all these objects, by bringing the loom and the anvil to take their natural places by the side of the plough and the harrow, thus making a market on the land for the products of the land. (p. 190)

            XXI - How Protection Affects Morals

            The whole tendency of the [English] system is to the production of a gambling spirit. In England, it makes railroad kings, ending in railroad bankrupts, like Henry Hudson. If we could trace the effect of the great speculation of which this man was the father, we should find thousands and tens of thousands of husbands and wives, parents and children, utterly beggared to build up the fortunes of the few, and thus increase the inequality of social condition which lies at the root of all evil. If we examine it here, we see it... sending thousands of boys and girls to our cities -- the former to become shopmen, and the latter prostitutes, while hundreds of thousands are at the same time making their way to the West... With every step of our progress in that direction, social inequality tends to increase. The skillful speculator realizes a fortune by the same operation that ruins hundreds around him, and adds to his fortune by buying their property under the hammer of the sheriff. The wealthy manufacturer is unmoved by revulsions in the British market which sweep away his competitors, and, when the storm blows over, he is enabled to double, treble, or quadruple, his already overgrown fortune... The system tends to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The coal miner of present year works for half wages, but the coal speculator obtains double profits, and thus is it ever -- the producer is sacrificed to the exchanger....

            The whole system of [free] trade, as at present conducted, and as it must continue to be conducted if the colonial system be permitted longer to exist, is one of mere gambling, and of all qualities, that which most distinguishes the gambler is ignorant selfishness. He ruins his friends and wastes his winnings on a running-horse, or on a prostitute. (p. 207)

            In England, a large portion of the people can neither read nor write, and there is scarcely an effort to give them education. The colonial system looks to low wages, necessarily followed by an inability to devote time to intellectual improvement. Protection looks to high wages that enable the labourer to improve his mind, and educate his children. The English child, transferred to this country, becomes an educated and responsible being. If he remain at home, he remains in brutish ignorance. To increase the productiveness of labour, education is necessary. Protection tends to the diffusion of education, and the elevation of the condition of the laborer....

            If we desire to raise the intellectual standard of man throughout the world, our object can be accomplished only by raising the value of man... throughout the world. Every man brought here is raised, and every man so brought tends to diminish the supposed surplus of men elsewhere. Men come when the reward of labour is high, as they did between 1844 and 1848. They return disappointed when the reward of labour is small, as is now the case. Protection tends to increase the reward of labour, and to improve the intellectual condition of man. (pp. 212-213)

            XVIII - How Protection Affects the Political Condition of Man

            The larger the return to labour, the greater will be the power to accumulate capital. The larger the proportion which capital seeking to be employed bears to the labourers who are to employ it, the larger will be the wages of labour, the greater the power of the labourer to accumulate for himself, and the more perfect will be his control over the disposition of his labour and the application of its proceeds, whether to private or public purposes....

            Throughout the world, and in all ages, freedom has advanced with every increase in the ratio of wealth to population....

            The object of protection is that of securing a demand for labour, and its tendency is to produce equality of condition... the abolition of protection [has] invariably tended to the production of inequality. The wealthy capitalist suffers some loss; but he is not ruined. A change takes place, and he is ready to avail himself of it, and at once regains all that had been lost, with vast increase. The small capitalist has been swept away, and his mill is in a state of ruin. By the time he can prepare himself to recommence his business, the chance being past, he is swept away again, and perhaps for the last time.

            For months past, the rate of interest on a certain species of securities has been very low. The wealthy man could borrow at four percent; the poor man, requiring a small loan on a second-rate security, could scarcely obtain it at any price. The man who has coal to sell, or iron to sell, must have the aid of middlemen to act as endorsers upon the paper received from his customers, and their commissions absorb the profits. The wages of the miner have been greatly reduced, while the profits of the speculator have been increased. The reason of all this is, that, throughout the nation, there prevails no confidence in the future. It is seen that we are consuming more than we produce; that our exports do not pay for our imports; that we are running in debt; that furnaces and mills are being closed; and everyone knows what must be the end of such a system. Re-enact the tariff of 1842, and the trade of the middleman would be at an end, because confidence in the future would be felt from one extremity of the land to the other. Should we not find in this some evidence of the soundness of the principle upon which it was based? The system that gives confidence must be right; that which destroys it must be wrong.

            Confidence in the future -- Hope -- gives power to individuals and communities. It is that which enables the poor man to become rich, and the character of all legislative action is to be judged by its greater or lesser tendency to produce this effect. A review of the measures urged upon the nation by the advocates of the system miscalled free trade, shows, almost without exception, they have tended to the destruction of confidence, and therefore to the production of the political revolutions....

            The direct effect of the insecurity that has existed has been to centralize the business of manufacture in one part of the Union and in the hands of a comparatively limited number of persons -- such as could afford to take large risks, in the hopes of realizing large profits....

            The object of the colonial system was that of taxing the world for the maintenance of a great mercantile, manufacturing, and landed aristocracy, and the mode of accomplishment was that of securing a monopoly of machinery. The object of protection is to break down that monopoly, and with it the aristocracy which collects from the people of Great Britain and the world those immense taxes, to be appropriated to the payment of fleets and armies officered by younger sons, and kept on foot for the maintenance of the existing inequality in Great Britain, Ireland, and India. (pp. 213-217)


            Much is said on ``the mission'' of the people of these United States, and most of it is said by persons who appear to limit themselves to the consideration of the powers of the nation, and rarely to think of its duties. By such men the grandeur of the national position is held to be greatly increased by having expended sixty or eighty millions upon a war with a weak neighbour....

            The English doctrine of ``ships, colonies, and commerce'' is thus reproduced on this side of the Atlantic, and its adoption by the nation will be followed by effects similar to those which have been already described as existing in England. There, for a time, it gave the power to tax the world for the maintenance of fleets and armies, as had before been done by Athens and by Rome, and there it is now producing the same results that have elsewhere resulted from the same system: poverty, depopulation, exhaustion, and weakness. (p. 227)

            Two systems are before the world; the one looks to increasing the proportion of persons and of capital engaged in trade and transportation, and therefore to diminishing the proportion engaged in producing commodities with which to trade, with necessarily diminished return to the labour of all; while the other looks to increasing the proportion engaged in the work of production, and diminishing that engaged in trade and transportation, with increased return to all, giving the labourer good wages, and to the owner of capital good profits. One looks to increasing the quantity of raw materials to be exported, and diminishing the inducements to imports of men, thus impoverishing both farmer and planter by throwing on them the burden of freight; while the other looks to increasing the import of men, and diminishing the export of raw materials, thereby enriching both planter and farmer by relieving them from payment of freight. One looks to giving the {products} of millions of acres of land and of the labour of millions of men for the {services} of hundreds of thousands of distant men; the other to bringing the distant men to consume on the land the products of the land, exchanging day's labour for day's labour. One looks to compelling the farmers and planters of the Union to continue their contributions for the support of the fleets and the armies, the paupers, the nobles, and the sovereigns of Europe; the other to enabling ourselves to apply the same means to the moral and intellectual improvement of the sovereigns of America. One looks to the continuance of that {bastard} freedom of trade which denies the principle of protection, yet doles it out as revenue duties; the other by extending the area of legitimate free trade by the establishment of perfect protection, followed by the annexation of individuals and communities, and ultimately by the abolition of customs-houses. One looks to exporting men to occupy desert tracts, the sovereignty of which is obtained by aid of diplomacy or war; the other to increasing the value of an immense extent of vacant land by importing men by millions for their occupation. One looks to the centralization of wealth and power in a great commercial city that shall rival the great cities of modern times, which have been and are being supported by aid of contributions which have exhausted every nation subjected to them; the other to concentration, by aid of which a market shall be made upon the land for the products of the land, and the farmer and planter be enriched. One looks to increasing the necessity of commerce; the other to increasing the power to maintain it. One looks to underworking the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level; the other to raising the standard of man throughout the world to our level. One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of ELEVATING while EQUALIZING the condition of man throughout the world.

            Such is the true MISSION of the people of these United States. To them has been granted a privilege never before granted to man, that of the exercise of the right of perfect self-government; but, as rights and duties are inseparable, with the grant of the former came the obligation to perform the latter. Happily their performance is pleasant and profitable, and involves no sacrifice. To raise the value of labour throughout the world, we need only to raise the value of our own. To raise the value of land throughout the world, it is needed only that we adopt measures that shall raise the value of our own. To diffuse intelligence and to promote the cause of morality throughout the world, we are required only to pursue the course that shall diffuse education throughout our own land, and shall enable every man more readily to acquire property, and with it respect for the rights of property. To improve the political condition of man throughout the world, it is needed that we ourselves should remain at peace, avoid taxation for the maintenance of fleets and armies, and become rich and prosperous. To raise the condition of women throughout the world, it is required of us only that we pursue that course that enables men to remain at home and marry, that they may surround themselves with happy children and grand-children. To substitute true Christianity for the detestable system known as the Malthusian, it is needed that we prove to the world that it is population that makes the food come from the rich soils, and that food tends to increase more rapidly than population, vindicating the policy of God to man.... (pp.228-29)


            A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

            by NBBooks on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 08:43:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  For whatever reasons standard economic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      international trade models do not allow that gains from economic trade could be concentrated among very few at the expense of the many. But then again, mainstream economics is not known for being concerned about economic equity.

    •  Until they invented the H1-B program. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bluehawk, SciMathGuy

      It was argued that our workers would be moving into better jobs in more technical fields.

      It started out that way, then by pitching a phony shortage, corporations got Congress to open the floodgates to low wage immigrants. In essence, they imported low wage labor. After the factories went overseas, the technical jobs followed them. Only a few foresaw that engineering was most productive if it was co-located with production. Most lived by the fantasy that they could solve problems by remote control.

      BTW, Obama is committed to expanding the H1-B program, driving technical salaries still lower. You see, most H1-B's were bright people. Bring your wife over, have a baby, get a green card, and prest! You're out of H1-B slavery. Therefore, the corporations need an expanding supply of H1-B serfs.

      Also, I'm not slamming Obama. McCain wanted no limits at all on H1-B's.

      Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

      by Anthony Segredo on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:50:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Universities are the WORST (0+ / 0-)

        Somehow the fact that Universities offer salaries of 15,000 a year to post docs, knowing that only state supported H 1Bs can take those posts needs to be addressed separately.

        The effect is to have some of our most advanced government funded technology developed by H 1Bs not because American canidates do not exist, or are not qualified, but because they must eat. This program also facilitates the easy movement of our most advanced government funded technology off shore.

    •  I couldn't say in any better. (0+ / 0-)
  •  The low wage, debt-fueled "economy"... (9+ / 0-)

    ...brought to us by BushCo and their predecessors is all part of conservatism's Big Con.  

    Even Henry Ford, hardly a champion of the working man, understood that unless his employees could afford to buy the cars they were making he was doomed.

    An "economy" where WAL*MART wages are the norm makes WAL*MART the only place anyone can shop.

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

    by Mr Tentacle on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:10:47 PM PST

  •  If the Democrat's don't try to save (4+ / 0-)

    The Big Three and The Union Jobs they can kiss 2010-2088 good bye and see President Palin being sworn-in in 2013 cause all the Republicans will have to say is "The Democrat Party found 4 Trillion dollars for Wall-Street Elitist Jobs but couldn't find 40 billion dollars to save your down to earth jobs and now here is Joe the Plumber to say what he thinks" and the entire Rustbelt will be solid Republican.

  •  This relates to the issues with the Big-3 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, etc. have union free factories in the South. The Big-3 have to compete with them. What we are talking about here is nothing short of fair wages, benefits and working conditions. GM makes a very small profit on each passenger car, Toyota makes about $3000 profit on each car. GM has about $1500 in greater labor costs, so about half of the difference is do to fair compensation. The UAW has just now indicated that it is willing to give back some gains to keep the Big-3 in business. I think that this should be accompanied by the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act and automotive workers in the US South should be encouraged to unionize, to level the playing field.

    This has become a very strange world when we have as a goal the cheapest consumer goods at the cost of fair compensation to labor. The mechanism to bring down costs and improve living standards should be increase in productivity, not increase in exploitation.

    Damon Silvers speech is really, really good. It's a great overview and it's right on the money.

  •  Eliminates Union Elections (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is a problem for me - 50%+ 1 card and the union is in - no thorough discussion, no vote (some people may not even know that cards are being collected).

    Better to place controls on intimidation, but don't eliminate the secret ballot vote.  One coersion replaced by another, potentially.

    •  That's really hard to do (4+ / 0-)

      Think about trying to have a fair and free election between Democrats and Republicans, but for 40 hours a week, 4 weeks before the election, the voters have to go to the Republicans' homes, sit there, and be subjected to constant (legal) harassment, cajoling, argument, etc.  The First Amendment almost certainly prevents the Republicans in this scenario from being ordered not to discuss the election at all while in their homes, or being told they can only discuss without "intimidating" language.

      That's sort of how it is with union elections now.  Realistically, the card check, as imperfect as that is, is better than elections will ever likely be.

    •  What do you mean? (5+ / 0-)

      The unions in?  If the majority doesn't agree with the union and was coerced into signing cards, what power does that union have?

      Will they force everyone to strike against their will?

      Will they force everyone to approve a labor contract against their will?

      Will they prevent a 50%+1 card from dissolving the union?

      Will they keep people from filing charges of coercion and challenging the union?

      No, they can't.  Not only because its illegal, but also because they don't have the manpower.

      A union without a real mandate is nothing and will disappear.

      Americans for Effective and Equitable Government

      by try democracy on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:37:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  on the other hand (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pesto, JDPITALIA, Special K, Calamity Jean

      in card check you must have an absolute majority.  Every employee who does not sign a card counts as a "no" vote.

      In an election, you need a majority of those who vote.  So even if a significant group do not vote, only those who cast votes have a voice.

      So, the union cannot "coerce"  workers  who might be anti-union.  The union cannot even ignore them because that amounts to  giving management an extra vote.  

      The union must reach out to everyone, and organize a majority of everyone.

      I've organized under card check, and it is no cake-walk.  I'd say it keeps both sides honest.

      It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

      by sayitaintso on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:07:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not just borrowing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    and in the unsustainable effort to maintain middle class living standards through borrowing

    But also the idea that the stock market is the road to riches for everybody.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    by Anthony Segredo on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:38:25 PM PST

  •  I am in favor of unionization (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    El Tomaso, SciMathGuy

    I belonged to teachers' unions and to public employees union. But I think some kid getting out of high school with no skills or extra training does NOT deserve to walk into a high-wage job.  Twelve bucks an hour for an entry level job is enough already.  Teachers whoa re required to have a bachelor's degree and to get a master's within 5 years and to pas a basic teaching test make little more than that.  Frankly, entry-level AFL-CIO employees have no more skills than the kid who flips your burgers and gets bennies the burger flippers don't even dream of.

    In other words, some union employees at the start of their careers are overpaid.

    With all that said, I agree that we need this act to pass--but we also need to scale entry-level wages more sanely, with more pay for added skills and responsibility.  I am also for some pay raises for teachers being based on skills, not just longevity (with the caveat that if you are handed an 8th grade  class that reads on the 4th grade level, you aren't expected to perform miracles and get them to grade level in a single year; that happened to a friend of mine).

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 04:53:29 PM PST

    •  Skills and salaries... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Special K, El Tomaso

      ... just plain don't match anymore. I do think that manufacturing union employees in general are not overpaid, though.

      Republicans are red, Democrats are blue, If you don't vote like Jesus, No Rapture for you!

      by SciMathGuy on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 05:04:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like I said, some new hire's salary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        (union or non) should match his level of skills and responsibility. If I got a job which REQUIRES an M.L.S., to apply plus passing a test, I'd start around 30K. Why should some dumb high school grad with NO skills make more or as much as I would, after 5 additional years of education I paid for?

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:13:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pesto, JDPITALIA, SciMathGuy

          It isn't that the "dumb" high school grad makes too much, it's that too many folks like teachers make too little.

          Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

          by Linnaeus on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 07:01:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's BOTH (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Some people are frankly overpaid for their skill level and lack of experience.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 07:17:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't necessarily deny that (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Special K, SciMathGuy

              But I think these anecdotes often get played up and made out to be more common than they actually are.  By people who are no friends of workers.

              Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

              by Linnaeus on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 07:30:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've worked at union jobs. (0+ / 0-)

                As a teacher and a librarian.  But I  know people here who start at salaries as high or higher than those in jobs which require a college degree--a commitment of 4 years plus a fair amount of money.  And I support workers. I just think that you start at the bottom and earn the higher salaries by putting in your time and learning more skills. If that's anti-worker, I guess I am..

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 07:58:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I didn't say *you* were anti-worker (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Special K, SciMathGuy

                  And I don't think you are.  It's just that there's a lot more to a job (and what a job pays) than the amount of education a potential employee has.  There's the actual job duties (more dangerous jobs, for example, would have pay rates that reflect that), demand for a particular job, etc.

                  I'm just cautioning against overgeneralizing.  God willing, I'll have a Ph.D. by the fall of next year.  But that alone isn't going to determine my wage, and people with "less" education will be making more than me, even in their first jobs.  That's the reality.

                  Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

                  by Linnaeus on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 08:24:19 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I grant you some jobs DESERVE (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Linnaeus, Special K, SciMathGuy

                    high wages just for being hard and dirty--- someoen who drains a septic tank earns his money the hard way.  But anyone who thinks working in a school or a library these days isn't dangerous is equally naive. Thirty years ago, I took a knife away from a  psychopathic 8th grader. Today that kid would be bringing assault weapons to school and repaying me for dissing him  with a bullet in the brain. Librariesa ren't much safer. We're open from 9 am to 9 pm most places, and anyone can come in--no metal detectors at libraries, unliek schools. I had to have a security guard watch tomake sure I got to my bus in one piece after a run-in with a a guy I suspected was a pedohile from his behavior patterns (he liekd to chat u7p 10-12 year old girls).   I transferred 2 months later--and a month after that, the pedophile was told to leave and not come back by a braver security guard (he wasn't quite blatant enough to call the cops on). That guard was a retired cop. Psycho waitd outside till the cop was walking to his car, and used bras knuckles n him (library guards in Brooklyn Public don't carry guns).  He put 40 stitches int he guy's head; for his pains, he finally got arrested, and did some hard time. Plenty of supposedly saf eand non-stressful jobs are both unsafe and stressful.

                    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                    by irishwitch on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 08:58:04 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Certainly (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      irishwitch, SciMathGuy

                      No argument from me there.  I myself have worked in a library, and I've had to deal - very rarely - with people who were basically criminals.  I was fortunate.

                      Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

                      by Linnaeus on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 09:23:14 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  It's gotten worse every year. (0+ / 0-)

                        When they released mental patients who were considered "not a danger" to the public, they also let slip some really scary folks. Not to mention that the average patron can't tell the librarian with n M.L.S. from the clerk with a high school diploma, and treat you like dirt.

                        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                        by irishwitch on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:03:12 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                •  Let me reiterate (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Special K, SciMathGuy

                  Just to make sure we're on the same page; I think you and I probably agree on labor issues for the most part.  I'm a bit sensitive on this issue because I grew up in a family of working-class people, and I heard from time to time how folks like my parents were overpaid from people who didn't know much about what they did for a living.

                  Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

                  by Linnaeus on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 08:48:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  My parents were working class-- (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I am the first to graduate from college. Dadf ALMOIST made it through, and did end up in ehite collar jobs and did well, but Mom was pink collar--a bookkeeper. I have respect for peo0pel who get their hands dity (myhsuband was an E7 when he reiried fromt he Navy after 23 years).  I just think some entry level folks are overpaid. WHy should soemone working an assembly line  make thatmuch mroe than soemone flippign burgers?

                    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                    by irishwitch on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 08:52:48 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Same here (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Special K

                      I'm also the first in my family to graduate from college.  Congratulations to you too! :)

                      My dad was a die maker (a skilled trade that required a four-year apprenticeship) and my mom was, like yours, a bookkeeper.  She learned the job right out of high school and worked her way up about as far as she could go without a degree (and, frankly, she did her job better than some of her degreed colleagues, but that's another story).

                      With regard to your question about assembly line workers and burger-flippers, based on what I know about the job (mostly from my brother), working on the line has its challenges.  You have to keep pace with the line.  You have to do some degree of quality control (my brother had to inspect the parts he handled before he installed them to make sure they weren't defective - in a matter of seconds).  There's dangerous aspects to the job - say, if you get a hand or finger caught in the line - and you can be seriously injured.  There's the considerable risk of repetitive motion injury, hearing loss, etc.

                      (I could go on about what my maternal grandfather did in the forge plant, but that would make this comment too long-winded.)

                      I'm not trying to glorify what my brother did; it wasn't an especially advanced job.  But it wasn't as easy as a lot of people think.  And really, he lived pretty modestly.  Between him and his (now ex-) wife, they had a smallish house, decent cars (nothing extravagant), and could afford to have and raise a child.

                      Maybe some entry-level folks are overpaid; I would just need to know more about the jobs they did.  I do know that a colleague of mine who made more money than I did when I was working in computer support spent about half his day playing computer games...

                      Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

                      by Linnaeus on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 09:18:04 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

        •  If you spent 2 years getting an Associates (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Linnaeus, Special K, SciMathGuy

          in nursing, you could become an RN with a starting rate of over $30/hour near where I live.

          Degrees and education-level don't always correlate with your wage.  It depends on the industry involved, the scarcity of degree-holders, and the need for the industry in question to hire them.  In the case of RNs, hospitals are supported by lots of public investment (though not enough) and it's impossible for hospitals to get paid without the work RNs (and, in many cases, only RNs by law) can do.  So, if the RNs organize, they have enormous amounts of power and thus get paid very well.

          "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

          by Pesto on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 07:24:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Although (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I thought RNs generally required at least a bachelor's degree.

            Still, though, your point stands.  A nurse's starting wage is on the average higher than mine is with a Ph.D.

            And I'm not saying that's wrong by any means.  It reflects the nature of the job and the demand for it.

            Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

            by Linnaeus on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 07:35:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, just an Associates (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Linnaeus, SciMathGuy

              There are some snotty RNs organizations (generally not unions) that are convinced that the key to RNs being treated with respect is mandating BSN's for RNs, because then the Docs will see them as peers.  Virtually all the RNs I used to work with in a couple of nurses' unions thought they had a screw loose.  There's no evidence that BSNs provide better care, there's a massive RNs shortage, and someone wants to make it harder to become an RN?

              Some nurses do go on to get BSNs or even Masters degrees, but it's mainly because they want to learn more, or because they want to become bosses.  The big thing you can do with a Masters is to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), which is one of the greatest gigs around as far as I can tell -- you do a lot of the anesthesiology work that Anesthesiologists often do (epidurals, anesthesia for surgery), and you get paid around $60 an hour or more in many places -- still a great arrangement for the hospitals, given what Anesthesiologists get paid.  And you avoid a lot of the really terrible shit hospitals make regular, bedside RNs go through.

              "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

              by Pesto on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 07:49:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Responsibility upgrades with pay downgrades. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                guilford caswell

                Around here, BSRNs have the most responsibility, but it's harder to find a job. RNs do what BSRNs should be doing (they end up with the responsibilities of BSRNs), but at RN pay. LPNs end up with the responsibilities of RNs, but at even less pay because they're LPNs. NAs (Nurse Assistants) do what LPNs used to do, but at close to minimum wage.

                Republicans are red, Democrats are blue, If you don't vote like Jesus, No Rapture for you!

                by SciMathGuy on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:50:23 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent article, (7+ / 0-)

    Trapper John.  Reagan and the supply siders have ruined our economy and impoverished the middle class with the initiation of their union busting anti labor actions.  I hope Obama has the insight to pursue a more pro labor structure of our economy because without a middle class we are turning into a third world country.  And also a more progressive tax system so that billionaires are paying more than us peons.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

    by rlharry on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 05:03:09 PM PST

  •  I'm marching to the beat of a different drummer? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    El Tomaso

    Maybe the current economic crises has many roots. Screwing labour is certainly one root, and it's tremendously important. Wall Street greed does contribute a lot, too - not only by inventing "financial products" that are CEOs' wet dreams, but by aiding and abetting the destruction of organised labour here.

    High gas prices don't help, either, because it makes people rethink buying guzzlers unless they really need them (trucks and SUVs on farms, etc.). For that matter, buying gas at all makes big companies (and big oil producing countries) very happy. If people don't want to buy big vehicles, they won't buy American vehicles (many of which are still BIG suckers).

    The corporate culture of our country has been a big contributor, since the best way to make happy corporations and big profits is to cut jobs, raise prices, and encourage reckless spending.

    We, the people, are also a root of the problem. We are the ones doing the spending. We are the ones who trampled a WalMart worker to death in order to get a better bargain for cheap crap we don't need. We are the ones who took out mortgages at 1% APR and damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. We are the ones who kept buying cars bigger than what we needed. In part, we have met the enemy, and he is us.

    I'm sure there are more causes. Like any good, strong tree, this crisis has many deep roots.

    Republicans are red, Democrats are blue, If you don't vote like Jesus, No Rapture for you!

    by SciMathGuy on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 05:15:57 PM PST

  •  But unions must also retool for the 21st century (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    What about independent contractors and temps? Why doesn't the music union partner with club and bar owners to pool resources to provide better paying entertainment, especially in tough times? Why can't there be partnerships with an array of small businesses to compete together against Wall St. megacorps? Globalization? Then we need global unions.

    There are either real or perceived problems with seniority when it is abused by some members. Why isn't seniority earned by more than just time spent paying dues? What about inflexibility? Perhaps, as a for instance, instead of raising wages moving to a 32 hour week for the same wage? What about the guy who sits around, in some instances, to flip a switch that no one else is allowed to flip, even another member of their own union?

    I do think unions could be a big answer to the problem, but I still see an industrial mentality in a computer age world. Unless unions can get vast public support, they aren't going anywhere. And most people are not convinced that unions are doing people outside of them any good.

    Flame On! (But please be constructive and suggest solutions where applicable or tell me why things need to remain as they are)

    Chapter 8 of Neoconomics: The Chickenhawks Come Home to Roost.

    by Noodles on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 05:24:45 PM PST

    •  Spot On (0+ / 0-)

      Unions need to be realistic about what they do and what they demand.

      I looked over the UAW contract webpage and even from a cursory glance, there is a ton of bullshit.

      Things like:

      Monday AFTER Easter is a paid holiday (as is Good Friday)

      Entire week of Independence Day is paid vacation.

      etc, etc.

      Its one thing to demand good pay and safe working conditions (and I fully support unions in their fight for this), but its another matter to abuse bargaining rights and make your workforce and business uncompetitive.

      •  Indpendence Week off... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Trapper John, Special K a forced vacation. Which means you cannot choose when to take your vacation.  I am glad that I am not forced to use my vacations days like that.  Are you forced to take your vacation on certain days?


      •  July vacation (0+ / 0-)

        Entire week of Independence Day is paid vacation.

        We're talking about assembly lines here.  I suspect giving the whole plant the same week off is more efficient than trying to fill in for people taking their vacations individually.  Or are you saying that people who work on assembly lines don't deserve time off?

        Renewable energy brings national security.

        by Calamity Jean on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:45:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  A few responses (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Special K, Calamity Jean
      1. I agree that Institutional Labor in the US often is too constrained by the Act -- that is, if someone isn't an "employee" under the NLRA, then Labor doesn't try to organize them.  Why shouldn't there be a Farmers' Union with representation in CTW or the AFL-CIO, for instance?
      1. As far as seniority rules etc. are concerned, that's a matter for each union to decide, democratically, amongst its membership.  All the rules about how seniority is earned come down, in the end, to what the members want.  If you and your coworkers want different rules, negotiate the changes with the boss.
      1. One of the side-effects of EFCA will be to open up American organized labor.  Under the current law, it's unbelievably expensive for workers to organize a union.  It's so easy for the boss to drag out an election and abuse the workers that workers need a large, well-off, established union with the resources to fight a wealthy boss if they want any hope of success.

      If EFCA passes in its current form, however, it'll become much easier for workers so organize themselves without much support.  You work in a business with 70 employees?  All you need to do is get people together one at a time or in small groups, and if you decide to form your own XWZ Workers' Union, once a majority of you sign cards or a petition, you've got a union.  And if the boss won't negotiate in good faith, you've got the promise of mandatory arbitration to back you up in winning a first contract.

      So if we do get EFCA, it'll be great for established unions, but even better for new, more innovative unions.  Workers will be much freer to do what they want, to experiment and create without being brutalized by bosses.

      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

      by Pesto on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:50:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I come from a pro-union redneck household.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDPITALIA, humanmancalvin

    I'm an old fart now.  I decades ago realized that to create prosperity for my children that I would have to become one of the "educated" elite.  I did this and have subsequently watched my blue collar brothers and sisters writhe and suffer under the post-Reagan reality of economic/social order.

    I had no magic carpet ride to prosperity.  The way to prosperity for me was littered with PTSD...I'm a Vietnam vet if anyone gives a shit...the economic realities of a wife and children, etc.  I made a fortunate choice from my heart and decided that I wanted to care for people as a nurse and have advanced my practice to the point of prosperity as a nurse practitioner.  Today, while I mourn my blue collar brethren, I am thankful for my college educated children...a son with a master's degree and a good job and a daughter to graduate in June with a doctoral degree...I see very clearly what we as blue collar workers and blue collar wannabes and former blue collars need to do.

    Let's not make this difficult.  Let's all understand that the path to prosperity for worker bees lies in not buying ANYTHING that is not manufactured in the U.S.

    Forget tariffs.  Forget protectionism.  We need to insist upon prosperity for our working people.  

    I know hunger, I know want, I revel in the education of my children and my possible...who the f knows?...prosperous senior years.  I long for the resurgence of our working class.  

    May God bless our workers.  May God damn the azzholes who sold them down the river for a few bucks.

    May God Bless our troops wherever they are. Best regards, El Tomaso

    by El Tomaso on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 05:58:08 PM PST

  •  Ain't gonna happen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Get a grip Trapper, Chambliss won in Georgia.  Employee free choice is dead. Nothing, repeat Nothing can unite Republicans as quickly or as well as the word Union. They will vote as a block and Filibuster in the Senate.

    Just look at all the grief that the UAW is getting for the Auto industry asking for a measly 25 Billion loan versus the Hundreds of Billions given to Banks so they can prop up their bonuses. Even though it was the Banks, those very recipients of the Bailout Billions that caused the economic heart attack.

    Tell me, what is the average yearly total compensation (include options value, insurance and bonuses please) of the AIG employees (mean and median please).  I'm willing to bet that it comes out to well over $70.00/hr (or $145,600/yr) that the Republicans have been pushing as the UAW worker compensation, yet not a peep from either our friends or enemies in Congress about this.  And how many Billions have they already swallowed up?  (I think it's at 135 billion). Tell me again how much recovery it is producing.

    The only way I see to get Employee Free choice is to expose brand Republican to the corrupt core it is and make it stick.  The only way to really do that is to prosecute Republicans for the corruption they encourage and participate in. Then Hang 'em High.  

    I don't see this happening in the Obama 'bi-partisan'  get along for change administration.  I understand why he wants to get along with the other side of the aisle, but I hope he doesn't hesitate to investigate when they kick him in the nuts a few times and tell him 'Fuck You' with filibusters.

    Sorry guy, Unions are the beaten wife in the political process, they are promised a lot, then become the first bargaining chip tossed into the compromise pot.  Why not, who are they going to support, the Republicans?

    It. Was. Almost. In. Our. Grasp.

    ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

    by NevDem on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:09:53 PM PST

    •  Your concern is duly noted. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Special K, SonicT

      Obama just today reiterated his support of EFCA. Do you know how hard it is to keep exactly 41 Republican senators together in a filibuster? Especially when several come from northern states where unions are popular?

      Almost impossible.

      All that is required for evil to flourish is for good people to stand by and do nothing.

      by davewill on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:15:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Remember (0+ / 0-)

        Unions are the beaten wife in the political process, they are promised a lot, then become the first bargaining chip tossed into the compromise pot.  Why not, who are they going to support, the Republicans?

        I've been around the block more than once with politicians with labor issues.  Color me Cynical but I've been beaten too many damm times.  

        I personally think that the UAW should have a bus trip to Washington of all their guys on 'shutdown vacation' so they can crowd the halls of Congress during the day and camp out on the Senators' lawns at night.  Who knows, it may change a vote or two.

        I realistically think that the unions (and employee free choice) get to be the first sacrificial lamb to the Republicans bi-partisanship.  But, they'll try again next session...if you can help out for the re-election campaign and.... it really gets tiring hearing it over and over and over and....

        ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

        by NevDem on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:33:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  *Just* the UAW? (0+ / 0-)

          I personally think that the UAW should have a bus trip to Washington of all their guys on 'shutdown vacation' so they can crowd the halls of Congress during the day and camp out on the Senators' lawns at night.  Who knows, it may change a vote or two.

          Heck, the whole AFL-CIO should do it!  Members who can't afford to go to Washington could organize group trips to Senators' local offices, preferably while the Senators are there, to hand-deliver letters of support.

          Renewable energy brings national security.

          by Calamity Jean on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:09:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It comes down to how much hell we raise (0+ / 0-)

      If we threaten to sink the ship of state, they'll throw some valuables overboard to stay afloat.  Worry less about the composition of the Senate, and more about our level of activism and threat-making.

      "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

      by Pesto on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:51:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  AIG payscales (0+ / 0-)

      after 20 years the median is 83K

  •  Globally, The World Will Come Around to This (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Special K

    This is exactly right. In fact, we've been saying this for some time about International Trade Agreements. It's time to fix the root of the problem, instead of swatting at it with billion dollar bills.

  •  Look for the union label (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Special K, Calamity Jean

      And you probably will not find it anymore. In its place you read "made in Bangladesh" or China or You Name It. Anywhere and everywhere but the United States.
      The moaning and groaning about the "overpaid auto-workers" comes not only from the union-busting resluglicans, but from regular wage (read low-wage) workers. Typical republican propoganda, make noise about auto workers union during big three pleadings. Carried by media, read by low-wage earners, unemployed, and wage jealousy sets in and fat cats have wage earners fighting for their own betterment.
      People are heard to talk about how their mom stayed home and only dad went off to work and they could afford to own house, car, send kids to college. Why?: dad had good wage, secure union job. Not rocket science this.
      Support the rights of the UAW and all smaller unions you may be familiar with. Who knows, this country gets enough union activity back and people are not being raked over hot coals by paying 30% credit card rates for the winter coat they had to buy junior on the card because mom and dad working together cannot afford to pay basic-living bills.
      President Obama needs to offer support to unions to get American workers back to a place of financial pride. Not to mention being able to afford to eat anywhere near the governments own recomended food pyrimad.

      Liberal and Proud and willing to fight to take back America from the greedy corporations..

  •  EFCA passage and signing would be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Special K, Calamity Jean

    a good sign as to where the Obama administration will lead us the next 4 years.

  •  The Fix Is In (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    The fix is in the details of our international trade agreements. They have to be fixed.

    Specifically, we have to include a global minimum wage that is at least some reasonable percentage of the domestic one and applies to all products sold in the U.S.

    Specifically, we need to see our common workplace standards adopted in every country that sells products in the U.S.

    Specifically, we need to see our environmental standards (not the Bush environmental standards, but the American people's environmental standards) adopted in any country that sells products in the U.S.

    It's just completely beyond me how we can expect workers in this country to carry the burden of holding up major corporations like GM on their backs while we undermine them at every turn by selling out their jobs.

    We either raise the standards of our trading partners to first-world standards, or we will see our country descend to third-world standards. That's the choice.

    There is no more running room left in our economy. You can't keep taking money away from the people in the spending part of the economy and giving it to foreign entities and rich people forever. They've sucked all the dollars out of the working part of the economy. We get our goods from China, our services from India and our oil from various dictatorships around the world. And on top of it, Bush cut the tax rates for the rich and ran up an unneeded war without requiring those rich people to pay for it. Make the rich pay for war and there will be no wars.

    It's time to fix the real problems. Glad someone finally opened up the discussion.

  •  EFCA - why bother when don't support unions? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FLGibsonJr, SonicT

    For all the fuss about the EFCA, I wonder why progressives pretend they care.  All I hear from progressives is how they don't care if the big three go under.  Do you think that make put a bunch of union workers out of work and even bust up the UAW for good?  I think progressives need to not only talk the talk but walk the walk.

    What the hell are we hesitating for?  Bailout the big 3 now.

    Still waiting for real change

    by noofsh on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 06:55:29 PM PST

  •  Employee Free Choice Act next big issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pesto, Special K

    Those who have supported the Obama victory need to devote the same energy---seriously---to the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

    I have represented and worked with hourly wage earners, union and non union for over 30 years on safety and wage issues.

    This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to roll back the evils of the so called "Right To Work" propaganda and the Chamber of Commerce millions that have so undermined the wage, safety and basic rights of working people.

    This has to move to the top of the list of activies for the Kossacks and others who support working families in this country.


  •  True capitalists should embrace unions... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Special K

    In theory, economically efficient prices for goods or services should be derived through an "arm's length" negotiation, where both parties have equal bargaining power and no unfair advantage exists. And that is, in fact, how most businesses bargain for their real property, equipment, materials, utilities and contracted services.

    But somehow, the American business community has managed to sell the idea that unions will sink the private sector. What they're actually saying is that their businesses can't survive unless they possess an overwhelming advantage in controlling the cost of one critical input to their business model - their employees' wages.

    Now what kind of free-market champion would support the continued existence of a company that could only turn a profit if its suppliers agreed to let the company set the purchase price below the "arm's length" negotiated market rate? You could bet your last collateralized debt obligation they would say that the market will quickly and, quite justifiably, eliminate such a ridiculous business model.

    But that's exactly what our union-busting government policies have allowed to flourish. They have enabled greedy and mismanaged companies to continue to prosper by guaranteeing them a steady supply of below-market-rate labor. If market forces had truly been allowed free reign, these companies would have had to deal with their mismanagement or perish long ago.

    Personally, I can't wait for Card Check. But if the market functions like it should, it means jobs will be lost as some of the worst companies go under. Change is pain. But with vastly increased union membership, we finally have a chance to make this sacrifice count.

    "Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others." -- Winston Churchill

    by drawnonward on Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 09:29:23 PM PST

    •  Unions are good (0+ / 0-)

      Like any organization they can become corrupt with too much power. However that doesnt make them automatically bad. They should have to follow similar antitrust rules as companies.

      There are bad people in management and bad people leading unions. This does not mean all management is bad or that unions are bad.

      You dont hear about most management because they are fine, they care about their employees. I own a company and the recession keeps me up at night. I have a responsibility to my employees to make good decisions so they can feed their families. This is a lot of pressure. However my employees often times think I am greedy - they have no idea that in past years I have taken 30K in salary when they all make 100K.

      Good management does recognize that treating people well pays massive dividends in productivity. You can look at the surveys of the top 100 places to work to see that.

      Conservatives dont automatically hate unions, just like I hope liberals dont automatically hate management.

  •  I am beginning to understand the French... (0+ / 0-)

    ...Revolution more and more everyday.

  •  EFCA is bad for workers and bad for the economy (0+ / 0-)

    It takes away the secret ballot.

    It creates a situation that encourages employees to divide against each other, killing workplace morale.

    It allows an arbitrator who knows nothing about how a business operates to impose terms on that business.

    These are just three of the reasons EFCA is wrong for workers and the American economy.

    I'm really tired of seeing the unbalanced presentation of EFCA on the front page here.  It is a disservice to the people who will be affected by EFCA, those who will ultimately lose their jobs because of it.

    •  wrong. (0+ / 0-)

      Your "reasons" have been repudiated throughout the above article, the comments, and all through the history of our economy over the last 40 years.  

      The highest job losses from EFCA will be in the overpaid union avoidance industry.  I can't say I'm shedding tears about that one.

      •  The only union avoidance jobs (0+ / 0-)

        lost as a result of EFCA will be those for clients who are driven completely out of business by EFCA.  And for those businesses, the number of employees losing jobs will be far greater.

        I fear that the passage of EFCA will be like the election of GWB, which I could not stop and had to just sit back and watch while the people who wanted it learned their lesson the hard way.

      •  And (0+ / 0-)

        I don't see how you can say these reasons have been repudiated.  Among other things, it is simply a fact that EFCA kills the secret ballot.  How can you say that isn't true?

        •  There's a secret ballot provision in EFCA (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Trapper John, taylormattd

          After card check, if 30% of the workers in the bargaining unit demand it, there will be a secret ballot election.  If the majority vote yes, the union remains.  If the majority vote no, the union is decertified.  So the secret ballot isn't wiped out if enough workers want it.

          I do have a question:  do you think the current situation is appropriate in terms of forming unions?  I don't mean this in a rhetorical sense; I really do want to know.

          Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

          by Linnaeus on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:32:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Lawyer to Capitalists (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Well, at least there's truth in advertising.

      "It creates a situation that encourages employees to divide against each other, killing workplace morale."

      That sounds like an argument against unionization in general, not against the Employee Free Choice Act.  

      "I'm really tired of seeing the unbalanced presentation of EFCA on the front page here."

      Get used to it.  There are no more two progressive sides to this issue than there are to the abortion rights issue.  There's the progressive side, and the the anti-worker side.  Daily Kos is going to be on the progressive side.

      •  I don't think it is fair to characterize (0+ / 0-)

        "the progressive side" as being pro-EFCA.  I know that because I am progressive in my views, but oppose EFCA.  It isn't because of my work--believe me, firms like mine will benefit handsomely if EFCA passes.  

        I think you are doing a disservice to DKos readers when you fail to address EFCA factually on its merits (or lack thereof), rather than based on an agenda.

    •  To quote Al Franken, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      Right now, there are two ways to form a union: majority sign-up or a secret ballot election. And management gets to decide which is used. The Employee Free Choice Act would protect the same two ways of joining a union (majority sign-up or a secret ballot election), but leave it up to workers to decide which is used. That's why Al supports it -- he stands with workers. And that's why Norm Coleman is lying about it -- he stands with corporations.

      That's the question: Stand with workers or stand with corporations. I know who I'm with.

      Never mind the laughable spin of the term "secret ballot," which in workplace elections as they exist now allows massive abuse and intimidation by the boss.

  •  As a union member I have no issue with (0+ / 0-)

    the Employee Free Choice Act.
    But I seriously question the choice by our union leadership to focus on an issue that is as arcane to the general public as it is misleading in title.
    It is an easily defeated idea that there should be no more secret balloting involved in an kind of election.
    The problem with intimidation and coercion with the present system is that the NLRB is so woefully impotent to enforce existing penalties for employer infringement of worker's rights.
    The other problem is that unions themselves are so woefully unprepared to truly organize and educate workers.
    This issue simply will not resonate in the climate of job loss and mass unemployment when the pressing issue is not whether we should have the right to join unions unchallenged but whether we have the opportunity to work at all.

  •  Obama and Labor (0+ / 0-)

    Apart from nominees to the SCOTUS, labor policy is really the only area for which I am optimistic Obama will bring change you can believe in.  I absolutely believe in the need to reverse the decline of unions for the good of all working people.

    As a resident of Michigan, I hate to think of the economic devestation that would be caused by the failure of the domestic auto industry, but I don't favor using a bailout as a means to crush the UAW -- which I fear may be in the offing.

    One might more rationally point to the fact that the U.S. auto industry has to pay for private healthcare coverage for its workers, while the industry's competitors have national health plans.  Let's hear it for single payer universal healthcare in the U.S.

    •  single payer--bailout? (0+ / 0-)

      It's a little sad that part of the expense of universal single payer health care (USPHC?) will be to relieve the auto industry/UAW retirement health care responsibilities.

      We'll all end up paying to take that albatross off their backs--another sort of bailout.

  •  Unions are great but the wage earner is dying (0+ / 0-)
    I just doesn't matter how much the Unions help increase wages a benefits for workers, until we fix the current federal income tax system, we will make no real gains. Since the 1980's the purveyors of trickle down economics have spewed their propaganda making most people believe that the wealthy pay too much tax. This is the lie of the century. Under the current income tax system the wage earner pays most of the federal taxes.   The current income tax system is far more unfair and regressive than most people think. You may believe that income taxes are progressive because the tax rates increase with income but this is not really true. Yes, wages are taxed on a progressive scale but higher income individuals receive little or no wages, they get most of their income from other sources which are taxed at much lower rates. Corporations and businesses of all sizes are seemingly required to pay income taxes at consistent rates, but in reality those taxes are all passed along to their customers. They see taxes as just another cost of sales, so they add their tax liability and compliance cost into the price of their products. The businessman needs to inflate his profit margin by 40% to cover his own personal income taxes, he must because we all live on take home pay. Do you think it is fair that the wage earner has to pay a higher tax rate and then gets stuck with the bill for anyone that can defer their tax liability? Is it fair that the working poor have to pay payroll taxes on the first dollar they make and the millionaire's FICA contribution is capped as if he earned $102,000? Could this be the reason that the rich are getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and the middle shrinks year by year? This has to change before America goes bankrupt. There has to be a better way for America to collect taxes that is truly fair for everyone without shutting down the government. Taxing income, obviously, is not the answer. We need to find a better way. We need a whole new paradigm; a completely new way of paying for government programs and services that spreads the burden evenly to everyone.

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