Not a day goes by when we don't hear from the mouth of some talking head or read the words of a transcriber of press releases (formerly known as a "journalist") about the awful "partisanship" or bi-partisan "paralysis" and failure to "compromise". It's now a macro embedded in the minds and computers of virtually every pundit and blowhard pontificator.
All I can say is: I hope the two parties keep fighting and maneuvering and going nowhere...when it comes to the putrid so-called "free trade" agreements. It's a great thing for the middle-class and for workers everywhere.
Today, The New York Times, a long-time editorial board cheerleader for disastrous so-called "free trade", whines about the "impasse" over so-called "free trade" deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama:
Even with almost zero common ground between them, President Obama and Republicans in Congress generally concur on the need for free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. But they disagree on whose fault it is that those agreements — years in the making — have still not been approved.
...That Congressional Republicans and the president cannot even agree on the status of these critical trade agreements reflects just how toxic and divisive their relationship is, anchored largely in fiscal policy disagreements. The two sides have fought endlessly over the last year about the complexion of the bills and how and when they will be brought to the floors of each chamber.
When the Democrats controlled Congress, they resisted the trade agreements because they feared they would harm American workers. Then came the Obama administration, which insisted, as part of any trade deal, on renewing a program to assist people adversely affected and adding $964 million to the effort. That linkage has met resistance from Republicans.
So, let me understand this. When you control Congress, the deals are bad--and, then, for some, they turn good because the Administration throws a few dollars at the carcasses of the workers who lose their jobs to service the desires and profits of multi-national corporations.
What part of stupid do you not understand?
I've written a lot, going back many years about the idiocy and outright shameful dishonesty that the "retraining" programs truly are (including here in 2007and here, and here). When we accept the idea of retraining workers, we accept the framework of discussion about the economic system that is being imposed on workers here and abroad. Boiled down to its basics, it goes something like this: "globalization" is inevitable so just get over it. There will be pain for some because that is the cost of progress. To ease that pain, we will throw some money at the "problem" of displaced workers.
Typically, I find that the people most in favor of the concept of retraining are those people who think they are never going to lose a job to so-called "free trade." That would be our elected officials, pundits, and a whole lot of economists. A whole lot of other folks buy the idea that this is a fair deal—without understanding both the realities for the people who are losing jobs and, frankly, that so-called "free trade" is driving down wages even for those people whose jobs are not directly tied to international trade.
The Great Retraining Lie is a close relative to something I have written about for even longer: The Great Education Myth. Basically, the two ideas go hand-in-hand: they intentionally distract us from the real problem--employers around the world are moving work around the world in search of the lowest wage possible. Wages, not skills or education, are the most important issue facing workers throughout the globe. The disparity is so huge that American workers, no matter how smart they get, will never be able to compete against workers in other countries—unless, of course, Americans are willing to accept a drastic decline in their standard of living.
So, all I can say now is: congrats to both parties for the impasse. You have no idea--literally, speaking--how you are helping the middle-class and workers everywhere.
May your paralysis stretch into years and decades.