Recessions are beautiful things if you're a wealthy person because they give you incredible power over employees and government (both are more desperate during a recession), and they kill off fledgling start-ups and competitors.
Indeed, our current recession has boosted corporate profits to previously unimaginable new heights (each employee heaps $12,483 in profits at their employer's feet each year).
Same as always, the only effective response to organized greed is organized labor.
If we want economic prosperity (we do!), the only solution is to get more money in the hands of consumers. If big labor dies, the big middle class dies with it.
And that's where Occupy comes in. Why not engage in collective action at GE, JP Morgan, Apple, Microsoft, or Exxon as well as Zuccotti Park?
GE: $45,000 profits/employee per year
JP Morgan: $71,000 profits/employee per year
Goldman Sachs: $114,000 profits/employee per year
Microsoft: $259,000 profits/employee per year
AIG (yes, the one that got bailed out): $363,000 profits/employee per year
Exxon Mobil: 459,000 profits/employee per year
Apple: $610,000 profits/employee per year
Occupy is genius. Collective action is what powerful people fear the most. A recent study of Chinese government censorship (and let's face it there's little distance between all-powerful U.S. CEO's and Chinese government officials) found that these powerful people do not censor hate and vitriol. No, these are fine. What they fear and detest is speech that encourages collective action.
Contrary to previous understandings, posts with negative, even vitriolic, criticism of the state, its leaders, and its policies are not more likely to be censored. Instead, we show that the censorship program is aimed at curtailing collective action by silencing comments that represent, reinforce, or spur social mobilization, regardless of content. Censorship is oriented toward attempting to forestall collective activities that are occurring now or may occur in the future — and, as such, seem to clearly expose government intent, such as examples we offer where sharp increases in censorship presage government action outside the Internet.Their greatest fear is a group of human bodies in space. And imagine how much more afraid they would be if those bodies were demanding a share of the company's record-breaking profits.
Sixty percent of America’s workers say they’d be interested in joining a union. That's because union workers make a lot more than non-union workers. Even 10 years ago union sales workers made $16.22/hour, compared with $8.98/hour for nonunion workers.
Not only are unions good for the middle class, they are good for the bottom line and customers as well. Prof. Jeff Pfeffer, endowed professor at Stanford Business School, wrote an academic article in 2005 praising organized labor, and the article at this CNN link is his summary of it. He found that unionized workers are more productive, make customers more satisfied, and save lives (of hospital patients):
In a 2004 study of the risk-adjusted death rate from heart attacks in 344 acute-care hospitals in California, for example, researchers Michael Ash and Jean Ann Seago found that facilities with unionized nurses had a 5.5 percent lower mortality rate than non-union hospitals.Unions make us strong.
But after millions of dollars of corporate brainwashing telling us that unions are bad, perhaps it is time for unions 2.0. I envision we (Occupy) could start a negotiation service that negotiates with management on behalf of workers for higher pay. Occupy would come in and negotiate a three year contract, and then leave. The employees would pay a one-time fee for the service.
For bargaining power in negotiations, Occupy would prepare negative ads slamming the executives and the company, and let the executives know that if they play hardball, their reputation will suffer when the ads hit the air.
Also, after a few victories, Occupy would have a pile of money and would be able to pay salaries of striking workers, so the strikes could last almost indefinitely. Strikers would give up nothing by striking, and management would give up a lot (negative ads on the airwaves). This service would just snowball and get huge fast. We should have several divisions, so that innovation in tactics by one Occupy division could be copied by the others.
I'll end with this prophetic Frederick Douglass quote:
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.Linking Occupy with Unions seems like a match made in heaven to me.
Update: Thanks to Horace Boothroyd III for this powerful link to a video of the auto workers occupying the auto plants December 31, 1936, and FDR sending in the national guard (to protect the strikers from the goons hired to break the strike).