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Walmart protest in Chicago IL
It's been a mixed year for unions and for workers' struggles. On the one hand, you've got the misery in Michigan and lockouts around the country. On the other, you've got Walmart workers and fast food workers fighting their terrible wages and working conditions and the routine intimidation and oppression they face in unprecedented ways. You've got Chicago teachers striking against the odds. As much as the law is tilted toward businesses and the odds are against workers, we're seeing workers rise up and fight. We need more of that. But what are the most effective strategies? Sarah Jaffe asked six organizers and labor scholars to talk about how labor can go on the offensive.

"It's time to reinvent the strike—the strike as guerrilla warfare," according to Stephen Lerner, organizer of the SEIU's successful Justice for Janitors campaign. Similarly, Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, a community organization that is organizing low-wage workers in New York City, says:

"It's about constantly pressuring employers from as many angles as possible. It's leveraging not only NLRB elections but back wage claims to pressure the employers, leveraging community pressure, boycotts, strikes. We did a strike at the car wash in the Bronx and they came to the table. That's the lesson, it's not just any one strategy, you have to come at them at every different angle."
Like Westin, labor scholar Ruth Milkman urges a focus on low-wage workers; Bill Fletcher, Jr., Jane McAlevey, and Eric Robertson and Ben Speight offer suggestions for internal union organizing, strengthening how unions relate to their existing members and from there to the community at large.

Corporations have the political power from the top, and the day to day power over workers' lives. They have the money. They have the fear factor. But increasingly we're seeing signs that workers are ready and willing to fight, and that fear won't be as much of a barrier anymore. With creative organizing and lots of struggle, could 2013 be the year the balance starts to shift back toward workers?

A fair day's wage

  • Just $100 a month:
    According to findings from the Center for Responsible Lending's newest report, The State of Lending in America and Its Impact on US Households (State of Lending), the typical household has just $100 left each month after paying for basic expenses and debt payments. After controlling for inflation, the typical household had less annual income at the end of 2010 than it did at the beginning of the decade.. Moreover, as worker productivity increased, the workplace has seldom rewarded them with higher pay.
  • More than $2 million in wage theft settlements in New York.
  • Forever 21's CEO and his wife are worth $4.5 billion while cashiers are paid $15,198 a year
  • Last weekend in Chicago:
    Workers and supporters with the Fight For 15 movement, along with members of several other groups took to the streets chanting, “@e can’t survive on $8.25” and singing modified Christmas carols highlighting wage disparity between CEOs and rank-and-file workers. The day culminated in 21 arrests during a sit-in at Water Tower Place on Pearson Avenue.

The War on Education

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 10:55 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The labor movement, (6+ / 0-)

    and the progressive movement in general, feeds on the energy of many people standing up to authority, or "speaking truth to power."

    Everyone who stands up, who refuses to submit to outrageous demands "from above," helps others they never saw, and who never saw them.

    Republicans hate this. That's why they're spiraling downward to become a minority party.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:09:08 AM PST

  •  I am strongly pro labor but (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, LOrion, Larsstephens

    I think that strikes are a difficult proposition in a no growth economy.  

    To that point more broadly, there is a lack of unified economic thought -- an economic worldview as it were -- on the left.  It dates back to at least the Reagan era., but probably back to Kennedy.  We really haven't seen a american left with an economic agenda since then.  This is problematic on so many levels.  The initial hurdle is that I don't think we even all agree on objectives -- "what we are for".  

    To your more specific point, now is a great time for unions to build membership.  It will take some self evaluation for them to figure out what that means and how to persuade others to join.

    •  That's Because Much of the Left Became Right. (7+ / 0-)

      The Democratic Party is a conservative party, it's just not rightwing.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:43:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The economy is growing!!!!!!!! (6+ / 0-)

      GDP has been growing since 2009 and is now growing more or less at its historic average of a bit over 3%.

      What's different about the contemporary economy is that job growth no longer follows from GDP growth.

      Further reading from Nobel economics winners Krugman and Stiglitz--the Krugman piece is short, the Stiglitz piece is essential:

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:48:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you mean OUR economy isn't growing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, historys mysteries

        THEIRS is growing?

      •  If you look at that chart you see that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the "growth" has barely eclipsed the contraction in 2008.  As a result, the economy looks like no growth for 4 years.  

        I do agree that the "jobless recovery" is yet another characteristic of the way the US based wealth tends to think and position the economy in the world economic arena.  That dates back a while (certainly WJC won election based on the jobless nature of the Bush economic recovery).

        All the more reason for a discussion of the structural issues in the american economy -- something no politician funded by the current campaign scheme can take on.

      •  As technology improves (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The reason for GDP growth is the same reason for the lack of job growth...... With better technology we need fewer people.... We simply do not need as many workers in our economy as we would using 1960s technology.

        •  thats not true (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          akeitz, BYw, Mambo

          look around at our deterioating infrastructure, crowded classrooms, long waits to see a doctor, people who cant find affordable decent homes, lack of public transport, etc etc.

          Theres plenty of work for workers to do, and if the super weathy stopped treating our economy like thier own personal las vegas casino and atm then human beings would have plenty of good paying jobs and work to do.

          •  Investing in most of those would be great (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            But as a % of our workforce.... That probably would not directly put a real dent in the unemployment numbers longer term.

            If I have a factory that uses 1000 workers and I buy a machine who can do the same work for 1/10th the cost...any every other company does the same thing.... what  are we going to do with those 1000s of ex workers?

            Sure we can re-train them to fill some other jobs. But the honest truth is with out current economy low skilled job are less needed. And some people are only capable of low skilled labor.

            •  well right now (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              akeitz, BYw

              everyone i know are working 2, 3, 4 temp jobs and part time jobs 7 days a week trying to pay the rent and food bill at min. wage.  Theres a lot of work, but it no longer pays a living wage, gives benefits, and involves cotracters to protect companies from taking resposibility for the mess.

              Workers are still in demand, we are just getting screwed for the work we do.

            •  Something has to be done (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Given that there has been a systemic breakdown of our education system in this country, there are a couple generations of people who will only be able to do low skilled work.
              Make trade fair, invest in rebuilding our country, and start to fund vocational education in this country.
              I will not just sit back and accept that we will let millions wallow in poverty because we refuse to be forward thinkers.

              •  "Something" could start with voting. (0+ / 0-)

                Low-income folks turn out to vote in lower % than high-income.

                Poorly-educated folks turn out to vote in lower % than better-educated.

                Nonwhites generally turn out in lower % than whites. (2008 & 2012 exceptions for obvious reason.)

                If those getting shafted by this economy voted in the same % as those getting rewarded, our options would be vastly different.

                OTOH I suppose that's like wishing for cows to fly.

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 02:57:45 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  hope this works (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frisbeetarian, Puddytat, Stude Dude

    ...if we could start unionizing mickey d's that would send a shockwave through the system...

    "Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible." - Janet Malcolm

    by slangist on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:27:59 AM PST

  •  If we can break the campaign finance (0+ / 0-)

    lockhold on our national political agenda, we could begin to discuss ways to address the fundamental shifts in the structure of the national economy -- and how to address them.  We will need a whole new congress, but that will happen quickly if we seriously change campaign financing.

    As the whole world can see right now, we can't even address the most basic budget issues while we have a government "by of and for" the billionaires.

  •  I don't know why corporations are so stupid (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Gooserock, BYw

    Study after study has shown that when employees are well compensated, the company thrives. Companies that pay the highest wages in their particular industry are usually often the leaders in profits.

    Why do they insist on being "stinjee-gut"?

    •  Corporations "in the old days" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      O112358, forrest, BYw

      were different because they used long range planning to ensure that their companies would continue to thrive.  What we have today are CEOs who can't think past the next quarter and their next bonus.

      They give a crap about their workers and the future.  They are focused on themselves and calculating their next bonus.

      As a result, corporations don't plan for the long term anymore and continue to think that profits today are the only measure of their performance.  Short term thinking will lead to long term losses.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:41:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is a legal problem there in that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        O112358, DSPS owl, BYw

        boards believe they are compelled to promote their shareholders short term interests.  The history of public corporate law is that corporations exist to further the public good . . . conservative courts have strayed too far from that.  We need more than a little reform there.

    •  Must Be it Pays Off at the Very Highest Levels. (0+ / 0-)

      Business always does this unless bargained and regulated to share the wealth.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:50:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We must stop waiting on them to decide. We must (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mambo, sunny skies, DSPS owl, forrest, BYw

      define and publicity state what is a true livable wage in regard to hourly salary and demand it be federally mandated across the nation....for everyone even teens, undocumented workers, temp and part time workers....everyone.  When you start making exemptions then it will just go away.

      Second, if an employee wants to work at least 40 hours, surely there is a way to demand that companies stop having entire crews of part time workers.  They get no benefits and have no hope of upward mobility.  This should be law may only have so many part time employees and only if they want to be part time.

      Third, every company should have X amount of women and minority employees.  Period. This should be law and enforced.

      Fourth, we should do something about hiring practices.  Maybe a law that if a person is qualified and has adequate education and skills etc for the job posted, than a reason in writing for not hiring....and it has to be a defined and allowed reason.   This will stop companies from not hiring those who are unemployed or older than 35 or just not good looking enough.

      These rules sound strong but if we are going to fight for worker rights, I honestly think we ought to go for it in a strong and true manner.

      •  Make "American corporation" (0+ / 0-)

        mean something.  Carrot and stick.  American corporations should be employing american workers -- and those paychecks spent here at home!

        •  there are no "american corporations" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          They all have most of their productive capacity and employees located overseas. They're all partially-owned by other corporations from overseas. They all get most of their profits from overseas. And none of them gives a rat's ass about "America's national interests".

          This ain't the 1950's anymore.  The world you are defending, already doesn't exist.

      •  What if (0+ / 0-)

        you have 15 or 20 or 50 people apply for a job who on paper have the qualifications, skills and education? Do you have to write lengthy analyses to each one on why you chose to hire a different person? In cases like this, even companies who ARE discriminating for some reason will easily be able to conceal it.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 01:47:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  no lengthy response but something...that could (0+ / 0-)

          be a legal response.  Maybe it would deter those who blatantly put a fake ad out, or who discriminate against the unemployed or aged, or who hire only the "John Smiths" of the world.  It would make them more accountable to denying employment for discriminatory reasons.

  •  the solution is that (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mambo, Puddytat, sayitaintso, BYw

    people need to be outraged when others beyond their own particular peer group are affected by the rw war on workers because eventually they will be coming for you and there may not be anyone left to fight for your rights, sounds familiar doesn't it.

    •  Yes, and I'm seeing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      even my leftie friends on Facebook justifying buying into the phony outrage circulating about federal "pay raises" by saying "Well, most workers haven't gotten raises or have taken cuts." When they do that, the corporatists who want to pit worker against worker have succeeded. I am very disappointed.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 01:48:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Plenitude (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mambo, xaxnar, barkingcat

    A new way to view the workers'role in the economy:

    Visualizing a Plenitude Economy

    You can't change the world without conflict. -- Markos

    by ZAPatty on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:33:21 AM PST

    •  there are some nice ideas in there (0+ / 0-)

      and god knows no one is talking about growth, so we better learn to talk about no growth policies!

      Setting aside the snark, I think there are some inherent advantages (many in fact) in the american economy.  And, I (shoot me if you must) am an american exceptionalist.  So I do think we need to account for the ambitions of not only americans -- but also people around the world who will not be contented by the scope (or the tone) of some of those ideas.  So, I don't think we can walk away from a discussion of how to renew growth.  But, that doesn't equate to a rejection of all of the ideas presented in the video.

      •  There's growth and there's growth (0+ / 0-)

        We now have the knowledge and the ability to meet the essential basic needs of everyone on the planet - it's not necessary for every single person to work as hard as they can just to obtain the bare minimum for survival. And we could do a bit better than the bare minimum if we choose.

        BUT we also have to recognize that mindless growth that is not distributed equitably and sustainably is the economic equivalent of cancer. Material wealth after a certain point does not translate into improved quality of life if it means higher levels of inequality too - in fact it makes things worse. The Spirit Level summarizes decades of research into this and it's pretty hard to argue with their conclusions.

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

        by xaxnar on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 12:33:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know how you reverse (8+ / 0-)

    ...a deliberate long term strategy (launched in the 1980s) to seize wages and turn them into corporate profits. This is at the heart of income inequality -- and that [institutional] trend is stronger than ever. It is at the heart of a slave-holders constitution that does not address 21st century protections for workers.

    The RED line below is corporate profits.

    The BLUE line is wages.

    Denial is a drug.

    by Pluto on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:36:36 AM PST

    •  The interesting thing about this is... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, Pluto, BYw

      it doesn't just mean the economy is becoming increasingly unfair - it's also becoming increasingly unstable.

      ...the deficit has become more cyclically sensitive over time thanks to rising inequality. How so? More revenue comes from the wealthy — even though their tax rates have fallen — and their income is more volatile than that of ordinary workers.
      emphasis added

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

      by xaxnar on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 12:37:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is what we've come to (8+ / 0-)

    in this country:  back where unions, basically, started.

    The virtual demise of organized labor, formerly encompassing over 40% of the working population (and affecting nearly every worker with their broad social agenda and wage and benefit competition) has had the intended effect:  wage and benefit stripping and power amassed in the hands of the employers.  The result is that powerless workers produce more and more wealth for their employer and see less and less of that in their own pay envelopes.

    We no longer have full employment as employers strategically keep as many workers as possible at part time hours to avoid paying for benefits.  And, for the most part, we don't have decent, family supporting jobs anymore.  What we do have are McJobs - minimum wage, no benefit, bust your ass or else jobs that offer no opportunities for improvements much less even paltry advancement opportunities.

    Worse yet, we're not even in the same place we were in during the early part of the 20th century with workers having had enough and ready to take action.  Workers today face a plethora of states that have anti-union laws on the books meaning that labor peace will be difficult to achieve as corporations have governmental backing to prevent workers from organizing to bargain with them for a just days pay for a just days work.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:38:42 AM PST

  •  Oh, yeah, one more little thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    this little word, all by itself:

    heartens me as much as any single thing I come across in this venue.

    Here's to originality. It'll save us, if anything will.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:41:06 AM PST

  •  you're focused on the wrong low-wage workers (0+ / 0-)

    The ones we have to focus on are the low-wage workers in China, Indonesia, India, and every other low-wage haven in the world.

    As long as workers compete against each other to race to the bottom, no one's living is safe.

    The ONLY way to make things better for anyone is to make things better for EVERYONE. In a global economy (and we have one whether we like it or not) the wages will always equalize.  Either they will equalize up, or they will equalize down. Which do we prefer?

    The corporations are global and international.  We must be too.

    •  Not all world workers we trade with (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mambo, sunny skies, DSPS owl, BYw, 6ZONite

      ...are low wage or have low purchasing powers.

      Most of the world has an array of worker protections built into their constitutions that moderate capitalist predators:

      Denial is a drug.

      by Pluto on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:52:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  nice point - but that chart ain't most of the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, 6ZONite

        world.  Looks like Europe to me . . .

      •  those "protections" are all irrelevant (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DSPS owl

        In a global economy, governments and government protections no longer matter.  The global corporations can escape them all at any time, simply by pulling up stakes and moving elsewhere. On a global chess board, national governments only control one or two squares--the global corporations own the whole board.

        The only "protections" that matter now are those which apply to everyone, everywhere, no matter where they move.  National governments cannot do that (not even the big rich governments in North America and Europe). If we want global protections, we must force them into the global rulebook itself, by writing them into the international trade agreements and treaties themselves (especially the WTO). That means we will have to take on the global corporations themselves, and beat them on their own turf.

        The only way to do that is to gain the ability to shut down any corporations flow of money, globally, and keep the money spigot turned off until we get what we want from them.  Only one group of people on the entire planet has that ability--the corporation's own employees, all of them, everywhere.  The old nation-based method of labor organizing is outmoded and irrelevant now. Nations no longer matter. We need to start organizing globally, based on company rather than geography. A union in Ford or BP or Tata is useless if half the company's workers aren't even in the union because they live in another country. We need to organize ALL of the company's workers, whether they are in Tennessee, Tibet, or Timbuktu. One company, one contract, one pay scale--no matter where you are. And we need to do that for every company.

        If we don't, if we continue the old nation-based model, we will continue to be whipsawed to death.

        It used to be that "workers of the world unite !" was just an ideological slogan.  Now, in a global economy dominated by multinational entities, it is our only survival strategy.

        •  Bah (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mambo, BYw

          Protectionism works. A simple law which would level the playing field in favor of American workers.  A tariff on all goods, inversely proportional  to the average workers income of a nation.

          Wham bam Jobs start coming back.

          •  It is not wages that are the problem (0+ / 0-)

            it is the total benefit compensation (all wages and individual and societal benefits).  That is where the disparity really gets ugly: child labor, healthcare, public education etc..  We will raise the plights of workers abroad by reinforcing the futures of workers here at home - not by lowering our standards.  

            •  Let china and India care for their own (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              You can use whatever metric in substitution of the generic income one I chose. The point is the same.

              American workers come first in my book. The Chinese and Indian government and workers would gladly destroy the lives of every worker in the states....and that is exactly what is happening. Wealth is flowing from the States to these developing nations...and that makes them happy.

              •  you miss the entire point (0+ / 0-)

                We CANNOT leave those foreign workers alone, because we are in direct wage competition with them.  If their wages are low, then the corporations will move our jobs there.  It's simple math.

                The ONLY way to stop that is to equalize the wages.

                Either we raise their wages to match ours, or we lower our wages to match theirs.

                Which do you prefer.

              •  I was responding to Lenny - not you (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                O112358, BYw

                posted in the wrong place.  I agree with you.  We will influence foreign labor markets by removing substandard labor's access to the american marketplace.  American workers come first - we must set the terms of the race to the top (a phrase which Obama unfortunately only engages rhetorically).

                •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

                  Not that this is my main point.

                  But if we remove the advantage of lower wages by placing these tariffs we will also help foreign workers by removing the benefits of squashing their workers rights.

                •  alas, protectionism has failed every time it has (0+ / 0-)

                  been tried.

                  And if you try it again, you'll have the WTO to contend with----and they're lots bigger than the US government.

                  •  what are you FOR again? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    your first post said: lose jobs or lower wages - its the only choice.  Now you say you want to represent foreign workers.  Ok, how?  Are you a wobblie?  Are you suggesting American labor should adopt an internationalist approach because you see international institutions as a more reliable source of change for american workers than the american government?  You keep telling people in this thread that they are wrong -- but you are spouting BS.  

                    Tell us what you are FOR -- maybe it is just a misunderstanding and we can move forward.

                    •  I'll repeat myself for you: (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      In a global economy, governments and government protections no longer matter.  The global corporations can escape them all at any time, simply by pulling up stakes and moving elsewhere. On a global chess board, national governments only control one or two squares--the global corporations own the whole board.

                      The only "protections" that matter now are those which apply to everyone, everywhere, no matter where they move.  National governments cannot do that (not even the big rich governments in North America and Europe). If we want global protections, we must force them into the global rulebook itself, by writing them into the international trade agreements and treaties themselves (especially the WTO). That means we will have to take on the global corporations themselves, and beat them on their own turf.

                      The only way to do that is to gain the ability to shut down any corporations flow of money, globally, and keep the money spigot turned off until we get what we want from them.  Only one group of people on the entire planet has that ability--the corporation's own employees, all of them, everywhere.  The old nation-based method of labor organizing is outmoded and irrelevant now. Nations no longer matter. We need to start organizing globally, based on company rather than geography. A union in Ford or BP or Tata is useless if half the company's workers aren't even in the union because they live in another country. We need to organize ALL of the company's workers, whether they are in Tennessee, Tibet, or Timbuktu. One company, one contract, one pay scale--no matter where you are. And we need to do that for every company.

                      If we don't, if we continue the old nation-based model, we will continue to be whipsawed to death.

                      It used to be that "workers of the world unite !" was just an ideological slogan.  Now, in a global economy dominated by multinational entities, it is our only survival strategy.

                      •  While I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

                        in theory, what you suggest in practice--organizing workers across the globe-- is so overwhelming, that we will end up doing nothing.

                        I can't go to Tibet or Timbutku to organize workers, much as I'd like to, and much as it needs to be done.

                        So I'm stuck doing nothing, because whatever I do is trivial if I'm not organizing workers in China too.

                        That's true to a degree, but I'm going to continue with my trivial pursuits in the meantime.

                    •  This guy is nothing but a tinfoil hatter. (0+ / 0-)
            •  we can only raise the plight of workers elsewhere (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              akeitz, BYw

              by fighting for the same things for them that we have foiught for ourselves.

              Anything less will result in whipsawing.

          •  nonsense (0+ / 0-)

            The precise reason why the unions are dead is because protectionism DOESN'T work.  When the American unions allied with their American bosses to "protect" themselves from the foreign workers, it was their death knell.  It made it inevitable that the bosses would say "thanks", stuff all those givebacks into their pockets, then move all the factories anyway.

            The corporados will always go where the costs are lowest.  Always. They don't care about american jobs or American interests. They are no longer American.

            (And all of this is quite aside from the fact that the WTO writes the rules now, and the rules specifically forbid "protectionism". And even the big bad US of A can't stand against the WTO. We tried.  We surrendered abjectly shortly after.)

            This isn't the 1950's anymore.  Those times are gone.

            •  Yes corps will do what is cheapest (0+ / 0-)

              This idea is to make it less cheap to use cheap labor and you do that by taxing cheap labor in forign contries by the import tarrifs.....

              No, no, this protectionism did not fail. The united states has slowly removed its protectionist rules... and that has caused the failures.

              The US could easily remove the WTO as a whole if we wanted.

              •  it's already been tried (0+ / 0-)

                It failed utterly.

                For the simple reason that it's usually AMERICAN CORPORATIONS THEMSELVES who are importing the cheap wage stuff from overseas.

                That's why the AMERICAN CORPORATIONS themselve sare adamantly against tariffs.  That's why they wrote anti-rtariff policies into the WTO.  And that's why we'll never have them.

                That game is over.  This isn't the 1950's anymore.

                •  so to summarize (0+ / 0-)

                  it seems that everyone in this thread agree tariffs would be a very good thing but disagree with the feasibility of implementing such a policy because global corps who run policy claim to be american but really are not, tariffs would hurt them too.  I.e. not 1950 anymore.

                  Its a good argument for building an American labor party, one that would not feel threatened by tariffs.

                  •  i do not think tariffs would be a good thing, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    quite aside from the fact that they have never worked before, and aren't an option under current global economic organizations.

                    Indeed, I think NONE of the "solutions" proposed by progressives over the past 30 years will work.

                    An excerpt from the diary series I did here a while ago:

                    The Labor-Union/Corporate Partnership

                    The tiny remnant of the American labor union movement that still remains has, of course, been staunchly protectionist since the late 1970’s, when they joined with the steel and auto corporations in “Buy American” campaigns that targeted Japanese corporations. That effort failed spectacularly—the American corporations used the threat of “foreign workers” to extract wage and benefit concessions in exchange for not moving the factories overseas, and then moved most of them anyway.

                    Despite that utter failure, however, the remaining remnants of the American labor movement still maintain their alliance with their employers, still put all their faith in protectionism and “Buy American” strategies, and, unlike the environmentalist and social justice groups who view the overseas victims of multinational corporations as their natural allies, still treat “foreign workers” as enemies and opponents. In effect, the American labor movement is now nothing more than a junior partner to a handful of declining corporations who preach patriotism and nationalism in a desperate effort to maintain their own narrow economic interests.

                    The Labor Movement’s Failed Strategies

                    The AFL-CIO has attempted to argue in favor of several different protectionist strategies to shield itself from cheaper foreign labor and to help defend American companies from foreign corporations. Some of these strategies have also been advocated or used by other progressives and anti-corporate activists to try and curb corporate power. All of them, alas, have been failures.


                    Nearly all of the protectionist “solutions” offered by the labor movement appeal, in one way or another, to someone’s patriotism, whether it’s asking employers to voluntarily pay higher wages to American workers and patriotically refuse to relocate their jobs to low-wage havens like China, or asking American consumers to voluntarily pay higher prices for American-manufactured products than for cheaper imports. As President Obama summed up the argument, “Look, people don’t want a cheaper T-shirt if they’re losing a job in the process. They would rather have the job and pay a little bit more for a T-shirt. And I think that’s something that all Americans could agree to.” Reality, however, demonstrates conclusively that Obama is wrong—people do indeed want the cheaper T-shirt. Any time that either employers or consumers have been asked to choose between their wallet and their patriotism, the wallet always wins.

                    There are many reasons why “Buy American” campaigns that appeal to patriotic nationalism have failed every time they have been attempted.

                    In the United States, real wages have declined steadily for the past 30 years, the wealth held by the lowest 80% of the population has decreased drastically, and unemployment levels are at their highest in many decades. Under those conditions, consumers are forced to stretch as much value as they can out of every scarce dollar—and asking them to patriotically (and voluntarily) pay higher prices to protect someone else’s job, is unrealistic at best.

                    Any attempt to appeal to the “patriotism” of the multinational corporations is also unrealistic. They have no patriotism; they belong to no country.

                    It was, after all, American-owned corporations who began the global rush to relocate their plants to Mexico and China, and the reason for that is simple—the corporations will always go where the costs are lowest. It was not the Chinese or Mexican or American governments who forced all those corporations to move their plants or outsource their jobs—the American business owners did that all by themselves, for their own selfish motives. The corporate owners don’t care about patriotism or national interest—all they care about is their bank account, and their bank account likes being able to pay workers in Mexico one-tenth as much as workers in the US. American corporations don’t mind putting thousands of workers out of work by moving their jobs overseas; they don’t even mind relocating their factories inside a single-party Communist police state like China, as long as they can make a ton of money doing it.

                    And of course there is the simple fact that there is no “American” to buy anymore.  It is no longer the 1970’s, when Hondas were all made in Japan and Fords were all made in Detroit. All of the large corporations are now global, and none of them have any loyalty whatsoever to any national government anywhere. General Motors is no more or less “American” than BP or Toyota. Which is the “American” car?—the GM (which is partially foreign-owned) that is made in Canada, or the Toyota (which is partially American-owned) that is made in Tennessee? What happens when you have an electronics device that is made from material mined in South Africa and plastic from Germany, using semiconductors from Ireland that were designed in Costa Rica, whose parts were shipped here on a Swedish ship that's financed by an Icelandic bank, then assembled in Mexico and sold in an electronics chain store in Boston that is owned by the Japanese?

                    In one surreal scene, US Steel and the Steelworkers Union jointly organized a “Rally to Restore American Manufacturing” in Illinois to protest the use of “foreign steel” to build a Canadian-American oil pipeline—while at the very same time US Steel itself owned manufacturing plants in England, China, Mexico, Canada, Slovakia, Brazil and Serbia. Even as US corporations were busily outsourcing American jobs all over the globe, unions were appealing to the patriotism of those same corporate bosses: at a meeting to discuss AT&T’s outsourcing of jobs to India, one American union official declared, “In this time of high unemployment, the company could be a leader and bring these jobs back here and be patriotic.” The steel company Nucor helped form the Domestic Manufacturing Group, which, in partnership with the Steelworkers Union, lobbies for trade sanctions and tariffs against China to “protect American jobs”—while at the same time Nucor itself negotiated a deal with the Chinese Shougang steel company to build a joint operation in Australia.

                    That is why “Buy American” campaigns always fail. There is simply no way to force business owners to continue to pay workers in America higher wages when they can easily move the entire plant somewhere else and make lots more money—and any attempt to entice the boss to voluntarily keep his factory in places where wages are higher, out of pure benevolent patriotism, is the height of idiocy.

                    And yet that is precisely the strategy that most labor unions practice, because they have fallen into the trap of believing that the employers and employees are partners with similar interests, and that one of the goals of the corporation is to give us all good-paying jobs.  It’s not. The corporations aren’t in business to give us jobs. They’re in business to make as much money as possible—for themselves, not for us.

                    That is why, despite all the noise we make in the US about opposing sweatshops and supporting human rights and democracy, not a single multinational corporation in China has ever pressured the Chinese government to pass minimum wage laws or workplace safety laws or consumer protection laws or child labor laws. The simple fact is that the corporations don’t want any of those things. That’s why they all moved to China in the first place.

                    Indeed, the very idea of a “national economy”, or even a    “nation-state”, is now dead; the supra-national corporations have killed it. Economically, there is no longer any sovereign nation anywhere on earth.  Economic decision-making power is no longer exercised by national governments--it is exercised by supra-national corporations who owe loyalty to no national government, and by the international bodies (like the WTO and IMF) that those corporations have set up. No nation, not even the “only remaining superpower”, holds its economic destiny in its own hands anymore. Indeed, the WTO and the rest of the multinational economic structure was set up specifically so that no “nation” can stand against the corporations.


                    A favorite tactic utilized by protectionists is the punitive tariff. Tariffs are surcharges that are added to the price of cheap imports in order to artificially raise their selling price to match those of more expensive domestic products.

                    As the global economy declined in 2008-2010, calls for protective tariffs became increasingly common from both Democrats and Republicans, even those who had formerly supported tariff-free “free trade”, as a measure to “help the American economy”. In 2009, Obama, bowing to pressure from the United Auto Workers union, imposed a 35% tariff on imported Chinese tires, which had captured about 17% of the US market. Some American tariffs actually double or even triple the price of particular imported products; the American synthetic-textile clothing industry is protected by a 32% tariff, most imported automobile parts have a 25% surcharge, imported sneakers and sport shoes pay a 48% tariff, some European meats and cheeses pay a 100% import tax, and the American tobacco industry is protected by a whopping 350% tariff. In 2010, the House passed, with heavy bipartisan support, a bill empowering the Commerce Department to impose a new round of tariffs as retaliation for China’s policy of manipulating its currency to keep the value of the yuan artificially low and thereby make Chinese imports cheaper for other nations.

                    The whole intent of the WTO’s free trade framework is, of course, to eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers, and WTO has the authority to unilaterally invalidate protective tariffs passed by any member nation. The WTO agreement, however, does not cover all areas of trade, and the WTO does not have any jurisdiction over tariffs in economic areas that fall outside of those covered by GATT.

                    Even in areas where the WTO cannot invalidate a trade barrier, however, it is unlikely that protective tariffs will actually play any effective role.

                    Tariffs can be justified in certain cases. For decades, small nations in the developing world suffered as predatory corporations, most of them American, dominated their economy, crushed domestic industries, and turned the country into a virtual economic colony—and tariffs were seen as one weapon to gain economic independence. The “Asian Tigers” (Singapore, Korea, Taiwan), for instance, used tariffs to protect their infant industries until they were strong enough to compete in the world market and become economic powers in their own right. Developing nations in particular are still anxious to utilize protective tariffs to protect their small-scale farmers who are incapable of competing with the heavily-subsidized American and European agribusinesses (though the developing nations would prefer instead that the wealthy economies stop subsidizing large agribusinesses and drop their own protective tariffs against the small farmers in poorer countries). In cases where smaller and weaker economies are protecting themselves from larger and wealthier ones, tariffs may indeed have a progressive role to play.

                    Most tariffs, however, have the purpose of protecting those large wealthy industries from competition by cheaper products in developing nations—not of protecting the weak from the strong, but of protecting the strong from the weak. The American industries with the loudest calls for protective tariffs—steel, textiles and auto parts—are formerly-huge rich industries who now face the stiffest competition from younger foreign companies. I.e., they are industries who are desperate to protect their formerly privileged position. Not coincidentally, they are also industries who still have large and politically-powerful labor unions.

                     As the furor over the “Buy American” provision in the Stimulus Bill demonstrated, however, most corporations still reject protectionism and embrace the free-trade framework, making it difficult for the US to pass protective trade barriers. American corporations opposed tariffs not only because they did not want to  re-ignite the destructive trade wars of the 80’s, but also because most American corporations now had large portions of their productive capacity located overseas. For instance, at least 60% of all the products exported to other countries from China actually came from companies that are owned by Americans, Europeans or Japanese. Critics point out that tariffs to keep out cheap imported Chinese products are pointless when it is American companies themselves who are making and importing them. The American corporations do not want tariff “protection” from low-wage unregulated Chinese products—they are the ones who have been flocking to China to make them, and they want to be able to continue importing them back into the US as cheaply as possible.

                    Other critics point out that measures to “protect American industry” are useless in a global economy where there are no “American industries” anymore. As American-based corporations move productive capacity overseas, the “foreign” corporations are locating more and more of their factories in the US. When the US used tariffs and import quotas in the 1980’s to try to keep Japanese cars out of the American market, Toyota and Honda responded by simply moving their factories here—today, most of the Japanese cars sold in America are actually manufactured within the US. In 2009, the German steel industry responded similarly to protectionist sentiments in the US by building a huge production plant in Alabama.

                    Finally, progressive critics point out that protective tariffs don’t help American workers, and don’t help workers in developing countries either. Although tariffs raise the prices of imported goods, they don’t raise anyone’s wages, including those of the American workers they are supposed to be “protecting”. Indeed, by artificially raising prices and denying consumers access to cheaper imported products, tariffs actually hurt American workers by forcing them to pay more for products that they could otherwise get less expensively, thereby pushing their purchasing power even lower and decreasing their real wages. And, since the indigenous workers in developing countries do not get any of the money from the increased price of their product, they continue in the same low-wage poverty as before. The situation helps no one except the particular American corporations whose profits are being artificially protected.


                    One of the most common refrains heard in the US—largely from rightwing nationalists but also from many labor unions—is that immigrants (particularly illegal immigrants) are flooding into the US and “taking our jobs”. In Arizona, draconian laws were passed targeting illegal immigrants, and several other states considered similar measures. The Coalition for the Future American Worker, a conglomeration of anti-immigration groups who advocate limiting both legal and illegal immigration, ran ads proclaiming, “With millions jobless, our government is still bringing in a million-and-a-half foreign workers a year to take American jobs.” Republican Senator Jim DeMint announced, “South Carolina has already passed laws to crack down on illegal immigrants. Many other states are also under a lot of pressure because of high unemployment to not let illegal immigrants come and take jobs,” while Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan opposed legal immigration as well as legal immigration, saying, “I don’t think you need a professor to understand that when you import substantial cheap labor, it displaces American workers.”  

                    Most economic studies have rejected the hypothesis that immigration, whether legal or illegal, displaces American workers, raises unemployment, or hurts the economy. A study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think-tank funded by corporations, foundations and international organizations, concluded: “The impact of immigration remains small, for several reasons. Immigrants are not competitive in many types of jobs, and hence are not direct substitutes for natives. Local employers increase demand for low-skilled labor in areas that receive low-skilled immigrant inflows. Immigrants contribute to demand for goods and services that they consume, in turn increasing the demand for labor. And immigrants contribute to labor market efficiency and long-term economic growth.” A study carried out by the Bush White House found, “The foreign-born are associated with much of the employment growth in recent years. Between 1996 and 2003, when total employment grew by 11 million, 58 percent of the net increase was among foreign-born workers… Employment of natives as operators, fabricators, and laborers fell by 1.4 million between 1996 and 2002, while employment in such occupations grew by 930,000 among the foreign-born. This should not be taken as evidence that the foreign-born displace native workers; rather, it reflects the fact that immigrants have made up all of the growth in the low-skilled workforce.” Other studies have noted that the primary effect of immigration is to push down wages among low-wage jobs held by natives without high-school diplomas, by an average 7%—wages for higher-paying jobs were unaffected.

                    When, during the Bush Administration, a law was introduced that would provide a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants which would allow them to stay in the US, the measure was opposed by the anti-immigrant American nationalists. It was also opposed by most American labor unions (the AFL-CIO, Teamsters, United Auto Workers and the construction worker unions), who clung to their traditional attitude of defending only “American” workers and treating “foreigners” as enemies. Only the Service Employees International Union, the United Farm Workers, and Unite Now (which represents hotel, restaurant and textile workers) supported the bill, arguing that if immigrants were going to be here anyway, it was better to make them legal so they could be organized, rather than forcing them to become a pool of cheap exploited labor without rights.

                    To the corporations, the entire debate was irrelevant. National borders no longer mattered to them, and as they moved factories at will all across the globe, free trade agreements that allowed uninhibited movement of jobs across borders also guaranteed that workers too would follow the jobs across the borders, legally or not. In many cases, instead of exporting jobs to Mexico or China, it was easier and cheaper for American business to import the Mexican or Chinese workers here instead—a form of “internal outsourcing”. It simply doesn't matter to the corporations whether the cheap workers move here, or whether the jobs move there to the cheap workers. Either way, the corporations get to pay people low wages for unregulated work, and make boatloads of money. Which is of course all they care about.

                    Support Manufacturing Industries

                    One argument that is often coupled with anti-immigration sentiments is that we need to “rebuild our high-wage manufacturing industries”, and reduce our dependence on low-paying service-sector jobs (the kind of jobs that are most often taken by immigrants). TV pundit Thom Hartmann says, “Since we moved from a manufacturing to a service economy under Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush we’ve seen manufacturing fall from about a quarter of our economy to only 11 percent of it.  That means we no longer make anything of value here.  Without making things, we don’t create true wealth—we just move money around.” The National Association of Manufacturers echoes, “A strong, efficient and innovative U.S. manufacturing base is essential to our country’s economic future in a competitive world environment. . . . America’s prosperity and strength are built on a foundation of manufacturing.” And the      AFL-CIO concludes, “Companies are sending well-paying manufacturing and service jobs to countries with few, if any, protections for workers and the environment. And these jobs are probably not coming back. . . . Manufacturing jobs traditionally have provided high wages and good benefits that allow workers to care for their families. But 2.5 million manufacturing jobs have disappeared since President Bush took office in early 2001. Multinational corporations are transferring jobs to countries where workers earn low wages and have few or no protections. . . . Manufacturing job loss starts the downward spiral. The loss of good manufacturing jobs has ripped apart communities and permanently lowered living standards for families throughout the United States.”

                    Such arguments are in essence justifications for protectionist policies towards America’s declining heavy manufacturing, part of the alliance between declining industries and declining labor unions. They fail to acknowledge that the shrinking manufacturing sector is an inevitable fact of ordinary economic development, and it cannot be stopped or reversed.

                    In early human history, most people were farmers, because farming was so inefficient that it took huge amounts of resources to produce enough food for everyone.  As machinery and chemical technology developed, however, farms became capable of producing more and more yield while utilizing fewer and fewer people. Today, therefore, farmers make up less than ten percent of our population, and because of technology and more efficient uses of labor, that ten percent produces more than enough to feed everybody.

                    The same process is now happening with manufacturing. Manufacturing used to take up a majority of our population, because it was so inefficient that it required that many people to produce everything.  Now, however, that is no longer true. With technological progress and improved efficiency of labor, manufacturing, like farming, now requires only a tiny part of our population, which is able to produce several times as much output now as it did in the past with much larger workforces.

                    As soon as manufacturing (just like farming) required only a small portion of our population, the majority of us became service-sector employees instead (just as in the past the large portion of the labor force that was pushed off the farms by machinery became part of the manufacturing sector instead, by taking factory jobs). And the very same thing is now already happening to the service sector—automation and technological advances mean that the same amount of work can be done by continually fewer and fewer people, and as the service sector becomes more efficient in its use of labor, the number of people employed in that sector continually goes down. Soon, the service sector, like manufacturing and farming, will also require only a small part of the population.

                    Those who defend heavy industry as “providing good-paying jobs” are making a mistaken assumption. Manufacturing is, in reality, not inherently any more high-wage than any other industry—it is only high-wage in the US because in the past, when manufacturing was the largest part of the labor force, we had a strong union movement in that sector that made it high-wage, against the active opposition of the corporate bosses.  In areas today where there is no such strong union movement (such as China), manufacturing positions are still low-wage bad-working-condition dead-end jobs, just like service-sector fast food jobs are here.

                    The low-wage service sector jobs here, of course, are not inherently low-wage either. They could be transformed into          high-wage good-working-condition jobs in the very same way that manufacturing jobs were in the past—with a strong union movement.

                    Support Small Businesses

                    In the wake of the financial collapse in 2008 and the government bailouts of corporations that were famously dubbed “too big to fail”, many called for breaking up the corporations and returning the economy to small business, which, many claimed, were “the real engine of the economy”. Some of this action came from the Left—socialist Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act” that proposed dismantling the giant financial corporations. But most of the anti-corporate pro-small-business rhetoric came from the free-market-fundamentalist libertarians.

                    The libertarians have always had an ambivalence towards the supra-national corporations. On the one hand, they preach a doctrine of individual liberty, freedom from arbitrary authority, and unrestricted free market economics. On the other hand, they live in an economy that is dominated by huge supra-national corporations which are larger, richer, and more powerful than national governments, and which often have more direct power over people’s lives and livelihoods than any government—without being responsible or accountable in any way to those people.

                    That leaves the libertarians in a quandary, and those who do not simply ignore the matter entirely are led into one of two directions. One group openly advocates that the corporations be broken up into small businesses. The other group simply considers the                mega-corporations as no different, in principle, than small businesses—in this view, the corporations are the same, economically, as a corner grocery store or family fruit stand, and they should all be free to operate equally in the market.

                    Both of these viewpoints, however, ultimately rest on an illusion—the pretense that we still can live in an Adam-Smithian world of small independent English shopkeepers. That world, of course, ended over a century ago—the corporations killed it. The inevitable effect of economic competition is to produce monopoly, and the very purpose of a corporation is to eliminate competition.

                    In the ideal world of the free-market libertarians, the economy consists of a large number of Lilliputian small businesses, none of which is large or strong enough to dominate the others—the theoretical basis of neoliberal classical economics. In this economy of small competitors, however, there are inevitably winners and losers. In the ideal Smithian world, the losers are quickly replaced by new competitors. In the real world, however, as the losers are absorbed by the winners, the winners get bigger and more powerful, and the number of players slowly shrinks. As the number of players gets smaller through competition, moreover, the winners continue to get bigger and bigger—particularly when large numbers of small players agree to improve their power by banding together into one player, the joint stock corporation. This not only greatly reduces the number of players, but the huge amount of money that is now necessary to allow newcomers to enter the field, limits and eventually eliminates the possibility of new players. Therefore, as competition between the small number of huge corporations carries on, the winners continue to absorb the losers and get even bigger, while the number of players continues to decline as they absorb each other. If the process is allowed to continue naturally, through the free market, the inevitable result is oligopoly, where a tiny number of players own everything—and then leading to monopoly, in which one ultimate winner stands supreme.

                    That is why the libertarian free-market philosophy fails. The inevitable result of competition is monopoly, and the only way to prevent that is to prevent economic winners from growing larger through absorbing losers—i.e., by massive government interference in the natural process of the “free market”. Which makes the free-market ideology itself utterly irrelevant. We simply do not live in an Adam Smithian economy. The free-market fundamentalists are defending a world that no longer exists—and indeed in their ideological fervor, most of them refuse to even acknowledge that it no longer exists.

                    In every industry, there are a small handful of huge                supra-national corporations who run everything. What is new, however, is the internationalization of those oligarchs.  Up until the 80’s, corporations tended to stay within their own national or regional areas, and each market area was dominated by a tiny number of huge companies.  What has happened in the past 30 years, however, since the time of the Multinational Wars, is that those huge corporations began going international, invading each other's turf and setting off a global economic war that has still not yet ended. As the regional corporate powers killed each other off globally, instead of having four or five major companies dominating each region, now we have four or five huge companies dominating the entire world market. So now we have global oligopoly instead of regional. The globalized economic structure set up by the supra-nationals has not ended that competitive conflict; what it has done is impose an agreed-upon set of “rules of war” on everyone so that the warfare does not pull the entire system into collapse.

                    Economically, the whole philosophy of “free market” is a waste of breath. There simply is no “free market”, and there hasn’t been for decades. There is only oligopoly everywhere we look—whether it’s electronics, automobiles, energy, transportation, food distribution, retail, or any other industry. A tiny handful of supra-national      mega-corporations owns everything. Worldwide.

                    A small number of libertarians have indeed acknowledged this, but their proposed solution—breaking up the mega-corporations and returning the economy to “small business” under the sway of the free market—is a non-solution. Not only is such a plan politically impossible (the libertarians are never very clear about how they intend to break up the largest and most powerful organizations on the planet, particularly without a massive and forcible government intervention in their sacred “free market”), but it is, in our modern world, economically impossible as well (mom-and-pop small businesses simply cannot build oil refineries or jet airliners or global communications networks, so breaking the mega-corporations into small businesses would only return economic conditions back to the 18th century—and begin the inevitable process all over again).

                    The cult of the small business that most free-market ideologues have is an irrelevancy. Small businesses are a nonentity.  Nearly all of them die within their first three years of life. The ones that do survive, live only at the indulgence of the Big Boys, the corporations who really dominate the economy and who really matter—and who routinely stomp small businesses into the ground any time it’s convenient, by either buying them out or driving them under.  WalMart kills dozens of small businesses every time it opens a new store.

                    Small businesses are like krill—they flash in and out of existence in a brief moment at the bottom of the food chain, and during their ephemeral lifetime their only purpose is to feed the bigger fish.

                    The primary (and most pernicious) effect of all the libertarian/conservative “free market” preaching, from the Reagan Revolution forward, has been to permeate our society with the misanthropic and pathological attitude of “every man for himself”.  We have, as a society, lost sight of the fact that we are a society, that we are social animals, all in this together, and that the only way we survive in the world at all is by relying upon each other.

                    Repealing the “Citizens United” Ruling

                    In 2010, the Supreme Court, in its Citizens United v FEC ruling, lifted a number of restrictions that had been placed on corporate campaign contributions. The actual effect of the ruling was  minimal—it simply removed a number of soft-money restrictions which had only been in effect for a short time. The effect of the Citizens United ruling on public opinion, however, was drastic. The ruling became a symbol of corporate domination of the entire governmental process and provoked a storm of protest, and all sorts of solutions were proposed, ranging from a Constitutional Amendment to new Federal laws.

                    Predictably, none of these proposed “fixes” ever went anywhere, and all were in fact doomed to failure from the start. The corporations dominated our elections before this court decision, and they will still dominate our elections after it, whether the decision stands or not.  The corporations already own both parties, and since the political majority will always belong to the corporations who bankroll them, all of our alternatives can only consist of appealing to politicians’ patriotism or their civic duty—a losing fight.

                    We cannot try to use corporate-owned weapons and expect them to be effective against the very people who own them. The only way to potentially check the corporate domination of both parties is to remove corporate money entirely from the electoral system, by public financing of elections. Until we win effective campaign finance reform, progressives will not ever be able to win on any other   issue—and of course neither political party wants effective campaign finance reform, since they both benefit from contributions by the same corporations.

                    But in the larger sense, we can no longer effectively fight corporate power at the national level. It’s not the corporate domination of national governments that is the source of their power over us anymore—it’s the formation of their own private unelected and unaccountable world government. The national level simply is no longer where they exercise their dominant power; they live at the supra-national level, and they are all alone there. The supra-national corporations no longer gain their power merely through their control of the national government.  They have now moved far beyond that. And therefore so must we if we want to fight them.

                    The entire world, whether it’s the US, France, Poland, Swaziland, New Zealand, Pakistan, or Belize, is now fighting the very same                  mega-corporations and corporate interests. If we fight them together, we can win. If we fight them one nation at a time, we will lose. As Ben Franklin told the thirteen colonies in the face of the mighty British Empire, either we join to fight them together, or we all die.

    •  So let's get out of the race (0+ / 0-)

      we are no longer the hope of the world in terms of human rights.  So, lets not use that as an excuse to lead the race to the bottom (because it is not 3rd world countries dragging us down -- it is our wealth racing to exploit them).    So lets stop our role in that race.  I agree with the sentiment, but we can't and shouldn't control the internals of developing nations -- we should focus on not exploiting them and replacing them with domestic jobs.

      •  it's not our decision anymore (0+ / 0-)

        There is no "national economy" anymore. The global corporations killed it.  They have no country.  They are bigger, richer, and more powerful than any national government--including ours. That game is over. This isn't the Cold War anymore, where national corporations were national tools of the national interest.  Today's corporations are no longer national, and have no national interest at all.

        As for interfering with developing countries, that game is over too.  It's no longer our choice.  The global corporations are there, and they are not leaving. Workers in the US are now inextricably linked economically with workers in Indonesia or Vietnam or Zimbabwe, whether we like it or not. The US can no more cut itself off from the global economy than your arm can cut itself off from you. We are all one.

        Which leaves us with a simple choice. As long as the wages are unequal, the global jobs will always go where they are cheapest. Our only option is to equalize the wages, so the jobs don't move. We can do that by either lowering our wages to match theirs, or raising their wages to match ours.  Which do you prefer?

        •  I disagree about our level of control (0+ / 0-)

          We need to make American corporations privileged in terms of access to our economy and also in terms of adherence to our standards. I very much believe that we maintain that level of control.  Campaign finance will have to change for it to happen -- but it can happen.

          •  there are no "American corporations" anymore (0+ / 0-)

            This ain't the 1950's.  National corporations are a thing of the past.  Most of the Fortune 500 "American" corporations make over half their profits overseas, and have over half their productive capacity located outside the country.  Both Ford and GM sell more cars in China today than they do in the US.

            The world you are trying to defend, no longer exists.  "American corporations" are not only no longer the toughest kids on the block--they don't even exist anymore.  The global corporations HAVE no country and no national interests. Indeed, it was the "American" corporations who led the charge to re;locate overseas precisely so they could ESCAPE the very "controls" you are so in love with.

            The Cold War has been over for 20 years.  Your thinking is still mired in it.

            •  Fine - you argue for failure (0+ / 0-)

              I will continue to argue for defining and creating the world we want to live in.  The world you have been convinced is inevitable was, in fact, created by corporate interests.  Different interests can and, I believe will, create a different world.  I believe standards for the privileges and responsibilities of being an "American Corporation" can be one tool in defining that future.

        •  You argue for nothing other than undercutting the (0+ / 0-)

          american worker.  That is absurd.  Every nation in the world has unique advantages and disadvantages.  The game that each plays, in conjunction with its legal political and social systems is to maximize those advantages for whoever the stakeholders are in that nation.  In the face of that, you say simply lower wages to 3rd world levels.  Absurd!  No nation in the world., given all of the structural benefits of the US would decide to do anything of the sort.  The only people here who make that argument are the super rich who are not bound in any way to the US economy -- and only mean to exploit our markets and our workforce.

          •  the american worker is already being undercut (0+ / 0-)

            Corporations (including AMERICAN corporations) are ALREADY moving all our jobs to places where the wages are cheaper.  And you can wave the flag at them and sing patriotic songs till you pass out---they don't care. They are not going to voluntarily keep their wages here high when they can make a ton more money by shipping all our jobs to places where the wages are lower.  If you sincerely believe you can appeal to their patriotism and "the nation's interest", you are naive beyond measure.

            There are only two options to stop the jobs from moving overseas.  Either we lower our wages to match theirs (which is de facto the option we have chosen), or we raise their wages to match ours.

            Which do you prefer.

            n the face of that, you say simply lower wages to 3rd world levels.  Absurd!
            I think your reading comprehension needs some work.

            I said precisely the OPPOSITE of this.

  •  To stop cheating, stop high stakes testing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sayitaintso, DSPS owl

    Even if there's no explicit cheating, it's a system that cheats students.

    "Higher scores are, at best, meaningless, and, at worst, reason for concern."
    High test scores are meaningless because they often have nothing to do with learning. Sometimes it's a matter of chance. A teacher who has high scores this year may have low scores next year. Then there's the cheating. It may be explicit cheating or more subtle cheating through administrative policies (e.g. holding certain kids back).

    When teachers or schools are judged by the the percent of students who meet a standard proficiency score, attention is focused on those who are just below (or just above) the cut score. The good students and those who are considered hopelessly below the score are neglected.

    Then there's teaching to the test, even though what's tested has little to do with most of what students really need to know and be able to do.

    If we allow our schools to be turned into giant test-prep centers, then we are complicit in the most egregious kind of cheating of all: We are helping to cheat kids out of a decent education.
  •  building independent worker power (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Now that the elections are over maybe we can get back to building our own power, independent community and worker based organization that doesnt live in anyone elses back pocket.

    With that as our strategy the tactics and actions we chose will help us to grow and build our confidence in our own POWER, which really and truly dwarfs the 1%.  

    The more we act and organize together the more people will see what a sham the so called power of money is.  The emperor has no clothes.  They are nothing at all without us.

    Strike! March! Organize! Unionize! its all good.

  •  It's time for Labor to Ignore the Law! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, forrest, BYw

    Business and Capital have ignored Taft-Hartley and every other labor law that has ever been written.  What benefit does labor receive by recognizing and complying with all of the Labor Laws?  NONE!

    What benefit does Labor in the USA receive by never calling for or organizing a General Strike?  NONE!

    What would the GOP, Tea Party, Wall Street do if for once, Labor decided to exercise its only real option in labor/management strife and simply strike?  What would happen if the trucks quit running. if the workers stayed home, if the nurses and teachers and firefighters and policemen simply did not go to work?  What would the holders of the Money do, if the people who do the work said, "It's time to pay the people who do the work!"

    A General Strike may Labor's last best hope.  But, before that, the Republican idiots need to realize that the world doesn't run without the people who do the work.

    Dick Cheney said, "Pi$$ on 'em!" And, Ronald Reagan replied, "That's a Great Idea. Let's Call it 'Trickle Down Economics!"

    by NM Ray on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:54:02 AM PST

    •  Republicans only represent half of the idiots. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frisbeetarian, Mambo, NM Ray, DSPS owl
      But, before that, the Republican idiots need to realize that the world doesn't run without the people who do the work.

      Denial is a drug.

      by Pluto on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 11:58:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  the real value of a general strike (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LOrion, NM Ray, BYw

      is all the organizing that must preceed it.

      when we are organized on the job, in the schools, in the neighborhoods, sufficiently to have a call to general stike... well actually then we will have already won this fight.

      right now we should all take a good look around, each and every one of us, and get busy locally in our place of work or school or community.  solve a local battle, build confidence in ourselves to do that, and link up with others doing the same.

      it sounds like a lot of work (it is) but in may not take a lot of time because conditions are such that people are losing patience and "hope".  In fact "hope" may be the biggest 1% lie of all, so good riddence to it.

      •  YES YES Read this... They learned this in Oakland (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NM Ray, Frisbeetarian, BYw

        ...just this year. " the real value of a general strike (1+ / 0-)
        is all the organizing that must preceed it.

        when we are organized on the job, in the schools, in the neighborhoods, sufficiently to have a call to general stike... well actually then we will have already won this fight."

        ...and with the advent of cellphone internet connections we can FLASH STRIKE Too!.

        Proud to be part of the 21st Century Democratic Majority Party of the 3M's.. Multiracial,Multigender and MiddleClass

        by LOrion on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 12:30:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  what good is a general strike in the US when (0+ / 0-)

      most of the companies employees and profits are located outside the US . . . . . .  ?

      What good is a union in General Motors when half the companies employees can't be in the union because they're not in the US?

      The entire nation-based model of organizing, is dead and gone.  it no longer exists.  Corporations are global now.  Unions must be too.  We can no longer look to ANY national government to do anything for us.  We must go international.

  •  Hard to talk about "Skin in the game" when... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NM Ray've been getting skinned for a while with every give-back contract and forced concession.

    If the Republicans (and brain dead centrists) have their way with the Fiscal Cliff, aka Austerity Crisis, then we can finally  stop worrying about the New Deal being repealed - because we'll be well past that on the way to the Raw Deal dreamed of by Ayn Rand disciples everywhere. That doesn't look like it's going to happen just yet, but never say never with these  clowns.

    It's a shame unions can't do what Rupert Murdoch did, build a media machine to get their message out. Even if they just put together a network of talk radio stations and subsidized them for a while, that would be a start. It would be interesting to see what might happen if unions started underwriting programs on NPR and PBS. If the Koch brothers can buy their way in...

    We are constantly bombarded by conservative messaging 24/7 - even on the so-called liberal media. Facts are not conservative ideology friendly - which is why Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly and company lie and distort all the time. They get away with it because there isn't anything like an organized push back.

    Paul Krugman among others has started to look at the fundamental shift in the economy, where less and less of the GDP goes through Labor, and more and more of it goes through Capital - yet our tax policies, laws, and regulations have failed to keep up with the change. In fact, they've driven it for the last 4 decades.

    To put it another way, the pie has grown, but the slice going to the vast majority of Americans who work for a living has not grown with it. Instead the people making money with money are the prime beneficiaries of that growth. In the Ownership Society, you either own or are owned.

    We have the numbers - but we don't have the government that should reflect those numbers. So long as conservative anti-labor bias has its way, we're screwed. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, Conservatism is not the solution to our problems; Conservatism IS the problem.

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

    by xaxnar on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 12:13:54 PM PST

    •  Krugman is a good guy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frisbeetarian, NM Ray

      and has some great ideas, but we are so unaccustomed to left wing thought that we accept everything he says as gospel.  And that is unhealthy.  I can't wait for the day when we have enough dialogue on the left where we have competing populist proposals on all of the major issues of the day.

      •  You go to war with the economists you have (0+ / 0-)

        rather than the ones you'd like to have.

        Get back to me when we have a plethora of populist proposals to choose from. But don't diss the few we have now, or they'll never arrive.

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

        by xaxnar on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 12:43:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  catch-22 krugman hasn't considered (0+ / 0-)

      Without a worker what a robot produces has no value.

      Think about it.

      •  THAT is the Henry Ford Catch -22 (0+ / 0-)

        the modern version might (hopefully?) sound more like what value does what a robot produce have without a citizenry to benefit from it?  The benefits of citizenry in some european nations are immense.  

        Can it work with the diversity of the american population?

      •  I think you need to rephrase that slightly (0+ / 0-)

        Without customers with money, what a robot produces has no value.

        See if you can find a copy of that 1950s classic "The Midas Plague" for a reductio ad absurdum look at what happens when robots replace labor completely

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

        by xaxnar on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 12:46:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i phased it on purpose (0+ / 0-)

          because im tired of euphamisms like middle class and customer that blow smoke and try to confuse the issue.

          Its work done by workers who create value (and jobs), always has been and will be.

          If there were no work in a product it would have no value.  It would have no customer because it would be free.  The customer didnt create the value, they just paid for it.

          •  Except in the modern economy (0+ / 0-)

            Workers, customers, value are all irrelevant.

            "Value" is something you create through "financial innovation" backed up by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government when the house of cards finally tumbles down. CDOs, derivatives - it's all good as long as the market believes in it.

            We're in a continuing recession with millions still out of work - and corporations are posting record profits. They don't need us as customers or workers apparently. We're lucky they still let us live here... for the moment.

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

            by xaxnar on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 01:21:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Why don't you cut the crap (0+ / 0-)

    WalMart has somewhere north of 1.6 - 1.7 million US employees.  How many belong to a union?  A few thousand?  I doubt that 2 in a thousand do.  How is that a "fight?"  In what weird world is that considered a "fight?"  

    In what upside down world of DKos horseshit does the world's largest employer get tagged with a headline I saw today, "WalMart not really a job creator?"  Are you fucking kidding me?  

    Where does a not-that-healthy Medicare recipient go to get a part time job to help pay the bills and stay busy?  How about a guy in a wheelchair?  How about a blind woman, or a deaf young man?  WalMart, that's where, and your one-note attacks on the company are just fucking ridiculous.  WalMart pays more than Target, are you bashing Target every day around here?  Not seeing it.

    And by the way, I visited Target and Walmart the weekend before Xmas.  Target, quiet.  Clean.  No checkout lines.  WalMart, jammed, madhouse.  

    Figure it out.

    No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. US Constitution, Article 6

    by ppgooding on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 12:20:27 PM PST

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

      Not understanding your comment, but just want to point out that UFCW is also organizing (trying to organize) workers at Target stores.  Theyve faced firings and store closings from Target as well as other dirty tricks.  Nobody is giving Target any pats on the back, quite the contrary.

    •  Every job at Walmart (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frisbeetarian, BYw

      Kills more than a few jobs elsewhere in the community.

      Walmart's business model forces it to do anything possible to reduce its pay to employees.  Walmart really cant  afford to pay its employees livable wages.

      Every time you shop at Walmart you a feeding a business model where the simply can not survive without government assistance.  I am guilty of this myself from time to time...but at least I know it.

    •  Target doesn't have checkout lines (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      as often as WalMart does because they have an adequate number of competent checkers. WalMart is a madhouse because the employees are harried, surly and mistake-prone. Going there was a hellish experience I hope never to repeat.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 01:54:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I believe in supply and demand. (0+ / 0-)

    one sure fire way to raise wages, particularly on the lower end of the income spectrum, is to reduce supply of laborers.  The way we can do that is to reduce immigration, both illegal and legal.  It is probably best to start with illegal immigration.

    When this first was written there were loads of people declaring "OMGZ clearly anti immigration laws have failed see they cant find people to work their fields now"

    Which is nuts.  I am not familiar with the exact details of the law nor morality of the way it is implemented. However conceptually this law is working exactly as intended. Illegal workers are no longer going to Georgia.
    This will INCREASE WORKER POWER in Georgia as fewer workers are competing with American's who could do the work if only the companies offered a living wage.

    •  and they take the jobs they create away with them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      A better stategy is worker unity, not divide and conquer.

      •  No. Not at all. (0+ / 0-)

        If there are two workers and only one is employed. Take 1 worker away you will loose no associated jobs.... in-fact you will increase these secondary jobs as that one with that job will be able demand a higher wage AND contribute more to their community.

        •  take one worker away and thier family (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and empty out their neighborhood and close the business that serve them and stop making orders that stocked the shelves and subtract the taxes they paid etc etc.

          you reduce your gdp and reduce the circulation of money, goods and services.

          instead of one uneemployed worker you wind up with two, and then they both have to leave.

          the immigrant isnt causing unemployment, greed of wealthy 1% that dont want to pay thier fare share for schools, infrastucture, and the public services the and thier business enjoy has caused enormas unemployment and has not created one job.

          Unity between all working people is the only way to fight back and win.

          •  Yeah but it's easier to put worker against worker (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Frisbeetarian, BYw

            than assign the blame on the richest and most powerful, where it belongs.

            Jon Husted is a dick.

            by anastasia p on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 01:55:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  re-read the example (0+ / 0-)

            You are not taking away a worker you are taking away the non worker. Very few people serve non-workers.  and by taking away the non worker you increase the workers income enough to more than compensate for the the people the non-worker was supporting.

            •  what really happens (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              is that when the worker goes to the boss to demand that compensatation incease the boss sends a bus to go get the second class non workers you rejected for whatever reason and use them as scabs against you.

              At least thats how its always worked in the past.

              •  Cant do that if we (0+ / 0-)

                remove immigration. Thus the whole know...example.... you know what an example is?

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

                  they will always invent second class workers on one pretext or the other as long as so called first class workers let them.

                  be careful, if you deport all the immigrants they may start putting you in the undesirable slot.

                  its a lot more effective for us all to stick together, thats what the UFW found out.

                  •  it seems apparent to me that our friend's (0+ / 0-)

                    whole kick is that Americans are important, other people aren't, so screw them. Indeed, "those people" don't even DESERVE the same standard of living that we do.

                    Exactly how American unions got whipsawed into this whole mess in the first place.

                    •  and you my dear friend (0+ / 0-)

                      do not care about about American workers at all. Because the result of globalization and sharing a standard of living with the third world is.... Americans will be the third world.

                      Maybe you would be happy to but I like my quality of life to not include shitting, eating and bathing all in the same water supply.

                      No American wants to compete with a worker that desperate. and when we do (as we are now) The standard of living of all American workers will fall until we are on that level again.

                      So ya go have fun with that.

                      •  your standard of life and theirs are (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        inextricably linked.

                        If theirs go up, so does yours.  if theirs goes down, so does yours.

                        Sorry if you don't like that.  (shrug)

                        The nationalist "America first" crapola that you are so in love with, is utterly irrelevant in a global economy. There simply is no "American economy" anymore. The corporados ended that three decades ago.

                      •  thats exactly why we should lift all boats (0+ / 0-)

                        and not leave any American worker, immigrant or native born, papered or paperless, feeling desparate and abandoned.  We need to defend every American worker from abuse, every worker working or unemployed or sick or retired or still in school or belonging to a working class family here in America is an American worker.  The corporations think of us like that, and heck, so should we.

                        •  the difference is . . . . (0+ / 0-)

                          now that we live in a global economy, we need to lift all boats GLOBALLY.

                          If there is even one country with substandard wages and conditions, all the corporations will move their jobs there.

                          So we need to insure that no nation has substandard wages or conditions.

                          And that means we need an international labor movement that fights for ALL workers everywhere--not just "American" ones.

                        •  We can not lift all boats (0+ / 0-)

                          by nearly enough if we average out.

                          There are about 3 Billion Chinese and Indians and around say 500 million with American standards of living.  Average that out and you end up with Americans living in filth and 3rd world nations living in slightly better filth.

                          The only thing can result in the American standard of living not degrading for the next 300 years is protectionism.

                          •  of course we can (0+ / 0-)

                            World GDP is about $12000 a year for every man, woman and child on earth.

                            I understand your selfish desire to keep America at the top of the world, living in wealth while the rest of the world lives in shit.

                            I kinda doubt the rest of the world will agree to that, though.

                            PS--China and India have both collectively pulled more people out of poverty in just the past five years than the entire population of the USA, the largest uplift in human standard of living in all of recorded history.

                          •  And your interests are not perfectly clear (0+ / 0-)

                            you are an outright traitor to the American worker and have no concern for their standard of living. Why are you hear again? as your interests clearly have nothing to do with the welfare of Americans. Good day.

                          •  I think nationalism is one of humanity's sillier (0+ / 0-)


                            And you demonstrate why.

                            Economically, there is no "nation-state" any more.  The global corporations (there are no "American" corporations anymore) destroyed it long ago.

                            The US simply is not the top of the economic heap anymore.  That is a fact of life, and all your patriotic flag-waving won't change that.

                            Sorry if you don't like it. I understand the Brits didn't like it when they fell from global power, either.  (shrug)

                  •  There will always (0+ / 0-)

                    be a bottom class. Yes.  But that does not mean adding more bottom classes will help the middle class... or anyone else for that point.

                    Its simple. When there is significant unemployment if you remove workers, the workers will have more bargaining power.

                     You cant simply move the workers as was pointed out. You have to remove them by not having immigration and installing tariffs. This is a simplification but this is a simple conversation.  

                    •  removing workers how? (0+ / 0-)

                      wouldn't it make better sense to use the tried and tested method of organizing workers, uniting our power, and bargaining collectively?

                      Until now thats been the only successful way to do it.

                      Germany focused on dividing and removing stigmatized workers, the result was dismal.  Not accusing you of advocating concentration camps, but basically it serves as a historical case against divide and remove as a viable stategy to make life better for any worker.

                      Learn from history and ask what worked, in the 30s the unions welcomed immigrant workers to thier ranks and were stronger and won many gains because of leveraging unity.

        •  nonsense (0+ / 0-)

          If you have two workers and only one is employed but the unemployed one will work cheaper, the boss will give the job to the cheaper worker.  every time.

          And it doesn't matter if the cheaper worker moves to the job, or if the job moves to him.

          •  That is why you remove him (0+ / 0-)

            by removing immigration and prevent the employer from moving the job by adding a tariff. Simple eh?

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

              The tariff game is over.  WTO put its foot down on that long ago.

              You are still living in the 1950's.  Those days are over.

              •  do I give a shit about the WTO? (0+ / 0-)

                the WTO has no power if we do not placate it.

                •  BWAAAAAAA HA HA HA HA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Every time the US has tried to defy the WTO, it surrendered abjectly.  Every time.

                  No country, not even the big bad US, can defy the entire world economy. Heck, even the US's own corporations would not defend it in the WTO.

                  You are not living in the real world.

                  •  Ya some republicans always cave (0+ / 0-)

                    and some democrats, due to abject cowardice.

                    But ya. Numerous nations all completely ignore the WTO and get away with it. But somehow we here in the US cant do anything to stop them lol.

                    O no's the WTO helicopters are going to appear in the middle of the night and kidnaps us. O nos.  

                    •  you are quite mistaken (0+ / 0-)

                      WTO writes the rules, and every corporation on the planet accepts those rules and defends them from every government on the planet.  Including ours.

                      No government has ever successfully defied the WTO.  none.  To do so, they'd have to defy the entire corporate world, and no nation can do that.  Not even us.

                      •  Dude READ ANYTHING ON THE TOPIC (0+ / 0-)

                        Try finding one instance of the WTO actions resulting in a Gov doing ANYTHING. Its not easy.

                        •  here are just a few examples . . . (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          from the diary series I wrote here based on my book on the subject:

                          The US has been the most active participant, both as accuser and as defendant. The US has had 110 complaints filed against it, and has filed 96 complaints of its own. The European Community has filed 82 complaints and had 70 filed against it; Japan has filed 14 and had 15 filed against it; China has filed just 7 complaints but has had 20 filed against it.  Of the complaints filed by the US, most of them were against the European Community (19 complaints), China (10 complaints), Japan, Mexico and South Korea (6 complaints each). Of the complaints filed against the US, most of them came from the European Community (31), Canada (15), Brazil (10), Mexico (9), Japan (8), and India (7). Nations who file complaints have won about 85% of the time.

                          Theoretically, the decisions of the three-member panel can be appealed to the WTO’s Ministerial Conference. In reality, however, no such appeal is possible, since the panel’s decision can only be overturned by a unanimous vote of the Conference—which of course includes the representative who just won the disputed ruling.

                          Although the citizens of democratic nations have no say in the making, interpretation or enforcement of any WTO rule or policy, the WTO has the authority to order any member nation to modify or withdraw any national law or policy that conflicts with WTO decisions. In addition, any national regulations in areas such as environment, workplace safety, product safety, labor laws, etc, must be “least trade restrictive”—in other words, if WTO decides unilaterally that the same aim could be done with a more business-friendly policy, then the regulation is ruled to be “more burdensome than necessary” and is an illegal violation of free trade. In WTO hearings, the argument that a given policy is necessary “for the public good” is specifically disallowed.

                          In essence, the WTO has literal veto power over the democratically-decided public laws of any member nation. And indeed in many cases, the WTO has actively forced nations, including the United States, to modify or withdraw laws that they had passed through the democratic process.

                          In its very first case, filed by Venezuela against the United States, WTO invalidated provisions in the Clean Air Act, when it ruled that US regulations concerning clean air standards violated Venezula’s free-trade rights to sell its higher-pollutant gasoline in the US. The United States was forced to adopt new lower clean air standards.

                          In another case, when the United States passed a law outlawing online gambling, it was slapped with WTO charges by Antigua, which hosted many of the online gambling companies. The WTO ruled in their favor, concluding that “US laws deny access and discriminate against foreign suppliers of gambling and betting services inconsistently with US WTO obligations”. The US repealed the law.

                          Under the provisions of the Marine Mammal Act, the US passed a ban on the import of tuna that was not caught in dolphin-safe nets; in a similar move under the Endangered Species Act, a ban was also placed on the import of shrimp that was caught in nets that did not have a Turtle-Excluding-Device to protect endangered sea turtles. Both laws produced WTO complaints, and in both cases the WTO ruled them “unfair restraints on free trade”.

                          One of the few cases where the WTO has been openly defied centered around a European restriction on the import of beef that was produced using artificial growth hormones. The US filed a complaint, and the WTO dutifully ruled that the restrictions were “unfair” and ordered them stricken. The European Community, instead, flatly refused to repeal them—and as a result has been slapped with permanent punitive sanctions of over $116 million per year on its highly profitable luxury cheese trade.

                          (NOTE: When the EC continued to refuse to give in, the WTO upped the ante by ratcheting up the trade sanctions.  Within two years, the EC cried Uncle and surrendered.)

                          No nation has successfully defied the UN.  None.  Not a one.

    •  this is nonsense (0+ / 0-)

      Immigration is not the problem.  It doesn't matter to the corporations whether they move the jobs to the cheap workers or if the cheap workers move to the jobs. If we stop cheap workers from crossing the border into the US to take the cheap jobs, then the company will just close up the factory and move it to China or Mexico or Indonesia, where the cheap workers are. Makes no difference to them. Wages go down either way.

      •  Immigration and a lack of compensating tariffs (0+ / 0-)

        are the problem.

        Yes if you do only one the other will fail over time...if you do both... You keep the wealth and jobs here.

        •  nonsense again (0+ / 0-)

          Protectionism has been tried.  It failed.  The US corporations won't even defend it--and have actively fought against it.

          Game over.

        •  the problem is that the unions have been crushed (0+ / 0-)

          the solution is to build them again.

          and they should not be checking for papers... organize all the workers and demand a living wage for each and evert one.

          thats how to solve the problem.

          •  Unions are good (0+ / 0-)

            but at this point we do not have enough jobs for everyone. Nor will we anytime soon. So its Americans first.

          •  it's not that unions were crushed . . . (0+ / 0-)

            it's that they forgot who their enemy was.  When they decided the boss was their "partner", and low-wage foreign workers were their "enemy", they set their own path to utter destruction.

            When the corporations first came to the unions and said "give us a pay cut or we move the factory to Timbuktu", the unions should have said "go ahead and move the factory to Timbuktu---we'll organize every worker there and make sure they get paid the same wage for the same job that we do here". Instead, the unions said "here's your pay cut", the boss said "thanks", stuffed the money in his pocket--and moved the factory anyway.

            The unions forgot what the word "solidarity" means. Or at least they forgot what the word "whipsawing" means . . .

            •  a realistic response (0+ / 0-)

              would be for the member unions of the local labor council to shut down industry in the whole town and threaten to take over the factory and run it themselves.  And maybe shut down every factory in every other location belonging to the offending corporation and its susidiaries too.

              If the workers in Timbuktu could be convinced to tell the corporation to go to hell, that would also work.  Believe me, Im all for internationalism, but I also like to win the battles as well as the war whenever possible.  

              Start local, think internationally, take care of today and the future will take care of itself.

              •  no longer a viable response (0+ / 0-)

                The corporation can just close every factory it has and move them ALL to Timbuktu. Indeed, it probably will anyway, sooner or later. It will go where the costs are cheapest.

                The whole nation-based framework of organizing, is dead. It simply won't work against a multi-national company.

  •  A single issue political party would control... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl

    Congress by offering the swing votes on most legislation.

    That party should be for economic fairness, and no other issues, and needs to elect or endorse just a few stalwart backers (not promise-mongers).

    The party should stand for this:

    A $15.50 minimum wage - like they have in Australia, France, etc.

    Free public healthcare, free nursing homes, free childcare, paid family leave, and college loans at no interest rate - just like most other industrialized nations.

    A minimum national pension, plus a Social Security benefit based on your lifetime wages. Tax the rich to pay for the guaranteed part and invest your contributions in Treasury bonds for the extra part. Other countries have public retirement plans at 60% to 80% of prior wages. We offer a miserable 35% with Social Security today.

  •  Labor will not get a fair shake until (0+ / 0-)

    we get something close to full employment. Right now, the worker who doesn't want to starve must accept whatever crumbs the employer offers.

    Until we tax the rich much more than we do now, and use the revenue to fund infrastructure, education, and research, nothing fundamental will change. There is plenty of meaningful work to be done, and many workers eager to do it.

    Unfortunately, it is in the economic interest of the wealthy to keep the American worker underemployed. Creating jobs is the furthest thing from their minds. Only an enlightened government can change this. Unfortunately, no legislation can be passed except that which the Republicans, in their infinite wisdom and generosity, allow.

    Note to Boehner and McConnell: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." --Bob Dylan-- (-7.25, -6.21)

    by Tim DeLaney on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 03:14:35 PM PST

    •  the best way to enlighten the government (0+ / 0-)

      is to unionize the working class again and make the wall street pols an offer they cant refuse, just like our grandparents did back in the day.

      •  Well, I don't agree (0+ / 0-)

        When workers are desperate for work, unions are easy to bust. Just look at all the union busting in the last four years. Would you give up your livelihood just so your company could hire a scab? Not many workers would.

        Try unionizing at your local Wal-Mart. If you succeed, they shut down the store. When jobs are scarce, the billionaires have all the power.

        OTOH, if jobs were plentiful, Wal-Mart employees would quit in droves and find better work elsewhere. Wal-Mart would be forced to offer more money to keep them.

        IMHO, the best way to enlighten the government is to elect more and better Democrats.

        Note to Boehner and McConnell: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." --Bob Dylan-- (-7.25, -6.21)

        by Tim DeLaney on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 04:50:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the fastest period of union growth in US history (0+ / 0-)

          was during the Great Depression.

          Workers are not machinery or lumps of raw material.  Wages are not determined by supply and demand--they are determined by the willingness of workers to fight to raise them.

          When the UAW won the sitdown strikes of the 1930's, the supply of workers didn't change, and neither did the demand for them.  What changed was the amount of fight they had in them.

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