Where I live, in the Northeast, it’s overcast and grey, which, I think, is a good metaphor for the depth of political and social dysfunction on display this Labor Day. Consider just the following, all of which are discussed in depth on Daily Kos and other places:
• Over past 40 years, the Labor Movement has, more-or-less, been crushed by a
well-organized corporate backlash whose single-minded aim is an upward
redistribution of wealth to a tiny minority.
• We’re now reaping the whirlwind of this effort. Labor productivity is up and
wages are down. Life becomes nastier and more brutish for most Americans,
never mind the unimaginable depths of suffering in the developing world.
• It’s known that a key part of the solution to this destruction of the American
Dream, and a better life for the vast majority of Americans, is strengthening
the power of workers to bargain for better wages and benefits.
• But, as Paul Krugman points out in his column today, strengthening
the ability of workers to organize is completely off the political
agenda. Even when the Democrats controlled both Congress and the White
House in 2009, basic reforms to strengthen unions, like mandatory union-
recognition on a card check (the Employee Free Choice Act), were dead in the water.
• Instead, what’s on the agenda is collapsing the federal government over a
modest reform to create a health insurance system like Switzerland’s and
President Obama squandering his political capital in an atavistic effort to bomb
Syria, apparently because that’s the foreign policy of “wise men.”
More could be added to the list and I find it all deeply discouraging. But the point is that, to find solutions, we first have to understand the depth of the trouble we’re in.