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The Path Back to Equality Leads Through Unions

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  • The Nation summarizes an important new finding: Americans of the mid-twentieth century had unions to thank for their booming, egalitarian economy.
  • Related: New Study Confirms That American Workers Are Getting Ripped Off.

Nathan Pippenger, Democracy


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June 1, 2018 | rom the end of World War II until about 1980, the United States was in the fortunate position of benefiting from two simultaneous trends: The economy prospered as wages became more equal (an era known as the “Great Compression”). There’s still some debate among economists about exactly why this happened, an argument with obvious relevance to our own era of deep inequality. But according to a new study highlighted by Mike Konczal in The Nation, the role of one factor is now undeniable: unions. Summarizing the new research, Konczal writes that “the growth of union membership—to a height of nearly 30 percent in 1955, before falling to its current low of 10.7 percent—explains the Great Compression every bit as much as theories about education or any other single factor.”

  http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Labor%20Getting%20Its%20Fair%20Share%20of%20the%20Pie_0.jpgKonczal knocks the economics profession for “casually dismissing the role of unions” and gently ribs the idea that anybody would be surprised by “the statement ‘unions help workers.’” But as he acknowledges, detailed data on union membership was unavailable until recently—and moreover, there’s at least the possibility that unions could actually increase overall inequality, by widening the wage gap between their members and non-unionized workers. As Timothy Noah noted in his book The Great Divergence, this was actually what most economists believed until the 1980s. Konczal doesn’t precisely comment on the older idea that unions might actually exacerbate inequality, but he does refer to the theory that “since unions merely transfer wealth among workers, they wouldn’t lower inequality overall and might even slow economic growth.” It turns out that idea is probably mistaken as well. In fact, the results seem to effectively counter all the familiar theories about the possible negative effects of unionization on either income equality or economic growth—all while demonstrating that unions were more diverse, in terms of both skill and racial composition, than is widely believed.

Nathan Pippenger is a contributing editor at Democracy.

Read more …

Related:

New Study Confirms That American Workers Are Getting Ripped Off. Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/McDonald%27s%20Employees%20Fight%20for%20Higher%20Wages.jpgWhy we fight. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

(Trump's) right to claim that Americans are getting the short end. But the primary cause of that fact isn’t bad trade agreements or “job killing” regulations — its the union-busting laws and court rulings that the president has done so much to abet.
 

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Section(s): 

America's Real Economy: It Isn't Booming

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Walter Holm, age 67, a Vietnam veteran is living at Transitions, a homeless recovery center in Columbia, SC in 2016. There are other aging veterans who are homeless and looking for work, but not finding it.  (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

  • If every employer in America came up with even just one modest step—higher wages, regular profit sharing, tuition reimbursement—to help workers spend and save more, the nation would begin to right itself economically. It needs to happen now. We’re running out of time.
  • Related: From the Archives | Socialism: Our Alternative To The Madness Of The Market

Peter Georgescu, Forbes

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Aug 22, 2018 | Ostensibly, for the past ten years, our economy has been recovering from the 2008 collapse. During the past few years, our comeback seems to have gained momentum. All the official indicators say we’re back in boom times, with a bull market, low unemployment and steady job growth. But there is an alternative set of data that depicts a different America, where the overlooked majority struggles from month to month.

The Nation recently published a stunning overview of the working poor and underpaid. One of the most powerful data points in the piece described how empty the decline in unemployment actually is: having a job doesn’t exempt anyone from poverty anymore. About 12% of Americans (43 million) are considered poor, and yet they are employed. They earn an individual income below $12,140 per year, and slightly more than that for a family of two. If you include housing and medical expenses in the calculation, it raises the percentage of Americans living in poverty to 14%. That’s 45 million people.

https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/21fb03b0ab37a9d0d56bf6d9a591a32f?s=400&d=mm&r=g Peter Georgescu, Contributor, Forbes <>, is the author of Capitalists Arise!

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Related:

From the Archives | Socialism: Our Alternative To The Madness Of The Market, Eric RuderSocialist Worker / Dandelion Salad

https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6107/6313138621_29ea85c50d.jpg Image by dsleeter_2000 via FlickrWorkers must take control of the economy’s productive resources, and this will require a massive struggle, animated by a vision of a different kind of society.
 

 

 

 

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Section(s): 

From the Archives | Socialism: Our Alternative To The Madness Of The Market

https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6107/6313138621_29ea85c50d.jpg Image by dsleeter_2000

via Flickr

Workers must take control of the economy’s productive resources, and this will require a massive struggle, animated by a vision of a different kind of society.

Eric RuderSocialist Worker / Dandelion Salad

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http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Editor%20Comment%20icon_0.jpg Originally published Sept. 2, 2012 by Eric Ruder, Socialist Worker <SocialistWorker.org>, August 30, 2012.

June 3,2018 | The World economy is still suffering from the worst crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Around the world, the consequences have been devastating–jobs wiped out, exploitation intensified for those who remain employed, social services eliminated or privatized.

Welcome to 21st-century capitalism, a topsy-turvy world in which poverty for many and unimaginable wealth for a tiny few stand side by side. But unlike in earlier times, when slave and feudal societies weren’t efficient enough to adequately feed, clothe and house everyone in society, today’s crisis is the result of an overabundance of material goods, not the lack of them.

Eric Ruder, a writer and socialist living in Chicago, is regular contributor to the International Socialist Review (ISR).

Full story …

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Help enlighten others. Be sure to pass this on to friends and kin. We must break the system's  ability to lie with impunity.

 

Section(s): 

Privatization is Killing Us: Dispatches from the Capitalist War on Society

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Photo by Giuseppe Milo | CC BY 2.0

All that can be predicted with certainty is that unless the generations now living devote their very existence to the Resistance, humanity won’t have much of a future.

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Bold, upfront, objective and reader supported.



Chris Wright, Counterpunch

http://www.yourdictionary.com/images/articles/lg/2852.EconomicRecession.jpgMay 2, 2018 | As the capitalist elite continues to pour ever more resources into its crusade to dismantle society, it’s important to keep a tally of the damage done—if only to direct popular attention to where it’s needed most, and to where the Left’s own resources are needed most. High on the list of capitalist priorities, and thus of priorities for left-wing resistance, is the goal to privatize everything from education to nature to policing and soldiering. With that in mind, here’s a list of some recent “negative externalities” of privatization that I’ve culled from news sources.

Children, teachers, and rat feces

Let’s start with Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago, jewel of neoliberalism. In February 2014, the Chicago Public Schools decided to outsource management of custodians to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC. The rationale for privatization is supposed to be that it cuts costs and improves “efficiency” or effectiveness. Left unsaid is the means by which costs are cut: primarily from the fact that private companies have a freer hand than government in treating employees viciously. It’s easier for corporations to lay off employees, reduce wages and benefits, degrade working conditions, and destroy unions than it is for governments to do so, since corporations are totalitarian institutions. Whether the overall deal is a net financial gain for government is a difficult question, to which studies have given conflicting answers. Some have found that it actually ends up costing more money in the long run, while others have concluded privatization may in some cases yield savings of about 10 percent. But these reports don’t factor in all the extra costs, such as the time and money it takes to review proposals by companies, negotiate contracts, review contract terms, deal with the inevitable lawsuits, etc.
And then there are the costs to the public, which, of course, don’t count.

Chris Wright has a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and is the author of Notes of an Underground Humanist, Worker Cooperatives and Revolution: History and Possibilities in the United States, and Finding Our Compass: Reflections on a World in Crisis.

Full story … 

Related:

VA Officials Continue to Discuss Proposed Health-Care Changes Out of Public View. Suzanne Gordon <> American Prospect / Portside

https://portside.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/field/image/vahospital112517.jpgUSA Today

  • As Louis Celli, a top staffer for the American Legion, told the Associate Press, a merger would siphon off funds from VHA hospitals and clinics and eventually shift costs directly to veterans, through co-pay and other possible fee increases.
  • Related: ‘Who the hell is this person?’ Trump’s Mar-a-Lago pal stymies VA project.

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Section(s): 

At the Fed, the Scene Is Being Set for Financial Disaster

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Donald Trump with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at the White House. (Reuters / Carlos Barria)

  • When politicians and regulators are asleep at the wheel, sooner or later it’s the rest of us who will suffer. Because of the collusion that’s gone on and continues to go on among the world’s main central banks, that problem is now an international one.
  • Related: I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.

Nomi Prins, TomDispatch.com / the Nation

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April 26, 2018 | Warning: What you are about to read is not about Russia, the 2016 election, or the latest person to depart from the White House in a storm of tweets. It’s the Beltway story with trillions of dollars in play and an economy to commandeer, hiding in plain sight.

While we’ve been bombarded with a litany of scandals from the Oval Office and the Trump family, there’s a crucial institution in Washington that few in the media seem to be paying attention to, even as President Trump quietly makes it his own. More obscure than the chambers of the Supreme Court, it’s a place where he has already made substantial changes. I’m talking about the Federal Reserve. 

Nomi Prins is the author of Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, forthcoming from Nation Books May 1. She is also the author of All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power.

Full story … 

Related:

I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929. Robert S. McElvaine, Washington (DC) Post

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_960w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2012/12/20/National-Economy/Images/AP2910240251356031158.jpg&w=1484 People gather on the subtreasury building steps across from the New York Stock Exchange in New York on “Black Thursday” on Oct. 24, 1929. The Great Depression followed thereafter. (AP)

Republicans are again sprinting toward an economic cliff.
The plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed.
Related: Revolution Ahead for U.S. if GOP Tax Plan Rigged for the Rich Is Not Defeated.

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Section(s): 

Special Project | Capitalism Unmasked, Week Ending April 20, 2018

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Is Capitalism in Crisis? Latest Trends of a System Run Amok * Does Capitalism Work? (2002) * Yanis Varoufakis: Marx predicted our present crisis – and points the way out.

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Week Ending April 20, 2018 |

Story 1: Is Capitalism in Crisis? Latest Trends of a System Run Amok, C.J. Polychroniou, Truthout

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Capitalism has always been a highly irrational socioeconomic system, but the constant drive for accumulation has especially run amok in the age of high finance, privatization and globalization. (Image: Pixabay; Edited: JR / TO)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 | Political polarization is to be expected after a long-lasting structural crisis of capitalism, says David Kotz, author of The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism. What remains to be seen is whether the polarization of the current moment will lead to a right-wing nationalist statist regime, a progressive reform of capitalism, or a transition beyond capitalism to socialism.



Story 2: Does Capitalism Work? (2002), Michael Parenti <>, Dandelion Salad <>

https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6054/6247620053_a79c7a9062_z.jpgSeptember 7, 2017 | The myth that capitalism works conveniently ignores reality. In this video, political scientist and activist Michael Parenti debunks this popular myth.
 





Story 3 Yanis Varoufakis: Marx predicted our present crisis – and points the way out,  Yanis Varoufakis, the Guardian

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/d8d42a321000836c35a65452b3c8fd8cd691cd8b/0_0_2560_1536/master/2560.jpg?w=1300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=c7cb1f05b152238cf5d163cff5314b98Friday, 20 April, 2018 | The Communist Manifesto foresaw the predatory and polarised global capitalism of the 21st century. But Marx and Engels also showed us that we have the power to create a better world. 



 



 


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Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story

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  • Not only the Republican Party, but also the Democratic Party support, serve and reinforce the capitalism that stands as a basic obstacle to economic equality and democracy.
  • Related: 35 soul-crushing facts about American income inequality
  • Related: 'There's an Alternative to the Top-Down Capitalist Corporation.'

Richard D. Wolff, CounterPunch

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/We%20Haven%27t%20Put%20Up%20a%20Paywall_0.jpg

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Richard%20Wolff%20%7C%20Capitalism%27s%20Crisis%20Deepens%20cover%20illus.jpgFebruary 23, 2018 | The Cold War displaced the legacies of the New Deal. Time and Trump are now displacing Cold War legacies. Where capitalism was questioned and challenged in the 1930s and into the 1940s, doing that became taboo after 1948. Yet in the wake of the 2008 crash, critical thought about capitalism resumed. In particular one argument is gaining traction: capitalism is not the means to realize economic equality and democracy, it is rather the great obstacle to their realization.

The New Deal, forced on the FDR regime from below by a coalition of unionists (CIO) and the political left (two socialist parties and one communist party), reversed the traditional direction (to greater inequality) of income and wealth distributions in the US. They shifted toward greater equality. US history thus illustrates Thomas Piketty’s argument in his 2014 Capital in the 21st Century about long-term deepening of inequality that can be punctuated by interruptions. Indeed, the New Deal reversal was such an interruption and featured just the sorts of taxation of corporations and the rich that Piketty favors now to correct/reverse capitalist inequalities.

Richard D. Wolff is the author of Capitalism Hits the Fan and Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens. He is founder of Democracy at Work.

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Related:

35 soul-crushing facts about American income inequality, Larry Schwartz,  AlterNet  / Salon 

The money given out in Wall Street bonuses last year was twice the amount all minimum-wage workers earned combined
 

'There's an Alternative to the Top-Down Capitalist Corporation.' Richard David Wolff, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

Janine Jackson interviewed Richard Wolff about questioning economic fundamentals for the February 9, 2018, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.
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'There's an Alternative to the Top-Down Capitalist Corporation'

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Janine Jackson interviewed Richard Wolff about questioning economic fundamentals for the February 9, 2018, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

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Richard David Wolff is an American Marxian economist, well known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology, and class analysis.

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTdfmvY18r4IsigPqhFslumMVAVN51297W2V-RGL3VI-i1Ijejie2eSxA Janine Jackson is the program director of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) and the co-host and co-producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin—a weekly program of media criticism airing on more than 150 stations around the country.

Full story … 

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