Monday, March 09, 2009

Obama confirms support for unionization bill

The Wall Street Journal:

Many companies have said the [Employee Free Choice Act], likely to be introduced in coming weeks by congressional Democrats, would add to their costs while hurting their ability to boost productivity and keep their work forces flexible enough to respond to changing markets. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said it will spend at least $10 million this year fighting it.

Yeah, it's a funny thing about productivity. It's gone up substantially since the 1970's. And yet wages have remained what is called "stagnant" -- they have stayed the same, adjusted for inflation -- or in some cases even declined.

What this means is that while companies produce more, grow more, and earn more over time, employees do not share in these gains: they are stuck at 1970's-era purchasing power. This doesn't stop people from living their lives; it just makes them more dependent on various forms of credit to do so. We take out bigger and bigger loans to own a home or go to college; increasingly we rely on credit cards to pay for medical, food, and other basic expenses.

The grim irony of the situation is that, having denied the American working class any sensible, non-speculative means to support itself (for example, taking home a livable wage vs. playing the stock market and investing in real estate bubbles), the captains of industry and finance who engineered this swindle now find themselves for want of able consumers! Hence the grand economic kablooey in which we presently reside -- to paraphrase the great IOZ.

True to form, what cannot be gleaned from the wallet of the cash-poor American is put upon government to extract from cash-poor Americans as a whole. This means cutting "entitlement" spending like Social Security and Medicare, not to mention basic public services, as well as borrowing heavily against the national debt -- all in order to preserve a tax scheme favored by the rich.

President Obama seems to comprehend the offending dynamic -- to a degree that he is even willing to risk "political World War III" with business to confront it. This is significant: presidents are only supposed to make campaign promises, not live up to them. This is provoking considerable anxiety on behalf of the thieving classes, who daily wish upon a shining star that Obama's fealty for them be made true. However, if Obama is committed to seeing working people take greater control of their own lives -- in the workplace and elsewhere -- then there promises to be a slow reshuffling of Wall Street's affections for him.

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