Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Unions Keep The Balance Of Power For The Middle Class
Labor Day brings a spot of leisure for most of us, but reflections on, ahem, "labor" for a few. More power to them, I say. At the link below is an article that summarizes what I've been trying to convey in this blog. Corporate power is expanding, the middle class is getting screwed, and a lack of outrage and organized resistance is to blame. The article reminds us that the middle class was strongest - in the mid-20th century - when labor unions were at their strongest as well. Now both are at their weakest, and that is no coincidence. As for the Republican mirage of an "ownership" society, the article again reminds us, "Unions equalize power in the marketplace between those who work and those who own something. Those who work are the stuff of which the middle class is made. Those who own fill the ranks of the very wealthy. When the balance of power is with the labor unions, the gains from production stay with the middle class. When the balance shifts as it has today, the very wealthy take an ever-larger share from economic activity".
The article goes on to make an interesting point. "When people have more money than they can possibly spend on goods and services, they no longer use it in ways that stimulate the economy. Instead, they use the power their money brings to get more tax breaks, less regulation, more support for globalization, and policies favoring capital over labor." I have never heard it put quite this baldly before, but it makes terrifying sense. Excessive wealth is not just more of the same. Above a certain level it undergoes a qualitative change. It is no longer channeled back into the economy in a natural or organic way, but is diverted into artificial means of sustaining itself - such as purchasing political power - which do not benefit the economy at all. Excessive wealth is not merely bad in the sense that it represents an inequitable distribution of resources - it is actively destructive.
The only way to rid society of this toxic imbalance is to take back some of that stolen power from the wealthy. Read the article for yourself.
"It was unions that built middle class" from The Mountain Mail