Open thread Feb. 16, 2016 Dan Crawford | February 16, 2016 7:15 am Tags: open thread Comments (14) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
I wonder what is the multiplier effect of investing political capital in increasing union density?
” They worry that Mr. Sanders, as president, would exhaust his political capital on what they call a fool’s errand, at the expense of other initiatives on education, infrastructure, climate change, worker benefits — and the Affordable Care Act itself.
” if Mr. Sanders were elected and fought for a single-payer plan, it ‘would rapidly destroy his administration by using up every ounce of political capital he’s got.’ ”
My comment at Economists View:
The answer is to build up an unbeatable mountain of political capita by rebuilding union density. How? Starting in progressive states with Democratic legislative majorities — make union busting a felony.
There are all sorts of restrictions on union bargaining methods — e.g., no secondary picket lines — that are enforceable. None of the restrictions on illegal union busting are the slightest bit enforceable.
Make unions attractive by example — let people in red states see how positively they work — make people in red states jealous. Change the culture — get more union states. Then — on only then — we can get everything we want.
If only it were that easy.
Boeing moves out of Washington and goes to a non-union, “right to work” state. Can we make that illegal?
It seems to me that unions have not been good examples for a while. People see union plants closing (GM, Ford) and non-union plants opening (Toyota, BMW). They’d rather have a non-union job than no job at all.
How do we stop the jobs from just going to COUNTRIES with no union protection?
My grandfather was a union man his whole life. My uncle was even president of his local chapter. Unions were a very good thing in this country for many years. But with globalization, I think that genie has no magic left.
With no unions Boeing wouldn’t have thought to move south — and the Seattle workers would have been just as poorly paid as the South Carolina workers are today. The workers in South Carolina today would be even more poorly paid if it were not for unions in Seattle.
Here is a great (five year old) take:
The only way to solve the problem is to try to expand union density wherever we can. Should be relatively easy if anyone actually tried to make labor law protecting unions actually enforceable. Pretty crazy situation without any enforcement capability. Repeat, ought to be relatively easy — just takes one progressive state to start the ball rolling.
Most of the people I worry about are the ones in unskilled jobs making $400-$500 a week at most. Could be paying $600 — most more like $800 a week. That is the alpha and the omega to me. $400 is nothing. Two people making $600 to $800 can actually get by — even see their kids with some time off from four jobs.
Anyway those low skilled service jobs are not going anywhere and the money is there to pay them if they can just withhold their labor (and withhold any replacement labor) and strike a bargain.
A unionless economy is a pathological condition — politically as well as economically. It should be easy to cure if someone somewhere would just show everybody everywhere else the way by being the first state to move.
I’m rather more pessimistic. If a state were to make such laws (What did you have in mind?), how would it prevent businesses such as Boeing from leaving, either to another state or out of the country?
Assuming those companies don’t move, those goods produced by the union shops would cost more. Could they find a market that would pay the higher prices?
Then there’s the other side. Two people making $600 to $800 per week (each, I assume you mean), comes to a respectable $70,000 per year. But as Kaleberg said elsewhere on this blog, “people experience employment security”. http://angrybearblog.strategydemo.com/2016/02/unemployment-truthers.html#comments
That family falls into what (now) Sen. Warren eloquently described as the Two Income Trap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GHg3GAeQ1Y
(Yes, it’s an hour long, but this video is worth every minute.)
I just don’t see a way around this “suckage”. (And partly I blame the left here, in that they fought to force banks to consider a wife’s income when determining eligibility for a mortgage. They won. The result was that money flooded into the housing market, making two incomes REQUIRED to buy a house. Gee, thanks.)
We cannot use unions to keep wages up, because NAFTA and TPP and a host of country-to-country trade agreements put our workers in direct competition with workers in second- and third-world countries with no labor protections, no environmental protections, and no enforcement of our patents and trademarks, either. Yes, our workers are more efficient. Now. How long can that last as high-tech factories are built in China and India?
(Even those slave wages are good for the Indians and Chinese who would otherwise be dirt farmers or beggars. But it drags our workers down.)
So we try to make ends meet with two incomes — doubling the probability of a job loss. And one income won’t cover the expenses. (The two-income trap.)
I’m sorry to be so negative, but I don’t see unions as a way out of this. They did well when we were coming off the destruction and mass slaughter of the labor force which happened in World War II. The Chinese were lighting their cook fires with flint and tinder, the Japanese were still glowing, the Indians were trying to find their bearings as a new country, and Europe needed to rebuild with a diminished labor force. Unions cannot do now what they did then — the work will just get done somewhere else.
No, Sen. Warren is no relation.
I love the idea that people think “political capital” is a real thing. Ranks right up there with “independent voters”.
” [T]he Trans-Pacific Partnership is to reverse and privatize public investment. Its ideology is that the economy should be owned and operated by private owners, private enterprise, whose aim is short-term profit.
” There are a number of related aims: to nullify environmental protection regulations that cost money, to nullify protection of labor, and to nullify attempts to tax natural resources or economic rent. The idea is to turn roads and the transport system into toll roads, which will be owned by foreigners and run at a high charge. The Internet and the water system will be sold off and made into toll systems, to charge for their services and for other basic needs. This will impose a neo-feudal rentier economy throughout the world as the finance, industrial and real estate (FIRE) sector takes over the government sector.
” I think you could say that at the broadest level, the idea is to roll back the Enlightenment and restore feudalism. That may sound like an extreme statement, but people don’t realize how radical the TPP’s investment agreements are. For instance, when Australia raised the charges on cigarettes and included health warnings on the packs, Philip Morris sued, insisting that Australia pay it what Philip Morris would have made if people would have continued to smoke and get cancer at the existing rate.
” When Ecuador tried to sue oil companies for pollution, the oil companies sued, and now the country has to pay the oil company the amount of profit it would make if it continued to produce oil by polluting the land – to an infinite degree. No government anywhere in the world that signs this will be free to regulate the environment or even to enact new taxes on rent-seeking or other private enterprise. “
So why are Obama and Clinton backing the TPP? (Is Clinton backing it this week?)
Wouldn’t the TPP be directly opposite of their political personas?
Warren, all I can say is ???
I call O and the Clintons “liberals that can live with it.” IOW, they care enough to try to make things better but when it doesn’t work out — their best efforts (they think) don’t work out — they can live with it. You don’t turn the world around without waking up every morning not being able to live with it.
E.G., the federal minimum wage almost $4 below what it was when per capita income was half today’s, back in 1968. How can O live without going out everyday to try and educate everybody to how wrong — how crazy! — that is?
O does a speech at a high school stating inequality of incomes is the “defining issue of our time” — it doesn’t poll well immediately; that’s the last we hear from him (them: the Clintons).
They can live with it.
Re: The Age of Secular Stagnation – Larry Summers
A rationale — aside from resolving secular stagnation — to tax away …
… in 1950s style; maybe 52% income tax above $650K (the threshold of the 1%) and 90% above $2 million …
… 10% of the top 1%’s current 20% grab of overall income — will be to replace buying power in the middle (via lower income tax required from the middle) that will be lost to the bottom because of higher minimum wage and the return of collective bargaining power, both of which will up the pay of low skill jobs …
… BUT COST JOB LOSS IN THE MIDDLE. Huh?
People spend proportionately more at businesses that employ people at their own wage level. (Think of car buying.)
If low skilled labor prices its wage increases right it will take more dollars from the middle for fewer hours (not counting re-circulation effects explained below) — that’s the way the market is supposed to work. This means the middle will have fewer dollars to spend at some of their usual (proportionately more middle wage) haunts: costing jobs in the middle — even while adding jobs at the bottom.
Moving, say, 10% of overall income from the top 1% to the upper middle and middle income — via tax boost high/tax break middle — would compensate for the loss of middle spending in middle and save middle jobs.
World’s Most Famous Economist Says Bernie Sanders Could “Change the Face of the Country”
Mic By Zeeshan Aleem 23 hours ago
” America’s golden past: Piketty points to the fact that, prior to Reagan, 20th century fiscal policy in the U.S. was aggressive in taxing the wealthy — much more so than the European counterparts that American leftists are so fond of looking to for inspiration today.
” ‘ In the interwar years the country invented a highly progressive income and estate tax and set up levels of fiscal progressiveness never used on our side of the Atlantic,” Piketty wrote. “From 1930 to 1980 — for half a century – the rate for the highest U.S. income (over $1 million per year) was on average 82%, with peaks of 91% from the 1940s to 1960s (from Roosevelt to Kennedy), and still as high as 70% during Reagan’s election in 1980.’ ”
” Those rates — which refer to marginal income tax rates, not the rate at which every dollar someone earns is taxed — played a tremendous role in creating social equality and helped provide crucial government revenue for robust social programs that were introduced during Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
” The U.S. also instituted estate taxes (federal taxes on property transferred from someone who has died to their heirs) that were also extremely high and dwarfed rates in France and Germany. “
Denis, I can see your point that they can live with the income inequality — heck, they’re the 1%. But TPP doesn’t poll well, but they push it anyway.
Extremist Financial Times Alphaville weighs in on Sanders plan: http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2016/02/17/2153540/extreme-doesnt-mean-what-it-used-to-sanders-vs-the-cea/
More on O as an “I can live with it liberal” — from this morning’s Root:
Obama’s refusal to take advantage of Congress being at recess by appointing someone to the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia without its approval is one of the most cowardly, embarrassing and shameful abdications of powerof any president in American history. And, without a doubt, history and Americans should judge him harshly for it. (my emphasis)
“The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”
Scalia died BEFORE the Senate when into recess. The vacancy did not happen DURING a Recess of the Senate, but two days prior to the recess. Therefore, a recess appointment would not be appropriate. Perhaps, being a former Professor of Constitutional Law, President Obama knows that.